Omkar Prasad Nayyar (16 January 1926 – 28 January 2007) was an Indian film music director and composer born in Lahore, British India, now in Pakistan.
O. P. Nayyar started his career by composing the background score for the movie Kaneez (1949). Aasmaan (1952), produced by Dalsukh M. Pancholi was O.P.Nayyar’s first film as independent music director, after which he composed music for Chham Chhama Chham (1952) and Baaz (1953). Noted film producer, director and actor Guru Dutt gave him an opportunity to write, compose and conduct music and songs for several of his movies, and O.P. did not disappoint Guru Dutt. Aar Paar (1954), Mr. & Mrs. ’55 (1955), C.I.D. Shamshad Begum, Geeta Dutt, and Mohammed Rafi sang most of the earlier songs in O.P.s movies. Asha Bhosle was introduced in 1956 in the movie C.I.D.
Nayyar always used singers who were able to bring the romance and edgy but sweet voice and depth in their songs. Innumerable hits were produced by OP, as he was called by music lovers everywhere, and many box office hits as well. In 1957 Filmalaya introduced Nasir Hussain as a new and upcoming Director, and wanted someone like O.P.Nayyar to provide the romantic tunes for a new hero and heroine, i.e. Shammi Kapoor and Ameeta. OP’s songs were an amazing hit and brought him in the limelight in the next Nasir Hussain film Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957 film). He composed music for Nasir Hussain again in Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon 1964 which had all of India singing his songs and enjoying the melodious voices of Rafi and Asha.
During the 1950s, the state-controlled All India Radio found O.P. too “trendy”, and put for quite some time a ban on broadcasting most of his tunes. The far-away Radio Ceylon, (which later transformed into Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation), was at that time the only source from which O.P.’s new songs could be heard.
O.P. worked extensively with singers Geeta Dutt, Asha Bhosle, and Mohammed Rafi. He never worked with Bollywood’s leading female singer Lata Mangeshkar. The Lata Mangeshkar song “Ek To Balam Teri Yaad Satayein” from 1958 film Aji Bas Shukriya was used in a 1973 movie Taxi Driver, for which O. P. Nayyar was the Music Director. This song was originally composed by Faruk Kaiser & Roshan Lal.
According to music and film expert Rajesh Subramanian, the song Aap Ke Haseen Rukh from Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi was originally planned with full orchestration. On the day of the recording many musicians failed to report on time. Nayyarsaab being a strict disciplinarian packed off the latecomers and started composing afresh with the musician who had arrived on time. The rest is history. Aap ki haseen rukh continues to mesmerize music lovers till date.
After a rift with Mohammed Rafi, O.P. started to work with Mahendra Kapoor, an upcoming singer. Mahendra Kapoor sang O.P.’s compositions in several films. He sang for Dharmendra, Badal Jaaye Agar Maali, Chaman Hotaa Nahi Khaali in Bahaaren Phir Bhi Aayengi. He worked in the movie, Sambandh, with Mukesh and in the movie, Shrimanji 1968, with Kishore Kumar for majority of the songs along with Mahendra Kapoor.
Based on one of Rabindranath Tagore’s Bengali compositions, O.P. composed the song, Chal Akelaa, Chal Akelaa, sung by Mukesh. The movie also included a baritone rendering by Hemant Kumar.
O.P. produced a few songs with Shamshad Begum, including “Kajra Mohabbatwala”. After Madhubala’s death, heroines like Vyjayanthimala, Mala Sinha, Padmini, Asha Parekh, and Sharmila Tagore lip-synced several of the O.P.-Asha Bhosle numbers.
O.P. and Asha Bhosle parted ways in 1974. After that, he tried to work with several singers, including Dilraj Kaur, Alka Yagnik, Krishna Kale, Vani Jayaram, and Kavita Krishanmurthy.
Majrooh Sultanpuri and Sahir Ludhianvi wrote lyrics for some of O. P.’s earlier compositions such as Naya Daur. During the making of Tumsa Nahin Dekha, the film director Nasir Hussain developed differences with Sahir Ludhianvi and Majrooh Sultanpuri had to write the remaining songs other than the title song. O. P. always experimented with different upcoming lyricists like Jan Nisar Akhtar, Qamar Jalalabadi, S. H. Bihari, and Ahmed Wasi.
O.P.’s wife, Saroj Mohini Nayyar, is a lyricist. She wrote the C H Atma sung song, Preetam Aan Milo, which was later sung by Geeta Dutt in Mr. & Mrs. 55. For Shrimati 420 (1956), Mukhda of “Yahan Hum Wahan Tum” was written by Saroj.
O.P. started the tradition of assigning to comedians full three-minute songs. Comedian Om Prakash sang O.P.’s composition, Churi Bane Kanta Bane in Jaali Note. Comedian Johnny Walker sang O.P.’s song, Aye Dil Hai Mushkil Jeena Yahaan in CID, “Jaane Kahan Mera Jigar Gaya Jee” (Mr. & Mrs. 55),Main Bambaika Baaboo, Naam Meraa Anjaanaa in Naya Daur and Bajewala in Basant. There was later a movie titled Johnny Walker where Johnny Walker himself was the hero, for which, however, he was not keen on composing music. When its director Ved Madan was persuading him to compose the album, he demanded the Latest Cadillac Limousine jokingly for the fee hoping that Ved Madan cannot fulfill the demand and he can get out of it. To his surprise, however, the car was delivered to his house and he could not back out and ended up composing the music for this album.
Along with some other numbers in the last movie, Asha Bhosle/Geeta Dutt’s, Thandi Thandi Hawaa, he composed a song, Yeh Desh Hai Veer Jawaanonkaa featuring Dilip Kumar and Ajit in Naya Daur (1957), for which he won the 1957 Filfare Best Music Director Award. The last O. P. composition which Asha sang was Chain Se Humko Kabhi. It was meant to be included in the movie, Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye (1973), but it was dropped in the final version of the movie. However, it won Asha Bhosle a 1974 Filmfare Best Female Playback Singer Award.
O. P. was very active in his musical career in the 1960s and somewhat in the ’70s. He did not compose music for some of the newer actors of the era, i.e.Rajesh Khanna or Amitabh Bachchan. O.P. movies starred Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Guru Dutt, Dharmendra, Shammi Kapoor, Joy Mukherjee, Biswajit, Feroz Khan, Bharat Bhushan and many others. Asha Parekh, Mumtaz, Sharmila Tagore, Madhubala, Rajshree, Rekha, Ameeta, Shyama come to mind for the female leads. Apart from Hindi films, O. P. also composed music for a few South Indian movies, including Neerajanam in Telugu.
O.P. faded from the Bollywood scene in early 1970s, though he made a comeback in the 1990s – “Mangni” and “Nishchay” in 1992 and “Zid” in 1994.
During his retirement, O.P. stayed in touch with only a few select friends. Gajendra Singh and Ahmed Wasi were two among them. Gajendra Singh included O.P. as a judge for his TV show, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa. Ahmed Wasi interviewed O.P. twice for Vividh Bharati and presented his life-sketch through six-hour-long episodes collectively titled as Mujhe Yaad Sab Hai Zaraa Zaraa.
OP had two brothers P.P. Nayyar and G.P.Nayyar. P.P. was an MD and worked in J. A. Hospitals, Gwalior. G.P.Nayyar was a dentist who worked in the army and settled down in Secunderabad.
For some years before his death, O.P. had been estranged from his family members to the extent that he had requested that they not be allowed to attend his funeral. Following the estrangement, he had moved out of his house at Marine Drive in Mumbai (Bombay), and stayed at a friend’s place in the suburb of Virar. A month before his death, he had moved to yet another friend’s place in Thane.
O.P. died on 28 January 2007 of cardiac arrest. He is survived by his wife, three daughters, and a son.
On his death, tributes came from many Bollywood figures, including the great singer Lata Mangeshkar, Sharmila Tagore, Mumtaz, Mahesh Bhatt, Khayyam, Shakti Samanta, Sonu Nigam, Ravindra Jain, Anu Malik and the now late B R Chopra and Shammi Kapoor.