Multiple Versions Songs (9) : Gujarati to, and fro, Hindi (film) songs (1)

May 14, 2013

Guest article by Ashok M Vaishnav

(Ashokji, who is the originator of the mega series on Multiple Version Songs, now takes us to the little known world of cross fertilisation between Hindi and Gujarati film and folk music.  He plans to do it in two parts, in the first part of which he presents an overview of the theme and impact of Hindi film music on Gujarati songs.  Needless to say, anything from his pen would show depth of research and eye for detail. – AK)

Gujarati sangeetI will begin this post with an humble and honest disclaimer: This preamble will provide an entrée background to our subject of the present post, and is in no way any statement of authority on the subject.

In order to make the posting of the article manageable, we will split the article in two parts, first part dealing with impact of Hindi film music on Gujarati songs, while the second part will present the reverse effect of Gujarati light sangeet on Hindi film music.

Hindi film industry has had a reasonably fair share of Gujaratis associated in a vast range of roles, including back-end functions, like production etc., during all these 100 years of its journey. Many a Gujarati music directors have had a go at the Hindi film music, too. However, except for Jaikishan Panchal (of Shanker Jaikishan duo), and Kalayanji Anandji, no other Gujarati music director seems to have a substantive, and sustained, ‘commercial’ success in the world of Hindi film music, at least not to that scale.

There does not seem to be a major, direct influence of Gujarati music culture to and from Hindi film music, as compared to that of the other Indian languages, where the local film industry has made substantial strides. Obviously, there ought to be valid reasons for such a state of affairs. I am no expert on the subject, but as an individual who has been a ardent fan of all that is good in Hindi film music and Gujarati light music, I may submit that whatever impact, or exchange, has happened between two cultures, the subject does remain an interesting field, both, purely from point of view of enjoyment as well as from the point of view of serious study.

From late 40s to around end of 60s, qualitatively and quantitatively a prolific composer and lyricist in Gujarati sugam (light) sangeet, Avinash Vyas had been concurrent music director as well to around 50 Hindi films, equivalent to around 600 songs.

The possible impact of such an association can be judged by the fact that Geeta Dutt, a major playback singer of his songs, has done more songs in Gujarati (both film and non-film songs) than in her own Bengali. “She has sung 80-odd songs for 25 Gujarati films between 1948 and 1967, plus a handful of non-film songs. While this is not a large body of work, it is larger than her total Bengali output! It is substantial enough to carve a place for her in the pantheon of Gujarati singers of the era.” She would, obviously get the song written down in Bengali, but could deliver (reasonably) clear pronunciations and right throw of the words. (Ref: )

We do also have a good many of songs in the voices of other leading singers like Amirbai Karanataki and Rajkumari too for the Gujarat films released in late 40s, as well as several non-film Gujarati songs around that period. Since then, all front ranking playback singers of Hindi film industry have lent their voice to several Gujarati – film as well as non-film – songs. This trend of mainstream playback singers of Hindi film industry singing in Gujarati, with an excellent native diction, in fact, helped in hugely popularising Gujarati light sangeet in the 60s and 70s. The leading record playing companies were quite comfortable in publishing the records of these songs, and these were commercial successes as well. Interestingly, Mahendra Kapoor went on to become the de facto first choice during 70s for the Gujarati songs based on Gujarati folk tunes. This was the period which must possibly go as quantitatively the most productive period of Gujarati film industry.

With this rather longish opening statement, we now turn to the subject matter proper.

One Gujarati film, Ghar Sansar (1981), will suffice to provide a perfect example of the transfer of tunes across languages. The beauty of such experiments is that unless known, you would always treat the song as native to that language. The master in the art of using the tunes across different languages, Salil Chaudhary’s Gujarati songs (!?) for this film provide us the only possible transfer of the tune, that I know of, from Hindi (or for that matter, from any languages) to Gujarati film music.

I present here one song from this film to illustrate the point:

Ho Halo Re Hans Mala – Singer: Prafull Dave

Prafull Dave was a well versed singer of Gujarati folk, particularly, devotional folk. Salil Chaudhary’s deft use of his voice does certainly help the song fit into the native locale.

The song seems to have its first Malayali version, rendered by Yesudas for a 1977 film Poomanaa

This tune was used again as a Lata Mangeshkar – Kishore Kumar duet for a 1980 Bengali film – Antarghaat as O aamar sojono go

(NoteBy pasting these links in your browser, these songs can be heard on-line-streaming.)

Two more such songs from this film and their versions in other languages can be accessed @

Pag ghunghru bandh Meera naachi re

This Meera bhajan has several versions, which we would re-visit appropriately when we will take up this specific category. However, the two clips that can be accessed through the links provided below will substantiate the indirect influence of Hindi film music on Gujarati sangeet.

Well, Meera bhajans are treated as ancient devotional Gujarati poetry in Gujarati literature too. This audio clip is also sourced from the site which has collection of Gujarati songs only. Be that as it may, the clip, where Pandit Omkarnath Thakur presents this Bhajan, does emphasise the impact of Hindi film music on Gujarati sangeet.

The accompanying audio clip, rendered by Krishna Kalle, just goes on to illustrate the range of singers of Hindi film world, readily experimenting for songs in Gujarati.

We have a very interesting case here –

Parawardigar-e-Alam from film Hatimtai (1957), Mohammad Rafi, lyrics Akhtar Romani, music S N Tripathi, may not be new to most of the readers of this blog.

This prayer has several other devotional versions, which we will address appropriately separately.

Please listen to an interesting Gujarati ghazal version (the similarity of these songs was presented to me by Tadatmya Vaishnav) by Talat Mahmood (Lyrics: Ramesh Gupta ; Music: Kersi Mistry):

Shaane guman karato (1961) – “What for is your arrogance …”


In the second part of this article we will take a look at versions of the Hindi Film Songs, influenced by Gujarati light / folk music.

Till then, more inputs on impact of Hindi films to, or from, Gujarati sangeet are indeed welcome, so as to enrich our discussion of Multiple Versions Songs series.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Arunkumar Deshmukh May 14, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Ashok ji,
You have started very nicely. I am waiting your second part now.

After reading the above article, some thoughts have come to my mind.

Bombay has always been the most important centre for HFM and Hindi films, since they began.

The percentage of Gujrati population in Bombay and as such the ‘Bombay presidency’ area (from Karwar to Sind on the western track) has been quite sizeable. Like many other major businesses, Gujaratis also had a strong hold on the Production, Distribution and other branches of film making like Direction, Acting, music composition, Cinematography,make up, Costumes, studio management etc.

Those moneyed Gujaratis who were in Film industry, strived hard also to contribute to Film industry in Gujarat, through the very best in Hindi film industry. That is the reason that Gujarat Film industry, initially at least (that is till about the 60s) was almost a Mirror image of Bombay Film Industry. Music experts from Gujrat travelled Gujrat -Bombay-Gujarat, so also Gujrati Music experts from Bombay to Gujrat to Bombay. Thus not only exchanging ideas but also tunes and songs with them. You will find that in the decades of 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s, lot of songs and tunes were same/common in Hindi or Gujrati.
As the regional mix of Bombay Film industry got dominated by the Punjabi culture and personnel, the entire musical pattern changed in Bombay, but NOT in Gujarat, remember. Basically, Gujaratis are traditional, loving their past and history, hence from this time onwards the Musical pattern of Bombay and Gujrat differed significantly and common songs and tunes dwindled almost to Zero nowadays!

Gujrati original music is very sweet, melodious and lilting. It gave substantially to Hindi music, but from Hindi the flow was less, comparatively, for obvious reasons.

I will stop here now and continue about the composers in my next comment.

2 ASHOK M VAISHNAV May 14, 2013 at 12:57 pm

@Arunkumar Deshmukh,
So kind of you to provide such a lucid background to the genesis of the connection of Hindi Film Music to /with the Gujarati Light Music.

The pattern of imprint on Gujarati Light Music of the 50s to 70s, and their reasons , surprisingly do not seem to also follow ant particular trend. In other words, the impressions that Gujarati Light Music carried was directly related to what impressed the respective music director.

Avinash Vyas, who has a very high percentage of his Hindi Film Songs or Gujarati Songs of the period concurrent with Geeta Dutt’s active period in the Industry, has not been so much impressed by Ravindra Sangeet, as perhaps Ninu Mazumdar was. Dilip Dholakia, even when he continued as assistant to Chitragupt or LP, did create his distinctive style when he composed songs for Gujarati films ( which were not many, unfortunately).

Incidentally, it was in this period that Gujarati Light Music was at its creative best, AIR providing the vital medium to carry it to the mass.

Since 70s, the advent of audio cassettes did create a massive market for Gujarati folk /devotional songs, Gujarati Film Industry was already on the path of decline, and as such Gujarati Light Music now survives through some isolated selfless efforts of a few artists.

3 Arunkumar Deshmukh May 14, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Ashok ji,
Talking of influence, it must be noted that except for the Gujarati and Marathi music industry,the Rabindra Sangeet had impact on almost all other languages-including the initial Tamil and Telugu music too.

Somehow, or may be because of the inherent strong Music culture of Maharashtra and Gujrat,the Rabindra Sangeet always remained alien to them. I have yet to find a single Marathi song, filmi or non filmi with any -even the remotest- shades of Rabindra Sangeet.

In the initial stages of Hindi Talkie film music there were several Gujarati(though based in Bombay) Music Directors who contributed significantly to indian/Hindi film music. Some of the Gujarati (some names may be only my guess work) Music Directors who influenced Hindi music were-Madhulal Damodar master, Shanti Kumar Desai, Shankar Rao Vyas, Avinash vyas, Balsara, Ninu Mujumdar (I think the correct name was Majmunder), Ajit merchant, Dilip Dholkia, Kalyan ji Anand ji, Raghunath Seth, Shyam ji Ghanshayamji, Lallubhai Nayak, Pransukh Nayak (he was a very big name in Gujarati Stage also), Nagardas Nnayak, Vithaldas Panchotiya, Sunderdas bhatiya, S.P.Rane (though a Marathi, he was settled in Gujarat for 5 generations), Master Mohan, Mohan Junior, Jayanti Joshi, Mahesh Kumar/Naresh Kumar, Indrawadan Bhatt, Madhusudan Acharya etc etc.

If you consider Parsis as Gujarati, then Sarswati Devi and Firoz Dastoor must be also counted. There must be another 100 odd small time (1 or 2 film wonders) composers from Gujrat also. This impact of Gujrati music on Hindi was indelible for ever.

4 ASHOK M VAISHNAV May 14, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Yo have covered almost the whole panorama of Gujaratis, associated directly with Hindi Film Music. I may add Vanraj Bhatia and Ajit Sheth to this illustrious list, which I agree is by no means complete.
Ajit Sheth., perhaps, was not as directly involved in Hindi Film world, but he is said to have been deeply influenced by Ravindra Sangeet school.I a have never had had listened to his work to assess such an influence, nor am I competent to judge that aspect.
But, as I have mentioned at the beginning of the article, in spite of so much of direct participation by Gujarati(s), the Hindi Film Music does not have a defined impact of the caliber of Punjabi or Bengali cultures, nor did the Gujarati music directors reached the levels of comparative commercial success. Those who did just seem to be the exceptions to this trend.

5 Arunkumar Deshmukh May 14, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Ashok ji,
Your observation is right about the weak influence of Gujarati culture of HFM. But there is a simple reason for it.
Basically Bombay Hindi Film music started with Marathi and Gujarati influenced tunes. Actually this was the base-having Natyageet, garba or other local types of tunes, for quite some time-upto about 1941, when on the background of declining marathi natya sangeet and Gujrat folk tunes, Punjabi Dholak surrounded music virually overpowered the base and established itself. There was a contineous onslought or sort of pressure from Bengal at the same time. In this melee, no one knows where the base of Marathi and Gujrati influence disappeared, for good. Impact of anything is felt on the base, where as the base is taken for granted. That is why one feels that the impact of Gujarati music is not that strong on HFM-which is not true, because it WAS the base itself!

6 ASHOK M VAISHNAV May 14, 2013 at 5:06 pm

Thanks, Arunji, for providing a much needed perspective to the rational to the theme of the article.
With this, not only the first part now seems more apt and compete, the right tone for the second part to follow has been set in place.

7 Anu Warrier May 14, 2013 at 6:18 pm

I found the discussion between Ashokji and Arun Kumarji in the comments as interesting as Ashokji’s article. 🙂 Thank you, both. And thanks to AK for hosting articles that provoke these discussions.

I’m no scholar, but I posit that early Hindi films drew their inspirations from Sanskrit and Bengali literature, and since many of the music directors/film makers were from Bengal (and later, from Punjab), the stronger influences were from those areas. We have, very rarely, dipped into the cultural ethos of Maharashtra or Gujarat, which is strange, considering the Hindi film industry is based in the former state, and neighbours the latter one.

Looking forward eagerly to comments on this post, and the sequel to this one.

8 Veda May 14, 2013 at 9:26 pm

Hindi Movie Music has influenced regional language songs and vice-versa. Popular Hindi Movie songs have prompted their version in regional languages.There are many examples of Odia versions of popular Hindi Movie songs. The song from ‘Barsaat’ was so popular that Odia versions of the song translated word by word were released in early 50’s with similar orchestrations as the original ones.Here are the links of Odia versions of ‘Barsaat Mein Humse Mile…’ and ‘Hawa Mein Udta Jaaye..’ .



9 n.venkataraman May 14, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Ashok Vaishnavji,
Although I have heard about Avinash Vyas, Dilip Dholakia and Ninu Mujumdar, I know very little about Gujarati Films and its music. I have heard few Gujarati songs composed by Avinash Vyas. The article was very informative and interesting. I liked the songs by Prafull Dave and Manhar.

‘Shaane guman karato?’ I enjoyed this Ghazal too.

Was Balsara, mentioned by Arunji in his comment (#3), the same V Balsara who settled down in Calcutta in 1954? I was not aware that he had composed music for Gujarati films too.
Your discussion with Arunji was interesting and provided more information. Thanks Ashokji and Arunji.

Looking forward to the second part

10 ASHOK M VAISHNAV May 14, 2013 at 10:47 pm

@Anuradha Warrier
In one of the interviews by Anil Bishwas I had heard him saying that it was he who can be said to be instrumental in bringing out the (Hindi) film music out from the grooves of Natya Sanageet (The music played live by the musicians in the well facing the stage, while the plays were enacted on the stage) or Haveli Sangeet (the devotional form of songs for the Krishna – Vaishnav- temples) and brought in the (western) concept of orchestration and written notations.
In fact he, along with other Bengali contemporaries Pankaj Mallick, R C Boral etc. drew heavily on Ravindra Sangeet plus the western classical music and tunes.
However, as Arunji has said, it becomes difficult to trace as to why did the music directors other than those for North or from Bengal did not shine out commercially.
If it was alignment with the natural cultural roots, then music of Bengali music directors, essentially, should not have prospered in the North or conversely music of music directors should not have prospered in East OR a legion of Hindi Films and songs should not have found an inch of space in South.
Well, That is why Hindi Film Music fascinates…..

11 ASHOK M VAISHNAV May 14, 2013 at 10:53 pm

@ N Venkataraman

Yes, he is same V Balsara, a parsi who did later settled in Kolkatta.

In due course of time, we would do article each on Avainash Vyas, Dilip Dholakia and Ninu Majumadar, in so far as their contribution to Hindi Film Music is concerned. ( I have assumed AKji’s approval!!)

12 ASHOK M VAISHNAV May 15, 2013 at 12:58 pm

@ Veda
Thanks. You have opened up a new dimension to our collective pursuits.
May I request you to list out all, or representative songs, with internet /YT links and send it to Shri AKji, for him to present these in the form of a post in this series OR even better if you can prepare a full fledged article itself.

13 AK May 15, 2013 at 8:29 pm

I have been enjoying this fascinating conversation from the sidelines, and gaining such interesting information.

Veda, you have added something that was completely new to us. The two Oriya songs are obviously cover versions of Barsaat. As Ashokji says, if there are enough of them – and not only cover versions, but dubbed or inspired versions from Oriya to Hindi films or vice versa, it would deserve a separate post.

We are eagerly looking forward to your articles on Gujarati composers such as Dilip Dholakia etc. These would fit so well in the series on Forgotten Composers.

Dear All,
It is an honour that so many learned people have agreed to write for SoY. The way this series is going, I have no doubt we would find worthy people to write on all the languages.

As for the general points about the rationale behind the influence of a particular region or culture, or the absence of it, let me offer my thoughts. My understanding is that the major centres of film making, Calcutta, Bombay-Kolhapur-Pune, Madras and Lahore functioned in their own silos, independent of each other, in the early years (30s), drawing inspiration from their own cultural hinterland. Which means you have New Theatres of Kolkata drawing from Bengali literature, classical, Rabindrasangeet. Bombay-Kolhapur-Pune based on classical, Marathi Natyageet (Gujarati folk can be deemed to be a part of the same hinterland), Lahore with its Punjabiyat and Madras drawing from Dravidian languages and music. During this period New Theatres became a pole star, with the aristocratic patriarch BN Sircar, and geniuses like RC Boral, Pankaj Mullick, Timir Baran and KL Saigal.

However, the New Theatres style of music, while being a great legacy, was probably too elitist to become the mass music. That role was played by Bombay, which could create songs like Main ban ki chidiya ban ke ban ban dolun re which even Ashok Kumar and Devika Rani could sing. If you notice, even RC Boral, Pankaj Mullick and Timir Baran migrated to Bombay, and composed music until the 50s, but now the music had changed whose masters were Naushad, Shankar Jaikishan and C Ramchandra. They found the magic of combing great music with mass popularity. Bombay became the epicentre of everything, a giant melting pot – Lahore/Punjab came there, and good part of it stayed on even after the partition, and a different set of Bengalis made Bombay their home and won it – Anil Biswas, and later SD Burman, Hemant Kumar and Salil Choudhary.

Some comments have been made about Rabindrsangeet. While Pankaj Mullick used it the first time in PC Barua’s Mukti (1937), when does it appear in Hindi films first? Probably not before SD Burman. Generally it remained the preserve of Bengali composers. Interestingly, much later a non-Bengali Rajesh Roshan has used Rabindrasangeet successfully in some of his compositions.

The most interesting is the Punjabi take over of not only film music, but a large area of popular culture. In large parts of the country, local marriage customs are giving way to the Punjabi Bhangra. When you go to an ‘Indian’ restaurant abroad or in India, what cuisine you find? How many of us have Paneer Butter Masala and Tandoori Naan at home? One answer would be in the modern management theory – the biggest competitive advantage is not only to have a great product, but also aggressive packaging and marketing. Punjab is over the top, in your face – all the ingredients to prevail. Veerbhogya vasundhara.

14 Veda May 16, 2013 at 8:46 pm

@Ashok M Vaishnav
There are two other popular song from ‘Nagin’ which were released in their Odia Version.The songs were again word- by- word translation of the original Hindi Lyrics with similar orchestrations. Here are the links to the Odia Version of ‘Man Dole Mera Tan Dole…’ and ‘Mera Dil Yeh Pukare Aaja…’



Coming to V.Balsara,he was intimately associated with Odia Movie Music.Usually the Odia Movies produced since their inception till late 60’s and early 70’s had their songs recorded at Kolkatta. V.Balsara was the preferred music arranger for many Odia Movies of 60’s and early 70’s.He also co-composed songs for an Odia Movie ‘Ghara-Sansara’ released in 1973.Here is the Link to the poster of the Odia Movie whose songs were co-composed by V.Balsara :

15 jignesh kotadia May 17, 2013 at 12:52 pm

First time read abt V.Balsara on net. Earlier i had read somewhere that mahendra kapur was debuted by v.balsara in madmast (1953) and that was my only knowledge abt him. His full name is VISTAS ARDESHIR BALSARA ,a parsi, settled in kolkata in 1954 and composed music 4 many bengali films. Thanks to all gentlemen to raise interest in such less known talents.

16 ASHOK M VAISHNAV May 17, 2013 at 6:17 pm

@ Veda & Jignesh Kotadia
Thanks for your valued additions.

When I was working on the first article in the series (in fact, was lovingly forced(!) by AKji) , I had earnestly sought active collaboration from fellow travelers of SoY, so as to make good the shortcomings of my own contributions.
But, the way the series is progressing, the amount and quality of discussions and ‘new’ (to me) information that is pouring in, I am overwhelmed that my obscure wish had so much beneficial potential.


You have not only added a new perspective to the origins of various regional influences, and vice versa, in so far as HFM of the period that we discuss here, but also, in the spirit of a true moderator, balanced the direction of the discussion.

I will not thank you, because these two words fall woefully inadequate in expressing the feelings that I have. And I have no other means to thank you!

17 derubala (Dee Thakore) May 25, 2013 at 6:21 am

(1) Himesh Reshammiya, a son of veteran Indian music director Vipin Reshammiya, Gujarat.
(2) A great violinist, a family of four generation musicians and MD of (Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’99, Devdas (2002)) Ismail Darbar, from Surat, worked as assistant to L-P, K&A, Bappiji, R. Roshan, Anand-Milind, Nadeem-Shravan, Jatin-Lalit and even A.R.Rahman.
(3) Salim & Sulaiman Merchant are a pair of musician brothers, born and brought up in Bhuj, Kutch. They have been composing music for over a decade having scored for movies such as Neal ‘n’ Nikki AND Chak De! India.

18 ASHOK M VAISHNAV May 25, 2013 at 11:45 am

@ derubala (Dee Thakore)
Thanks for joining and enriching in the discussion .

19 Bhasker Tripathi October 22, 2013 at 10:55 am

Another great Gujarati composer was late Kshemu Divetia, with songs such as “Keva re malela” from “Kashi no Dikro”. Lately, Ashit Desai has been able to enter this prestigious club. Incidentally, Kaumudi Munshi (I believe she married Ninu Majumdar) has rendered some very nice Bhajans in Gujarati – in classic Thumri style.

20 Ashok Vaishnav October 22, 2013 at 2:06 pm

@ Bhasker Tripathi
I fully agree that there were several key players who played a stellar role in enriching Gujarati Sugam Sangeet in 60s to late 80s.
I am trying to collect as much authentic material about them to present and document it on Net.
Unfortunately, whatever is (or was) available in print media of those years are now not easily accessible and not much of those works have been placed on Net.
As and when something worthwhile can be compiled, I would try to present these on Net. In the meanwhile, though the great platform of SoY, I would request all the fans of Gujarati Sugam Sangeet (and its linkage to Hindi Film Music) to keep forwarding such authentic materials.

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