Bollywood composer Naushad Ali died May 5 of cardiac arrest in Mumbai, India. He was 86.
In a career spanning 66 years, Naushad, known professionally by his first name, was selective in taking on films, composing music for only 67 pics.
An accomplished piano player, his early compositions had a Western flavor, but later in his career he turned to his Indian classical roots, something that would stay with him to his last film.
His last credit was “Taj Mahal,” in 2005. Also last year, the restored version of “Mughal-e-azam” (The Great Emperor) for which he’d composed the score in 1960, was re-released.
Naushad also scored music for India’s first foreign-language Oscar nominee, 1957’s “Mother India.”
Born on in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, Naushad trained extensively in Hindustani classical music and excelled at the piano before joining music director Khemchand Prakash as an assistant.
His first solo score for “Prem nagar” (City of Love, 1940) failed to win him accolades, but he broke through with the compositions of his next “Nai duniya” (New World, 1942) and “Sharda” (1942). He hit the big time with “Rattan” (1944).
He set a trend by giving film music a distinct classical tone with “Baiju bawra” (Besotted Baiju, 1952).
With this film he lent Mohammed Rafi’s vocals a rare classical finesse. He had a role, too, in molding Indian thrush Lata Mangeshkar’s voice.
Naushad branched out into television, sustaining his ability to give music a predominantly period flavor in “The Sword of Tipu Sultan”(1992) and “Akbar the Great” (1994).
He is survived by his three sons and six daughters.