‘Classical music has suffered a huge loss because of film music’ remarked Dhaniram, which surprised me. Till now many music directors had mentioned how Classical music had gained popularity by being represented in a simple way through film music and I had expected a similar answer from him. But when he gave an opposite answer I asked ‘How come ?’
‘That is because those who are well versed with classical music come to the film world and die of hunger. That is why many people are least interested in classical music.’
Then I asked ‘What do you think is the reason for the bad state of classical musicians’.
‘As the persons with knowledge of classical music know the basics of music very well they hardly resort to the cheap ‘copying’ of tunes from western or other foreign tunes. They churn the raag-raginis to give valuable butter-like unique tunes. The same is not at all possible for some & for them, it is a terrible loss.
After learning the basics from Buteh Khan, Dhaniram had made his brother Omkarnath his guru. During those days Dhaniram used to sing for Aakashvaani Delhi. This was around 1935. After that in 1942, he started working as Music Director for ‘Song Publicity Organization’. He became the Music Director for ‘HMV’ Lahore in 1945. It was there that he started his career by giving music in Papiha Re (1948).
During the time of partition, Dhaniram left the films Kaalidas and Mera Desh incomplete and went to Delhi. He started working there as a music director.
‘In the year 1955 (?) I went to Bombay’ as told by Dhaniram. Here he started getting one after another film. ‘ B. R. Chopra’s Shole (1953), A.V.M’s Ladki (1953), Dhuaan (1953), Daak Babu (1954), Shaahi Bazaar (1957), Shaahi Chor (1955), Baaje Ghungroo (1962) and dubbed films like Matwala (1958), Mahavath (1961), Taqdeer (1958),Aankh Ka Nashaa (1956) & Ladki were some films through which I could showcase my talent. However, only the audience can say if I have been successful in my attempts or not.’
‘Surely the audiences would give witness to your success. Just tell me now something about the audiences.’ My words were ‘Do you know what the Audience likes ?’
‘We cannot measure the likes of the Audiences. Just understand that whatever fascinates the mind becomes their favourite.’
Around 42 years ago Dhaniram was born in Secunderabad. It was a huge surprise that he developed an interest in music. He was so much lost in his passion for music that he didn’t realize how he overcame the difficulties. In 1932 when he came with his father to Shimla he remained there only. He learnt music till 1935 from Buteh Khan. Then when he took an oath by singing and composing, then he had dedicated his life to music. He has given such gems like O. P. Nayyar. Dhaniram was Nayyar’s guru for many years. Vinod who had given music in a Punjabi Film Chaman (1948) was also his disciple. Sabita Banerjee lent her voice for the first time under Dhaniram’s composition. It was in the film Aankh Ka Nashaa (1956).
Let’s hear in his own words what all he has to do to make tunes for a song. ‘First, think about the situation and then get lost in the deepness of the words in the song. I do attempt to be in synchronization with what the lyricist has penned. When the mind gives the nod I wrap the tunes around the words.’
‘This means that you don’t give your tunes to write a song?’
‘I have not tied myself in such instances. Many a times when the tunes have been created first I have given the lyricists to write upon that. But I do believe that the lyrics should come first and then the tune.’
Dhaniram was inspired by the folk music of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. He had not only learnt music of all states in India but also western music.
According to him, audiences are happy to hear new tunes and newness can only be brought by experimenting.
Cinemaazi thanks Sudrshan Talwar and Cineplot for contributing this interview conducted by Devdas ‘Kusum’ for Filmi Sangeet Magazine