It’s been more than 6 months since I wrote anything. I wouldn’t get into the reasons for that, but I found this to be an opportune moment to resume my series on songs sung by Lata Mangeshkar for various music director. After writing about Lata Mangeshkar’s collaboration with Laxmikant Pyarelal, Shankar Jaikishan and R D Burman, the next post was to be on Kalyanji Anandji. What better time to write that post than on the occasion of Kalyanji Virji Shah’s birth anniversary.
Whenever I think of Lata Mangeshkar’s tuning with the various music directors, Kalyanji Anandji is certainly not the name that comes easily. But the fact that she has sung almost 300 songs for the duo cannot be ignored. If one carefully sifts through their joint output, there are definitely some gems that come up. Just that most of them do not stand tall against the masterpieces Lata Mangeshkar’s collaboration with some of the other music directors has produced.
Although the Shah brothers have worked together right from the beginning, in some of the earlier films, only the elder brother – Kalyanji Virji Shah – got the main credit. It was from their fourth or fifth together that the Kalyanji Anandji duo was ‘officially’ credited as music director.
One such film where Kalyanji Virji Shah was the official music director was Post Box 999 (1958). In that film there was song of a type that is usually not associated with Lata Mangeshkar, at least not at that time – a ‘tipsy’ song. This songs is one of my favourite songs of this genre. It is very easy to go overboard with the tipsiness in such songs, but the subtlety in Lata’s rendition is to die for. Judge for yourself:
Contrast with with a sad song in Delhi Junction (1960). A diametrically opposite genre, but the composition and the singing are top notch.
In their early films, Kalyanji Anandji seemed heavily influenced by Shankar Jaikishan. The compositions, the arrangements, everything seemed to be in the SJ template. Not to say that these compositions were not good – they definitely were – but it was difficult to distinguish a distinctive KA style. Consider the following songs – lovely melodies with Lata’s voice dripping the same sweetness she reserved for Shankar Jaikishan.
Around the same time, Kalyanji Anandji also looked for inspiration elsewhere and came up with this song that was quite a straight pick from Ron Goodwin’s Music For an Arabian Night, a 1959 album that inspired several other Hindi film songs. I must admit that when I first saw this video, I was disappointed as I had always visualized this song as some sort of a group dance.
It was in the early 60s that Kalyanji Anandji made their presence felt in the world of Hindi film music. Lata being the most sought after female singer at that time, they invariably turned to her.
In 1963, Kalyanji Anandji demonstrated that they too could compose a delightful classical based song for Lata to vocalize. This song, based on Raag Bageshri, is one of the finest they have composed for Lata.
In the same year, Kalyanji Anandji composed another song with a classical influence for the film Sunehri Nagin – a B-grade fantasy film with A-grade music. It’s also lovely to watch Helen perform with all her dignified charm.
In my mind, KA are synonymous with Mukesh. If you exclude the songs SJ created for Raj Kapoor films, some of the best songs of Mukesh have come from the KA stable. And the songs they composed for Mukesh have a certain uniqueness, something I am not able to put in words. I get the same feeling when I hear this song sung by Lata in Phool Bane Angare. I just can’t shake off the feeling that this was created for Mukesh. Nevertheless, that takes nothing away from the flawless rendition by Lata.
In the 60s, it was almost mandatory to have “piano song” picturized at a party, so much so that it can almost be called as a genre while talking about Hindi film music. Sample these two songs:
I round-off this post with a very well-known song by Lata and Kalyanji Anandji. The very brief humming at the start of the song is absolutely divine.
In the second-part of this post I shall post some more well-known as well as relatively lesser heard songs sung by Lata Mangeshkar for Kalyanji Anandji.