The spirit of Aman ki Asha is embodied in the strong bond between the late, great music composer from India and a Boston-based music lover of Pakistani origin
By Siraj Khan
It's 2 am in Boston and most people are fast asleep. I am in my den/office at home, singing to a long-distance caller, the door shut. My daughter Shama in the adjacent room goes to her mother, disturbed more about hearing her father singing on the phone in the middle of the night, than by being woken up. "Don't worry," her mother pacifies her, "he must be on the phone with O.P. Nayyar - and it may last a while". Resigned, Shama crawls in bed with her mother.
That night, O.P. and I were singing Phir milo ge kabhi together. He would often forget what the time difference was between Boston and Mumbai - were we 10 hours ahead of Mumbai or behind? Thus confused, he would sometimes call me in the middle of the night. Our conversation would often continue for hours.
Looking back, as a well-travelled world citizen, I have met, respected, admired and loved men, women and children in many of the over 70 countries I've visited, across faiths and cultures. The only person I have ever idolised is the legendary composer of Indian films, O.P. Nayyar, whom I fondly addressed as Babujee (a reference to his Geeta Dutt classic Babujee dheere chalna from Aar Paar).
It is my firm belief that even if we do not meet in person, some of us are connected with each other in some spiritual way. My connection with Babujee probably began when I was four years old. How else could I possibly remember the words and sing Janey kahan mera jigar gaya ji and Ankhon hi ankhon mein ishara hogaya even before I started going to school and learning to read and write? By the time I finished school in 1967, I had the titles of every song he had recorded until then.
I used to save up my pocket allowance to buy 45 rpm records and LPs. His immortal pick-me-up melodies were my constant companion even as I passed my exams and recorded successes as cricket captain in my younger days and later in working life.
It was much later that I realised that he had played a big role, in shaping my childhood and entire personality, all unknowingly of course. I never thought I would ever meet him in person, especially given the cross-border limitations of those days.
And yet, meet we eventually did, on June 9, 1995 - by then I was 44 - in Dubai at an event titled OP Nayyar Nite. I recall his words at our first handshake: Bohat der ho gayee hamaray milne mein ('Our meeting has been a long time coming'). I was stunned. He invited me for breakfast the next morning. I could hardly sleep that night and was at the Metropolitan Hotel well in time for a breakfast that turned into lunch and then dinner. Somewhere along the line, the maestro realised that he had missed his flight home. I managed to get him a late night flight.
Since then till today (I am writing this on his fifth death anniversary) we never left each other. Even his death has been unable to make us part. Our spirits meet every day. I interact with OPiums (die-hard OP fans), manage the official OPN website www.opnayyar.org, and organise O.P. Nayyar shows all over the world. The annual OP Nayyar Nite in Boston, held every year since he died, have become a tradition now. When I go up to the stage as the emcee, I am attired in clothes from Babujee's wardrobe. TV channels contact me for interesting information, ideas and anecdotes to structure their programmes. His music runs in my veins. It is almost like oxygen.
When we were trying to form the OPN Memorial Trust in Mumbai and the names of Trustees had been submitted, we were told that all Trustees have to be Indian citizens or non-resident Indians (NRIs) with addresses in India, and supporting documentation to that effect. With me a US citizen of Pakistani origin living in Boston, the process came to a grinding halt.
In Mumbai on a work assignment, I decided to establish direct contact with the Deputy Registrar, who asked for my address in India. I met him and gave him Babujee's address, which was the same as on his will, a copy of which had been provided. Then he said that I had to be an NRI. I confidently responded that I was an NRI - meaning Not Really Indian. He had a good laugh. I added that Babujee may have been living in Mumbai but his heart was always in Lahore, where he was born and brought up. He never learned to read or write Hindi. To him, it was always Urdu or English. I got the signature of approval. The OPN Memorial Trust is registered in the state of Maharashtra and supports aging and forgotten singers and musicians, a continuation of what Babujee did in his lifetime.Image
Babujee's immortal melodies continue to flow, refreshing as a mountain stream. However, one cannot sit on the side of the banks to enjoy them. You have to dip your hand to get the feel of the flow and then you are swept away, whether it is Jayye aap kahan jayenge, maang ke saath tumhara, deewana hua badal, aap yun hi agar, zara haule haule chalo or any of the hundreds more.
OP Nayyar became a legend in his lifetime. The Asha Bhosle-OP relationship is part of Bollywood's folklore. She was the love of his life for almost 14 years. It is an undeniable fact that Asha owes her success to OP for the way he shaped her voice, whether she accepts it or not. No other musical combination has had the same magic. Their swan song was Chein se humko kabhi after which they split up, never to stand under the same roof again.
Music and dreams have no national boundaries or barriers. They flow in the air seamlessly to where they wish to go. O.P. Nayyar showed us how.
Boston-based Siraj Khan lives a life without boundaries. A connoisseur of film music, he is writing the authorised
biography of O.P. Nayyar.
Email: Khansaheb2@aol.com Website: www.opnayyar.org
Music composer, India
Born January 16, 1926
Died January 28, 2007
OP Nayyar and author at their first meeting in June 1995
Thursday, February 02, 2012
Senior Advocate Supreme Court
With reference to Beena Sarwar's article last week about the release of Indian prisoners, I hope you .....more
Making dreams come true
The dreams of three Pakistani children came true recently when Aman ki Asha in collaboration with Make-A-Wish Foundation Pakis .....more
Over 300 young students of Lahore's schools join hands to promote friendship between Pakistan and India
By Waqar Gillani
In twenty-five minutes, the .....more
Saturday, January 14, 2012, Time: 10:30am - 4:00pm
Where: Punjab Institute of Language .....more
'Justice with Urdu'
Saturday, January 14, 2012, Time: 4.30 pm
Where: Multi-purpose Hall, India International Centre, M .....more
Page 73 of 175
The News on Sunday Special Report: India Pakistan prisoners more editions
We probably didn't need to do this Special Report. Newspaper stories don't matter when it comes to Indians in Pakistani jails and vice versa. In fact, 'vice versa' sums it up. We do to them what they do to us.
Except when the two countries decide to begin talking, yet again! This time a little before the foreign secretary level talks, some Pakistani prisoners were released by India (and vice versa must have happened) and some more were release....read more
For the past 2 years the Jang Group and Geo have been working on a project of great national interest; one that we hope will help usher in an era of peace and prosperity in the country and indeed, in the region. And one that hopefully all Pakistanis can be proud of. more
The Jang Group has entered into an agreement with the Times of India Group, the largest media group of India, to campaign for peace betw