Jaidev Verma was born in Nairobi, Kenya. His earliest musical influence was through his mother who would recite the Ramayana at home. He could play the harmonica when he was only 5 years old. Eventually, his family moved back to India and he grew up in Ludhiana. It was here that he gained his formal training in music from Sardar Sohan Singh. Smitten by the world of films, he travelled to Mumbai in 1933, and got a job in Wadia Movietone.
He started out as a singer-actor for films like “Martanda Varma” (1933) and “Miss Frontier Mail” (1936). During this period, he took lessons in Hindustani music from the famous Javkar brothers. With an unquenchable thirst for learning, he went to Pandit Uday Shankar to continue his training but the Pandit asked him to go to Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. Jaidev learnt the sarod from the Ustad for a year from 1948 to 1949. When the Ustad travelled to Mumbai to compose music for films, Jaidev travelled with him and served as his assistant for the films “Andhiyan” (1952) and “Humsafar” (1953). Later, he assisted S.D. Burman for the movie “Taxi Driver” (1954) and continued to be associated with him throughout the 50s for several films, including hits like “Nau Do Gyarah” (1957) and “Sujata” (1959).
Jaidev began as an independent composer with films like “Joru Ka Bhai” (1955), but it was his association with S.D. Burman that finally got him his first big solo hit and also the score that defined his career - “Hum Dono” (1961). He got the opportunity because Burman was sick at that time and the producers, Navketan Films, decided to go with his assistant instead. Songs like “Main Zindagi Ka Saath Nibhata Chala Gaya” and “Abhi Na Jao Chhodkar” became instant hits and are loved to this day. Despite his magnificent work for “Hum Dono”, Jaidev never got an opportunity to work with the big movie houses again. However, this did not take away anything from the quality of his music. In Sunil Dutt’s “Mujhe Jeene Do” (1963), the Sahir Ludhianvi-penned “Nadi Naare Na Jao Shyam” stood out. His score for “Reshma Aur Shera” (1972) is considered one his best and won him his first National Award. He had the ability to extract the best from relative newcomers. While Runa Laila had worked with Kalyanji - Anandji before, it was her singing for Jaidev’s “Gharonda” (1977) that brought her limelight. It was again Jaidev, who gave Hariharan a break with “Ajeeb Saaneha Mujh Par” (“Gaman”, 1979). Another Jaidev contribution that does not get discussed a lot is the light ghazal genre he perfected. This format may have gained popularity in the 1980s but the seeds for it were sown by Jaidev with songs like “Ek Akela Is Shahar Mein” (“Gharonda”, 1977) and two gems from “Gaman” (1979) - “Ajeeb Saneha Mujh Par” and “Seene Mein Jalan”.
In the later stages of his life, he set to music the poetry written by some of the best names in Hindi poetry - Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Maithilisharan Gupta and Harivanshrai Bachchan. Apart from A.R. Rahman and Illayaraja, he is the only other music director to have won three National Awards for music composition - for “Reshma Aur Shera” (1972), “Gaman” (1979) and “Ankahee” (1985).
He passed away on 6 January, 1987 at the age of 68. Unlike Madan Mohan and R.D. Burman, who finally got their dues after their deaths, Jaidev continues to remain unsung and underrated.