Madan Mohan (composer)

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Madan Mohan
Composer Madan Mohan 2013 stamp of India.jpg
Mohan on a 2013 stamp of India.jpg
Madan Mohan Kohli

(1924-06-25)25 June 1924
Erbil, Iraq
Died14 July 1975(1975-07-14) (aged 51)
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Cause of deathLiver Cirrhosis
OccupationMusic director , Singer
Years active1950–1975
Spouse(s)Sheila (Dhingra) Kohli
  • Sangeeta Kohli (Daughter)
  • Sanjeev Kohli (Elder Son)
  • Sameer Kohli (Younger Son)
  • Rai Bahadur Chunilal Kohli (Father)
  • Bhagwanti Devi (Mother)
Awards1971: National Film Award for Best Music Direction – Dastak

Madan Mohan Kohli (25 June 1924 – 14 July 1975), better known as Madan Mohan, was a popular and unparalleled Indian music director of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. He is considered one of the most melodious and skilled music directors of the Hindi film industry.[1] He is particularly remembered for the immortal ghazals he composed for Hindi films. Some of his best works are with Mohammed Rafi, Talat Mahmood, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle.[2][3]

Early years[edit]

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 early years of his life in the Middle East. After 1932, his family returned to their home town of Chakwal, then in Jhelum district of Punjab, British India. He was left in the care of a grandparent while his father went to Bombay to seek business opportunities. He attended local school in Lahore for the next few years. During his stay at Lahore, he learnt the basics of classical music from one Kartar Singh for a very short period, however he never received any formal training in music. Some time later, his family moved to Bombay where he completed his Senior Cambridge from St. Mary's School in Byculla Mumbai. In Bombay, at the age of 11 years, he started performing in children's programmes broadcast by All India Radio. At age 17, he attended the Colonel Brown Cambridge School in Dehradun where he completed a year's training.[2][3][4][5]

Early career[edit]

He joined the Army as a Second Lieutenant in the year 1943. He served there for two years until end of World War II, when he left the Army and returned to Bombay to pursue his musical interests. In 1946, he joined the All India Radio, Lucknow as Programme Assistant, where he came in contact with various artists such as Ustad Faiyaz Khan, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Begum Akhtar, and Talat Mahmood. During these days he would also compose music for programmes to be broadcast on All India Radio. In 1947, he was transferred to All India Radio, Delhi where he worked for a short period. He was very fond of singing, and so in 1947 he got his first chance to record two ghazals penned by Behzad Lucknawi, Aane Laga Hai Koi Nazar Jalwa Gar Mujhe and Is Raaz Ko Duniya Jaanti Hai. Soon after, in 1948 he recorded two more private ghazals penned by Deewan Sharar, Wo Aaye To Mahfil Mein Ithlaate Huye Aaye and Duniya Mujhe Kahti Hai Ke Main Tujhko Bhoolaa Doon. In 1948, he got his first opportunity to sing a film duet Pinjare Mein Bulbul Bole and Mera Chhotasa Dil Dole with Lata Mangeshkar under composer Ghulam Haider (composer) for the film Shaheed (1948 film), though these songs were never released or used in the film. Between 1948 and 1949, he assisted music composers S.D. Burman for Do Bhai, and Shyam Sundar in Actress and Nirdosh.[2][6]

As Music Director[edit]

He scored his first big break with the film Aankhen (1950 film) in 1950, which marked the beginning of a long lasting collaboration with Mohammed Rafi, his next film was "Adaa" which saw the beginning of a long lasting collaboration with Lata Mangeshkar; both would go on to sing for many of his films. Two of his composed songs from "Sharabi" "Sawan ke maheeney mein" and the classic song "Kabhi na Kabhi koi na koi toh aayega", both filmed for 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. Madan often collaborated with lyricists Raja Mehdi Ali Khan, Kaifi Azmi, and Rajinder Krishan, Sahir Ludhianvi and Majrooh Sultanpuri for his movies.

In 1957 he came out with a film named Dekh Kabira Roya in which the legendary singer Manna Dey gave his voice to the melodious Kaun Aaya Mere Man Ke Dwaare and unforgettable numbers like Tum Bin Jeevan Kaisa Jeevan in the film Bawarchi. 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 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 Bhulaya 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 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.

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. 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.[7]

His legacy wouldn't be complete without mentioning the ghazal he composed for the movie "Dil Ki Rahein" – "Rasm-e-ulfat ko nibhaein to nibhaein kaise". The shayar(lyricist) for the ghazal was Naqsh Lallayalpuri and it was sung by Lata Mangeshkar. It is considered as one of the best songs sung by Lata Mangeshkar, ever.

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.

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 newcomer 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.His body was lifted before his funeral by actors – Rajesh Khanna, Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan and Rajendra Kumar.[8]

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 him.[9] The music was highly appreciated and was critically acclaimed. He was awarded the IIFA award 2005, for Music Direction for Veer-Zaara.[10]

Books 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 and 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.

Films as music director[edit]

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 Dak 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
1973 Dil Ki Rahen
1974 Asliyat
1974 Chowkidar
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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The king of melody. The Hindu (20 July 2001). Retrieved on 2018-11-09.
  2. ^ a b c MADAN MOHAN... The Musical Legend | The Official Website of Madan Mohan. Retrieved on 9 November 2018.
  3. ^ a b Arunachalam, Param (21 June 2015) Bollywood Retrospect: The musical legacy of composer Madan Mohan in 5 songs. DNA India. Retrieved on 9 November 2018.
  4. ^ ..Composers – Madan Mohan. Down Melody Lane... Retrieved on 9 November 2018.
  5. ^ Book extract: Mohammed Rafi – Golden Voice of the Silver Screen. DNA India (3 January 2016). Retrieved on 9 November 2018.
  6. ^ Late Mohammed Rafi was a music director's delight, says author Sujata Dev. Times of India. 30 September 2015.
  7. ^ Incredible Sweet Sound – Madan Mohan Archived 25 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Sanjeev Kohli gets candid about his father the Late Madan Mohan. (12 May 2018). Retrieved on 2018-11-09.
  9. ^ Madan Mohan lives on. (6 October 2004). Retrieved on 9 November 2018.
  10. ^ "IIFA awards 2005". Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 21 July 2012.


External links[edit]