Pandit Husan Lal’s first passion was playing the violin, and he learned further under Ustad Bashir Khan. Pandit Husan Lal was a performer par excellence in Khyal, Thumri, Dadra, Gazal, and Bhajan. He had a voice range of three octaves and was an accomplished master of complicated patterns of Taans, like his Guru Vedi Ji.
Pandit Husan Lal was an accomplished Violinist, a renowned Classical singer and an ace Music Director. He, along with his brother Bhagat Ram (an ace harmonium player), were the first Hindi film music directors to work as duo and went by the name of “Husan Lal-Bhagat Ram”. The beauty and command over the violin can be seen in different compositions of the duo’s songs in films. They popularized Punjabi folk music as an art form, with the range of music that has a rare lilt and rhythm, yet soulful and poignant, thus becoming the most sought after composers. Their first hit was a film named Chand, after which they never looked back. They gave super hit melodies for more than 80 Hindi films. One point to be noted is that most of his films celebrated their Golden Jubilee with a credit to the music compositions and songs.
Their film Badi Behan (1949) was a classic in the history of Indian cine music. Besides the most popular song, ‘Chup chup kharey ho…‘ there are other seven numbers which gave the audiences the pleasure of music as an art form – ‘Wo pass rahein, ya door rahein‘, ‘Tum mujhko bhool jaao, ab hum naa mil sakeinge‘, ‘Likhnein waley ney likh dee meri taqdeer mein barbaadi likhnein waley ney‘ and ‘Bigree bananey waley, bigree banaa dey‘ (Suraiya) and ‘Muhabbat ke dokhe mein koyee naa akey‘ (Mohammed Rafi).
In ‘Chaley janaa nahin‘ and ‘Jo dil mein khushi ban kar ayey‘ Lata Mangeshkar was perhaps at her best and there could not have been a better return gift to the composer Husan Lal on her 20th birthday (Lata Mangeshkar was born in 1929). The utterance coming straight from the singer’s heart, at times makes the listener cry, as a spontaneous outcome of eternal pleasure. The quality of a diamond cutter in master violinist Husan Lal can be visualized through these two immortal melodies of Lata Mangeshkar. The Punjabi style dholak played by their musician, Shanker (of Shanker-Jaikishan fame) was again a notable landmark!
The song “Suno Suno Aiy Duniyaan Walo Bapu Ki Yeh Amar Kahani”, sung by Mohammed Rafi was the milestone in the history of music. This song was composed by the duo within a record time of just 24 hours; soon after the demise of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation. More than a million copies of a set of two 78 rpm discs of this recording were sold, within one month.
Husan Lal-Bhagat Ram worked with famous playback singers like Ameerbai Karnataki, Suraiyya, Shamshad Begum, Zohrabai Ambala, Lata Mangeshkar, Geeta Dutt, Suman Kalyanpur, and Kishore Kumar, Mohammed Rafi, amongst others. He also composed and played alongside Pandit Ravi Shankar and Pandit Jasraj.
Pandit Husan Lal performed as a violinist on All India Radio and at other renowned music festivals and concerts and taught music to his music-loving disciples.
On a chilly morning of 28th December, 1968, Pandit Husan Lal passed away, leaving behind his soulful melodies.