Nayyar wrote music for over 50 films

Bollywood film composer O.P. Nayyar died of cardiac arrest Saturday in Mumbai. He was 81. Known for toe-tapping numbers such as classic disco fave “Mera naam Chin Chin Choo” (My Name Is Chin Chin Choo from “Howrah Bridge”) and hundreds of others, Nayyar composed music for more than 50 films.

Born Omkar Prasad Nayyar, in Lahore, Punjab, he broke into Hindi films in 1949 with “Kaneez.” The composer was in his heyday in the 1950s and ’60s collaborating with hit directors such as Guru Dutt on films like “Aaa paar” (Across the Heart, 1954), “Mr. and Mrs. 1955″ (1955) and “CID” (1956). Other credits include “Baaz” (The Hawk, 1953), “Naya daur” (New Door, 1957), “Howrah Bridge” (1958) “Kashmir ki kali” (Kashmiri Beauty,1964) and “Sawan ki ghata” (1966).

Nearly all the major Bollywood singers sang for him, including Geeta Dutt and Mohammad Rafi, but especially Asha Bhonsle, for whom he abandoned his family. However, after a well-publicized breakup with Bhonsle, his career took a downturn. Few directors were willing to antagonize Bhonsle or her sister Lata Mangeshkar (who never sang for him) by hiring Nayyar.

His music had a mix of Western influences, including waltzes, and the Punjabi folk beat, often in the same song. He was especially adept at songs that included horse and buggies, “his signature hoofbeats” as director Ravi Chopra called it.

Nayyar’s last outing was a remix of “Mera naam Chin Chin Choo” for Deepa Mehta’s 2002 “Bollywood/Hollywood.”

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