Mohammed Shafi was a music director, arranger and sitar player, known for composing music for films such as Hulchul (1951), Aabshar (1953), Bazooband (1954), and Do Mastaane (1958). He was also an arranger and assistant to Naushad for nearly 14 years.
Born in the 1920s, Mohammed Shafi’s father Majid Khan died when was very young. This compelled him to start work at a very young age. Due to his command over the sitar, he gained employment with New Theatres. He assisted in New Theatres’ music and contributed considerably to films like Kapaal Kundala (1933) and Aandhi (1940).
In 1942, he assisted Basheer Dehlvi for Tajmahal Pictures’ Ujala where the hero of the film, Prithviraj Kapoor played the role of a sitar player. Mohammed Shafi got his independent break with Haqdaar in 1946. He composed music for approximately 18 Hindi films as a music director and worked as assistant, arranger and background score composer for several films. He also scored for two Marathi films.
Mohammed Shafi had a long association with Naushad, that lasted approximately 14 years. It is said that when he was assisting Naushad for Mughal-e-Azam (1960), filmmaker K. Asif would send a car to pick up Shafi for playing the sitar for the background music. Shafi is also remembered for giving Suman Kalyanpur a chance to sing Koi pukare dheere se tujhe for Mangu (1954).
As a composer, Mohammed Shafi’s filmography includes films such as Haqdaar (1946), Do Naina (1947), Gharaana (1949), Hulchul (1951) along with Sajjad Hussain, Annadaata (1952), Aabshaar (1953) along with Ghulam Haider and Bhola Shreshtha, Baazooband (1954), Deewaar (1955), Mohabbat Ki Jeet (1960), Tanhaai (1961) which was released as Badi Maa in 1974, Iraada (1971) along with Vitthal-Mumtaz, Dayar-e-Madina (1975), and the Marathi films Shrimant Mehuna Pahije (1967) and Shriman Balasaheb (1960).
Shafi along with Sajjad Hussain composed the music for the Dilip Kumar-Nargis starrer Hulchul. A K Asif production, the film featured several songs rendered by Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi such as O bichhade hue saathi jiyun kaise bataa de, Lagi hai aag dil men, qismat ke sitaare dub gae, and Preet jata ke meet bana ke bhul na jana, besides Koi kis tarah raze ulfat chupaye by Rajkumari Dubey, and So rahe hai bekhaabar sone wale gaon mein by Shamshad Begum.
Aabshar which had music composed by Ghulam Haider, Mohammed Shafi, and Bhola Shrestha featured songs such as Chale aao tumhe aansu, Koi sun ke kya karega, and Mujhko hai tumse pyaar kyon rendered by Lata Mangeshkar, Hamaare yaad karte hai and Dil par sau sau baar by Munawar Sultana, and Yeh duniya suit boot ki baabu by Kishore Kumar, S D Batish, and S Balbir.
Shafi was the sole music director of Bazooband, composing songs such as Man me laagi aag, o maalik kya tu bhi soya rendered by Lata Mangeshkar, Bazooband khul khul jaye also by Lata Mangeshkar, as well as Dil ki mehfil me aake chale ho kaha, Aarzoo ye hai ke nikle dam tumhare samne, and Meri wohi tamanna tere wohi bahane also by Mangeshkar. The Balraj Sahni-starrer directed by Ramanand Sagar included songs such as Bina dosh sita mata ko diya ram ne ghar se nikal by Asha Bhosle, and Diya bujhaao jhatpat by G M Durrani.
Do Mastaane had music composed by Hemant Kumar and Mohammed Shafi. It included songs such as Aa nainon mein jhoom kar sajna by Lata Mangeshkar, Haye re o janewali by Hemant Kumar, Kabhi akadkar baat na karna by Geeta Dutt and Hemant Kumar, Goolon ka khilaoon by Asha Bhosle, Dil se mila dil by Lata Mangeshkar and Hemant Kumar, Mohabbat ke janaaze par by Lata Mangeshkar, Nazron se chhup kar by Lata Mangeshkar and Hemant Kumar, Hum pyaar mein jitne kadam chale by Lata Mangeshkar, Bandhan hain haathon ke by Lata Mangeshkar, Do bol tere meethe meethe by Lata Mangeshkar and Hemant Kumar, and Qaraar jisko na aaye by Lata Mangeshkar.
On the personal front, Mohammed Shafi was married to Vilayat Khan’s sister, Zeenat.
Mohammed Shafi passed away on 30 April, 1980.