With the demise of Anil Biswas on May 31, 2003, Hindi film music lost a doyen composer, an all time legend. Born on July 7, 1914 in Barisaal – now a town in Bangla Desh, Anil Biswas aka Anil- da was from a poor family. He took first lessons in music from his mother but initially he was much more interested in the underground activities of Indian freedom struggle. Carrying secret messages, making bombs – all in the cause of national freedom, this little revolutionary went to British jail no fewer than six times.
At the age of sixteen, Anil Biswas came to stay at Calcutta with his friend and brother-in-law Pannalal Ghosh – a famous flautist. After a brief stint in Bengali films, he came to Mumbai on the advice of Hiren Bose – a noted film director of those times. 1935 movie Dharam Ki Devi was his first as a composer. He is credited as the pioneer who introduced new concepts in film music like playback singing (in 1937 film Maha Geet) and using multi-instrument orchestration.
His music was mellifluous blend of Indian classical and folk styles and even though, his active film music career ended as early as 1965 (Chhoti Chhoti Baatein), the connoisseurs have always cherished his melodious tunes from films like Kismat, Anokha Pyar, Tarana and Aaram. More than anything else, it is his priceless contribution in the making of great singers like Lata Mangeshkar, Talat Mehmood and Mukesh, that has become a part of musical history.
Mukesh’s Dil Jalta Hai To Jalne De,Aansoo Na Baha, Fariyaad Na Kar from the film Paheli Nazar (1945) is a perfect homage to this legendary composer. This immortal raag Darbari- based song presented the Saigal-esque voice of Mukesh in such an enchanting way. Just listen to the heart-wrenching pathos when he says:
Hum Aas Lagaaye Baithe Hain/
Tum Vaada Karke Bhool Gaye/
Ya Suurat Aake Dikha Jaao/
Ya Kah Do Humko Pyar Na Kar.
Before this song, Mukesh had already sung earlier in films like Nirdosh, Us Paar and Murti but had not made much impression. This song became Mukesh’s first notable song, so much so that the singer even mentioned it as his ‘First ever’ song in his last public performance in Canada and unfortunately it also proved to be the last song he ever sung, as he expired soon after that program.
About this song Anilda had said, "Mukesh was like my God-son. I had used the Saigal in his voice in Dil Jalta Hai but then I told him that if he wanted to make name he had to develop his own vocal identity. He could not just be a Saigal’s shadow." Anilda then assisted him in creating that original identity by giving him songs like Yaad Rakhna Chaand Taron and Ab Yaad Na Kar.
Such geniuses are rarely born!