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September 2, 2000


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Kalyanji started out scoring 'solo'

Raju Bharatan

Is the duo trend a healthy one in film music? The query might sound misplaced, looking to the extent of sustained success that Kalyanji-Anandji attained as a silver-jubilant team.

The two might have started out as flattering imitators of Shanker-Jaikishan. Indeed, when I first pointed out to Shanker-Jaikishan that Kalyanji had totally modelled himself on the two (tune, orchestra, et al), Shanker was generous in his response: "No matter," came back Shanker. "Kalyanji, after all, is our boy!"

Kalyanji SJ’s boy Kalyanji was. So was Kalyanji senior composer Hemant Kumar’s boy, winning the hearts of one and all by the way he played the claviolin (as the bountiful been) in the Man dole mera tan dole chartbuster of Nagin (1954). This theme song, in fact, was the starting point for Kalyanji (always a super performer in the orchestra) to display his ‘solo’ virtuosity.

And this ‘solo’ side of his persona is the specialist part of Kalyanji I seek to explore here. For all that had to be written -- on how Kalyanji excelled as a duo with Anandji -- has already been done.

It is also rather late in the day, I feel, even to point out a little-known factor in Kalyanji-Anandji’s highly impactive movie, Johny Mera Naam (1970). That film stormed the box-office even as SJ’s Mera Naam Joker saw Raj Kapoor sink like a precious stone. In Johny Mera Naam, if it was Anandji who composed Lata’s O baabul pyaare (to go on Hema Malini), it was Kalyanji’s golden hand that moulded, in that hit movie, Kishore Kumar’s Nafrat karne waalon ke seene mein pyaar bhar doon (on Dev Anand).

Kalyanji, in fact, remains the only duo-section music director, in the 70-year annals of Hindi cinema, to have successfully scored ‘solo’. Otherwise, only in the South has a duo-stamped composer succeeded, while going ‘solo’. My reference is to M S Viswanathan, at first forming part of the duo, Viswanathan-Ramamurthy, that was hailed as ‘The Shanker-Jaikishan of the South’. Vintage Hindi cinesangeet buffs will recall Viswanathan-Ramamurthy as the duo that composed, for their dulcet-duet delectation, the 1956 Naya Aadmi Lata-Hemant Kumar dream duet: Laut gaya gham ka zamanaa aayee khushee lehratee.

Another Lata-Hemant dream duet, O... neend na mujh ko aaye, was the creation of Kalyanji when he began scoring music as Kalyanjee Virji – a full 42 years ago! That O neend na mujh ko aaye duet (still holding us captive) was in Post Box 999. This Shakila-Sunil Dutt 1958-starrer was Kalyanji’s second film as solo composer. Post Box 999 was a noteworthy musical for the fact that, besides the Lata-Hemant O neend na mujh ko aaye heart-stealer, it had three other duets, in different pairings, each a Radio Ceylon ear-catcher in its time.

Those three duets, composed solo by Kalyanji, I now recall as Lata-Manna Dey’s Mere dil mein hai ek baat keh do to bhala kya hai; Asha Bhosle-Mohammed Rafi’s Bichchde hue milenge phir kismat ne gar mila diya; and Suman Kalyanpur-Rafi’s Main hoon Papa Khan Papa Khan. Apart from thus scoring on the duet front, Kalyanji (as a one-man team) had, in Post Box 999, Manna Dey attracting bhajan attention with Jogee aaya le ke sandesa Bhagvan ka, even while Lata came through catchily, under his baton here, warbling: Koi aa jaaye koi aa jaaye bigdee taqdeer bana jaaye.

Yet the solo from Post Box 999 that created a Kalyanji sensation (at the time in Ameen Sayani’s Binaca Geetmala) was the sultry sirenish number that saw Lata ‘do a Geeta’ in a vein of: Ara ra ra ra ra ra ra main to giree re giree re giree re. This one is remembered as a Kalyanji solo that matched anything that even SD Burman had got Lata vocally to ‘vamp’, on Sheela Ramani, in Chetan Anand’s Taxi Driver (1954).

Yet it was not only with his second solo film (Post Box 999) that Kalyanji left a mark. In fact, the first song in his life that Kalyanji composed (in the kitchen, as Manmohan Desai revealed to me!) and recorded was for a movie that never got made at all. This was the Lata-Rafi duet, going serenely sweetly as Bhar bhar aayee aankhiyaan ho mora chup chup roye re jiya – a Lata-Rafi duet that finally found its way into Manmohan’s brother Subhash Desai’s Nirupa Roy-Bharat Bhooshan starrer: Samrat Chandragupta. This 1958 film was Kalyanji’s maiden. A dubious-‘looking’ maiden it had, too, in Nirupa Roy, as Kalyanji had this plain gharelu Jane ‘singing’: Mujhe dekh chaand sharmaye ghata thham jaaye main nikloon to kahe haay!

The crowning insult was this Mujhe dekh chaand sharmaye Indivar song-lyric being identified, on the N52547 78-rpm record, as written by ‘Nirupa Roy’!

Happily, the perennially popular Kalyanji duet on the other side of the same N52547 record, Chahe paas ho chahe door ho mere sapnon kee tum tasveer ho, was duly credited to the lyricist in question: Bharat Vyas. Kalyanji was to inform me later that the ‘misplaced’ ‘Nirupa Roy’ crediting (in the case of Mujhe dekh chaand sharmaye) had been cussedly carried out, following some internal quarrel in the Samrat Chandragupta camp towards the fag end of the movie’s shooting.

Get hold of the above N52547 record, if you possibly can – it is a collector’s item. No less a 78-rpm preservation piece is the N52548 record, carrying the first ever song composed by Kalyanji (Bhar bhar aayee ankhiyaan), a song ultimately figuring in his debut movie, Samrat Chandragupta, as yet another duet written by Bharat Vyas.

You think that is the end of Kalyanji’s Samrat Chandragupta success story? Then sing it again, Ram -- as Yeh samaan hai mera dil jawaan pyaar bhara hai dekho yeh jahaan! How this Lata-Manna Dey duet (written by the late Hasrat Jaipuri) caught our aural imagination in that 1958 Kalyanji breakthrough year!

Plus, there were, in the same Samrat Chandragupta, no fewer than three Kalyanji numbers to hum, each rendered by Lata: Indivar’s Rangeele more raaja dil mein samaa jaa; Hasrat’s Ae dilbar aa jaa aa jaa aa jaa haath se mere le le jaam; and Indivar’s Kal-kal chhal-chhal behtee jaayen mast nadee ki dhaar.

Kalyanji’s third film, Bedard Zamana Kya Jaane (as a Nirupa Roy-Ashok Kumar starrer), was done by this composer under the label of Kalyanji Virjee Shah! And with this movie began the enduringly misty association with Mukesh -- via Naina hain jaadoo bhare ho goree tore naina hain jaadoo bhare.

There was a matching Lata hit scored by Kalyanji in Bedard Zamana Kya Jaane – picturised on Jabeen Jalil as Qaid mein hai bulbul saiyyad muskuraye. Rafi’s solo focus, in this 1959 film, was through its title-song with the motif: Bedard zamana kya jaane.

In addition, Kalyanji came up, in Bedard Zamana Kya Jaane, with three Binaca Geetmala attention-holders in Door kaheen tu chal dil raha hai machal; Main yahaan tu kahaan mera dil tujhe pukaare; and the wistful Kyun mile tum hum bewafaa O sanam – each a hit duet in the voices of Lata-Rafi.

I think the point about duet specialist Kalyanji’s scoring ‘solo’ has, by now, been mellifluously made.

Still, for the 78-rpm record, let me cite duet hits from two other films that Kalyanji did in his solo name. One of these two, Ghar Ghar Ki Baat (starring Azra and Suresh), presented the lilting Lata-Manna Dey Aa jaa mil ke chalen wahaan phool pyaar ke khilen jahaan; also Lata-Mukesh dueting as Yeh samaan yeh khushee kuchch bolo jee bolo jee. Then there is the fifth film that Kalyanji did solo, O Tera Kya Kehna, starring Chitra opposite Mahmood in projecting the hit Kamal Barot-Subir Sen duet of the time (1959): Dil le ke jaate ho kahaan hum to khade hain yahaan chahe tumara dil ho hamara.

It was after such a five-film solo star-turn by Kalyanji that Anandji joined his elder brother-mentor on Satta Bazar for the launch of a duo to savour for its flavour. Kalyanji-Anandji, in fact, were to pose a serious challenge to Shanker-Jaikishan’s suzerainty, at one point, and carry on undeterred when KA's assistants, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, became their arch-rivals.

The advent of Babla and, later, Viju Shah always kept the KA duo fresh for the fray.

So Kalyanji, in the face of succeeding all by himself, did the sensible thing, once he began landing films of the class of Nutan-Raj Kapoor’s Chhalia (assistants: Laxmikant-Pyarelal!), in inviting Anandji to be his full-fledged partner.

It was RD Burman who shed light on this aspect of scoring successfully in popular cinema when I asked Pancham why he was not able to halt a string of flops. "Remember, Raju, my rivals are uniformly two, while I am but one!" noted Pancham, looking crestfallen.

"But you have not one but two very able assistants, Pancham, in Sapan (Chakravarty) and Basu (Manohari)," I pointed out.

"Still, Raju, it’s not the same thing as having a ‘matching’ partner, you know," insisted Pancham. "An assistant is an assistant. You never can have a straight 'one-to-one’ personal equation with him. For such a face-to-face, one-to-one personal equation to develop, Shanker needed Jaikishan, Kalyanji needs Anandji, Laxmikant needs Pyarelal."

What a pertinent point Pancham made there! Take the first-ever duo: Husnlal-Bhagatram (of Chup chup khade ho fame). Pt Husnlal, even while being sweet on Lata, needed Bhagatram to complete the duo picture. So Kalyanji got his showbiz equation absolutely right when he ‘hyphenated’ Anandji as his equal partner.

Kalyanji Still the fact remains that, as a ‘solo’ music director, Kalyanji was no less strikingly successful. And Kalyanji, hailing from Cutch, understood show business like no other mainstream music-maker did. Kalyanji was the first to settle for ‘half-a-territory’ (CP & Berar) as his price for a film -- rather than insisting upon being paid, on the spot, in the form of a set fee. By the same logic did Kalyanji emerge as a pioneer in the matter of organising stageshows abroad.

Amitabh Bachchan was but acknowledging this signal role of the man when he was amongst the first to call at Kalyanji’s home upon hearing about the sad tidings.

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