Madan Mohan (composer)

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Madan Mohan
Madan Mohan (1925-1975).jpg
Born Madan Mohan Kohli
(1924-06-25)25 June 1924
Baghdad, Iraq
Died 14 July 1975(1975-07-14) (aged 51)
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Years active 1950–1980
Awards 1971: National Film Award for Best Music Direction – Dastak.

Madan Mohan Kohli (25 June 1924 – 14 July 1975), better known as Madan Mohan, was an Indian music director of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. He is particularly remembered for the ghazals he composed for the film industry. He often worked with Lata Mangeshkar, Talat Mahmood and Mohammed Rafi.


Born on 25 June 1924, at Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, where his father Rai Bahadur Chunilal was working as an Accountant General with the Kurdistan Peshmerga forces, Madan Mohan spent the first five years of his life in the Middle East.[citation needed]

After 1932, the family returned to Chunnilal's home town of Chakwal, then in Jhelum district of Punjab, British India. They were left in the care of a grandparent while Chunnilal went to Mumbai to seek business opportunities. He subsequently became a partner in the Bombay Talkies studio and then in the Filmistan studio.[1]

Madan Mohan attended school there for the next six years. It is said that he inherited his talent for music from his mother, who was a poet and great admirer of music. His father was not very musically inclined, but grandfather Hakim Yograj and his younger brother, Prakash were staunch connoisseurs. They used to discuss the subtleties of music in Madan's presence. During his time in Northern Iraq, Madan was inspired by legendary Kurdish singer Hassan Zirak.

Later, Madan's father shifted the whole family to Mumbai and Madan became acquainted with some children of film personalities. These 'children' were Raj Kapoor, Nargis and Suraiya.

At the behest of his father, he attended the Colonel Brown Cambridge School and joined the army and received his first commission (emergency) in 1943.[2] Personal traits like courtesy, endurance, discipline, physical fitness and punctuality were all fostered in him during those years. Though as history would have it, he quit the armed forces and turned to his first love—music. He joined All India Radio in Lucknow, where he brushed shoulders with such ghazal and classical luminaries as Ustad Faiyyaz Khan, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Begum Akhtar, and Talat Mahmood. He picked up their influences and carried them with him to Mumbai when he entered the Hindi Film industry. Not many know that he aspired to becoming an actor but ended up directing music.

Early career[edit]

After assisting S.D. Burman and Shyam Sunder for a short time, Madan scored his first big break with the film Aankhen in 1950. His next film was "Adaa". This film saw the beginning of a long partnership with Lata Mangeshkar; she would sing for him in majority of his future films. One feat achieved by Madan Mohan was that at least two of the songs from the film "Sharabi" for which he composed the music, namely "Sawan ke maheeney mein" and the classic song "Kabhi na Kabhi koi na koi toh aayega", both filmed on Dev Anand are among the most well known renditions of the renowned singer Mohammad Rafi. In addition, his other compositions like Wo Chup Rahen To from the film Jahan Ara (1964) and Maine Rang Li Aaj Chunariya from Dulhan Ek Raat Ki (1966) are two similar examples. Madan was also able to write songs for male singers such as Talat Mahmood (Phir wahi Sham, wahi dil, wahi tanhayee hai, Main Teri Nazar Ka Suroor Hoon and Teri Aankh Ke Aansoo from Jahan Ara, and Meri Yaad Mein Tum Na from Madhosh) and Mohammad Rafi (Ek Haseen Shaam Ko from Dulhan Ek Raat Ki, Kisi Ki Yaad Mein from Jahan Ara, Main Nigahen Tere Chehere Se from Aap Ki Parchaiyian, Aap Ke Pehlun Mein Aakar Ro Diye from Mera Saaya, the all-time haunting Meri Awaaz Suno and Tumhare Zulf Ke Sayen from Naunihal, Teri Aankhon Ke Siva Duniya Mein from Chiraag as well. Madan did not usually employ Kishore Kumar. Nonetheless their partnership created songs as well; in this category fall songs such as Simti Si, Sharmai Si from Parwana, Zaroorat Hai, Zaroorat Hai from Manmauji, the title song from Ek Muthi Aasman, Mera Naam Abdul Rehman from Bhai Bhai, and Aai Hasino, Naazanino from Chacha Zindabad.

During his early career Madan Mohan had been mildly criticised for creating songs that suited female voices, especially that of Lata Mangeshkar (who called him Madan Bhaiya or "Brother Madan"). But this is not true all the way; in 1957 he came out with a film named Dekh Kabira Roya in which singer Manna Dey gave his voice to the melodious Kaun Aaya Mere Man Ke Dwaare. In addition to that, he had Lata sing Tu Pyaar Kare Ya Thukraaye and Meri Veena Tum Bin Roye numbers, and he used Talat Mahmood for the song Hum Se Aaya Na Gaya in the same movie. Once in an interview Manna Dey recalled that Madan Mohan "sahab" asked him to take special care when singing Kaun Aaya Mere Man Ke Dwaare.

A film scored by Madan was Chetan Anand's Haqeeqat (1964), starring Balraj Sahni and Dharmendra and based on the Sino-Indian War of 1962. In it, he used Rafi, who sang numbers like Kar Chale Hum Fida, Main Yeh Soch Kar. Lata was used for the song Zara Si Aahat Hoti Hai and the unscreened " Khelo na mere dilse". And the same film saw Rafi, Talat, Manna Dey, and Bhupendra singing Hoke Majboor Mujhe Usne Bulaya Hoga. Bhupendra appeared on the screen as well for the first time, much before he established himself as a playback singer. This song is also the only song in which four top-rated male playback singers have put voices together in a song. In 1966, he again paired with Lata Mangeshkar for Mera Saaya.

Madan Mohan's venture was Raj Khosla's Desi version of "Woman in White", titled "Woh Kaun Thi?". This film has three Lata solos ('Naina barse rim jhim rim jhim', 'Lag ja gale' and 'Jo humne daastaan apni sunayee') and a Lata duet.

In 1970, during the changing times of western music he gave music based on ragas for Rajinder Singh Bedi's Dastak and won his only 1971 National Film Award for Best Music Direction. Its songs sung by Lata Mangeshkar are still considered her finest.[3]

The late fifties, sixties and the early seventies were the most productive period in Madan Mohan's career. His songs from those decades include compositions for films like Adalat, Anpadh, Dulhan ek raat ki, Mera Saya, Dastak, Hanste Zakhm, Heer Raanjha, Maharaja, and Mausam, among many others. His second last bow was for a film released five years after his death, Chalbaaz.

Madan Mohan's son Sanjeev Kohli recreated 11 of his late father's unused compositions for the soundtrack of the 2004 Yash Chopra film Veer-Zaara. Later on, Kohli brought out an album "Tere Baghair" which contains some of Madan Mohan's songs.


Madan's favourite lyricists were Raja Mehdi Ali Khan, Kaifi Azmi, and Rajinder Krishan, but Sahir Ludhianvi and Majrooh Sultanpuri also collaborated with him on a few movies. The Madan-Raja pairing in particular produced songa Aap Ki Nazron Ne Samjha & Hai isi mein pyar ki abroo from the movie Anpadh (1962). Among the admirers of these songs was Naushad who said that these two gazals are equal to the entire compositions he has created.[4] Madan and Raja also came up with the tunes for Mera Saaya in 1966, a film starring Sunil Dutt as the male lead.

meri duniya mein na purab hai na pashchim koi,

sari duniya simti hai khuli baahon mein,
kal bhatakta tha jin raahon mein tanha tanha,

kafile kitne mile aaj unhi raahon mein

Mass appeal[edit]

Lata Mangeshkar christened him "Ghazal ka Shehzadaa", or the Prince of Ghazals. Even Lata herself stated in a live concert in the late 1990s that she found Madan Mohan's compositions difficult to master. Most of the top film actors of the day (who were also studio heads) had fallen into a groove with their preferred composers (e.g., Raj Kapoor had Shankar Jaikishan, Dev Anand had the Burmans, Dilip Kumar had Naushad, etc.) Hence, he often had difficulty finding assignments. His 1964 Filmfare Award nomination for Best Music Director for Woh Kaun Thi. In a tightly-contested race, both Madan and Shankar Jaikishan (Sangam) lost to relative newcomers Laxmikant Pyarelal, who scored Dosti.

Death and after[edit]

Madan's constant struggles took a toll on his life, and he began drinking heavily. He died of liver cirrhosis on 14 July 1975.

In 2004, Madan's unused tunes were recreated by his son, Sanjeev Kohli, for the Yash Chopra film Veer-Zaara, starring Shahrukh Khan, Preity Zinta, and Rani Mukerji. The lyrics were written by Javed Akhtar, and Lata Mangeshkar was invited to once again sing the majority of the melodies composed by her dear friend.[5] The music was highly appreciated and got high critical response. He was awarded the IIFA award 2005, for Music Direction for Veer-Zaara.[6]

Book on Madan Mohan[edit]

'Madan Mohan: An Unforgettable Composer – Edited by V M Joshi & Suresh Rao, presents an analytical look at the composer’s work. It includes articles by Sanjeev Kohli, Akshay Kohli, O P Dutta, Uttam Singh, B R Ishara, Dr. Ashok Ranade, Alka Deo Marulkar, Mridula Joshi, Dr. Kirti Shrivastava, Deepak Jeswal and many more; interviews with Lata Mangeshkar, Shreya Ghoshal, Mahalaxmi Iyer & Rehana Sultan, and Madan Mohan’s filmography.


Madan's music was characterised by his immense ability to meld elements of Indian classical music into a new style of Hindi filmi song. He had a keen and sensitive ear for the nuances of Indian classical tunes, and combined them with elements of Western music such as harmonies to produce a style of music that could be appreciated by both classical music aficionados and the common person alike.


Year Film Title Notes
1950 Aankhen
1951 Adaa
1951 Madhosh
1952 Aashiana
1952 Anjaam
1952 Khoobsurat
1952 Nirmohi
1953 Baaghi
1953 Chacha Choudhary
1953 Dhoon
1954 Ilzaam
1954 Mastana
1955 Ehsaan
1955 Railway Platform
1956 Bhai-Bhai
1956 Fifty Fifty
1956 Mem Sahib
1956 Pocket Maar
1956 Rajdhani
1957 Beti
1957 Chhote Babu
1957 Dekh Kabhira Roya
1957 Gateway of India
1957 Samundar
1957 Sheru
1958 Aakhri Dao
1958 Adalat
1958 Chandan
1958 Ek Shola
1958 Jailor
1958 Khazanchi
1958 Khota Paisa
1958 Night Club
1959 Baap Bete
1959 Bank Manager
1959 Chacha Zindabaad
1959 Duniya Na Maane
1959 Jaagir
1959 Minister
1959 Mohr
1960 Bahaana
1961 Sanjog
1961 Senapati
1962 Anpadh Nominated – Filmfare Award for Best Music Director
1962 Manmauji
1963 Akeli Mat Jaiyo
1964 Aap Ki Parchhaiyan
1964 Gazal
1964 Haqeeqat
1964 Jahan Ara
1964 Pooja Ke Phool
1964 Sharabi
1964 Suhagan
1964 Woh Kaun Thi? Nominated – Filmfare Award for Best Music Director
1965 Bombay Race Course
1965 Naya Kanoon
1965 Neela Aakash
1965 Rishte Naate
1966 Daak Ghar
1966 Dulhan Ek Raat Ki
1966 Ladka Ladki
1966 Mera Saaya
1966 Neend Hamari Khwab Tumhare
1967 Ghar Ka Chirag
1967 Jab Yaad Kisi Ki Aati Hai
1967 Naunihal
1967 Nawab Sirajuddaula
1968 Ek Kali Muskaai
1969 Chirag
1970 Dastak Won – National Film Award for Best Music Direction
1970 Heer Raanjha
1970 Maa Ka Aanchal
1970 Maharaja
1971 Parwana
1972 Bawarchi
1972 Koshish
1972 Sultana Daku
1973 Ek Mutthi Aasmaan
1973 Hanste Zakhm
1973 Hindustan Ki Kasam
1973 Prabhat
1974 Asliyat
1974 Chowkidar
1975 Dil Ki Rahen
1975 Mausam Nominated – Filmfare Award for Best Music Director
1976 Laila Majnu
1976 Sharafat Chod Di Maine
1977 Saheb Bahadur
1978 Jalan
1979 Inspector Eagle
1980 Chaal Baaz Posthumously released
2004 Veer-Zaara Posthumously released
Nominated – Filmfare Award for Best Music Director
Won IIFA Award for Best Music Director


  1. ^ Gulzar, p. 593
  2. ^ Nerurkar, Vishwas. "His Journey". Madan Mohan: The Musical Legend. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  3. ^ Incredible Sweet Sound – Madan Mohan
  4. ^ "Aapki nazron ne samjha pyar ke kaabil mujhe". atul's bollywood song a day. Retrieved 25 June 2014. 
  5. ^ Madan Mohan lives on
  6. ^ "IIFA awards 2005". Retrieved 21 July 2012. 


External links[edit]