As the distressing news of the death of composer-singer Wajid Khan broke, his colleagues in the film and music industries remembered a smiling man who was passionate about his craft. Wajid died on Monday in Mumbai at the age of 42.
“He died of a cardiac arrest,” Wajid’s brother Sajid Khan told PTI, while confirming that the musician had also tested positive for Covid-19. Wajid had undergone an organ transplant earlier and had been on a ventilator for the last few days, composer Salim Merchant said.
Sons of the late Ustad Sharafat Ali Khan, the veteran tabla player who worked with music stalwarts in Hindi films for decades, Sajid-Wajid started their career in the ‘90s.
In keeping with their lineage — Ustad Faiyyaz Ahmed Khan and Ustad Niyaz Ahmed Khan were their maternal grandfather and grand-uncle respectively, while Ustad Abdul Latif Khan was their paternal grandfather – they were classically trained.
The brothers’ first film was Salman Khan’s Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya, and the song Teri Jawaani Badi Mast Mast was not just a hit but has withstood the test of the time, too. They soon composed music for the actor’s Hello Brother, which was vastly different in tone from their debut.
The two films started a collaboration between Salman and Sajid-Wajid that would go on for decades. The ‘90s was also the era of non-film music and Sajid-Wajid delivered one of the biggest hits of all time with Sonu Nigam, titled Deewana. One of the highest selling non-film albums in India, Deewana included tracks such as Ab Mujhe Raat Din and Deewana Tera.
Hits and misses both followed in the years to come. If Mujhse Shaadi Karogi and Tere Naam – both for Salman Khan – went on to feature on highest-selling albums list and continue to be popular, they also did a lot of work which was largely ignored. Even at this time, they won accolades for films such as Chori Chori.
It was Govinda and Salman-starrer Partner that gave them the hit they so badly needed. In an interview to Bollywood Hungama, the brothers had said a few years ago, “Even in our lowest phase, we never shied away from classical touches- the harkatein and the murqiyaan. We never pandered to baser trends, but always catered to rooh (soul) in our songs. The foremost thing we keep in mind is that we come from a rich lineage and that we should do nothing jinse unnki naak kat jaaye ya sar jhuk jaaye (by which they will be disgraced).”
In the post-Partner phase, their music now amalgamated Western influences with the classic touches it always had, and hits such as Wanted followed. This was also the time that Wajid started singing; his first song was Bang Bang, for mentor Salman.
He would go on to do playback singing for Salman and Akshay Kumar. Some of his famous tracks were Mera He Jalwa, Fevicol Se and Chinta Tha Chita Chita. The composer also scored the theme song for the fourth edition of the Indian Premier League, Dhoom Dhoom Dhoom Dhadaka.
Describing Salman like his ‘elder brother’, Wajid had said about their association, “The kind of songs we gave him, he selected all of them from ‘Lagan lagi’ of Tere Naam, (songs for) ‘Partner’, ‘Mujhse Shaadi Karogi’, even ‘Tere Mast Mast Do Nain’. One man selecting all these songs can’t be a fluke.” The last song Sajid-Wajid composed was also for Salman, the actor’s Eid single, Bhai Bhai.
The Dabangg franchise, Rowdy Rathore, Housefull 2, Teri Meri Kahaani, Chashme Baddoor, Main Tera Hero, Daawat-E-Ishq and Heropanti are among a few of their successes. “Today’s music scene is not congenial to lasting melodies. But, we prefer to stick to what music should be,” Wajid had said.