Editorial: On a song

In shocking news to music lovers, veteran composer Khayyam, best known for his music in classic films such as Umrao Jaan and Kabhi Kabhie, passed away after prolonged illnesses at a hospital in Mumbai Monday. Mohammed Zahur Hashmi, popularly known as Khayyam, was 92 when he breathed his last. Ever since the news broke, tributes began pouring in for Khayyam from various quarters. Prime Minister Narendra Modi called his work as something which will be remembered forever. ‘India will remain grateful to Khayyam Sahab for giving us some of the most memorable compositions, which will be remembered forever,’ he said. The PM added: ‘He will also be remembered for his humanitarian gestures to support upcoming artistes. His demise is extremely saddening.’

Veteran singer Lata Mangeshkar posted on Twitter that Khayyam’s demise is the end of an era in music. ‘Great musician and a man with a kind heart, Khayyam sahab isn’t with us any more. I am so saddened to hear this, I can’t put it in words. With Khayyam sahab, an era of music has ended. I offer my humble tribute to him,’ she wrote. In another tweet, she said though she loved working with Khayyam, she was also scared because he was a perfectionist. ‘Khayyam sahab would treat me as his younger sister. For me, he used to make his special songs. I loved working with him but would also be a little scared because he was a perfectionist. His understanding and knowledge of Shayari was exceptional,’ she posted. Amitabh Bachchan remembered the music veteran as ‘a soft-spoken, amiable soul’, who contributed to his several films, including Kabhi Kabhie and Trishul. ‘…KHAYAM sahib…for all the memorable music he conducted and produced .. prayers condolences,’ Bachchan tweeted.

In 2007, Khayyam was honoured with Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in Creative Music by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India’s national academy of music, dance and theatre. Four years later, he was conferred the Padma Bhushan, the country’s third highest civilian award. In 2016, the veteran composer established Khayyam Jagjeet Kaur KPG Charitable Trust and pledged to donate his entire wealth to the trust to support budding artistes and technicians in India. Khayyam created evocative, soul-stirring music reminiscent of the era gone-by in classics. Songs such as Dil cheez kya hai aap meri jaan lijiye…, In aankhon ki masti ke…, Ye kya jagah hai doston… or Zindagi jab bhi teri bazm mein lati hai hume… from the Rekha-starrer Umrao Jaan and Kabhi kabhie mere dil mein… from Kabhi Kabhie (which is popular among Tamil audience, too, however for a totally different reason) will keep Khayyam’s memory alive for generations to come.

NT Bureau