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‘Zindagi Ka Safar’ Lives On…

September 19, 2013 | By

Kalyanji-Anandji’s music had a distinct flavor of its own. It stayed away from the so-called “inspired” takeoffs on western hits, and lent a delectable folk flavor to the songs.

When singer-music director Hemant Kumar was composing music for Nagin, which had 16 songs in 1952, he encountered a strange problem.

The music had to have a lot of snake dances and a liberal dose of the “been“, a piper type of wind instrument played by the snake charmers. But none of the saperas (snake charmers) called into the studio, could play the “been” in tune with the music composed by Hemant Kumar.

The story goes that finally it was his young assistant Kalyanji who helped out by playing the “been” in all those songs. He used a clavioline (an electronic keyboard instrument, which was a forerunner to the analog synthesizer) to create the effect of the “been”. Could we ever forget the “been” in “man dole mera tan dole” and “mera dil yeh pukaare aaja” by Lata Mangeshkar in Nagin?

Nor can we forget the music of Kalyanji Veerji Shah who started off as Hemant Kumar’s assistant and debuted solo with the music of the film Samrat Chandra Gupta in 1954. Two years later he formed a musical duo with brother Anandji. Though he is not with us now, he has left a treasure trove of melodies for music lovers.

Kalyanji-Anandji’s music had a distinct flavor of its own. It stayed away from the so-called “inspired” takeoffs on western hits, and lent a delectable folk flavor to the songs.

Chandan sa badan chanchal chitvan” and “main to bhool chali babul ka des, piya ka ghar pyaara lage” from Saraswati Chandra had the folk music of the duo’s home state Gujarat since the story was based there.

Says MN Sardana, film historian who documents lesser known actors and technicians who played significant roles in Hindi films, “In 1959, brothers duo were working on music jointly. The name of younger sibling Anand Ji had, however, not yet been added with the name of elder sibling Kalyan Ji Bhai. O Tera Kya Kehna, a small budget movie’s main attraction was the racy music provided by Kalyan Ji Veer Ji Shah. For the songs, Kalyan Ji Bhai utilized the voices of many singers viz Mohammad Rafi, Mahendra Kapoor, Manna Dey, Subir Sen, Lata Mangeshkar, Geeta Dutt, Suman Kalyanpur and Kamal Barot. The movie was directed by K Parvez, who later reemerged with a new identity of Kalptaru and directed many family oriented movies. The young and glamorous Miss Helen performed a western dance, lip syncing the naughty club song crooned by Geeta Ji.”

Majnu ke chhilke (O Tera Kya Kahna, 1959)

For director Asit Sen’s Safar, which had a story based in Bengal, “Nadiya chale chale re dhaara” had a tinge of the Bengal’s Bhatiali folk. The soulful “Zindagi ka safar hai yeh kaisa safar” (Safar) never fails to tug at your heartstrings even now.

The amiable Kalyanji bhai, as he was fondly called, always had a smile and a joke on his lips to liven up people. The duo’s heydays were in the seventies when they came up with evergreen numbers such as “oh saathi re, tere bina bhi kya jeena(Muqaddar Ka Sikandar) and the memorable friendship ballad in the Afghani folk style “Yaari hai imaan mera, yaar meri zindagi(Zanjeer).

As Bollywood film music moved from lilting melodies to mindless copying of western pop, and music directors fought bitterly in public over film projects, the duo quietly retreated, concentrating on holding shows abroad and grooming young talent under the “Little Wonders” stage program.

Alka Yagnik, Sadhna Sargam and tiny tot Aditya Narayan owe much of their success and training to Kalyanji-Anandji. Viju Shah, Kalyanji bhai’s son is today a music composer in this own right.

Hindi film music is in constant transition with the use of acoustics getting replaced with digital sounds, items songs and fast beats pushing out soft melodious compositions and “inspired tunes” becoming more the norm rather than original compositions. But Kalyanji, along with Anandji have left behind a rich legacy of evergreen music and Hindi film music buffs will always remember the man who composed the ever memorable Kishore Kumar number, “Mera jeevan kora kaagaz, kora hi reh gaya”.

More to read in Music Makers

Aane Wala Pal Jaane Wala Hai… The Immortal Songs of RD Burman-Gulzar

The Magic of the Melodies of Roshan and Chitragupt

The Pathbreaking Non-conformist – The Music of RD Burman

Simple, Soulful, Sublime: The Music of Hemant Kumar

The Incomparable Music Of S D Burman Transcends Generations

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Editor in Chief, Learning and Creativity; Consulting Editor, Silhouette Magazine. A former business journalist, Antara writes extensively on the changing trends of music, direction and filmmaking in cinema. Her articles aim to provide well-researched information on the legends of cinema for the movie and music enthusiast. She is also the Founder-Editor of Blue Pencil, a New Delhi-based publishing house. She edited and published Incomparable Sachin Dev Burman, the biography of SD Burman written by HQ Chowdhury. She has co-authored a chapter on Hemant Kumar's Bengali music in the acclaimed book The Unforgettable Music of Hemant Kumar, written by Manek Premchand. Her articles have also been published in and Antara is Editor-Creative Director of Wisitech InfoSolutions Pvt. Ltd.
All Posts of Antara Nanda Mondal

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2 thoughts on “‘Zindagi Ka Safar’ Lives On…

  • Srinivas Patnaik

    Piya Ka Ghar (Yeh Jeevan hai), the music was by Laxmikant Pyarelal. Not sure why there is no music maker of “Laxmikant Pyarelal”, biased against them?

    1. Antara

      Thank you for pointing out the error, Srinivas Patnaik ji.
      I have rectified it.

      No there is no “bias” against Laxmikant Pyarelal or for that matter any music maker. It’s just that we have not had a story on them as yet.

      Thanks again for reading and sharing your feedback 🙂

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