Atul’s Song A Day- A choice collection of Hindi Film & Non-Film Songs

Archive for the ‘Ashraf Khan NFS’ Category

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4833 Post No. : 16615

Today I am presenting a Non-Film song by Master Ashraf Khan. Some of you may remember Ashraf Khan, who sang songs in the films Roti-42 and Baaghbaan-38. We all know him mainly as a film actor, who finally became a Sufi Saint, but his contribution to the Gujarati theatre was substantial. Most of us know many things about Cinema, but very little about Theatre and stage dramas.

Prior to films becoming a source of entertainment for the common man, it was the stage drama which diligently and sincerely gave pure and musical entertainment to the commoners. The rich of course could afford private singing jalsas with famous singers and Tawayafs. Stage dramas were popular mainly in Bengal, Maharashtra and Gujarat, since the early to middle 19th Century. It started a bit late, on a regular scale, in South India, at the beginning of the 20th Century or so.Despite modern means of entertainment like TV and Films, stage dramas are still popular in Maharashtra and Gujarat. These two states have a glorious history and tradition of producing classical singers, many of them through the stage dramas.

Master Ashraf Khan was very popular and famous on the Gujarati stage. He was known as the ” Saigal of Gujarat”. Singing of Gazals in stage dramas started with Ashraf Khan, it is believed. Stage dramas are usually called ” Parsi-Urdu,” ” Parsi-Hindi”, ” Parsi-Gujarati”, because the Parsi community was prominent in this medium. Parsis came from Iran (Persia) into North Konkan, and Gujarat and they merged with the Indian People. All generations of Parsis spoke Hindi and Gujarati (with a typical, recognisable tone) and prospered in various trades and fields of Business.

The Gujarati stage was full of artistes from Saurashtra, North Gujarat and Bombay. They belonged to different castes. Jaishankar Bhojak (Sundari), Amrit Kershav Nayak, Vadilal Nayak, Master Shaani, Master Vikram etc were from Bhojak Nayak caste. From the Meer caste came Himmat Meer, Kasam Meer, Lallubhai Meer etc. -all singer actors. Parsis like Sorabji katrak, Sorabji kerawala, Faredoon irani and some Muslims like Ashraf Khan, Alladdin, Ghulam Sabir, Master Fida hussai, Master nissar, Kumar etc. were some members of this community.

Starting from 1871, these drama companies toured Bombay Presidency, Saurashtra, Calcutta and Bengal and upto Rangoon in Brahmadesh (Burma). Unlike Marathi stage the Parsi and Bangla dramas got women doing female roles sooner than in Maharashtra. Some actresses were, Miss Mary fanten, Miss Fitna, Mehtab, gafooran, Gauhar, Deenabai Mistri etc. In the modern dramas of the 1960 to 1980’s even Saraswati Devi (Vidya Bajpai) and Sandhya(Vijaya Deshmukh) acted on Gujarati stage.

However, in the initial years i.e. from 1890 to 1930, there were actors doing female roles. Anand ji ‘Kabootar’, Vikram, Fakir, Himmat meer and Jaishankar Bhojak were major actors famous in female roles. Jaishankar was popular and did female roles in dramas like Vikram Charitra, Barrister, Vasant Prabha and Saubhagya Sundari. His role as ” Sundari” in drama “Saubhagya Sundari” was so popular that later on his name was changed to Jaishankar “Sundari”. He worked till 1961. In his honour, a Drama Theatre in Ahmedabad is named as Jaishankar Sundari Theatre ! What an honour. He was friendly with Marathi stage actor Bal Gandharva and they both used to see each others’ dramas, without fail.

Orphaned very early, Master Ashraf was brought up by one Baburao, his father’s friend. He was a born singer. His mother tongue was Urdu/Pashto, but he mastered Gujarati so well that people considered him to be a Gujarati actor. Master Himmat meer brought him to the Theatre in 1894. He did only male roles and sang also. many dramas like Prithviraj, Arab ka Sitara, Samudragupta, Sansar Sagar, Ek Abla etc, as its Hero. He did about 3000 shows of his drama ‘ Malavpati”, as it became very popular. In 1960, he was felicitated by the President of India and after that he acted in the same drama once again in 1961, though old. He also worked in Hindi films upto 1941 His Heroines were Zebunnisa, Mehtab, Sardar Akhtar, Iqbal Begum (mother of Meena Kumari). From 1950 onwards he tilted towards Sufism and finally became a Saint.

ASHRAF KHAN was an actor and singer in many films in the 40s. He left films ……..and became……..believe it or not…..a SUFI SAINT !

I had first written about him somewhere 9 years ago…in 2012 or so. Here is his information again, but in a different format with some more information collected later on. My friend shri kamlakar Pasupuleti ji had done a lot of research on this actor. It was from his Blog and his book that I learnt more details about Ashraf Khan.

Ashraf Khan shot to limelight with the film Baghban – 1938 . He played the role of a mendicant and rendered three lovely songs composed by Music Director Mushtaq Husain . Ro ro nain gavanvun ,sajanwa aan milo was the most popular song among the three songs he rendered. The movie was a great hit and all the nine songs in the movie were popular. The movie was directed by AR Kardar. The lyrics were penned by the comedian Mirza Musharraf. He was paid Rs 90 / – for the nine songs he wrote for the movie. It is important to know how he progressed in his life and attained the spiritual powers with which he helped millions of people across the globe .

Ashraf Khan was born in Indore on 22-10-1901. He lost his father at a young age of seven. The burden of taking care of his widowed mother and a young sister fell on his shoulder . Indore was a famous city for wrestling and the wrestling competitions were held for all ages including children. He took up wrestling as a profession for some time . He later became a Shepherd boy and guarded the sheep .

He had a good voice and used to sing while taking the sheep in and out of the city. One evening while returning home from the outskirts he started singing loudly. A Gujarati’s drama company was stationed in a nearby bungalow. The owner of the drama company heard his song and he was called inside. The owner asked the boy if he was willing to work for the drama company. The boy replied Yes. There upon the owner asked him if he can play the role of a girl. The boy daringly replied No, will play the role of a boy . The owner was impressed and he got into the Gujarati drama company.

He started playing small roles and as he grew up was given the role of a hero . His salary increased gradually and by the time he was playing hero roles he was paid Rs 600 / per month. He used to give away his entire earnings to his mother. His mother used to give him four annas a day as his allowance as he had the habit of eating Paan( betel leaf ), but Ashraf Khan used to return back the four annas to his mother in the evening.

Ashraf Khan’s mother tongue was Urdu and Pushtu but he learnt to speak Gujarati with ease and he rendered his dialogues fluently. He gave record breaking performances in Malopati Manjh ( Prithvi Vallabh ). He played the role of a hero Prithvi Vallabh in three thousand shows. Prithvi Raj Chauhan was another stage performance in which he played the hero role of Prithviraj Chauhanbin two thousand shows. Ashraf Khan’s heroine on the Gujarati stage was Sandhya. Ashraf Khan was associated with the Gujarati stage even after joining the films .

With the advent of talkie he moved over to Bombay in 1931. His first film was Shakuntala-31 ( made in Bombay.There was another film Shakuntala made the same year in Calcutta by Madon Theatres) With his experience on stage he was hired for three movies Bhartruhari, Gul-e-Bakavali and Veer Kunal. He played the role of a hero initially and later in life played character roles. He acted in more than a dozen movies. Mehboob Khan portrayed him as a mad professor in his famous film Roti – 1942. It was during the filming of Roti that he came in contact with Peer-o-Murshid ( Spiritual Guide) Ghulam Sarvar. Ghulam Sarvar belonged to Lahore and was employed in railways as a guard. He had many followers in Bombay. Ashraf Khan’s devotion towards his spiritual guide was so great that whenever he visited Bombay he used to carry his luggage on his head and escort him home .

Large crowds used to gather to meet Peer-o-Murshid Ghulam Sarvar in the 1940’s and among the film personalities the notable were A R Kardar, Mehboob Khan, Yaqub, Prithviraj Kapoor , Trilok Kapoor, Sardar Akhtar, Akhtari Faizabadi, Jaddan Bai etc etc to name a few. Akhtari Faizabadi and Jaddan Bai used to sing devotional songs during the assembly .

Taking care of the visitors footwear was the first duty assigned to him by his Peer and Ashraf Khan never thought it was a menial job He knew that the peer is shedding his ego by assigning such tasks. Peer-o-Murshid Ghulam Sarvar was so pleased with his devotion that he handed over his Gaddi ( seat ) to Ashraf Khan. Ashraf Khan became a Peer .

His association with the Gujarati stage lasted till his end. In 1962 after his last stage show at Dhoraji in Gujarat he returned to the Dargah where he was stationed with his family . It was the ninth day of the Gyarhvi Sharif ( the eleventh month of Islamic calendar ). He lay down on his bed and spoke few words to his wife and fell unconscious, but his lips started moving as if he was narrating verses from Ayat Sharif. This situation continued the whole of that night and the next day. His wife , family members and devotees remained at his bedside reading verses from Ayat Sherief He opened his eyes in the evening. His devotees asked him how he was and he replied that wherever he is, he is doing well .

He was brought to the hospital at Rajkot in this condition. Ashraf Khan passed away at eleven PM on the eleventh day of the Gyarhvi Sharif, the eleventh month of Islamic calendar. His mortal remains were brought for funeral to the residence of Dr Malik who was a friend and a devotee. His devotees were chanting holy verses from Ayat Sharif and Darood Sharif . Around 4 O’ clock in the morning he opened his eyes once again, looked all around him with a smile and closed his eyes. This was a surprising moment for all those who were present around him. A dead man opening his eyes and smiling was something strange. The crowd shouted Hazrat is alive, Hazrat is alive, call the doctor. There are several people alive today who witnessed this strange incident. Dr Malik examined him and pronounced him dead. He was buried at Ganj Shahda which is located on the Ahmedabad – Delhi highway . The Urs is celebrated every year and lakhs of devotees all across the globe visit his Mazaar ( Tomb ).

Among the film personalities who used to attend the Urs were Mehboob Khan, Sardar Akhtar, Zaibunissa, Mehtab, Begum Akhtar, Prithviraj Kapoor and Trilok Kapoor etc .

There are hundreds of families in Hyderabad whose vows were fulfilled by the spiritual powers of Hazrat Ashraf Khan. Each family has a different story to narrate. Many sickly people got cured, many got rid of financial troubles, rivals became friends, and many women became mothers after best efforts by doctors failed .

Amirbai Karnataki rendered a couple of devotional songs in his praise. Some disc collectors of Hyderabad had them in their collection .

Ashraf Khan acted in 31 films in all. Some of his films were- Aaiye 1949, Phool 1945, Roti 1942, Baghban 1938, Ajamil 1934, Roop Basant 1933, Malati Madhav 1933, Husn Ka Gulam 1933, Veer Kunal 1932, Gul-e-Bakavali 1932, Bhartruhari 1932. He sang 59 songs in 14 films. Some of the songs rendered by Ashraf Khan were in movies …..Baghban 1938, Baaghi 1939, Aazaadi-E-Vatan 1940, Roti 1942, Pagli Duniya 1944 and Naiya-1947. His last film was Arab ka sitara-1961.

Noted Record Historian, Dr. Suresh Chandvankar also wrote about Ashraf Khan in his book in Marathi ” पूर्वसूरींचे सूर “. He says that after the death of his parents, Ashraf khan was looked after by his father’s Hindu friend Baburao. He learnt Gujarati so well that people thought that he was a Gujarati. He entered the Gujarati stage. Due to his good singing, in later periods he was called Saigal of Gujarat. In 1960, he was felicitated by the President of India. In Bombay he had a bungalow in Girgaon. From 1950 onwards, he inclined towards Sufism, while still working on stage and films.

After his death, his Darga is set up at Dana Limdi, on the Bombay-Gujarat highway, where every year Urs is held and lakhs of visitors come. (Based on information from article by P.Kamalakar ji, book -पूर्वसूरींचे सूर by Dr. Suresh Chandvankar, Gujarati Rangbhumi by K.N.Parekh, HFGK, muVyz and my notes. Thanks to all.)

Six songs of Ashraf Khan are discussed on this Blog. All are film songs. This is perhaps his first Non Film Song to feature here.

Song- Khudi mitaaye na jab tak Khuda nahin milta (Ashraf Khan NFS)(1940) Singer- Master Ashraf Khan Lyricist- Unknown MD- Unknown


Khudi mitaaye na jab tak
Khuda nahin milta
Khudi mitaaye na jab tak
Khuda nahin milta aa
aa aa

?? mein shaakh mein ae ae ae ae
aa aa aa aa aa
aa aa aa aa aa
?? mein shaakh mein
gul mein usi ka jalwa hai ae
ke uspe kehte hain
hamko khuda nahin milta aa aa aa
kiya na uska tasawwur
na dhyaan hai dil mein
ae ae ae ae
kiya na uska tasawwur
na dhyaan hai dil mein ae
kisi ko raasta chaltey
Khuda nahin milta aa aa
(??)jabaan dil se alag rakkho
tu tu mai mai se ae ae ae
jahaan hai ??
Khuda nahin milta aa aa

kisi ka dost na paaya
jahaan mein ae makhmoor
kisi ko dost na paaya
jahaan mein ae makhmoor
Khuda to mil bhi sake
aashna nahin miltaa
Khuda to mil bhi sake
aashna nahin miltaa
?? gair kahin
?? to kya nahin milta
aa aa aa

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This blog discusses Bollywood songs of yesteryears. Every song has a brief description, followed by a video link, and complete lyrics of the song.

This is a labour of love, where “new” songs are added every day, and that has been the case for over FOURTEEN years. This blog has over 17400 song posts by now.

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