Remembered most for the unforgettable scores of Tansen, Mahal, and Ziddi, Khemchand Prakash was born in Jaipur. His father, Pandit Govardhan Prasad, served as court singer at the Jaipur palace.
Khemchand Prakash inherited his father’s singing skills and was appointed the court singer of Bikaner at the age of 19. A proficient singer, he also worked as a radio artiste in Calcutta. However, his contribution to the film industry was not as a singer but as a music composer. He joined Bombay’s Ranjit Studio in 1940 and found early success with films such as Diwali, Holi, and Pagal. But it was Jayant Desai’s Tansen that established Prakash as a master tunesmith. Sung by the unmatchable K.L. Saigal and Khursheed Begum, the film’s music remains a classic in Hindi cinema.
While Tansen demanded a strictly classical score, Prakash adapted traditional music to come up with lilting numbers for Kamal Amrohi’s Mahal. This romantic thriller featured the haunting Ayega ayega, ayega aanewala sung by Lata Mangeshkar. Prakash is also credited with having discovered Kishore Kumar. He gave the singer his first break with the song Marne ki duaen kyun maangoon in the film Ziddi.
Khemchand Prakash continued to compose music till his death in 1950. His last few films were completed by such music directors as Manna Dey and Basant Prakash.