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Ghulam Mustafa Durrani

Ghulam Mustafa Durrani, commonly known as G.M. Durrani was a popular Indian playback singer in Hindi (Bollywood) movies in the 1930s, 1940s and 50s.

G.M. Durrani sahab was discovered by film producer Sohrab Modi. He gave him his first chance around 1935-36 in the movie Saaed-e-Hawas, a historical under the music director, he classical musician Bundu Khan popularly known as “Taan-Talwar” Bundu Khan. It was a ghazal whose words went something like this “Mastonko shem farz hai peena Sharab ka, gutti mein meri padh gaya qatara sharab ka.”

Later when the concept of playback singing started he was the first to lend his voice for a film titled Bahurani. The film was made by Sagar Movietone and its music director was Rafeeq Gazanavi. Durrani sahab was then working as a full-time artist in AIR. Those were British days and they were not allowed to do any private recordings. But Rafeeq Saab insisted. Durrani sahab laid down some conditions, like; the recording should be fixed on a Sunday night so that no outsiders would be allowed to enter the studio. Secondly, he said that his name shouldn’t appear in credit titles or on discs. The song was a duet with Miss Rose, an Anglo-Indian, who didn’t have much experience as a singer. He was paid Rs.75 for the song as against his salary of Rs.70 a month at AIR. He then chucked up his job on 31 December 1940.

Thereafter he sang for, among others, noted music directors like Khurshid Anwar, Naushad, Shankar Rao Vyas and A. R. Qureshi (Better known as Alla Rakha, Pandit Ravi Shanker’s famous tabla accompanist) for films like Mirza Ghalib, Humlog, Magroor, Shama, Namaste, Sabak and scores of others. He became very popular. Many singers started their careers with him and he inspired many others too. He was the idol of Mohammed Rafi sahab who imitated him in the initial days. Now what could be a better tribute to singer than that, that the symbol of divinity in the Indian Music Industry, Mohammad Rafi, followed him. In fact, in 1944 Rafi sahab recorded what he considered his first Hindi language song for the film Gaon ki Gori (1944) for Shyam Sunder, Aji dil ho kaaboo mein with G. M. Durrani and chorus. Similarly, Ae Chorre Ki Jaat Badi Bewafa, a duet with G. M. Durrani, was Lata’s first song for composer, Naushad. Geeta Dutt also started her career in her break through movie Do Bhai with the song Aaj Preet Ka Naata toot gaya for S.D. Burman.

Durrani sahab has sung many songs during his career. His output later reduced. According to some a reason was an altercation with a prominent female singer. According to another story he was influenced not to sing for some time after his Hajj visit and Rafi sahab then helped him get back to singing but by then his career was over. Music Composer Khurshid Anwar in his first film Kudmai (Punjabi-1941)took him as his assistant and later gave him the film Angoori (1943)as Music Director.

It is said that many years later someone heard an old man singing in a recording studio for jingles in a corner. When person went to tell him what a lovely voice he was surprised to see it was Durrani Sahab who had fallen to bad days.

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