Anil Biswas

Veteran Music Director Anil Biwas who gave music for memorable films such as Roti (1942), Kismet (1943), Anokha Pyaar (1948), Waaris (1954), Pardesi (1957) and Char Dil Char Raahein (1959) passed away in Delhi on May 31.

He received early musical assignments from Kazi Nazrul Islam at the Megaphone Gramaphone Company. Followed several Calcutta Theatre Stage Productions notably at the Rangmahal Theatre where he scored the music and did some acting as well. He moved to Bombay in 1934 where he was first employed at the Eastern art Syndicate. He then joined Sagar Movietone and then its successor National studio from 1940 - 1942 wherein he gave the music for three outstanding Mehboob Khan films - Aurat (1940), Bahen (1941) and Roti (1942). His recitative prose songs in the last mentioned film helped give the film its parable dimension and came close to an indigenous Brechtian mode. He then shifted to Bombay Talkies where he worked from 1942 - 1946.

His biggest success at Bombay Talkies was Kismet, coming the following year. The film itself was a tremendous success running for over three years at Calcutta. A lost and found crime drama, one of the major reasons for its success was Anilda's evergreen musical score. By now trained singers were entering the Film Industry giving Music Directors opportunities to try out newer sounds. The songs in Kismet be it the patriotic Door Hato O Duniyawalon Hindustan Humaara hai or the sad Ghar Ghar Mein Diwaali or the soothing lullaby Dheere Dheere Aa sees Anilda make splendid use of Amirbai Karnataki's full throated voice. The last named song, a duet with Ashok Kumar, often had Anilda jokingly comment that perhaps it was the only song that Dadamoni sang in tune! Some other films that Anilda gave music for at Bombay Talkies include Dilip Kumar's maiden film Jwar Bhatta (1944) and Milan (1946).

Anil Biswas's best-known compositions are among the most effective film adaptations of theatrical music with 12 piece orchestras and full-blooded choral effects. In fact Anil Biswas's contribution to film music is multi-faceted. Beyond all the musical masterpieces that Anilda composed, he was also responsible for being the man behind such voices as Surendranath, Parul Ghosh (his sister married to renowned flutist Pannalal Ghosh), Sitara Devi, Mukesh, Talat Mehmood besides monitoring Lata Mangeshkar's early career. It was Anilda who taught Lata and other singers the techniques of breath control while singing and putting emphasis on syllables that came on the beat of the song. It was Anilda who not only discovered Mukesh but encouraged him to come out of being a K.L. Saigal clone and it was he who insisted that Talat keep the tremor in his voice which other composers saw as a flaw. As it was, it was this quiver in his voice that made Talat the unique singer he was. This is best illustrated in two outstanding songs among many others that he sang under Anilda's Baton - Ae dil Mujhe Aisi Jagah Le Chal (Arzoo (1950) and Seene Mein Sulagtein Hain Armaan (with Lata from Tarana (1951)). It is also said that Anilda was responsible for the basic structure of film songs that we know today and was a pioneer in using the counter melody and the use of Raag Maala.

After his stint with Bombay Talkies, Anilda freelanced and his work in the 1950s include Music for films by Filmistan (Heer (1956)), Mahesh Kaul (Abhimaan (1957), Sautela Bhai (1962)) and KA Abbas (Rahi (1952), Munna (1954), Pardesi (1957) and Char Dil Char Rahein (1959)).

Feeling disillusioned with the changing trends and the tragic end of his younger brother and elder son in the year 1961, Anilda shifted base to Delhi. He took charge of Chief Producer (Sugam Sangeet) at AIR, Delhi on 1st March 1963 and served upto June 1975 (though with a break in between). He was also vice-chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University for 2 years. In between he did the odd film like Mahesh Kaul's Sautela Bhai before retiring with Motilal's Chhoti Chhoti Baatein in 1965. The film although failing at the box office is still remembered for his singer wife Meena Kapoor's rendering of Kuchh Aur Zamana Kehta Hai. Incidentally Anilda's one grouse with the Film Iindustry was that it never gave Meena Kapoor (Rasiya re - Pardesi) her due. He always used to say that here was a voice with base, huskiness and sex! But the Film Industry just didn't know how to use it!

Anilda later scored the music for Doordarshan's pioneering TV series Hum Log (1984) and a number of documentaries for Films Division.

Some of Anilda's other prominent films include Gramophone Singer (1938), Jeet (1949), Aaram (1951), Humdard (1953), Faraar (1955) and Angulimal (1961).

The other notable films in which he gave outstanding music were JuarBhaata (Dilip Kumar’s debut making film - 1944). “Pehli Nazar” (1945 - which introduced Mukesh to the Indian public) Milan (1946) Anokha Pyaar (1948) Ladli (1949) and Arzoo (1950). The last one sky-rocketted Talat Melmood’s fame for his Aye Dil Mujhe Aisi Jagah Ley Chal. This was also Talat’s first song recorded in Bombay.

Anil Biswas’s later films were Aaram (1951), Taraana (1951). Doraaha (1952), Hamdard (1953), Waaris (1954), Pardesi (1957), Sautela Bhai (1962) and Chhoti Chhoti Baaten (1965)  he last named movie, very sensitively directed and produced by actor-par-excellence, Motilal, turned out to be the swan song for its creator. Motilal died before the film was released and crashed at the box office.

Anil Biswas is not only a music director, he is an institution in himself, an epitome of knowledge and authority on both the classical and the folk music. He is also well versed with the western symphonies which he has used extensively and successfully in his musical scores.
Maestro Naushad, has paid glowing tributes to Anil Biswas in a popular TV program in these words- "Anil Biswas, my guru, is the first music director to have introduced the use of melody and counter melody in his songs and his background score, and I and others have greatly  benefited from Biswas‘s successful experimentations”