Forgotten Composers Unforgettable Melodies (11): Dilip Dholakia

January 10, 2017

Dilip Dholakia? D. Dilip? Dilip Rai? – A Singer or A Music Director or A Music Arranger?

A tribute to Dilip Dholakia on his 6th death anniversary (15 October 1921 – 2 January 2011) by guest author Ashok M Vaishnav

(Hindi film music attracted talents from different regional languages and musical traditions.  Some, especially from Bengal, achieved great success and, in fact, became known as founding fathers of Hindi film music, such as RC Boral, Pankaj Mullick, Anil Biswas and, later, SD Burman, Hemant Kumar and Salil Chaudhary.  Stalwarts from some other regional languages, such as Gujarati, could not achieve the same success. Dilip Dholakia is one such doyen from Gujarat who in Hindi film music is primarily known as assistant to Chitragupta.  Ashok Vaishnav introduces us to many unknown aspects of this multi-faceted talent.  Earlier, he had written an excellent article on another doyen from Gujarat, Avinash Vyas. This is an important addition in the series on Forgotten Composers Unforgottable Melodies.  Thank you Ashokji for this enlightening article as a tribute on the 6th death anniversary of Dilip Dholakia which was a few days ago. – AK)

Dilip DholakiaThose who are familiar with any aspect of Dilip Dholakia’s world of music probably may know of him by any one of these names that he used for his different music career roles. For Hindi Film’s mundane history, Dilip Dholakia (Born: 15 October 1921 / Death: 2 January 2011) was probably noticed more as an assistant to Chitragupta or S N Tripathi or to the music-duo Laxmikant Pyarelal. And yet, Dilip Dholakia remained all of singer, music director, music arranger and at times even lyricist and an actor, during his active career. Probably that is the reason the lady luck did for not favour him with great worldly success in any one field!

Dilip Dholakia’s music legacy was also multi-dimensional. His father used to play the flute while his grandfather would sing hymns and prayers at Swaminarayan Temple in his birth town of Junagadh (Saurashtra, Gujarat). Dilip Dholakia would join them in singing or in playing the pakhwaj when he was a toddler. He migrated to Bombay after his graduation and did some odd jobs. However, his association with singing continued. He trained under Pandurang Amberkar to hone his raw musical instincts into systematic classical mould. His introduction to Snehal Bhatkar, who then worked for HMV studios, led him to cut his first ever music record, with two Gujarati songs: Bhint phadi ne piplo re ugyo and Aadha tel aur aadha pani.

It was Khemchand Prakash who gave Dilip Dholakia first formal break to sing in the chorus in Thukra rahi hai duniya hum hain ke so rahe hain– @2.24 with K L Saigal for film Bhanwara (1944). In the same year, Dilip Dholaki could get to sing two songs – Gori chalo na seena ubhar ke and Dekho humse na aankh ladaya karo – under the music direction of Khemchand Prakash’s younger brother, Ratanlal, for Kismatwala. He got one more song under the baton of Ramchandra Pal for Laaj in 1946 – Dukh ki is nagri mein Baba koi na puoochhe baat.

It was another Gujarati music director Avinash Vyas, who paired him with the vintage era doyenne, Amirbai Karnataki, in the Gujarati film, Sati Sone (1948) – for the duet:

Shravani ni vadaladali tu ja..ja sandesho lai

(O cloud of monsoon! Go.. go take my message..)

Shravani ni vadaladali

It was a stroke of luck that got him his first major successful break. Ajit Merchant had planned to use Mukesh for a solo song of Divadandi (1950), but it was Dilip Dholakia, who was destined to enshrine this song as one of the most iconic ever Gujarati songs:

Taari aankh no afini taara bol no bandhani, Taara roop ni poonam no paagal hun eklo

(Addict of opium-intoxication of your eyes, and your spoken words, I am the only lunatic of your full-moon beauty).

Incidentally, this tune has been used by Chtragupta in Naya Sanasar (1959) for Lata Mangeshkar’s cradle song Chanda loriyan sunaye hawa jhulna jhulaye mere laal ko.

Apparently, Dilip Dholakia was either intrinsically more inclined to music direction or could sense that he may not make space for himself in the then competitive world of Hindi film play-back singing. So he took up the assignment of assisting S N Tripathi, and later on Chitragupta, who himself was S N Tripathi’s assistant before he charted his independent course. His foray into music direction / music arrangement was under the name of D. Dilip.

Dilip Dholakia could get his first independent assignment of music direction for Bhakta Mahima (1960). Even as he composed no less than 16 songs for this film, none of the otherwise quite resourceful netizens have yet been able to lay hand on any the songs.

Dilip Dholakia’s next film was Teen Ustad in 1961. The six songs of the film, of which one Talat Mahmood- Suman Kalyanpur duet and one Mohammad Rafi- Suman Kalyanpur duet as well as one solo each of Lata Mangeshkar and Usha Mangeshkar, have been mentioned in several HFM-related documents, but two singers for the two songs remain unidentified. I have not been able to locate any digital version of the songs from this film.

In the same year Dilip Dholakia got to compose music for Saugandh. He composed two Talat Mahmood-Lata Mangeshkar duets, a Mohammad Rafi-Lata Mangeshkar duet in which Dilip Dholakia (music director) and Prem Dhawan (lyricist) join in an innovative chorus; two Lata Mangeshkar solos, and another song for which the singer is not identified.

Aaja re chaand mere aa ja re, chaand mere chaand mere dil ye tera reSaugandh (1961) – Talat Mahmood & Lata Mangeshkar – Lyrics: Prem Dhawan

Saugandh seems to be remake of a Telugu film. He has woven Talat Mahmood’s soft voice with a soft tune and equally soft orchestration. The song has been filmed on Gemini Ganeshan and Anjali Devi in the film.

Baghdad Ki Raatein followed in 1962. Dilip Dholakia composed three solos for Geeta Dutt, three solos for Lata Mangeshkar, a duet of Mohammad Rafi and Shamshad Begum, and one more duet of Mohammad Rafi with Geeta Dutt. It seems that apart from the considerations of availability of the singers and the related economics, Dilip Dholakia was using the opportunity to present his music in as many variants as possible so as to hit the chords of success.

Zulfowalon se na bhool ke bhi pyar kijiye jiBaghdad Ki Raatein – Mohammad Rafi, Shamshad Begum and Chorus – Lyrics: Prem Dhawan

Being a light-mood song, Dilip Dholakia has given enough space for Shamshad Begum and Mohammad Rafi’s harkatein for augmenting the mood of the song.

Kisi se pyar ho to dil beqarar ho to, aao zara lete jao aji dil ki dawaBaghdad Ki Raatein – Geeta Dutt – Lyrics: Prem Dhawan

Orchestration has mid-eastern accent and Geeta Dutt is at her silken best in tune with the dance song.

Dilip Dholakia had one more film in 1962 – Private Secretary. The film had Ashok Kumar and Jayshree Gadkar in the lead. Dilip Dholakia also rose to the challenge. All the seven songs had perfect blend of melody, erudite composition, ease of singing for the spectators – all possible factors that can help the songs of the entire album to be commercially successful enough so as to provide the necessary escape velocity to the music director to move in to A-league films.

Ja ja re chanda ja re teri chandani bhi mera jiyara jalayePrivate Secretary (1962) – Lata Mangeshkar – Lyrics: Prem Dhawan

Here we have as good as any Lata Mangeshkar solo of that time. Dilip Dholakia has been able to touch the melody chords that have been signature aspect of Chitragupta compositions. There are three more Lata solos in the film. All of these are available on YT.

Ja re beimaan tujhe jaan liyaPrivate Secretary (1962) – Manna Dey – Lyrics: Prem Dhawan

This one is semi-classical song for a light situation in the film. The composition must have gone into augmenting the trend of using Manna Dey for light situation-classical song genre that was evolving at that time.

How Dilip Dholakia had peaked can be gauged from the songs he composed next year for a Gujarati film – Satyavan Savitri. This was his maiden Gujarti film as a composer. All of Rafi and Lata songs had become quite popular among Gujarati listeners at that time.

Aawi rasili chandani, van vagado lahervati – Mohammad Rafi & Lata Mangeshkar – Lyrics Bhaskar Vora

(So enjoyable full-moon light has arrived, lighting up forest trees on the way)

The orchestration has very distinct Chitragupta effect.

And now was a sort of drought of music direction assignments in Hindi films. The next film – Veer Ghatotkatch – to come up is again a mythological film, in 1970. Dilip Dholakia has composed a solo each for Mukesh and Manna Dey, two for Suman Kalyanpur and a female-female duet for Suman Kalyanpur and Reshma. Thus, he keeps trying to be as creative as possible even possibly within shoe string budgets.

Us pratham pratham parichay mein hi maine khoya tha apnapanVeer Ghatotkach (1970) – Mukesh – Lyrics: B D Mishra

The song presents Mukesh at his usual romantic best.

1970 had one more C-grade film assignment, Dagabaaz, for Dilip Dholakia, in the name of Dilip Roy. He composed two solos for Mukesh, one for Mahendra Kapoor and Lata Mangeshkar each and a duet for Mahendra Kapoor and Asha Bhosle for the film.

Aa meri baahon mein jhool jaDagabaaz (1970) – Mahendra Kapoor & Asha Bhosle –– Lyrics: B D Mishra

The couple goes to play their romance wandering happily in the garden is a very typical duet for Hindi film situations. The song is filmed on Chandra Sekhar and Helen, who themselves have not been able to get the A-grade lead actor roles, in spite of enough talent and looks.

The eighth Hindi film for which Dilip Dholakia could get to compose music was again a C-grade mythological film, Mata Vaishnodevi.

Man ke kore kagaz pe tasveer kheench lo Ram ki – Mata Vaishnodevi (1970) – Manna Dey – Lyrics: B D Mishra

The song has twin version in Asha Bhosle’s voice, filmed on Jayshree Gadkar, who was quite successful on Marathi screen, but destined to play the lead roles in mythological Hindi films.

Dilip Dholakia had a similar run in Gujarati films, where he had 11 films to his credit. He did a couple of A-grade films like (a national award winner regional film) Kanku or Mena Gurjari there. He continued to experiment and innovate here as well.

Eklaj avya hata, ekla javanaJalim Singh Jadeja – Bhupinder – Lyrics: Barkat Virani

(Had come alone, will go alone too)

Even though his career as a music director continued for several more years, that was probably not enough to meet his basic needs for a decent living or provide him creative satisfaction. So he had to resort to the next best career option – work as music directorial assistant for some more successful music director. This he did so well for Laxmikant Pyarelal, from 1972 to 1988. He recorded his last song in 1988.

He also had worked with Hridaynath Mangeshkar to record his compositions like Meera Bhajan (Part-I), Bhagavad Geeta, Gyaneshwari Geeta, and an album of Urdu gazals by Ghalib. He also composed for HMV records sung by Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Kishori Amonkar. He composed music of Chausanthpadi written by Nishkulanand Swami.

The tradition of music runs into the fourth generation, the torch being kept alive by Dilip Dholakia’s son Rajat Dholakia.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 SSW January 10, 2017 at 11:33 am

“Ja ja re chanda ja re ” is very nice, I like the murkis that Lata takes in the mukhda. Was “Taari aankh no afini” also composed by Dilip Dholakia? My only knowledge of this composer was the odd song played on Bhoole Bisre geet. Thank you Mr. Vaishnav for elaborating .

2 D P Rangan January 10, 2017 at 12:55 pm


What a post. Truely amazing. I can visualise the extent of hard work that had gone to present biography of a not frontline composer from scant and difficult to locate data base and sources. The presentation of songs is also well knit with the post. I love all the songs of Private Secretary and wonder how such a M D did not leave his mark more emphatically. Caps off (hats not worn in India) to you for this brilliant post. As usual I am poor in locating songs of this M D and leave it in the competent hands of people like Jignesh, Arvinderji and Bhatiaji.

3 ASHOK M VAISHNAV January 10, 2017 at 1:12 pm

Taari Aankh No Afini was composed by Ajit Merchant.

#D P Rangan

In fact not many of the songs composed by Dilip Dholakia are available on net. So, while, presenting the available songs, I chose to present as much variety as could be possible within the confines of my (limited) likes and knowledge.

4 Mahesh January 10, 2017 at 4:20 pm

Mukesh sang only two solos for Dilip Rai?

One from Veer Ghatotkach represented above.

Another solo which has a sad version too is from Dagabazz.

I echo the views expressed above that its difficult to gather so many songs of a forgotten composer.
Many Thanks.

5 Anu Warrier January 10, 2017 at 5:34 pm

Ashokji, this was so interesting to read. It’s difficult to find out any information about the not-so-mainstream music directors (or actors or directors). I have come across his name now and then while searching for songs for my posts, but never knew anything at all about him. Thank you for filling in the gaps.

6 ksbhatia January 10, 2017 at 6:03 pm

Ashok M Vaishnav ;

Thanks for this eye opener article on forgotten composer , though not popular , but truly command respect that you did it on behalf of all of us .

Frankly I was not knowing Dilip Dholakia early , it was only a chance that I came to know about his talent while looking for ” chand ” songs for rangan ji’s article . I was completely bowled by Lata ji’s song ….ja ja re chanda ja re….from …Private Secretary . This was a beautiful melody that made me browse practically all the film songs he did during his film career . His style and composition were like of Chitragupt and S N Tripathi . I could guess that he must have worked with them as their asstt.

Its a great feeling for me to know more about Dilip Dholakia thru your comprehensive detailed article and many thanks for that.

7 D P Rangan January 11, 2017 at 2:22 am

Private Secretary, a 1962 release contained delectable songs. The main actors were Ashok Kumar and Jayashree Gadkar. Prem Dhawan wrote the lyrics. Ashokji gave one song as a sample in the post. I am giving below link to another dance song.

Oh sanwarle aaja pyar le

Another light hearted duet by Rafi and Manna Dey

Pyaar ka mara hue mein

8 ASHOK M VAISHNAV January 11, 2017 at 4:05 am

#Mahesh, #Anu Warrier, #ksbhatia

Thanks for the very kind appreciation.

The Hindi Film Music world of 40s, 50s and 60s was so very competitive that it was only a matter of luck that would enable the recognition of the talent. So , complaining why someone did not succeed may perhaps not be so justified.
Also, whatever documentation may have taken place is not easily accessible. Hence, anything and everything that comes up on net becomes so invaluable.

9 Arunkumar Deshmukh January 11, 2017 at 6:38 am

Ashok M Vaishnav ji,

Thanks for writting on Dilip Dholakia-a talented but luck starved musician. It is really difficult to get much information on him from the Net. I came across a short article on him on Few points to add to what you wrote are being given here.
” -His father used to play flute while his grandfather Manishankar used to sing Kirtan and Bhajan in Swaminarayan Mandir.

-Shri Dholakia came to Mumbai in 1982 and passed B.A

-He worked in Bombay government’s Home department for two years as clarck and acountant general. While his office was located on first floor, the third floor in same building was occupied by All India Radio.

-Born in 15 October 1921 in Junagadh, Shri Dilipbhai received education in Bahadurkhanji high school and Bahauddin College.

-His father’s name was Bhogilal

Basically,he worked as assistant to Tripathi and Chitragupta from 1951 to 1972 and later from 1972,as arranger for laxmikant Pyarelal upto 1988.
He died on 2-1-2011 ”

My addition….In 1947,he was selected by Phiroz Nizami to sing the famous song, “yahan badla wafaa ka” from JUGNU. Few rehearsals also took place. Due to the turmoil of Independence activity in 1947,Mohd. Rafi was stuck in Jallunder,Punjab. Just one day prior to the recording,Mohd. Rafi came to Bombay. Phiroz Nizami gave the song to Rafi,which made lot of good to him. This was the first indication to Dilip bhai that Luck was not with him.
Thanks again.

10 ASHOK M VAISHNAV January 11, 2017 at 8:18 am

# Arunkumar Deshmukh

Thanks for your valued additional information on Dilip Dholakia.

I had also read about the Jugnu incident, but was hesitating to put it in an article, since I had no means to cross verify the authenticity. Nonetheless, if there ever is an indication from the Lady Luck, this indeed was one – as loud as it can ever be.

11 Shalan Lal January 11, 2017 at 10:05 am

Ashok Vaishnavji & Arunkumar Deshmukhji

You have done a great job for giving so much information about a neglected artist.

The last line of Mr Deshmukh’s comment “This was the first indication to Dilip bhai that Luck was not with him” is so quizzical about the the film industry and tells us how the industry has no solid foundation or backbone. It is more like a racing or gambling state.

Yet we all enjoy what the ruins have left and measure the magnificance it had.

Shalan Lal

12 ASHOK M VAISHNAV January 11, 2017 at 12:36 pm

#Shalan Lal,
During the radio or records/tapes listening era, even when we wanted to listen to some specific artist, and thereby lend our active support, we had had very limited choices.
This era of net, and so enlightened platform as SoY, does provide us the opportunity to retrospectively enjoy and share what we liked then. Providing the much called for recognition to some of the not-so-well recognized artists or not-so-recognized work of reasonably well-recognized artists is perhaps our way to undo what was done (or not done!) in that period.
Thanks for so encouragingly joining the journey.

13 KB January 11, 2017 at 2:05 pm

Songs of Private secretary (1962) are really good.One begins to think that they were compositions of either Chitragupt or Madan mohan like the song Mile nain gaye chain by Lata.

14 mumbaikar8 January 11, 2017 at 2:08 pm

I was trying to come out of my winter slumber to appreciate your trivia at Ranjanji’s article instead you have come up with an ace here with the forgotten Dilip Dholakia thanks for reminding us. One query had his last name” Dholakia” anything to do with his family playing Pakhawaj ?
According to myswar this Sugandh triaid is sung by Lata Rafi and Dilip Dholkia

BTW: ગુજરાતી ગાયન સાંભળીને માજા આવી ગયી ધન્યવાદ

15 ASHOK M VAISHNAV January 11, 2017 at 4:55 pm

It was perhaps insufficient differentiation, as music director or as a singer, that probably came into the way of Dilip Dholaki’a success. We do not know, nor does it matter any more now.

Dholakia is a very old surname in the sect to which Dilip Dholakia belongs. In fact it is pronounced as धोलकिया and not ढोलकिया.

Some other references of that Saugandh song also mention that Prem Dhawan was also a party to the end chorus.

I have planned a separate article, in English and in Gujarati, which will focus on Dilip Dholakia’s singing. I will post the link here once I post them.

16 ksbhatia January 12, 2017 at 6:20 pm

Ashok M Vaishnav ji;

Truly all the songs of the movie ….Private Secretary ….are melodious and very well written by Prem Dhawan as well. He being composer also , his equation with Dilip Dholakia can easily be seen in all the songs . Besides , the picturisation of songs also are amazing , simple and true to the story . Credit goes to Jayshree Gadkar for her beautiful expressions while enacting song and dance sequence . Her simple looks do command a great respect from the viewers .

The other film song of Jayshree Gadkar that I want to hear again and again is…chali re chali mein to desh paraiye… Asha ji from Saranga .
Here too she is so expressive in her thoughts as song proceeds . If Lata ji gave that beautiful number…..Ja ja re chanda ja re…..for Dilip Dholakia , I think Asha ji too sang perfectly the saranga song for Sardar Malik . Both the Music Directors deserved better appreciations and more opportunities .

For music lovers , here is the saranga song which I think is one of the best amongst Jayshree Gadkar and Sardar Malik movies.

17 ASHOK M VAISHNAV January 13, 2017 at 4:45 am

As Private Secretary could not provide enough escape velocity to the career of Dilip Dholakia and Jayshree Gadkar, Saranga could not provide the escape velocity to the careers of Sardar Malik and Jayshree Gadkar,
The apparently common link of Jayshree Gadkar did achieve quite notable success in Marathi movies, her local domain.
The fickleness of luck in Hindi Films is just unfathomable.

18 Arunkumar Deshmukh January 15, 2017 at 8:24 am


In addition to the various names Dilip Dholakia took that you mentioned in the beginning of the article, he also called himself Dilip kumar…as when he was assisting Chitragupta for AVM film Bhabhi-57.
Lata Mangeshkar had said in one of her interviews that,while in Madras, she, together with Prem Dhavan, Dilip Dholakia, and Chitragupta and their families used to go out,after the work and it was a great fun and a good picnic.
In Bombay, they used to go to Chitragupt’s house for Lunch, because she liked Bihari food very much. Here too Dilipbhai used to be in their group.

19 KB January 15, 2017 at 9:05 am

So from #18 it is known that he was assisting Chitragupt. My guess that his music had a flavour of Chitragupt was correct.(#13)

20 P. S. Seshadri January 15, 2017 at 12:09 pm

He was a regular at Gramophone Club programmes in Ahmedabad

21 ASHOK M VAISHNAV January 15, 2017 at 1:27 pm

#Arunkumar Deshmukh

Thanks for the additional information.

It seems that he must be in a classic Catch 22 situation, whether to follow the footprints of his relatively successful seniors like SN Tripathi and Chitragupta or carve out his own style, in order to be successful as a music director. ‘Private Secretary’ was a good enough platform where he could easily blend the former approach and come up with very good songs. But even that did not seem to be enough to stir the winds of luck.
#P S Seshadri
Thanks for the additional information.

22 ASHOK M VAISHNAV January 15, 2017 at 1:29 pm

I have published a follow-up article which traces Dilip Dholakia as a singer.
The article is accessible at the second item of the ‘trackback’ mentioned at the bottom of this article as –
Fading Memories…. Unforgettable Songs: January, 2017 – The world is too small? or Is it?

23 N Venkataraman January 16, 2017 at 11:41 am

Ashok Vaishnavji,
I was quite busy these past few weeks, which is why I’ve taken some time to comment on your post. It is strange that someone who was so very talented could not find success in Hindi film music, even his number of Gujarati films were few. But popularity is not the only measure, and the internet era has helped us to get to know about the little known musicians and their work. I came to know about Dilip Dholakia after joining SoY. All most all the songs were new to me and enjoyed listening to them.

Also went through the follow- up article on Dilip Dholakia as a singer. His rendering of the song Ten Puchhyo Prem No Marm Ne Hun Dai Betho Alingan has a Rafi touch. Also loved listening to the songs Bhint phadi ne piplo re ugyo and Aadha tel aur aadha pani. Vintage songs have special charm.

The two songs Narayan Hari Hari Namha and Aadi Kaal Me Bhumandal Par, from the film Bhakti Mahima (1960,) are mentioned in the list of songs sung by Manna Dey. Both the songs were written by Saraswati Kumar Deepak.

Thank you Ashok ji for offering a wonder tribute to and an insight on Dilip Dholakia.

Let me present a nice number composed by Dilip Dholakia for the film Daku Rani Ganga (1976). I believe it was produced in Gujarati and later dubbed in Bhojpuri. Here are both the Gujarati and Bhojpuri versions of the same song rendered by Manna Dey and AnandKumar.

After 1988, I believe, he became actively involved with Pragat Brahmaswaroop Shree Pramukhswami Maharaj’s work and composed lots of musical pieces and recordings for the Swaminarayan sect. In the comments it is mentioned that this song is originally written by Premanand Swami of Swaminarayan Sect. Here is the song

O Rasiya Main To Sharan Tihari by Manna Dey

Thank you once again Ashokji.

24 ASHOK M VAISHNAV January 17, 2017 at 3:54 am

# N. Venkataraman,
You have returned your coming late with a compounding interest by adding fairly valuable inputs to the works and career of Dilip Dholakia.


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