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Bharat Vyas: Hindi Poetry Thrived in His Film Songs

August 12, 2023 | By

The multi-faceted talent — poet, director, music director, singer and lyricist Bharat Vyas wrote some of the most loved and revered songs in Hindi cinema. NS Rajan explores the life and works of this poet-lyricist who did not get his due.

Bharat Vyas

Bharat Vyas


There cannot be two opinions that a significant number of Hindi film songs composed in the six decades between the 1930s and the 1970s achieved great popularity and fame owing as much, if not more, to their words as to their tunes and their instrumental scores. From the highly accomplished and talented pioneer of Hindi film music in the 1930s to the 1970s, over an era spanning 50 years, almost all the songs regarded as “most loved ones” by aficionados of Hindi film music had excellent lyrics in them.

Lyricists in Hindi film music have the toughest job of all. They are, almost all of them, ‘Poets’. But, unlike poets, who are inspired by nature, thoughts, events and emotions to give free rein to their creative imagination and dexterity with words, film song writers are compelled, or if I may say, severely restrained in their scope. A film director conceives ‘song situations’ to suit his story and enhance its value by creative picturisation of the song. The composer then creates five or six tunes to suit that situation, and one of them is finally selected. The director and the composer freely allow their creativity to blossom. But, the lyricist/poet, having no such freedom or licence, has to then write words to perfectly suit not only the situation on screen, but also seamlessly synchronise with the tune created by the composer. They are always expected to deliver beautiful lyrics under such strained conditions, often unable to impart poetical expression to the song. This is the reason why even top lyricists sometimes need to come up with lyrics that are sub standard.

Although lyricists ought to have received the acclaim that such brilliance conferred on them, most of them rightfully did not get their due. Some lyricists did become very famous and even iconic.  But, sadly, a few highly competent and imaginative poets and lyricists, had to remain on the sidelines despite their wizardry with words, owing to the peculiar nature of the manner in which success was measured in the Bombay film industry. The audience in general, remembered mostly the singer and the music composer. Wikipedia, till today, names only the music composer in its short credit snippet and the singers in the song list. The lyricist finds a mention only in the ‘Soundtrack’ section.

One of such prominent poets and lyricists was poet, director, music director, singer and lyricist, Bharat Vyas whose brilliance was not matched by material success, a paradox that many other lyricists of his time also faced.  Perhaps, in his case, a contributory fact was that, because of the genre of some of his early films, he was typecast as good only for mythological, religious and historical films (he was lyricist for three films on the lives of saints — Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Jagatguru Shankaracharya and Sant Raghu).   This may have influenced producers to conclude that he was not a  lyricist for the kind of films that succeed at the box office.  In the Bombay film industry, it was natural to regard such films as B grade, not certain of commercial success and as a consequence, the artists associated with it were also never considered as top class,  despite their obvious talents. There were many such highly competent composers and lyricists, considered not reliable for delivering hits and successes, typecast as belonging to a particular genre and thus routinely condemned to mediocrity, without their talent being actually tried out or experimented with in writing for commercially oriented films.

Early life

Bharat Vyas was born in Bikaner on January 6, 1918.  He lost his father at a very tender age of 2 years. He studied B.Com in Calcutta but his interest in acting landed him roles in stage performances. His work in his own play ‘Rangeela Marwad’, staged in the hallowed Alfred Theater in Calcutta, received favourable atttention. After completing his studies he came to Bombay. It is interesting to note here again that initial bond with Calcutta, something common to several such Hindi film music personalities of Bombay in the initial years of their careers.


Toofan Aur Deeya poster

Toofan Aur Deeya poster

Bharat Vyas’ first assignment as a lyricist was for Duhaai (1943), a film made by his elder brother Brij Mohan Vyas, for which one of the music directors was Pannalal Ghosh, the famous flautist.  Bharat Vyas had a long and fruitful association with producer, director and actor V Shantaram, famous for the string of musical hits Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje (1955) that flowed from his Rajkamal Kalamandir (earlier Prabhat Film Company). Shantaram was a pioneer who put Maharashtra on India’s film map. Music composers Vasant Desai and C Ramchandra were his trusted team members.

Shantaram and Vyas collaborated for movies such as Toofan Aur Deeya (1956), Do Ankhen Barah Haath (1957) and Navrang (1959), all carrying songs that became hits, meaningfully written with depth, compassion and in a language that was regarded as ‘elevating’.

Vyas always chose to write in clear Hindi. When Shantaram and Vyas were discussing the lyrics of the songs for Do Ankhen Barah Haath, Shantaram wanted Vyas to reframe a song to reflect a universally acceptable and secular prayer song, not reflecting any particular region or religion. Vyas then rewrote the song, beginning it with Aye maalik tere bande hum. Shantaram was very happy with the latter version. It is a great tribute to Shantaram’s perspicacity and Vyas’ ability that this song has been one of the finest spiritual songs ever written for Hindi films and remains highly popular even to this day.  It is still sung as a morning prayer in many schools in India and even in a few schools in Pakistan (with only a few words changed)! The male version of this song was sung by V Shantaram himself with a chorus.  No praise is too high for the composer Vasant Desai too for creating a tune and music for this song that leaves a lasting impression on one’s mind.

Aye maalik tere bande hum (Do Ankhen Barah Haath, 1957) Vasant Desai / Bharat Vyas / Lata

Vyas had a good vibe with composer Khemchand Prakash and wrote for the film Ziddi (1948) which had Kishore Kumar’s very first song in Hindi films for a lead actor Marne ki duayein kya maangoon, filmed on Dev Anand.  Bharat Vyas wrote another Khemchand Prakash hit, Jagmag jagmag, karta nikala, chaand punam ka pyara also sung by Kishore Kumar in the film Rimjhim (1949).

Geeta Dutt and Kishore

Kishore Kumar recording a song with Geeta Dutt with Bharat Vyas looking on

Finding the going hard in Bombay, Vyas moved to Madras (Chennai now) and, with Pandit Indra, wrote for the very successful film Chandralekha (1948) for the prolific producer S S Vasan’s Gemini Studios.  The music, which was significantly instrumental in the success of the film, was composed by the highly talented Saluri Rajeshwar Rao, who had also composed for the internationally acclaimed Telugu film Malleswari (1951) and many other hits in Telugu and Tamil. Pandit Indra wrote 8 and Vyas four of the songs for Chandraklekha, which became runaway hits.  Vyas himself sang one song for Chandralekha, but ironically, this was written by Pandit Indra.

His best output was in the fifties decade during which he wrote 568 songs for 86 films that were much acclaimed for their musical and lyrical content (he wrote a total of 1,247 songs for 185 films in his career). His landmark films in the 50s were Parineeta (1953), Toofan Aur Deeya, Do Ankhen Barah Haath, Janam Janam Ke Phere (1957), Rani Roopmati (1957), Goonj Uthi Shehnai (1959), Kavi Kalidas (1959) and Navrang (1959).

Sandhya dances in the rain with the children to Umad-ghumad kar aayi re ghata in Do Ankhen Barah Haath (1957) (Pic courtesy: NFAI on Twitter)

Vyas wrote two songs for Madan Mohan in the film Aankhen (1950). One of them Mori atariya pe kaga bole sung by Meena Kapoor was a hit.  For Ravi, he wrote Chanda Mama Door Ke for Vachan (1955) sung by Asha Bhosle, and also a Rafi/ Asha duet Jab liya haath mein haath.  Vyas’ association with Sardar Malik is notable for the film Saranga (1961). The songs of the film — Saranga teri yaad mein and Haan, deewana hoon main, made Sardar Malik’s name immortal.

A ‘sunny’ side to the serious poet

The film Navrang (1959) produced and directed by V Shantaram under his own banner Rajkamal Kalamandir holds a special place in the repertoire of Bharat Vyas.  Set in the pre Indepependence era, the film showcased the dancing talent of Shantaram’s wife Sandhya. It had 12 songs, all written by Vyas. Music composer C Ramchandra turned out a delectable mix of classical-based songs, high on entertainment quotient, and most of the songs were hits.

Kaviraja (Navrang)

Kaviraja, kavita ke mat ab kaan marodo

But, what comes across as an interesting episode in Navrang which reveals the lighter side of Vyas is one song, laced with humour, satire and pun. One sees a very different Vyas, as creative in humour as in serious, flowing poetry.  Mahipal, the lead male actor in the film, plays the role of a poet (as Vyas himself was in real life), and although churning out brilliant poetry by the yard, he remains permanently impecunious, unable to make a decent living out of writing poetry. He has a large circle of friends and they meet often. During one such meeting, one of them (Agha) advises him to give up his obsession with poetry which was unlikely to properly feed him and his family and instead concentrate on earning some money through other profitable means.  Vyas, whose own career in writing poems and lyrics had not exactly been a thriving occupation, created a very appropriate and enjoyable song for the occasion and even sang it himself (the other songs were rendered by C Ramchandra, Manna Dey and Mahendra Kapoor). It is an admirable piece of satire, humour and pun:

Kaviraja, kavita ke mat ab kaan marodo.
Dhande ki kuch baat karo
Kuch paise jodo
Listen to the song here.

Brilliantly conceived and sung by Vyas himself, the song and its situation in the film reflects an attempt on his part to laugh at himself and his work as a poet, having regard to being sidelined and unable to achieve the success that he was due in his own life. It also provides a deep look into the folly of being a mere ‘Poet’ in this material world. One can imagine the setting in which Ramchandra and Vyas created this song, lit by the spark that provided the thought process, and an outlet for Vyas to vent his frustration with a world, oriented only in financial success and unappreciative of artistic pursuits.

Vyas recreated today

One of his best creations is from the film Boond Jo Ban Gaye Moti (1967) — Yeh kaun chitrakar hai sung by Mukesh and chorus with music by Satish Bhatia. Bharat Vyas brought to bear his immense talent and virtuosity on this song, written in praise of nature, and the Creator who made everything.  The sheer beauty and universal appeal of this splendid ode to nature which impacts people across all age groups may be judged by the fact that a 17 year old student Anshula was inspired to create a VM with this song playing in the background, while she let her unfettered creativity and skill produce visuals that fully complement the wonderful song.

Yeh kaun chitrakar hai (Boond Jo Ban Gayi Moti, 1967) Satish Bhatia / Bharat Vyas / Mukesh

A quick recall of some of Bharat Vyas’ most loved songs:

1. Chand hai wohi, sitaare hain, wohi gagan —  Parineeta (1955) / Arun Kumar Mukharji / Geeta Dutt.
2. Chali Radhe Rani —  Parineeta (1955) / Arun Kumar Mukharji / Manna Dey
3. Nirbal se ladaai balwan ki — Toofan Aur Diya (1956)  / Vasant Desai / Manna Dey
4. Aa, laut ke aaja mere meet — Rani Roopmati (1957 / S N Tripathi / Mukesh
5. Ae maalik tere bande humDo Ankhen Barah Haath (1957) / Vasant Desai / Lata (There is also a male version of this, sung by Shantaram himself with chorus).
6. Tere sur aur mere geet  — Goonj Uthi Shehnai (1959) / Vasant Desai / Lata
7. Jeevan mein piya, tera saath rahe Goonj Uthi Shehnai (1959) / Vasant Desai / Lata and Rafi
8. Keh do koi na kare yahan pyarGoonj Uthi Shehnai (1959) / Vasant Desai / Rafi
9. Dil ka khillona haye toot gayaGoonj Uthi Shehnai (1959) / Vasant Desai / Lata
10. Saranga, teri yaad meinSaranga (1961) / Sardar Malik / Mukesh
11. Haan diwaana hoon mainSaranga (1961) / Sardar Malik / Mukesh
12. O nirdayee preetam — Stree (1961) / C Ramachandra / Lata
13. Jyot se jyot jagaate chalo Sant Gyaneshwar (1964) / Laxmikant Pyarelal / Lata and Mukesh
14. Tum gagan ke chandrama hoSati Savitri (1964) / Laxmikant Pyarelal / Manna Dey and Lata
15. Jeevan dor tumhi sang baandhiSati Savitri (1964) / Laxmikant Pyarelal / Lata

Chand hai wohi (Parineeta, 1953) Arun Kumar Mukharji / Bharat Vyas / Geeta Dutt

In an interview, Bharat Vyas was asked how he could write such striking, soulful lyrics. He replied, “When the heart bleeds, genuine poetry flows instantaneously.” Yet, as the ‘Kaviraja‘ song that he sang himself for Navrang shows, he was quite versatile and full of satirical humour when the occasion demanded that.

He passed away, at age 64, on 5 July 1982. At the time of his death, he was involved in a project of presenting the Ramayana in poetic form, to be put to music by Shyam Sagar.  He was also directing two Rajasthani films.


1.  Bharat Vyas (Golden Jubilee issue of Listeners’ Bulletin, 1982)
2.  Bharat Vyas – The Prolific Lyricist – I (Mehfil Mein Teri)
3.  Bharat Vyas (Down Melody Lane)
4.  Bharat Vyas: Lyricist Extraordinaire in Hindi (Songs of Yore)

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NS Rajan is a retired senior IRS Officer. He is an avid reader and a sports lover, particularly cricket, having watched many greats in action from the late 1940s (he has played cricket at a fairly competitive level). He loves listening to music of all genres, is fascinated by Hindi film music of the ‘golden era’ and has written many essays on composers, lyricists and singers. Rajan loves to sing and spends some of his time singing on his karaoke system. He likes to write and has contributed articles, short stories and letters to newspapers and magazines, some of which have been published in Silhouette Magazine and LnC. Rajan is very fond of travelling and learning about new and fascinating places and is a keen observer of all that he sees, hears and observes during his travels. Travel and photography usually always go together and Rajan has been interested in photography from his teens, weaned on a German Zeiss Ikon. His abiding love for travel and photography inspired him to write an illustrated book on his trip to the USA, Go West Odyssey: How I Saw America in 19 Days, including in it a number of pictures taken by him during the trip. He works actively to keep himself engaged in some mental pursuit or the other and to keep himself mentally and physically fit at the ripe old age of 87.
All Posts of Rajan NS

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2 thoughts on “Bharat Vyas: Hindi Poetry Thrived in His Film Songs

  • Madhu

    Wonderful and heart touching review by Rajan sir on Bharat Vyas, a versatile artist with talents ranging from being a poet, director, music director, singer, and lyricist, penned some of the most cherished and admired songs in Hindi cinema.

    Despite their poetic talents, lyricists often had to conform to song situations in films, limiting their creative freedom. This resulted in varying recognition for their contributions.
    Bharat Vyas, a versatile artist, faced some challenges due to his association with specific film genres.

    His collaboration with V. Shantaram resulted in impactful songs, like “Aye maalik tere bande hum.” This song, universally appreciated, showcases both Vyas’s and Shantaram’s brilliance.

    Rajan sir has masterfully portrayed the complete journey of Bharat Vyas’s talent, encompassing his introduction, career and life history, and culminating with a thoughtful conclusion.

    Thanks & please continue to share your valuable knowledge and insights with us.

  • N.S.Rajan

    Thank you, Madhu for your kind words. I feel immensely pleased when I find someone as keenly knowledgeable and devoted to Hindi film music of the early era. These composers and song writers had to scratch and scrounge for a living before they were even reasonably better off. But they continued to toil and still produce poetry and music which regales us even to this day, nearly a century later.
    I owe a lot to the ‘Silhouette’ magazine that has enabled me to pour out in words what I had only been thinking about for decades.
    Thank you.

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