Music director O P Nayyar, best known for classic songs like Jhumka Gira Re and Pukarta Chala Hoon Mein, died of cardiac arrest at his home in Thane on Sunday. He was 81.
Rani Nakhwa, with whose kin Nayyar was living for over 10 years after being estranged from his family, said, "He was perfectly alright until 3.30 pm, when he went to the toilet and collapsed inside. He was dead before we could summon medical help."
Born on January 16, 1926, in Lahore (now in Pakistan), Omkar Prasad Nayyar got his first break as a music composer in the film Kaneez (1949).
Director Guru Dutt's Aar Paar (1954) was his first major success. This led to his successful partnership with Dutt on films like Mr And Mrs 55 and CID.
As news of his death spread, a pall of gloom descended on Bollywood, where Nayyar was regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time even though he had not been in the limelight for close to three decades.
Film-maker Mahesh Bhatt described Nayyar -- who was always seen in public in white attire and hat -- as "an audacious man who was a king in his time."
"Asha Bhosle owes whatever she is to him. The distinct sensuality that was injected into Asha's singing was the contribution of this extraordinary man," Bhatt said.
Extensive use of the typical Punjabi rhythm was the main characteristic of Nayyar's music, and among his evergreen tunes were Kahin Pe Nigahen Kanhi Pe Nishana (CID), Mang Ke Saath Tumhara (Naya Daur) and Ello Main Hari Piyan (Aar Paar).
Nayyar worked extensively with singers Geeta Dutt, Asha Bhosle and Mohammed Rafi, but never with Lata Mangeshkar.
Though he mostly composed music for north Indian films, he also did the score for some southern films, including Neerajanam (Telugu).
Before fading from the Bollywood scene in the early 1970s, he did the music for hits like Naya Daur, Ek Musafir Ek Hasina and Kashmir Ki Kali. He attempted a comeback in the 1990s with the film Andaaz Apna Apna and recently appeared in the musical TV show Sa Re Ga Ma, on which he was accorded a standing ovation during a programme dedicated to his songs.
Actress and Censor Board chief Sharmila Tagore, who starred in Kashmir Ki Kali, said, "We will remember him and his contributions will be there forever. His name will be there as long as there is the history of music."
Singer Manna Dey said he was saddened by Nayyar's death as no one could replace him. Actor Rajesh Khanna said "originality was the symbol" of Nayyar, whom he described as a "charismatic personality."
TV star and actress Tabassum said, "O P Nayyar's death is yet another shock for us. We were still to recover from the sorrow at the demise of (noted writer) Kamleshwarji when we heard of the when we heard of the death of kind-hearted Nayyar sahab."