Wednesday, June 10, 2020


                                                              ( Video of opera Vitasta)             


Fondly known as Virji or Virender Mohan, he was born in Srinagar, Kashmir in 1931. He studied at the famous Sri Partap College, Srinagar and finally graduated from Amar Singh College ( Srinagar ). He composed hundreds of melodious and memorable Kashmiri songs. He was a gifted music composer who loved to play the flute besides Violin as his second choice. He could play some other musical instruments with ease.  He joined the music section of Radio Kashmir, Srinagar in 1954.

 About him, veteran  writer , broadcaster and media personality , Padamshri  Pran Kishore told me this:

" Yes, I knew him well. He was a colleague and a friend. Virji, as he was fondly known as a loving man who joined Radio Kashmir, Srinagar in 1954 as a flute player. His grandfather was a Dewan (Prime Minister) to Maharaja so the family prefixes ‘Dewan’ as a title along with their surname. 

Virji lived at Hari Singh High Street in Srinagar. He composed many songs during his stay in Radio Kashmir, Srinagar and remained busy. He was associated with the music of many Radio plays. In 1955, when the Russian  delegation led by Marshal Bulganin and Nikita Khruschev visited Kashmir, it was decided to present a cultural programme to them at Nedou’s hotel in  Srinagar.   Shri Mohan Lal Aima had already  composed  Nadim Sahib’s opera “  Bombur Ta Yemberzal” and it was well-received by the public  in 1953 when played for the first time. That time it was composed with traditional Kashmiri musical instruments. However, for the 1955  special presentation,  Virji joined   Aima Sahib when it was recomposed for the Russian guests. The Russian guests  were simply spellbound and liked the  famous song ' Bumbro Bumbro Shyam Rang Bumbro ' . A live orchestra was conducted on the stage for this opera. Everything was done live those days. For his well-acclaimed music composing skills, the J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages found him as the most suitable person to compose music for the famous opera ‘Vitasta’ which was directed by me.  He was also chosen to compose music for more productions of J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages like ‘Piya Baaj Pyala’, ‘Himalaya ki God Mein’ and ‘Tipu Sultan’. "

The music of two Kashmiri songs sung by Asha Bhosale " Laalas Vantai chhui Sawaal and ‘Ha Ashq Tsooro’ was composed by him.  Some other very popular songs that he composed music for are ‘Vesiye Gulan Aamaai Bahaar’ by Raj Begum and the famous duet "Rum Gayam Sheeshus " by Raj Begum and Naseem Akhtar.
Besides Kashmiri songs Virender Mohan also composed scores of Dogri songs, a few of them are very famous like ‘Jammu diya kandiya Barkha lagi di. He composed music for  some Punjabi songs as well.

And his admirers tell me that had he joined films, he could have been a successful composer like some big names of the industry.

 I was also informed that when "Bombur Ta yemberzal " and "Shuhul Kul"  were performed at Women's College,MA Road, Srinagar, he was the composer who conducted the live orchestra for both the operas.His compositions were sung by Ghulam Hassan Sofi, Vijay Malla ,Kailash Mehra, Seema Anil Sehgal, Anita Sharma and so many other singers.

Prof. Jaya Parimu told me this :

" He was a  music producer of Radio Kashmir, Srinagar.  A cordial and dedicated music composer. All those singers of the past like  Ghulam Mohammad  Rah, Ali Mohmmad  Nashter ,Raj Begum , Naseem Akhter ,Asha Kaul , Rita Kaul ,Uma  Lahey,  and many singers must have sung songs composed by him. With a Punjabi accent,  he was fluent in Kashmiri. He was known as Virji. After Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru's death, he composed a lengthy musical feature written by  Nadim Sahib for the College of Education at the behest of the Mrs Sajda  Zameer  Ahmad, the principal.  He composed very powerful and quite expressive tunes for a series of lyrics in different rhythms. Peace be to his soul."

          ( A beautiful song of opera Vitasta    ))                 

TK Jalali, noted music composer told me this:

" Virji was a talented musician. We remained associated for many many years. It is good to sing a tune but one has to put it through instruments and orchestra. Virji had that skill. He was a composer who could play on instruments and make arrangements.
He was a talented artist who actually did compose many Kashmiri songs during his tenure in Radio.Taking a break from the folk-based songs prevalent till then he gave new dimensions to Koshur light music and composed many popular songs.I developed a closeness with him in early 70s after I was transferred to Srinagar from Jammu as HOD Vocal music in IMFA. I did countless programmes with him for DDK ( till our painful exile in 1990) both as an instrumentalist (Violinist) and composer.I had an excellent rapport with him."

Virender Mohan is reported to have composed innumerable songs in Kashmiri, Dogri and other languages. He worked with some well-known singers that include Begum Akhtar, Rajan and Sajan Mishra, Jagjit & Chitra Singh, Vani Jairam, Asa Singh Mastana, Surinder Kaur, Minu Purshotam and Asha Bhosle. He moved to Doordarshan, Srinagar in 1972. He retired as Station Director in 1991 and breathed his last in 2014. He remained associated with music till his last day.

Peace be to the soul of this music composer who worked all along his  life for the upliftment of music in the  J& K state.

(Avtar Mota)

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