In Punjabi cinema, Nanak Naam Jahaz Hai has a cult stature. And its music is timeless too. If the movie won a National Award in 1969, its music too achieved the same honour. Sadly, S. Mohinder, who was the music director of the film and composed many other melodies, is no more. He died of a heart attack at his residence in Mumbai on Sunday.
S. Mohinder’s parents may not have supported his interest in music as a child, but his grandfather knew the boy was gifted and motivated him. Born in a small town called Sallanwali, he moved to India with his family during Partition. Having trained in classical music, he decided to become a music composer. In an interview, he said, “Although I loved singing, I noticed that singers hardly got any respect. It was the composers who would be addressed as ji and that appealed to me. So, I moved on to become a music director.”
S. Mohinder, whose full name was Mohinder Singh Sarna, had an illustrious career spanning over three decades. He worked with Kishore Kumar, Manna De, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle and many other great singers. Be it the lilting melody of Guzra hua zamana aata nahi (Shirin Farhad, 1956) or the zestful tune of Teri meri ik jindari, he knew what the audience liked. No wonder even after 50 years, his songs are still so fresh!
Ahead of time
“He was so talented and way ahead of his time. The way he used ragas in Mann Jeete Jagjeet and how Asha ji sung it was remarkable! He is one Punjabi who laid the foundation for us all in the industry,” says music director Jatinder Shah.
Having spent all his life creating music, Jasbir Jassi feels there was no one like S. Mohinder. “With all the technology, we can’t do what he did back then. I am a great fan of his. I think he brought Gurbani to the world forum through Nanak Naam Jahaz Hai. The way Beatles is remembered in the western music, I think S. Mohinder is that for us. I always wanted to meet him, but somehow, unfortunately, I couldn’t,” Jasbir adds.
Singer-actor Gurshabad feels proud that he is from the same school as S. Mohinder was. For Gurshabad, the music director’s contribution to the Punjabi music industry is unmatched. “I am from Khalsa School Amritsar, which is where S. Mohinder ji studied. I used to listen to his music even during my college days.”
The song Ek Onkar from Rang De Basanti, which evokes a feeling of harmony and spirituality in everyone’s heart, irrespective of religion, was a milestone in Harshdeep Kaur’s career. Says the singer, “It’s sad that we have lost such a gem. His music was full of spirituality. As a child, I used to sing shabads composed by him from the film Nanak Naam Jahaz Hai; Mere Sahib and Re Mann Aiso Kar were my favourites.”
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