The incredible brother-sister in music: Anil Biswas’s songs for Parul Ghosh

May 27, 2014

Continuing Anil Biswas Centenary Year celebration with his songs for Parul Ghosh as a tribute to her

Anil Biswas and Parul GhoshI can’t think of a weightier brother sister-duo in Hindi film music. Obviously, Mangeshkars’ dominance is unparalleled, but they are primarily ‘sisters’; Hridaynath’s footprint is very negligible on film music, whereas Anil Biswas is a Titan. Parul Ghosh was born in 1916 to a music-loving mother, two years after her brother Anil Biswas, who would dominate the film music as one of the all time greats in the years to come. Thus, music was in her DNA. She was married to the renowned flautist, Pannalal Ghosh. With such pedigree, it is not surprising that she got a break with the New Theatres. Her name is associated with a landmark event in film music – the first playback song, Main khush hona chaahun, in Dhoop Chhaon (1935), composed by RC Boral. She was one of the three singers to have this achievement, the other two being Suprova Srakar and Harimati Dua. In spite of an impressive start, her early career progressed in fits and starts, until her brother, Anil Biswas, took her as his major singer.

I had assumed that pre-Lata, Amirbai Karnataki would be the main female singer for Anil Biswas. This was obviously Kismat effect. But a careful observation of Anil Biswas filmography shows, she is outnumbered by several other singers, with Parul Ghosh outnumbering all of them by a big margin. She was his lead singer in Basant (1942), Hamari Baat (1943), Jwaar Bhata (1944) and Milan (1946). This song list (not exhaustive) at Cineplot shows that she sang for most of the top composers of the time, but her most famous songs are by his brother. (Note: The list shows ‘Basant’ as composed by Pannalal Ghosh, but it has been explained earlier that because of contractual reasons, Anil Biswas could not be credited, though he was the composer.)

Her swan song in films was in Aandolan (1951) – Vande Mataram – with Manna Dey and Sudha Malhotra, composed by Pannalal Ghosh. She sang about 100 songs in all in 25 films. She died on August 13, 1977 after prolonged illness in Bombay. Continuing the Year of Anil Biswas celebration, I pay my tribute to Parul Ghosh , with her best songs composed by her illustrious brother.

1. Ummeed unse kyat hi aur kar wo kya rahe hain from Basant (1942), lyrics PL Santoshi

The most famous song from this movie is Tumko Mubarak ho oonche mahal ye, which was included in the inaugural post by Shikha Biswas Vohra. But this ghazal has been beautifully composed by Anil Biswas, and sung equally well by Parul Ghosh.  The lyrics are beautiful:  आये थे इश्क़ बनकर अब अश्क़ बन चले वो.


2. Papiha re mere piya se kahiyo jaye from Kismat (1943), lyrics Pradeep

Kismat was out and out Amirbai Karnataki affair. This solitary song by Parul Ghosh in the film holds its own against all the iconic songs of Amirbai.


3. Main unki ban jaaun re from Hamari Baat (1943), lyrics Pt Narendra Sharma

Parul Ghosh shared the singing honours with Suraiya in this film, who also had a role in it. While Suraiya’s songs must have been picturised on her, I presume Parul Ghosh would have sung for Devika Rani. (We have seen Suraiya’s songs from this film in the post on her songs by Anil Biswas.)


4. Ae baad-e-saba ithlati to na aa from Hamari Baat (1943), lyrics Pt. Narendra Sharma

Pt. Narendra Sharma was known more for pure Hindi songs. But his comfort with Urdu is remarkable. Again my discovery in the Internet era, but it is a very charming.


5. Humse kya poochhate ho dard kahan hota hai from Lady Doctor (1944), lyrics Wali Saheb

The YT link identifies Parul Ghosh as the singer. I am hearing this song for the first time, but it draws you immediately, in spite of a slight accent in her voice.


6. More aangan mein chhitki chaandni ghar aa ja sajan from Jwaar Bhata (1944), lyrics Pt Narendra Sharma

Once we delve into the vintage era we are going to come across one gem after the other. This song is notable for its elegant lyric by Pt. Narendra Sharma – छेड़ी कोयल ने प्रीत की मीठी रागिनी घर आ जा सजन.


7. Bhool jana chaahti hun bhool paati nahi from Jwaar Bhata (1944)

Pt. Narendra Sharma now gives a very simple lyric. Parul Ghosh gives expression to the pining heroine, who is not able to forget her lover.


8. Jisne banai bansuri geet usi keg aye ja from Milan (1946), lyrics Arzoo Lakhanavi

The reason why Anil Biswas is special is demonstrated by this incredibly sweet song from Milan.


9. Main kiski laaj nibhaaun from Milan (1946), lyrics Arzoo Lakhanavi

Anil Biswas does not compose a song, he carves a piece of art. I am hearing the songs of Milan for the first time. But they surely should rank among his best; these are definitely a high point of the great brother-sister combination.


10. Suhani beriyan beeti jaye from Milan (1946), lyrics PL Santoshi

A classical based composition, Anil Biswas is at his best. Now we are lucky to have a very good quality video clip, picturised on Ranjana, as identified in the comments. You get a brief glimpse of a very young Dilip Kumar in the end, from one of his earliest films. Mumabaikaar8 lays great emphasis on the lyrics. This one is again remarkable for its elegant lyrics.  Literary songs are now lost forever.

सुहानी बेरिया बीती जाये
अकेले बैठे जिया घबराये,  सुहानी बेरिया बीती जाये

कोई संदेस ना कोई पाती फिर जलाई पवन मदमाती
कैसे धीर धरत पी की छाती हंसी में रोना आये
सुहानी बेरिया बीती जाये



Acknowledgement: Swaron Ki Yatra by Anil Bhargav

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ashok M Vaishnav May 27, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Thanks for refreshing and widening the Anil Biswas repertoire.

2 arvindersharma May 27, 2014 at 7:23 pm

Ashok Vaishnav Ji,
many thanks for introducing us listeners to the melody of a forgotten era. It is practically very difficult for music lovers to explore this era and find real gems. Articles such as this help us navigate through these oceans of melody to find our picks.
I will especially thank you as the composer is my eternal favourite, namely Anil Biswas.
A small piece of information ;
Another, rather two brothers and a sister, namely Geeta Roy/Dutt and her brothers
Mukul Roy for Sailaab, Detective etc and
Kanu Roy for Uski Kahani, Anubhav etc, are also an important part of the Hindi film music.

3 arvindersharma May 27, 2014 at 7:31 pm

AK Ji,
I am sorry to have referred to Ashok Vaishnav Ji instead of you in the beginning of my post. The error is regretted.

4 arvindersharma May 27, 2014 at 7:37 pm

It seems, Ashok ji’s name was haunting in my memories.

5 AK May 27, 2014 at 11:51 pm

Thanks for your appreciation.

Yes, Geeta Dutt-Mukul Roy-Kanu Roy are another brother-sister combo. But the MDs in this case, as in the case of Mangeshkars are not really big. Moreover, for Geeta Dutt’s and Mangeshkars’ career, you hardly think of their brothers. In Parul Ghosh case, probably she sang most songs for Anil Biswas, and for him she was by far the most prolific female singer pre-Lata. I mentioned Amirbai Karnataki and Kismat effect. Surprisingly, outside Kismat she did not have more than a couple of songs for him. She is outnumbered by Jyoti, Waheedan, Bibbo, Maya Banerjee and Sardar Akhtar. They are all clearly outnumbered by Parul Ghosh. Therefore, as ‘Incredible Brother-Sister Duo’, to my mind Anil Biswas-Parul Ghosh have a historical place.

While we are on Parul Ghosh, I would like to mention a Naushad composition. SSW has used the adjective ‘amazing’ for him in a different context. He was also amazing because he had the knack of creating something of eternal value for every singer he touched. He did that for Parul Ghosh too, with this song:

Aaye bhi wo gaye bhi wo from Namaste (1943), lyrics DN Madhok, music Naushad

6 mumbaikar8 May 28, 2014 at 4:58 am

Thanks for walking us down the memory lane of
the vintage era with the illustrious siblings.
You have mentioned about the lyrics of Suhani beria biti jaye, but I think, the lyrics of almost all the songs are impressive, even though she had heavy accent her emotions were impeccable and she had amazing flair for ghazals, it is also evident in the Nauhad song Aye bhi woh gaye bhi woh.

7 AK May 28, 2014 at 6:03 am

So true – ghazals and emotions. The siblings are also great with classical. I am sure, experts in SoY would comment on it. Excellent Bhairvi and Bhopali they have produced.

You see I don’t ignore lyrics.

8 N Venkataraman May 28, 2014 at 9:52 pm

Thanks for the excellent vintage songs and post. Parul Ghosh rendition of the songs did full justice to Anil Biswas‘s compositions. Each song surpassed the previous song. The song #6 and last three songs from Milan were too good. They have produced some good Hamir and Desh numbers too. I will also wait for the experts’ opinion.

You have covered all the films in which Anil Biswas and Parul Ghosh had worked together. Milan was the Hindi version of Naukadubi, both films based on Rabindranth Thakur’s story Naukadubi and produced by Bombay Talkies. In the Bengali version Parul Ghosh rendered few (four or six) Rabindra Sangeet. None of the songs are available on YT. Three records, each having two songs, were released in the year 1947.

I will add another song from Milan. This song is in two parts and written by Pyarelal Santoshi.

9 AK May 28, 2014 at 10:52 pm

Thanks a lot for adding Gun gun bole bhanwara. Among all her songs, this sounds most Bengali.

10 Soumya Banerji June 1, 2014 at 7:00 am


Another gem from you. I am listening to the songs again as I write this. I had not heard Parul Ghosh for a long time and it was extremely refreshing to listen to her finely nuanced voice. Anil Biswas certainly brought out the best in her.

11 Anuradha Warrier June 1, 2014 at 10:09 am

I first remember hearing Parul Ghosh on my father’s old gramophone – he had a stack of old records. Your post brought back memories of our small living room in Bangalore, my father and I reading on opposite chairs, the gramophone playing old Hindi songs, my father’s cigarette smoke curling into the hot summer air…thanks for the trip down memory lane.

12 AK June 1, 2014 at 10:13 am

Soumya, Anu,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation. Anu, your trip down memory lane is so nostalgic. Did you also remember any specific song of Parul Ghosh?

13 Mahesh June 4, 2014 at 6:12 pm

AK ji,
I usually dont watch old hindi movies for obvious reasons, but am immensely fond of music of the 40’s and 50’s.
I however did watch”Kismet” recently and what struck me was the powerful voice of Parul Ghosh. This solo song was not in the movie version I watched. I personally feel the duet with (Kavi Pradeep ?) ArunKumar is more impressive in terms of conveying the feelings.
I made a resolve to collect as many songs of Parul Ghosh and forgot about it.
Here you have provided me so many songs on a platter.

Many Many Thanks.

14 AK June 4, 2014 at 10:57 pm

I too did not notice the solo version in the film. However, even the duet version is effectively a solo, because after the first line, the male voice (I think it is Arun Kumar) does not come again. As for the solo version, it has been either cut out from the film versions commonly available, or it was not there at all in the movie, and later a record version was made. This practice was quite common in early films and we have many such instances. HFGK mentions only the solo version, which does not really prove or disprove either of the possibilities.

I am happy that you liked the selection of the songs. As it turns out she was the most important female singer for Anil Biswas (pre-Lata) and vice versa.

15 MD.mathur September 28, 2014 at 10:06 am

A great collection. Thanks for Parul ghosh,could we get Binita Bose nee Roy song hansi chand ki aaj nirali from Hamrahi 1945 the song is sort of hindi version of Chander hansi .of Udher pathey1944.

16 AK September 28, 2014 at 3:25 pm

MD Mathur,
Thanks for your appreciation. Humrahi (1945) music by RC Boral. It would not have figured here as it was a series on Anil Biswas. I could not find the song you have mentioned on YT, though her other songs from the film are available. One is here:

Din hain bahaar ke aaye, lyrics Munshi Zakir Hussain

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