Guest article by Ashok M Vaishnav
(Many talented music personalities from regional films/languages enriched Hindi film music. Some achieved great name and fame in Hindi films, especially those from Bengal, such as SD Burman, Hemant Kumar and Salil Chaudhary, or in the Vintage Era, RC Boral and Pankaj Mullick; or from Marathi, such as C Ramchandra or Vasant Desai, or in the Vintage Era, Keshavrao Bhole etc. Some others, especially from Gujarat, could not replicate their success they had in their native language. Avinash Vyas is one such case. Highly talented, and the Pole Star of Gujarati film music, commercial success eluded him in the fickle world of Hindi films. Our familiar expert, Ashokji, is paying a tribute to this genius on his death anniversary, August 20. – AK)
Avinash Vyas (21 July 1912 – 20 August 1984), true to his name, Avinash, has left indelible mark on the world of Gujarati sugam (light) music, through around 10000+ songs. He composed music for over 190 Gujarati films (around 1200 songs). His songs covered a very wide panorama of subjects and moods. He can be single-handedly considered to have pioneered roping in almost the entire front ranking playback singers from Hindi Film World for the Gujarati film and / or non-film songs.
Having had the base of training in music under the wings of Ustad Allaudin Khan Saheb, he rubbed shoulders with Ustad Alla Rakha (A R Qureshi) for Hindi Films in his initial days. Avinash Vyas’s maiden film was in Hindi – Mahasati Anasuya (1943), jointly with A R Quereshi. After the teething struggles, the first major commercial breakthrough came in 1948 with the film Gunsundari, done in Hindi and Gujarati.
On Avinash Vyas’s anniversary, 20th August, we take a look at his association with Hindi Hindi Film Songs by different playback singers.
Avinash Vyas is considered to be largely instrumental in Geeta Dutt singing more songs in Gujarati than her native Bengali language. Probably the great popularity of Geeta Dutt’s songs from Avinash Vyas’s mythological films, like Aaj nahin to kal from Nagmani (1957) brought more of that genre of Geeta Dutt songs in Avinash Vyas’s Hindi films during early 50s. But the commercial popularity in one direction did not deter him from using Geeta Dutt for diverse range of songs, such as this lullaby
So ja re mere laal by Geeta Dutt from Aadhi Roti (1957), lyrics Bharat Vyas
We have to look at quantitative work or the period of active career of other “known” music directors of the HFM – Khayyam (around 40 films), Roshan (around 57 films), Salil Chaudhary (around 70 films) – to truly appreciate Avinash Vyas’s contribution of around 62 films from 1943 till almost end (1984-85). But the ruthless Lady of Luck of HFM seemed to consign Avinash Vyas to the vicious circle of low-budget mythological films, with sprinkling of some social or historical films, more as an exception to support the rule.
However, these adversities could not restrain his creativity. Avinash Vyas continued to experiment with almost every major singer. Here is some of the wide range of songs with equally diverse range of female playback singers:
Ek dharti hai ek hai gagan by Meena Kapoor from Adhikar (1954), lyrics Neelkanth Tiwari
Koi dukhiyaari aayi tere dwar by Sudha Malhotra from Andheri Nagri Chaupat Raja (1955), lyrics Bharat Vyas
Tere bangle ki main maina, a mujra by Shamshad Begum from Bhakt Raj (1960), lyrics Bharat Vyas
Ritu anokhi pyar anokha by Zohra Ambalewali from Har Har Mahadev (1950)
Chamak rahe tare by Madhubala Jhaveri from Rajrani Damyanti (1952), lyrics Neelkanth Tiwari
Avinash Vyas, probably because of budgetary constraints, seems to have used mainstream playback singers rather sparingly. But wherever he did use them, his work stood out among the contemporary work of other composers.
Here is one example of his Lata Mangeshkar song
Ja re badal ja from Kailashpati (1962)
By 1953, within just a decade of his entry to the Hindi Film World, he already seemed to have created a name. He was entrusted with composing the Gujarati piece in the multilingual song of the film ‘Teen Batti Char Rasta’ @ 4.0, wherein he has used Asha Bhosle in such a delightful light mood. He has been able to present Asha Bhosle in the pensive mood also in the next song when he could get his chance to compose songs for social films, sometime by 1954. He certainly did not fail to show his mettle to handle very light social subjects through songs like
Sun bhi le Paravardigar dil ki itni si pukar from Malika-e-Aalam Noorjahan (1954), lyrics Keshav Trivedi
B.A., M. A., B. Ed. by Asha Bhosle and Chorus from Adhikaar (1954)
And through all typical Kishore Kumar mannerisms in
Tikadam baazi tikadam bazi.. miya razi bibi razi by Kishore Kumar from Adhikar (1954)
Avinash Vyas seemed to be equally comfortable in composing male songs, be it for mythological or social or historical situations –
Tere dwar khada Bhagwan by Pradeep from Waman Avtar (1955) lyrics Pradeep
Pollam poll by Mohammad Rafi from Laxmi (1957), lyrics Qamar Jalabadi
Jane di kismat ki naav by Manna Dey and chorus from Bhagyawan (1953), lyrics Ramesh Gupta
And his urge to experiment with different male playback singers too, within the constraints that surrounded his creativity, is clearly visible in these songs:
Bade bade dhoondhe pahaad by Hemant Kumar from Jagatguru Shankaracharya (1955), lyrics Bharat Vyas
Deep jal raha hai by Talat Mahmood from Andheri Nagri Chaupat Raja (1955), lyrics Bharat Vyas
He can be seen to have handled duets also very well:
Ek baar to mil lo gale by Talat Mahmood and Sudha Malhotra from Andheri Nagri Chaupat Raja (1955)
Tim tima tim taare by Mukesh and Sulochana Kadam from Har Har Mahadev (1950)
The period of 1951 to 1962 can be considered as the peak of Avinash Vyas’s tryst with Hindi Films – more than half of a total of 62 of his Hindi Films belong to this period. 1957 had 7 films under his baton, and 1954, 1955 and 1958 saw 5 each – almost a third of his total films during these 4 years. By that time he had a mega blockbuster Gujarati film – Mahendi Rang Lagyo (1960). That probably got his focus shifted to Gujarati Cinema. During the latter part of 60s through 70s, Gujarati Films saw (literally) a single-track era of folk subjects. Avinash Vyas, of course, was the cornerstone of these films. He leveraged his now undisputed popularity in bringing in the local folk singers to the film world, thereby granting them the recognition due to them.
Let us remember Avinash Vyas’s versatility, creativity and experimental streak across the span of his career, (also) through these Gujarati Songs – On Mumbai and Ahmedabad:
Ame Mumbai na rahevasi by Geeta Roy, Chunilal Pardesi and A R Ojha from Mangal Fera (1949)
Aa Mumbai chhe, jyan bhai karatan jaaji Bai Chhe (This is Mumbai, where there are more women than men) by Manna Dey from Mahendi Rang Lagyo (1960)
Hoon Amdavad no rikshawalo by Kishore Kumar from Maa Baap (1977)
Hoon Amdavad ni nari naveli from Kanku Ni Kimat (1983)