Down the memory lane with ‘Anil Da’

December 25, 2014

Wishing Merry Christmas to all with guest article by Sharad Dutt concluding Anil Biswas Centenary Celebrations

(SoY celebrated 2014 as the Centenary Year of Anil Biswas with a guest article by his daughter, Shikha Biswas Vohra on the New Year Day, remembering him as a father and a maestro. This was followed by singer-specific posts on his songs for Lata Mangehskar, Suraiya and Parul Ghosh, and Talat Mahmood, Mukesh, Surendra and Anil Biswas himself as a singer. One might think that Anil Biswas has been discussed enough. And some readers speculated last month whether there would be some more in the series during the rest of the year. Anil Biswas Centenary Series deserves a befitting finale, and I conclude the year, wishing Merry Christmas to all with this guest article by Sharad Dutt, an eminent radio/TV personality for nearly 50 years, who was among the closest persons to Anil Biswas during his Delhi years, which resulted in a 4-part short film on him and his biography ‘ऋतु आये ऋतु जाये’ – the only so far.

Anyone who followed old film music during the Golden Era of AIR and Doordarshan cannot but be familiar with the large body of work by Sharadji. He is the one who made all those short films on music personalities you would have seen on DD: KL Saigal, Pankaj Mullick, Khemchand Prakash, Surendranath, Zohrabai Ambalewali, Naushad, Noorjehan, Roshan, Mukesh, Salil Chaudhary, and many more, besides Anil Biswas I mentioned earlier. He has produced about 100 documentaries on literary, political and film personalities. He has written a biography of KL Saigal too, besides Anil Biswas – both earning prestigious awards.

After retirement as Deputy Director General of Doordarshan, Sharadji is busier than ever in his second innings as Director of P-7 News. He is presently working on video documentation of Hindi film music since its beginning, and biography of poet-lyricist Shailendra. I am grateful that in spite of being neck-deep in work, he accepted my request to write this piece, with special emphasis on Anil Biswas’s association with the artistes of 30s and 40s. – AK)

Anil Biswas with Sharad DuttI was barely ten, when I first heard the song Seene mein sulagte hain armaan, ankhon mein udaasi chhayi hai. At that age I could not comprehend the meaning of the song, nor had I the courage to ask somebody. In those days, it was not becoming for a middle class kid to have undue interest in movie songs. I did not know then how the songs were composed, who were the music directors and what their role was in the making of the song, but I found the music so enchanting that I would croon it every day. There was one more song which I found really captivating. It was Jeevan hai madhuban, tu isme phool khila.

By and by, I created a memory bank of my favorite songs. After some years, when I was around 15 or 16, I was amazed to find that most of my favorite songs, barring a few by Khemchand Prakash and Ghulam Haidar, had been composed by Anil Biswas. The music of Anil Biswas had a mesmerizing effect on me and he became my hero. Now, when I look back, I find that it was not only my generation, but the ones before and after me were equally fascinated by his music.

Even after 70 years, his music has not lost any of its charm, appeal and impact. From its inception, Hindi film music had technique and texture, but it was Anil Biswas who provided it form and face with which it was to be recognized hereafter. It was he who discovered and polished musicians such as C Ramchandra, Madan Mohan and Roshan, and singers like Lata Mangeshkar, Talat Mahmood and Mukesh. He was passionate about the feel of Indianness in his music, yet he had the courage of conviction in experimenting with different sounds and instruments.

In 1966, after completing my studies, I joined Aakashwani. Then I was not aware that Anil Biswas had also left Mumbai and had joined as the Director, National Orchestra in Aakashwani. After some time, I joined Doordarshan and to my immense surprise, the adjacent room belonged to Anil Biswas (Doordarshan was located in Aakashwani building then before it moved to its new location at Mandi House). I held him in such esteem that I could not muster courage to meet him and introduce myself. Nevertheless, just the feeling that he was there, on the other side of the wall, gave me such a high. Quite often I would see him, carrying tapes and walking briskly down the corridor. I would wish him without uttering any word. I had this feeling that he was always in a hurry to finish the work before him. Many years later, he told me, “You were absolutely correct in reading me. From my childhood I had this restlessness within me to finish things off quickly. That was why it never took me much time in composing music. Many times, just when I would touch the harmonium, the tune was ready. Some tunes would appear like a flash in mind while I was on way to the studio”.

I met him first in 1976 during a Doordarshan programme on the death of Mukesh, and ever since then he became and remained Anil Da for me. Since then we kept on meeting regularly, but I always had this feeling that though the meeting was fulfilling, yet it remained incomplete. The more we met the more I began to believe that there was something which was burning him from within, but he was not ready to discuss or share his agony and pain with anyone. He would only say, “From early childhood I got inflicted by music and I am still paying the price”.

If you happened to visit Anil Da’s home in New Delhi, this feeling of loneliness and angst would overpower you in the bustling and glam-rich surroundings of South Extension. The house did not give the feel of a great music director. It did not have a piano in the drawing room, nor did its mantelpiece carry any award or trophy, quite unlike the rich and famous celebs of Bollywood whose housees appeared to be an extension of a movie set. I always admired and, at the same time, wondered at this feel of simplicity exuded by his home. Not bare and plain, but simple and sober… simple is really beautiful.

One could see the simplicity in his music too. Anil Da is known as the path-finder of Hindi film music, in which he did a lot of experimentation. He told me many a time that when he came from Calcutta (now Kolkata) to Bombay, film music did not have an identity of its own. It had influences of Parsi Theatre, Bhakti Sangeet and Marathi Bhaav Sangeet. Whenever he saw a movie, he would invariably get disappointed with its music. He always found the music and songs in the movie dull and boring. Once while he was watching a movie, he asked a man sitting next to him in the hall, what type of music was this? The man replied angrily that it was the local music. Anil Da wanted to ask him about the songs, but he did not like his queries. He snubbed him and advised not to bother about the music or songs but to enjoy the movie.

But Anil Da was a born rebel, so he took a vow that given a chance, he would change the existing trend of the film music. He was merely a young man of twenty then. In those days most of the music directors were double his age. He was just a struggler; nobody was ready to take risk by giving him a chance to do the music independently. He was rejected by Kumar Movietone and Prakash Studios . Finally, he got a break in the Eastern Art Productions movie Dharam Ki Devi (1935), directed by Hiren Bose. Lyrics were penned by Gauri Shankar Lal ‘Akhtar’. In this movie, he acted, sang and composed the music as well. Kumar and Sardar Akhtar were in the lead. Kumar had got fame with his role in Pooran Bhagat (1933), produced by the New Theatres of Calcutta.

Anil Da played the role of a blind beggar in Dharam Ki Devi. A song Kuch bhi nahin bhrosa  was picturised on him. The first tentative experiment of playback was also done while picturising a duet of Kumar and Sardar Akthar in the film (see Note 1 at the end).  Kumar could hardly sing. Sardar Akhtar was also not a professional singer. Anil Da requested the camera man Govardhan Bhai Patel to shoot this duet with three cameras. One camera was fixed on Sardar Akhtar, the other on Kumar and the third camera took the top-angle shot. Anil Da sang for Kumar while taking the shot.  While Sardar Akhtar sang, silent shots of Kumar’s face were shown. Only in top-angle shot Kumar and Sardar Akthar were seen together minus Anil Da. There is an interesting incident with this movie. His mentor Hiren Bose, who was responsible for bringing him to Bombay from Calcutta, was directing it. Bose insisted that his name should be given as music director in the publicity posters, but K.S. Daryani, who owned the Eastern Art Productions, put his foot down. Finally, Anil Da was given the credit for music direction and Hiren Bose’s name appeared as music supervisor.

Later on, Sardar Akhtar sang in his films Piya Ki Jogan (1936), Pratima (1936),  Sher Ka Panja (1936), Pooja (1940), Aurat (1940, Aasra (1941) and Nayi Roshni (1941).  She will be remembered for her role in Mehboob’s 1940 classic Aurat (its remake was made by Mehboob Khan as Mother India in 1957).

Ye mana humne beemar-e-mohabbat ki dawa tum ho by Sardar Akhtar from Piya Ki Jogan (1936), lyrics Munshi Zahiruddin

 

Anil Biswas owed his debut not only to Eastern Art Productions but also his first wife, Ashalata. He met her during the making of Sher Ka Panja, Bulldog and Insaf in which he gave the music. Ashalata was much talked heroine in those days.

Anil Da told me several things about his singers. Lata Mangeshkar, Mukesh and Talat Mahmood acknowledged that they learnt the nuances of music from him. He had this knack of getting anybody to sing. He used to say that he would judge the range of a person’s voice and compose the song accordingly. Moti Lal and Maya Banerjee were no singers but he made them sing a song Nadi kinaare baith ke aao apna jee bahlaao in Jaagirdaar (1937). There was one more duet by them: Banke Bihari bhool na jaana. Thereafter, Maya Banerjee sang for Anil biswas regularly in at least seven more films.

Ja ri sakhi saajan se kah de by Maya Banerjee and Surendra from Dynamite (1938), lyrics Pt Indra

 

Anil Da is the only music director who had the distinction of composing songs for thirty-three female singers. Some of them made their debut with him.

Amirbai Karnataki was acting and singing in films since 1934, but failed to attain the success she deserved. In 1943, with the release of Bombay Talkies’s Kismet, she became a household name. Her songs like Ghar ghar mein diwali hai, Ab tere siva kaun mera Krishna Kanhaiya, Dheere dheere aa re baadal and chorus Aaj Himalaya ki choti se are hummed by the lovers of vintage music even today. The man behind the success was the Music Maestro Anil Biswas.

Ab tere siwa kaun mera Krishna Kanhaiya by Amirbai Karnataki from Kismet (1943), lyrics Pradeep

 

Malika-e-Ghazal Begum Akhtar was the choice of Anil Biswas for film Roti, directed by Mehboob Khan. The first choice of Mehboob for this role was Sardar Akhtar, who had married Mehboob Khan but Anil Da put his foot down. Begum Akhtar was paid twenty-two thousand rupees for the film. She acted against Chandramohan in the movie. Anil Da composed six ghazals in her voice. Phir fasl-e-bahaar aayi, Chaar dino ki jawani, Ae prem teri balihari ho were written by Safdar ‘Aah’; Ulajh gaye nayanwa, Wo hans rahe hain by Aarzoo Lakhnavi and Rahne laga hai dil mei andhera tere bagair by Behzad Lakhnavi, but unfortunately due to some contractual difficulties, three or four ghazals were deleted from the movie. In many meetings with this author, Begum Akhtar acknowledged the genius of Anil Biswas for the ghazals she sang for Roti.

In reference of Roti mention has to be made of actor-singer Sitara. Kathak Queen Sitara Devi has sung for Anil Da in eight movies. She sang three songs in the movie, Joban umadaaye nain rasiyaaye, Swami gharwa neek laage and Sajna saanjh bhayi saanjh bhayi an milo – the last song was a raging hit those days. One of Anil Da’s favourite songs by Sitara Devi was Kyun humne diya dil, tha kiska ishara from Watan (1938), penned by Wajahat Mirza.

Sajnaa saanjh bhayi aan milo by Sitara Devi from Roti (1942), lyrics Dr Safdar ‘Aah’

 

Waheedan Bai (mother of Nimmi) sang for Anil Biswas in films Comrades (1939), Ek Hi Raasta (1939) and Alibaba (1940). In Alibaba, Anil Da composed a song which was inspired by Hungarian waltz, Hum aur tum aur yh khushi (co singer Surendra Nath), which became a great hit and was one of Anil Da’s favorite songs.

Teri in aankhon ne kiya beemaar haye by Waheedan Bai and Surendra from Alibaba (1940), lyrics Dr ‘Aah’ Sitapuri

 

Jyoti was the younger sister of Waheedan and was married to singer G.M. Durani.  Her songs under Anil Da in films Comrades, Ek Hi Raasta, Aurat, Pooja (1940) and Jawani (1942) and her duets with Surendra Nath in Aurat were very popular in those days.

Aan base pardes sajan hum by Jyoti and Surendra from Comrades (1939), lyrics Zia Sarhadi

 

Zohrabai Ambalewali started her career at the age of thirteen as a singer in All India Radio. She made her debut in the film Daaku Ki Ladki (1933), the music directors of the film were Pransukh Nayak and Gadgil (see Note 2), but she got notice with the film Gramophone Singer (1938). She sang two compositions of Anil Biswas penned by Zia Sarhadi, Piya ghar naahi akeli mohe dar laage and Hum iski bazm se har waqt. She also sang in Hum Tum Aur Woh (1938) and Naiya (1947) for Anil Da.

Aayi milan ki bahaar re aa ja sanwariya by Zohra Ambalewali from Naiya (1947), lyrics Aslam Noorie

 

Bibbo sang in six films which had the music by Anil Biswas. Her debut song was with co-star Surendra and Harish in Jaagirdar. She also sang in Dynamite, Gramophone Singer, Postman, Watan and Three Hundred Days and After, which became very popular. She also sang a duet with Anil Da in Watan.

Pujari more mandir mein aao by Bibbo and Surendra from Jaagirdar (1937), lyrics Pt Indra

 

Pahli Nazar (1945) has entered the annals of history for Mukesh’s  Dil jalta hai to jalne de.  But listen to this charming song by Naseem Akhtar.

Unka ishara jaan se pyara by Naseem Akhtar from Pahli Nazar (1945), music Dr Safdar ‘Aah’

 

Anil Biswas was the stalwart of late 30s and 40s, an era famous for a large variety of vintage female voices.  He worked with many of them, some names are not even familiar today.  He adapts a traditional daadra beautifully for the actor-singer Husn Bano in Aasra (1941)

Nandi ulti Ganga bahaaye jaaye by Husn Bano from Aasra (1941), lyrics Dr Safdar ‘Aah’

 

One of the most beautiful songs of the vintage era is this duet by Beena Kumari and Baby Meena (the little girl grew into the later tragedienne Meena Kumari) from Bahen (1941).

Tore kajra lagaaun main rani by Beena Kumari and Baby Meena from Bahen (1941), lyrics Dr Safdar ‘Aah’

 

Anil Biswas also played a major role in the growth of many later generation singers. Sudha Malhotra was discovered by Ghulam Haider as a child singer in Lahore, but got her first break in Hindi films under Anil Biswas with Mila gaye nain written by Majrooh Sultanpuri in Arzoo (1950) (see Note 3). This song remains one of her best. One more singer who made great waves with this film was Talat Mahmood.  Ae dil mujhe aisi jagah le chal was his first Hindi film song in Bombay (he had some songs earlier in Calcutta) that instantly got him acclaim as a Ghazal King and a leading voice of the era.  Anil Biswas’s role in the career of Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar is well-known.

The culmination of my long association with Anil Da resulted in his biography Ritu Aaye Ritu Jaye. I was lucky that the book was published in his life time. Though Anil Da is not among us now but his eternal music will always remain with us.

 

Notes (AK):
1.  Mahageet (1937) is credited as the first film in Bombay where playback technique was introduced by Anil Biswas.  Sharadji informs me that the incident he has narrated is based on his conversation with Anil Biswas.  This must have been a very ‘tentative’ experiment, not worthy of a formal recognition.

2.  HFGK refers to Anil Biswas in the footnote to Gramophone Singer (1938) that Zohrabai Ambalewali’s debut song was Piya ghar naahi akeli mohe dar laage in the film.  This has also been stated by Shikha Biswas Vohra.  I mentioned it to Sharadji. HFGK does mention one Zohra Jan as a singer in Daaku Ki Ladki.  If she is the same as Zohrabai Ambalewali, that would necessitate some correction in the history.

3.  Sudha Malhotra herself confirms this information in her interview with Rajya Sabha TV. However, in HFGK her first songs appear in The Last Message (1949), which are available on YT too.  Accordingly, in my article on her, I had taken this as her debut.  Either her memory got mixed up, remembering the more famous song as her debut, or it might have been recorded earlier but released later.

4.  Selection of the songs is by me.

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 N.Venkataraman December 25, 2014 at 4:41 pm

After the inaugural article by Shika Biswas Vohra followed by 7 more write-ups on Anil Biswas’s association with few of leading singers now we have an article by Sharad ji, who had spent some years with Anil Biswas on the professional front. An apt tribute to a legend. Yet Some of us like me will feel that we could have had more!

Thank you Sharad ji for the informative article and interesting anecdotes. The two songs Seene mein sulagte hain armaan and Jeevan hai madhuban that you have mentioned captivated listeners like me very early in our lives and since then we have been fascinated by and addicted to Anil Biswas’s music.

I am yet to acquire the book Ritu aaye ritu jaye. I have enquired with AKji about a year back. I hope I would be able to get the book on Shailendra, once it is out. Thank you once again Sharadji for taking some time out of your busy schedule and sharing some of your personal experience with Anil Biswas.

Thank You, AK ji, for presenting the wonderful vintage songs of Anil Biswas.

Let me take this opportunity to wish all the members of SoY family a Merry Christmas.

2 Arunkumar Deshmukh December 25, 2014 at 7:42 pm

AK ji,

A very fitting final article in the series on Anil Biswas. It is a pleasure to read Sharad ji’s article. Thanks to him and you.
Referring to your Note No. 1, it is confirmed that the first playback in Bombay was in the film ” Mahageet “-1937. Interestingly the song-‘jeevan hai ek kahani…’ sung by Anil biswas was shot on his mentor Hiren Bose,-actor and Director of this film,on the background of a Smashan bhoomi. This is described in details in Dr. Ashok Ranade’s book, ‘ Music beyond borders ‘ pp 183-186. Dr. Ranade regrets that ‘sagar did not make a commercial record of this song.’

Secondly about Note No. 3 regarding Sudha malhotra’s debut song,I reproduce here a letter from famous record collector and song Historian shri Girdharilal Vishwakarma ji which describes the reasons-
“maine sudha malhotra ke kuchh interview sune unmen wo yahi kahati hai ki unhone pahali baar film- arzu_1950 main anil biswas ke music direction main gaya tha…jabki unki film last message 1949 main aa gayi thi…records series dekhen to bhi saaf lag raha hain ki last message ke record pahale bane the..fir kyun wo arzu ko pahali film bata rahi hai…is duvidha ko door karne ke liye main unka contect no. hasil karke unko phone kiya…maine unko poocha ki aapko yad hai ki aapne film last message main gane gaye the..kuchh sochkar boli han yaad hai..maine kaha ye film to arzu se pahale bani thi..unhone kaha han ye gane maine arzu se kafi pahale gaye the tab main bahut chhoti thi…aapne yad dilaya to mujhe yad aa gaya…maine kha phir aap har interview main arzu ko pahali film kyun batati hai…unhone kaha arzu main bade music director anil biswas the isliye unka hi jikra karti hun aurlog last message ke bare main nahi janate hai aur kabhi kisini is film ke bare main mujhe poochha bhi nahi isliye maine bataya bhi nahi…phir main last message main unke gaye teenon geet ek ek karke unhen sunaye…to wo awak rah gayi ki main in geeton ko recording ke baad aaj pahali baar sun rahi hun ye to bahut achhe gane hai.. aapne meri bachpan ki yaden taja kar di…ek bada sawal ye uthata hai ki kalakar kyun apni B aur C gred ki filmon yaad nahi rakhate…kuchh had tak wo log bhi jimedar hain jo kalakaron ka interview lete hai…jo aisi baten unhen poochate hi nahi hai [ kai mauko par to interview lene wale ko bhi pata nahi hota hai] wo to sirf kalakar ki baton main han se han milate jate hai…. isase research karane walon ke sath bada confusion ho jata hai ki wo kis baat ko sahi maane ”
Thanks again for this grand finale.
-AD

3 AK December 25, 2014 at 8:32 pm

Venkataramanji,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation. I know many like you would like Anil Biswas to go on forever.

Ritu Aye Ritu Jaye is available on many e-tailors. Sharadji informs me that it’s English translation is under way.

4 AK December 25, 2014 at 8:41 pm

Arunji,
Thanks a lot for your detailed comments. You have answered my doubts about Sudha Malhotra’s debut.

I don’t know whether her Rajya Sabha interview came after her conversation with Vishwakarmaji. But my impression is it is very recent. And if she is interviewed today, she would still credit Aarzoo as her debut! Just shows even the first person account needs to be corroborated.

5 Arunkumar Deshmukh December 25, 2014 at 8:46 pm

AK ji,

The quoted letter of Vishwakarmaji is dated 25-7-2014,so his conversation must be around this date only.

-AD

6 ksbhatia December 25, 2014 at 10:41 pm

Amazing ! A beautiful sixer and I am really bowled . We now know how little we knew about Anilda . The uploads as appendex to the main art. are well selected for Anilda’s fans . And many thanks to Sharad’ji for indepth information on anilda’s creations .

7 raunak December 25, 2014 at 10:51 pm

This is awesome… A fitting farewell to a legend from another legend.. This only happens in SoY. Some of the songs i heard for the first time and i loved them.. 🙂 Ritu aye Ritu jaye, par Anilda ka sangeet humesha dil ko lubhaye.

P.s: Merry Christmas to all.. And a very Happy Birthday to Naushad saab.

8 AK December 25, 2014 at 11:34 pm

KS Bhatiaji, Raunak
Thanks a lot for your appreciation. Hopefully, Sharadji should be appearing soon to respond to the readers.

9 arvindersharma December 25, 2014 at 11:53 pm

A great post on Anil Biswas by Sharad Ji, who is a real storehouse of knowledge as far as vintage era of HFM is concerned.
Sharad Ji,
We all would benefit immensely from some more contributions to SoY from you.
And thanks to AK Ji for another excellent post.

10 Dee Thakore December 26, 2014 at 4:01 am

Anil da career record is unmatched in the history of Indian film music. He has produced a number of amazing musical masterpieces, no other can matched him.
AKji, I have come to really respect your posts, they are always informative and contained substantiated details.
Sharadji possesses a great insight and is extremely knowledgeable individual.
Thanks for sharing with us.

11 AK December 26, 2014 at 6:34 am

Arvinder Sharmaji,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation.

Sharadji is an extremely busy person. Nevertheless, I would discuss with him whether he could write some more articles based on his specialised knowledge.

12 AK December 26, 2014 at 6:36 am

Dee Thakore,
Welcome to SoY, and thanks a lot for your very generous praise.

13 AK December 26, 2014 at 6:40 am

Dear readers,
Sharadji informs me that he has now entered the 50th year of his career in the electronic medium. Heartiest congratulations, Sharadji!

शरदजी,
आप कहा़ँ हैं? चाहनेवाले आपका इंतज़ार कर रहे हैं।

14 Subodh Agrawal December 26, 2014 at 5:29 pm

Thanks AK and Sharadji for a very informative and nostalgic article giving us valuable glimpse of not only Anilda’s music but also of his multi-faceted personality. Now that the centenary year has drawn to a close I do hope the Government will have the grace to make up for the omission of his name from Padma awards in some suitable manner – maybe an award for the best upcoming composer of the year in Anilda’s name.

15 Jignesh Kotadia December 27, 2014 at 12:22 am

One of the best articles of SoY !!!! really maza aa gaya ! Thanq very much Akji for bringing Sharadji to SoY arena and many many thanx to Sharadji for giving an affecting writeup. A solid farewell, beginning with shikhaji and ending with sharadji, fantastic tribute to the legend. Anilda forever. We love him we miss him.

16 Hans December 27, 2014 at 2:11 am

Sharadji is a well known name of broadcasting world in India, where it was under monopoly till the 90s. I wish it remained so because the quality has gone since privatisation and even Doordarshan and Akashvani has followed suit, though some of their channels still make programs worth watching. I have a friend who was connected with AIR in the good old days and he was all praise for the work culture.
My heartfelt thanks to Sharadji for this wonderful article and to AK who is always busy in turning this site into a classic.

But, there were mistakes of facts for which Sharadji can never be responsible because he is not a statistician and his range of work lies somewhere else.

Some of the factual errors have been set correct by our stalwarts. I will also contribute what I know. Sharadji tells us Anil Biswas composed songs for 33 female singers. In my view he composed for more than that number. It may be around 40. Venkatramanji may have some ready info. The details of many of his songs are not known as is always the case with the 30s and 40s. Once they are known, the number would certainly cross 40.

But, the number is not that important. It is quality. You watch Roti and you would find 3 songs by yesteryear hero Ashraf Khan. All of his songs made a big impact on the film. I think his songs and Sitara’s dances were the highlight after Begum Akhtar songs were scrapped. I may say here that Anil Biswas did not have and could not have a role in the selection of Begum Akhtar as heroine, because he was just MD and not producer or financer. Even Mehboob was not the final authority. It would be fitting to tell here that Sardar Akhtar was a true freelancer in those contract days. She just appeared in 5 films of National Studios and in only 2 of them Mehboob was the Director. Mehboob did not direct each film of this company and there were others too. So far as I know, Mehboob directed only those two films of her.

Regarding Sudha Malhotra I may say that she told many inaccurate facts in that interview. She said that she, Talat and Shashikala made their debut in the film, which is not true in the case of any of them. If her interview is carefully seen, she has contradicted many facts herself. Even otherwise also this matter has already been settled by our supremo Arunji that this was not her first film.

Regarding Zohrabai the HFGK says that Anil Biswas claimed that she sang her first song in his film. So the blame should lie on Anil Biswas. Though he was genius, he had this habit of making false (I am sorry to say that) claims. HFGK is full of them. At some places they have accepted them (perhaps after corroborating) and at others, without accepting they have just made a note about his claims. This will be proved by a note below 1935 film Bal Hatya. Here he first made a claim about song No. 1, then HFGK contacted the other MD who said he composed that after which Anil Biswas retracted his claim. Zohrabai perhaps entered as singing actress in Daku Ki Ladki, though her name does not appear in the list of actors, but it has to be assumed that she acted if she sang because there was no playback singing then. After that there are a number of films from 1934 upto 1939 where her name appears in the list of actors. I would name a few as sample. 1934 – Fidae tohid, jawani diwani, shahi lakkadhara, thief of iraq; 1935 – bahan ka prem, delhi express, karwane husn etc. Most of the songs have perhaps been lost but the notes make a mention about their picturisation on her.

Bibbo also did not make her debut with Anil Biswas. She gave music in one film in 1934 and has been acting and singing her songs since 1934. He also made a claim about song ‘tumhi ne mujhko prem sikhaya – Manmohan’. Though this claim has been accepted by AK even after objections of Venkatramanji, but I would allude to one more fact in this regard. The same song was used in Mukesh’s debut film Nirdosh by Ashok Ghosh and was sung by Nalini Jaywant and Mukesh. I dont agree to his claim regarding Basant also. Pannalal and Ashok Ghosh has given music to some wonderful songs in other films and these films were not one off case.

Sorry for the discordant note, but facts should be told which can help others in making their opinion and I do not claim infallibility. And I have a true respect for the music of Anil Biswas. He was a true genius when in the mood.

17 AK December 27, 2014 at 8:25 am

Hans,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation and detailed comments.

As you would have noticed, after I got the article, I had several rounds of discussions with Sharadji on some issues. Some questions still remained for which I added the ‘Notes’.

I had similar doubts about the number of female singers – not so much about the accuracy, but about giving a precise number. I generally prefer to give such data in round figures with the prefix ‘nearly’. I didn’t pursue it because I didn’t want to engage with him on something, which I too considered not material.

Tumhi ne mujhko prem sikhaya; Basant (We should also add Tere poojan ko Bhagwan to this list) – we have gone over this in detail earlier. In fact we had long discussion about total number of films for which Anil Biswas gave music. My position was we should mention an approximate number such as 90 or 95. I ‘accepted’ (and overruled Venkataramanji, if I have such authority) Tumhi ne mujhko because of the latest history of Sagar Movietone. It is possible they also simply repeated the prevalent myth.

On such myths I have a general theory: they get currency because they have a nice ring to them. Even as recent as SD Burman-RD Burman-Aradhana-Rafi-Kishore Kumar, on which you have a strong view, is subject to such phenomenon.

I don’t know whether all such claims regarding Anil Biswas originated from him. I would request Sharadji to join the discussion.

18 Arunkumar Deshmukh December 27, 2014 at 12:35 pm

Hans ji and AK ji,

Ref comments 16/17..
After reading the above comments,I personally went through each and every song of the 86 films of Anil Biswas and counted the names of Female singers used by him. Actually I wrote down the names-to avoid duplication.
The total is 43 names.
If we get the details of around 40-45 songs which do not mention singers’ names,may be,as Hans ji says,the number will increase further.
-AD

19 Arunkumar Deshmukh December 27, 2014 at 1:59 pm

In the above tally,the number of songs without a singer’s name is 147,to be precise ( and not just 40-45 as guessed by me). The identification may add up a sizeable number of singers.
-AD

20 Arunkumar Deshmukh December 27, 2014 at 6:23 pm

AK ji,

I notice that Anil ji’s mentor Hiren Bose’s name is repeatedly mentioned as Hiren Ghosh, in the above article.
I hope it is only an error and Sharad ji could not have made such a mistake.
Kindly make the corrections.
Thanks.
-AD

21 AK December 27, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Subodh,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation. You are right, he deserves a suitable honour. Insha Allah, someday. But it is a great satisfaction for me that SoY could celebrate his centenary in a grand manner.

Jignesh,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation.

22 AK December 27, 2014 at 8:06 pm

Arunji,
Thanks a lot for your painstaking efforts.

We can safely say Anil Biswas worked with about 45 female singers. It would be interesting to know if it is the largest number by any MD. Is that an evidence that the Vintage Era did not have a single female singer domination of the kind we saw in the 50s and 60s?

‘Hiren Ghosh’ must be an obvious typographical error. I have done the correction.

23 ASHOK M VAISHNAV December 28, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Indeed a very fitting final to the Anil Biswas series.
I join all SoY readers in complementing AKji and Shardaji.
I also take this opportunity to wish SoY family a Very Happy 2015.

24 AK December 28, 2014 at 7:36 pm

Ashokji,
Thanks a lot and wish you and all the SoY readers a very happy new year.

25 Mahesh December 29, 2014 at 8:54 am

AK ji,
A befitting finale and a wealth of info in the comments section.
Many Thanks to you, Sharad ji and the highly knowledgeable contributors.

Wishing you and all readers of SOY, a great and happy new year 2015.

26 AK December 29, 2014 at 11:43 am

Mahesh,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation, and wishing you and everyone a very happy new year.

27 Soumya Banerji December 30, 2014 at 3:06 am

A befitting finale to the series on Anil Biswas. I really enjoyed the article by Sharadji and the comments posted. Anil Biswas was truly a maverick – it’s sad that his name and contributions have been eclipsed by later music composers. I am sure this series on SoY will contribute a lot to resurrecting his stature in Hindi playback singing. Keep up the good work.

28 AK December 30, 2014 at 6:31 am

Soumya,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation.

29 Sonal December 30, 2014 at 9:50 am

What a wonderful article. The more I read about Anil Biswas, my respect for him keeps growing. Thanks to your blog and all the members here, we keep learning new things about him. I would surely like to read his biography “Ritu Aye Ritu Jaye”. Anil Biswas will forever live in our hearts. Thank you once again for this wonderful blog and a Happy New Year to everyone here 🙂

30 AK December 30, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Sonal,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation. Wishing you happy reading and a very Happy New Year.

31 shreya December 31, 2014 at 11:42 am

Such a wonderful post. Appreciate a lot. I am really happy to see that still there are so many people who take interest in these variations. Thanks a ton for the so superb post. Keep posting with lots more and have a generous and prosperous NEW YEAR ahead….

32 AK December 31, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Shreya,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation.

33 mumbaikar8 January 11, 2015 at 11:20 am

AK,
You started this year on a personal note and ended it with professional touch.
Thanks for making Anil Biswas centenary year so memorable as well as informative.
Sharadji ,
Thanks for sharing your experiences.

34 AK January 11, 2015 at 7:14 pm

Mumbaikar8,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation, and welcome back from your long vacation!

35 Sharad Dutt January 19, 2015 at 5:14 pm

Thanks for beautiful comments. To read and then taking pain to write reaction shows that you people are great lover of Indian Music. Unforgettable Anil Da will remain forever in the hearts of music lovers. Book Ritu Aaye….is available with Mohan Gupt…9313519159

36 N Venkataraman January 20, 2015 at 9:54 am

Thank you Sharad ji. Contaced Mohanji for a copy of the book.

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