Known as much for his musical brilliance as his forthrightness, Sajjad Hussain’s compositions rank amongst the most complex scores of Hindi film music. Born in Sitamau, Madhya Pradesh, Sajjad learnt to play the sitar from his father. This was to be his only formal training in music. He moved to Bombay in the early 1940s, and found work as assistant to composer Hanuman Prasad. Together they composed music for the film Gaali. Sajjad’s first hit, Dost, was released the same year. The film featured Badnaam mohabbat kaun kare, a stirring number rendered by singer-actress Noorjehan.
Sajjad was considered to be a perfectionist who looked into every detail himself. He is said to have never relied on assistants, not even to instruct the orchestra. It was this quest for perfection which demanded 17 retakes for recording the classic Yeh hawa, yeh raat, yeh chandni (Sangdil).
A master of rhythm, Sajjad’s intricate and difficult tunes were often a challenge to singers. Amongst the memorable melodies he created are: Ae dilruba nazarein mila and Yeh kaisi ajab dastaan ho gayi hai (both from Rustom Sohrab), Dil mein sama gaye saajan (Sangdil), and Khayalon mein tum ho nazaaron mein tum ho (Saiyan).