Film songs based on classical ragas (8) – In the royal presence of Darbari

January 21, 2014

Guest article by Subodh Agrawal

(It has now become routine for Subodh to surpass the outstanding.  He is coming back after a long gap.  But if the outcome is this superb piece, we don’t mind his prolonged preparations.  It is interesting to note that while the raga itself has gravitas, the word ‘Darbari’ meaning a ‘courtier’ lends itself to some pejorative connotation, giving rise to some interesting trivia and anecdotes.  Subodh’s explanation of its difference with ragas in close proximity, such as Adana, is scholarly.  Continuing a great beginning to 2014, I present this guest article by Subodh, his 7th in the series on the film songs based on classical ragas.  –  AK)

DarbariDarbari – along with Bhairavi, Yaman and Pahadi – is one of the most commonly used ragas for film music. Having written about Yaman and Pahadi earlier and having enjoyed the experience, I was looking forward to doing this post on Darbari, but my enthusiasm waned considerably after I compiled a list of songs in Darbari in preparation for this article. The songs are good, some of them are great, but few of them really do justice to Darbari. Let me cite just three examples: O duniya ke rakhwale from Baiju Bawra, Dil jalta hai to jalne de from Pehli Nazar and Teri duniya mein dil lagta nahin from Baawre Nain – all three are very good songs but the mood they depict is not what Darbari is meant for. As the name suggests, Darbari has a royal aura about it. There has to be a certain gravitas about it. In my humble opinion it is not meant for the kind of wailing and whining these three songs represent. Composers would be better off using a raga like Todi for such songs.

Let me now touch briefly upon the technicalities of the raga. Readers of Songs of Yore would have seen my earlier post on Malkauns. Malkauns uses only five notes, Darbari uses all seven. You add the missing notes‘re’ and ‘pa’ to the scale of Malkauns, and you have the scale of Darbari. There is one very important difference, however, in the way the two ragas use their scales. As I had mentioned in the earlier article, Malkauns allows a great freedom of interpretation. Once you get the notes right, whatever you do will sound like Malkauns. Darbari, on the other hand, has the same scale as Asavari/Jaunpuri. One has to be very careful about the movement, otherwise one risks straying into the territory of Asavari, Desi and a host of Malhars.

With these opening thoughts let me now present my choice of ten songs in Darbari.

1. Nain heen ko raah dikha prabhu by K L Saigal from Bhakt Surdas (1942), music by Gyan Dutt

Although Saigal departs from Darbari in the last lines of the second stanza, overall this song preserves the mood of Darbari much better than the two Mukesh songs I have mentioned in the opening paragraph. There is entreaty, prayer and pathos, but it is all rendered with a sense of dignity.


2. Hum tujh se mohabbat kar ke sanam by Mukesh from Awara (1952), music Shankar Jaikishan

Most fans of Mukesh – and I count myself as one – would probably not rate this song as high as Dil jalta hai or Teri duniya mein. However I have chosen to include it here because to me it depicts the mood of Darbari better than the other two. There is sorrow, the mood is somber, but like the Saigal song above it is presented with introspection, restraint and dignity.


3. Ae dil mujhe aisi jagah le chal by Talat Mahmood from Arzoo (1950), music Anil Biswas

I am sticking my neck out by including this song in this list as one of most respected sources of classical music on the internet lists this song under Adana. I will cover Adana later in this post and in my opinion the movement of this song is much closer to Darbari than Adana. It may have used a note or two which is forbidden in Darbari but permitted in Adana, but I would not call it Adana on that count alone. This song was included in this year’s first post as the centenary tribute to Anil Biswas. I am sure readers won’t mind its repetition as my personal tribute to the Maestro.


4. Tu pyar ka sagar hai by Manna Dey from Seema (1955), music Shankar Jaikishan

We have all remembered this song, among the best of Manna Dey, as we paid homage to the great singer last year. Of all the songs in this list, this one captures the mood of Darbari the best.


5. Ud ja bhanwar maya kamal by Manna Dey from Rani Roopmati (1959), music S N Tripathi

The first part of this song, sung by Manna Dey, is in Darbari; while the second part in Lata’s voice is in Sarang. This song has already found mention on Songs of Yore – Arvind’s comment # 19 on my first article in this series.


6. Nain se nain milaye rakhne ko by Ustad Fateh Ali Khan and Zahida Parveen from Waada (1957 Pakistan), music Rashid Attre

This is a very interesting composition for Darbari with its energetic rendering and a lighter mood. The opening instrumental sequence is not in Darbari – the raga shows itself only when the vocal begins.


7. Tora man darpan kahlaye by Asha Bhosle from Kaajal (1965), music Ravi

There are two very good songs by Asha in Darbari – this one and Daiya ri daiya laaj mohe lage. I have included this as this is closer to the mood I associate with this raga.


8. Koi matwala aya mere dware by Lata Mangeshkar from Love in Tokyo (1966), music Shankar Jaikishan

I have reached number 8 in this list without a song by Lata – what sacrilege! Let me make up for this by including this dance number. I haven’t seen the movie, so I have no idea how this song fits into the foreign setting of this film. Hopefully some reader would throw light on this.


9. Mitwa laut aaye ri by Manna Dey from Sangeet Samrat Tansen (1962) music S N Tripathi

Hindi film music directors have often misused Manna Dey’s talent for classical singing for flippant songs. Fortunately when it comes to Darbari, they have by and large, avoided this temptation. I say ‘by and large’ because there is a glaring example of this misuse even in Darbari – Pyar ki aag mein tan badan jal gaya. The present song from Sangeet Samrat Tansen does the singer and the raga full justice.


10. Jhanak jhanak tori baaje payaliya by Manna Dey from Mere Huzoor (1968), music Shankar Jaikishan

This song has perhaps the highest recall factor when one thinks of film songs in raga Darbari. I fondly remember a fellow student from my days in IIT Kanpur – a sikh gentleman – who was very fond of this song and sang it with feeling whenever there was a musical evening organized by the students. He made up in enthusiasm whatever he might have lacked in musical subtleties. Before presenting this song he would shyly confess that he would sing two stanzas from the film, and two more that he had composed himself. Unfortunately I don’t recall his name or anything else about him. I would be very happy to know about him if he himself, or someone else who knows him, happens to read this.


That brings me to the end of the list of ten songs in Darbari. I look forward to many more in the comments by learned readers of Songs of Yore.

A few words now about Adana. Darbari and Adana are closely related. They follow the same scale, although occasionally Adana uses the shudh version of ‘ni’. The major difference is in the movement – as would be evident from the examples below. Unlike the slow ponderous movement of Darbari, Adana moves quickly and spends more time in the higher notes. In the words of Rajan Parrikar at Adana is allied to Darbari it jettisons much of the latter’s ponderous baggage…  In contrast to Darbari, Adana is an uttaranga-pradhana raga, lithe and full of gusto.”  I have omitted a politically incorrect part of the comparison; interested readers may visit the original site.

I now present three songs, without any comments, in Raga Adana to illustrate this point. This will also show why I have differed with on the third song in the Darbari list:

1. Jhanak jhanak payal baaje by Ustad Amir Khan from Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje (1955), music Vasant Desai


2. Radhike tune bansuri churayi by Mohammad Rafi from Beti Bete (1964), music Shankar Jaikishan


3. Manmohan man mein ho tumhi by Suman Kalyanpur, Rafi and S D Batish from Kaise Kahoon (1964), music S D Burman


I now present the classical pieces – first in Adana, and then in Darbari. The first piece in Adana is from an album of sitar concertos featuring Pandit Ravi Shankar with London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Andre Previn. The ‘gusto’ of Adana is very much evident in this short piece:


The second and final piece in Adana is the most famous composition in this raga – ‘Mata Kalika’ by Pandit Jasraj. Audience doesn’t permit Panditji to leave the stage without singing this composition in any of his live concerts:


Over to classical pieces in Darbari. Like Malkauns Darbari suits the voice better than the instrument; the male voice better than the female voice. Of the Darbari pieces in female voice I like this rendering of Amir Khusaru’s Yaar e man biya biya (come, my friend) the best. There are several versions of Khusrau’s kalam on Youtube. I have chosen this one after listening to many of them. The uploader has not given the name of the singer but I think it is Kankana Banerjee:


Of all the instruments sarod is probably the best suited for Darbari, given the richness and depth of its sound. This piece by Amjad Ali Khan does ample justice to the raga:


Darbari is normally a raga to be developed at leisure. It is not very easy to establish it in a short piece. But then Bade Ghulam Ali is Bade Ghulam Ali, nothing is difficult for him:


Frankly I am a little disappointed by Ustad Amir Khan’s presentation of Darbari. This raga seems to have been created for his voice and style but for some reason it fails to reach the depth of feeling that Ustad ji’s Marwa or Malkauns evoke. Still, as the Hindi saying goes, haathi dubla hoga bhi to kitna:


I now come to one of the finest available recordings not only of Darbari, but of any classical raga: Dhrupad by the elder Dagar Brothers – Moinuddin Khan and Aminuddin Khan. Dhrupad is an older and purer form of presentation than Khayal, which is more common today. For the first nineteen minutes the Dagar brothers establish the structure of the raga – note by note – through what is popularly known as nom-tom alaap; and then they start the rhythmic composition. My list of the five best commercially available recordings of classical music would include this alongside Amir Khan’s Marwa and Malkauns, Bhimsen Joshi’s Shudh Kalyan and Vilayat and Imrat Khan’s Miyan ki Malhar:

{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ashok M Vaishnav January 21, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Royal welcome to Subodh Agrawal in 2014

2 Arunkumar Deshmukh January 21, 2014 at 7:56 pm

Subodh ji,
Thanks for writing on my favourite Raag. Most serious and sad songs are composed in this Raaga,though this,as you have said,is injustice to this Raaga.That is because it does not justify its glamour in the true sense.
Darbari kanada, or simply Darbari, is a Hindustani raga in the Kanada family, which is thought to have originated in Carnatic music and brought into North Indian music by Miyan Tansen, the legendary 16th century composer in emperor Akbar’s court. This tradition is reflected in the name itself; Darbar is the Persian derived word in Hindi meaning “court.” As the most familiar raga in the Kanada family, it may sometimes also be called Shuddha Kanada or pure Kanada. It belongs to the Asavari thaat.
Some of my favourites in this Raaga are-
1.khayalon mein kisi ke-Mukesh/Geeta in Bawre nain -1950
2.Man mora baawra-Rafi in Raagini-1958 (playback to Kishore)
3.Ab kahan jaayen hum-Manna Dey in Ujala-1959 and
4.Sukh mein sab saathi-Rafi in Gopi-1970

Thanks once again.

3 mumbaikar8 January 21, 2014 at 11:03 pm

Subodhji and Ak,

All I can say is thanks, hun to sirf aam khate hai, kabhi kabhi aap logon ki sangat me ped ginne ki zurrat kar dete hai.
I must confess failed miserably, but still enjoyed it.

ghulam Ali Khananf l

4 AK January 23, 2014 at 10:45 am

When I saw Darbari, I thought of O duniya ke rakhwale. As a lay listener I would have put this and the other two of your rejects Dil jalta hai to jalne de and Teri duniya main dil lagta nahi at the top of my Darbri list.

I also remembered references of Tansen with Darbari, which Arunji has mentioned.

It is interesting that while the Raga is supposed to have a royal aura, the word ‘darbari’, meaning ‘courtier’ has acquired in Hindi a somewhat comical connotation. Shrilal Shukla’s all-time classic ‘Raga Darbari’ is a satirical novel.

I remember a very amusing story in connection with this Raga, narrated by Ustad Amjad Ali Khan in one of his TV interviews. When he was very young, he accompanied his father, Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan, who had been invited by the first President of India, Dr Rajendra Prasad, to one of the ceremonial Rashtrapati Bhavan Receptions. Dr Rajendra Prasad asked Ustad Saheb if he could do anything for him. A simple-hearted and contented Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan replied, “Shukriya, Allah ke karam se sab kuchh hai.” When Rashtrapatiji repeated his offer out of courtesy, the Ustad said, “If you could do something, please do something about Darbari.” A flummoxed Dr Prasad looked for clarification. Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan explained his pleading to him, “Huzoor, aaj kal log Darbari theek se nahi gaa rahe gain. Ise meharbaani kar ke bachaaiye.” Amjad Ali Khan said that his father was so simple-hearted that he really believed that the President of India could do something to save this Raga from distortions.

I have also read somewhere that Vasant Desai had composed the title song Jhanak jhanak payal baaje initially in Darbari, but V Shantaram was not happy with the sombre mood. He wanted a little more verve in the song, and the composer changed it into Adana. While this story explains the relationship between the two Ragas, does it also say something about Ustad Amir Khan and Darbari which you have alluded to?

My compliments again on excellent selection of songs and the classical pieces. Nain se main milaye rakhne ko from the Pakistani film was a revelation. It also had a wonderful dance.

5 AK January 24, 2014 at 6:20 pm

Dear All,
Subodh has informed me that he is traveling and would not be able to respond to the comments before January 29.

6 Naresh P. Mankad January 26, 2014 at 4:33 pm

I remember hearing the majestic short rendering of Darbari by the legendary Ustad Amirkhan for Tansen in Baiju Bavra when that fabled artist is shown doing his riyaaz. It was mesmerizing though I did not know anything about classical music at that age, but the effect is still equally mesmerizing. Without contesting Arunji’s disappointment over Ustad Amirkhan’s Darbari, I would say that he was among the best exponents of that raag, his voice a perfect vehicle for it. Of course he excelled in Marwa too. But if I have to see a Tansen on screen singing Darbari, I cannot think of anybody else’s voice.

7 Anu Warrier January 27, 2014 at 1:38 am

First, I must confess to being a complete ignoramus when it comes to raagas. Despite that, I read your article with great interest, hoping that it would awaken some sense of how to identify one. To no avail. But that has more to do with my tone-deafness than the merits of your article, which as I said, is very very interesting to read. I have come to the sad conclusion that one is either born with a ‘ear’ for music, or one is not. It is not a skill that can be cultivated. (Believe me, I have tried!) Be that as it may, I love the songs that you have listed and have listened to them over and over again. Thank you.

8 Naresh P. Mankad January 27, 2014 at 6:30 am

I guess Subodhji is right about Ay dil mujhe aisi jagah le chal; it is more like Darbari than Adana though the fact that the latter is uttarangpradhan is not enough as the only critera to clear doubts. Darbari’s sombre ‘prakruti’ will also not suffice as some of the songs selected can stir doubts on both counts. We laymen may need more technical assistance.

9 Subodh Agrawal January 29, 2014 at 5:02 pm

Thank you Mr Vaishnav, Mr Deshmukh, AK, Anu, Mumbaikar8 and Mr Mankad. Thanks to Mr Deshmukh for his observations and the songs mentioned by him. AK, thanks a lot for the anecdotes. I can well empathise with Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan. As for Ustad Amir Khan, I guess my expectations from him were rather high. My problem with most of his recordings in Darbari is that his voice sounds tired. The one I have linked in this article is free from this problem and gives one a glimpse of how magical the Amir Khan – Darbari combination can be.

Mr Mankad, you have said all I could have said on the question of ‘Ae dil mujhe…’ being in Darbari or Adana. Let’s hope someone with in depth knowledge of classical music will enlighten us.

10 Pankaj Sharan January 30, 2014 at 8:30 pm

Hello Subodh! And thanks for this delightful choice of songs. I agree fully with your list of classics.

11 Subodh Agrawal January 30, 2014 at 8:42 pm

Thank you Pankaj.

AK, I liked your comment about the meaning of the word ‘darbari’ in the sense of a hanger-on, flatterer or simply a ‘chamcha.’ Rag Darbari is a classic. I read it with pleasure years back. The TV serial based on it didn’t quite do it justice. Shree Lal Shukla was my father’s colleague in the UP Civil Service and later in the IAS. I met him very briefly once.

12 SSW February 2, 2014 at 10:11 pm

Ravi did not seem to move away much from his home comforts of Pahadi but there is another Darbari of his that I like a lot. “Raha Gardishon mein hardam” from Do Badan..

I’d like to present a Darbari from a Carnatic perspective by a wonderful music director who unfortunately was unknown to most Indians. This is a different treatment of Darbari sung by Yesudas and Chitra.

Another one by Yesudas and Chitra both at the top of their game. An even more different treatment , and great instrumentation. I sometimes felt that Chitra shaded Yesudas a bit in this. I like Shiva being juxtaposed with the churches.

13 AK February 3, 2014 at 9:46 am

Raha gardishon mein is a fabulous song. Sivadam Sivanamam is too good. It reminded me of Roja‘s Ye hasten waadiyan ye khula asmaan, which also had Chitra, but with SP Balasubrahmanyam, another terrific singer. Was AR Rahman the music director of the film Mazhavallu too?

14 Subodh Agrawal February 3, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Thank you SSW for Sivadam Sivanamam. It is a different interpretation of Darbari. And yes, as AK says, it does remind one of ‘Yeh hasin wadiyan’ from Roja.

Personally I am not very fond of ‘Raha gardishon mein hardam’ for the same reason I mentioned at the beginning of the article.

15 SSW February 3, 2014 at 11:32 pm

Hello AK, Subodh..
Thanks for responding. I actually like the first link I posted the song from Amaram more than Sivatham. The treatment of Darbari in Sivatham is more closely allied to the southern mode whereas the song Azhake is a love song which is different, plus the way it flows makes it quite sing , you have to breathe at the right moments. Sivatham I do like but the vocal histrionics aside as a tune it is in a recognizable mould. Its the instrumentals that make it different to me. The music director is Mohan Sitara who is quite a successful MD in Malayalam and if you wish to see a direct influence I would say it is more Illayaraja than Rahman. It is interesting that the Roja in Tamil and Yodha in Malayalam were Rahman’s first films, in that he was composing music for them simultaneously. I don’t think Rahman has worked in Malayalam again. This is a more traditional treatment of Darbari in Malayalam and it is a very well known song. But again it is not whiny so that should satisfy Subodh. The lyrics are lovely.

I think for denoting sadness in Malayalam folks tend to use Shubha Panthuvarali (just my opinion and it is possible that I am wrong) . That is a raga, I love but I don’t associate it with sadness. In Hindustani it is like Todi but not quite, probably a mix of Todi and Poorvi. I’m not knowledgeable enough to elaborate.

16 SSW February 4, 2014 at 3:44 am

I’m sorry I usually type away too quickly with complete disregard for grammar and punctuation . So slowing down a bit, the interesting parts to me in “Shivatham Shivanamam” are the use of violin tremolos and the elemental flute pieces. The flute is deliberately blown into hard but just above the sound hole to create that wind effect. I’ve not heard this very often in Hindi films but I have heard Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia do it quite often in a live concert. Again the use of the mridangam in collusion with the drums (octopad?) is quite interesting.
The MD in the last song I posted is a very well known composer in Malayalam. G Devarajan. In this song I feel that he used Yesudas’s voice like a nadaswaram it is so distinct.

17 Subodh Agrawal February 4, 2014 at 8:35 am

SSW, I somehow skipped ‘Azhake nin’ last time, assuming that the link refers to the embedded video. I heard it now and yes, it sounds really good. Thanks. Aayram Paadasarangal is much closer to the usual North Indian treatment of Darbari. Unfortunately I had no clue to the lyrics.

I heard a piece of Subha Panthuvarali on Youtube. It sounds almost exactly like Todi. I guess what makes it more suitable to express pathos is the use of komal ‘re’ as opposed to the shudh ‘re’ of Darbari (Hindustani terminology).

Thanks again for your comments and links. I enjoyed listening again to the linked pieces after reading your analysis. Look forward to your continued contribution on SoY.

18 SSW February 4, 2014 at 10:54 pm

Thanks Subodh, I shall sign off with this link in Darbari Kanada

The singer is not Indian , when I was a young boy I heard him and heard people talk about him. He was American, born in Massachusetts the state where I reside now. While people can always nitpick on exact pronounciations etc, I think this is quite amazing to come from one completely different music tradition and adapt. Tragically he was killed by a drunken motorist in a hit and run accident at the age of 45.

19 SSW February 4, 2014 at 10:56 pm

For some reason the embedding code did not work so…

20 SSW February 4, 2014 at 10:57 pm

Oh well back to the standard link…..That will work.

21 Subodh Agrawal February 5, 2014 at 6:58 am

Thank you SSW. Jon Higgin’s interpretation of Darbari is very good. But for the slightly odd pronunciation one wouldn’t have guessed he is not an Indian.

22 AK February 5, 2014 at 7:37 am

I have embedded the link.

Jon Higgins’ Darbari Kanada is fabulous. I din’t even notice if there was anything odd in the pronunciation. Thanks a lot for sharing.

23 N Venkataraman February 10, 2014 at 8:11 pm

Namaskar. My visits to SoY are not regular as it used to be. Some personal matters which needs more of my time continues to keep me tied up. I managed to squeeze some (enough) time in between. Visiting your post, listening to the songs and the classical numbers therein and reading the article was a welcome diversion. Thanks Subodhji for yet another excellent post.

To begin with, the 10 film songs you have presented in Raag Darbari, are good, but could not satiate my appetite for this majestic Raag. The fault does not lie with your selection of songs. You have rightly pointed out that these songs are good, some are great, but few of them do real justice to Darbari. You have said it all. I will be repeating your viewpoint in a different language. It is difficult to fully evolve the inherent grandeur, philosophical depth and emotional richness of this Raag in compositions lasting 3 to 5 minutes. Moreover the composition will have to cater to the situation of the songs. Within these constraints, the composers have done a decent job in maintaining the dignity of the Raag. I enjoyed all the ten songs especially the songs Nain heen ko raah dikha prabhu, Tu pyar ka sagar hai , Ud ja bhanwar maya kamal, Tora man darpan kahlaye and Mitwa laut aaye ri. Besides Manna Dey, I find Mukesh too had rendered many film songs in Darbari.

I would like to present a few more film songs based on this Raag.

I feel the song Sarfaroshi ki tamanna is also a good representation of Darbari in film music. The sarod interlude is also pleasing.

Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamaare dil mein hai by Md.Rafi, Manna Dey and others, film Saheed (1965), lyrics and music Prem Dhawan

A post on Darbari without Naushad! The next number may represent ‘the wailing and whining kind’, but this song in ‘Naat’ style is good.

Beech Bhanwar mein by Suraiya, film Dard(1947), lyrics Shaqeel Badayuni, music Naushad

It seems Naushad had a fascination for this Raag, Let us listen to his composition for the film Anokhi ada.

Kabhi dil dil se takrata to hoga by Mukesh, film Anokhi Ada (1948), lyrics Saqeel Badayuni, music Naushad

How does this Shamsad Begum’s version compare with Mukesh’s version?

The three film songs in Raag Adana were pleasing and enjoyable. It may be argued that Adana is better suited than Darbari for the shorter version/ film songs. In reference to the song Jhanak jhanak payal baje, here is an interesting anecdote, from the book “Hindi film songs: Music beyond boundaries” by Ashok Da Ranade. I quote:

‘The music nuance that mattered’ – ‘Vasant Desai was composing for V Shantaram’s prestigious Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje. He composed one fine tune in Raag Darbari eminently suited to Ustad Amir Khan’s voice and temperament for the title song “Jhanak jhanak payal baje”. The recording was over and everybody but V Shantaram was satisfied! Shantaram called Desai to his cabin and expressed his disapproval! Desai was stunned – such a beautiful recording! But he thought for a while and shifted Raag from Darbari to Adana – otherwise making minimum changes in music. As everybody knows, these two Raags have the same scale but Adana accentuates the upper half of the octave while the soul of Darbari is located in the lower half. The shift emphasis did the trick as the song immediately sounded brighter and became appropriate for credit titles! Shantaram was, of course, thrilled and Desai marvelled at the beauty of the Hindustani Raag system.”

At one level the Raag Darbari reveals its Gambhirya swaroop, at another level the pathos and the poignancy of the Raag evokes a feeling of Vairagya, a mood for solitude and seclusion. This creates a profound emotional impact, whereas Raag Adana is beautiful, alluring but frivolously restless. With the upward movement from Madhyam or Pancham of the Madhya saptak to the Tar Saptak one can establish a rapport with the Raag and can attain immense pleasure but not the heavenly bliss to which Raag Darbari can elevate.

But, I would like to add that in the voice or hands of great sadhaks, Adana or for that matter any Raag can attain greater heights. The presentation of Raag Desh by Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, which you had posted in your previous article, holds testimony to this fact.

Coming back to Raag Darbari, here is an instance where Music Director Naushad effectively used this Raag for the title music of the magnum opus movie Mughal-e- Azam.

Your sequential positioning of the film songs in Darbari (10) and then in Adana (3), followed by the classical numbers (2 +5) in reverse order was appropriate in building up the tempo and ascent.

Moving on to the Classical part, both the numbers in Adana were good. But I would have preferred an earlier version of ‘Maata Kaalika. Let us listen to another version by Pt. Maniram and Pt. Jasraj. Please note how Pt. Maniram traverses the upper octave with ease. The actual composition starts after 10:45. Listeners interested to know more about Mewati gharana’s style can listen from the beginning.

The opening Amir Khusaru’s composition in Darbari set to 12 beats and rendered by Kankana Banerjee was an excellent short piece.

The half hour aalap and jor by Ustad Amjad Ali Khan carried all the characteristics of Raag Darbari and set the right mood and brought out all the finer nuances of the Raaga.

On listening to the excellent teentaal drut bandish by Ustad Bade Ghulam Alim Khan, it seemed like he had picked up where the Aalap had ended and took the rendition, a few steps further and with it our expectations.

Ustad Aamir Khan’s Vilambit Khayal set to 10 beats might not have touched the expected heights, but no doubt the rendition was quite good. Yes, his voice showed signs of strain and exertion in some places, especially between the pancham of Madhya saptak and rishab of tara saptak, May be he was not in his best of health and elements. But that happens. But as you have said Ustad Aamir Khan is Aamir Khan. Another thought comes to my mind. Had the vilambit been set to a slow 14 beats may be the rendition could have touched the expected heights. For those who do not have the time to listen long Aalaps and vilambits I am posting two clippings to get the flavour of Raag Darbari.

Raag Darbari Sargam by Ustad Aamir Khan

A short portion of Vilambit set to 14 beats in Raag Darbari by Ustad Aamir Khan

Finally the ultimate Darbari reveals itself in its full grandeur and pristine beauty. This Dhrupad aalap rendition represents all the finer nuances of this Raag- andolans, elongations/meends, gamaks, vakra sanchars-everything that Darbari stands for.

Darbari is a difficult Raag to master. It needs to be maturely approached with utmost respect and devotion. Slowly one has to explore its special characters, soulfully understand the nuances and surrender oneself to its Ghambir nature. Then only this Raag will reveal itself in its full glory and yield and respond to one’s dignified plea. At every step one has to handle this Raag with utmost care and then the Raag in response will yield itself to the seeker’s custody. Finally the sublime and blissful communion happens. The seeker and the sought merge into one and transcend the earthly confines, enter into the heavenly Darbar.

Thank you once again.

Now let me to present my other favourite number in Raag Darbari.

Ustad Nazakat Ali and Ustad Salalamat Ali – Vilambit set 14 beats and Dhrut set to 16 beats

Ustad Imrat Khan on Surbahar , Aalap

24 Subodh Agrawal February 11, 2014 at 8:40 am

‘Der ayad, durust ayad!’ Mr Venkataraman, you made us wait for your comments this time but you made it worth the wait. As usual your comment has at least doubled the value of my post. Thanks.

Special thanks for reminding me of ‘Sarfaroshi ki tamanna’ – a song I loved when the movie was first released. Suraiya’s ‘Beech bhanwar mein’ was new for me and a very pleasant discovery. Both versions of ‘Kabhi dil dil se takrata to hoga’ are excellent. I find it interesting that Naseem Bano and Shamshad Begum manage to give it a playful air while using the same tune.

Both AK and I were not happy with the clip of ‘Mata Kalika’ used in the post – we have heard much better in live concerts – but we couldn’t find a better one. Your link makes up for it and gives us a bonus of many other ragas. It also reminds me that the composition is by Maharana Jaiwant Singh Vaghela of Sanand, who was himself a gifted musician.

The two clips of Ustad Amir Khan are short but give us more than a glimpse of what a complete development of this majestic raga could be like in his voice during his younger days. I have always been fond of Salamat-Nazakat but felt that their singing style is better suited to ragas with a cheerier mood. Imrat Khan’s piece on Surbahar was a happy discovery for me. Surbahar is, in fact, even better than Sarod for Darbari.

Thanks again for your valuable contribution to this post.

25 A February 15, 2014 at 11:35 am

Glad I discovered your blog! Tuppence from my side..

Mohabbat Ki Jhoothi Kahaani Pe Roye – Mughal-e-Azam (1960)
Yaad Mein Teri Jaag Jaag ke Hum – Mere Mehboob (1963)
Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna – Shaheed (1965)
Guzre Hain Aaj Ishq Mein – Dil Diya Dard Liya (1966)

And the crowning glory in Milan (1957) by the lesser known Hansraj Behl (don’t mistake it for the 1967 Milan by LP!)..such haunting melody and heartbreakingly sung by Lata. How can India forget Hansraj Behl, if for nothing else, for this beautiful song – Haaye Jiya Roye..

26 AK February 15, 2014 at 1:18 pm

Same here. You write a very interesting blog. My compliments.

Haye jiya roye – you struck a chord. Of late, I and a friend have been discussing this song endlessly, and trying to figure out which raga it was, neither of us having much technical knowledge. Now that you say it, of course, I can see its similarity to other songs in Darbari. Now it goes on the top of my list in this raga.

27 Subodh Agrawal February 15, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Thanks A. for your comments and links. I second AK’s comment about your blog.

‘Haye jiya roye’ is a indeed a great song. I hadn’t heard it before. Thanks for uncovering this lost gem for me. It has a somewhat unconventional treatment of Darbari – with occasional glimpses of Asavari/Jaunpuri – but this much musical licence is the norm for film industry, particularly when the end result is so good.

28 Subodh Agrawal June 9, 2014 at 5:19 pm

Heard this one for the first time: ‘Binati karat mori’ from ‘Ram Hanuman Yudh’:

29 Deepika July 20, 2014 at 10:38 pm

Hello !

Durbari Kanad is my mostest favouritest ragas. And this post was a treat !
I have been a regular follower of your website and when I saw this post a few months, i was thrilled! 🙂

What i loved the most was that you gave links to some amazing classical pieces as well, such as the one of Kankana Bannerjee. And its so beautiful that the followers of this website are adding to the wonderful experience : when I discovered the link to Nazakat & Salamat Ali’s Durbari Kanad rendition, in one of the links above. It is one of the most mind blowing stuff i have seen. Thanks to Venkatramanji for this.

And a big thanks to both of you for bringing alive this Gandharv-ik experience.

Best Regards,

ps: Pls do a post on Raag Bhimpalasi (too many fav songs in that too!)

30 Subodh Agrawal July 21, 2014 at 7:33 am

Thank you Deepika. You are right about the links added by followers of the blog – they enhance the value of the blog post. Mr Venkataraman’s comments, in particular, are worth an independent post on their own. I am very thankful to you and all others who have encouraged me to continue with this series.

I will have to do some research on Bhimpalasi. I am not aware of many songs on this raga – the ones I know are outstanding. Right now some other ragas are on my list. Watch this space!

31 N Venkataraman July 21, 2014 at 10:46 am

Deepika ji,
I am glad that you enjoyed the post and the Salamat-Nazakat rendition.
Thank you Subodh ji for your bighearted comments.
I too am eagerly looking forward to Subodh ji’s next post.

32 Kamlesh Kapur July 22, 2014 at 9:41 am

The following 4 songs come to my mind;
Hari tum haro jan ki bhir by M.S. Subelakshami
Tera khyal dil se bhulaiya nahin abhi, film Doraha
Hale dil yoon unhe sunaya gaya- film Jahanara
Bulbulo mat ro jahan- film Zeenat
What do you all think about these songs?

33 latha July 25, 2014 at 10:21 am

Hi Subodhji & AK,
What was I doing all these days wasting my time here & there without knowing about this portal, missing all the fun, sharing music with a like minded community ? Anyways, as somebody said here, “Der aayi par durusth aayi”.
Thanks a lot for all the songs & information about the royal raag Darbaari.
I love this simple Meera Bhajan sung by MS Subbulakshmi (In the film she has acted for this song as Meera when she was young) set to Adi taal (Ek taal in Hindustani). This song somehow brings tears to my eyes just like all her songs. The beauty of this song is that any lay person can learn & sing this Meera Bhajan. No complications.

To remove the complaint of Subodhji that this lovely raga is used only for pathos, I add 2 video links from YouTube.
One is “Malare Mounama” from the film Karna composed by MD, Vidyasagar. It is absolutely romantic.

Another is a malayalam song, “manimuttathavani panthal” from the film “Dreamz”. Also composed by MD, Vidyasagar, the song is sumg by Jesudoss & Sujata. The beatings make it an absolute delight to listen & enhances the mood.

Hope it is Darbari kanada. Correct me if I’m wrong. How I wish I had an instrument to check before posting. I guess now that I’ve joined this group, I should at least buy a bulbul tarang to check the ragas.
Hope you like the songs.
Bye until next time.

34 Subodh Agrawal July 25, 2014 at 5:25 pm

Thanks Kamlesh Kapur ji. You have mentioned ‘Hari tum haro jan ki bhir’. Latha ji in her comments has given a link to it. Thank you both for jogging an old memory. I had read an article by Subbulakshmi’s close relative about this song. It was a favourite of Gandhiji. One 30th January 1948 Subbulakshmi was listening to the radio when the news of the assassination broke. The announcement was followed by this bhajan in her voice, making Subbulakshmi faint.

‘Tera khayal dil se’ does have the mood of Darbari, but it doesn’t stay close to the standard movement. An excellent song, nevertheless. ‘Hal-e dil yun unhen sunaya gaya’ sounds to me like Kamod grafted on a base of Darbari. Whatever it is, the combination works. ‘Bulbulo mat ro yahan’ is regular Darbari. Thank you for introducing me to it.

Welcome to the family Latha ji. I have already mentioned ‘Hari tum haro..’ above. The other two links are delightful. They remind me a lot of ‘Yeh hansin wadiyan, yeh khula aasman’ from Roja. North Indian music directors should take a cue from them. Thanks for these links.

35 Kamlesh Kapur July 25, 2014 at 7:40 pm

Historically, this Raga was Kanad (Kanrha). Just as Kathak was millennia old style of story telling (kathakaar), both the Raga and the dance style became part of courtesan dancing and singers singing in Durbaars. During the Mughal period, it became Darbari Kanada.
It is my most favorite raga.
Bhimplasi Raga, Beena madhur madhur kuchh gaye, film Ramrajya, jalate hain jis ke liye, film Sujata come to my mind.

36 N Venkataraman July 25, 2014 at 11:24 pm

Subodh ji,
I was about to ask you about the two songs Tera khyal dil se bhulaiya nahin abhi and Hale dil yoon unhe sunaya gaya, because it seemed to my ears that they were not exactly Darbari. Thank you for your comments.

The participation of young and new people in this blog always gladdens my heart. Jignesh’s reappearance mad me happy. And I would like to see Deepika ji, Latha ji and Kamalesh ji more often.

I too agree that both the songs Malare Mounama in Tamil and Manimuttathavani panthal in Malayalam are lovely compositions. Wonderful orchestration too. But that is SSW JI area. If he would come in and give his opinion it would be wonderful.

In Carnatic music most of the traditional compositions are in the Raag Kanada. In Durbari of the North and the Kanada of the South the difference lies in the handling of the Gandhar and Dhaivat and Dhaivat is Suddh in Kanada. But in light music and in film music they very often use Durbari of the North. In fact in some songs we can find a smooth merger of the two and trying to find the purity of either of the Raag, in such situations is not necessary. Please listen to this song,

Mullai malar mele by T M Sounderarajan and P Susheela, film Uttama Puthiran (1958), lyrics marthkasi, music G Ramanathan

Over to you Subodh Ji for your comments.

37 Subodh Agrawal July 26, 2014 at 7:53 am

Thanks for your comments Mr Venkataraman and the excellent link. The movement is indistinguishable from Darbari in the use of re-ga-ma-pa but differs substantially in pa-dha-ni-sa region – as one would expect. A very pleasing song. Thanks again.

38 latha July 26, 2014 at 10:13 am

Thanks Subodhji for your prompt reply.
The song of MS which Mahatma Gandhi asked her to sing is “Vaishnava janato” which was added in his daily bhajan. Though Gandhiji & the whole Nehru family (“I’m after all a Prime Minister. But she (MS) is the queen of music – Pundit Nehru) including Mrs Indira Gandhi & Rajiv Gandhi were her ardent fans & when Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated, the film ‘Meera’ starring MS was telecasted by Doordarshan as a shraddhanjali for our former PM.
To Venkataramanji
‘Mullai malar mele’ starring the beautiful Padmini & Sivaji Ganeshan was a treat to watch.
To everybody in songsofyore family,
Yaara sili sili from Gulzar’s ‘Lekin’ sung by Lata Mangeshkar, composed by Hridayanath Mangeshkar ia one of my favourites.
Tere Dar Pe Aaya Hun, Kuchh Karke Jaunga – Laila Majnu – Madan Mohan – also seems to be Darbari kanada.
‘Jogi aaya’ composed and sung by Sukhwinder Singh along with Sadhana Sargam in the film, “Black & white” (2008), also sounds like Darbari. I’m posting the link here :

A R Rahman has composed a very soft number, “Kaatre en vaasal vandaai” in the film ‘Rhythm’ enacted by the beautiful pair Jyotika & Arjun in the desert of Rajasthan along with camels & tribals. (Another happy song for you in this raag, Subodhji) Take a look….

Last but not least, I must add this which was introduced to me by my late mother who was tremendously interested in classical music just like my father, rest of the family & extended families on both sides. (That explains why I am called ‘latha’)

This song, “Kalyaana thenila” from the film ‘mounam sammatham’ is sung by Jesudoss & Chitra & composed by MD, Ilayaraja, enacted by the handsome pair Mammootty & Amla on screen.
Generally Darbari kanada in south Indian films is treated as soft & happy numbers.

What a wonderful “khazana” our forefathers & parents have left for us ! No amount of material wealth can substitute this wealth for soul that they have left for us which we should cherish & pass on to the next generation. Nothing makes us forget the mundane matters of the world & transport us to a divine world like music esp., Indian classical. I feel lucky to be born in this part of the world.

39 devendra February 26, 2015 at 3:51 am

there are quite a few (more) songs based on Bhimpalasi raga. they are popular too…for example “aeri meito prem diwani mera dard na jaane koi.” By the way it is a delight to surf on this web site.

40 Subodh Agrawal February 26, 2015 at 4:44 pm

Thank you Devendra. Bhimpalasi does have many songs in films and ‘Aeri main to prem diwani’ is one of the best.

41 Kamlesh Kapur February 28, 2015 at 9:42 am

In an earlier comment, it is mentioned that Darbari means Courtesan. Actually, Darbari means connected with Darbar, pertaining to Darbar etc.
Example, Darbari ailam, Darbari hukmnama. Darbari does not mean courtesan. Just a minor correction.
Forgetting the knitty- gritty, Aam khane se kaam hai, guthali todhne se nahi.

42 Subodh Agrawal February 28, 2015 at 5:49 pm

Thanks Kamlesh Kapur. The word used by AK in his comment is ‘courtier’ and not ‘courtesan’. Darbari is used in the sense of courtier and has a pejorative connotation in this context – a euphemism for ‘chamcha’. Yes, of course, it also means ‘relating to court matters.’

43 Devendra February 28, 2015 at 11:33 pm

With all subtle differences about raga Darbari, one thing is sure. I t is one of few majestic raagas in Hindustani classical sangeet. very impressive and spellbinding. devendra

44 Subodh Agrawal March 1, 2015 at 7:57 am

Thank you Devendra

45 Ashwin Bhandarkar June 14, 2015 at 7:44 am

‘Ja main tose naahi bolun’ from Sautela Bhai by Lata (MD: Anil Biswas/Lyrics: Shailendra) is a masterpiece of a composition that has a lot of Adana in it. IMO,the drut khayal portion in Ektaal is in Adana-Bahar while the dadra portion is in Gara. There is a jhalak of Bhairavi at the end as well. I like the dancing, the picturization and the slick editing too.

Most folks will be familiar with Pandita Padmavati Shaligram-Gokhale’s recording of the thumri/dadra in Bhairavi with the same mukhda – it used to be a Vividh Bharati favourite in the 70’s and 80’s. Unfortunately, I could not find it on YouTube but I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon this version sung by her. Sounds like a variant of Gara/Pilu to my ears:

Coming back to Adana Bahar, one wouldn’t expect a tappa in it, but here is one by Pandita Siddheshwari Devi herself:

46 AK June 14, 2015 at 2:07 pm

Ashwin Bhandarkar,
Thanks a lot for linking two beautiful pieces by Padmavati Shaligram-Gokhale and Sidheshwari Devi.

47 Ashwin Bhandarkar June 14, 2015 at 3:49 pm

My pleasure , AKji.

Here are two sterling Adana renditions. The first one is a chaturang by Vidushi Veena Sahasrabuddhe. The chaturang is a composition that incorporates four ‘angas’, as denoted by its name. These are bol, sargam, tarana bol and pakhawaj bol.

The second rendition is by Vidushi Malini Rajurkar and features a chhota khayal followed by a tirvat. The tirvat is similar to the tarana with the difference that the former uses the ‘bols’ of the pakhawaj. In this recording, the tirvat starts at 9:28.

48 Subodh Agrawal June 14, 2015 at 4:39 pm

Thank you Mr Bhandarkar for the wonderful links. The energy of Adana and its variants is infectious in the pieces by Malini Rajurkar, Veena Sahasrabuddhe and Siddheshwari Devi. The piece by Padmavati Shaligram is a bonus.

Thanks also for the analysis of ‘Ja main to se nahin bolun’. I sensed it wasn’t quite Adana, but didn’t know exactly what it was. I kept thinking of Nayaki Kanada, Suha and Sughrai – all of them sound very similar to me.

49 K.gyan April 7, 2016 at 8:33 pm

A ver well written article Subodh..I must compliment you that its interesting even to people like me who have absolutely no knowledge about music…thank u very much

50 RSR December 27, 2016 at 3:10 pm

To me, ‘Hari Thum Haro’ by MS (1947-78 RPM) is the reference for Darbari Kanada. . Manna Dey’s ‘Thu pyar ka saagar’ in Seema does not sound like Darbari Kanada. but Rafi’s ‘ Ye Duniya ke rakwale’ is definitely Darbari Kanada. I request Subodhji to clarify the ragam of Seema masterpiece. For tamil film fans (of yore), ‘nee varavilaiyenil aathravaedhu ‘ in Mangaiyar thilakam (Padmini as Sivaji ganesan’s elder brother’s wife) .

51 Subodh Agrawal January 9, 2017 at 1:29 am

Thank you K.gyan.

RSR, ‘Tu pyaar ka saagar hai’ would probably not pass a rigorous test for Darbari, but film songs are like that – with a few exceptions they take some liberties with ragas. No quarrel with ‘O duniya ke rakhwale’ being in Darbari. The reason I didn’t include is mentioned at the beginning of the piece: I dislike the use of Darbari for songs of wailing and whining!

52 Naresh P. Mankad February 10, 2017 at 3:46 pm

I wonder how I missed mentioning the melodious Darbar song composed by Sudhir Phadke for film Bhabhi ki Chudiyan. It is ideally suited to voice of Mukesh: Tum se hi ghar ghar kahlaya.

53 Subodh Agrawal February 11, 2017 at 3:53 am

Thank you Mr Mankad. Heard this song after a long time. It is very faithful to the Raga.

54 Ashwin Bhandarkar February 12, 2017 at 1:02 pm

Subodhji: Am sure you will love this Marathi bhavgeet, one of Lata’s earliest. It stays largely faithful to Darbari:

‘Tuza swapni paahile re gopala’

55 Subodh Agrawal February 12, 2017 at 1:33 pm

Thank you Mr Bhandarkar. This song is new for me, and yes it is quite faithful to Darbari.

56 Naresh P. Mankad February 16, 2017 at 4:13 pm

Aren’t we forgetting the hugely appealing ghazal singer Ghulam Ali? Hungama hai kyun barpa, chupke chupke raat din, apni dhun men rahta hun. Please confirm. Of course, the ghazal singers often veer away from the main base for the sake of harkat and display of virtuosity.

57 Kamlesh Kapur February 17, 2017 at 4:06 am

Kabhi kaha na kisi se tere fasane ko , I have a strong feeling that Gulam Ali sings it in Darbari.
On a different note, G. M. Durani’s Neend hamari khwab tumahre’ from Nai kahani
Is it Bharavi?

58 Subodh Agrawal February 17, 2017 at 10:50 am

Naresh P Mankad@56: Apni dhun mein rehta hoon has something recalling Darbari but I didn’t hear much of it in Hungama kyun hai barpa.

59 Subodh Agrawal February 17, 2017 at 10:56 am

Kamlesh Kapur@57: Darbari is heard more clearly, with many diversions of course, in Kabhi kaha na kisi se.

Neend hamari khwab tumhare sounds somewhat like Bhairavi. Bhairavi was very popular around this time and most of the well known songs follow the standard interpretation of the raga closely. This one doesn’t get so easily categorized. The sargam in a child’s voice is not Bhairavi as I understand it.

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