Rasheed Attre: Prodigious Music Composer

ByKausar Fatima

Works in an international audit firm and writes for magazines


October 2, 2022

Rasheed Attre

Kausar Fatima records
admiration for a wonderful talent

All generations of Pakistanis, without fail, ecstatically enjoy the evergreen song ‘aye mausam rangeelay suhanay’ that has become a signature tune of Mehndi gatherings in any wedding in 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. Although this singular tune was enough for immortalizing its composer but Rasheed Attre was extremely prolific churning melody after melody that became exceptionally popular during the golden age of popular film music of Pakistan.

Virtuoso composer Rasheed Attre hailed from a traditional music family and learnt music from his father, known to be popular musician and singer. He also acquired training of his craft from Khan Saheb Ashfaq Hussain and became proficient in playing Tabla. Later he became a pupil of Ustad Fayyaz Husain Khan of the Agra gharana of Khayal singers. Like most Rubabi musicians of Lahore he ventured into film music and at quite a young age in 1939 began his journey from Calcutta.

When he came to Pakistan he brought with him rich wealth of experience but scarcity of film offers made him to join Radio Pakistan in Rawalpindi and Lahore. 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

He came into his element when his intensely popular song of film Waada; ‘jab tere shehr se guzarta hun’ became very popular. Another song in raag Bhimplasi ‘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.

He gave music for film ‘Sarfarosh’ of which three songs rendered by Zubeda Khanum became instant hits: ‘teri ulfat mein sanam’, ‘ae chand unsey ja kar mera salam kehna’ and ‘tera nishana daikhey zamana.’ 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.

Rasheed Attre Composed Raag Bageshri

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. He 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 his 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’. He 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.

Compose Complex Ghazal

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. A further example is Sufi Tabasum’s Ghazal ‘sau baar chaman mehka’ that he composed to be sung by Nasim Begum. 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’.

He produced a musical Mauseeqar and composed a number that became signature song of Noor Jahan “gaey gi duniya geet meray’. He 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. The Weekender


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