Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis presents Hridyesh Award to legendary music composer Khayyam as his wife singer Jagjit Kaur looks on, during a felicitation function at Dinanath Mangeshkar Hall in Mumbai, Friday, Oct 26, 2018. Image Credit: PTI

Renowned Indian National Award-winning music director Mohammad Zahur Khayyam Hashmi, better known as Khayyam, was conferred this year’s prestigious Hridaynath Award for Lifetime Achievement late on Friday in Mumbai.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis gave away the award, comprising a cash prize of Rs100,000 (Dh5,024) and a memento, named after the famous Hridaynath Mangeshkar on his 81st birthday on Friday.

Speaking on the occasion, Fadnavis recalled Khayyam’s great contributions to the music world since the launch of his musical career from the age of 17 at Ludhiana in 1943.

“Khayyam ji is a 92-year-young man. Presenting this award to him is indeed an honour for me,” said the 48-year old Fadnavis.

Lauding the role of the Mangeshkar family for their music legacy which is “as tall as the Himalayas”, Fadnavis said they are “a gift to the country”, and listening to their music is itself a “divine experience.”

Terming Khayyam as his inspiration, Hridaynath Mangeshkar praised his musical creations and said that “conferring the award named after me on him is actually a reward for me.”

“Hridaynath is the only and youngest brother of the legendary Mangeshkar singer-sisters — Lata, Asha, Usha and Meena, all children of the great composer the late Master Deenanath Mangeshkar,” said Avinath Prabhavalkar, a Hridayesh Arts official.

Responding to the felicitations, Khayyam said the Mangeshkar family has made a significant contribution to the cause of music in the country and he felt humbled by the honour.

Present at the ceremony in Deenanath Mangeshkar Hall, Vile Parle, were several eminent personalities like Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, Jabbar Patel, members of the Mangeshkar clan and celebrities.

The veteran composer, lyricist and writer Khayyam started his music career in Ludhiana in 1943 at the age of 17. Later, the Padma Bhushan awardee teamed up as Sharma of the music-director duo “Sharmaji-Varmaji” to compose music for films like Heer Ranjha (1948) and others.

However, after the Partition, when his partner Rahman Varma moved to Pakistan, Khayyam continued solo and his earliest notable works were for films such as Footpath, Biwi and Phir Subah Hogi.

It was the 1961 blockbuster Shola Aur Shabnam which firmly established Khayyam as a top-notch music director followed by films with superhit music like Mohabbat Isko Kehta Hain (1965) and Aakhri Khat (1966), that was the late superstar Rajesh Khanna’s debut film with memorable songs like Bahaaron, Mera Jeevan Bhi Savaaron.

He also composed memorable music for films like Kabhi Kabhi (1976), Trishul (1978), Noorie (1979), Thodisi Bewafai (1980), Dard, Ahista Ahista (1981), Dil... Akhir Dil Hai (1982), Bazaar (1982) and Razia Sultan (1983).

In 1981, he composed music for the sensitive blockbuster film Umrao Jaan, ranked among the all time best Bollywood films and considered the jewel in the crown of Khayyam’s compositions, for which he bagged the Indian National Award, and also a Filmfare Award, besides a string of other honours.

Umrao Jaan is oft compared with another cult masterpiece Pakeezah (1972) for a courtesan-based musical theme; both became superhits and now occupy their own unique pedestals in Bollywood music history.

Explaining this, Khayyam once said: “My biggest challenge was that Umrao Jaan should not only look different but sound different, to make it stand apart from Pakeezah in which most songs were sung by Lata Mangeshkar for the heroine Meena Kumari. So, nearly a decade later in Umrao Jaan, I only used Asha Bhosale’s voice for the heroine Rekha.”

In 2016, Khayyam and his singer-wife Jagjit Kaur endeared themselves to the masses when they set up the ‘Khayyam-Jagjit Kaur KPG Charitable Trust’ in memory of their actor-son Pradeep who died in 2012, and donated their entire wealth to be utilized to fund upcoming artistes and technicians in Bollywood.

The other past recipients of the awards are Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Amitabh Bachchan, Sulochana Latkar, A.R. Rahman, Pandit Jasraj, and Javed Akhtar, besides chess champ Vishwanathan Anand.