In Tribute: ‘Verni’

Those of you who’ve been frequenting this blog for a year or more probably came across this earlier post, on my uncle David Vernon Liddle. Vernie Tau (tau is the Hindi word for a father’s older brother) was my father’s elder brother. He was born on October 12, 1929, and passed away when I was barely 9 years old. I do not remember much of Vernie Tau except for the fact that he was a witty, fun-loving man with (as a cousin of mine puts it) “a terrific sense of humour”. And he was a guitarist who played in some of Hindi cinema’s greatest hits from the early 50s.

A tribute, therefore, to Vernie Tau, on his birth anniversary.

Ever since I was a teenager, I knew of two songs that were my favourites, and in which Vernie Tau had played the guitar. One, of course, was the hauntingly lovely Aayega aanewaala, from Mahal (1949), the song which catapulted Lata Mangeshkar to fame—and in which Vernie Tau’s guitar can be heard quite clearly, even during the aalaap.

My other favourite was Tum na jaane kis jahaan mein kho gaye, from Sazaa (1951): a song of heartbreak and despair, another of Lata’s greatest songs—and Vernie Tau’s.

Then there was the (in)famous incident of Vande mataram (Anandmath, 1952), where Vernie Tau was one of the guitarists in a large orchestra. Just before the recording was to take place, it was realised that the number of singers shown onscreen far exceeded the actual number of singers in the choir—so the musicians were told to sing too, since it wasn’t a very complex piece of singing, and all that was needed was voices to swell the chorus. Vernie Tau and his friends (who were pretty disgruntled because Filmistan had been making them shuttle everyday between Bombay and Goregain for rehearsals) sang “One day Bombay, one day Goregaon” instead of “Vande mataram vande mataram”.

But that, many readers will already know about. Here are some things about Vernie Tau—the man and the musician—that I’ve discovered over the past few months, and thought should be a part of a tribute to him.
A couple of months back, I happened to be chatting with my father, and he began mentioning some more Vernie Tau songs—some that I’d forgotten about, some I’d never heard, and some which are very well-known, but which I hadn’t known were part of my uncle’s repertoire.

Some of the lesser-known but good ones were from films that Vernie Tau worked in with his best buddies from when he first arrived in Bombay. As my father put it in an e-mail:

“…after passing his matriculation (probably 1946 or 47) he was not keen to join college. Dada [my paternal grandfather] was furious and gave him a thrashing with a mosquito-net pole. We three, the lower half of the progeny, were frequent beneficiaries of Dada’s generosity with the wrong end of such implements as poles (kamchis) belts and hold-all straps. He had his own interpretation of the adage “Spare the rod and spoil the child” & probably thought it read “Spare the child and you spoil the rod!!!” As Indian independence approached Verni tau was in Lahore. As the riots broke out he managed to flee to India but in the process lost his chappals. During the next few days he was in a refugee camp, registered as David Kumar, perhaps to avoid further tarnishing the family name, and was made to serve food to the inmates…

The trip to Bombay followed where he recorded for Aag and came in touch with Jimmy, S Mohinder (who distinguished himself later by composing “Guzra hua zamana aata nahin dobara” in Shirin Farhad) and a myriad assortment of personalities including I S Johar, Majnu (Harold) and a very young Kishore Kumar who was trying for a break in films despite strong discouragement from Ashok Kumar…”

Harold (who, as Papa indicates, took on the screen name of Majnu) was great friends with IS Johar, and the two of them teamed up in films like Roop K Shorey’s Ek Thi Ladki. Roop Shorey also produced other enjoyable comedies during the late 40s and early 50s, including the delightful Dholak (1951). Vernie Tau played the guitar in one of my favourite songs from Dholak, Mausam aaya hai rangeen, baji hai kahin sureeli been.

Two years later, in the 1953 film Ek Do Teen (also made by Roop Shorey, and starring Meena Shorey and Motilal), the music team came together. Papa, who watched the film recently, said he could identify his brother’s playing: “Verni Tau’s guitar is noticeable in the background in several places. Incidentally even in this movie he has played “Aayega aanewala,” which was his favourite.”

(The little anecdote about Aayega aanewaala appearing in Ek Do Teen is that in this film, Majnu’s character’s getting married, and at the wedding, someone requests the band to play Aayega aanewaala—and the rendition actually has Vernie Tau reprising his playing of the song that he’d originally played five years earlier for Mahal). 

Vernie Tau and his ‘launde-lapaade’ (as Papa refers to them; it means ‘lads’, in a somewhat unruly way) had also come together in another film just the previous year: Shrimatiji (1952), starring Shyama, Nasir Hussain, and (of course) I S Johar and Majnu. Another Mahal connection cropped up here as well: one of the three music directors for Shrimatiji was Basant Prakash, younger brother of Khemchand Prakash, the music director of Mahal.

S. Mohinder, who composed the background music for Shrimatiji, used Verni Tau’s skill on the Hawaiian guitar in several places.
Papa had this to say about Jimmy, the third of the three composers of Shrimatiji:

Jimmy’s compositions are catchy and one of them, “Barkha ki raaton mein dil…” has guitar pieces by Tau. In one song “Hey babu oh babuji main na karun teri naukri” Jimmy has yodelled. Tau had told us that it was Jimmy (the music director of this film) who had taught Kishore Kumar to yodel (and certainly not the foreign yodeller named Jimmy as claimed by some, later when Kishore attained fame). 

In the late 40s and early 50s too, Vernie Tau’s guitar was to be heard in some other landmark songs:

Thandi hawaayein lehraake aayein, from Naujawan (1951). I grew up being utterly fond of this song, totally unaware that my uncle played in it.

Uthaaye jaa unke sitam aur jiye jaa, from Andaaz (1949), composed by Naushad (who told Lata Mangeshkar that she should sing the song in the style of her ‘Pakistani sister’—i.e, Noorjehan).

Seene mein sulagte hain armaan, from Taraana (1951), composed by Anil Biswas, who was a close personal friend of Vernie Tau’s.

Vernie Tau, incidentally, did two stints in Bombay. The first began in the late 40s (when he also played in films like Aag and Barsaat), until the mid-50s, when he decided to shift to Delhi because his fiancée’s father had passed away, and she and her mother were all alone in Delhi. In October 1957, they got married, and subsequently, Vernie Tau decided to move with his bride and her mother, back to Bombay.

The second stint in Bombay lasted from 1959 to 1964, and when Vernie Tau decided once and for all to return to North India, Anil Biswas took a decision to retire as well and move to Delhi. Both pals came back to Delhi in the mid-60s.

During the time he spent in Delhi—both in the 50s, and from the 60s onward, Vernie Tau never let go of his music. Along with a group of other talented musicians, he formed a band that performed at concerts and functions.
Little bit of trivia: Vernie Tau was the first guitarist to appear on the Indian national television channel, Doordarshan: he played at the inaugural function of the channel, sometime in the early 1970s (?)

Vernie Tau—known almost universally as ‘Kumar Sahib’—and his band had some interesting adventures. Two of my cousins mentioned that he once told them about his band being hijacked along a highway and ‘kidnapped’ to play at the wedding of a daaku’s daughter.

Another uncle, my Johnny Tau, clarified this: no, they weren’t exactly kidnapped. It so happened that the band had been hired by someone in Gwalior to play at a wedding. When they arrived—having come all the way from Delhi, of course—they discovered that the host was a dacoit (or at least a near relative of one). Vernie Tau & Co. were pretty scared and nearly turned back, but were reassured that they would be safe, and were even rewarded pretty handsomely at the end of the celebrations.

But Vernie Tau wasn’t only a musician. One of my cousins, my Shalini didi (elder sister of Vijai bhaiya, who, famously, was the one who gave me a completely haywire idea of what The Sound of Music was all about), recently shared some sweet and heart-warming recollections of our uncle. After she finished school and was getting ready to join college, Shalini didi spent some time living with Vernie Tau and his family in Delhi’s Defence Colony.

“Amazingly charming,” is how Shalini didi describes Vernie Tau. Didi shared a close bond with Vernie Tau, partly because he was the one who chose her name when she was born. Her parents—Vernie Tau’s sister and her husband—had wanted to name their baby daughter Brinda, after a then-current journalist whose writing they admired a lot. “Very old-fashioned name,” said Vernie Tau dismissively, and after the new parents came up with a long list of alternative names, he was the one who picked ‘Shalini’ as a suitably modern name.

(Interestingly, it was Shalini didi’s father—Vernie Tau’s brother-in-law—who bought Vernie Tau his first guitar. Way back in the 40s, Vernie Tau couldn’t afford to buy a guitar, but used to love music so much that he would play on hollowed-out dry gourds. He finally asked my uncle for a loan to buy a guitar, and my uncle refused—he said he’d gift Vernie Tau the guitar. So the money was given, and the guitar was purchased from Calcutta).

Years later, Vernie Tau was the one who, having discovered that the teenaged Shalini had never been to a discotheque in her life, took her, along with her mother, to a disco in Delhi. “I had something innocuous,” Shalini didi remembers. “Coke, I think. But it was so much fun.” Vernie Tau was so much fun.

And so generous and loving too, though not in the overly emotional way that Hindi cinema tries to make us believe is real life. One day, while in the neighbourhood park where he used to go for his walk, Vernie Tau happened to meet a poor and very dejected stranger. The man used to work as a servant in one of the posh houses in Defence Colony, but was turned out of the house when he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. He had nowhere to go, so Vernie Tau brought the man home, paid for his treatment, and looked after him until he was well enough to find another job.

And there were Vernie Tau’s pigeons. Back then, kabootarbaazi (pigeon-keeping and pigeon-flying) was a big thing, and Vernie Tau had built up his own massive dove cote on the terrace of his home. He used to spend hours looking after his pigeons, massaging them with almond oil, feeding them almonds and cashew nuts, tending to wounded or ill birds, and (of course) training the pigeons. An annual All India Championship of Pigeon-Flying used to be held, and Vernie Tau, at least one year, won the trophy—a huge one, about 2’ tall.

But. This blog is all about cinema, and I did want to share one major discovery I made recently, re: Vernie Tau.

In my post last year, I’d mentioned that Madhubala’s father, Ataullah Khan, had commissioned Vernie Tau to compose the music for a film that Ataullah Khan was producing, Pathan. After the legal drama following Madhubala’s withdrawal from the cast of Naya Daur, Ataullah Khan had (seemingly) shelved Pathan.

When I wrote that post, I hadn’t known that Pathan had actually been made—with Premnath opposite Madhubala—and had been released in 1962. That fact emerged in the course of the comments following the post. I’ve been looking for the film, but haven’t been able to find it. However, a couple of months back, I did find some of the songs of Pathan, uploaded on Youtube.

Here’s one of them, the lovely Aa jaa ke bulaate hain, sung by Talat Mahmood. The credits, as you’ll notice, include ‘Verni’. From the same film, the music of Chaand mera baadlon mein kho gaya includes Vernie Tau’s guitar.

And, to end: one of my absolute favourite of the songs in which Vernie Tau played the guitar. Yes, Pakeezah was released only in 1972, but it had been in the making for many years—and some of the songs (composed by Ghulam Mohammad) were recorded in the early 60s. Mausam hai aashiqaana was one of them, and Vernie Tau played in it.


62 thoughts on “In Tribute: ‘Verni’

  1. What a super tribute! In my radio shows especially for worldspace,such inputs as who played which instrument where were always on. I wish I had known about this amazing musician, among others like Goody Servai,the Lord family,Pt.Ram Narain….
    Great read!


    • Thank you! Yes, there’s too little known about these fabulous musicians who played in all those awesome songs back then. Actually, not just the musicians, but also a lot of the other people who worked behind the scenes but without whose contributions Hindi cinema would have suffered a lot.


  2. What an interesting tribute, Madhu. It’s befitting that it should be here – on a blog that celebrates cinema. We know so little about the musicians who played in the background, that unless their nearest and dearest write about them or talk about them, we are in danger of losing a greater part of our cinematic heritage.Thank you so much for adding to our knowledge of who your uncle was and the music that he was associated with.


    • Too true. Old certainly is gold.

      Yesterday, I was taking a lift with my sister, who was driving a couple of teenagers – her daughter’s friends – from a party to their homes. On the way, one of them asked my sis, “Aunty, do you like old Hindi film music? I love it!” And then he went on to gush about Rafi and Kishore and Lata… and I felt so glad that there are still people, even in this generation, who can appreciate the worth of those golden days of Hindi cinema.


  3. I just love how your father describes things. He has a fantastic sense of humor and a great way of describing things.
    Maybe you should have him do a guest post on your blog . His fantastic knowledge and love for old Hindi film music and his sense of humor, will be an explosive combination.


    • Hehe. Yes, I agree – my father does have a great sense of humour. Hmm… let me see if I can ask him for a guest post. As far as I know, I’ve already milked him for most of the anecdotes he knows about Hindi cinema from that era!


  4. Hello dustedoff, I hied here coz the LOH said you had written on your uncle..and … I am rather fond of music.
    It’s wonderful to be able to put a name to the musicians who played on all the film scores. I have often wondered who used to play the hawaiian guitars in some of the scores and you’ve cleared up part of the mystery. You mentioned Mahal earlier and you know that there are two versions, one without the hawaiian guitar (the piece by the hawaiian guitar is played by the strings) and one with. In Pakeezah too other than “Mausam hai aashiqaana”, “Chalo dil daar chalo” too has a hawaiian guitar piece, if you will listen it starts with a chord and slides into a legato just before Lata starts the antara “aao sitaaron mein kho”. It comes back again in the first interlude after the sitar.
    “Thandi hawayeen” has such a wonderful counter point by the guitar in the mukhda and as the clarinet comes up in the interlude the guitar supports it in the background with a delicate slide.
    “Uthaye jaa unke sitam” is one of my favourite Naushad compositons before he started his slide (sic?) towards predictability, I like the way the guitar comes in after “dastoor ae dil”, not much in the notes though. This is a very different Yaman.

    “Seene mein sulagte” and “Tum na jaane” are wonderful because when I used to listen to this on the radio I was always fascinated by the hawaiian guitar, it had such a clear tone and its legato was so much suited to Indian music with all its intervening microtones.

    I enjoyed “barkha ki raaton mein” brought back memories of Vividh Bharati and “bhoole bhisre geet”.

    I wonder if your uncle and Van Shipley and Hazara Singh played most of the hawaiian guitar recordings for film music then. Most other people played the spanish guitar

    Would your Dad know if your uncle tuned the guitar in an open E string tuning or in intervals of fifths. I would have supposed open E because he plays a couple of chords in some areas and that is rather tough with the fifth interval tuning.


    • Thank you for dropping by here, SSW! (And you already know how much I admire your poetry) :-)

      I have to admit the technicalities of music – all those legatos and microtones etc that you mention in your comments – are a total mystery to me. I like what I listen to, though, and the music of the 50s and 60s, in particular, is for me, simply the best.

      I’ll ask my father about your question, though I doubt if he’d be able to answer – Vernie Tau seems to have been the sole really musical one among my father’s family.

      Ah, and Uthaaye jaa unke sitam is one of my favourite Naushad compositions too, Just the memory of it gives me gooseflesh. And this, despite the fact that the words themselves are really not quite my cup of tea – I always want to shake Nargis’s character and tell her to show a bit of spine. But the music and Lata’s singing are so sublime, I can even forget the words.


      • Thank you for the reply Dustedoff. I’m glad to know there is a connection between Van Shipley and your Uncle. Our friend is married to his daughter Audrey and that is how Anu met him. He had had a paralytic stroke a few years before he died in 2008 and was not very mobile and could no longer had the fine motor skills in his hand to play the guitar. I remember him telling us the last time we met that he would like to get a good mandolin from the US. I did not know he painted. Here is a clip of a much younger Van Shipley playing a so so (at least in this show) Jaane kahaan gaye woh din


        • Thank you for that link to the Van Shipley video! This was the first time I’ve seen him play. Ab mera kaun sahara from Barsaat is one song where Vernie Tau and Van Shipley played together – Vernie Tau is on the guitar, Van Shipley is on the violin:

          I phoned my father last evening to tell him about the question you had for him, and he said that he had seen your comment. “But it was Greek to me,” he said.


          • Your dad is a wise person. Beware of comments bearing Greeks. An open E tuning could turn out to B flat.
            I know Van Shipley played the violin in that song and I think even “Mujhe kisi se ..”. A long time ago Bombay Doordarshan used to have a programmed compered by Tabassum, “Phool khile hain gulshan gulshan” where she interviewed Van Shipley. He played some songs and mentioned Barsaat, Jab pyaar kisise hota hai etc. I was a kid then so do not remember much, I would like to see those programmes again. Who knows if your Uncle had been alive we would have seen him on TV too. Ah that would have been icing on the cake. I used to be quite fascinated by the hawaian guitar because of another programme “Saaz or Awaaz” on the radio which habitually featured it playing the vocal sections in the saaz part.


            • Beware of comments bearing Greeks.

              Hehe. Well said!

              I remember Phool khile hain gulshan-gulshan, but not the Van Shipley episode.
              Incidentally, my cousin Shalini actually did see Vernie Tau on TV the other day – Doordarshan Bharati was showing a concert from back in the 60s (or so; didi wasn’t sure when) – and Vernie Tau was there, playing his guitar. :-)


              • Last post here so as not to bore you. Does anybody have your Uncles’ guitar now? From the picture you posted of him with the guitar it looked like a New Yorker lap steel guitar. There used to be a seven string version which is quite rare and a collector’s item nowadays. I can see the tuning pegs of the higher strings in the picture. The 4 pegs on the seven string were on the lower side.
                This may be of interest to some people. It is believed that the hawaiian guitar was introduced to India and other places by this gent..,
                I think blues players in the 1920s in the US were already using things like knives and bottles to get the same sliding sound out of a normal guitar.


  5. Wonderful tribute, Madhu! You write so well you have brought him to life here and I can just picture him in my mind (of course, the pictures also helped!) strumming the guitar for Aayega aanewala.. and Thandi hawaayein … It is indeed a pity that he died so early, and the music world has suffered a great loss.


    • That is sweet of you, Lalitha! Thank you. :-)

      I also find it very commendable that Vernie Tau actually began working in Hindi cinema when he was so young – Mahal was released when he was just 20, so the music must’ve been recorded sometime the previous year, and for this teenager to have made enough of a mark to have been asked to perform solo in Aayega aanewaala was quite a feat!

      Incidentally, his guitar can also be heard in another favourite of mine from Mahal, Muhskil hai bahut mushkil:


  6. Oooh! I got goosebumps reading this Madhu :) These songs are all so beautiful.

    Imagine playing guitar for the iconic Aayega Aanewala! That alone is enough to make you famous for a lifetime, but your Verni Tau had some many more beautiful songs to play, lucky man.

    This is a beautiful post, Madhu.


    • Thank you, Ava! Yes, Aayega aanewaala is by itself so iconic and so perfect that just having that as part of your portfolio would be enough to make feel proud of what you’d achieved. :-)

      Here’s another lovely song he played in, Duniya hamaare pyaar ki yun hi jawaan rahi, from Lahore (1949):


  7. A lovely tribute! I prefer 50s music and the b/w songs over the coloured ones in the 60s, so good to read about a musician who contributed to them.


  8. What a heart-fel tribute, Madhu!
    Lovely! Vernie Tau must have been very proud of you!
    Unfortuantely I couldn’t listen to the songs, since I’m not at home. Hope to catch up with them tomorrow!


    • I don’t know if Vernie Tau would have been proud of me, but I am certainly very proud to have had such a talented uncle!

      By the way, I’ve put some of Vernie Tau’s best songs – my favourites, at least – in a Youtube playlist, so if you want to listen to them one after the other without bothering to click each link, here they are:


  9. My father shared something else connected to Vernie tau yesterday, when I happened to phone him. He said that somebody, describing Vernie Tau’s playing, had said, “Kumar Sahib ka guitar bajtaa nahin hai, bolta hai” (“Kumar Sahib’s guitar doesn’t play, it speaks”).

    Papa said that if you listen to his guitar when it’s playing along with vocals, you can actually notice each syllable being entoned by the guitar.


  10. madhu ji,
    Excellent way for tributes !
    Your narration style is so flowing that I did not stop till the end.
    Just Superb !!
    It is full of trivias like Jimmy teaching KK how to Yoddle,The Daku episode,ref to many composers and so many more.
    I feel like listening to all those songs mentioned herein.I will.
    -Arunkumar Deshmukh.


    • Thank you, Arunji! I’m so glad you liked this. :-) I love the trivia too.

      If you want to listen to those songs, you can listen to the playlist I’ve inserted in my reply to Harvey’s comment – they’re mostly all there.


    • I can’t be certain, but I don’t think so. My father would definitely have mentioned it, since it’s one of his favourite songs (mine too). Love the guitar in that, whoever played it.


  11. Madhu, this is a very interesting tribute and I definitely agree that your uncle Verni played on some of the greatest songs in Hindi film history. (I count Mahal as the best soundtrack that includes Lata and maybe the best of all that did not include Lata’s “Pakistani sister.” :) The music in Tarana is also great – and it is interesting, indeed, to see that he was close personal friends with Anil Biswas!) And, of course, it is interesting to see that he was born on October 12 since, as you know, that is my birthday, too.


    • Ah, yes. It had completely slipped my mind that you and Vernie Tau share a birthday! He would’ve been very pleased to know that someone who loves the music of Mahal, Taraana and Noorjehan has the same birthday as him. :-)


  12. That is so cool! I told my grandma about the Barsaat scene where Raj Kapoor told Premnath to go wash his feet, and she laughed. It’s so cool! To hang around during the shooting of these films! :DDDD

    Oh, Dustedoff, I need help. For our poetry thing, we have to present a poem and then discuss it with the class. I instantly thought of translating a song, but I’m not too good with the “deep meaning” thing. I thought “Khoya Khoya Chand” or “Apni To Har Aah”, but I’m not too sure.

    And today I sneaked soda into the class and had a sip or two. Lots of people saw me, but everyone just smiled and looked the other way. SO MUCH FUN. :DD And one of our vocab words was ‘debonair’. DEV. DEV. DEVVVV. :D


    • So what help do you need? Khoya khoya chaand is pretty sraightforward, I think, though the punniness of Apni toh har aah is best appreciated if one knows the situation onscreen. Incidentally, a song from a Dev Anand film – Pighla hai sona door gagan pe from Jaal used to be in our Hindi syllabus back in school when I was a kid. I hadn’t seen the film then, so was very surprised when I actually did get around to watching Jaal and discovering that this poem was in it!


  13. @SSW: I’m not sure if Vernie Tau’s guitar is still around. His elder son used to also be a very good guitarist, but passed away tragically young – just about 26, I think. I’ll try and find out from my cousin, Vernie Tau’s younger son. Perhaps he still has it.


  14. Oh, DO. What a beautiful piece. Enjoyed it very much.
    The lengthy description of relationships made me go back everytime to get it correct, – reminded me of Bride and Prejudice where mrs Bakshi describes the arrival of (forget Mr Collins name) as my mother’s uncle’s wife’s sister’s son (some such thing) :-D

    I must tell you about the Pakeezah song ‘mausam hai aashiqana’. You know what a great fan I am of Meena Kumari, and I found this moment in the film very very romantic (second only to the train scene), and the song used to symbolize romance in its highest form :-D. I knew the music at almost every scene of this song, by heart.
    The guitar interludes stood out at very pertinent moments – as she steps into the water, as she reappears in the lungi and shirt (Rajkumar’s? so romantic), and suddenly it is dusk and the music mellows and the guitar strums again a couple of times.
    And to think I now know a person, who knows the brother of the person who played the lovely guitar in this lovely song.(I’m just trying to draw out the relationship :)

    It doesn’t end here. Some of my favourite songs for ever, are on the list, like tum na jaane kis jahan, and guzra hua zamana BTW I love vande mataram very much. :-D

    Thank you for this wonderful post.


    • Thank you, pacifist! Glad you liked it. :-) Actually, the relationship isn’t very lengthy, if you think of it – you know somebody whose father’s brother played the music in these songs. Last evening, and this morning, I was in Meerut for a while, so my father played some more songs that he thinks – but has to confirm – may have been played by Vernie Tau too. But the best of the lot are already in this post. :-)

      Yes, the guitar interludes in Mausam hai aashiqaana are at the loveliest places, aren’t they? I love them too. And that song is just so very sweet. I love the imagery in it, too – that “palkon ka shaamiana” stuff, and that line about “suraj kahin bhi jaaye, tum pe na dhoop aaye”, – it always strikes me as being such a perfect contrast to the Western (or at least British) concept of ‘sunny days’ being the best!

      P.S. My father mentioned yesterday that at my parents’ wedding, Vernie Tau played at the reception – and chose to play Chhalke teri aankhon se sharaab, which was singularly appropriate, considering my mum looked so uncannily like Sadhana. :-)


  15. This is such a heartwarming story of a man I hadnt heard about but whose music is on such precious immmemorable songs from our childhood I read through all the comments and your replies Just two months ago I had stumbled across an excellent piece about Van Shipley by Anu Warrier who is on this page Its wonderful to see that the new generation is putting onto the net for posterity, all that is so precious but was never documented or appreciated in its lifetime Kudos to people like you Madhulika, Anu Warrier and Rudradeep Bhattacharjee who did the beautiful documentary on the Lord family
    I had done a series of four articles on the great unsung musicians of old hindi film music for the DNA some years ago but I was not aware of Vernon Liddle alias Vernie Tau I am now doing a talk on the same subject at the Rotary Club,Pune next month and shall certainly include Vernie Tau in my presentation
    Re the question about the guitar tuning I suspect its E flat or B flat as the horns ( alto and tenor sax) are similarly tuned Re the song Ajeeb Dastaan ..this is from Dil Apna aur Preet Parai where Sebastian is the conductor and arranger Perhaps its Van Shipley But who is there whom we can ask….
    Once again in conclusion its a wonderful story Madhulika and Bless you


    • Thank you so much! I’m glad you liked that. Incidentally (I don’t remember whether it’s mentioned in the comments, and I don’t have the time to check now), Van Shipley was a family friend. My father commented on Anu’s post about him, too.

      By the way, he would be Vernie Tau only to me, my sister, and some of my cousins. ;-) Everybody else generally referred to him as Vernie, though in the music industry, most people called him Kumar Sahib.


  16. Saw this now….What an amazing, touching tribute…

    Thank you for sharing these personal anecdotes. Most of us know the singers, music directors and actors, but not much is known about these musicians who had such an important role in making these melodies so memorable!

    Some of my favourite numbers seem to have been played by Vernie Tau – Tum Na Jaane, Uthaye Jaa, and Guzra Hua Zamana… and Vande Mataram!

    Thanks to this post, I got to hear that Talat number from Pathan again… can you believe it, I had heard it in a small town in Karnataka (Davanagere) where my paternal grandparents lived and there was a cassette shop just next to their house. The old man who owned it (btw he didn’t speak much Hindi either) had played it… it was a part of his personal collection – the man did not know the details of the song, but would sell this in his pre-recorded song compilations!

    Loved this post, Madhu :-)


    • Thank you, Harini! I’m so glad you enjoyed this post. :-) I feel bad sometimes that I hardly got to know this side of Vernie Tau before he passed away. I mean, I knew that he was a great guitarist and that he’d played in Aayega aanewaala and Tum na jaane kis jahaan, but not much more than that. Whatever I’ve learnt of him and his career in the film industry has been in the past few years. If he’d been alive today, this post would probably have been far more interesting.

      P.S. And you actually knew that song from Pathan! I hadn’t even known the movie had been made.


  17. Very interesting bits not just about your uncle but Hindi film music. Your effortless writing makes it riveting and informative. Nice reading.


Leave a Reply to dustedoff Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.