As far as Sanjay Leela Bhansali is concerned, Ismail Darbar’s lilting music, is his surprise packet in ’Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’. The transition of Ismail Darbar from a sessions violinist to an independent music director is another addition to the annals of the film industry folklore. A homeboy from Surat, Ismail found his true calling, that is, music when he was bundled off to Mumbai at the age of fourteen, for being the proverbial brat at home.
Violin was a true calling, and under the tutelage of Pt. Ram Prasad Sharma and Shri Ganesh, Ismail honed the art of playing the instrument as a true master. As is the case of every prominent musician, and for the ’square meal’ factor, Ismail turned to playing the violin for every prominent music director of the day. The list includes great masters like R.D. Burman, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Jatin-Lalit, Anand-Milind and Viju Shah. Having observed the masters at work for close to fourteen years, the ambition to turn an independent music director started germinating. Sanjay Leela Bhansali had met him briefly during his first film, ’Khamoshi’, when Ismail was working along with Jatin-Lalit as one of the main violinists.
Imagine Sanjay’s surprise (and slight scepticism!) when a mutual friend suggested Ismail Darbar’s name even before the former had decided on a music director for ’Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’. Always the proverbial nice guy, Sanjay decided to present to Ismail two very difficult situations and asked him to come up with the tunes for them, thinking that Ismail may not be able to measure up. To his further surprise, when Ismail belted out the couple of tunes that Sanjay Leela Bhansali found brilliant. So, briefly, that is how a new music director emerged on the horizon of the Hindi film industry. Sanjay has proved to be a great mentor, as Ismail would admit repeatedly, and their collaboration as resulted has been a splendid mix of folk, classical and popular music, in form of nearly a dozen impressive compositions. It is very important, according to Ismail, to add a footnote of acknowledgement to the lyricist of ’Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’, and his old friend, Mehboob. In his own little humble manner, Ismail simply states that the tremendous plaudits which are bound his way, are also due to his lyricist. Add to this underplayed humble disposition, and with his commitment to stay away from the herd, and do limited assignments, Ismail Darbar is here to stay.