From the RMIM Article Archive maintained by Satish Subramanian

# RMIM Archives.
# Subject: First Among Equals
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# Author: (Lata Khubchandani)

Anilda - First Among Equals

By Lata Khubchandani

Anil Biswas - an ageless, matchless, unforgettable, crusader for music with values

In 1914 - in a Global environment of strife and hatred triggered off by the First World War - there emerged a child of harmony and melody in Barisal, East Bengal (now Bangla Desh): Anil Biswas. The only aspect that the little boy imbibed from the 1914 environment of conflict was the spirit of a revolutionary, and grew up to compose ageless, matchless and unforgettable melody. In fact, it would be no exaggeration to call him a crusader for music with values.

In 1930 young Anil moved to Calcutta and soon attained recognition as an actor, singer and music director. He was associated with the then well-known Rang Mahal Theatre. In 1934, he moved to Bombay at the behest of famous director of yester-years Hiren Bose. Full of ideas and enthusiasm he was shocked and disheartened, to confront the prevailing practice in Hindi film music of literarily converting on celluloid a total imitation of the manner of talking, singing and dancing as on the stage. The talented composer from Barisal was taken aback by the casual and mechanical manner in film-making. His convictions were that the film should not be a stage replica. He could fathom the intrinsic values and promise that films held for a multi-dimensional revelation of the wide range of human emotions in a true to life manner.

The revolutionary in Anil Biswas came to the fore and he set about to give Hindi film music a new definition - a true to life character. He believed in deriving inspiration from India's rich musical heritage and his efforts contributed greatly in ushering in the Golden Era in Hindi film music. Unlike the trend in those days, Biswas firmly believed in following the correct and logical sequence of composing music from lyrics and not vice-versa.

From 1935 - when he composed music for the film Dharam ki Devi - right upto 1965, for 30 years, Anilda (as he is popularly known as) conjured up music compositions of outstanding quality in terms of variety, melody and lyrical harmony. He was the music director for well-known studios like Sagar Movietone and Bombay Talkies, many of whose films were hits due to Anilda's rich musical inputs in terms of background scores and lilting tunes.

One such film, Kismet, of Bombay Talkies ran for over three years - a record which was broken only by Sholay in the '70s. The immortal song Papihaare - sung by Anilda's sister Parul Ghosh (wife of the renowned flute player Pannalal Ghosh) was from Kismat. As also the patriotic song - the first of its kind - Door hato ai duniyaa waalo.

Anilda's compositions have embellished over a hundred films including, among others Aurat, Hamari Baat, Basant, Kismet, Jwar Bhata, Pehli Nazar, Milan, Anokha Pyar, Gajre, Girls School, Arzoo, Badi Bahan, Tarana, Do Raha, Humdard, Waris, Farar, Pardesi, Angulimal, Sautela Bhai and Choti Choti Baaten.

Some of his evergreen immortal compositions are: Papihaare and Main kiski laaj nibhaaun (sung by his sister Parul Ghosh); Door papiha bola (by Suraiya); Raahi matwaale (duet by Talat & Suraiya); Tumhaare bulaaneko (Lata); Seene mein sulagate (Talat & Lata); Aa muhabbat ki basti (duet by Kishore & Lata); Zamaane kaa dastoor (duet by Mukesh & Lata); Bar bar tum soch rahi ho (Duet by Shankar Das Gupta & Lata); Ghar ghar mein diwali (Amir Bai); Door hato ai duniya waalo (Chorus); Naachare mayura (Manna De), Pee bina sunaa re (Manna De and Lata); Ab tere siva koun mera (Amir Bai); Dheere, dheere aare baadal dheere and Rasiyaare, man basiyare and Yaad rakhana ai chand taro (Meena kapoor).

From 1963 to '65 Anilda became the Director of the National Orchestra for All India Radio, and from 1965 he was Chief Producer of Light Hindustani music. His significant contribution has been the title score for one of the first soap popular Hindi serial Hum Log and the popular song Hum honge kaamyaab.

Eminent voices whom Anilda introduced were Mukesh and Talat Mehmood (erstwhile Tapan Kumar). He is perhaps the only music director of his times who introduced new voices - particularly singing stars like Ashok Kumar, Sardar Akhtar, Sitara Devi,Leela Chitnis, Nalini Jaywant and Meena Kumari (then Baby Meena). Some of the outstanding singers who sung for him were Talat Mehmood, Manna De, Mukesh, Lata, Suraiya, Amir Bai Karnataki, Parul Ghosh, Kishore Kumar, and Shankar Das Gupta and his dedicated inspiring life-mate Meena Kapoor.

Another significant dimension introduced by Anil Biswas in his role as an enlightened, knowledgeable and innovative music director was his emphasis on the development of a "voice culture" by his singers. This called for a smooth rendering unaffected by any distortions due to "breathing" and relevant emotional nuances most appropriate to the lyric. Anilda never set the 'cart before the horse' - his musical compositions were based on lyrics and never vice-versa.

Anilda's knowledge and perspective of the richness and importance of the Ghazal as an exquisite melodious persona of human emotions is reflected in the book Ghazaler Rong (Ghazal's colour).

The most recent honour conferred on Anilda recently is by the Government of India, Ministry of Cultural Affairs. He has been made 'National Fellow Emeritus'.


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