Ten of my favourite Bharat Vyas songs

When it comes to Hindi film music, most people—even the committed aficionados—tend to focus on the music directors and the singers. Lyricists are often relegated to the back seat. People can recognize a singer’s voice; they can often remember who composed the song: but who, really, pays a lot of attention to who wrote the song in the first place? Who created the words which make the song what it is?

It has been a while since I did a post on a lyricist (I’ve done song lists for Sahir Ludhianvi and Shailendra on this blog), so before this year ends, one post to honour a lyricist. Bharat Vyas, often credited as Pandit Bharat Vyas, who was born in Churu, Rajasthan, sometime in 1918. Conflicting reports about his birth date appear online: several versions point to December 18th, others cite January 6th. Since I discovered only last month (thanks to fellow blogger Anup, who found out from old Hindi cinema’s walking encyclopedia, Arun Kumar Deshmukh) that the correct date is actually January 6th, this tribute is belated by almost a year. But I figured that at least I got the year right, so while today may not be the birth centenary of Bharat Vyas, 2018 is the year of his birth.

While younger brother BM Vyas would go on to become an actor, Bharat Vyas came to Bombay after doing his graduation in Calcutta, and became a lyricist (along the way, also directing a film—Rangeela Rajasthan, for which he also composed songs). The first film for which he wrote songs (according to the sadly scanty information I’ve been able to gather) was Duhaai (1943). Over the next three decades, he continued to write songs for a range of films, many of them produced and directed by V Shantaram. In fact, some of the most popular songs—as you’ll see in this post—associated with the films of V Shantaram were written by Vyas.

So, without further ado, my ten favourite Bharat Vyas songs. As always, these are all from pre-1970s films that I’ve seen (and there are no two songs from one film). This PDF contains transcriptions and corresponding translations in English for each of the songs that follow.

1. Yeh kaun chitrakaar hai (Boond Jo Ban Gayi Moti, 1967): For many years now, I have held the opinion that when it came to descriptions of nature (and not merely as a pretty backdrop to a love song), there was no beating Sahir Ludhianvi. But Bharat Vyas, with Yeh kaun chitrakaar hai, proves that he is as good as Sahir. Written primarily in a somewhat Sanskritized Hindi (but with the occasional, extremely apt, Urdu word like galeecha or qudrat), this song is a wonderfully descriptive paean to nature. What I especially admire are the similes Vyas uses to describe nature: the deodars, standing tall as pennants; the mountains, as immovable as an ascetic deep in penance; palanquins of clouds pushed along the blue of the sky by the wind… brilliantly evocative.

2. Ae maalik tere bande hum (Do Aankhen Baarah Haath, 1957): If there is one song that perhaps seals Bharat Vyas’s claim to fame, it is this immortal bhajan from Do Aankhen Baarah Haath. I must admit to having toyed with choosing Umad-ghumadkar aayi re ghata from this film, because it’s such a fine depiction of the monsoon, but I finally settled on Ae maalik tere bande hum. The unusual thing about this hymn is that it does not address a specific divinity: it just addresses a higher being, one who is capable of making us better people, one who is there to light the way for us, to bear our sorrows with us and help us go from evil to righteousness.

A singularly apt song, given the theme of the film (about a jailor who tries to reform a bunch of hardened criminals by taking them out of the jail, treating them as humans, and making them do useful work). Ae maalik tere bande hum occurs in two versions, male and female: the female version, sung by Lata, omits the verse beginning ‘Yeh andhera ghana chha raha’.

3. Na na na barso baadal (Samrat Prithviraj Chauhan, 1959): Unfortunately, much of Bharat Vyas’s career was spent writing songs for B-grade mythologicals and ‘historicals’ (‘ahistoricals’ may be a more appropriate way of describing them). Often teamed with Vasant Desai (and with younger brother BM Vyas invariably part of the cast), Bharat Vyas worked in lots of films that sank without a trace—except for the songs. Samrat Prithviraj Chauhan is a case in point; it meandered, it had a thread of a plot, and was generally forgettable. The songs ranged from average to good, but my favourite is this one, not just because of the music and rendition, but because of the lyrics.

In Na na na barso baadal, Bharat Vyas uses the imagery of a thunderstorm as a fine way to convey the turmoil of a woman who has been spurned, even if kindly and with dignity, by the man she loves. Vyas uses motifs of nature—the keening peacock, the weeping doe, the looming clouds darkening the Earth, the lightning: everything is a thunderstorm, and also the storm raging within the anguished singer.

4. Keh do koi na kare yahaan pyaar (Goonj Uthi Shehnai, 1959): The songs of Goonj Uthi Shehnai in some ways are a disservice to its lyricist. Vasant Desai’s music for the film—with gems like Jeevan mein piya tera saath rahe, Tere sur aur mere geet and Akhiyaan bhool gayi hain sona—tended to put Vyas’s lyrics somewhat in the shadow.

But Keh do koi na kare yahaan pyaar, while also set to a beautiful tune (and, moreover, rendered brilliantly by Rafi), does bring the lyrics to the forefront. A broken-hearted lover, his sweetheart marrying another, sings of his despair. There are many songs along this theme in Hindi cinema, but this one, with its recurring images of something that starts out seeming lovely but shows itself to be painful—flowers and thorns, the moth and the lamp—is one of the best.

5. Saranga teri yaad mein (Saranga, 1961): Saranga teri yaad mein is a little bit in the same vein as Keh do koi na kare yahaan pyaar: a lover, separated from the woman he loves, remembers her. With one difference: this man does not blame the world, does not regret his love, and does not spew bitterness. Instead, there’s a sweetly gentle remembering of those days gone past. Their trysts in the shade of a mango tree, the sight of her henna-tinted feet… Bharat Vyas was very good at creating word-pictures, and that talent shines forth in this song.

6. Yeh maati sabhi ki kahaani kahegi (Navrang, 1959): Another of those films that had such a good score (C Ramachandra’s) that the lyrics of its songs, more often than not, get sidelined. When it came to choosing a Navrang song for this list, I was torn between this one and the aching yet seductive (and unusually sung by Asha) Aa dil se dil mila le. This one finally won, because it’s such a good example of defiance. Angry, but contained. Contemptuous of the pomposity and sense of entitlement of the colonial rulers, and invoking a (literally) earthy patriotism. Yeh maati sabhi ki kahaani kahegi: This earth will speak. When others cower, too scared to open their mouths and speak up against injustice. Or when torment and tyranny have shut all mouths—the earth will speak.

7. Chaand hai wohi (Parineeta, 1953): Bimal Roy’s adaptation of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novel of the same name had just a handful of songs (of which two were sad and happy versions of the same song, Chali Radhe rani). Of the songs of Parineeta, one I especially like not just for its music (Arun Kumar Mukherjee’s) or its rendition (Geeta Dutt’s), but for its lyrics, is Chaand hai wohi. Hindi cinema is replete with songs about parting, about a lost love; too many of them are cookie-cutter. This one is memorable in its simplicity. No high-flown words, just simple emotion: everything is the same, the natural beauty of this world remains unchanged; then why is she so sad? The loneliness and confusion of a woman who believes herself abandoned by the man she loves comes through poignantly in Vyas’s words.

8. Ud jaa bhanwar (Rani Rupmati, 1959): This was one film that really focused on its music: Rani Rupmati, otherwise, is pretty much a run-of-the-mill period story. But its songs, written by Bharat Vyas and composed by SN Tripathi, have far outlasted the film itself. There are many popular and very memorable songs here, but most tend to be memorable for the beauty of their rendition and Tripathi’s music: Aa lautke aaja mere meet, Jeevan ke taar ka, and Jhananan jhananan baaje paayaliya impress me, at least, more for their music than their lyrics.

But Ud jaa uda jaa bhanwar is not just a brilliant rendition of a beautiful composition, it’s also a fine piece of poetry. At the superficial level, it’s straightforward: the maestro Tansen, in disguise, comes to Baaz Bahadur’s court, and sets out to illustrate his prowess at song: by coaxing a bumble-bee, a bhanwra, to leave the nectar-rich clasp of the lotus in which it is trapped. Tansen’s song, addressed to the bhanwra, encourages it to look to the rays of the sun: a world awaits it outside the perfumed cage of the lotus; leave the darkness within and go out. And that song applies equally to the human soul: leave this love for maya (the illusion tied to worldliness), go to the light. A metaphor that’s carried through beautifully from beginning to end, this one is somewhat reminiscent of Sahir Ludhianvi’s Laaga chunari mein daag: on the surface the message seems simple enough, even mundane, but the words hide a more profound meaning.

9. Meri aan bhagwaan (Toofaan aur Diya, 1956): Toofaan aur Diya, about a young teenager’s struggles to keep afloat despite an array of difficulties, is perhaps best known for its title song, which played intermittently almost throughout the film. However, instead of that song, about the strength and determination of a tiny lamp burning against the might of a storm, I want to focus on another, far less popular song but one which has fine lyrics.

Meri aan bhagwaan is (as is obvious from the very first line of the song) a song sung to God—not a devotee’s humble cry for help, but a defiant yell, a demand to be heard. Sadanand (Satish Vyas) has seen his parents die; he has worked to the bone to keep his family alive and well; now, exhausted and teetering on the brink of despair—his sister’s sweetheart is close to death—Sadanand can do no more, except appeal to God. And what an appeal that is, more a threat than an appeal. If God doesn’t pay heed, this devotee will cry so much that his tears will wash everything away—the Earth, the sky, the throne of God himself. He demands justice; he demands help. He has borne so much, he has battled so long—now he will battle God himself if he needs to.

10. Khaali-peeli kaahe ko (Tamasha, 1952): And to end, a somewhat unconventional song. Suresh Kohli, reviewing Tamasha for The Hindu, otherwise praised the songs of the film, but called this one ‘mediocre’—a reflection, I think, of the common perception that there’s something rather low about comedy (a perception that’s reinforced by all those who say that the lovely songs of Dekh Kabira Roya were wasted on a comedy).

For me, Khaali-peeli kaahe ko is a good example of Bharat Vyas’s not-often-displayed versatility. This was a man known primarily for writing in chaste, often Sanskritized Hindi, the sort of words that would fit perfectly into the historical dramas and mythologicals he ended up being associated with. But here, Bharat Vyas uses Bambaiyya Hindi, to some extent, and makes this a goofish song that sounds just the sort of thing that would emerge from the lips of a character like the one Kishore Kumar plays in Tamasha—a complete cartoon.

And, because I love this song but haven’t seen the film, a bonus song.

From Do Dost (1960), Yeh sone ki duniya. If Bharat Vyas seemed to echo Sahir’s skill as a nature poet in Yeh kaun chitrakaar hai, here too he brings in some of the pathos and the anger of Sahir, speaking up in favour of the downtrodden and oppressed. Vyas is less furious, less scathing in his criticism of a world which is dominated by wealth and power, but he is no less effective, I think, than Sahir is in a song like Cheen-o-Arab hamaara. His poetry is more touching, more indicative of the sorrow and helplessness of the poor: the eyes that rain twelve months of the year, the travellers whose destination lies nowhere. The hopelessness, the despair. The inhumanity of the wealthy, who see only gold and silver and care only for their wealth.

Happy 100th, Panditji. May your songs live forever.

26 thoughts on “Ten of my favourite Bharat Vyas songs

  1. Hello,
    I was eagerly waiting for this Madhuji.
    And as usual it’s wonderful! You have highlighted some of his iconic songs. I loved all the songs. Thanks for this treat. Except a couple of songs (the bonus track) I was familiar with all the songs.
    And you are welcome Madhuji, it was my duty! And you may correct a typo, the name is Arunkumar Deshmukh.
    It’s really important to focus on the lyricists of the golden era, they did a wonderful job, offering songs that suit perfectly to a situation, apt for the emotional condition of the character and the story background.
    I have focused on some of the lyricists on my
    blog too. I’m happy, you also paid a tribute to Bharat Vyas who’s one of my favourite lyricists. I’m going to have a detailed post next month about his career, in several parts. Of course, I tend to write long posts, and usually fail to shortlist ten songs, I always have to go for posts, divided in several posts.

    Though Bharat vyas was genius in shuddha Hindi, he also used Urdu or other words when needed.
    Thank you for this wonderful post!
    :-)

    • Thank you for the appreciation, Anupji, and for pointing out that slip-up. I am really ashamed that I made such a stupid mistake! :-( Arunji is an icon in his own right. :-)

      Am looking forward to seeing your posts about Bharat Vyas.

  2. Great !
    Your choice is perhaps based on the poetic element rather than the musical brilliance and I agree with that, but how can we forget three great songs ( and that includes the lyrics too ) of SATI SAVITRI !
    1. Kabhi to miloge jeevan saathi ( Lata )
    2. Jeevan dor tumhin sang baandhi ( Lata )
    3. Tum gagan ke chandrama ho ( Lata- Manna De )

    • “Your choice is perhaps based on the poetic element rather than the musical brilliance

      No ‘perhaps’ about that. Like most lovers of old Hindi film music, I tend to go for melody rather than words, so I had a tough time getting past that trap – and of finding songs where the music may not have been superlative but the words made an impact. After all, a tribute to a lyricist should be about the words he wrote rather than the music those words were set to…

      That said, Tum gagan ke chandrama ho was on my shortlist. Didn’t include it finally because I haven’t seen the movie, but it’s a lovely song.

  3. Very nice post..
    I would like to add some songs of my choice, written by Bharat Vyas, music by S.N Tripathi.
    Aa laut ke aja mere meet…Rani Roopmati.
    O pawan veg se udne wale ghode……Jai Chittor
    Thane kajaiyo banalu…..Veer Durgadas
    Jara samne to aao chliya….Janam Janam Ke Phere.
    Incidently Nirupa Roy is the heroine of all these films.

  4. I’m so glad to see this post. It’s a shame, isn’t it, that lyricists don’t get the same recognition that singers and music directors do? From your list, I particularly love Ae maalik tere bande hum, Ye maati sabki kahaani kahegi, Saranga tere pyaar mein, Ud jaa bhanwar and Chand hai wohi.

    Taling of Ud jaa bhanwar, it is a ‘twin song’, almost a musical duel because it is followed by Lata’s Aaja bhanwar sooni dagar soona hai ghar.

    Some of my favourite songs are by Bharat Vyas. This one, for instance, which is one of the happiest love songs I’ve heard. Nain ka chain chura kar le gayi from Chandramukhi.

    This lovely raagmalika from Suvarna Sundari – Kuhu kuhu bole koyaliya

    Shamshad Begum’s Na tum aaye na neend aayi from Rimjhim

    This Talat-Sudha Malhotra duet from Andher Nagri Chaupat RajaEk baar toh mil lo gale

    Akhiyaan bhool gayi hai sona from Goonj Uthi Shehnaai

    Ja re na bataaoon from Angulimaal

    Main yahan tu kahan from Bedard zamana kya jaane

    • Yes, it’s such a shame that lyricists (barring a handful of the biggest names) don’t get their due when it comes to appreciation of film music. I am embarrassed to have to admit that except perhaps for Sahir, sometimes Shailendra, and in later years Gulzar, I’d be hard-pressed to say which songs were written by which lyricist – even if the songs happen to be favourites of mine.

      I do know about the other song which comes after Ud jaa bhanwar – I had toyed with including that in continuation to the first song, then decided not to, because I like the words of Ud jaa bhanwar more. Glad to see you posted it, though! And thanks for the other songs – there were a few there that were new to me.

  5. Wonderful post, Madhu that does credit to Bharat Vyas’s words. I loved your write-ups, really analysis, for the songs with the focus on what aspects of the lyrics appealed to you.

    Here’s one of my absolute favorite songs with lyrics that burn with passionate yearning, all in Sanskritized Hindi.

    O nirdayi pritam – Stree/C. Ramchandra/Lata Mangeshkar

    ye chanda sheetal kahlaata
    phir kyun mere ang jalaata
    phool saa komal, baan madan ka
    shool banke tan mein chubh jaata
    tumhre shur ke birhaa taap mein
    aag bani poonam

  6. Madhu ji ,
    A very nice tribute to a great lyricist.

    Ur selection of songs is also nice .
    I liked the write – ups about each song .

    Some songs were unheard . Enjoyed them .

    U hav added song of ‘ Samrat Prithviraj Chauhan ‘ . I remember a song having the same team of Bharat Vyas , Vasant Desai , Lata Mangeshkar nd Anita Guha nd related once again to ‘ बादल.’
    It is from movie ‘ संपूर्ण रामायण ‘
    ” बादलो बरसो नयन की ओर से ” .

    I liked the bonus song also . It resembles the very famous ” ये महलों ये तख्तों ये ताजो़ की
    दुनिया ” of ‘ प्यासा ‘ .

    Madhu ji , thnx for the post showing gratitude towards a great poet .

    • Thank you so much, Pramodji! Glad you liked this post. I have heard Baadlon barson nayan ki ore se – and yes, it seems Bharat Vyas did use a similar line of thought there as he did in Na na na barso baadal.

  7. Thank you so much Madhulika for this remembrance of Bharat Vyas. Too few people know his name, even though everyone knows Ae Maalik Tere Bande Hum

    Yeh Kaun Chitrakar Hai is sheer genius and, as you say, most evocative.

    As is Saiyan Jhooton Ka Bada Sartaj Nikla
    If I was forced to choose only one song from Do Aankhen Bara Hath, it would be this one. Everything comes together perfectly – the melody, the beat, the instrumentation, Lata’s singing, and Bharat Vyas’s words.

    From Navrang, Arre Ja Re Hat Natkhat
    is one of the greatest Holi songs. I don’t care for the gimmicky choreography, but the song totally captures the spirit of Holi.

    An absolutely wonderful song, from a film called Veer Durgadas (?), is thane Kajaliyo Banalayun
    Pandit Vyas uses his own Rajasthani here, Mukesh and Lata ising with so much verve and feeling

    And one more, Suman Kalyanpur singing here
    Apne piya ki main to bani re joganiya
    From a film called Kan Kan Mein Bhagwan

    • Thank you so much, Sunny! I hadn’t heard of Thane kajaliyo banayalun until a few minutes back, when Anu posted it in her comment and I heard it. Beautiful song, and such a good testimony to Bharat Vyas’s versatility – he was obviously capable of so much more than the Sanskritized Hindi he was often compelled to write for the many historicals and mythologicals he wrote for.

      I had initially thought I hadn’t heard Apne piya ki main toh, but recognized it once the verses started. Yes, great lyrics!

  8. I was recently listening to an interview of Asha Bhonsle. When asked about today’s songs she replied that the first thing that made yesteryears songs evergreen were the bol- “Bol, Bol acche hote the, aajkal acche bol gayab hain”.

    And that is so true: Excellent (lyrics+ music+ singers)= evergreen songs; add a bonus point if the picturisations were wonderful too (which usually were).

    All the songs in the list are obvious great choices, so are the others in the comments. About the prarthana from Do Ankhen Barah Haath- I like it more in the chorus version, you know the jailor recites a line/ para and then chorus starts. That sounds really unique.

    And for my contribution, a song from Stree (1961) I heard long time back on Vividh Bharti.

  9. Loved the post. All the Bharat Vyas authored songs chosen by you are my favourites and I love to listen to them frequently. I never thought in the wildest of my dreams that some day I will find someone (in addition to me) liking and remembering Ud Ja Bhanwar.

    I like the title song of Saranga but the song from this movie which pierces my heart like anything is : Haan Deewana Hoon Main. This song has just the same impact on me as the one chose by you from Goonj Uthi Shehnai (Keh Do Koi Na Kare Yahaan Pyar) has.

    • Thank you so much, I’m glad you enjoyed this post. And, especially Ud jaa bhanwar. Before I watched Rani Rupmati, I didn’t remember having ever had that particular song before, though almost all the other songs of the film I was familiar with. I was blown away by the lyrics of Ud jaa bhanwar (besides, of course, the music and rendition). So profound and so brilliantly metaphorical.

      Thanks for suggesting Haan deewaana hoon main. That is a really beautiful song too, and I agree with you about its being similar in sentiment to Keh do koi na kare yahaan pyaar.

  10. Madhuji,
    Very nice article and thanks for the pdf.
    Vasant Desai summed up his relationship with Bharat Vyas very apltly as –
    “Mere sur aur tere geet” .

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