Anil Biswas: The Maestro and My Father

January 1, 2014

SoY heralds 2014 as the Year of Anil Biswas with guest article by Shikha Biswas Vohra

(Anil Biswas is described as the ‘Bhishm Pitamah’ of Hindi film music, though he used to describe RC Boral as the Father, and himself, somewhat jocularly, as the Uncle (Chacha) of film music. Yet, did he get his due, and does the country remember his legacy adequately? In one of the most hyped programmes on our cinema’s centenary last year, ‘Bollywood@100’, presented by Karan Johar on the venerable History channel, in the episode on the best music directors, Anil Biswas’s name was missing in the list of about two dozen composers! This was blasphemy, and I decided that I would recompense for it adequately on Songs of Yore in his Centenary Year, 2014 (b. 7 July 1914, d. 31 May 2003). Fortuitously, around that time Mrs Shikha Biswas Vohra came across SoY for the first time, and posted a very generous comment on one of my articles. I was familiar with her name having seen her in a TV programme. She very kindly agreed to write the Inaugural Article in the series – we cannot have a better placed person than his daughter, who has seen him as father, as a maestro, and has also seen the industry as an insider, to do the honour. I am delighted to wish the readers a Very Happy Centenary Year of Anil Biswas with this lyrical tribute by Shikhaji to the great man. AK)

ANIL BISWAS….The Maestro

Anil BiswasMany years ago, when Indian cinema was in a nascent stage, there came into its stream a clutch of fine dedicated men. They came to shape its history and define its metaphors. These men were dreamers and seekers, who had run the gamut of struggle, the looking at hunger in the face, the sleeping on pavements. They sought to contribute their knowledge and skills to shape this new exciting medium to an established art form. Each contributed a style distinctive and individualistic. They gave freely of their time, inspiration and talent without expectation of rewards and returns. They worked with honesty, principles and earnestness, a reflection of their time.

There were directors and actors, songwriters and composers; musical geniuses who were either meticulously trained or divinely inspired. They gave to their work a sincerity that would be universal and that would survive the test of time. They dedicated to us timeless tunes that provide almost a spiritual pleasure even half a century later.

One of them was a young lad in his early twenties. His name was Anil Krishna Biswas. He came a far distance; all the way from a hamlet in Barisal in erstwhile East Bengal, treading the path of his fate through Calcutta and finally reaching his destination at Bombay. He was one of the dreamers and seekers; those destined to be part of a pioneering group that would shape an exciting new medium and leave the entertaining legacy of Indian cinema for future generations. He had undergone the conventional struggle, the sleeping on pavements and post office verandahs, and experienced a period of building himself stronger doing menial jobs, the odd singing at gatherings, even washing dishes at a tea-shop. His self-respect was too strong to accept handouts just because the goddess Saraswati had blessed him with a powerful voice. Perhaps the influence of his mother had something to do with it. Besides teaching him the facets of music, she had infused in him an admirable strength of character and principle. He was ever true to that tuition.

In 1935, just a few months after reaching the city, Anil Biswas signed his first independent film-DHARAM KI DEVI.

Mythologicals at that time were what sent the cash registers ringing, being a common denominator for all moviegoers. In fact the first song which won him recognition was a bhajan Tere poojan ko bhagwan, bana man mandir aalishan.

Tere poojan ko bhagwan, bana man mandir aalishan by Ratan Devi from Bharat Ki Beti (1935)


From Calcutta he had brought along a clutch of Anglo-Indian musicians well-versed in Western instruments. Anil Biswas re-styled the system of operatic music with harmonium-tabla then prevalent, and introduced an entire orchestra of 12 pieces never before used in Indian Films. By doing this, he constructed the framework of the popular Hindi film song as we know it today.

On the sets of National Studios’ MANMOHAN where he met his wife, the lissome beauty Ashalata, he also encountered the stocky Mehboob Khan. Together they began to write part of the glorious history of nascent Indian cinema. There were landmark movies like Roti, Watan, Jagirdar, Aurat, in which Anil Biswas self-sung Kaahe karta der baraati, picturised on himself, became a hit. But what was more successful was the deep friendship between the two talented stalwarts. It was in Roti that Anilda introduced Akhtaribai Faizabadi, known later in her concert avatar as Begum Akhtar. He is known to have actually visited kothas in search of the deep, resonant voices which were in vogue at that time.

Kahe karta der baraati by Anil Biswas from Aurat (1940), lyrics Dr Safdar ‘Aah’


Rahne laga hai dil mein andhera tere bagair by Akhtari Bai (Begum Akhtar) from Roti (1942), lyrics Bahzad Lakhanvi


Wo hans rahe hai aah kiye ja raha hun main by Akhtari Bai from Roti, lyrics Arzoo Lakhanvi


In 1942, he signed the prestigious contract with Bombay Talkies, for whose film BASANT, he had composed the very popular Tumko mubarak ho oonche mahal ye, humko hai pyaari hamari galiyan, but the credits went to his brother-in-law Pannalal Ghosh, because of his contractual obligations with National Studios. Perhaps at the acme of his popularity is the film KISMET, all of whose songs became a national rage, especially the inspirational Door hato ai duniyawalon, and the lullaby Dheere dheere aa re. The film ran in one theatre alone for more than three years, a record beaten only thirty years later by Sholay.

Tumko mubarak ho oonche mahal ye humko hai pyari hamari galiyan by Parul Ghosh from Basant (1942), lyrics PL Santoshi


Door hato ae duniewalo Hindustan hamara hai by Amirbai Karnataki from Kismat (1943), lyrics Pradeep


Dheere dheere aa re badal by Amirbai Karnataki (solo)/ Ashok Kumar and Amirbai Karnataki (duet) from Kismat


Anilda then took another initiative. In the reign of the studio mughals, in the days of salaried artists, he was the first to go freelance.

There were more landmarks yet to come. In 1945, Mukesh’s rendering of Dil jalta hai to jalne de exemplified the pathos of all dejected lovers, associating the singer with tragedy. Only a composer like Anilda could give him such a song to bring out his best. Followed the introduction of Talat Mehmood in 1950, the ghost voice of Dilip Kumar in AARZOO, and after Ai dil mujhe aisi jagah le chal jahan koi na ho, every music director wanted Talat to sing for him and every hero wanted the echo of Talat’s velvet tones. Talat owes his identity to Anilda, who persuaded him to retain his immaculate tremolo where other composers discouraged it. Till today, his tremolo remains inimitable whereas other singers have bred a hundred clones. Along with the early maestros Sajjad Hussain and Ghulam Haider, Anilda had no mean influence in shaping the career of Lata Mangeshkar, whom he taught the technique of microphone singing, voice modulation and breathing techniques. In the 50s, when those maestros had left for Pakistan, he gave Lata those unforgettable numbers in Aaram, Doraha, Anokha Pyaar, Aarzoo and Tarana.

Dil jalta hai to jalne de by Mukesh from Pahli Nazar (1945), lyrics Dr Safdar ‘Aah’


Ai dil mujhe aisi jagah le chal jahan koi na ho by Talat Mahmood from Arzoo (1950), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri


Ek dil ka lagana baki tha by Lata Mangeshkar from Anokha Pyar (1948), lyrics Zia Sarhadi


With all these achievements to his credit, it is ironic that Anil Biswas is today mostly remembered for Hum honge kaamyaab ek din, a song he never even composed. Not many people know that he composed the first ‘waltz’ in Hindi cinema in the film ALIBABA, made the first patriotic song and Raagmala, had the first song with a whistle or conversation, experimented with chorus, harmony and counter-melody or introduced singers like Zohrabai Ambalewali and Sudha Malhotra. But the few who understand music consider him to be the ultimate composer, in that not a single note of his compositions can be changed for improvement. Legendary composers like Naushad, Roshan, C.Ramchandra and O.P.Nayyar regard him as a ‘guru, the ‘Bhisham Pitamah’ of Indian film music. Whatever they did, whether it was folk, classical, western or lyrical, Anil Biswas had done before them.  Shades of him can be noticed in the work of most composers who came immediately afterwards. Even young singer of today aver that you cannot call yourself a singer till you have mastered Anil Biswas.

Hum aur tum aur ye khushi by Surendra and Waheedan from Alibaba (1940), lyrics Dr ‘Aah’ Sitapuri


But the little big man never boasted of his achievements. This dynamic package of talent professed that he did nothing great, ‘just his job.’ He was never recognized for his achievements by any award. Leave alone the Dadasaheb Phalke, which he well deserved, he was never even awarded a humble Padma Shri that men of lesser musical merit than him have claimed. Perhaps this was because of his quintessential humility. He never sought self-publicity and always maintained a low profile. He died quietly, and unsung, having lived simply on ‘the love of people.’

So though he turned his back on an industry where some hero began to dictate to him how he should compose, an industry which never forgave him for spurning it and so banished him into oblivion, though he echoed his own song Ai dil mujhe aisi jagah le chal jehan koi na ho, the next line mera nishan koi na ho will not be applicable to him. For true music lovers who understand his worth will never forget him. Even today all over the world there are people who hold his compositions close to their heart, who recognize the simplicity and the meticulousness that can be glimpsed in his soulful compositions. Just surf the Net and you will know.


When I think of my father, it is always with the sweet lyrics of childhood. The past mingles into the present, as memories deposit themselves on the shores of time like seashells.

The house we live in is a spacious mansion in the prestigious Hindu Colony. A wide balcony holds it in an embrace, and this becomes the common space for all of us to hang out in and play our childhood games. Baba, mostly working at home, makes time to play with us and this is also where he gives us the Sunday vigorous anointing of mustard oil. For Baba has carried with him all intrinsic smells of his own childhood in faraway Barisal, and there is a peculiar ethnic aroma around him that is pre-eminently Bengali. It is an aroma I smell even at the entrance of my uncle Sunil’s house.

In spite of being in a glamour profession, his favourite dress remains the lungi and vest. This dress is also comfortable for cooking, Baba’s other passion besides music, food, and what the Bengalis call adda-baazi, and the mounds of his shoulders ripple as he stirs a pumpkin and prawn delicacy on the stove. Generally I sit on the kitchen floor with him, making with a toy rolling pin miniscule rotis he makes it a point to eat daily even if he has come home late after a party.

My earliest memory of my father is sitting in his lap whilst rehearsing Talat Chacha. Trapped within the cage of his solid arms (Baba used to indulge in pahelwan-baazi, with his brother-in-law, Pannalal Ghosh), I screw up my eyes with restlessness. But in the air is a placid feeling of tranquility that even a child can feel. Perhaps it is because of the harmony that exists between composer and singer; a tacit, blissful love. Baba is just Baba, a father who does not reprimand me for scribbling with chalk on the front of his cupboard door, and I am not aware that I am participating in a moment of history. In fact, we children innocently refer to his rehearsal room as “The Golden Room” because of its yellow curtains. I think now, that indeed from that golden room came forth golden melodies, timeless and wondrous.

When we espy the pair of Kolhapuri chappals in the entrance lobby, we know that Lata-tai is here. She will spend the day practicing songs that he has taught her, whilst he cooks fish for her and she will press his legs in guru-seva in the afternoon. In return for his tuition, Lata has refused to accept money for the songs she has sung in LAADLI, and Mother has recompensed her with a pair of diamond solitaires. Perhaps this has sparked off her romance with the stone.

The first time I realize my father is a ‘somebody’ is when the family goes to Broadway Cinema to see the film RAAHI. When I see his name on a hoarding I jump in delightful surprise and have to be shushed by my elder brother Pradeep, because people stop and stare at us. From that day onwards there is always a special aura around his figure.

Baba is not a dictatorial father. His authority is intensely between the lines, and does not erupt in passionate outbursts or righteous remonstrance. He has always emphasized that ‘you cannot teach your children anything; you can only set them a good example.’ His will has never been imposed on the children; we have the freedom of our own options. But he is very family-minded. The love that all three senior Biswas siblings share, including the great singer Parul Ghosh, is private and subtle, not given to unnecessary demonstration.

Baba loves parties and having people around him all the time. He is always roaming around in his brand new Desoto with his friend Mehboob Khan, discovering uncharted places to eat. He told me once that at a celebratory party he had on his return from the States as part of the film delegation, he had had the guests wash their hands in champagne. There is a spirited effervescence in him as he dances the rhumba, a verve to enjoy life to the full, to savour every moment and not waste it. He teaches us cute English songs. Musically, with many successes and the discovery of bright new talent, he is on a creative high.

Sadly, Baba leaves home in 1954. Though he moves into a chik-covered cottage in Juhu away from the Hindu Colony house, the bond between the father and the children remains. Each Sunday we are despatched duly to Juhu to spend the day, when father and the children splash in the waves tirelessly at the beach, and come home to a gentle chiding for muddying the patio. These are the times we thoroughly enjoy.

The harmonium no longer resounds in the twilight, with us kids hanging like bats on the doors, watching through the hinges and listening to the mellifluous tones of his voice fall around the room in a shower. Now a closeness grows with his friends Roshan and Prem Dhawan and together they form one harmonious trio that shares music and talk and meets practically everyday.

What we look forward to most is the annual celebration of Saraswati Pooja that the music fraternity of the industry performs like a ritual at his place. It is not uncommon to see Geeta Dutt grind sandal paste and Sudha Malhotra cut fruit for the prasad, for the industry is like one big family. Manna Dey teaches us kids naughty songs in English! At this function Mannada always sings Naach re mayura which, as I recall, is his first private song for Aakashwani. This function also includes chorus singers and musicians alike; Sapan, Jagmohan, Manohari-da, Rajendra and Neena Mehta. I have seen Baba give as much respect to the lowest-rung musician as to his lead singer, which is why they accept his anger without protest. For though Baba is patient, he is also a perfectionist, and does not mind persevering till he gets the right note. On more than one occasion, he has completely scrapped recordings and re-recorded songs because the end-result was not according to his expectation. He approaches his compositions not only with creativity, but also with intelligence. Considering the situation and time, he will choose the appropriate raag, or a melange of them as in Intezaar aur abhi. Then he will weigh the metre of the verse, affix the suitable rhythm, and make full use of the lyrics by phonetic emphasis. I have hardly seen this characteristic in any other composer, enhancing the meaning of the word by musical notation. In later days he teaches me the importance of musical punctuation, whereby pausing at a wrong place can change the meaning of the lyric completely.

Baba’s vocabulary and writing abilities are admirable. He sets about improving my language by playing Scrabble, and indulging in word-games that are fascinating

Time moves on. I marry and go away, far from his territory into a space as different from the film industry as one can imagine. He moves on too, away from the film industry as well, away from the realm where he has reigned for many years as a luminary. He enters a world as different, a world of political arenas and high society where many game are played. But though he flows in their stream, it is always on the banks.

The years of separation whirl by.

When our worlds become one again, I am shocked to find him seasoned with age, fragile with disillusion and quietude. He says he is like ‘a poor man’s flickering lamp in a storm’.  I understand why they say child is father of the man, because though he has always called me Ma, I now start calling him ‘my bacchha’. Especially when he weeps, child-like, at a Sai bhajan on the Aastha channel. His belief in Sai Baba has never wavered despite the vicissitudes of life. We plan a grand retrospective of his songs for 7th July, when he will step into his milestone 90th year. He recollects long-forgotten songs and sings Allah bhi hai mallah bhi hai with indescribable sweetness. Even now his eyes sparkle when he sings a snatch of the song. I tell him that there are thousands of mentions of him on the Internet, and he is surprised that people still remember him, because, he says, he has done nothing great, just his job. This is his quintessential humility that never makes him speak of his compositions as super-hits. The perfume of his essence will always bloom in his soulful compositions that half a century later continue to fill our senses with so much beauty.

Baba, you have taught me so much without rhetoric and didacticism. The only lectures I got were on Rabindranath Tagore and the values of life. You have taught me honesty and realism, to look at life without pretence and to accept the ebbs and tides, to move on without looking back with regret. The same way that you moved on when trends changed in the industry from the pure and the principled and some paanwallah distributor or some hero with a puff dictated to you how you should do your job. You turned your back upon the world that did not appreciate you and went on to more meaningful things and made me aware of the pointlessness of looking back at footprints on the sand.

After promising me on the 29th that we would meet on 31st May (2003) and record traditional folk songs from Barisal that you wished to pass on to people, you turned on your side and went into eternal sleep. Just like that.

Rooth ke tum jo chal diye, ab main dua ko kya karun
Jisne hamen juda kiya, aise khuda ko kya karoon

{ 77 comments… read them below or add one }

1 dustedoff January 1, 2014 at 12:05 pm

This was such an extremely engrossing post. Even though I am very busy today, I couldn’t resist the temptation to read through it all, and to listen to all the songs (some – thankfully very few – that I’d never heard before). I truly loved Shikha Biswas Vohra’s wonderful recollections of her father – those anecdotes of him cooking pumpkin with prawns, or rehearsing with Lata (and she pressing his legs), or his fondness for parties – that brought Anil Biswas so much more alive than his music. Thank you, very, very much. It was a splendid way of beginning the new year. Happy New Year to both of you, Shikha and AK!

And may I plug in an Anil Biswas song which is among my absolute favourites? This is from the last film he composed for (as far as I know); Kuchh aur zamaana kehta hai:

2 AK January 1, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Madhu, I am so happy you liked it so much. I am sure Shikhaji would be happy to see her post set off such a response. ‘Kuchh aur zamana kahta hai’ is a beautiful song, and it is indeed from Anil Biswas’s last film.

3 Mahesh January 1, 2014 at 3:02 pm

AK ji,

A pleasant surprise on the very first day of the new year. Thanks.
New year wishes to all.
The words “Bhishm Pitamah” are the best and apt words to personify Anilda.
Many of his songs are sort of institutions in themselves.

PS: Please correct the typo error regarding his passing away year. It should be 2003 and not 2013.

4 AK January 1, 2014 at 3:12 pm

Thanks Mahesh and I reciprocate your best wishes. I hope SoY would more than make up for the sacrilege committed by Karan Johar/History Channel last year. Thanks also for pointing out the typo.

5 Neelambari Joshi January 1, 2014 at 4:25 pm

All the songs of Anil Biswas are close to my heart. Indeed a treat on 1st day of new year.. Thanks a ton for posting.

6 AK January 1, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Thanks a lot and welcome to Songs of Yore family.

7 AK January 1, 2014 at 4:45 pm

Dear readers,
I found that the link of Tumko Mubarak ho oonche mahal ye by Parul Ghosh from Basant was not loading properly. If you also find this difficulty here is another one:

8 Jignesh Kotadia January 1, 2014 at 8:07 pm

A classic new year gift by SoY !
Really pleasant surprize as Maheshji said.

Sangeet ke Bhishm Pitamah ko mere shat shat vandan..

Whenever i talk abt Anilda my chest expands…
whenever i listen his songs i dont need any other music…
Whenever i sing his songs i feel nectar in my throat…
(these r not overstatements,,, Real feel of an HFM lover)

He was the initiator of our Golden Era..with lataji..around 1948 with the great scores of ‘Anokha pyar’ and ‘Gajre’. ”Baras Baras badli bhi bikhar gayi”, ”preetam aaa”, ”yaad rakhna chand taaro”, ”Ab yaad na kar bhul ja” were zenith of creativity. He continued to produce same quality until his retirement..

YouTube has been injecting continuously Booster doses of our GoldenMUSIC to new gen music lovers, and i know there r millions fans born in new gen across the world who love Anilda’s music(many of my FB friends r from Suriname,guyana who regularly listen ohfm and Anilda is amongst their favts). Our Legends have gotten a new life with the revolution of YT.

…Abhi zinda hun lekin sochta rehta hun yeh dil men
Ke ab tak kis tamanna ke sahaare ji liya maine…

…Ek baar bhulana chaha tha, sau baar wo hum ko yaad aaya
Ek bhulne wale ko humne sau baar bhula ke dekh liya…

…Papihe se kaho gaaye na woh naghme bahaaron ke
Kaho gulshan ujhad jaaye kaho kaliyan bikhar jaaye…

…Kuchh soorat ke deewane bane, kuchh deepak ke parwane bane
Yeh pyar ka bandhan kya kehna
Hum unke hai, woh hamaare hai
Ek mera dil ek unka dil, do prem gagan ke taare hai…

…Muhabbat ka anjaam zaahir tha hum par
Bahot humne roka magar dil na mana…

…Koi kami to hogi na mujh bin , yaad meri jab aayegi jis din
Pehro udaas phiroge jo mujhe nahin paaoge baalam
Jaaoge thes laga ke bahot pachhtaoge baalam…

…Kal muskura ke tune jalaaya tha khud jise
Seene ka woh charaag bujhaya nahi abhi…

…Khatm hue jal jal ke patange
Taare doobe, shama bujhi
Raat ki mehfil ka har saathi
Dheere dheere chhoot gaya
Dam bhar ka tha daus khooshi ka…..

Many Thanx to Akji and Shikhaji….Happy new year to SoY family.

9 Subodh Agrawal January 1, 2014 at 8:51 pm

Thanks AK and Shikhaji for this wonderfully engrossing post steeped in nostalgia. So far one only knew the man through his music, now we also have intimate glimpses of his personal life. I must say Shikhaji uses words with the same skill that her father showed in the use of notes. Thanks AK for persuading her to be part of the SoY family.

I am shocked to know that Anil da didn’t even get the humble Padma Shri. The Wikipedia page on him says this: “Upon his death, the then Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee called him, ‘a doyen of film music who struck the rare balance between classical purity of music and popular pulse’, and credited him for leaving, ‘an enduring legacy as he introduced many talented singers and innovations to the Indian film music’. I would have thought he would have got at least a Padma Bhushan if not more.

Anil Da continued working till late in his life. When the serial ‘Hum Log’ premiered on DD in 1984, it took me some time to realize that the composer Anil Biswas was the same person who was known to be the guru of almost every well-known singer and music director.

Thanks for refreshing his memory in his centenary year. Let his songs continue to charm the listeners for ever.

10 mumbaikar8 January 1, 2014 at 10:06 pm

We have tradition of having fireworks at Diwali festival, but you have done that at New Year. Like that:)
Thanks to you and your guest writer, shall come back with comment or rather question for your guest.
Thanks once again.

11 AK January 1, 2014 at 10:09 pm

Jignesh, Subodh
I am sure Shikhaji would be happy to see this outpouring of emotional support to Anil Biswas by the connoisseurs, which more than compensates for whatever neglect he might have suffered at the hands of the industry. I am also sure Anil Biswas in heaven would be happy to know that his legacy remains fresh forever in our memory. Thanks a lot to both of you.

12 AK January 1, 2014 at 10:14 pm

I think it was destined that Shikhaji should visit SoY for the first time when I was planning to present 2014 as the Centenary Year of Anil Biswas. I should thank Shikhaji again for this great launch, and we should see more of Anil Biswas in the year. I am sure she is reading the comments and would be coming back with her response.

13 mumbaikar8 January 1, 2014 at 11:40 pm

I want to aplogize for the usage of wrong pronoun for Shikhaji, it should have been our guest and not your guest.
I hope she is reading the comments, because I have a question, that has been haunting me for years and truly believe that she is the best person to know the right answer.

14 Richard S. January 2, 2014 at 2:45 am

It was great to start the new year off by reading this post about Anil Biswas. In the comment above from Jignesh Kotadia, I see the line, “YouTube has been injecting continuously Booster doses of our GoldenMUSIC to new gen music lovers, and i know there r millions fans born in new gen across the world who love Anilda’s music”… And you can certainly count me among them! I’m not a youngster, but I was born in 1961 in New York City, and I began getting acquainted with classic Indian film music only about seven years ago. I don’t know why or how it happened, but I discovered that my favorite Hindi film music comes from the 1940s and early ’50s, and next to Naushad, my favorite music director is Anil Biswas. (It is not always possible to rank them this way, but I am pretty certain about the top two spots.) Although, I should add, only some of my knowledge and love of that music comes from YouTube, some comes from being able to find many of the best old films in the “Bollywood DVD” stores in Jackson Heights, NY, some comes from interacting with other fans through my blog, and a lot comes from reading blogs such as this one. In any event, at this point I am happy to find any film or film soundtrack with music by Anil Biswas. I look forward to it when I see his name listed as the music director, but I still am always surprised at how delightful his soundtracks can be. Most of the best ones were listed above… I love the music in Roti, and I love that film in general, too. I also love the music in Kismet, Arzoo, and Tarana. To my list of favorites, I would add Sister (which I just saw recently) and Pardesi. And from the songs I’ve heard, I would have to include Waris, though I have not seen the film yet.

Many thanks for such a good post about this great music director!

15 AK January 2, 2014 at 11:51 am

I am myself very happy that I was able to begin the New Year on my blog this way, thanks to Shikhaji. As you are so deeply into the 1940s, Anil Biswas was bound to happen to you. Perhaps you came across him much after Naushad. But even otherwise, I can appreciate your ranking of the two maestros. Some of the songs of Sister I discovered on your blog. I should thank you too for your appreciation, I have special fondness for your blog.

16 Sal Shah January 2, 2014 at 12:19 pm

Thank you for this New Year delight. A humble request to Shikhaji for posting any song she may have of Film Bulldog. My mother Indurani was the lead but we have no links to her films or songs. Anil Biswas gave music for this film and also gave music to several films of Mohan Pictures.

17 Ashok M Vaishnav January 2, 2014 at 3:44 pm

Beginning of 2014 could not never have been more momentous than having a post on Anil Biswas, right from the pen of his duaghter, Shkiha Biswas Vohra, on SoY platform…..
I am sure we can expect a series of articles, akin what we saw with relation to SDB in 2013, in the present year.

18 gaddeswarup January 2, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Very nice start for the year. I have a query. I read in “My favourites till today are the songs from `Vatan (1938)’,
`Ek Hi Rasta 1939)’, `Alibaba (1940)’, `Bahen (1941)’, and
`Roti (1942)’. Sometimes when I am alone I recall the tunes
of “kyoN ham ne diya dil” (sung by Sitara, lyrics by
Wajahat Mirza, from `Vatan’) and “kahe karta der baraati”
(sung by Anil Biswas and chorus, lyrics by Dr. Safdar Aah, from
`Aurat’.)”I winder whether the last two sons are available somewhere.

19 Shikha Vohra January 2, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Thank you everyone for your warm and touching responses. It overwhelms me to know that my father is still recognised, loved and appreciated by music afficianodos the world over. Mahesh, Jignesh, Neelambari, Sudhakar, Mumbaikar and in particular Richard for his in depth knowledge of AB. The family has never believed in pushing and promoting Baba’s music, but rather in people accepting it for its merits. The people who come for music programmes or talks on him are few in number, but we appreciate the fact that they know and understand music in a comparatively deeper and insightful way than those who get up and dance in the aisles when music is playing at functions. When AK requested me to write on this blog, I wrote a piece straight from the heart and with a great deal of feeling and intensity, because I know the quality of participation on this blog. Thank you, AK, for remembering that this is Baba’s centenary year, and all those who live in Delhi are cordially invited to a programme on him at Kamani auditorium on 13 July, 6 days after his 100th birth anniversary.

20 AK January 2, 2014 at 5:52 pm

Sal Shah,
While Hindi Film Geet Kosh lists the songs of Bulldog (1937), it does not mention the name of the singers, nor the Record Numbers. MySwar does not even list the movie in Anil Biswas’s filmography. So it is not clear if its commercial records were brought out. I doubt if even Shikhaji would have its songs. I would draw her attention separately lest she had missed your comment. But it is great to have someone here who is so closely linked to a film personality of the Vintage Era. It is also sad that we are so inadequate in preserving our legacy. I sincerely wish you are able to locate songs or other materials connected with your mother

21 AK January 2, 2014 at 5:55 pm

It is obvious there would be a series of articles on Anil Biswas befitting the label of the Year of Anil Biswas.

22 AK January 2, 2014 at 6:04 pm

Kahe karta der baraati is very commonly available:

Kahe karta der baraati by Anil Biswas from Aurat (1940), lyrics Dr Safdar ‘Aah’

Songs of Vatan are not that easy to come by. But the songs of Alibaba, Bahen, Roti are again available, and hopefully we would come across them in the course of the year.

23 Arunkumar Deshmukh January 2, 2014 at 7:50 pm

AK ji,

What a way to begin the New Year !
Thanks for inviting Shikha ji to write about her father. Nothing can be more authentic that her words.
She has written more about her Baba ,than MD Anil Biswas and naturally too. One can get his professional info from other sources,but intimate family details only from family members !
I feel two points could have been included in his professional part and that is 1) The influence of his one time mentor Hiren Bose,who literally forced him to come to Bombay and helped him to get his first film-Dharm ki Devi,which was directed by him and 2) The greatest contribution Anil Biswas made to the Bombay Film industry by starting First Playback singing in the film Mahageet-1937,at Bombay.
I know Shikha ji and have heard and seen her many times on TV and I am impressed with the grace she carries herself with.
Thanks again for this feast as a New Year Gift to us.
-Arunkumar Deshmukh

24 AK January 2, 2014 at 9:41 pm

Thanks for your compliments. Karan Johar prompted me to do full justice to Anil Biswas, and it was a stroke of good luck that Shikhaji came across SoY around that time. On the two points you have mentioned there is still time to supplement.

25 Shikha Vohra January 2, 2014 at 10:36 pm

Yes Arunkumarji, agreed that Hiren Bose decidely brought him to Bombay from Calcutta; my mother often quoted dialogues spoken by him in a quaint Bangla accent. But I doubt he had any influence on Baba’s growth in music except for procuring the first film. I do not remember seeing him in our home but then he was way before my time. Yes, Baba did pioneer playback singing in MAHAGEET, but when I was writing I only visualised Baba as a father and less as the BHishnm Pitamah of HFM. You will be surprised to know that I only began to know of his music more after his death. Till then I was only acquainted with his well-known songs as given in The Golden Colllection and some which our mother taught us. However since 2003, I began this voyage of discovery and found a treasure-hoard which has quite spoiled me for any other MD. Till then I merely sang songs of SJ and Ravi, the composers of my era. In fact, I was quite close to both Jaikishan and Ravi and my music mainly comprised a repertoire of their compositions. It is thanks to people like you that vintage music is now a gargantuan influence in our lives and we are now learning to study and analyse it whereas earlier we just listened to it. Of course, I also know you through your innumerable uploads on Youtube and through Facebook as well. Regards

26 N Venkataraman January 3, 2014 at 12:09 am

Great music and true love gives immense pleasure. Anil Biswas and his likes have enriched our lives with timeless melodies and will continue to give eternal pleasure to true music lovers. We repeatedly listen to their creations with a sense of awe, gratitude and love. Thank you AKJI for inviting Shikha Biswas Vohra to write the inaugural article of this series. I have expressed my inclination and passion, for Anil Biswas’s music, earlier. I am delighted. Thank you Shikhaji for this wonderful post and the reminiscence.
The hallmark of his music was spontaneity. From revolutionary to musical legend was a significant journey. His love and respects for his mother can be gauged from the following quote:
“While the revolutionaries inspired him to join the freedom struggle, his mother Yamnidevi’s lilting music created in him an optimistic outlook. Anil Biswas tells his interviewer ‘My mother had a sweet voice. Many playback singers have sung under my baton. But none could ever match my mother’s voice.’” – A maestro remembered – interviewed by Ambarish Mishra on 14th May 1992 (most probably The Statesman)
I would like to share one more anecdote which I have read sometime back.
“‘ A reader had written about music director Khemchand Prakash’s ‘widow’ living the life of a destitute on the pavements of Bombay. Anil Biswas immediately wrote to me ‘I passed a sleepless night thinking that I belonged to this industry and that Khemchand was a colleague of mine’. ………….After investigating the matter and meeting the women in question I wrote back that though she was not married to Khemchand ,she did have a respectable status of a ‘wife’. They had a daughter (now dead) too……………….. Biswas wrote back ‘ So what if she was not married to him? Marriage is a mere formality. If she served him in his times of need that was all that counted’. He even offered financial help……..” – The King of melody by Nalin Shah 17th December 1994, The Hindusthan Times.
An apt tribute to a great musical luminary and a greater human being.
Will be looking forward to rest of the series.
Thank you once again AKJI and Shikhaji.

27 Anu Warrier January 3, 2014 at 5:25 am

What a lovely way to begin the new year! Thank you so much, AK, for hosting this guest post, and thank you, Shikha Biswas Vohra, for such an engrossing read on your father as a music director and father. Like Dustedoff, I was a bit pressed for time, but once I started reading, I couldn’t stop!

I loved those anecdotes about your father cooking for his singers and musicians, and the industry stalwarts like Gita Dutt and Sudha Malhotra working together to celebrate festivals. In her Conversations with Nasreen Munni Kabir, Lata Mangeshkar speaks so fondly about your father. Yes, and she gratefully recounts how it was your father who taught her about breath control.

May I plug two of my favourite Anil Biswas compositions?

One is the Raagmalika from Hamdard (1953):

The other is Beimaan tore nainwa from Tarana (1951)

Believe me, Anil Biswas may not have made the ‘Best Composers’ cut on a TV show, but he is alive and well in the hearts of many of us who have not only grown up listening to his songs even in the 70s, but still love them and now that we are all grown up, introduce our children to them.

Thank you so, so much, AK and Shikha.

28 AK January 3, 2014 at 7:42 am

Thanks a lot Anu, for your very generous words.

29 Jignesh Kotadia January 3, 2014 at 8:55 am

Shikhaji, Akji
The great song
”Ghadiya gini hai maine tere intezaar ki” isnt in a good audio quality on YT. Can u ppl plz upload better quality ??

Can u plz locate or upload the song ”Allah bhi hai mallah bhi hai” ?

Meanwhile i m listening a wonderful lata song from ”Maan”

Keh do ke muhabbat se na takraaye zamana
Aasaan nahin pyar ke deepak ko bujhana

30 Arunkumar Deshmukh January 3, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Jignesh ji,

Here is Allah bhi hai… maan-53


31 Jignesh Kotadia January 3, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Arunji, thank u very much for the link. It is hard to find YT links sometimes….
I typed ‘allah bhi hai mallah bhi hai’ didnt show the song link.

Now, after seeing ur link, i m typing just ‘allah bhi hai’ shows the link !!
To find a link on YT is an Art !!

Arunji, aap mere naam ke pichhe ”ji” mat lagaaiye, mujhe ghabrahat hoti hai,, main aapse chhota hun,,aur vaise bhi ”ji” maine apne naam ke aage hi chipka rakkha hai..

32 Arunkumar Deshmukh January 3, 2014 at 5:39 pm

jignesh ji,

It is an Internet protocol to use ‘ ji ‘ for people who have never met you,nor seen by you (so you do not know if they are elder to you or younger).
Even otherwise I am used to this suffix,so you will have to bear with me.


33 Subodh Agrawal January 3, 2014 at 5:43 pm

I think I have mentioned this anecdote earlier but it is worth recalling here. I remember watching a TV interview of Anil Da around the time Hum Log was being aired. The first impression was how young and fit he looked. I realize in retrospect now that he was over 70 then. Second, he was very articulate in his answers to all questions including naughty ones. The interviewer tried to needle him with the allegation that he often used folk tunes and Rabindra Sangeet in his compositions. He readily owned it and said drawing upon folk and Rabindra Sangeet is using ‘baap ki kamaai’ – why should anyone be worried about that. People who need to worry are those who steal from foreign tunes.

34 Jignesh Kotadia January 4, 2014 at 12:07 am

A wonderful classic of Anilda made for the lips of Anaarkali but unfortunately used on a beggar in Maan !!

Allah bhi hai mallah bhi hai
Kashti hai ke doobi jaati hai
Hum doob to jaayenge lekin
Dono hi pe tahomat aati hai

Ek shama ghiri hai aandhi mein
Bujhti bhi nahin jalti bhi nahin
Shamsheer-e-muhabbat kya kahiye
Rukti bhi nahin chalti bhi nahin
Majloom* muhabbat reh rehkar
Har saans mein thokar khati hai
Ek khwab nazar sa aaya tha
Kuchh dekh liya kuchh chhoot gaya
Ek teer jigar par khaaya tha
Kuchh doob gaya kuchh toot gaya
Kya maut ki aamad aamad hai
Kyun neend si aayee jaati hai

Allah bhi hai mallah bhi hai

* is it MAJLOOM or MAJLOOS or else ? Anyone plz tell us the proper word with meaning.

A must read historic story by Mr. Sudhir in ATUL’s Blog on the respected unfortunate classic

35 Soumya Banerji January 4, 2014 at 12:45 am

What a wonderful post to start the new year. Anil Biswas certainly ranks in my list of top 5 composers in Hindi film music of all time. Getting Shikhaji to contribute her memories of her father was indeed a stroke of good fortune. Children tend to view their parents either with awe or with idolatry. It’s refreshing that Shikhaji has not succumbed to those emotions and has presented a very warm portrayal of her father. Anil Biswas was a true pioneer and it’s a shame he was not accorded any recognition by the government.
AKji – kudos for inviting Shikhaji to post on SOY.

36 SSW January 4, 2014 at 1:22 am

Thank you Songs of Yore and Mrs Vohra for this write up on Anil Biswas. I have always admired his musical phrasings and one of my favourite tunes as a child was “Door papiha bola” from Gajre. My father use to hum it a bit whenever it was played on Radion Ceylon on the “Purane filmon ka sangeet but I was hooked when I first heard the song with the full prelude. At that time I did not know Anil Biswas was the composer but the initial notes on the piano followed by the long bell like notes on the oboe and then the flute playing a counter point was an aural delight. When Suraiya starts with the first long deep “door” the oboe is silent but then as she moves into “papiha bola” the oboe starts up again in the background supporting the voice. Instead of the traditional interlude before the antara there is a quick phrase where the guitar and sitar meld and then the voice starts again with the oboe still playing the a counterpoint in the background.

The little rest beat at “badal aaye” before “barsaat baki reh gayi” is enchanting it introduces a lovely lilt.

The instrumental interlude after that with the hawaiian and spanish guitars is lovely especially towards the end of the interlude there is the long drawn out glissando by the hawaiian guitar (perhaps there is a flute that doubles along but I cannot be sure) which is played again during the next antara and at the point where Suraiya goes “ban me chameli” the beat(dholak?) becomes more pronounced and remains so to the end of the antara where if finally reverts to the original slightly muted beat.
I used to wait for the last long guitar note to end the song and as often happened the announcer would come on to announce the next song,and I used to feel cheated that the song wasn’t played in its entirety.It seemed to me that nobody cared for the carefully crafted music and only waited for the words to end.

I did not know as a child that an instrument called the oboe existed and thought in tone the sound was closest to a shehnai.

Thanks once again for writing about a composer who contributed so many firsts to film music.

This is one of the better reproductions of the song on the web I think…and a good pair of headphones would not be amiss while listening to it

37 mumbaikar8 January 4, 2014 at 1:27 am

Thanks for the beautiful song, “allah bi hai mallah bhi hai”, it is new for me.
And the word you are looking for is Mazloom, means “victim”.

38 Jignesh Kotadia January 4, 2014 at 8:05 am

Mumbaikarji, you’re welcome, and thanq very much for the urdu word meaning. At Atul’s blog the word ‘MAJLOOS’ is used. Do u know such word in urdu ??

There is another song in ‘Maan’ made for Anaarkali was ,, Perhaps,, ”keh do ke muhabbat se na takraaye zamaana,, aasaan nahin pyar ke deepak ko bujhaana”

39 Shikha Vohra January 4, 2014 at 12:52 pm

I do have the songs of ROTI as sung by Akhtaribai Faizabadi in an mp3 version, but no songs of BULLDOG. I’m sure someone in RMIM must be havng it. I have a page on Facebook called The Aura of Anil Biswas. Sometimes people post really rare songs on it. It’s worth checking out. I’m glad and surprised that Kah do ki mohabbat se is available on YT. A doctor in Delhi has been chasing me for this song magar hamare gardish ke sitare humein milne nahin de rahe.SSW, thanks so much for the in-depth analysis of Door Papiha bola. This song was taught me first by my mother, and I learnt this special quality of my father, how by elongating the word door musically, he conveyed the meaning of distance.
SSW, thank you so much for t

40 Shikha Vohra January 4, 2014 at 12:56 pm

The previous post seems to have gone incomplete.
SSW, thanks so much for the detailed analysis of Door Papiha bola. When my mother first taught it to me, I realised how my father conveyed the meaning of distance by elongating the musical note of ‘door’.

41 mumbaikar8 January 4, 2014 at 8:08 pm

Let me tell you one thing I have no knowledge of Urdu, I would not even dare to say, my Urdu is not good, it is bad.
The language, we (I mean mumbaikars) speak, is kichhdi of all languages.
But I enjoy good lyrics and just like you try to look for the word I do not understand.
As far as I know there is no word as majloos, I think the word you mention at Atuls site is typing error. The correct word is majboor, you can check it here,

42 Jignesh Kotadia January 4, 2014 at 8:44 pm

Thanx for more interest.
I listened that song again and again to clear this confusion. The word doesnt sound like ”Majboor”. It is much like ”Majloos”, not even ”Majloom”. So, Atulji maybe right,, but i have never heard such word(Majloos) before but it might be in urdu.

43 Shikha Vohra January 4, 2014 at 9:08 pm

The word indeed is mazloom, I think in the poetical term it might mean bebas, a connotation different from majboor. And yes there is no word like majloos.

44 Shikha Vohra January 4, 2014 at 9:11 pm

Just posting a song which most people may not be familiar with

45 ksbhatia January 6, 2014 at 1:04 am

Shikhaji,AKji, The posting of Anil Biswas centenary tribute takes me back to my childhood days when I was about ten or eleven years old. We, seven brothers and two sisters, were all music lovers and each one had different liking for singers and music directors. As we grew the liking mingled and every one became fans of lata, rafi.mukesh, manna dey, talat, suraiya, noorjahan, zora bai, etc. On music front Naushad, Shanker Jaikishan, SD Burman, OP Nayyar, Anil Biswas, Salil , Madan mohan, etc . We used to discuss various tunes and songs of different music directors vis a vis the singers. One thing was clear that, beside Rafi, the favourite playback for Dilip Kumar was Talat for the song ….aai dil mujhe aise jagga le chal. Truly those were the days. There is a mention about Panna lal Ghosh in the tribute. In the year 1956,57 we were residing in a banglow in Irwin Road near GPO, NewDelhi and Panna lal ji were living in a banglow just opposite to ours. This resdential area was allotted to the senior govt officers, senior doctors of willington hospital and officers and artists of All India Radio. We all used to sleep in the open in our front lawn and first thing in the morning around 5am we all use to wake up by the sweet Flute musical raags. This was followed by the chhipring of birds. Later on we were all happy when we came to know that Pannaji played flute in Basant Bahar song…..Main piya teri tu mane ya na mane….. So old memories and music never fades.

46 Subodh Agrawal January 6, 2014 at 8:27 am

I came across the female voice only version of ‘Yaad rakhna chaand taron is suhani raat ko’ some time back and it just kept playing in my head. I now came across it in the form of a duet on Youtube. Are there two versions, or the female voice only version is just a clip from this duet?

47 Shikha Vohra January 6, 2014 at 2:53 pm

As far as I know the song comes three or four times in the film, there is a solo by lata, a duet with Mukesh and once even in the voice of meena Kapoor.

48 gaddeswarup January 6, 2014 at 3:18 pm

This Watan son was uploaded a few days ago

49 Arunkumar Deshmukh January 6, 2014 at 5:26 pm

Subodh ji, Shikha ji,

“Yaad rakhna chaand taaron”….

All the 3 versions in VDO form available at one place here-


50 Subodh Agrawal January 6, 2014 at 7:24 pm

Thank you Ms Vohra and Mr Deshmukh.

51 Canasya January 8, 2014 at 6:33 pm

AKji, Shikhaji, and SoY family, belated best wishes for 2014. Remembering the Maestro through the mind of Shikhaji herself is the most auspicious beginning to his Centenary Year. I envy her for having spent childhood in the laps of a legend and congratulate her for near-lyrical reminiscences fully befitting the memories of one of the most melodious of our composers. Coming to bat after Madhuji, Jignesh Kotadiaji, Subodh Agrawalji, Mumbaikar8ji, Richard S. ji, Ashok M Vaishnavji, Gaddeswarupji, Arunkumar Deshmukhji, N Venkataramanji, Anuji, Soumya Banerji ji, SSW ji, and Ksbhatia ji, there is little left for me to add. Still, I would like to point out that the way people associate Lata with Madanmohan/CR, Rafi with Naushad, and Asha with OPN/RDB, I associate Talat with Anil Biswas. I have not come across a Talat fan — and I am one — who is not also an Anil Biswas fan, and vice versa. Here is ‘Phir pyar kiya phir roya’ — a Talat private number composed by Anil Biswas (lyrics — Sajjan):

52 Pankaj Sharan January 8, 2014 at 10:01 pm

I recall (sometime in 1970s) there was a radio program on Akashvani where some compositions that Anil Biswas did for A.I.R. were aired. One of the compositions was a choir singing “Var de Veena Vadini Var de” by Surya Kant Tripathi “Nirala’.

Do you have any information if Anil Biswas ever was associated with A. I. R. or what music he made for them?

53 Shikha Vohra January 8, 2014 at 11:37 pm

Anilda was always associated with the national broadcasting station even whilst he was in films. He had composed the first ever private song for Aakashvani sung by Manna Dey..Naach re Mayura. After he left the film industry he worked for A.I.R. for many years as Chief producer of Light Music and Head of A.I.R’s instrument division known as Vadya Vrind., a position previously held by stalwarts such as Ravi Shankar and Pannalal Ghosh. Graduation to Doordarshan as composer of HUM LOG was a logical outcome.

54 Arunkumar Deshmukh January 13, 2014 at 11:47 am

AK ji / Shikha Vohra ji,

Here is one very rare song of Anil ji,from film ” Mahatma kabir”-1954.
This has been uploaded just 2 days back on You tube…


55 AK January 13, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Thanks a lot for adding this unique song. While Manna Dey sings the traditional Bhairvi, the chorus ‘Ram Rahima’ moves in a parallel track, creating a very profound impact.

56 Naresh P. Mankad January 26, 2014 at 4:13 pm

It was a wonderful to read about one of the veteran, a maestro of Hindi film music from his daughter who has inherited the musical sensitivity of her father; she has narrated both the parts – on music and on personal memories so lovingly which perhaps a daughter only can do. We would like to have more from Shikhaji on his music, his style and creative process of composing.
Ajit Sheth recalls his contribution along with some other trying for modern ‘structure’ in film songs, praises his orchestra music and the use of saxophone of Ramsing.
We will eagerly wait for more such posts on Anvil Biswas because of this commendable beginning.

57 ubhash Sadhale February 6, 2014 at 10:36 pm

I was fortunate to have listened to Anil Da wherein he referred to Rai Chand Boral as father and himself as chacha of Hindi film music. In the same talk, he said of himself that main sone ka wo sikka hun jo bazar me chalta nahi.

There have been many music directors like Sachin Da, Roshan, Madan Mohan whose entire musical journey from first to last film was decorated with grace and sweetness. Anil Da topped them all.

My tributes to him in his centenary year.

There is no need to remember him only in this year. His fans will enjoy eternal sweetness of his music always

58 Arun Gupta February 27, 2014 at 4:52 pm

I just stumbled on SOY and am fascinated by the prolific writing.

While beg your pardon for my ignorance, I am unable to figure out the identity of the writer (AK?) or where I can read about him/her.

Is it supposed to be a secret or am I simply missing something? Someone please enlighten.

Thanks and regards.

59 AK February 27, 2014 at 6:49 pm

Arun Gupta,
Thanks for your compliments, and welcome to SoY.

No, there is no secret and you are not missing anything about me. I am just AK, and the regular followers of SoY only know me with this name. Obviously, you cannot read anything about me anywhere. The reason why it is just that is because this blog is about old and vintage songs, and not about me.

If you are still curious about me, we can interact by email:

60 ksbhatia March 2, 2014 at 12:03 am

Arun Gupta,ji ; Any songs with vintage tag touches your heart and soul and connects you to your childhood memories . To me AK’s SOY is a gold mine discovery for me which i shall be cherishing for rest of my life .

61 AK March 2, 2014 at 7:31 am

KS Bhatia,
Thanks a lot for your very kind words. I know you are one of the most passionate lovers of old and vintage film music. It is always great to be connected to kindred souls through SoY.

62 R.Nanjappa May 13, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Ever since I heard Na Dhir Dhim Tana Dhir Na on the radio as a school boy in 1957 I have been a fan of Anil Biswas. In the days of radio, it took many years to get to know his compositions- it was difficult even in the days of cassette. But now thanks to the Net, we are able to listen to his songs. Here, SOY ( which I discovered just today) and Atul’s Songaday are very helpful. This feature on Anilda is very informative. And the one on Anilda- Talat had a bouquet of nice songs. We can never forget such masters, whatever the industry or officialdom may do.

63 arvindersharma May 14, 2014 at 12:30 am

In one of the very initial episode of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, (presented by Sonu Nigam) I saw OP Naiyyar touching Anil Biswas’s feet.
This had such an impact on me that it became a milestone point in my musical journey.
The programme, in those days was a galaxy of musical greats with composers like Naushad, Khaiyyam and Pyarelal, and great singers like Pt. Jasraj and Rajkumari and many other stalwarts also gracing the occasion.
(Sa Re Ga Ma Pa had real high standards initially and it was a must watch programme for me).
It was then and there I realised that there must be some extraordinary brilliance in this man to have earned the respect of a legend like OP.
Till then, I had known him only as the MD of ‘Tarana’ and ‘Choti Choti Baatein’.
This scene made me go mad after his music and in those days, when audio cassettes and A.I.R. were the only source of film music, I got his music recorded from wherever I could and I started learning my new lessons in Hindi film music.
There is something which I can very emphatically say that if one is really a fan of Lata, (old time) then he cannot ignore Anil Biswas’s compositions. One has only to go through the songs of ‘Anokha Pyar’. ‘Aarzoo’, ‘Gajre’, ‘Fareb’. ‘Maan’, ‘Naaz’ and many other melodious movies to understand how Anil Biswas played a mentor’s role in Lata’s career. The number of songs too are enough to give a head to head competition to any other composer.
One has only to go through those songs (YouTube has enough of them) to realise what I mean.
Shikha Ji,
thanks for giving a beautiful article, and surely, being a Delhi ite and a member of your ‘Sangeet Smriti’, will join you in your programme in July.

64 AK May 14, 2014 at 1:27 pm

If you think of it, if there was one composer who was a complete antithesis of Anil Biswas, it was OP Nayyar. The incident you are mentioning shows the high esteem in which Anil Biswas was held.

65 arvindersharma May 14, 2014 at 1:51 pm

You have again hit the bull’s eye, AK Ji.
When I had ‘discovered’ Anil Biswas to my heart’s content, this very thing crossed my mind.
If my imagination is of any consequence, OP has given a musical tribute to the genius of Anil Biswas via this song.
Tum rooth ke mat jana : Rafi/Asha from ‘Phagun’.
And please listen to the song by Anil Biswas.
Kahe naino me kajra bharo :
Mukesh/Lata from ‘Badi Bahu’.
If you feel convinced, you may provide links to both the songs for the readers to judge and enjoy.

66 SHikha Vohra May 14, 2014 at 4:51 pm

I know you as an ardent music-lover who is very cognizant with films and film music. The last programme I compered on 100 years of cinema, you were sitting right under my nose adding valuably to my comments. The centenary programme is on 13 July and all Anilda fans are cordially invited by Sangeet Smriti to attend the show at Kamani. I shall post details once everything is finalised.

67 arvindersharma May 14, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Thanks Shikha Ji,
As you had once remarked’ ‘Baba ka naam chalte rehna chahiye’, my endeavour has always been to support your tireless efforts in this regards.
I could not attend last two of your programmes due to my wife’s indisposition, but will certainly attend this one.
Thanks once again.

68 AK May 15, 2014 at 8:59 am

I would look at it in a slightly different way. A traditional folk song based on Pahadi would have an underlying melody, and there are bound to be similarities in film songs based on that. For example, OP Nayyar’s Dil de ke daga denge from Naya Daur is almost a copy of C Ramchandra’s Kah ke bhi na aaye tum from Safar (1947).

However, this corroborates what Shikhaji has said: whatever innovations were done by composers in the later years, Anil Biswas had done it before. I have recently come across several absolutely amazing songs based on UP folk in films pre-Rattan (1944), composed by Anil Biswas. And we thought Naushad was the first one to bring UP folk to film music!

The songs you have mentioned have appeared earlier on SoY in different contexts, therefore, I am not giving their link now. But thanks a lot for your comments. It does make the discussion interesting.

69 arvindersharma May 15, 2014 at 11:01 am

AK Ji,
You have the knack of explaining your viewpoint in such a manner that music lovers like me get to know of a different perspective of a long held view without getting offended. This is a real learning experience and I saw you at your best in the article, Rafi vs Kishore, in which you refused to take sides but steadfastly held with your viewpoint.
Thanks a lot.
Folk songs and Bhajans :
These are the two themes I would like you to look upon and engage us readers ASAP.
Thanks once again.

70 AK May 15, 2014 at 5:39 pm

You are very generous, thanks a lot.

‘Folk’ and ‘bhajan’ noted. But I do not promise ASAP. At some point of time.

71 AK May 18, 2014 at 2:05 pm

Here is the link to the Sa Re Ga Ma episode referred by Sharmaji in his comment #63.

72 SHikha Vohra December 8, 2014 at 6:43 pm

For fans of ANilda’s music, a special programme in his centenary year will be broadcast throughout December at 11.30 every Sunday night on FM GOLD. Please do listen in…if you can stay awake :}

73 ksbhatia December 9, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Thanks Shikhaji, We will certainly be listening to the great masters melodies and his biography .

74 SSW January 1, 2015 at 1:12 am

As a last post on this centenary year, a friend of mine pointed me to this song composed by Anil Biswas. Interestingly I had spent a lot of time this year listening to the big band jazz sounds of the 20s and 30s in the US aided by a summer full big band shows. A song very much influenced by the big band sounds with a 2/4 dance rhythm this has become one of my favourite Geeta Dutt numbers. Lovely comping by the piano throughout in the background, a nice brass section and Geeta full of joie de vivre.

75 Partha Sen January 4, 2015 at 8:45 pm

I grew up listening to many of Anil Biswas’ songs. But only with age have I really come to love them.
I got to know Zia Sarhadi quite well in London. He would ask about Anil Biswas. I did not know that he was in Delhi until he passed away.
This is a wonderful update (for people like me). Mrs. Vohra’s input is so touching.

76 Sai Shankar Prathap November 7, 2016 at 2:40 pm

I heard he composed many bhajans of Sai Baba. Where can we get those Sai Baba bhajans/songs composed by Anil Biswas ji? Kindly help me with that.

77 SUDIPTO BOSE March 6, 2017 at 7:32 pm

very interesting reading about a man who gave us the foundation of bollywood music in its initial years.however a large part of his life story remains unknown to music lovers.particularly why he fell out with bollywood in 60s and what prompted him to move to delhi to take a job in all india radio and spend his penultimate years in south extension home.

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