Uploaded on June 25, 2012 by Page3 Reporter Powered by YouTube
Madan Mohan Kohli was born on June 25, 1924, at Baghdad, Iraq, where his father Rai Bahadur Chunilal was working as an Accountant General with the Iraqi Police, Madan Mohan spent the first five years of his life in the Middle East. As a boy of two, Madan Mohan used to spend hours listening to gramophone records and cultivated the uncanny ability to recognize and pick up any record from a pile of hundreds. After Iraq won independence from Britain, Rai Bahadur Chunnilal migrated back to India. He took his family to his home town, Chakwal in Jhelum district of Punjab, now in Pakistan, and left them in the care of Madan Mohan's grandfather, Hakim Yograj- a famous doctor. Rai Bahadur Chunilal left for Mumbai for business opportunities and subsequently became a partner in the Bombay Talkies studio and then in theFilmistan studio. Later, Madan's father shifted the whole family to Mumbai and Madan became acquinted with some children of film personalities. These 'children' were Raj Kapoor, Nargis & Suraiya.
At the behest of his father, he joined the army and received his first commission (emergency) in 1943. 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 Bollywood. Not many know that he aspired to becoming an actor but ended up directing music.
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. Wo Chup Rahen To from the film Jahan Ara (1964) and Maine Rang Li Aaj Chunariya from Dulhan Ek Raat Ki (1966) are just two such examples. Madan was also able to write songs for male singers such as Talat Mahmood & Mohammad Rafi . Madan did not usually employ Kishore Kumar, as his tunes were complex classical-based compositions and "Kishoreda" had a singing style that was more pop-oriented.
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 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.
Madan Mohan's most successful 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 sunaye') 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. 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. The last bow this great composer took posthumously was for Veer Zara - that almost made all of us travel down the memory lane when all untouched tunes composed by Madan Mohan were conducted by his son Sanjeev Kohli.
Madan Mohan's son, Sanjeev Kohli had about 30 unused tunes and the producer/director Yash Chopra selected only 8 of them for Veer Zara. Later on, Sanjeev Kohli brought out an album "Tere Baghair" which contains some of Madan Mohan's songs.
Madan's constant struggles took a toll on his life, and he died of liver cirrhosis on 14 July 1975.