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There’s something about Yash Chopra that distinguishes the connoisseurs from the common man. Years after the demise of Madan Mohan, the music maestro in 1975, Yash Chopra dared to use some of the late musician’s unused compositions in his new film Veer-Zaara produced and directed by him in 2004 and starred top Madan stars Shahrukh Khan, Priety Zinta and Rani Mukherjee among others. The music became an instant hit with the masses and the legend continued to live on in the hearts of his music lovers. That the late Madan Mohan was nominated for the Filmfare Award for best music for Veer-Zaara that year and won the IIFA Award for best music the same year was an icing on the cake and speaks volume of the genius that went by the name of Madan Mohan.

It was sheer coincidence that Yashji had Madan Mohan’s son working for his production house and happen to get access to a selected few of the late musician’s unused compositions. Most of these compositions were alternate tunes that Madan Mohan had recorded on his personal tape recorder for films, which remained unused while some were just tunes he had hummed and saved up to be used for future projects.

Madan Mohan composed musiVeerc for just about 100 films or so in a career spanning 25 years.  He started his career in 1947, singing a few private ghazals and in 1948, got the opportunity to sing a film duet along with Lata Mangeshkar for the film Shaheed. This song was however not released or used in the film. But that didn’t deter Madan Mohan from pursing his dream of becoming a singer or a composer.

After assisting renowned music directors of that era for a couple of films, it was Ankhen in 1950 that was his maiden film as an independent music composer. And then there was no looking back. It was a contrasting shift in his career plans. He had initially wanted to become an actor and had done small roles in a couple of films but when his career as an actor didn’t get a right push, he had turned to music and ultimately achieved the stardom that he so wanted through his musical compositions. He along with Lata Mangeshkar became a formidable pair of music director-singer and gave quite a few hits.

Madan Mohan got the title of a Ghazal King soon after the music of Anpadh released in 1960 and became a rage all over the country. His strict aesthetic sense attracted producers and directors towards him for their films that wanted a sensitive touch of music to it. It was no secret that big banners and big stars kept themselves away from Madan Mohan for reasons best known to them. Even popular awards eluded him though he was nominated four times – first in 1963 for Anpadh, then in 1965 for Woh Kaun Thi?, again in 1977 for Mausam and finally for Veer-Zaara in 2005.

Veer-Zaara had given to the masses what no other popular new Hindi film had done previously – give the young music lovers a taste of the classic music from the legend who was no more. The youngsters of today have always been subjected to remixed songs of the golden era. It was simply keeping up to the youth’s demands who were more keen on peppy numbers and had little interest in the sounds of old. But with this film, they were subjected to a blend of the modern and the golden era sound and happily lapped it up with open ears.

Veera-Zaara’s soundtrack was also a great gift to the music lovers from the golden era who still preferred to listen to the golden oldies rather then the new age that they failed to identify with.  Somehow, Sanjeev Kohli, son of Madan Mohan was assigned the task of rearranging Madan Mohan’s music by Yash Chopra and Sanjeev made a good job of retaining the Madan Mohan feel as well as making it sure that the youngsters of today were not put of by the sound of old. It was a real challenge indeed and the IIFA Award was a testimony to the fact that he had come out of this challenging situation, a winner!

Another aspect was that Madan Mohan had always preferred to use Lata Mangeshkar for his female oriented songs whenever possible when he was alive. And Veer-Zaara had Lata Mangeshkar once again singing to the music composed by Madan Mohan now years after his demise. At the age of 75, Lata Mangeshkar still sounded like someone in her early 20s and fully justified Yash Chopra’s choice of using her for his film. It was also a tribute to the team of Madan Mohan and Lata Mangeshkar that was a huge hit in the golden era.

And so Madan Mohan’s tunes composed years ago was finally accepted by a top banner. It formed the soundtrack of one of Yash Raj Film’s biggest and most successful films. The film also had top stars featuring in it. And the songs of the film became a huge hit and for almost a year, remained in the top 10 music countdowns.

This film had touched the right cord with the audience and music lovers. People who loved Madan Mohan’s music of the golden era were bestowed once again with his new never before heard compositions while the youngsters got to experience the magic of his music albeit suitably rearranged to meet up with the musical needs of today’s time.

Looking back at Veer-Zaara and unused compositions from the late Madan Mohan as an example, there are still a lot more unused compositions from the late music maestro and am sure that there will be a lot of unused music compositions from the other late legends of the golden era that’s just might be collecting dust somewhere. If other producers and directors emulate Yash Chopra and incorporate those compositions in the future film projects, the young and the old will both get to experience once again the music of the golden era – old wine in a new bottle. A blend of the old with the new. Any takers!

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