Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pandit Indra Chandra - Remembering a Forgotten Lyricist


Let me start with a quiz. How would you relate the numbers 400059, 19.112245 and 72.869997 to Hindi Film Music? Stumped? Let me show you the way…

If you go to Mumbai by air, head west from the airport, go straight till you hit Andheri-Kurla Road, take a left turn, another left after approximately 750m, keep going…. another left after 110m, then take the first right, and then another right after 100m, and lo you’ve reached your destination.

But where? And how does that relate to those weird numbers? And how does Hindi film music come into the picture?

Well, the place you’ve reached lies on latitude 19.112245, longitude 72.869997, and has a PIN code 400059 – Kavivar Pandit Indra Marg, a road named after a forgotten lyricist of yesteryears.

मौसीक़ी गर मलबूस है अलफ़ाज़ रूह-ओ-जिस्म हैं
जिस्म-ए-हसीं पर मुन्हसिर है दिलकशी-ए-पैरहन

(मौसीक़ी = music; मलबूस = costume; अलफ़ाज़ = words; जिस्म-ए-हसीं = beautiful body, मुन्हसिर = dependent; दिलकशी-ए-पैरहन = attractiveness of the costume)

If music be the costume, words are the body and soul
A beautiful body enhances a beautiful outfit

It’s a sad reality that among all the contributors that embellish film songs, the lyricists are probably the least remembered (except the musicians and chorus singer, of course). Pt. Indra’s is a classic case in point. One of the most prolific Hindi film lyricists of his time, Pt. Indra had a career spanning three decades during which he wrote more than 875 songs in 128 films. Yet his name is hardly known.

Not much is known about the early life of Pandit Indra Chandra Dadhich. Hailing from Churu district in Rajasthan, Pt. Indra came to Bombay in 1933. He was first hired as a writer and lyricist for Gandharv Cinetone’s Sati Mahananda (1933). He continued to be associated exclusively with them for the first few years and worked on films like Maharani (1934) and Pardesi Saiyan (1935). When Master Vinayak co-founded his company - Huns Chitra - in 1936, he hired Pt. Indra for Chhaya (1936), where he was responsible for translating from the original Marathi. Pt. Indra continued to work for Huns Chitra for the next couple of years, while expanding his association with other film companies like Sagar Movietone and a few others.

TansenIt was in 1939 that he got the first opportunity to work with Chandulal Shah’s Ranjit Movietone in Sant Tulsidas. But it wasn’t until 1942, with Dheeraj and Iqraar (Tyaag), that Pt. Indra became a regular lyricist with Ranjit Movietone. By 1950 he had worked in 33 films produced by Ranjit Movietone, his most significant association with any film company. Some of the noteworthy films of this association include Tansen (1944), Dhanna Bhagat (1945), Moorti (1945), Prabhu Ka Ghar (1945), Rajputani (1946), Chheen Le Azadi (1947), Piya Ghar Aaja (1947), Gunsundari (1948) and Jogan (1950). Many years later when Chandulal Shah directed Zameen Ke Taare (1960) he once again called Pt. Indra for his services, although the film was made under the banner of Chadra Movies.

Apart from Ranjit Movietone for whom he produced a bulk of his output, Pt. Indra also did considerable amount of work for Vijay Bhatt’s Prakash Pictures (9 films), Homi Wadia’s Wadia Movietone (8 films), Huns Chitra (7 films) and Sagar Movietone (6 films). Since he had close relations with both, when Ranjit Movietone and Wadia Movietone decided to co-produce Return of Toofan Mail in 1942, Pt. Indra was the obvious choice for the main lyricist.

ChandralekhaIn 1948, S. S Vasan decided to remake his super hit film Chandralekha in Hindi. The responsibility of writing the lyrics as well as the dialogues fell on Pt. Indra. Thus began another fruitful association for Pt. Indra. He became an in-house lyricist for Gemini Films, writing for all their subsequent Hindi films like Nishaan (1949), Mangala (1950), Sansar (1951), Mr. Sampat (1952), Bahut Din Hue (1954) and Do Dulhe (1955).

Those were the days when artistes were closely tied to film companies, working on a monthly salary. It is, therefore, natural that the music directors Pt. Indra worked with was dependent on the film companies he was associated with. From Govindrao Tembe in his first film to Dhaniram, Jamal Sen and Shivram Krishna in his final films, Pt. Indra worked with around 50 different composers. Yet, a fairly large proportion of his work is with composers who were closely associated with Ranjit Movietone i.e. Bulo C. Rani (21 films), Gyan Dutt (17 films), Khemchand Prakash (12 films) and Hansraj Bahl (11 films). Jogan (1950) with Bulo C. Rani, Geet Govind (1947) with Gyan Dutt, and Tansen (1943) with Khemchand Prakash can be considered as Pt. Indra’s milestone films. While working with Gemini, he got the opportunity to work with prominent composers of South India like S. Rajeshwar Rao, E. Sankara Shastri, B.S Kalla and M. D Parthasarthy. Other prominent composers he worked with include S. N Tripathi (6 films), Anil Biswas (5 films) and Dada Chandekar (4 films).

After his very first film Sati Mahanada, Pt. Indra had several more opportunities to show his mettle as a dialogue writer. Some of the films for which he wrote the story/dialogues include Maharani (1934), Pardesi Saiyan (1935), Chhaya (1936), Sati Pingala (1937), Jwala (1938), Brahmachari (1938), Brandy Ki Botal (1939), Sant Tulsidas (1939), Ghar Ki Rani (1940), Chandralekha (1949), Jalsa (1948) and Bahut Din Hue (1954). Many of these films were dubbed versions/remakes of regional language films.

GangaurPt. Indra also tried his hand at production when he co-produced Sheikh Chilli (1956) with Ramchandra Thakur. He also produced a few Rajasthani films like Babasa Ri Ladli (1961), Nanibai Ko Maayro (1962), Gangaur (1964) and Gopichand Bharthari (1965). He wrote the lyrics for these films as well, as also for other Rajasthani films like Dhani Lugai (1964) and Gogaji Pir (1969). Even in Hindi films he brought in the flavor of Rajasthan whenever an opportunity arose. Songs like ‘mharo chhail bhanwar ro kangasiyo’ (Karwaan 1944), ‘kunwar thane mujro kar kar haari’ (Rajputani 1946) and ‘mora chhail bhanwar ’ (Rajputani 1946) were either completely or partially written in Rajasthani.

O Rang Rangeelo Aalijo - Baba Sa Ri Ladli (1961 Rajasthani) - Asha Bhosle - Pt. Shivram - Pt. Indra

A glance at his work reveals that at the beginning of his career, there was a noticeable literary influence in his choice of words both in Hindi and Urdu. For example, ‘saavan ghan barse chaatak kyun tarse’ (Maharani 1934), ‘mansarovar taj chale rajhans’ (Chhaya 1936), ‘yakta ye husn mana farsh-e-zameen pe ho’ (Pardesi Saiyan 1935), ‘mere dil-e-saudai kis waqt haya aayi’ (Pardesi Saiyan, 1935), etc. But largely, the language he used was simple and colloquial as was in vogue in the films of 1930s and 40s. He primarily stuck to the demands of the film rather than overtly and incongruously exhibiting his language skills. However, whenever he had the opportunity, either due to the subject of the film or when he got a free hand from the film makers, he did revert to pure, literary language. A case in point will be his songs from Geet Govind (1947), where he penned songs like ‘viyogini deepshikha se jare’ or ‘chamakat damakat daamini’. He also used the literary device of anupraas alankaar (alliteration) whenever he could as is evident in songs like ‘o mrignayani madhubani menaka’ (Mr. Sampat 1952), ‘kookat koyaliya kunjan mein’ (Bharthari 1944) and ‘maai ri main to madhuban mein’ (Chandalekha 1948). In the last example, which is jointly credited to Pt. Indra & Bharat Vyas, the use of alliteration was not restricted only to the mukhda. The last antara of that song had another lovely usage of alliteration when the singer sings ‘ho gaye naina nihaal nirakh liyo nandlal’.

Maai Ri Main To Madhuban Mein - Chandraleka (1948) - Uma Devi - S. Rajeshwar Rao - Pt. Indra

Radha---krishnaIt is difficult to compartmentalize Pt. Indra’s writing style. He was truly versatile, writing just about every kind of song. However, there are a few recurring motifs that appear in his songs. One cannot call that as something unique to him as those themes were quite prevalent in that era in general, but given his prolificacy those themes appear more often in his work as compared to some other lyricists. One such theme is that of Radha Krishna, either alone or together. This seems to be quite a favorite among most lyric writers till around the 70s. In Pt. Indra’s oeuvre this theme emerges not only in films based on this subject like Geet Govind (1947), where he penned songs like ‘shyam meri bindiya bikhar na jaye’, ‘kit ho nand kumar’, ‘meethi meethi murali shyam bajaye’, or Krishna Kanhaiya (1952) where almost every song referred to Radha and/or Shyam, but also films with varied themes. Some of these examples include ‘bijli chamak gayi shyam’, ‘kunj mein dole akeli aaj raadhika shyam bina’(Maharani 1934), ‘aao jhoola jhoolen kanha’ (Brandy Ki Botal 1939), ‘matwale mere shyam’ (Amrit 1941), ‘radha jhoola jhoole jhulaven ghanshyam’ (Raj Nartaki 1941), ‘madhuban mein radha jhoole hindole’ (Prabhu Ka Ghar 1945) ‘radha paniya bharan kaise jaye’ (Dharti 1946), ‘bol bol gokul ke gwale’ (Gwalan 1946), and many more.

Shyam Se Naina Mila Aayi - Raj Nartaki (1941) - Suprava Sarkar - Timir Baran - Pt. Indra

Another recurring character that has been a favorite of poets from time immemorial, and which found its way into Pt. Indra’s work as well, is the moon. I must add that he mostly stuck to the conventional roles of the moon, and I don’t find any innovative invocation of the moon in his work. His moon is fairly comfortable wearing the conventional garb. It becomes a messenger in ‘chanda desh piya ke ja’ (Bharthari 1944) or ‘sheetal chandni khili khili’ (Draupadi 1944), transforms into a close confidante in ‘o sharad poonam ki chandni’ (Gunsundari 1948), is advised not to cast an evil eye in ‘ae chand nazar na lagana’ (Moorti 1945), becomes a playful mate in ‘chanda khele aankh michauli’ (Jogan 1950), is equated to the beloved in ‘chanda chamke neel gagan mein’ (Bahut Din Hue 1954), is used a metaphor for beauty as well as accused of being a thief in ‘chandavadani sundar sajni’ (Man Ka Meet 1950), or simply transforms into an object decorating the mise-en-scene in a romantic song like ‘chanda chamkti raat’ (Do Dulhe 1955). And of course, a mother equating her child to the moon as she sings a lori cannot be far behind, as in ‘pyare more chanda ae mere ladle’ (Mangala 1950).

Chandavadani Sundar Sajni - Man Ka Meet (1950) - Geeta Roy - Sardul Kwatra - Pt. Indra

Pt. Indra also had his share of patriotic or nationalistic songs of various hues and tones. While ‘ajab hindustan ghazab hindustan’ (Pardesi Mehman 1948) was a stinging satirical attack on the state of the nation immediately after independence, ‘hindustan mahan hamara’ (Mr. Sampat 1952) was an expression of pride, yet an utopian and idealistic view. National leaders were invoked in Brandy Ki Botal (1939) with songs like ‘gandhi baba ka aaya raaj’, a song about Gandhi’s call for prohibition, and ‘bharat mata ke rajdulare’, which referenced Jawaharlal Nehru. His words exhorted people to rise and fight for their motherland in songs like ‘veer chalo janani pukare maiya bharati’ (Maharani 1934) and ‘jaag jaag mewar’ (Rajputani 1946).

Ajab Hindustan Ghazab Hindustan - Pardesi Mehman (1948) - Mohd. Farouqui - Hansraj Bahl - Pt. Indra

I will now turn my attention to some light and frothy fun songs penned by Pt. Indra. In Brandy Ki Botal (1939) he addressed the theme of prohibition through ‘mora botal wala baalma’, a song that also included an advertisement of sorts for Congress and praise for Gandhi. A lot of his fun songs were from the films produced by Gemini. Sansar (1951) had ‘lakhnau chalo ab rani’, while Do Dulhe featured ‘mohabbat ki motor mein puncture’(1955). Nishaan (1949) had a multi-lingual song ‘jaiyo jaiyo sipahiya bajaar’, while Mr. Sampat (1952) featured ‘lo main layi suiyan’. For a comedy film like Makkheechoos (1956) he wrote songs such as ‘o arabpati ki chhori’ and ‘sethji tumne kiya kamaal’.

Jaiyo Jaoyo Sipahiya Bajaar - Nishaan (1949) - Shamshad Begum - M. D. Parthasarthi, E. Shankar Sastry, B.S Kalla - Pt. Indra

But one song of his in this category that stands out for a stinging attack on the government in the guise of a fun song is ‘gehoon ke phulke khila de’ from Insaan (1944). Just look at the lyrics here.

The lady cribs:

गेहूँ के फुलके खिला दे
हाँ हाँ रे पिया मोहे बाजरी न भाए
दिल्ली से चावल मँगा दे
हाँ हाँ रे पिया मोहे बाजरी न भाए

To which the man responds:

चन्द्रवदन अब बाजरी ही खैयो
जर्मन करे है लड़ाई

Then she complains:

रेशम की अँगिया सिला दे मोरे राजा
गोटा किनारी लगा दे मोरे राजा
जाड़े से जिया घबराए

And the man says,

नाज़ुक नार बनो न हठीली
जापान खड़ा है किनारे

Then she says,

हाय मोरा खाना पहनना छूटा
इस पापी ने सुख मेरा लूटा 

At an overt level it seems like a usual banter where a wife is making demands and the husband is ready with bizarre excuses. But look at it in the political context. The film came in 1944, when we were in the midst of the Second World War. 1943 was the year when the Great Bengal Famine occurred, a result of both shortages of production as well as due to export of food grains to feed the British Indian Army participating in the World War. Japan’s occupation of Burma also hit Bengal hard because Burma was an important source of rice for Bengal and it also resulted in a sudden influx of refugees from Burma. So in this song, the writer has cleverly brought in the contemporary socio-economic and political scenario while at the same time blaming the government in a veiled manner (is paapi ne sukh mera loota).


Gehoon Ke Phulke Khila De - Insaan (1944) - Zohrabai Ambalewali & Unknown Male - Gyan Dutt - Pt. Indra

Pt. Indra’s body of work is so huge that it is impossible to deeply analyze his work in a short write-up like this. Add to that the unavailability of a large volume of his work from the 30s and early 40s. I do wish that this write-up has piqued some curiosity in the reader’s mind. I sincerely hope that after today we will remember him more for his work than a short stretch of asphalt in Mumbai that bears his name.



Hindi Films

1. Sati Mahananda (1933)

2. Maharani (1934)

3. Pardesi Saiyan (1935)

4. Chhaya (1936)

5. Jiwan Lata (1936)

6. Begunaah (1937)

7. Jaageerdaar (1937)

8. Meri Bhool (1937)

9. Premveer (1937)

10. Sati Pingla (1937)

11. Brahmachari (1938)

12. Dynamite (1938)

13. Jwala (1938)

14. Brandy Ki Botal (1939)

15. Ek Hi Raasta (1939)

16. Pati Patni (1939)

17. Sant Tulsidas (1939)

18. Service Limited (1939)

19. Uski Tamanna (1939)

20. Achhoot (1940)

21. Ghar Ki Rani (1940)

22. Punarmilan (1940)

23. Sajani (1940)

24. Suhaag (1940)

25. Amrit (1941)

26. Chandan (1941)

27. Darshan (1941)

28. Holiday In Bombay (1941)

29. Raj Nartaki (1941)

30. Swaami (1941)

31. Aankh Michauli (1942)

32. Apna Paraaya (1942)

33. Chooriyaan (1942)

34. Dheeraj (1942)

35. Gareeb (1942)

36. Iqraar (Tyag) (1942)

37. Jungle Princess (1942)

38. Khilauna (1942)

39. Mehmaan (1942)

40. Return of Toofaan Mail (1942)

41. Savera (1942)

42. Shobha (1942)

43. Station Master (1942)

44. Aadaab Arz (1943)

45. Aankh Ki Sharam (1943)

46. Aashirwaad (1943)

47. Andhera (1943)

48. Bansari (1943)

49. Chiraag (1943)

50. Dulhan (1943)

51. Paigaam (1943)

52. Panghat (1943)

53. School Master (1943)

54. Shahenshaah Akbar (1943)

55. Shankar Paarvati (1943)

56. Taansen (1943)

57. Vishwaas (1943)

58. Bhanwara (1944)

59. Bharthari (1944)

60. Carvaan (1944)

61. Draupadi (1944)

62. Gaali (1944)

63. Insaan (1944)

64. Krishna Bhakt Bodana (1944)

65. Pagli Duniya (1944)

66. Shahenshaah Baabar (1944)

67. Chaand Chakori (1945)

68. Chalis Karor (1945)

69. Chhamia (1945)

70. Dhanna Bhagat (1945)

71. Ji Haan (1945)

72. Moorti (1945)

73. Prabhu Ka Ghar (1945)

74. Sharbati Aankhen (1945)

75. Dharti (1946)

76. Gwaalan (1946)

77. Magadh Raj (1946)

78. Panihari (1946)

79. Phulwaari (1946)

80. Pujaari (1946)

81. Rajputani (1946)

82. Royal Mail (1946)

83. Subhadra (1946)

84. Bhakt Dhruv (1947)

85. Chheen Le Aazaadi (1947)

86. Geet Govind (1947)

87. Kaun Hamaara (1947)

88. Laakhon Men Ek (1947)

89. Pahli Pahchaan (1947)

90. Piya Ghar Aaja (1947)

91. Samaaj Ko Badal Daalo (1947)

92. Woh Zamaana (1947)

93. Bichhare Balam (1948)

94. Chandralekha (1948)

95. Gunsundari (1948)

96. Jai Hanumaan (1948)

97. Jharna (1948)

98. Mitti Ke Khilaune (1948)

99. Pardesi Mehmaan (1948)

100. Ram Baan (1948)

101. Satya Narayan (1948)

102. Satyavan Savitri (1948)

103. Shri Rambhakta Hanuman (1948)

104. Bhikhaari (1949)

105. Bhool Bhulaiyaan (1949)

106. Naarad Muni (1949)

107. Nanad Bhaujaai (1949)

108. Nishaan (1949)

109. Sudhar (1949)

110. Usha Haran (1949)

111. Jogan (1950)

112. Man Ka Meet (1950)

113. Mangala (1950)

114. Ghaayal (1951)

115. Sansaar (1951)

116. Krishna Kanhaiya (1952)

117. Mr. Sampat (1952)

118. Pataal Bhairavi (1952)

119. Veer Arjun (1952)

120. Bahut Din Huye (1954)

121. Do Dulhe (1955)

122. Makkheechoos (1956)

123. Sheikh Chilli (1956)

124. Zameen Ke Taare (1960)

125. Baghdad (1961)

126. Aalha-Udal (1962)

127. Durga Pooja (1962)

128. Meri Bahen (1962)


Rajasthani Films

  1. Babasa Ri Ladli (1961)
  2. Nanibai Ko Maayro (1962)
  3. Dhani Lugai (1963)
  4. Gangaur (1964)
  5. Gopichand Bharthari (1965)
  6. Gogaji Pir (1969)


  1. Hindi Filmon Ke Geetkaar by Anil Bhargava
  2. Hindi Film Geet Kosh by Harmandar Singh Hamraaz
  3. Complete Index of World Films (
  4. Myswar (
  5. Earthmusic Network (
  6. Bigger than the Sky – Ranjit Studio by Shishir Krishna Sharma (


This piece was written as part of the Guzra Hua Zamana series on Sangeet Ke Sitare, a music group on Facebook.

I would like to thank Surajit Bose for agreeing to my request and taking the effort to validate Pt. Indra’s filmography from the 1930s and 1940s with Hindi Film Geet Kosh. Thanks are also due to Girdharilal Vishwakarma, for not only answering some of my questions regarding Pt. Indra’s work and validating information about his Rajasthani work, but also for making so many rare songs from 1930s and 1940s available over the years. And of course, Dr. Surjit Singh, whose website is a treasure trove of songs. Most of the rare songs of Pt. Indra that I heard during the course of writing this piece were thanks to all the collectors who have painstakingly collected rare songs over the years and have been generous enough to share them through Dr. Surjit Singh’s web site.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Anil Biswas and His Mastery over the Folk Idiom

This article has been compiled from several posts and comments made by Shri Arun Mudgal on Sangeet Ke Sitare, a music group of Facebook. One cannot but marvel at his deep understanding of the folk music of India in general, and Anil Biswas’s mastery over it in particular.

“भारतीय संगीत में शास्त्रीय संगीत की महान परम्परा को हमारे संगीत में मौजूद समृद्ध लोकसंगीत की परम्परा से ही महानता प्राप्त हुई है. लोकसंगीत की परम्परा से ही शास्त्रीय संगीत की परम्परा का जन्म हुआ है. और वह उस की बदौलत बनी रह पाई है. संगीत में शास्त्रीय परम्परा के प्रति निष्ठा में मैं किसी से पीछे नहीं हूँ, लेकिन भारतीय लोकसंगीत प्रेमियों के बीच मैं इस संगीत के प्रति अपनी निष्ठा में किसी से हरगिज़ पीछे नहीं रहना चाहूँगा….

"फिल्मों में जीवन को उसी रूप में प्रस्तुत किया जाता है, जिस रूप में उसे जिया जाता है. उसमें जीवन को हरकत और हलचल भरा दिखाया जाता है . वह जीवन स्थिर न होकर बहती धारा के समान होता है . ऐसे फिल्म जगत से जुड़े रहकर मुझे यह अच्छी तरह से एहसास हो गया कि संगीत ही -चाहे वह शास्त्रीय संगीत हो या लोकसंगीत --हमारे अस्तित्व के दिक्काल तत्वों को प्रतिबिम्बित कर सकता है. असली भारतीय फिल्म संगीत की मांग यह होती है , कि उसे शास्त्रीय और लोकसंगीत , दोनों ही से सजाया जाएगा और भारतीय जीवन और उसके स्वरुप की अभिव्यक्ति सही मायनों में संगीत के मुहावरों से ही की जा सकती है"
(Anil Biswas )

This is a portion of the paper on ‘भारतीय शास्त्रीय संगीत तथा लोकसंगीत की संपदा और फिल्मों में उसका उपयोग’ which Anil Biswas presented in the seminar organized by Sangeet Natak Academy in 1957. He read the paper in English which was translated in Hindi by Shamsher singh and the above quoted portion is from this Hindi Translation.
In the same paper Anil Biswas latter says that that India is a country of Temples and Fields. The music of Temples has its roots in classical while the music of fields which are more connected to the common man (Janasaadhaaran) always has the love for Lok Sangeet which has local idiom and flavor both. And because in Indian films both Temples and fields, Cities and villages, are part of the depiction and story line so the nature of our film music is such that these two streams of music classical and folk are there in plenty. Also we should understand this fact that the kind of films we made requires both these genres of music.

And those who know and have listened and enjoyed Anil Da’s songs can very well see how true and faithful Anil Da remained to this belief and commitment to the classical and folk traditions of Indian Music in his compositions.

Though he had a great flavor for both classical and folk music in his songs but his knowledge, command and approach to the folk music traditions of India is something unrivalled in HFM.

Here I would also like to mention another aspect of Indian Music which is constant interaction between folk and classical music from centuries. A folk bandish or a folk song when sung by the hardcore classical exponents can easily become a milestone in classical rendition. Also there is a whole genre of semi-classical songs which are replete with folk traditions and folk songs.

But despite that interaction, Indian Folk Music and traditions and songs have their own personality when it comes to pure or as they say in folk language (Khantee) folk with some distinct and easily identifiable features. The rustic flavor, lyrics depicting the concerns, joys and sorrows of common man and woman of the land, the powerful throw of singers voice, the rural and rustic imagery and the kind of limited number instruments used, a Dholak or Dhol or Duf here and a set of Manjeera, khanjadee, khadtaal there with Harmonium and Ravan Hattha thrown in many a times. In folk songs one may also notice how certain word or a phrase will keep on recurring in form of a call or a teep in a buland voice from the group of singers piercing through the listeners and giving the song a distinct rustic and earthy touch and feel. Also various regions of India are replete with their own genres of folk traditions , be it Kirtan from Bengal; Hori, Sohar, Jhoola, Nautanki from UP; Alha Udal from Bundelkhand - the list can go on and on and on...

What surprises me most about Anil Da’s folk songs is the kind of range he has in folk traditions of India. At one place he could easily use folk music of Punjab, U P, South, Bihar, Bengal in a single song seamlessly creating a classy folk melody (kachhi hai uamariya ….), while at another he could easily convert a folk genre song in to semi classical rendition by introducing the classical notes bereft of the rusticity and earthiness of the folk (Ka sang khelun faag ree…..), and at the same time keeping the folk intentions of the lyrics intact not an ordinary task!

Kachchi Hai Umariya - Chaar Dil Chaar Raahen (1959) - Meena Kapoor - Anil Biswas - Sahir Ludhiyanvi
Kaa Sang Kheloon Phaag - Mahatama Kabeer (1954) - Asha Bhosle - Anil Biswas - Sant Kabeer

And for a man from Bengal to know and understand about the ‘Paipatta’ singing which is practiced in a very limited part of UP and Rajasthan in Holi singing is nothing short of a wonder. Anil da introduced this ‘Paipatta’ singing in a sophisticated veiled way, as in the original form it at times crosses the boundaries of decency, in his Holi song in Raahi , the composition of which can be a case study in folk music!

Holi Khelen Nandlala - Raahi (1953) - Ira Majumdar & Anil Biswas - Prem Dhawan

Let me mention some of Anil Da’s songs with distinct features of folk and which are very dear to me as keep on listening these off and on.

Anil Da composed one of the most authentic Sohar songs, which is a distinct folk genre of UP, Bihar, MP and Rajasthan , in HFM in Aurat 1940 ‘Ghoonghar wale hain baal mere lala ke…’ celebrating the ’Chhatee’ after the child birth. In the Muslim community of these areas also Sohar songs were sung but the ‘Chhatee’ was not celebrated as in the case of Hindu Families. In 1954 film Mahatma Kabeer, AnilDa adopted a tradition tune from these areas used in Sohar, and Banna and Banni songs (sung in marriages) and composed this beautiful Sohar song of Muslim families. Let’s enjoy the flair which Anil da has for the folk tradition of India.

बाबा अँगनवा खिलावे ललनवा
मैय्या बरोठे झुलावे पलनवा
ललना की मोरे बलाएँ दूर ,
तेरी गली में बरसे नूर अल्लाह तेरी गली में बरसे नूर .......

Allah Teri Gali Mein Barse Noor - Mahatama Kabeer (1954) - Chandbala & Chorus - Ilham Malihabadi

In Aarzoo 1950 Anil Da not only composed but also sung a Nautanki style song ‘ Hamen maar chala ye khyaal ye gham na idhar ke rahe na udhar ke rahe….’ , not the instrumentation and the style in which the he sings the antara and visualize a Nautanki performance taking place before your eyes!

Humein Maar Chala Ye Khayal - Arzoo (1950) - Anil Biswas - Anil Biswas - Majrooh Sultanpuri

And then there is the Abhiman 1957 song ‘Palla dori palla…..’ set in Lavanee mode and a mix of Nautanki style is kind of a fun song which has all those elements of a folk song, note the use and adayagee of the words ‘ae samhaal’ and ‘phirrr’ by Anil Da himself and you know how deeply he knew the finer and rustic nuances of folk music and how well he could put these in the use to give the song an authentic folk personality!

Palla Dori Palla - Abhimaan (1957) - Asha Bhosle & Anil Biswas - Anil Biswas - Indeevar

In his Calcutta days one night when he was returning home after completing his work in theatre he saw that a group of Bihari people sitting around an 'alaav' and singing a folk song ' madhubanawa gaile na, more nand ke dularwaa madubanwa gaile na, kunjanwaa gaie na ...' Anil Da got impressed by the tune and he used that tune in the song 'Mori baali re umariya ...' in Chhotii Chhotii Baaten. Listen and feel the real folk nuances at their delicate and sweetest best!

Mori Baali Re Umariya - Chhoti Chhoti Baaten (1965) - Lata Mangeshkar - Anil Biswas - Shailendra

And the epitome of Anil Da’s command on the folk genre can be seen in the two Holi songs, one which he composed in Mahatma Kabeer ‘Holi hai be, siyavar Ramchandra ki jai …..’ I am yet to come across a Holi song in Toli style in rural India where the Toli of Holi Hulladbaazi and the delicate singing of Holi by womenfolk of the villages is composed in better way than in this song. This song is kind of a case study in Holi or Faag singing on the occasion of Holi in small towns and kasbas of India. This is typical Holi song where the Hudangi Toli of man's way of Holi singing and the gentle and romantic Holi singing and celebration by women folk not only come together in a single song but in a seamless and most realistic manner too.

Listen to the song and see the picture taking shape in your mind through music and lyrics where at the start of the song the listener can not only feel but can become the part of a Hudadangi Toli of Holi Rasiyas who are having fun and teasing whosoever comes across, Note the collective call of 'Siyavar Ramchandra Ki Jay ...' this motif is used to silence the opposition and the kind of angry response by the teased person. And just after this call a Holi Hudadangi saying to the teased person ' Hloi hai Be....' i.e ‘why mind friend it is Holi’ and thereby making the teased person also a part of the gang so the next moment this teased soul becomes the teaser for other victims.

And then after having this Hudadangi fun in the streets of the village this Toli reaches the residential mohallla where the womenfolk of the village are singing on the thaap of Dholak and dancing by taking gentle circles with the rang and gullal saying 'Bhar Bhar Maare Pichkaarii mora Baalmaa Holi Aayee Re..' and the gentle and romantic play of combined Holi is on with rang and gulaal and pichkaariis. And the intensity of the rang from the pichkaari is so that one feels as if saawan has come in the faagun and it is raining the rang.

And the way Anil Da himself renders the funny and teasing part of the song is the proof of his great command and knowledge of Indian Folk Music!

There are very few songs in HFM which so completely gives such a vivid picture of the celebration of the festival of Holi in its fine gentle romantic flavor and at the same time in its truly rustic manner. It is one of finest combination of romance and rusticity of Holi singing ... !!

Siyavar Ramchandra Ki Jai … Holi Hai - Mahatama Kabeer (1954) -  Anil Biswas & Chorus - Anil Biswas

And finally the Holi song which Anil Da composed in Jwaar Bhaata 1944 - ‘sararara ararara gao kabeer…..’ is a song which only a maestro like Anil Da could have composed, the way he brings the ‘Alah Udal’ style of singing in the antara and then with the harmonium and by repeating the words Chali ae chali aji chali … returns to a Khantee UP and Bihari Holi, is the kind of stuff of which melodious dreams are made of …. !!

Sa Ra Ra Ra Gaao Kabeer - Jwar Bhata(1944) - Anil Biswas & Chorus - Anil Biswas - Pt. Narendra Sharma

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tarzan in Hindi Films


When Edgar Rice Burroughs created the character of Tarzan in 1912, he couldn’t have imagined that his character would be so embraced by the popular culture across the globe. Not even in his wildest dreams would he have thought that his character would spawn such a franchise in India. Between 1937 and 2000, the Hindi film industry produced 22 films about Tarzan, as is evident from the list below:

  1. Toofani Tarzan (1937)
  2. Tarzan Ki Beti (1938)
  3. Toofani Tarzan (1962)
  4. Rocket Tarzan (1963)
  5. Tarzan & Gorilla (1963)
  6. Tarzan Aur Jadugar (1963)
  7. Tarzan & Captain Kishore (1964)
  8. Tarzan & Cleopatra (1964)
  9. Tarzan & Delilah (1964)
  10. Tarzan Aur Jalpari (1964)
  11. Tarzan & Circus (1965)
  12. Tarzan & King Kong (1965)
  13. Tarzan Comes to Delhi (1965)
  14. Tarzan & Hercules (1966)
  15. Tarzan Aur Jadui Chiragh (1966)
  16. Tarzan Ki Mehbooba (1966)
  17. Tarzan in Fairyland (1968)
  18. Tarzan 303 (1970)
  19. Tarzan Mera Saathi (1974)
  20. Tarzan (1985)
  21. Tarzan & Cobra (1987)
  22. Return of Tarzan - Jungle Hero (2000)

Interestingly, it was in 1962 that John Guillermin made Tarzan Goes to India and it seems that Tarzan loved the country so much that he refused to leave India. Where else would he have found the opportunity to romance with characters as diverse as Cleopatra or Delilah or even a mermaid; to enjoy the circus, get lost in fairyland and even make a trip to the National capital; or to boldly enter the domain of other myths for a tryst with King Kong or Hercules or purloining the wonderful lamp from Alladin? Tarzan had a ball of a time in the 60s in India.

John Guillermin’s Tarzan Goes To India got an Indian avatar as well. An enterprising producer thought of doing a mix and match of scenes from the English movie (which featured Feroz Khan and Simi) with newly shot scenes with other Indian actors to create a version called Tarzan Mera Saathi in 1974, complete with a few songs by Shankar Jaikishan. What we finally got was this:

From John Cawas in the 30s to Hemant Birje in the 80s, Tarzan in India traversed a long way. But one actor who became synonymous with Tarzan was Azad. Not only did he play Tarzan in most of the films in the 60s, he also played Zimbo, another character inspired by Tarzan, in several films like Zimbo, Zimbo Finds A Son and Zimbo Comes To Town . In the 30s we had another Tarzan inspired character called Zambo that resulted in two films - Zambo The Ape Man and Zambo Ka Beta.

Many of these Tarzan films had decent music. Sample some of the songs:

Toofani Tarzan (1937): A bathing song featuring Gulshan, a bold actress from the 1930s

Prem Karat Ban Mein - Toofani Tarzan (1937) - Unknown Female Voice - Master Mohammed - Pt. Gyan

Rocket Tarzan (1963): A lovely melody by Suman Kalyanpur

Hum Tum Ko Mana Rahe Hai - Rocket Tarzan (1963) - Suman Kalyanpur - Robin Banerjee - Yogesh

Tarzan & Captain Kishore (1964): Geeta Dutt & Mahendra Kapoort having fun in this duet

O Mr. Johnny Mizaaj Kaisa Hai - Tarzan & Captain Kishore (1964) - Geeta Dutt & Mahendra Kapoor - Manohar Lal & S. Kishan - Akhtar Romani

Tarzan & Delilah (1964): Usha Mangeshkar sounding sweet in this semi-classical song.

Mori Payal Geet Suna - Tarzan & Delilah (1964) - Usha Mangeshkar - Robin Banerjee - A. Shamsheer

Tarzan Aur Jalpari (1964) - Asha Bhosle singing a Suresh Kumar melody, embellished with orchestration that is typically 60s.

Geet Hue Hain Ghayal - Tarzan Aur Jalpari (1964) - Asha Bhosle - Suresh Kumar - Zafar Rahi

Tarzan & Circus (1965) - A rare gem from Husnalal Bhagatram towards the fag end of their career as music directors

Chaand Hai Mehmaan Ae Dil - Tarzan & Circus (1965) - Asha Bhosle - Husnalal Bhagatram - Madhukar Rajasthani

Tarzan & King Kong (1965): Belo Bose dancing in the villain’s den (?)

Bujha Do Deepak - Tarzan & King Kong (1965) - Suman Kalyanpur - Robin Banerjee - A. Shamsheer

Tarzan Comes to Delhi (1965) - A delectable melody by Dattaram

Husn Iqrar Kare - Tarzan Comes To Delhi (1965) - Lata Mangeshkar - Dattaram - Anand Bakshi

Tarzan & Hercules (1966) - Krishna Kalle singing praises of the weather.

Mausam Hai Bada Mastana - Tarzan & Hercules (1966) - Krishna Kalle - Momin - Naqi Azmi

Tarzan Aur Jaadui Chiragh (1966) - Suman Kalyanpur dancing in front of a tribal deity.

Ae Mere Bhagwan Tu Hi Bata - Tarzan Aur Jaadui Chiragh (1966) - Suman Kalyanpur - Shafi-Shaukat - Aziz Ghazi

Tarzan Ki Mehbooba (1966): An Shankar Jaikishan like composition by Suresh Kumar in Suman Kalyanpur’s voice.

Uff Ye Mausam Khushnuma - Tarzan Ki Mehbooba (1966) - Suman Kalyanpur - Suresh Kumar - Anjaan

Tarzan in Fairyland (1966): A qawwali in the voices of Mohd. Rafi & Kamal Barot

Gar Pyar Hamara Sachcha Hai - Tarzan in Fairyland (1966) - Mohd. Rafi & Kamal Barot - Jimmy-Premnath - Shevan Rizvi

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Maa Ganga Kashi Padhaari…

हरिहर यहीं पर आन बसे
जिनकी कृपा से जिनकी दया से
काशी अजर है काशी अमर है
ऋषि मुनि सुर नर ध्यान धरत हैं

Kashi – The Eternal City. A city that is believed to have existed since the beginning of time, and will continue to exist even after the Mahapralay.

In Mark Twain’s words: “Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together…"

In Hinduism, Kashi is considered to be the holiest of holy cities. It is believed to be the center of the earth. A dip in the Ganga at Kashi is believed to be a sure shot path to moksh (salvation). From its genesis from the ‘cow’s mouth’ in the Himalayas as the playful and noisy Bhagirathi, it merges with Alaknanda at Devprayag to take on the name Ganga, and as it matures and slows down while traversing the path across the plains of Uttar Pradesh it takes on the role of the ever benign and all-forgiving mother. By the time it reaches Kashi it has brought many other rivers and tributaries within its fold and attains the role of mokshdayini.

I am reminded of a recent song welcoming Maa Ganga to Kaashi . The song is in Hindi, but is taken from a Tamil Film – Naan Kadavul. Literally translated, it would sound almost blasphemous – I am God. But in the context of Hindu spirituality it implies the ultimate stage of enlightenment where you’re one with the Supreme Being. In Sanskrit it equates to Aham Brahmasmi or Shivoham, or in the words of sufi Mansoor Al-Hallaj, Ana al-haqq.

Interestingly, Adi Shankaracharya in his Kashi Panchantak (five verses) embodies the same philosophy and implies that Kashi is synonymous with ultimate enlightenment and exists within the enlightened one. The first verse reads:

मनोनिवृत्ति:परमोप्शान्तिस्सा तीर्थवर्या मणिकर्णिका च
ज्ञानप्रवाहा विमलादिगङ्गा सा काशिकाहं निजबोधरूपा

(I am that city of Kashi in the form of my own pure awareness. The supreme peace that is the quietude of the mind is that Manikarnika ghat, the holiest of the holy. The flow of the waking consciousness is the divine Ganges)

… Source: Kashi Panchakam of Sri Shamkaracharya by Swami Tattvavidänanda Sarasvati

So here you go:

Kashikaham… Aham Brahmasmi …. Shivoham …. Ana al-haqq… Naan Kadavul


Maa Ganga Kashi Padhaari - Naan Kadavul (Tamil, 2009) - Kunal Ganjawala - Ilaiyaraja - Bharat Acharya