master music-composer called: Anil
immortal melody of yesteryears -‘Seeeny mein sulagty hein armaan’
sung by Talat Mehmood and Lata Mangeshkar for film ‘Tarana’ (1952)
will continue to bewitch
earnest music lovers, not only for years together, but for ages to come.
The music for the film was composed by none other than Anil Biswas.
Biswas (popularly known as Anil Da) once during an interview-telecast said
-"If Rai Chand Boral is the 'Baap' (father) of Hindi cine
music, then I am the 'Chacha' (father's younger brother)."
This verdict sounded egoistic so
long I was not fully
acquainted with the immortal melodies he had composed for the films as
then on almost five decades have passed. During these years I have \
to some of the nostalgic cine-music time and again, more particularly
songs composed on classical base. Amongst such melodies were -’Mun ki
been matwaree bajey’ (Lata & Rafi) for 'Shabaab' music –Naushad,
’Sun merey sajnaa dekho ji hamko bhool na jana’ (Lata &
Rafi) 'Aansoo' music-Husnalal Bhagatram, ’Sapt suran teen graam (K...L.
Saigal) 'Tansen' music-Khemchand Prakash and ’Ketki gulab juhee’
(Bhim Sen Joshi & Manna Dey) 'Basant Bahar' music- Shanker
Jaikishan. These fascinating songs composed by maestros continue to
enchant and glitter of
their glory has not faded till date.
came a day, when I listened to ’Ritu aye ritu jaye’
followed by ’Pee bin sunaa jee’ sung by Lata &
Manna Dey for film -'Humdard' music-Anil Biswas. I was indeed mesmerized. The
duet is set in four classical ragas- Gaud sarang, Gaud malhaar, Jogia
& Bahaar and bears complete
signatures of its composer.
listening to this fabulous classical number; I
had no option but to concur with what Anil Da said in his interview that
he is the 'Chacha' of Hindi cine music, which conveyed nothing but
his conviction and a candid truth.
Biswas, like K.L.Saigal never had any formal training in music from
any 'Guru' or 'Ustad'. Like Saigal, he also used to accompany his
mother in 'Bhajan-singing'. However, he owed a little to Pt. Lal
Mohan Goswami, who taught him a bit about swara.
on 7 July 1914 at Barisal in
East Bengal (now in
Bangladesh); the early
of the maestro was very eventful. He
took active part in freedom struggle and joined 'Jugantar Party'.
For such activities he was jailed at the tender age of 14. On
his release, he ran away from his home with just five rupees and reached
his days of struggle in Calcutta, Anilda was associated with Kazi Nazrul
Islam, the revolutionary poet and a celebrated music composer. During such
period he worked for ‘Megaphone’ recording company as well.
came to Bombay in the year 1935 and gave music for his first film
‘Dharam Ki Devi’. One of
its songs sung by Ratanbai-’Terey poojan ko bhagwan, banaa man mandir
aalishaan’ became an
instant hit and till date, the song is considered as one of the finest
numbers of ‘Sentimental Era’.
the year 1936 Anil Biswas married Mehrunnisan, a Kutch muslim and a film
celebrity. She was later
renamed as Asha Lata. Anilda had four children, three sons- Pradeep, Utpal
& Amit and a daughter- Shikha.
the year 1940, Anil Da composed music for about
26 films. Notable were Manmohan (1936), Jagirdar (1937), Ek Hi Rasta
(1939), Alibaba and Aurat (1940). In films ‘Ek Hi Rasta’
& ‘Alibaba’ Waheedan
sang some popular melodies. These two films were directed by the
celebrated Mehboob Khan.
film - 'Aurat' was directed
and produced (under the banner of National Studios) by Mehboob
Khan with star cast- Sardar Akhtar, Surender, Yaqoob and Kanhaiya Lal. In
addition to composing music, Anil Da as
well acted for the sequence and sang- ’Kahey karta der barati’ for
this film. There were however other 11 songs in this film
sung by Sardar Akhtar, Jyoti, Surender, Anil Biswas and Vatsala Kumdhekar.
The film was a grand success
and considered as one of the foremost classics of the decade- 1931-40.
should be remembered that the much acclaimed film -‘Mother India’
(1957) produced and directed by Mehboob Khan and music composed by Naushad,
was the remake of film-‘Aurat’. In view of the superb performance of
Nargis in ‘Mother India’; the film continues to be rated as one of the
greatest films produced in the history of Indian cinema. Yet, owing
to grand success of the music of film- ‘Aurat’; the film critics have
acclaimed ‘Aurat’ as the
mother of ‘Mother India’.
Garga, one of the most perceptive writers on films, once studied the two
pictures together and in the context of music, wrote- “Anil
Biswas’s music is more in tune with the dramatic movement of the film:
his use of a single instrument on mood was more authentic than Naushad’s
large orchestra overwhelming the auditory senses”. (Cinema in India,
then Mehboob Khan was not fully satisfied with me, as he considered the
music of ‘Alibaba’ as better than that of ‘Aurat’. Consequently
some differences developed.”- once Anil Da told the author of these
another historic film- ‘Roti’ (1942) was in making, a serious dispute
between Anil Biswas and the producer developed over its music. In a fit of
anger, Mehboob Khan asked Anil Biswas- “Terey
liyey Akhtari ko bulwa doon” (Should I call Akhtari for you?). Anil
Biswas replied in the same tone- ”Bukwa
dey” (Yes, call her.
Thus, Akhtari Bai Faizabadi (Begam Akhtar, as
she was then known) the ghazal queen. was persuaded to act and sing
for the film. And, a momentous
chapter was created. She acted and sang six immortal melodies for this
each of these six
numbers of Begum Akhtar, be it was the instrumentation, the alluring
orchestration and the style of singing was something unique. However, in
view of certain dispute & technical complexities all the six melodies
sung by Begum Akhtar were removed from its soundtrack.
the release of film ‘Roti’, serious disputes erupted between the two
masters -Mehboob Khan and Anil Biswas and they got alienated. The
separation seriously effected the career-graph and fate of Anil Biswas. As
thereafter Naushad became the music composer for more or less for all
the films of Mehboob Khan. This was indeed a turning point for Anil Da.
film ‘Basant’ released in the year 1942 though bears the name of
Pannalal Ghosh as its
composer; the fact remains that its music was composed by Anil Biswas.
This was in view of the fact that artists used to work with the respective
production company on contract basis. As such, Anil Biswas was not
supposed to work for Bombay Talkies, the producers of film ‘Basant’.
Though, he composed some enthralling melodies for this film, namely-‘’Tumko
mubarak ho oonchey mahal ye’, ‘Aaya basant sakhee, birha ka ant sakhee’
and ‘Hua kya kusoor’-were
sung by Parul Ghosh (sister of Anil Biswas and later on wife of Pannalal
Ghosh), yet the gramophone records bear the name of Pannalal Ghosh as
film ‘Kismat’ (1943) starring- Ashok Kumar and Mumtaz Shanti it proved
to be one of the greatest successful movies in the history of Indian
cinema. by virtue of its music by Anil Biswas. The film ran continuously
for three years and eight months, which was a record till the release of
film –‘Sholey’ (1973). One of its songs- ’Door hato aye duniyan
walo yey hindustan hamara hei’
became an instant super-hit. The beguiling use of trumpet in
this song till date enthralls the listeners with patriotic fervor. Since
it was against the spirit of the then British Raj; the lyricist Pradeep
and the composer went underground to escape their arrest.
there were some other fascinating numbers in this film sung by Amir Bai
viz ‘Dheerey dheerey aa re baadal,
dheery dheery aa’, ‘Ab terey siwa kaun mera krishan kanhaiya’ &
‘Ghar ghar mein diwali merey ghar mein andhera’, and
an all time trendy- ‘Papiha
rey’ sung by Parul Ghosh.
the years to follow till 1950, Anil Biswas composed music for a number of
films. The notables were-‘Hamari Baat’ (1943), Jwar Bhata (1944)- the
debut film of matinee idol- Dilip Kumar, ‘Pehli Nazar’ (1945),
‘Milan’ (1946), ‘Anokha Pyar’ (1948), ‘Girls School’ &
‘Ladli’ (1949), and ‘Arzu’ (1950).
each of these films, consistently there were more than one fascinating
melodies. Listen to some of these numbers- ‘Mein
unkee ban jaon re’ –Parul Ghosh (Hamari Baat), ‘Saanjh
ki bela, panchhi akela’ -Arun
Kumar and ‘Bhool jana chahti hoon’–Parul
Ghosh- (Jwar Bhata); ‘Dil jalta
hei to jalne de’ –Mukesh and ‘Ukka
ishara jaan se pyara’- Naseem Akhtar –(Pehli Nazar); ’Suhani
berian biti jayein’, ‘Jisne banaa di bansuri’ & ‘Mein kiski
laaj nibhaaun’ –Parul Ghosh (Milan); ‘Jeewan
sapna toot gaya’ –Mukesh; ’Merey phulon mein chhupi hei jawani’, ‘Yaad rakhna chand taro is
suhani raat ko’, ‘Merey
liye wo itnzaar chhodh gayey’, ‘Jeewan sapna toot gaya’ to
name a few - Lata (Anokha Pyar); ‘Tumhee
kaho mera man kyun rahe udas nahin’ – Lata (Girls School) ‘Tumharey
bhulany ko jee chahta hei’ –Lata and ‘Aankhein
keh gayee dil ki baat’ –S.D. Batish (Ladli); ‘Aye dil mujhe aisi jagah le chal’ –Talat Mehmood and ‘Kahan
tak hum uthayen gam’ –Lata (Arzu); ‘Zamaney
ka dastoor hei ye puran’ –Lata & Mukesh (Lajawaab).
of these musical marvels composed during fourth decade (i.e. 1941-50) of
the previous century establish the fact that Anil Biswas was certainly one
of the finest music composers of his time. As against all other composers,
his choice of lyricist was wide open and not predetermined. As the maestro
himself had a brilliant understanding of verse; he chose the lyricist, who
he thought was the best suitable to the situation of the story line. In a
large number of films, it is observed that there were more than one
lyricist. Again, while composing a song he deployed the
minimal use of instruments. Consequently, most of the songs emerged had a
unique impact on the listeners. His use of counter-melody in various songs
established him a composer with a difference. For instance,
listen to- ’Saanjh ji bela,
panchhi akela’ –Arun Kumar (Jwar Bhata) and ‘Baar
baar tum soch rahi ho’ –Shanker Das Gupta (Girls School).
greatest contribution of Anil Da for the cine music lies in the fact that
he introduced and or brought to limelight a large number of singers. It is
a matter of record that 76 singers -male and female- sang for the maestro.
Notable amongst were Mukesh and Talat Mahmood. How can we forget ’Dil
jalta hei to jalne de’ - sung by Mukesh in film
'Pehli Nazar' (1945) and ’Aye dil mujhe aisee jageh le chal,
jahan koi na ho’ sung by Talat Mahmood in film ‘Arzu’ (1950).
Before singing these two memorable songs, Mukesh and Talat were entirely
unknown. Mukesh was struggling
for an appropriate opportunity and Talat was in
list of other eminent singers, who came to prominence through Anil Da
includes - S.D.Batish, Surender,
Rajkumari, Sudha Malhotra, Ameerbai, Shanker Das Gupta, Sardar
Akhtar, Parul Ghosh, Meena Kapoor, Arun Kumar and others. In his early
career, the maestro had
created some memorable melodies in the voices of dancer Sitara, prominent
actors- Motilal, Ashok Kumar, Gope, Nalini Jaywant, Leela Chitnis, Sheikh
Mukhtar, Sardar Akhtar, Ashraf Khan and a few others.
Mangeshkar too was primarily brought
to limelight by Anil Biswas in the year 1948, when she sang the songs for
-'Anokha Pyar' viz ’Yaad rakhna chand taro is suhani raat ko’,
‘Ik dii ka lagana baaki tha’, ‘Ab yaad na kar bhol ja’ (with
Mukesh), ‘Merey phulon
mein chhupee hei jawaani’ &’ ‘Jeewan sapna beet gayaa’. These
songs were originally sung by Meena Kapoor for the soundtrack of the film
but for gramophone record version, these numbers were re-recorded in the
voice of Lata Mangeshkar. She sang 115 songs for the maestro and quite a
few from them can be included amongst her best.
Once during a casual
conversation the author of these lines enquired from Anil Da, as to why
K.L. Saigal and Noorjehan, who belonged to his epoch, never sang for him.
Anil Da in a fit of emotion said- “Betey
Satish, I had always longed for composing songs for both these
singers. Saigal was very close to my heart, but he was initially under an
agreement with New Theatres, Calcutta and after coming to Bombay, he
was too busy with different production houses. He was also not keeping
well and died young. Noorjehan likewise migrated to Pakistan. However, I
had in mind a duet –‘Zamaney
ka dastoor hei ye purana’ -ready for both of them; which later on
Mukesh and Lata sang for Lajawaab.”
Though the song –‘Zamaney ka dastoor hei ye purana’ later
on was sung by Mukesh & Lata and
is rated as one of the finest
duets of Indian cine music; the
fact remains that if
these two greatest - Saigal & Noorjehan-
of undivided India had sung together; they would have
created a fabulous occurrence in the history of harmony.
Continuing his musical
journey after 1950, Anil Biswas composed music for film ‘Tarana’ in
the year 1951 (starring – Dilip kumar and Madhubala), which
was certainly one of his best endeavors. All
the nine melodies of this film
were magnum opus. ‘Mosey rooth
gayo mora sanwaria’, ‘yun chhup chhup kr’, ‘Beimann torey nainwa
nindiya na aye’, ‘Wapas le le ye jawani’, & ‘Kya khabar
thi___Wo dil kahan gaye bataa’ –sung by Lata and all time favorite
duet of Lata and Talat Mehmood- ‘Seeney mein sulagtey hein armaan’ besides
two other duets of Lata and Sandhya Mukerjee- ‘Nain
mile nain huye bawre’ & ‘Bol papihe
bol’. These songs made
the film a musical super-hit. The depth of feelings emerged particularly
in ‘Wo din kahan gaye bata’ continues
to haunt ardent music lovers, as and when the melodies is played.
The films ‘Araam’
(1951), ‘Doraha’ (1952), ‘Aakash’ (1953) & ‘Fareb’ (1953)
though were not box-office
success; the maestro composed some rare gems for these films. ‘Aye
jaaney jigar, dil mein samaney aaja’ –Mukesh and ‘Shukriya,
shukriya aye pyar tera shukriya’ – Talat (Araam); ‘Man
mein kisi ki preet basa le’ & ‘Balma ja ja ja, ab kaun tujhe
samjahye’ -Lata (Doraha);
‘Muhabbat tark ki maine, gireban si liya maine’ – Talat (Doraha);
‘Saraa chaman tha apna’ &
‘So gayee chandni’ – Lata (Aakash) and ‘Mere
dukh sukh ka sansaar’ & ‘Husn bhi hai udas udas’ –Kishore
Kumar and there was one of the
finest duets- ‘Aa muhabbat ki
basti basayeinge hum’ - Lata & Kishore and ‘Mila
dil mil ke toota jar aha hei – Lata (Fareb).
A few interesting lines
about the duet –‘Aa mohabbat ki
bast basayeinge hum’. One afternoon Anil Da at his residence was in
the company of celebrated actors –Dilip Kumar and Ashok Kumar. He played
on his harmonium and hummed the serious tune of his forthcoming melody -‘Aa
mohabbat ki basti basayeinge hum’. As
to who will be the female singer, there was absolutely no doubt about Lata;
but who will give the male voice? “Dada it should be Talat”-said Ashok
Kumar. Whereas Dilip Kumar suggested –“Anil Da, in any case looking to
the serious lyrical notes, male singer should be your favorite Mukesh.”
Anil Da had something else in his mind. “How if Kishore sings with Lata”-
said the maestro. “Kishore!’ –Dilip was taken aback; “if Kishore
will sing such a serious song, then ‘Aapka
joota aur mera sar (if Kishore will sing such serious song, my head is
ready for your shoe-beating)’” –added
Dilip Kumar. “Mein joota le kar aataa hoon, sar tayyar rakho (Be ready with
your head, I am bringing my shoe).”
Kishore Kumar was called,
who at the first instance, bluntly refused to sing the said duet with Lata.
But, the maestro’s conviction prevailed the result and eventually
a heart-throbbing duet was created!
Back to musical journey! The
film for which Anil Da composed music were not from a set production
banner. As such, there had been some downright box office failures with
some of the finest songs. Such films include- ‘Hamdard’
(1953), ‘Maan’ (1954), ‘Jalti Nishani’ (1957) and ‘Chhoti Chhoti
Batein’ (1963). Perhaps the finest classical melodies of Anil Biswas
came from film ‘Hamdard’, which could’nt even have three days
screening. Listen to ‘Ritu aye
ritu jaye’ followed by ‘Pee
bin soona ree’ –Lata & Manna Dey for this film, which is
considered till date as one of finest classical based film-music marvels.
This particular number was recorded twice. In the soundtrack version,
Pannalal Ghosh played the flute; and in the subsequent gramophone record
version Ramnarain played the sarangi. The
other memorable numbers of the film include- ‘Tera
haath haath mein aa gaya’ – Manna Dey. ‘Mere
pyar mein tujhe kya mila’ & ‘Allah bhi hei mallah bhi hei’ –Lata
(Maan); ‘Rooth ke tum to chal
diyey, ab mein duaa ka kya karoon’ – Lata (Jalti Nishani).
Likewise, ‘Chhoti Chhoti Batein’, the last film of the maestro,
starring Motilal and Nadira had some captivating numbers. Shailendra,
wrote some heart-throbbing lines- ‘Zindagi khwaab hei’ -as
a tribute to matinee idol Motilal, who died before the completion of the
film and Mukesh sang with
utmost pathos. Lata &
Mukesh’s- ‘Zindagi ka ajab fasana hei’, and Meena Kapoor’s –‘Kuchh
aur zaman kehta hei’ and
Manna Dey’s two classics- ‘Andhi
duniyan, matlab ki dunian’ & ‘Kya laye ho, kya le jaoge’ -
were some moving melodies.
The fact remains that for
his fabulous melodies composed; the maestro was unconcerned with the fate
of the respective film-produced, whether it will be a box-office success
or failure. To illustrate, a song ‘Rooth key tum to chal diyey, ab
mein duaa ka kya karun’ - film ‘Jalti Nishani’ (1957) and
another number ‘Allah bhi hei mallah bhi hei’ - film ‘Maan’
(1954) sung by Lata Mangeshkar, are indeed some glittering gems and very
many words may not suffice to appreciate these melodies. As stated, both
these films were bitter box-office failures and could not have even two
Anil Da’s musical
compositions had a varieties
of colours and shades. If some
had shades of folk of Bengal,
he could compose the clan of Punjab, Haryana and Goa also with
the same fervor. At times, he
could create songs on carnatic style musical
notes as well. He occasionally
even mixed different ragas in one melody. For instance, listen to- ‘Naa
ja naa ja balam’- Lata
–‘Pardesi’ (1957) and ‘Intzaar aur abhee’ -Lata
–‘Chaar Dil Chaar Rahein’ (1959). In these two alluring classical
based melodies, he created
some bewitching effects. Similarly, in film ‘Sautela Bhai’ (1962)
starring Guru Dutt; he composed a few classical classics- ‘Ab
Laagi naahi rama’ & ‘Jaa mein to se naheen bolun’ – Lata
& Meena Kappor and ‘Phuley ban
bagia’ –Manna Dey and Meena
Da, though a Bengali by birth, had a wonderful command over Urdu language
and a deep understanding of ghazal.
Thereby, before composing a song he
could imbibe deeply the emotions, thoughts, feelings, messages and
the entire composition of the respective lyricist.
view of his deep concern for poetry he wrote a book on the history of ghazal
in BangIa and its cover page was designed by well the known
painter- M.F. Hussain.
Faiz Ahmed Faiz, the
celebrated Urdu poet of Indian sub-continent was a close-friend and a
great admirer of Anil Da’s music. Both of them used to recall each
other’s memories with passionate regard.
Anil Biswas was perhaps the
first composer, who understood deeply various complexities of background
music and also introduced counter-melody in his music. This was the reason
that another maestro -Naushad called him his ‘Guru’.
He was indeed a master of invaluable techniques of singing. As a
seer and a visionary, he closely witnessed the music journey of Indian
cinema & also that of classical music. He was thus cherished by most
of classical musicians.
Lata Mangeshkar once
confessed- “Anilda always stressed on where to pause, to take a breath,
so that it neither disrupts the flow of the song, nor rankles the
listener’s ear. He would, ‘If you must break up the line, do it
in a manner that does not change its meaning.’” She further said-
“Anilda taught me how one should move away, even so slightly, from the
mike, while drawing a breath between two words and then return, almost
instantaneously, to continue with the song”.
the year-1965 somewhat unhappy Anil Da left Bombay and joined All India
Radio, New Delhi as Director, National Orchestra. He gave music for the
first TV soap opera 'Humlog' which proved a grand success.
question generally arises after going through the maestros brilliant
career-graph, as to whether he
got the recognition he deserved? Perhaps, not ! The Chacha
of Indian cine music was denied a sarkari
‘Padma award’. Besides, he was certainly a front runner in the
line of recipients of ‘Dada Saheb Phalke Award’.
About the reasons for such notable omission, it is lesser said the
in recognition of his contribution to music, Anil Biswas was awarded
Madhya Pradesh Government’s- Lata Mangeshkar Life Time Achievement
Award, Sangeet Natak
Academy fellowship and life time achievement award by Indian Motion
Pictures Association (IMPA).
What an irony! As a totally unknown person (in the posh South Extension colony of New Delhi) Anil Biswas breathed his last on 31 May, 2003.
-Satish Chopra, BA/26B Ashok Vihar- I, Delhi-110052 #011-27134229/27450869