Thursday, January 18, 2018
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Anil Biswas passed away on May 31, 2003.I wanted to write on him last week. But Raj Kapoor could not be superseded. So I chose to pay my tributes to the great musical genius today

Music director Anil Biswas was undoubtedly the undisputed pioneer among music directors of Mumbai. Saraswati Devi was there in Bombay Talkies. Ranjit had Khemraj- Khemchand Prakash- and both of them churned out great melodies, the latter having the proud privilege of making Saigal sing his songs .But in course of time they faded away. Anil Biswas, however, kept on crossing one landmark after another after he made his debut in 1936. And he polished the diamond in the voices of Mukesh and Talat Mahmood to turn them into the two most sought-after voices in filmdom. Incidentally, Anil Biswas made very little use of Mohammad Rafi.
When you think of music director Anil Biswas, which songs strike you instantly ? Some of you will say, ‘Dur hato ai duniya walo Hindustan hamara hai’ from film ‘Kismat’. Some others will say, ‘Dil jalta hai to jalne de’, the song that shot Mukesh into limelight in film ‘Pehli Nazar’. Some of you will remember the Talat number with which he made his debut in Hindi films, ‘Ai dil mujhe aisi jegah le chal jahan koi na ho’ picturised on Dilip Kumar in film ‘Arzoo’. And if I ask you to think about his duets, some of you will recall, ‘Seene mein sulagte hain arman’ from ‘Tarana’; others will remember ‘Zamane ka dustoor hai ye purana’ (Lajawab) or ‘A muhabat ki basti basayen ge hum (Kishore and Lata in FAREB)). Some may even think of ‘Dheere dheere aare badal’ from film ‘Kismat’. His is an unending saga of melodies, some that have no parallel.
. I cannot help recalling one episode of ‘Sare re ga ma’ conducted by Sonu Nigam. When Naushad entered the programme and spotted Anil Biswas already sitting there, he went up to him and touched his feet in reverence. That was Anil Biswas!
I would like to recall an interesting incident which Anil Biswas himself recalled. Mehboob was making film ‘Roti’ in the early forties. He told Anil Biswas that he wanted a new singer to feature in that film. The music director suggested several names. Mehboob shook his head. Who were the singers then ? He named them all –Shanta Apte, Amir Bai Karnatki, Zohra Bai, Shamshad Begum, Hamida Bano, Zeenat Begum. But no. ‘Give some other name’. Anil Biswas says that in sheer desperation, with a note of sarcasm, he said, ‘Then call Akhtari Bai Faizabadi’ (who later on became Begum Akhtar). Anil Biswas says it was his turn to be stunned when he found that Mehboob agreed to the proposal at once.
Akhtari Bai was not only contacted to just sing. She was given the role of the heroine in that classic movie ‘Roti’ which incidentally was banned by the British. But it had several songs of Begum Akhtar. However, the songs have survived on the discs but were deleted from the film because of some contractual hitch between the singer and the producer. It seems that some one instigated Akhtari Bai that the contract was signed by her as an actress and not as a singer and that she should demand extra remuneration for the songs .But apparently Mehboob said that the contract had to be accepted in its totality. There was no agreement. And the songs were withdrawn. Whoever was behind the mischief deserves severest condemnation for misleading the Begum and probably instigating Mehboob not to surrender to the singer’s whims and fancies. But when the movie was first released the songs were there. And one of them still haunts me because Radio Ceylon has it and they play it off and on: ‘Voh has rahen hain aah kiye jaa raha hoon main’.
Many of you might not be knowing that Mehboob Khan had made ‘Mother India’ 15 years prior to the Nargis classic too. The title of the movie was ‘Aurat’. Singer Surendra enacted the role played by Rajendra Kumar in Motherindia, villain Yaqub was Sunil Dutt and the role immortalized by Nargis was played by Mehboob’s wife Sardar Akhtar. Kanhaiyalal as Sukhi Lala starred in both. When Mother India was released, after the premier show Sardar Akhtar went to Nargis, gave her a big hug and said, ‘You have done far better than I did’. That was Sardar Akhtar’s greatness.(Her sister, Naseem Akhtar married A.R.Kardar and also turned out to be a famous singer with the song, ‘Aag lagi dil mein vo pyari, gaane lagin umangein saari’ in Saigal-starrer ‘Shah Jehan’). Anil Biswas also used Naseem Akhtar’s voice for that memorable number from film ‘Pehli Nazar’—‘Un ka ishaara jaan se pyara,degaya dil ko mere sahara’)
In ‘Aurat’ , Anil Biswas himself sang a song too which was quite popular, ‘Kaahe karta der baraati, kaahe karta der’.(In fact Anil Biswas had sung several songs which were almost lost till U Tube discovered them. One of them was a solo by him in Mehboob’s Ek hi rasta). But the song that became a big hit was rendered by Surendra and Jyoti, ‘Utth sajni khol kiwaare tere sajan aaye duwaare.’
Anil Biswas and Mehboob were together in ‘Alibaba’ too. Surendra was the singer again. His duet with Wahidan became a big hit, ‘Hum aur tum aur ye khushi ye kehkahe ye dil lagi, chitki hui hai chhandni hum aur tum’ In fact it was Anil Biswas who gave Surendra a break in film ‘Gramophone Singer’ in 1937 or so. Saigal was then on top. In Gramophone singer’ Surendra sang a solo, ‘Birha ki aag lagi more man mein’. The tune was a copy of Saigal’s hit Devdas number, ‘Balam aye baso more man mein’
Anil Biswas had composed that beautiful number, ‘Tere poojan ko bhagwan bana man mandir alishaan’ in film ‘Bharat ki Beti’ in mid-thirties. But his composition for Surendra and Bibbo in film ‘Man Mohan’ became a big hit: ‘Tumhi ne mujh ko prem sikhaya soye hue Hriday ko jagaya’.Anil Biswas , after a long stint with Sagar Movietone and National Studios(Mehboob) became a free lancer by scoring music for Bombay Talkies films.When he was still under contractual obligations and could not use his name, he gave the name of his brother-in-law flutist Panna Lal Ghosh as music director of film Basant in which he introduced his sister and wife of Panna Lal Ghosh, Mrs Parul Ghosh as the playback singer without revealing her name. Basant was a classic(remade as ‘Kathputli’ by director Amiya Chakraborty in the 1950s). It had hit songs like, ‘Tum ko mubarak ho oonche mahal ye, hum ko hain pyari hamari galiyan’. Then there was ‘Mere chote se man mein choti si duniya re’. Both these songs, rendered by Parul were later on sung by child star Madhubala in that very film as required in the story.
The film had a sad number too which Parul sang excellently: ‘Umeed un se kya thhi aur kar vo kya rahe hain’ It was an instant hit, so too the choruses ‘Gori mose Ganga ke paar milna’ and ‘Aya Basant sakhi birha ka ant sakhi’.
Anil Biswas’s immortal classic – the biggest box-office hit till Sholay—was Bombay Talkies’ ‘Kismat’ in which the stars were Ashok Kumar and Mumtaz Shanti. Anil once revealed that he did not want anyone to associate him with Basant. So he changed the playback singer, replacing Parul with Amir Bai Karnataki for the heroine though he used his sister for a solo for a character artiste. I think he shouldn’t have done that. The heroine of Basant was Mumtaz Shanti too. If she had sung in Parul’s voice for the second consecutive hit, people would have got the impression that the heroine was herself singing the songs as discs of BT Films in those days did not carry the name of the original singer in all cases
However Kismat was also a bumper musical hit. One cannot forget how successfully Anil Biswas used Ashok Kumar to sing a lori with Amir Bai. , ‘Dheere dheere aare badal, dheere dheere jaa, mera bulbul so raha hai, shor-o-ghul na macha’. Amir Bai sang this as the solo too. The film had a bhajan too: ‘Ab tere siva kaun mere Krishna Kanhaiya, Bhagwan kinare se laga de meri naiya’. There was a philosophical number also;’Zindgi bande jiye jaa , Ek pyale mein hai amrit ek pyaale mein zeher, jo tujhe malik pilaye, piney wale tu piyeja Zindagi bande jiye jaa’ And then a sad number in which the heroine curses her fate: ‘Hum aisi kismat ko kya karen ke jo ik din hasaaye ik din rulaye’. The climax number was a stage show in which the heroine begins on a mournful note but ends up in dancing when she spots her lover in the audience. ‘Ghar ghar mein diwali hai mere ghar mein andhera’. Film ‘Kismat’ was complete. It was in the cans, ready to be sent to cinema halls all over the country when producer S.Mukherji halted the process and said, ‘You have to include another song’. Kavi Pradeep was called and asked to write lyrics embracing the mood of the Quit India movement that Gandhiji had then launched in 1942 and it was just over. The Director protested. ‘It is too late’, said Gyan Mukherji (product of Allahabad University) but S.Mukherji said nothing doing. This song has to be included. And so the song was hurriedly included and so beautifully integrated in the story—twice – that none could guess that it was a last-minute insertion. The song was, ‘Dur hato ai duniya walo Hindustan hamara hai, Aj Himalaya ki choti se phir hum ne lalkara hai’. The British were duped into believing that the song was directed against the Germans and Japanese who were trying to invade our country though the ‘Duniya walo’ against whom the ‘Dur Hato’ slogans were raised included the British as well But they were duped by the lines, ‘Shuru hua hai jung tumhara jaag utho Hindustani, tum na kisi ke aage jhukna German ho ya Japani, aj sabhi ke liye hamara yehi quami naara hai, dur hato ai duniya walo Hindustan hamara hai’’. Won’t you appreciate the genius of Kavi Pradeep, another product of Allahabad University, who created an illusion that hoodwinked the British ?
Even the next film for BT was a hit, ‘Hamari Baat’. Parul sang Anil Biswas-tuned songs which included gems like Main un ki ban jaoon re and Ai baad-e-saba ithlati na mera gumcha-e-dil to sookh gaya, mere pyaase labon ko chhooe bina paimana khushi ka toot gaya’ written by Pandit Narendra Sharma, once advisor to Nehru on Hindi in Anand Bhavan and also famous as the founder of Vividh Bharati.
Anil Biswas used sister Parul in Dilip starrer ‘Milan’ for the heroine Mridula: ‘Gun gun gun gun gun boley bhanwara hamari bagiya mein aye ke’ and ‘ Main kis ki laaj nibhaoon aur kaise laaj njibhaoon’. In fact Anil Biswas also composed music for Dilip Kyumar’s maiden film ‘Jwar Bhata’ in which the song that became very popular was, ‘Sanjh ki bela panchi akela..’
Anil Anil Biswas, who had given a break to Zohra Bai in film Gramophone singer, brought Mukesh to the limelight in film ‘Pehli Nazar’. Motilal was the hero and Mukesh was his cousin. It was through Motilal’s influence that producer Mazhar Khan allowed him to sing. Mukesh reportedly came late for recording. Anil Biswas, then right on top, was so annoyed that he gave him a tight slap. Anil once recalled, ‘The fingerprints of mine remained visible on his fair-complexioned face for quite some time’. But it was in that mood that Mukesh sang, ‘Dil jalta hai to jalne de’. Mazhar Khan did not like it much. He said distributers, who paid for each song, wanted that number to be deleted. Motilal pleaded with them, ‘Let it be allowed for 15 days. If the public response is not favorable the song might be taken off’. Mazhar Khan agreed. Mukesh recalled in one of his Jai Mala programmes, ‘Today the film has been forgotten, its producer director has been forgotten but this song continues to remain a favorite’. Saigal was living then. People confused Mukesh with him as the disc did not carry his name but that of the character Mushtaq who had rendered it on the screen. Mukesh became a much-sought singer over night. This film had a hit female solo number too: ‘Un ka ishara jaan se pyara de gaya dil ko mere sahara’. The disc carries the name of Husna. But I recognized the voice to be that of Naseem Akhtar. Late Ghafil Faizabadi was once going to meet Anil Biswas. I asked him to request him to reveal the name of the singer of this song. He returned to tell me that my guess was correct. The singer was Naseem Akhtar.
Once again it was Anil Biswas who gave a break to Talat Mahmood too in Hindi films by featuring him in the hit ‘Arzoo’ number, ‘Ai dil mujhe aisi jegah le chal jahan koi na ho’. It was filmed on Dilip Kumar. Anil again used Talat for Dilip to sing in ‘Tarana’ - and what stupendous hits these songs were such as ‘Seene mein sulagte hai arman’ and ‘Ek main hoon ek meri babasi ki shaam hai’ ‘
For Mukesh too he tuned some ‘Lajawab’ numbers including one, a duet with Lata, in film ‘La Jawab’---‘Zamane ka dustoor hai ye purana, mita ke banana bana ke mitana..’One cannot forget the ‘Ladli’ number which Anilda made S.D.Batish sing, ‘Ankhen keh gai dil ki baat’ for hero Jairaj.Lata in those days was gold mine. You just cannot imagine how many sweet numbers he composed for her in innumerable films. Each one of those songs are memorable.Surprisingly enough, while Anilda used Talat, Mukesh, Manna Dey and even Hemant Kumar, he did not care to use the voice of Rafi in any of the outstanding songs of his ! Why? I would like someone to explain this phenomenon. Anilda used Kishore once- perhaps only once—in film ‘Fareb’ to sing a duet with Lata. But that song too is memorable. ‘A muhabat ki basti basaaen ge hum’. It was a different Kishore of course but the haunting impact of his tune cannot be missed. He rarely used Shamshad Begum. But the song he tuned for her in ‘Veena’ is a haunting masterpiece: ‘Panchi aur pardesi dono nahin kisi ke meet’.
Manna Dey was too good too. And I think he put him to best use in film ‘Humdard’ wherein he sang that classic four-raag duet with Lata: ‘Ritu aye ritu jaae sakhiri man ke meet na aye’ A Manna solo in this film was a big hit too: ‘Tera haath haath mein aa gaya ke chirag raah mein jal gae mujhe sehel ho gai manzilen ke hawa ke rukh bhi badal gae...’’
Mukesh and Manna Dey were with him in his closing films like ‘Char dil char rahen’, ‘Pardesi’, ‘Choti choti bateen’ Anilda composed for Raj Kapoor a Sahir lyric in ‘Char dil char rahen’ – ‘Nahin kiya to kar ke dekh tu bhi kisi pe mar ke dekh’. And how beautiful was that tune for Manna Dey: ‘Tujh me Ram mujh me raam saab mein Ram samaye’ Hemant sang one powerful solo for Anilda in ‘Jalti Nishani; -‘Keh rahi hai zindagi, jee sakey to jee’ and another solo in ‘Heer’ – Chand sa tukra phool sa mukhra baat haseen, us ko sitaro tum ne kahin dekha to nahin’.
Meena Kapoor was his wife. And he did compose some delightful songs for her my favorite being, ‘Rasiya re man basiya re tere bin jiya mora laage naa’. He made Meena share a tough classical number with Lata in film ‘Sautela Bhai’ -‘Lagi nahin choote Ram chahe jiya jaye’Anilda said it was his ambition to make a tune that would be sung by Saigal and Noor Jehan. But alas that could not be. Had he created one, it certainly would have turned into an instant hit and remembered as a great classic.Talat Mahmood was his favourite. He would never miss praising him. Once he said, ‘There might be many singers who will be able to copy Rafi, Mukesh and others but none will ever get the magic that was there in Talat’s voice.’ Once when he was asked by which film’s music would he like to be remembered he named ‘Aaram’ and then added, ‘Tarana’ In both these films Talat was there though in ‘Aaram’ Mukesh too had sung a solo ‘Ai jaanwe jigar dil mein samaane aja’. ‘Aaram’ was significant for another reason too. It was in this film that Talat made a personal appearance to sing a song which became a big hit, ‘Shukriya ai pyar tera shukriya, dil ko kitna khoobsoorat gham diya’
‘Aaram’ had beautiful Lata numbers including, ‘Mil mil ke bichad gae nain, gaya sukh chhain judai aa gai, hae judai aa gai’. Just listen to the emotionally surcharged voice in which Lata says ‘hae...’ There was a lilting number too, ‘Rootha hua chanda hai roothi hui chandni’ and of course ‘Ujari re mere pyar ki duniya ujarri’
The songs of Tarana were written by Prem Dhavan. One day the two of them were driving home but on way Prem Dhavan had to see somebody for 10 minutes. He asked Anilda to wait in car and scribbled the opening line of ‘Seene mein sulagte hain armaan’ and said, ‘This is a song which you have to tune’. By the time Prem Dhavan returned after 10 minutes, the tune was ready!
I can’t forget some of his other movies, ‘Gajre’ being one in which Suraiya was the heroine. He tuned for her the classic number, ‘Dur papiha bola raat adhi reh gai meri tumhari mulaqat baaki reh gai’. This very film had a Lata treat, ‘Baras baras badri bhi nikal gai ab kab avo ge balma ab kab avo ge sajna’. The Ladli song by Lata is also peach: ‘Tumhare bulane ko jee chahta hai, muqaddar banaane ko jee chahta hai’. ‘Anokha Pyar’ (Dilip) too had some lovely songs. ‘Jeevan sapna toot gaya’ by Mukesh was sung separately by Lata too. This film had two heroines – Nargis and Nalini Jaywant. And what lovely songs by Lata, ‘Yad rakhna chand taro is suhani raat ko’, ‘Ai dil meri wafa mein koi asar nahin hai, main mar rahi hoon jin par un ko khabar nahin hai’, ‘Mere liye vo gham-e-intezar chorr gae, gae to eki anokhi bahar chorr gae’. These were fantastic numbers.
And then how can you forget the Lata gems in film ‘Arzoo’? – ‘Koi pyar ki boli bol gaya mera naram karejwa dol gaya’, ‘Jana na dil se dur ankhon se dur jaa ke’,’Kahan tak hum uthaen gham jiyen ab yan ke mar jayen’ and ‘ Unhen hum jo dil se bhulane lage vo kuch aur bhi yad aane lage’.I also can’t forget the Lata number of ‘Bari Bahu’. It still haunts me: ‘Badli teri nazar to nazaare badal gae vo chandni vo chand sitare badal gae’. This film had a Punjabi folk tune too by Lata and Mukesh, ‘Kahe naino me kajra bharo’ (The same tune was used by Nayyar to compose, ‘Tum rooth ke mat jaana’) Lata’s song in ‘Char dil char rahen’ is a classic too: ‘Intezar aur abhi aur abhji aur abhi...’ The intezar is now for good music, good songs which have become a dream of the past.
On his death many must have recalled the Lata number he tuned for ‘Jalti Nishani’—‘Rooth ke tum jo chal diye, ab main dua ko kya karoon, jis ne hame juda kiya aise khuda ko kya karoon ....’ True so true. But didn’t he tune his first song in ‘Bharat ki Beti’ in which it was said that mysterious are the ways of God which none can understand ?: ‘Nyari hai prabhu teri maya, tera bhed na jag ne jaana, haare rishi muni kar dhyan, bana man mandir aalishan, tere poojan ko bhagwan bana man mandir alishan...’ On May 31, 2003 Anil Biswas left his earthly abode to reach the ‘Mandir Aalishaan’ in the heavens above.

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