Music Focus: Ismail Darbar

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Yes, another week of Music Focus and another highlight on a talented, but perhaps overlooked, music director. There are some music directors who continuously amaze the audiences with their composition and there are others who leave a mark with exceptional music in just a film or two. Is this because they get lucky or is it purely quality over quantity? This week’s spotlight falls on a gifted music composer who, we believe, belongs to the latter of the two.

Ismail Darbar. The name itself provokes thoughts of cultural, and arguably traditional, melodies which go straight to your heart. In 1999, Darbar exploded into the limelight with his hugely popular soundtrack of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. He captured the Gujarati beats with Dhol Baaje and Man Mohini. His mesmerising romance of Chand Chupa Badal Mein and unmatchable heartache in Tadap Tadap is still a must-listen even for the music-buffs of today. This extraordinary music got him a National Award and rightly so!

Following the immense success of his first film score, Darbar, in the years to follow, has given us other magical tunes such as:

Ae Chand – Tera Jadoo Chal Gayaa
Pyar Se Pyare – Deewangee
Hamesha Tumko Chaaha – Devdas
Ishq Kamina – Shakthi The Power
Woh Kisna Hai – Kisna: The Warrior Poet

Although Darbar has composed music which will feature in the record books for years to come, his 11-year career has certainly had its ups and downs. With films such as Baaz: A Bird in Danger and Mehbooba, Darbar’s music didn’t really have much of an impact. However, with the recognition of his wonderful melodies in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Tera Jadoo Chal Gaya, Devdas and Kisna, Darbar was almost a household name. With a background as violinist in the teams of various recognised music directors, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam was Darbar’s chance to shine… and shine he did.

Of late, Darbar has taken part in many reality shows. His humble history and in-depth musical appreciation, having worked with so many greats within the industry, seemed to be the perfect combination to be a judge and a mentor. He also featured on Big Boss most recently.

Arguably and admittedly, one of the most underrated talents in Bollywood, Darbar’s music has taken his films to a new level. Kisna saw musical acclaim much more than it did critical acclaim. Although A R Rehman was initially approached to compose the music for the film, producer Subhash Ghai settled on Darbar due to the unavailability of Rehman. Darbar used old instruments to compose the music of the film and delivered a much enjoyed album.

Darbar’s forthcoming project, although not confirmed, is rumoured to be for a Tamil film. This talented individual should be one of the most celebrated within the Indian film fraternity – by audiences and insiders alike. His music inspires, gets us emotionally-charged up and makes us want to keep listening… but is anyone really listening? Such talent is wasted if overlooked constantly and Ismail Darbar is one music composer which can match greats like RD Burman. Let’s hope someone reading this can take advantage of this composer and showcase his beats to the world!

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