Door Papiha Bola: Suraiya by Anil Biswas

January 31, 2014

A tribute to Anil Biswas in his centenary year and to Suraiya on her 10th death anniversary

Anil Biswas and SuraiyaFor many years after getting deeply attached to the vintage songs, I regarded Anil Biswas as peripheral to the music career of Suraiya. When I thought of Suraiya, the composers who came to mind most prominently were Naushad, Husnlal Bhagatram and Ghulam Mohammad. Much later, I heard Door papiha bola in a most unlikely situation. This created an impact I had not felt before. Songs of Yore was not on the anvil then, and my browsing the net was also sporadic. Therefore, locating the co-ordinates of the song by chance gave me an indescribable joy, and I started looking at Anil Biswas’s songs for Suraiya in a different light. Door papiha bola represents to me the very essence of every music lover’s relationship with music – a distant call of the papiha in the night, which you wish went on forever, but soon the night is half gone when your tryst has just begun. When I started this blog, effectively its first post was titled Door Papiha Bola.

While Naushad is credited with giving break to Suraiya in 1942 (Nai Duniya/Sharda), a couple of her songs were on herself as a child-artiste. Her most well known early songs were as playback for Mehtab. She came to prominence as an actor-singer in Bombay Talikes’ Hamari Baat (1943), in which she had four duets with Arun Kumar composed by Anil Biswas. Her most famous songs by Anil Biswas were in Waris (1954), in which she acted opposite Talat mahmood. She was also the lead actor-singer in Gajre (1948), Jeet (1949) and Do Sitare (1951), under his baton.

Anil Biswas may not be very prolific and may not have given too many foot-tapping numbers, but his songs for Suraiya have a soothing effect. They are the two most melodious people, whose songs you would like to listen in tranquility, transporting you to another plane. Continuing the series on Anil Biswas in his centenary year, I present his songs for Suraiya, also as a tribute to her on her 10th death anniversary (Suraiya: b. 15 June 1929, d. 31 January 2004).

1. Door papiha bola from Gajre (1948), lyrics Gopal Singh ‘Nepali’

I generally avoid repeating  a song on my blog.  But if there could be a song that could send a thousand hearts aflutter,  Door papiha bola is one such songIn my earlier post titled this song, I wrote what I felt emotionally in words that were quite inadequate.  Now we have this very learned comment on this song by a reader SSW which I am reproducing below:

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 as 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.

Gopal Singh ‘Nepali’ was an eminent Hindi poet who wrote lyrics in about 50 films. His name came into prominence some time back when his song, Darshan do Ghanshyam (Narsi Bhagat), was wrongly credited to Surdas in the quiz in Slumdog Millionaire. When a poet from literature wrote film lyrics, you could immediately see a distinct literary flavor.


2. O dupatta rang de mera rangrej from Gajre, lyrics Gopal Singh ‘Nepali’

Another less known Anil Biswas-Suraiya beauty, with literary lyrics from Gajre.


3. Karwatein badal raha aaj sab jahan, duet with Arun Kumar from Hamari Baat (1943), lyrics Narendra Sharma

Even though she has four duets in the film, Suraiya’s voice is secondary to the Bombay Talikes favorite, Arun Kumar, in these songs. But 1943 is a major year for Anil Biswas when he had one of the most stupendous successes in Hindi films, Kismet. It was a big year for Suraiya too as the beginning of her superstardom as actor-singer. Therefore, for historical importance let us hear this song, which should be the first of their collaboration. Set to a marching beat, my guess is that this was another of thinly veiled nationalist songs, sneaked past the British censors. A more celebrated case is of Door hato ae duniyawalo from Kismet.


4. Jeevan jamuna paar milenge, duet with Arun Kumar from Hamari Baat (1943)

Now a romantic duet from the same film.


5. Saqi ki nigahein sharab hain, duet with with Arun Kumar from Hamari Baat (1943)

But the most enjoyable is this duet. Narendra Sharma, known more for his lyrics in pure Hindi, does a proper Urdu song with the quintessential imagery of saqi and sharab.


6. Tum meet mere tum pran mere from Jeet (1949), lyrics Prem Dhawan

The lead players Dev Anand and Suraiya were now passionately in love in real life, which shows in Suraya’s singing and acting on the screen. You can’t think of a more melodious composer to give voice to love that is blissful.


7. Kuchh phool khile armanon ke from Jeet

This one is more familiar from the same film. A sad song, something must have come between the lovers.


8. Tum man ki peeeda kya samjho from Jeet

Another beautiful sad song. The misunderstanding continues. This song is a response to Dev Anand’s cavalier comment, using his own words Tum man ki peedaa kya samjho.


9. Chahe kitni kathin dagar ho, duet with Shankar Dasgupta from Jeet

This duet with Shankar Dasgupta from the same film is very interesting. The lyrics are of a marching song, but the picturisation is very romantic, set to a sweet melody by Anil Biswas. While the lovers are enjoying their blissful walk in the woods, some conspiracy against them is afoot. In the prelude to the song, you see the slimy Chacha Kanhaiyalal preparing a tentative and very young Madan Puri for some nefarious plan.


10. So ja re so ja bete gareeb ke from Do Sitare (1951), lyrics Rajendra Krishna

By this time Suraiya-Dev Anand romance had met with stubborn obstacles from her family, making it clear it had no future. This was their last film together. Suraiya has four songs in the film, all very sweet and poignant. This lullaby deserves to be better known.


11. Ho mere dil ki dhadkan mein ye kaun sama gaya from Do Sitare

A lovely romantic song from the same film.


12. Mujhe tumse mohabbat hai, magar ab tak kahan the tum shikayat hai from Do Sitare

Suraiya’s declaration of love is one of the sweetest you can find in her any song, the tinge of sadness in her real world, making the song even more poignant.


13. Taron ki nagri se from Waris (1954), lyrics Qamar Jalalabadi

The most famous song from this film is Rahi matwale, a duet with Talat mahmood, which also has a solo version in Suraiya’s voice. The film also had a couple of more duets with him, and two solos by her. We saw a lullaby earlier, here is another one, which should rank among the best in films.

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sonal January 31, 2014 at 9:19 pm

Love Anilda’s compositions. Door Papiha Bola is one of my favourites too. Good to read about my favourite composer on one of my favourite music blogs. Thank you 🙂

2 AK February 1, 2014 at 3:14 am

You are welcome, Sonal.

3 Mahesh February 1, 2014 at 12:37 pm

AK ji,
The beauty of the introduction of your posts in that they tend to encompass almost everything for the subject at hand.
One does usually think of the three MD’s you have mentioned for Suraiya’s songs.
But. this was a real treat. I was somewhat in-cognizant of the combo’s treasure. Many Thanks.
And if there is any conclusion for the songs composed by AB for Suraiya, then you have again summed up rightly about the “soothing effect”.

4 AK February 1, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Thanks, Mahesh for your kind words. AB-Suraiya combination, though small, is indeed on a higher plane.

5 SSW February 2, 2014 at 12:45 am

Songs of Yore , thanks for attribution. I have a very soft spot for Suraiya. There is one duet of hers with Rafi that I adore, unfortunately it is a Husnlal Bhagatram so I shall not link it here . The lovely Karwatein badal raha hai set in the key of F moves very nicely into its associated key D minor. It is interesting that you mention the marching rhythm, even Rahi Matwale is set to a march. Anil Biswas was a revolutionary at heart.
So ja re so ja bete gareeb ke is a lovely tune and I think I hear a jal tarang played along with a xylophone.
Mujhe tum se mohabbat hai is interesting the interlude starting at 1:50 moves the song into a different key. I wonder if Anil Biswas was the first MD to use such a move, it is a sanchari of sorts but sancharis tend to be in the same key.
Very nice.

6 ASHOK M VAISHNAV February 2, 2014 at 7:25 am

The post brings in Anil Biswas and Suraiya back into (a new light of) focus – the individual and collective contributions of two great players of ‘vintage’ era who did have a strong impact on the ‘golden’ era too.
Thanks for a wonderful treat…..

7 AK February 2, 2014 at 8:22 am

Obviously you are referring to Main tujhe pukarun sanam sanam from Sanam. Somehow, I am not a great fan of songs from this movie. But come to Pyar Ki Jeet and Badi Bahan. These are the films which make HB integral to Suraiya.

I have to admit I am illiterate about the technical part of music. Therefore, thanks a lot for your contributions.

You are welcome. Thanks for the appreciation.

8 Subodh Agrawal February 2, 2014 at 9:23 am

Beautiful post AK. I loved all the solos, although I confess that I couldn’t quite connect to the duets. Welcome additions to my collection of forgotten songs.

9 AK February 2, 2014 at 10:31 am

Thanks, Subodh.

10 SSW February 2, 2014 at 6:24 pm

Songs of yore, I actually meant this song from Shama Parwana.

This is not a simple song to sing. It starts with a basic 3/4 beat , but see when the tabla joins in …Bekaraar hai koi, ae mere dildaar aa…..The note structure changes back and forth from a slow lilt to a rapid pattering and it is quite difficult to take a breath while singing some of the passages. I’ve linked it anyway so I crave your indulgence. 🙂

11 gaddeswarup February 3, 2014 at 2:30 pm

Several posts in a row with many of my favourite songs and many new ones. Thanks.

12 mumbaikar8 February 3, 2014 at 6:44 pm

I totally agree with you when you say ” They are the two most melodious people, whose songs you would like to listen in tranquility, transporting you to another plane,” add Talat Mahmood you get Rahi Matwale and you do not want to come back from that plane ever.
I only wish they had some more songs.
Thanks for making it so interesting with limited resource.

13 AK February 3, 2014 at 7:34 pm

Mumbaikar 8,
Thanks for your appreciation.

14 zishaan bhati February 4, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Nice post AK. I loved all the solos songs.

15 AK February 4, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Thanks a lot, Zishaan.

16 Shikha Vohra February 4, 2014 at 6:56 pm
This version of Rahi Matwale by Suraiya is a true example of subtle and sophisticated grief. My preference to the breezy Talat-Suraiya duet for simply the way Anilda modulated the notes of matwaale in this number

17 - लावण्या February 6, 2014 at 1:05 am

Wonderful to read your Blog post.
Enjoyed the Rare Gems especially
composed by Anilda & sung by Suraiyya ji
I’m Lavanya D. Shah
Daughter of Pandit Narendra Sharma

18 AK February 6, 2014 at 9:49 am

Thanks a lot and great to have you here. Pandit Narendra Sharma was one of the most respected poets who wrote lyrics for films. The elegance of Hindi language was his hallmark, which set him apart from others and which is now a thing of the past.

I have to compliment you on your excellent blog. Through it I spent a long time wandering into the impressive world of Hindi blogs.

19 Richard S. February 6, 2014 at 11:25 am

This is so nice… How come I didn’t find this post until a week after you wrote it? Oh, well…

“Door Papiha Bola” is also one of my favorites (as I think you know, AK), and I was familiar with most of the songs from Gajre. I have seen Jeet (have a downloaded copy with English subtitles), so I know those songs too. And most of the others you presented… I didn’t know about the duets with Arun Kumar in Hamari Baat, so that was a good discovery for me. (I didn’t know this was a breakthrough film for her… Some of my favorite songs by Suraiya are from the same year, when she sang for Mehtab (and Naushad) in Sanjog.) Anyway, altogether a beautiful collection – complemented by very good info and descriptions. Extra thanks for this one!

20 AK February 6, 2014 at 11:47 am

Thanks, Richard. I know your liking for Anil Biswas and Door papiha bola. Hamaari Baat was obviously not her debut as a singer, but I believe it was her major launching pad as an actor-singer.

21 Shikha Vohra February 6, 2014 at 10:06 pm

So my sister Lavanya found her way here eventually. Swagatam Shubh Swagatam. I had listed on the Aura of Anil Biswas page that this blog was worth a visit.
Richard, since then I have heard of you from Priyalaxmi as well.

22 AK February 7, 2014 at 9:40 am

Dear Readers,
Lavanya’s comment at #17 led me to know more about Pt Narendra Sharma through her blog and some links she sent me. He was always a respected poet-lyricist, now I know more about him as a multi-faceted talent, and an important personality in the film and literary world and the All India Radio. Two significant things I would like to mention. Last year was his centenary (b. 28 Feb 2013) coinciding with the centenary of our films. Incidentally, his entry into films was in 1943 with Hamaari Baat, which finds an important mention in this post. Thus, this film was significant not only for Anil Biswas-Suraiya, but also for Pt Narendra Sharma. Let us treat this post also as a tribute to this great lyricist. In a few days would fall his 25th death anniversary (d. 11 February 1989).

Lavanya has sent me two links – the first one is a comprehensive write up on his life and career, apparently an abridged version of, until then, an unpublished book on him; the second one is a daughter’s (Lavanya’s) tribute to Jyoti kalash chhalke.

23 Canasya February 8, 2014 at 2:55 pm

‘Balihari AKji aapno, Shikhaji, Lavanyaji diyo bataye!’ It was wonderful going through their websites and reminiscing about Anilda, Pandit Narendra Sharmaji and Amrit Lal Nagarji. Here are two more songs from Hamari Baat. The first is ‘Bistar bichha diya hai’ (Suraiya with Arun Kumar)

And the second is ‘Badal dal sa nikal chalaa’ sung by Anilda himself:

24 AK February 8, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Thanks, Canasya. We are lucky to have the daughters of two great personalities participating on SoY. Badal dal sa nikal chala is another song with marching beats. I am curious to know if the movie had some political message.

25 - लावण्या February 8, 2014 at 8:32 pm

All True artists reach the stratosphere where the entire humanity’s pain & joys are the very , essence of the poet’s very being :
So glad to find My Badee Didi Shikhadi here ! I read her book ‘ Lure of Old Tunes ‘ which is a page turner & gives lots of information on Indian Film Industry.
‘ L ‘

26 Shikha Vohra February 9, 2014 at 12:59 pm

Thanks for your kind words Lavanya, and the philosophic words that precede them. Anyone who wishes to buy the book may contact me at

27 N Venkataraman February 11, 2014 at 11:01 pm

Thanks for another post on two vintage artists and an apt tribute to Suraiya on her 10th death anniversary and Anil Biswas, the second post in SoY commemorating his centenary year. In your last post on Suraiya two years back (Suraiya the last singing star) you had presented songs of her second phase -50s and 60s.Keeping your promise to write about her vintage period sometime later, now you have covered her songs belonging to the earlier period.

I believe Suraiya sang, for Anil Biswas, roughly 25 songs (16solos, 8 duets and 1 triad) in 5 films. In fact Suraiya sang more than 50 songs for Naushad and much more for Husnlal-Bhagatram. Out of the 25 songs, you have presented 13 songs covering all the five films. One solo was added by Shikhaji and another duet was added by Canasyaji, both of them were very popular numbers.

The first song Door papiha bola was simply out of this world. In fact I got introduced to this song through your first post by the same name. The learned comments of SSW reproduced by you and your interpretation of the song enhanced my listening experience. Out of the four solos of Suraiya from the film Gajre (1948) you have presented two. The other lilting number, O dupatta rang de mera rangrej, was also good.

All the four songs (Arun Kumar-Suraiya duets) have found a place in this post. Three were presented by you and the fourth one by Canasyaji. Although the film Hamari baat was not a political film, your guess, I feel, is right. The theme of the films was ‘Old order changeth yielding place to new’. The song and the film do imply a patriotic undertone. Films launched in 1942-43 had kept the echo of times in them. Anil Biswas might have been the first music director to use chorus songs for socio-political themes. Moreover Haamari baat was the last film of Devika Rani and Raj Kapoor played a secondary role in this film.

Devanand had not developed his trademark mannerism then. In one of her interviews in the magazine Society (January 1982), she gave a vivid description of how Devanand for the first time expressed his love for her during a shooting for the film Vidya (1948). They were to sing a duet in a boat on a lake. It was a long shot, when he began expressing his love for her, she felt very shy and amused. Her parents liked Dev, but her granny would put her foot down and express her displeasure. To quote Suraiya’s words ‘She was afraid that I would stop working after I got married.’ On another occasion she says ‘We were well to do but we didn’t have that much money, so lalach ho gaya unko.’ Even some directors, friends like cameraman Dwaraka Divecha, Guru Dutt who was his assistant at that time, Durga Khote used to feel sorry for them and used to help them. They had planned to elope and get married. But in the 11th hour, as per Suraiya’s word, she backed out and it was nobody’s fault. She was afraid that Dev would be arrested and jailed.

The first two songs from Jeet by Suraiya seem to reflect the real life situation in her life. Tum meet mere tum pran mere was sweet and wonderful. The songs Kuch phul khile armanon ke and tum man ki pida kya samjho were rendered with feeling and pathos. The duet Chahe kitni kathin dagar ho, ham kadam badate jayenge was also good, but in real life that did not happen. There were three more songs involving Suraiya in this film, two solos and one triad with Geeta Dutt and Vinod.

All the three songs from Do Sitare made good listening and the final lullaby was also superb.

From 1952 on wards, with the rising popularity of Lata Mangeshkar and Suraiya’s dwindling interest in films, there was a downward trend in her career. In 1954 she did make a comeback with Mirza Ghalib, the last flicker before she opted out of the glamour world. In fact Waris (1954) was also a comeback/ rediscovery for Suraiya and Anil Biswas.

To put together a dozen songs of Suraiya is not a tough task. But the actual exquisiteness lies in the arrangement of the songs and the accompanying narration which tells a story. Thank you AKji, for effectively using the limited resources available and presenting a very good post.

In keeping up with spirit, I am presenting these two Anil Biswas-Suraiya’s songs. Thus 17 songs are covered in this post. Out of the remaining 8 songs 7 are available on Youtube. Here are the songs.

Jalne Ke Siwa aur kya hai yahaan, film Gajre (1943)

o sajan dekh is duniya-suraiya, film- Do Sitare (1951)

28 AK February 12, 2014 at 8:37 am

As Subodh mentioned earlier, you are more than compensating for your late visits. You have added some new information about Hamaari Baat.

On Dev Anand-Suraiya, my recollection from Dev Anand’s autobiography is that she was equally besotted with him at the very first sight. For an established actor-singer Suraiya to fall head over heels over the newcomer is the stuff of romance (Dev Anand might have also embellished some of the stories). In their heart-rending sad ending it seems there were, besides her granny, some other pillars of the ‘community’. I am not quoting the source or mentioning names, because some of them are my greatest favourites.

Vintage Suraiya is much more than Anil Biswas. I hope to come to them later. Even with singers with whom Anil Biswas is integrally linked, his songs are not very prolific – for example Talat Mahmood and Mukesh. I presumed he would be very prolific with Amirbai Karnataki, but I was wrong. If we consider 100 songs as a threshold, did he cross this number with Lata Mangeshkar, and any other singer? Since you are statistically minded, you can throw light on this.

Thanks for the two Anil Biswas-Suraiya songs you have added. Some I left consciously as I wanted to present what appeared to me as their best.

29 Krishan Sood March 23, 2014 at 10:06 pm

A masterpiece effort . Who remembers Anil Kumar Mukherjee, Nurjahan ,and all that brilliant music which was lost in history. I am really grateful for bringing in the name of the Poet Gopal Singh Nepali,who died somewhere in 1963 ,a pauper ,when his own couldn’t come for his cremation. grateful and Thanks

30 AK March 24, 2014 at 4:00 am

Thanks a lot for yiour generous words.

31 arvindersharma April 7, 2014 at 5:42 pm

Could not stop myself from naming one AB/Suraiya favourite of mine
‘Kuch bhi na bolenge’ from Waaris.
Anilda has given this beautiful sad song a flavour of ‘Heer’ and the outcome is mesmerising.
A must listen song.

32 AK April 10, 2014 at 6:19 pm

Kuchh bhi na bolenge is a very good song. But I had already overshot ten, and I had included another song from Waaris, which I liked more.

33 Sathya April 11, 2014 at 3:02 pm

An outstanding post and such a great discussion !! Thank you so much for this. Suraiya and Anil Biswas, I feel, are an under-appreciated combination. The quality of their work together is so brilliant.

On the matter of volume- you are totally right. Anilda’s musical association with singers has been inclined predominantly towards Parul Ghosh through most of the 1940s and Lata Mangeshkar starting from 1948 but I think only Lata may have achieved the 100 song mark. Meena Kapoor did get more consistent opportunities with Anilda in the 1950s but dont think there was any soundtrack where she had 4-5 songs or more as Lata had so many times between 1948 and 1955.

I find it surprising that Talat and Mukesh maintain such high profiles in Anilda’s music despite having sung barely 10 songs each for him. (Of course, that each of those songs is worth a treasure is another matter) Even in “Tarana”, there seems to be a notion that Talat and Lata had an equal share. Inclusive of duets, Talat had 3 songs in the film while Lata had 8!!

34 AK April 11, 2014 at 5:26 pm

Thank you for your appreciation. Lata Mangeshkar would have surely crossed 100 with Anil Biswas, but there would be a sharp drop for the next highest singer.

SoY is lucky to have very knowledgeable readers taking active part in discussions.

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