Music composer duo Kalyanji-Anandji created scores of hit songs for Hindi films, which have entertained generations of audiences. One of the most sought-after music composers of their time, they preferred to maintain a low profile. Some of the best-known films they composed music for include Don (1978), Bairaag (1973), Saraswatichandra (1968), Qurbani (1980), Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978), Laawaris (1981), Tridev (1989), and Safar (1971). Their evergreen songs include Dum dum diga diga, Zindagi ka safar, Mera jeevan kora kagaz, Ek tha gul aur ek thi bulbul, Pardesiyon se na ankhiyan milana, Pal pal dil ke paas, Arre deewano mujhe pechano, Aur iss dil mein, Sama hai suhana suhana, Yeh mera dil, Pal bhar ke liye, Mera angne mein, Chandan sa badan, Kya dekhte ho, Salaam-e-ishq, Vaada karle saajna, and Khaike paan banaraswala, among others. Known to create tunes that were simple and appealing, they also composed songs based on classical ragas such as Bageshri, Todi, and Yaman. They also made interesting use of instruments such as the bagpipes, the trumpet, the santoor, the rahab, and the shehnai. Composing several hundred songs between 1959 and 1991, they also composed background scores for their films. They won the Filmfare Award for Best Music Director for Kora Kagaz (1974), the National Award in 1968 for Saraswatichandra, and the First Platinum Disc by HMV for Muqaddar Ka Sikandar.
Brothers Kalyanji and Anandji were the sons of Virji Shah, a Kutchi trader who moved to Bombay to set up a provision store. Settling down in Mangalwadi, Girgaum, the locality was home to several stage and music personalities over the years, including Pandit Bhaskar Bua Bakle, Shanta Apte, and Snehal Bhatkar. They began to learn music from a music teacher, who taught them in lieu of paying his bills to their father. Before long, they realised that music was not just an interest but also something that could become a profession.
At the age of 20, Kalyanji started a music group called Kalyanji Virji and Party, which turned out to be a fairly successful band, performing musical shows within and outside Bombay. He came into contact with film folk through his stage shows, and soon gained the opportunity to play for film recordings. He went on to play the clavioline, an imported instrument, to produce the sound of the been or flute of the snake charmer in the highly successful Nagin (1954).
Kalyanji’s playing won him praise, but the film offers did not pour in, resulting in Kalyanji and Anandji continuing to stay occupied with their music shows. Kalyanji’s big break came with Samrat Chandragupta (1958), for which he scored music solo; Anandji was still young at the time and yet to join him in films. Composing catchy tunes using the sitar, shehnai, violins and dholak, Kalyanji recorded popular songs such as Mujhe dekh chand sharmaaye rendered by Lata Mangeshkar, and the Lata-Rafi duets Chaahe paas ho chaahe door ho, and Bhar bhar aaye akhiyaan. His work in Post Box 999 (1958) also clicked with songs such as Bichhde hue milenge phir by Asha-Rafi, Mere dil mein hai ik baat by Manna Dey-Lata, O neend na mujhko aaye by Hemant-Lata, and Jogi aaya sandesa leke bhagwan ka by Manna Dey winning appreciation. Kalyanji went on to compose for Bedard Zamana Kya Jaane (1959), creating songs such as Main yahaan tu kahaan, Kyun mile tum hum bewafa o sanam, Door kahin tu chal, Naina hai jaadu bhare, and Qaid mein hai bulbul.
While there were films whose music was nothing to write home about, such as Chandrasena (1959) and Ghar Ghar Ki Baat (1959), Kalyanji who was joined by Anandji, went on to score music that was appreciated in films like Madari (1959), Satta Bazar (1959), and Chhalia (1960). The latter included musical hits like Baaje paayal chhun chhun, Chhalia mera naam, Dum dum diga diga, Teri raahon mein khade hai dil thaam ke haiye, and Mere toote hue dil se.
The duo went on to score music for a slew of films including Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere (1960), Pyaase Panchhi (1961), Mehndi Lagi Mere Haath (1962), Bluff Master (1963), Phool Bane Angaare (1963), andDulha Dulhan (1964). Flying high with Himalaya Ki Gode Mein (1965), Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965), Aamne Saamne (1967), Dil Ne Pukaara (1967), Upkar (1967), Juari (1968), Saraswatichandra, Johnny Mera Naam (1970), Purab Aur Paschim (1970), and Safar (1970).
Kalyanji-Anandji composed well-appreciated music in the decades that followed as well, in films such as Maryada (1971), Paras (1971), Victoria No. 203 (1972), Blackmail (1973), Zanjeer (1973), Kora Kaagaz (1974), Dharmatma (1975), Don (1978), Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978), Qurbani (1980) and Iraada (1991). The last film they scored music for was Ulfat Ki Nayi Manzilen (1994).
The music composer duo was known to create tunes that were simple and appealing, minus the complicated touches meant for the connoisseur. That said, they did compose songs based on classical ragas such as Bedardi dagabaaz ja which was based on Bageshri, Main toh ik khwab hoon based on Todi, Ek tu na mila based on Charukeshi, and Chandan sa badan based on Yaman. Composing several hundred songs between 1959 and 1991, they also composed background scores for their films. The singers they mainly worked with include Mohammed Rafi who was their first choice, Lata Mangeshkar who rendered more than 300 of their compositions, Asha Bhosle, Kishore Kumar, Manna Dey, Mukesh, and Mahendra Kapoor.
The more extroverted Kalyanji passed away on 24 August, 2000, while Anandji continues to make his presence felt at music shows, judging contests, and scoring music.