Light of the Universe: Essays on Hindustani Film Music


Ashraf Aziz

Paperback    9788188789887


A journey into the enchanting world of singers, musicians and lyricists in the world of Indian cinema, assessing their contribution as powerful creators of popular culture.



Starting with the premise that Hindustani cine-song and cine-music has been the main narrative, rather than a pleasant diversion, for the movie-loving public, the author has undertaken a journey into the enchanting world of singers, musicians, lyricists and assessed their contribution as powerful creators of popular culture, as interpreters of the subcontinental ethos, people’s aspirations and desires, and as bold painters on the canvas of time.


They capture the very processes of history and struggles within cultures that have shaped Indian lives in the last century.




  1. Foreword: Preface to the Second Edition
  2. Introduction: The Long Life of Hindustani Film Music
  3. Noor Jahan: Portrait of a Female Indo-Pakistani Artist
  4. Lyrical Griefwork: The Genius of Sajjad Hussain
  5. Shailendra: The Lyrical Romance of Suicide
  6. Baiju Bawra: Musical Reaction or Revolution?
  7. The Female Voice in Hindustani Film Songs
  8. Postscript
  9. Appendix: Timeline 2008–2012


Ashraf Aziz was born in Tanga, Tanzania, into a small British Indian community in diaspora. His ancestors were brought to East Africa from Sialkot, now in Pakistan, in the 1890s to help build the railway. His parents decided to make Tanganyika (now Tanzania) their home where he was born during World War II.


He received his schooling in East Africa. But his real schooling had started much earlier at home – in Hindustani film songs, which became a life-long passion.  He was awarded a scholarship which took him to the United States in 1965.


He calls himself an American of Indo-Pakistani origin with an African experience.

Additional Information

Ashraf Aziz

Published by

Three Essays Collective





FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM – @shalimarbooks