Not adopting the attitude of senior Ustads, Ustad Amir Khan admitted the contribution and significance of cinema, as a medium to bring music to the common man. Among the vocalists of classical music, he was the first who presented khayal gayaki in its pure form in Hindi Cinema. Although the lyrics set up in tunes, based on ragas, were being presented in films by play back singers; the success of music in the film ‘Baiju Bawra’, opened the doors for khayal gayaki or pure classical music. Going further in this direction, the classical music of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Pt. Bhimsen Joshi, Parveen Sultana etc could reach the listeners of cinema music. The information regarding presentation of film music by Ustad Amir Khan is given below in chronological order: -
1- Bangla Film-‘Kshudhit Pashan’ [hungry stone]: -
This film was produced by Eastern Circuit Pvt. Ltd. in 1942. In the film, music direction was given by the famous Sarod player, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and lyrics were written by Pt. Bhushan. In those days Ustad Amir Khan lived in Calcutta. Utilizing the classical music, Sarod was played by Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Sitar by Pt. Nikhil Banerjee in this film. For vocal, Ustad Amir Khan performed three songs in it. In these songs, one is the bandish of raga bageshri; in which a famous singer of light music and thumri, Ms. Pratima Bose has accompanied Khan Saheb. There is a tarana in raga megha and one thumri also. These songs are available in 78RPM records, whose details are given below:
1. N.77010 Side 1- bageshri – 'Kaisay katay rajani ab sajani', tal trital, Ustad Amir Khan and Ms. Pratima Bose. Side 2- tarana-raga megha – tal ektal, Ustad Amir Khan.
2. N.77017 Side 1- thumri khamaj – ‘Piya kay aavan ki may sunat khabariya’, Ustad Amir Khan.
2- Hindi Film-‘Baiju Bawra’: -
This film was produced by ‘Prakash Pictures’, and was first released in 1952. Story of the film is based on the life of a singer of mediaeval age, Baiju Bawra. Hence the whole film is full of music. Mr. Noshad Ali is the music director of this film. Mr. Noshad had taken training in music from Yusuf Ustad, Babban Khan Lucknowwale and Ustad Jhande Khan Patialawale. The lyrics for the film were written by Shakil Badayuni.
In this film, play back singing for the role of Tansen and Baiju Bawra were done by Ustad Amir Khan and Pt. D. V. Paluskar respectively. This is the only example of Ustad Amir Khan performing jugalbandi [duet] with any other vocalist.
There are four presentations of Ustad Amir Khan in this film: -
1. Title song – drut bandish in raga puriya dhanashri – ‘Tori jai-jai kartar’, tal ektal.
2. Sargam and swaraalap in raga darbari.
3. Jugalbandi in raga deshi – ‘Tumharay gun gaun’, ektal vilambit and ‘Aj gavat mana mero jhumkay’, tal trital.
4. Bandish in raga megha – ‘Ghanan ghanan ghan garjo ray’, tal trital.
Other songs in this film have been performed by Mohammad Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar. The available gramophone records of this film are: -
1. 78 RPM-HMV-FT.17512, Side 1 – ‘Tori jai-jai kartar’, puriya dhanashri; Side 2 – ‘Ghanan ghanan ghan garjo ray’, megha.
2. 78 RPM-HMV-FT.17513, Side 1 - ‘Tumharay gun gaun’; Side 2 – ‘aj gavat mana mero’.
3. Columbia 6 E.28044 – Sargam – darbari alap.
4. LP record of this film-HMV-EA-LP-4069, was issued in 1975.
3- Hindi Film-‘Shabab’: -
This film was produced by Sadique Productions Pvt. Ltd. in 1954. The director of this film is Sadique, music director Noshad Ali and lyrics are composed by Shakil Badayuni. After the success of ‘Baiju Bawra’, Noshad Ali included Amir Khan Saheb also in ‘Shabab’ for singing. A devotional bandish set in raga multani, ‘Daya karo hay girdhar Gopal’ is performed by Amir Khan Saheb, which is in tal trital. This bandish of raga multani is available in LP [M.O.C.E. 4181] of this film, produced by HMV in 1973.
4- Hindi Film-‘Jhanak Jhanak Payal Bajay’: -
In 1955, this film was produced by Rajkamal Kala Mandir Pvt. Ltd. and was directed by V. Shantaram. This film is mainly centered on music and dance. Vasant Desai has given music direction for it. Some great personalities of classical music have contributed to the film: as the title song is in the voice of Ustad Amir Khan, the Tabla play was of Pt. Samta Prasad, the Sarangi was played by Pt. Gopal Mishra and Pt. Gopi Krishna has played the role of main dancer.
The song performed by Ustad Amir Khan, ‘Jhanak-jhanak payal bajay’ is set in drut khayal style, in raga adana. In it, all the qualities of tan style of Ustad Amir Khan have been included in brief. The bandish is set in trital. Songs of this film were issued also in the form of Stereo LP [HMV-ECSD-5801] in 1982 and above song of Ustad Amir Khan is included there in.
5- Marathi Film-‘Yeray Majhya Magalya’: -
Produced in 1955, also in this film, music direction was given by Mr. Vasant Desai. The bandish of raga lalit-‘Jogiya meray ghar’, usually vocalized by Ustad Amir Khan and subsequently recorded for LP, was already included in this film. This bandish is set in trital. The bandish is available in 78 RPM gramophone record [HMV-N.62124] of this film.
6- Hindi Film-‘Gunj Uthi Shehnai’: -
This film was produced by Prakash Pictures in 1959. Also in this film, the music director was Vasant Desai. The hero of this film is a Shehnai player. His guru [teacher] teaches him by singing. For this singing, the voice of Ustad Amir Khan was taken as play back singing and shehnai was played by Ustad Bismillah Khan. For this situation, a raga mala [chain of ragas] was presented by the vocalism of Ustad Amir Khan and shehnai playing by Ustad Bismillah Khan. Its included ragas are: ramkali, deshi, shuddha sarang, multani, yaman kalyan, surmalhar, bageshri and Chandra kauns. It is a unique example of experiment of combined application of vocalism and instrumental. This raga mala is available in 78 RPM record of HMV-N. 53120. IN another presentation, raga bhatiyar is taken. In the beginning, Ustad Amir Khan has performed a bandish set in jhaptal-‘nisa din’; and the raga is concluded with shehnai playing of Ustad Bismillah Khan. This presentation of raga bhatiyar is available in 78 RPM record of HMV-No. 53122. A presentation of jugalbandi in raga kedar by Ustad Bismillah Khan [shehnai] and Ustad Abdul Halim Jafar Khan [Sitar], is also included in this film. LP record [E.A.L.P.-4068] of this film was also issued in 1975, but it is regrettable that above mentioned all the three presentations of classical music were not included in it.
7- Hindi Religious Films: -
In two religious films also Khan Saheb has given play back singing. These films are-‘Jay Shri Krishna’ and ‘Radha piy Pyari’. Both films were produced by Shri Mukund Goswami. In these two films, Khan Saheb has performed two bandishes of Vallabh sect, which are as follows: -
1. ‘Jay Shri Krishna’ – raga darbari, ‘Meri palakan son mag jharun’, tal trital.
2. ‘Radha Piy Pyari’ – raga darbari, ‘Ay mori aali’, tal jhaptal.
In the presentations of Ustad Amir Khan in feature films, there are some bandishes which he already used to sing and being impressed by them, music directors adopted them for there films. For example-in Marathi film, ‘Yeray Majhya Magalya’: bandish of raga lalit, in Bangla film, ‘Kshudhit Pashan’: tarana of raga megha, in Hindi film, ‘Gunj Uthi Shehnai’: mukhadas and sthayees of different bandishes in the form of raga mala, in religious film, ‘Radha piy Pyari’: bandish of raga darbari etc.
8- Documentary on Mirza Ghalib: -
One hundred years of death of eminent Urdu poet, Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib, were completed in 1969. Hence, on the occasion of death centenary of Ghalib, government of India got a documentary film produced on Mirza Ghalib. In it, Pt. Amarnath, disciple of Ustad Amir Khan, provided music direction and the writer of lyrics was Kaifee Azmi. In this film, the title song was performed by Amir Khan Saheb in the form of a ghazal of Ghalib, wordings of which are as follows:
“Rahiyay ab aisee jagah chal kar, jahan koi na ho.
Hamsukhan koi na ho, aur hamzuban koi na ho.”
Translation: “1) now please let's go and live somewhere, where there would be no one
2) there would be no speech-sharer, and there would be no language-sharer”
It is to be noted that on insistence of Pt. Amarnath, Khan Saheb accepted to sing also a ghazal, deviating from his khayal/tarana modes. Although, its tune is sufficiently based on kanhada ang.