indian cinema heritage foundation

Dhani Ram

Music Director
  • Born: 1922 (Bulandshahr)
  • Died: 14 March 1967
  • Primary Cinema: Hindi

Veteran singer and music composer Dhaniram was born in 1922 in Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh. He started his training in classical music from a young age. He was trained by Khan Saheb Buteh Khan for five years and learned the harmonium, tabla and singing. In 1935 he moved to Delhi to work in Aakashvani as a singer. The ghazals and bhajans sang by him gained much acclaim from the listeners and even attracted the famous record company, His Master’s Voice. HMV invited Dhaniram to Lahore to sing songs for them. During World War II, he also worked for Punjab Government in their publicity department for almost two and a half years and then returned back to Lahore to record more songs for HMV. In 1945 he became the music director for HMV. There he got the opportunity to give music for two films.  It was there he started his career as the music director for the film Papiha Re (1948) and composed 12 songs, some of them were, Pathar ka mila takiya, Barkha ki rut hain, Ek pardesi loot gaya and Papiha re. But as fate would have it, he had to return to India after the Partition leaving two of his film projects incomplete. 

One day he was approached by Kuldip Pictures, the production company he had already worked for in Lahore, to compose music for one of their films. Unfortunately, the company couldn’t finish the film on time, leaving Dhaniram to struggle in the industry. Then in 1953, he got the chance to give music, along with Naresh Bhattacharya, in B R Chopra’s Shole (1953) starring Ashok Kumar and Bina Rai. Film’s music was liked by the audience and many songs from the film became quite popular. Following the success of Shole (1953), Dhaniram composed music for films like Ladki (1953), Dak Babu (1954), Shahi Chor (1955), Roop Basant (1955), Shahi Bazar (1957), Taqdeer (1958), Baaje Ghungroo (1962) and Awara Ladki (1967). 

Among these films, his work in Lekhraj Bhakri’s Dak Babu (1954) is still considered his best. The song Ghir ghir aaye badarva kaare from the film, which was sung by Talat Mahmood, created magic when the film was released. 

The interesting part of Dhaniram’s music was his use of classical music to compose tunes for film songs. Unfortunately, most of the films where Dhaniram gave music were costume dramas where the scope to use classical tunes was limited. Dhaniram was inspired by the Folk music of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. He studied western music alongside his extensive practice of music from all states of India.
Baaje Ghungroo was the last film that released before his death. Dhaniram passed away on 14 March 1967 after battling with throat cancer for a long time.