Mohammed Zahur Khayyam Hashmi, better known as Khayyam, is an Indian music composer whose career spanned four decades (1953–1990).
He has won three Filmfare Awards for Best Music in 1977 for Kabhi Kabhie and 1982 for Umrao Jaan, and a lifetime achievement award in 2010 . He was awarded the 2007 Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in Creative Music, by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's National Academy of Music, Dance and Theatre. He has been awarded the third-highest civilian honour, Padma Bhushan by the Government of India for 2011.
Khayyam was born as Sa’aadat Hussain in undivided Punjab in Rahon, a town in Nawanshahr district. As a boy Khayyam, ran away to Delhi to learn music but was forced to return to complete his education. Khayyam then went to Lahore to learn music from the famous Baba Chishti.
He was never interested in his studies and was always fascinated by the music of Hindi cinema. He was inclined to the music when he was very young. He often escaped to the city for watching movies. Khayyam soon ran away to his uncle's house in Delhi, in the hope of becoming an actor. Khayyam's uncle enrolled him in a school, but when he saw his passion for films, he allowed him to learn music. In those days it was actually a step forward in realizing his ambitions. He got his training in music under Pandit Amar Nath.
He went to Lahore looking for roles in films. There he also learnt music from famous Baba Chishti who was a famous Panjabi music director. One day Khayyam went to meet Baba Chishti, and after listening to a composition by Chishti sung to him its first part. Impressed, Chishti gave him an offer of joining him as an assistant. Khayyam assisted Chishti for six months and came to Ludhiana in 1943. He was only 17 then.
After a stint in the Army in the Second World War, Khayyam went to Bombay to fulfil his dream. He made his debut as Sharmaji of the Sharmaji-Varmaji composer duo with the movie Heer Ranjha in 1948. He went solo after his co-composer Rahman Varma went to the newly created Pakistan post partition. One of his earliest breaks was in the film Biwi in which the song "Akele mein wo ghabrate to Honge" sung by Mohammed Rafi was a huge hit. But he gained greater recognition from the film Phir Subha Hogi starring Raj Kapoor and Mala Sinha, in which songs written by Sahir
Ludhyanvi and sung by Mukesh and Asha Bhonsle were set to tune by Khayyam, notable amongst them "Wo Subha Kabhi to Aayegi", "Aasman Pe hai Khauda aur Zameen pe Hum" and "Chin-o-Arab Humara".
The film Shola Aur Shabnam established Khayyam’s reputation as a great composer. The songs written by Kaifi Azmi are some of the greats of the Hindi Film Industry.
The 70’s saw Khayyam team up with Sahir Ludhyanvi once again to work in the Yash Chopra-directed Kabhie Kabhie. The songs were super hits and showed Khayyam's versatility with huge hits like "Kabhi Kabhi mere dil mein Khayal ata hai", "Tere chehre se nazar Nahin hatti" and "Mein Pal do pal ka Sahayar Hun".
Khayyam gave memorable music to the late 70's and early 80's was from Trishul, Thodi Si Bewafaai, Bazaar and Noorie.
Khayyam also composed non film songs noticeably "Paaon padun tore Shyam, Brij mein laut chalo" and "Ghazab kiya tere Vaade pe Aitbaar kiya". He also composed for Meena Kumari's album, 'I Write, I Recite' featuring nazms of Meena Kumari sung by her.
Khayyam has always preferred to work with the poets having strong background of poetry side lining the regular film lyricists.
He has worked with both the contemporary and the legends in the field of poetry. That's the reason one finds in his account the work profiled by Mirza Ghalib, Daagh, Wali Saheb, Ali Sardar Jafri, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Sahir Ludhianvi, and among the new ones Naqsh Lyalpuri, Nida Fazli & Ahmed Wasi to name a few.
After a very long break, he gave music for the Hindi film, Yatra in 2006. In 2010, he was given the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award.