Khayyam did not compose for films between 1967 and 1974. It was due to a combination of reasons, including the fact that he somehow could not sign up any films during this period. He however put this time to good use by bringing out a few non-filmi albums.
1975 will always be a landmark in the timeline of Hindi films. It was the year Sholay, Deewar, Jai Santoshi Maa, Dharmatma, Khel Khel Mein, Aandhi, Mili and Chupke Chupke were released in.
Not surprisingly, hardly anybody noticed a film called Sankalp, which hit the screens the same year. Produced and directed by Ramesh Saigal, it had a tepid run at cinema halls. But it did have *one* distinction – its songs.
At the Filmfare Awards 1976 (given for films that released in ’75), Deewar stole the show. But amidst the array of big banners and bigger stars, a newcomer walked up to the stage and received the award for the best female playback singer. Apart from her fresh voice and intensity of singing, Sulakshana Pandit had her music composer and lyricist to thank for this award.
In what was one of his comeback films, Khayyam had delivered again! With a song that was a world apart from whatever he had composed for films until then – it was modeled on a bhajan.
In these times of mounting distress (I wrote this during the Covid-19 lockdown in May 2020), this haunting bhajan from Sankalp could be just the balm our souls need. Kaifi Azmi’s lyrics mirror the questions we all grapple with. They also recommend faith & surrender.
This is part of a multi-part personal tribute I am paying to the much-loved music composer Khayyam. If you haven’t read the other parts, please do so now.