Raju Bharatan
Renowned veteran journalist and music critic
This article appeared in an evening daily the day after Madanjis demise

Prince of Composers
The Ghazal King is no more. Madan Mohan is gone and with him is dead the age of melody. He was the last of our class composers. Now the 'fight composers" have the field all to themselves.

I got the news of Madan's death, aptly if grimly, as I was listening around 7.25 p.m. yesterday, to Geeta Dutt singing 'Jhoom Jhoom Ke Jam Chum Le Aa Tu Mehfil Men Aa' (Coffee House) over Radio Ceylon.

Madan, like Geeta, went for something more intoxicating than coffee. He drank himself to death. Like K.L. Saigal, Pt. Amarnath. Shyam Sunder, Shailendra and Jaikishan before him.

At the condolence meeting on Jaikishan's death, Naushad made an impassioned plea to his fellow composers to desist from this habit that could lead to only one end. "So many people in the industry tell me I do not know how to enjoy my wealth, that I do not know what I am missing when I refuse to drink. Is this your idea of enjoying wealth?" he asked pointing to the handsome young photo of Jaikishan. "Jai had a pretty wife and three lovely kids. Why did he have to leave them like this?".

But Naushad's was a voice in the wilderness - neither Geeta nor Madan heeded it. It is not as though Madan did not know the fate that awaited him. This was not his first visit to hospital. It was certainly his last.

And to think that this was Madan's silver jubilee year! From "Ankhen" (1950) to "Mausam" (1975), he seasoned himself into a composer who had a knack of coming up with a never- never air that made the best of music makers exclaim: "How I wish I had composed that tune!".

But none of them could be Madan. "Preetam Meri Duniya Mein" (Ada). "Dukhiyare Naina Dhoonden Piya Ko" (Nirmohi), "Meri Aankhon Ki Need Le Gaya" (Madhosh), "Hamare Baad Mehfil Mein Afsane Bayan Honge" (Baghi), "Badi Barbadian Lekar" (Dhoon), "Mukh Mod Na Lena Saajna" (Ashiana), "Chaand Madham Hai" (Railway Platform), "Tum Ho Saath Raat Bhi Haseen Hai" (Mohar), "Hum Pyaar Mein Jalne Walon Ko" (Jailor), "Tu Pyaar Kare Ya Thukraaye" (Dekh Kabira Roya), "Sapne Mein Sajan Se Do Baaten" (Gateway of India), "Unko Yeh Shikayat Hai" (Adalat), "Chain Nahin Aaye" (Chacha Zindabad), "Jaa Re Badra Bairi Jaa" (Bahana), "Khelo Na Mere Dil Se" (Haqeeqat), "Baiyan Na Dharo" (Dastak) - these and countless other Lata hits could have been created by Madan and Madan alone.

Lata has made memorable melody with other composers too. But the melody she made with Maddy was something special. In fact, my line of argument, while discussing this sensitive team, always used to be : "Take away Lata and what is left of Madan?"

Now Madan's taken away, so what is left of Lata? Lata will sing on. But she can never be the same without Madan. A goodly part of the sweetness in her throat is gone with Madan. After all, who but Madan could create for her "Qadar Jaane Na".

This "Bhai Bhai" hit had a sentimental place in Maddy's heart, for I remember him telling me how Begum Akhtar once rang him up in the dead night and begged a favour. "Just play and sing "Qadar Jaane na" over the phone to me". She requested. Could there have been a greater tribute from the Ghazal Queen to the Ghazal King?

Only last year I had Madan down for an evening. With the cinegoers club. The selections were mine. The creations Madan's . And what creations! Madan spoke that evening with the same soft air that his tunes carried. It became an evening to remember.

I first met Madan just before the release of Mera Saaya (1966). He wanted me to ghost an article for him and he had written down in his own well composed hand, the songs that ranked high in his creative esteem.

I have that list before me now. And find that Maddy, like our other top composers, couldn't remember many of his best creations and had missed out such evergreens as "Saanwri Soorat Man Bhayi Re Piya" (Ada), "Sitaron Se Poochho Nazaron Se Poochho" (Dhoon), "Ajab Hai Yeh Duniya" (Naya Admi), "Dil Unko Utha Ke De Diya" (Baap Bete). But he had not missed out on "Preet Laga Ke Maine Ye Phal Paaya" (Mukesh - Aankhen), "Main Pagal Mera Manwa Pagal" (Talat - Ashiana), "Kabhi Na Kabhi Kahin Na Kahin" (Rafi - Sharabi), "Kaun Aaya Mere Man Ke Dware" (Manna Dey - Dekh Kabira Roya), not even "Mera Naam Abdul Rehman" (Kishore - Bhai Bhai).

I still remember how he said to me , " tell me, can you remember a fine song I composed for "Akeli Mat Jaiyo"?

"I can". I said. "So can your fans whose number is legion. You are talking of Lata's "Woh Jo Milte The Kabhi", aren't you?"

"Now that was some composition, wasn't it?" Madan exulted.

I remember the glow of pride on his face as he said this. It was the pride, not of a bandmaster composer, but of a drawing room composer who brought to his art a velvety feel that will endure for ever in a vein of "Jaana Tha Hum Se Door Bahane Bana Liye" (Adalat).

Madan brought to the musical theme of "Heer Ranjha" a resonance and authenticity that had S.D.Burman shouting "Hurrah!" and that made us look forward to his score for "Laila Majnu". But now we can only look forlorn as we look back on a career that means for us some of our most intimate musical moments - "Ab Gham Ko Bana Lenge Jeene Ka Sahara" (Nirmohi).

Madan lived his life to the full - on his face in death could be read a requiem of "Meri Yaad Mein Tum Na Ansoo Bahana". We have the answer to that on Lata's lips : "Meri Beena Tum Bin Roye"

Truly did the Ghazal King belong to an age when melody was Queen.