Avinash Vyas is one of the most famous composers in Gujarat. Nirupa Roy, born as Kokila Kishorechandra Balsara is a famous actress. Geeta Dutt (nee Roy) is a legendary playback singer famous for her “Bhaav Gayaki”. These three great artists came together for some wonderful collaborations in Hindi and Gujrati film music.
On our website, we already have a detailed discussion about the songs of Geeta Dutt composed by maestro Avinash Vyas here. We have also briefly talked about “Gujarat’s unlikely love affair with Geeta’s voice” on our website here. The fact that she has sung more songs in Gujrati (close to a hundred) than her mother tongue Bengali (close to 75 odd) is itself a great indication of her affection for the fondly Gujrat.
Avinash Vyas had the unique combination of being a poet and composer. His music and poetry ranged from a variety of geet, bhajan, ghazals, raas, garba, gujarati folk songs. He touched hearts of millions with the simplicity of his words and tunes that were a reflection of the present social-cultural and religious milieu. He also wrote ballet’s and plays (music and dance form). Some of the most popular ones were Dadi Maa Ni Dikari and Putaliwaalo (for Children).
As per an article by Shri Harish Raghuvanshi published in Dainik Bhaksar in 2008 (Gujarati), Avinash Vyas learnt Hindustani classical music from Ustad Allauddin Khan in 1940 after moving to Mumbai. After this training, he worked with HMV and Young India Recording Company as a player. It was during this time that his friendship blossomed with Ustad Allah Rakha (also known as A R Qureshi). National Gramophone Company released his first song in 1940. There after his compositions started getting aired on All India Radio. He was made the President of the Music Department at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan by Shri K.M.Munshi.
One will be actually surprised to know that Avinash Vyas’s music career actually began with Hindi films, the first film being Mahasati Anasuya (1943) which starred Durgha Khote, Shobhana Samarth and Shahu Modak. In this film, music was composed jointly by Ustad Allah Rakha. However, initially, Avinash Vyas did experience his share of trouble and struggle as his music did not get as successful or popular. In 1948, he composed the music for Ratibhai Panatar’s Gunasundari. This film was the stepping stone of his popularity and fame.
It is right from his first Gujrati film, the musical association began with the new and fresh voice of young Geeta Roy. Incidentally, Nirupa Roy was the leading actress of this film and Geeta Roy sang several songs for this film. A fact which can not be overlooked at this point in time is that Geeta did not know any language other than her mother tongue Bengali at this juncture. She used to write the songs in Bengali script in her diary. In spite of this limitation, she was singing songs in Hindi, Urdu, Khadi boli, Braj and Gujrati effortlessly. This special talent and genius of Geeta Roy is often overlooked by the music lover community.
Coming back to the maestro Avinash Vyas. He composed approximately 1200 odd Gujarati songs for close to 190 films. Most of these songs were also penned by him. Additionally, he composed 500 odd compositions for 60 odd Hindi films. His first popular Gujarati film Gunasundari had Nirupa Roy in the leading role. Interestingly, among all of the Hindi Films that he composed music for, Nirupa Roy acted in 15 or so of these films. Those who know Nirupa Roy as the famous mother in the film “Deewar” would probably not know some facts about her. That Geeta Roy sang several dozens of songs for Nirupa Roy in the forties and early fifties would probably come as a surprise to many.
Here is a list of films for which Geeta would have sung for Nirupa Roy (since videos of many movies are not available, it is not certain if a song sung by Geeta for these films was indeed filmed on Nirupa Roy or not)
Gunsundari (1948) – Gujrati and Hindi versions
Nanand Bhojai (1948) – Gujrati and Hindi versions
Mangalphera (1949) – Gujrati and Hindi versions
Hip Hip Hurray (1948)
Hamari Manzil (1949)
Gadano Bel (1950) – Gujrati Film
Har Har Mahadev (1950)
Man Ka Meet (1950)
Veer Bhimsen (1950)
Jai Mahakali (1951)
Lav Kush (1951)
Maya Machhindra (1951)
Shri Ganesh Janma (1951)
Shri Vishnu Bhagwan (1951)
Rajrani Damayanti (1952)
Shiv Shakti (1952)
Raj Ratan (1953)
Shuk Rambha (1953)
Shiv Kanya (1954)
Raj Darbaar (1955)
Shri Ganesh Vivah (1955)
Bajrang Bali (1956)
Sati Naag Kanya (1956)
Do Roti (1957)
Janam Janam Ke Phere: Alias Sati Anapurna (1957)
Krishna Sudama (1957)
Laxmi Pooja (1957)
Naag Mani (1957)
Ram Hanuman Yuddha (1957)
Dr. Z (1959)
Kavi Kalidas (1959)
Apart from Gujarati films, Nirupa acted in many Hindi films, initially as a leading lady and then moved on to take on a variety of roles. One such role was that of the Hindu Goddesses. Tagged as the “Queen of mythological films”, it is said that people actually would line up to take her blessings. Young Geeta Roy sang many songs filmed on Nirupa Roy and this young singer had almost achieved a status of “Audio Goddess”. The film Har Har Mahadev (1950) starring Nirupa Roy and Trilok Kapoor with music by Avinash Vyas and as many as seven songs by Geeta Roy must be the most successful film by this team.
This is a divine bhajan sung by Geeta Roy and Badrinath Vyas for this film. Was the male singer related to the composer?
Here is another lovely song where Goddess Parvati is searching for Lord Shankar.
A classical case of a sweet and soft romantic number in a mythological film. The song “Rum jhum rum jhum chali jaaon main” is a sublime experience in its sweet composition, simplicity in words and effortless singing. In fact these qualities more or less summarize the careers of the composer and the singer here!
The icing on the cake is of course the famous song “Gun gun gun gun gunjan karta bhanwra, tum kaun sandesaa laaye”. The effect of humming of a bee is so well crafted by Geeta in her tender and sweet voice that is truly captivates the heart of the listener.
Coming back to the Gujrati films, the songs of Mangal Phera (1949) can be considered the “Creme de la creme” from this team of composer, singer and actress. Here are two songs that Geetaji sang for Avinash Vyas for the film Mangal Phera. Raakh na ramakda (khilone maati ka, toys of ashes…) sung along with A R Oza. It is said that V Shantaram’s eyes were filled with tears on hearing the song! The second song – a garba – Taliyon na taale. Two totally contrasting songs, and yet so wonderfully rendered. One an immortal “bhajan” Rakh na ramakda is a song that speaks of life and death, human existence, and of human frailty. The other is a fun filled song.
Here is the video of the first song followed by its English transliteration:
Toys of ashes….
the creator sent mortals to play on earth
Made from mud, they were named human beings
New games played everyday
Abusing one another, quarreling over worldly possessions
and over ‘yours’ and ‘mine’
The human body coloured with Maya (attachments)
The worldly life has just begun….even before life flourishes,
it is snuffed away by the storm
The circle of life and death never ends,
The games remain incomplete
Matters of body and soul end the way they start
The other song Taliyona Tale has a magical quality to it. A song that is sung during festivities and gaieties, inimitable Geeta Dutt does justice so beautifully in emoting the playfulness, fun and frolic, transporting the listener to another realm where one can actually experience the gently flowing winds and the full moon night, with the ladies dancing away to the tunes of music.
On this full moon night,
fair ladies are dancing to the tune and rhythm of their clapping hands,
their sky blue lehariya odhni flowing…this full moon night
The moon beautiful and bright,
My beloved draws me towards him
It seems as if this night is disclosing the secrets of my heart….this full moon night
Come closer O fair lady
The moon oscillates your heart strings
The heart gently swaying in beautiful full moon night…
Dance away, beautiful ladies
It seems as if Lord Krishna himself is dancing
On the banks of the river Yamuna this full moon night….
1. Dhunon Ki Yatra (By Pankaj Raag)
2. Shri Harish Raghuvanshi’s article in Dainik Bhaskar
We are thankful to our friend Bhavita for putting together this special article for us.
Also special thanks to our friend Chetan who has been helping us from the inception of this site.