Ghulam Ahmed Chishti

17 Aug 1905
25 Dec 1994
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Ghulam Ahmed Chishti (often abbreviated to G.A. Chishti) (17 August 1905 – 25 December 1994) was an Indian/Pakistani music composer, attributed as being one of the founders of Pakistani film music. He is also sometimes referred to as Baba Chishti.

Working with filmi music, Chishti excelled at Punjabi compositions and was ‘apt at weaving the design of influences around Punjabi music’.With almost 5,000 tunes to his credit, he composed scores for 140–150 filmsand was the first musician to reach the 100s threshold in newly independent Pakistan. Being a poet, he has written lyrics for 12 most popular Pakistani film songs besides hundreds of others.

Ghulam Ahmed Chishti was born in 1905 in a small village in Jalandhar. Early in his childhood, Chishti became fond of music and would sing naats at his school. He was later noticed by Agha Hashar Kashmiri when Chishti came to Lahore. Kashmiri was a well-renowned writer and his works were praised throughout the Indian subcontinent and would occasionally compose songs for theatres.

Kashmiri hired Chishti to assist him with his work and offered him a salary of 50-rupees- per month. Under Kashmiri’s influence, Chishti began learning the intricacies of the music industry and trained with him. Upon Kashmiri’s death, Chishti joined a recording company and began composing on his own. Amongst his first records were those for Jaddanbai and Amirbai Karnataki in British India before 1947.

Chishti is responsible for bringing Noor Jehan to the Lahore stage when she was 9-years old in 1935 who since then had worked in accord with Chishti after his later migration to Lahore, Pakistan. He started his career composing music for the films with Deen-o-Dunya in 1936. Once he got recognised, he was offered to compose music for L. R. Shori’s film Sohni Mahival in 1938. Later the Censor Board banned his composition for the song Aik Shehr Ki Londiya from the film Shukriya in 1944 bestowing much needed attention upon the composer. He became known for his compositions both in Urdu and Punjabi languages. Chishti also taught the well-known Indian film musician Khayyam.

However, things were to take a drastic turn when in 1947, Pakistan was formed out of the independence of Pakistan in 1947. He decided on migrating to Pakistan in 1949 where the film industry was reeling in its infancy. The new industry was at the mercy of learned musicians and filmmakers and lacked funds to compete with the Indian films imported from India.Chishti offered his services as a musician to the Pakistani film industry.

Due to shortage of talent in the music industry, it is reported that Chishti had to compose music for three films at a time in 1949. His initial compositions for Sachai, Mundri and Pheray (1949) were simultaneously produced. Upon its initial screening, Pheray (1949) became a blockbuster hit and earned plaudits for the composer. It is reported that the six songs in the film were written, composed and recorded in a single day.Later in 1955, Punjabi film Pattan (1955) came along and became a musical super-hit film for Baba Chishti.Pattan (1955) really boosted his career and he became a well-sought-after music director by the film producers, after the success of this film in Pakistan.Baba Chishti was the music director for Pakistan’s many early successful films – Pakistan’s first Silver Jubilee film Pheray (1949), later Chishti composed music for 2 Golden Jubilee films – Sassi (1954) and Noukar (1955) and then super-hit films like Dulla Bhatti (1956) and Yakke Wali (1957).

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