The life of a film musician is like that of the movies he composes songs for — it has happy moments, others that see him struggle to survive and the end which comes suddenly and takes a talented soul from the world. Amjad Bobby’s life was no different. He began his career in 1969, composed songs for some good, bad and ugly films in the early part of his career, before becoming the number one choice for some of filmdom’s best directors in the later on in his career.
The sudden and tragic demise of the 62-year-old musician due to a cardiac arrest on April 15, 2005 brought an end to a 36-year long career where he made the finest playback singers sing to the best of their abilities. Not many might remember the genius he was since he rarely appeared on TV or gave interviews, but his work is proof of his class. If A. Nayyar’s Beena Tera Naam is still known to all as a classic ’70s number, Eik Baar Milo Hum Se by Ghulam Abbas and Salma Agha remains an ’80s classic, while a number of his songs made him the key player in the revival of filmi music in the ’90s.
Born Amjad Hussain to Ustad Ghulam Hussain Khan in 1942, Amjad ventured into films in an era when Sohail Rana, Nisar Bazmi, Robin Ghosh and M. Ashraf ruled film music and the music scene welcomed newcomers. Initially, like all musicians, he achieved fame after struggling and assisted renowned musicians like A. Hameed, Nashaad, Nisar Bazmi, Khawaja Khursheed Anwar and Rasheed Attrey. He changed his name to Bobby after a handful of films and later came to be known as Amjad Bobby. The last change helped as the movies that featured Amjad Bobby in the credits were his most successful ones, starting from Nazar Shabab’s Kabhi Alwida Na Kehna (1983) which earned him his first of the two Nigar Awards (he got his other one for Deewane Tere Pyar Ke in 1997). The last film he composed music for was Rauf Khalid’s Laaj in 2003.
For TV, his compositions for Javed Sheikh’s telefilm Khoobsurat Jahan in the mid ’90s were liked by all while he was also responsible for the success of Aangan Aangan Taray, a Lahore Television musical programme for kids where, along with Hadiqa Kiyani, he taught kids to sing on the lines of Sohail Rana’s Kaliyon Ki Mala, Saray Dost Hamaray and Sang Sang Chalain. Like Sohail Rana and Robin Ghosh, Bobby was a tandem lover and most of his hit numbers appeared twice in the film like Beena Tera Naam (Naqshe Qadam), Mushkil Hai (Mushkil) Main Ne Tujhe Khoya (Chief Saab), Aik Baar Milo Hum Se (Bobby), and Woh Larki Hai (Yeh Dil Aap Ka Hua ). He was also fond of singing and rendered his vocals in Benazir Qurbani, Toofani Bijlian, Nadia and Mushkil with the latter’s Mushkil hai bara mushkil hai being his most famous rendition, alongside Mehnaz.
Shehzad Gul’s Ghar Kab Aao Gay and Tere Pyar Main were the pinnacle of his career as he made Indian playback singers Udit Narayan, Jaspinder Narula, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Sonu Nigam (under pseudonyms) render their vocals for Lollywood for the first time. Bobby, Inteha, Sangam and Yeh Dil Aap Ka Hua were his other most memorable films as all the songs went on to become popular hits.
Bobby also had the unique distinction of making the greatest playback singers of the subcontinent render their voices for him. From Ahmed Rushdi to A. Nayyar, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Alka Yagnik, Udit Narayan, Sonu Nigam, Akhlaq Ahmed, Tehseen Javed, Madam Noor Jehan, Naseem Begum, Mehdi Hasan, Ghulam Abbas, Arshad Mehmood, Waris Baig, Runa Laila, Naheed Akhtar, Kumar Sanu, Abhijeet, Mehnaz, Fariha Parvez, Mala, Salma Agha, Saira Naseem, Reshmaan, Saadhna Sargam, Shreya Ghoshal, Humera Channa and Shazia Manzoor, all sang for Amjad Bobby. Some are due to be released like Shehzad Gul’s Eman, Javaid Sheikh’s Khulay Asmaan Ke Neeche , Reema’s Koi Tujh Sa Kahan and Javaid Raza’s Kabhi Piyar Na Karna.
His first hit song for Lollywood was sung by Ahmed Rushdi in 1969 for Waheed Murad in S.A. Hafiz’s Aik Nagina. It triggered a journey that ended 36 years, 57 films and 20 awards (two Nigar, six National, six Graduate, four Bolan, one Agfa and one Indian Gold Disc) later. Incidentally, it was in April 1983 that Ahmed Rushdi passed away and Amjad Bobby, who had so much to deliver, followed the great playback singer 22 years later – Omair Alavi