Inimitable composer Rasheed Attre



March 12, 2022

Comment on the Inimitable composer Rasheed Attre

Kausar Fatima recollects an exceptional musical repertoire

All generations Inimitable composer Rasheed Attre of Pakistanis ecstatically enjoy the evergreen song ‘aye mausam rangeelay suhanay’ that has become a signature tune of Mehndi gatherings in any wedding in the length and breadth of the country. Composed by Rasheed Attre in lilting Pahari raagni, the queen of folk, and sung by husky-voiced Zubaida Khanum, this tune is as fresh as morning breeze. This singular tune was enough for immortalising its composer but Rasheed Attre who was just inimitable.
Virtuoso composer Rasheed Attre hailed from a traditional music family and he learnt music from his father known to be popular musician and singer. Like most Rubabi musicians of Lahore he ventured into film music and at quite a young age in 1939 began his journey from Calcutta. His break came when he composed music for a move called Mamta in 1942. In Pakistan his big moment came when he gave music for Punjabi film Shehri Babu and his number ‘galaan sun ke mahi de naal meriyan dopatta beimaan ho gaya’, a scintillating tappa, became a rage. One more number of this film composed in sufiana style ‘bhaagan waleo naam japho maula naam’ is still a favourite song sung at Sufi shrines.
Rasheed Attre came into his element when his intensely popular songs of film Waada; ‘jab tere shehr se guzarta hun’ and ‘baar baar barsain moray nain’ entered the hall of fame destined to remain there forever. The exquisite raag Bhimplasi Thumri ‘baar baar barsen moray nain’ has been frequently remixed. This composition confirmed Rasheed Attre’s grip on classical music that became hallmark of his musical journey.
Numbers seeped in classical music were composed by him in quick succession and some of these endearing thumris became legendary: ‘saanwariya man bhayo re’ rendered by Nasim Begum, ‘jia ra tarsey’ by Noorjahan and she also sang ‘chan chun chun bajey payal bajey’. His vintage Thumri ‘banwari chakori’ performed by Noor Jahan became the stepping stone for the career of Sajjad Ali which he sang in a TV programme.
Rasheed Attre gave music for film ‘Sarfarosh’ of which three songs rendered by Zubeda Khanum became instant hits. The songs ‘teri ulfat mein sanam’, ‘ae chand unsey ja kar mera salam kehna’ and ‘tera nishana daikhey zamana’ became popular despite equally sonorous songs of Indian films then shown in Pakistan. He composed music for Punjabi film Chan Mahi in 1954 and made Zubaida sing its very popular number ‘bundey chandi de sonay di nath laeykey’, an exquisite party song that was frequently remixed.
Rasheed Attre’s defining music was that he composed for film Saat Lakh in 1957 as his signature tune ‘aye mausam rangeelay suhane; was composed for this movie. He also composed a raag Bageshri number sung by Munir Hussain ‘qarar lootne wale qarar ko tarse’ that has proven to be a classic litany of bad wishes still unsurpassed. Zubaida Khanum also rendered an extremely bewitching number ‘‘ghoonghat utha loon’ for this film. Rasheed Attre’s phenomenal talent then produced a stunning composition ‘dila theher ja yaar da nazara lain e’ crooned both by Zubaida Khanum and Munir Hussain. Munir Hussain’s version of this song is still highly revered and is the favourite of younger generation.
Rasheed Attre never faltered when it came to competition and that happened when he was asked to complete the musical score of Noor Jahan’s film Anarkali that was left half-way done by another virtuoso composer Master Inayat Hussain. Like a true gentleman he sought permission of Master Inayat and then composed masterpieces such as ‘banwari chakkori’, ‘jo bhi nigah-e-yaar kahey maan jaaiye’, ‘tumhari arzoo mein koocha-e-qatil’ and ‘sada hun apney pyar ki’ all rendered by Noor Jahan. Rasheed Attre composed the legendary number written by Munir Niazi ‘us bewafa ka sheher hai aur hum Hain dosto’ sung by Nasim Begum. His composition ‘habibi haiya haiya’ is an extremely fluent number with a profound touch of Middle Eastern influence.
The next milestone in Inimitable composer Rasheed Attre career was film ‘Neend’ that got him Nigar Award in 1959 for composing melodious numbers ‘chan chun bajey payal bajey’ and ‘tere dar par sanam chale aae’. Rasheed Attre also was adept at composing modern numbers based on symphony style such as Nur Jahan’s ‘zindagi hai ya kisi ka intizar’ that is frequently remixed. He could also easily compose complex ghazal numbers in vibrant modern tones as is evident from ‘dil ki dharkan teri awaaz hui jaati hai’ very ably rendered by Noor Jahan. His virtuosity exhibited his ability to effortlessly mould classical requirements into flexible film music. A further example is Sufi Tabasum’s Ghazal ‘sau baar chaman mehka’ that he composed to be sung by Nasim Begum.
Inimitable composer Rasheed Attre was a cultured man always well clad in three piece suits and his pipe added to his lustre. His love of poetry made him to compose Faiz’s nazm ‘mujh say pehli si mohabbat meray mehboob na maang’ rendered by Noor Jahan and it could be said without fear of contradiction that it is a universally popular number sung by artists of all hues and colours. He also paved the path of success for Mehdi Hasan by making him render Faiz’s ghazal ‘gulon mein rang bhare’.
It was very obvious that Inimitable composer Rasheed Attre would make a film and that certainly would be a musical. He ultimately did make Mauseeqar and composed a number that became the signature song of Noor Jahan “gaey gi duniya geet meray’. Rasheed Attre produced phenomenal songs for this film: ‘yaad karoon tujhay shaam saweray’ and ‘tum jug jug jiyo maharaj re’ sung by Noor Jahan. The film though flopped but its musical score proved a valuable addition to popular music. TW

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Kausar Fatima works in an international audit firm and writes for magazines


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