Jaidev – Profile
Is there really any truth in the popular sayings like ‘Success begets success’ and ‘Failure is the stepping stone to success’? Because a talented artiste called Jaidev Verma seldom witnessed this happening in his life and career. In his personal life, he remained a bachelor with just a few people to call his own and in the film industry, he got labelled as an ‘arty’ composer who was good for critical acclaim but useless for box-office collections! Behind his impeccable attire and ever-smiling face lurked a strange sense of under-achievement and under-appreciation. His sensitive artistic soul seemed to be silently enduring some deeper pain. Otherwise why would a triple National Award-winning composer spend most of his life as a paying guest in a single room in company of drink and ultimately die an unsung genius?
Jaidev’s early life was full of interesting twists and turns. He was born in Nairobi, Kenya on August 3, 1918 but spent most of his childhood in his maternal aunt’s place in Ludhiana, Punjab. It was there that he first fell in love with films. Fascinated by the moving images of the silver screen, young Jaidev decided to become an actor!
Just like so many impressionable 15 year-old adolescents, he did the first impulsive thing that came to his immature mind. He ran away to Mumbai to gain a foothold in the film industry. The first stint was unsuccessful and ended in a dejected return to Ludhiana with his father. But the inner urge was too strong and soon, he once again decided that running off to Mumbai was the best course of action!
This time around, he got a slightly better reception. He was hired by Wadia Movietones and got to do small-time roles in mythologicals and the popular ‘Fearless Nadia’ stunt movies. But then came the bitter realization that his acting career was going nowhere. Earlier, to advance his acting prospects, he had taken some training in music from Pandit Barkat Rai. So now he decided to pursue that interest further. In 1943, he enrolled in Almora’s Music Centre run by two great musicians – Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Pt. Ravi Shankar. But the famed music institute soon folded up and his training in Indian classical music and sarod-playing came to an abrupt end.
For the next few years, he dabbled in spirituality trying to find answers to his inner questions. Then a chance meeting with his musical Guru Ali Akbar Khan forever changed the course of his life. That meeting at a marriage function pulled him back firmly towards music. Jaidev started accompanying Ali Akbar Khan in his sarod recitals. Later the Ustad was signed up as a composer by Chetan Anand’s Navketan banner and Jaidev followed him back into the film industry.
Ali Akbar Khan composed music for Anand’s first two films – Aandhiyan (1952) and Humsafar (1953) and Jaidev assisted the maestro in those projects. Both the films and their music did not do too well and the dejected Ustad decided to call it quits. Jaidev though decided to stay on and started assisting Navketan’s new composer Sachin Dev Burman. With his excellent knowledge of Hindi and Urdu poetry and his expertise in Hindustani classical music, Jaidev provided handy assistance to Sachinda in many milestone soundtracks like Taxi Driver, Munimji, House No. 44, Kala Pani, Sujata, Laajwanti and Insaan Jaag Utha.
In 1955, Jaidev got his first break as an independent composer in Joru Ka Bhai. Thus began a memorable if none too prolific career where he composed music for some 40-odd films over the next three decades.
Jaidev’s music seldom tasted commercial success and the main reason for that was his inability to compose simple songs with catchy lyrics and crowd-pleasing tunes. Joyous fluffy songs like ‘Main Zindagee Kaa Saath Nibhaataa Chalaa Gayaa’, ‘Abhee Naa Jaao Chhodkar’ or ‘Do Deewaane Shaher Mein’ did occasionally shine through his music but otherwise his compositions were typically serious, intricate and at times, plain complex. He was mainly inspired by Hindustani classical and folk music. Even the lyrics of his songs were almost always too poetic for popular consumption. So a typical Jaidev song was never a simple hummable fun-and-dance number; it was a song that wove a rich tapestry of subtle musical and lyrical nuances. Its cerebral appeal to any intellectual mind was undeniable and that certainly got the connoisseurs swooning over his ‘different’, ‘original’ musical approach. But unfortunately the same strength turned into his biggest weakness when it came to wooing the common man! In this regard, his music was remarkably similar to his best friend Madan Mohan’s music.
Such was Jaidev’s musical genius that even within his rather limited repertoire of film soundtracks, he was able to create so many memorable classics in so many different voices. Songs like Lata’s ‘Subah Kaa Intezaar Kaun Kare’, Rafi’s ‘Kabhee Khud Pe Kabhee Haalaat Pe Ronaa Aayaa’, Mukesh’s ‘Jab Gham-e-Ishq Sataataa Hai’, Talat’s ‘Dekh Lee Teree Khudaaee’, Manna Dey’s ‘Pyaas Thee Phir Bhee Takaazaa Na Kiyaa’, Kishore’s ‘Yeh Wohee Geet Hai’, Yesudas’s ‘Chaand Akelaa’, Bhupendra’s ‘Ek Akelaa Is Shaher Mein’, Suresh Wadkar’s ‘Seene Mein Jalan’, Asha Bhosle’s ‘Maang Mein Bhar Le Rang Sakhee Ree’, Chhaya Ganguly’s ‘Aap Kee Yaad Aatee Rahee Raat Bhar’ and Runa Laila’s ‘Tumhein Ho Naa Ho’ presented a brilliantly varied spectrum of classy compositions. Even his non- film compositions for Manna Dey’s Madhushala and Asha Bhosle’s geet, ghazal and bhajan were simply brilliant.
In the 1960s, barring the music of Hum Dono and Mujhe Jeene Do, Jaidev could not make much headway when it came to winning box-office approval. Then came the decade of the 1970s where Jaidev proved to be one of the few composers consistently tapping the best out of Lata’s slowly declining vocals! His two defining Lata-dominated soundtracks from this decade were Reshma Aur Shera (1971) and Prem Parbat (1973) and what body of work he left there for all of us to admire!
Reshma Aur Shera bombed at the box-office but Jaidev won a National Award for its music. It was a perfect recognition for his meritorious melodies. Just like the 60s, the 70s too had begum promisingly foe the maestro but once again, this decade would only flatter to deceive in commercial terms. Even in these years, Jaidev could not really break free from his ‘intellectual composer’ tag or perhaps he himself did not want to!
Whatever may be the reasons behind his inability or indifference to adopting and adapting to the popular film music conventions; one thing was sure. That by not bowing to the so-called box-office demands and always remaining true to his musical instincts, Jaidev had carved a special niche for himself in the pantheon of great Hindi film music directors. When he took the final bow from the world-stage on January 6, 1987, Hindi film-music lost an exceptionally talented composer, who never really got his due in his lifetime. (Source – Lata – Voice of the Golden Era – By Dr. Mandar V. Bichu).