How Music Legend Khayyam took UMRAO JAAN as a Challenge!

Music legend Khayyam, who gave film industry peerless melodies in movies like KABHIE KABHIE, RAZIA SULTAN, NOORIE, THODISI BEWAFAI, BAZAAR etc. but his score for UMRAOJAAN  has made him immortal.

February 18 marks the legendary music director’s birthday. Raaga.Com wishes him birthday greetings and shares how Khayyam took UMRAO JAAN as a challenge and emerged a winner.

Listen to Umrao Jaan Songs on

When filmmaker Muzaffar Ali decided to make the film UMRAO JAAN in the late 80’s it was an action film era dominated by Amitabh Bachchan. Khayyam in an interview said, “When Muzaffar Ali told me about the plot of UMRAO JAAN, a famous Lucknow courtesan I was taken aback because the movie needed chaste Urdu Ghazals while the films made in those days were action movies and the music, in particularly, had degraded to its worst with Disco ruling the roast. Hence composing music for the film was a great challenge.”

He continues, “Further what made me more insecure was that in Meena Kumari’s PAKEEZAH, music monarch Gulam Mohammad had given the best Mujra songs hence I was in a bit dilemma what better to provide. However I took the challenge.” 

"Then I started reading the history, how UMRAO JAAN became such a big singer, she was a brilliant dancer and she also did poetry and as I did my research the music came effortlessly,” he informs.

He adds, “ However after the music was ready the biggest hurdle was training Asha Bhosle to learn the nuances of Ghazals because I was clear in my mind that I did not wanted Asha Bhosle the film singer but Asha Bhosle the Umrao Jaan.”

Truly after the songs were recorded not only the nation was stunned to listen to a new Asha Bhosle but even Asha Bhosle herself was left astounded when she heard the songs as how different - and beautiful - her voice sounded. 


  1. Khayyam has always been a prolific composer, and his music spans the gamut from the sublime to the tantalizing, from the mystical to the lyrical.

    Kostenlose Musik-Essay-Beispiele


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