Kalyanji-Anandji, the immortal duo

My earlier posts on Kalyanji-Anandji (see Kalyanji-Anandji in categories to your right) covered 5 different dimensions of their music. In this post, I will summarize notable films, songs, achievements and key recognitions that highlight their versatile talent. I will also discuss their distinctive composing style and more importantly, highlight their personal nature and why they are immortal.

Enjoy some of their best songs (not covered in earlier posts) in the playlist below.


If you are in the USA or Canada, you can also enjoy the songs on the player below. Click on the play arrow below to enjoy some of their finest songs from the 60s and 70s. On repeated plays, the player automatically shuffles songs.

A tip for enjoying the songs

(The player stops playing when you click the back button or go to another link on this page or somewhere else. This happens because the player is embedded on this page. To listen to these songs without any break, open another window after clicking the play arrow on the player. If you want to browse further on this site or another site, use the newly opened window. The player will keep playing the songs as you browse in the new window).

Ascending 60s

From 1958 when Kalyanji started out solo, they delivered musical hits through the 1960s. Songs from their early movies like Samrat Chandragupt, Post box 999, Passport,  Bedard Zamana Kya Jaane, Satta Bazaar and Madari were melodious hits and continue to delight listeners even after 50 years. (Satta Bazaar was the first film in which Anandji joined his brother as the duo. Earlier, Anandji was assisting Kalyanji). They produced melodious songs in each film regardless of the hero or association with a big-ticket name. Whether it is Mehmood in Pyaase Panchi or Helen in Sunehri Nagin playing romantic roles, they composed memorable songs for them. A Sunehri Nagin duet Milke bhi hum features Talat Mahmood and his lovely dulcet voice. Dil bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere was notable for its poignant Mukesh numbers. Mehndi lagi mere hath, Ji Chahta hai, Saheli, Ishara, Purnima, Raaz, Parivar and Suhaag Raat also had melodious songs.

shashi kapoor

They were not the primary music directors for any of the top heroes like Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand. Despite this, they gained popularity with each passing year. When they got breaks to compose music for films starring the Kapoor brothers, they delivered musical hits – Chalia, Dulha Dulhan (Raj Kapoor), Bluff master (Shammi Kapoor), Dil ne Pukara, Haseena maan jayegi, Jab Jab phool khile and Aamne Saamne (Shashi Kapoor). Many piano and western numbers in these films added an alluring appeal to the image of sophisticated and good looking Shashi Kapoor. With Dev Anand as well, they had a musical hit in Mahal.

Their high quality, melodious and memorable music in Himalay ki goud mein, Upkar,Upkarfilm Saraswati Chandra and Vishwas gave them enviable recognition from peers and critics and provided additional momentum to their ascent to the top tier by the end of 1960s. They were focused on melodic content and lyrics in their songs in the 60s. Some of their songs in the 60s became iconic songs with immediate recall and association with popular festivals and national days that symbolized patriotic fervor (example: Govinda aa laa re from Bluffmaster, Mere desh ki dharti from Upkar).

Dominant 70s

Top 3 BW

As a carry over of the ‘non violent’ themes from 1960s, the year 1970 saw their movies like Geet, Yaadgar, Mere humsafar, Purab aur Paschim stand out for extremely melodious, soulful and appealing songs. Kalyanji-Anandji also rode the Rajesh Khanna wave in the early 70s with Safar, Sachha Jhootha, Maryada. Zindagi ka safar and Jeevan se bhari from Safar are among Kishore Kumar’s best songs. The haunting prelude to Jeevan se bhari is a great example of silken sitar melody, heavenly flute and superb orchestration.

Vijay Anand’s Johny Mera Naam was a big-ticket film in 1970 that set the trend for crime movies during the 70s. Kalyanji-Anandji showed that you can deliver a block buster musical hit even in a crime dominated movie. Apart from the songs that were hugely popular, Kalyanji-Anandji showed a distinctive flair for composing catchy title music. The title music of Johny Mera Naam stood out for its appealing tune and superb orchestration. They went on to compose appealing title music for a number of other movies like Dharmatma, Victoria No 203 and Professor Pyarelal. Kalyanji-Anandji also had another musical hit in Vijay Anand directed Blackmail as well as the Vijay Anand starrer Kora Kagaz.

During the 1970s, Babla (younger brother of Kalyanji-Anandji) added an attractiveBongo dimension to Kalyanji-Anandji’s music as their assistant. A wizard with percussion instruments and a master of rhythm, he introduced several innovative elements to their films. Instead of the traditional background music for suspense or crime scenes, Babla used bongo to provide a distinctive appeal in Victoria No. 203. In addition, a number of their movies featured haunting background music (Example: Dharmatma). In a later post, I will discuss more innovations by Babla.

Kalyanji-Anandji scored music for Zanjeer which marked the entry of Amitabh Bacchan, who became a one man industry for many years. They also scored music for many other Amitabh blockbusters in the 1970s including Don, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Hera Pheri. Kasauti stands out for an unusual Kishore number Hum bolega to bologe ki with interesting sounds and a different style of singing.


Even in the predominantly ‘crime movies’ trend of the 1970s, Kalyanji-Anandji were able to make their music stand out with a distinctive appeal. Johny Mera Naam, Haath Kigunsnhearts Safai, Apradh, Dharmatma, Banarasi Babu featured lovely duets that became huge hits. In the 60s, Kalyanji-Anandji composed melodies predominantly with an Indian base, at the same time scoring with popular western tunes (example: Nain milakar from Aamne Saamne). However, in the 1970s (especially after 1974) they adapted easily to the popular tastes and made their compositions predominantly western.

In the 1970s they had huge hits with Bollywood masala films or ‘pot boilers’. It would be a mistake to identify Kalyanji-Anandji only with these pot boilers, since the 50s and 60s saw them at their best with lovely melodies for social, romantic and family themes. Unfortunately, some people remember Kalyanji-Anandji only for their hits in the 1970s (and love them for it), but are ignorant of the duo’s melodious music of the 50s and 60s.

Like the 1960s, they also had iconic songs in the 1970s like Meri pyari behna (Sachcha Jhootha), which is normally played by bands in every wedding. Except for a couple of years in the 1970s, they had big hits throughout the 1970s. They dominated the 1970s along with R D Burman and Laxmikant-Pyarelal.

Retirement precursors


After their dominant run in the 70s, they entered the 80s with a block-buster hit in Qurbani. The trend of using instruments from the Middle East, which started with Dharmatma, continued in Qurbani. 1981 saw another block-buster hit in Laawaris. Vidhaata, Yudh, Kalaakaar and Jaanbaz were also notable for their music in the 80s. But then, musical hits became fewer as they progressed through the 1980s. Though their career technically continued till 1994, Tridev in 1989 can be considered their swan song. It is perhaps fitting that Kalyanji-Anandji chose to retire when they did, with pleasant memories in everyone’s mind.

Refreshingly different

Being different

While Kalyanji-Anandji delivered many memorable songs with Lata, Mukesh, Kishore and Rafi they composed lovely melodies for other leading singers as well. Suman Kalyanpur sounded very Lata like in Man mera tujhko (Paras). Two of Mahendra Kapoor’s best songs are the iconic Mere Desh ki dharti (Upkar) and Hai preet jahan ki reet (Purab aur Paschim). Nadiya chale chale re dhara (Safar) is a lovely wavy composition for Manna Dey with the pleasing sound of water. One of my favourite Asha songs is Ae Naujawan (Apradh) with lovely fusion music. In Bluffmaster, while Rafi was ‘Shammi’s voice’ by default, they used Mukesh and Hemant Kumar as well on Shammi Kapoor. And to top it all, in the same movie, they used Shamshad Begum also on Shammi Kapoor when he was disguised as a ‘woman’, making it a unique case of four singers for Shammi Kapoor in the same film!

They also composed unusual or different songs for some special situations. The song Yeh do deewane milke from Johar Mehmood in Goa is a comic situation with the jail referred to as ‘Sasural’. This song was on everyone’s lips for a long time. And in Ek tha gul aur (Jab Jab phool khile) they make a story recital very musical with lovely interludes, rhythm and words.

Distinctive style


Over their career, the duo composed innumerable songs in a variety of genres, styles and themes. Since their songs covered a wide range, we cannot pinpoint a common pattern that stands out distinctly as their style. Kalyanji-Anandji seemed to get absorbed in the situation and could compose simple and melodious songs that accentuated the emotions in the lyrics very well. Their sad songs were haunting and poignant. In other situations that called for expressions of joy, they seemed to revel in the mood and created breezy numbers and sometimes boisterous ones as well.

However, over the years, I noticed some distinct preferences that can be called their signature style. Apart from simple melodies that accentuated the lyrics, they paid close attention to instrument arrangements as well. Often, they would choose specific instruments that are very distinctive and delightful for the ear as well as on the screen. This combination of simple melody, touching lyrics and attractively orchestrated presentation  gave most of their songs a classy and sophisticated feel. Observe the instruments and effects in the two Mukesh solos inhimalayas Himalay ki goud mein or the hilly orchestration in Ek tha gul (Jab Jab phool khile). Also, notice how a lovely Indian melody in Wada karle saajna (Haath ki safai) was attractively presented with a touch of class using saxophone, piano and plucked string instruments.

A number of their songs had elongated notes at the end in the mukhda, antara or both(example: Babul Pyaare from Johny Mera Naam or O Saathi re from Muqaddar Ka Sikandar). These elongated notes, sometimes with a little murki at the end became their signature. In other inspired songs, they used a limited range of notes in the octave with a smooth transition from one note to the adjacent one (observe Ham the jinke sahare from Safar or Sama hai suhana from Ghar Ghar ki kahani). This made their songs soft, soothing and melodious. They maintained a fine balance between vocals and orchestration, Indian and western styles, and made their tunes simple and appealing. In earlier posts, I highlighted other distinctive features like their mastery over string instruments, the use of chorus for rhythm, the lingering preludes and the ‘pause-start’ tempo pick up, which are integral to their composing style. Rajan-Nagendra a famous composing duo in South Indian film music were called ‘Kalyanji-Anandji’ of the south because of the fine blend of melody, instrument arrangements, preference for string instruments and lovely orchestration.


Kalyanji-Anandji could compose delightful light classical songs and at the same time could turn out the most sophisticated western songs with superb orchestration. A number of their songs also had a lovely blend of rhythm and melody. Finely balanced and truly versatile, is an apt summary of their style.

Large hearts


There are innumerable instances of how they readily organized numerous shows to support causes like relief for victims of natural disasters like earthquakes. Kalyanji-Anandji would be the first name that came to mind for a charitable purpose. In addition, they also showed a large heart when it came to recognition for their core team. In the late 1960s and throughout 1970s, it was quite common to see the following as credits on a separate card in the movie titles.

Music assistant: Babla

Arranged by: Jaikumar Parte

Conducted by: Frank Fernand

These 3 were the foundation for their music hits. Sometimes the three changed roles, but together as a team, they provided Kalyanji-Anandji with innovative and ‘top of the line’ professional support to make their movies musical hits.

Another indication of their large hearted nature is their association with ‘first time’Feroz Khan directors. They did not see such associations as risky and guaranteed musical success for someone starting out on their first directorial venture. Manmohan Desai, Sultan Ahmed, Prakash Mehra, Arjun Hingorani, Subhash Ghai, Feroz Khan, Manoj Kumar, Chandra Barot had huge hits with Kalyanji-Anandji in their debut movies as directors. They were also associated with debutant lyricists like Gulshan Bawra, M G Hashmat, Anjaan. A majority of their soulful and popular numbers had lyrics by Indeevar though they also worked with other famous lyricists.

Kalyanji-Anandji also believed that they will receive whatever they are destined to and no one can rob them of their destiny. This philosophy made them large hearted, selfless. They did not push themselves or seek publicity or recognition by aggressive means. Perhaps this is the reason why they are the most underrated composers. They let their music and stupendous deeds do all the talking for them.

Multiple recognitions


Songs listed in the earlier posts and included in the player in this post total more than 100. All of these songs are high quality, hugely popular and evergreen that appeal to the old and the young alike. There are also perhaps another 100 or more songs that are also hugely popular, though I may not have listed them in this blog. These melodious, popular and chartbuster songs enabled Kalyanji-Anandji to gather several awards and recognitions, including peer awards and government recognition like the Padmasri.

But, perhaps their best recognition came long after they retired! The internationally acclaimed group Black Eyed Peas included tunes (with full credit to Kalyanji-Anandji) from two of their biggest hits (Yeh mera dil from Don and Ae naujawan from Apradh) in their song Don’t phunk with my heart. This song won a Grammy Award and Anandji was felicitated by BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc) on behalf of the duo in 2006, several years after their retirement! This perhaps is a recognition of the evergreen appeal of Kalyanji-Anandji’s music not only to the younger generation but also to a substantial international population. Several of their hits were remade in multiple languages, remixed, and featured in advertisements on TV.

Immortal duo


Kalyanji-Anandji were hugely popular as composers, but other composers were popular as well. While their shows for charitable causes are well remembered, they are not the only composers who helped in such causes. As they climbed the ladder of success, they achieved fame, popularity and of course material rewards for their hugely successful music blockbusters.


Alka Yagnik

But, Kalyanji-Anandji did not limit their vision to composing melodious music and steadily rising on the recognition or popularity graph. They had a broader vision of contributing with a permanent and everlasting legacy of spotting, grooming and providing singing talent for the music industry. They would encourage child singers and any other singer they spotted to hone their skills and talent to be among the best. Their commitment to this cause did not stop with mere advice or encouragement. They invested a substantial portion of their time, money and energy for the single minded purpose of promoting singing talent. They created schools, groups (like Little Wonders, Little Stars) that focused only on encouraging talent and giving them exposure through shows. It is this zeal, passion and vision to contribute to the larger music industry, which makes them stand out from the rest. Alka Yagnik, Sadhana Sargam, Sunidhi Chauhan, Kumar Sanu, Sapna Mukherjee, Manhar Udhas, Babul Supriyo are among the many singers who were spotted, encouraged, groomed and given a break by Kalyanji-Anandji. Some like Sadhana Sargam and Sunidhi Chauhan were children when their talent was spotted by Kalyanji-Anandji. As Babul Supriyo said in his Times Now interview on July 7 2013, it is this selfless sacrifice and commitment for the larger cause of the music industry that made Kalyanji-Anandji immortal.

The multifaceted talents of these two maestros created many unforgettable and impactful songs in film music. Their evergreen music lives on through their songs, but their legacy lives on throughout the entire film music industry through their protégés. My humble salutations to this immortal and cheerful duo who worked selflessly and put others before themselves.


Sunidhi Chauhan

Sadhna sargam

Sadhana Sargam

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13 Responses to Kalyanji-Anandji, the immortal duo

  1. Anu Warrier says:

    I always dismissed Kalyanji-Anandji as not quite among the ‘great’ directors; but as I think back, there are *so* many songs of the duo that I absolutely love. Thanks for walking me through some of them.

    • RSBAAB Ravi says:

      Thanks Anu. Glad you enjoyed some of their songs. I strongly believe they are underrated as composers. Other KA posts like “Magical duets”, “Masters of strings”, “Mukesh gems” also have some songs you may enjoy, especially some ‘golden oldies’.

  2. Charulata bharat savala says:

    The work of these two stalwarts, has been penned very well.
    Their songs will always be cherished by us. Very fortunate to be associated with this family.

    • RSBAAB Ravi says:

      Thanks Charulata…..Glad you liked the post (hope you enjoyed the songs on the player as well). You are certainly lucky to be associated with this musically gifted family.

  3. bollyviewer says:

    Like Anu, I too am prone to not thinking of them as one of the “greats” mostly because I associate their music with the less melodious late-60s and 70s (compared to 50s and early 60s). Thanks to your list, I now recall all the lovely tunes they composed long before that, too. I love songs from a lot of their films, but the Jab Jab Phool Khile soundtrack is my favorite overall – I like all the songs in it.

    • RSBAAB Ravi says:

      Thanks for going through the post and the songs. Glad it revived fond memories of their songs. I believe they composed many melodious, memorable and iconic songs. However, I feel their greatest contribution is their selfless work in promoting singing talent like Alka Yagnik, Sunidhi Chauhan, Sadhana Sargam among others. Amitabh Bachchan who accompanied KA in many of their overseas shows shares an interesting anecdote. In an interview with Indian Express, he said that Kalyanji used to get children like Sadhna Sargam and Sunidhi Chauhan to practice singing even on overseas flights. When fellow passengers complained about the ‘noise’, Kalyanji would smilingly encourage them to join in the singing, enjoy themselves and get a taste of “Indian music”.

  4. CP says:

    I think KA stands out when it comes to variety,melody and best songs from all singers whether rafi,Mukesh Lata,Asha Bhonsle,Mahendra Kapoor,KK and manna dey. those who don’t consider them amongst greatest MDs of Bollywood simply don’t know about their music. Their best ability is to create hit and melodious music in any era whether in 1950’s,1960’s,1970’s or even 1980’s. I feel the greatest quality of KA’;s music is that more you listen their music more you love it.there are hundreds of their songs which you listen, you will find the same freshness as if they were composed yesterday.So, the bottomline is Kalyanji Anandji are as great as SJ,SDB,LP and most overhyped RDB. They never worked for publicity or commercial popolarity. The most tunes copied by today’s MDs are originally composed by KA.Don is the prime example of this.One of the today’s leading MDs, failed to create songs and back gtond music to match KA’s orginal DOn and preferred to copy their tunes and background score in new don.

    • RSBAAB Ravi says:

      Thanks CP for the comment. As you rightly said, they have immense variety in their melodies. Also, they fared very well in 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s and delivered multiple hits in each decade. I believe their greatest contribution is in grooming singers like Sunidhi Chauhan, Alka Yagnik, Sadhna Sargam and many others.

  5. Pingback: Carnival of Blogs on Golden Era of Hindi Film Music–September 2014 | The world is too small? or Is it?

  6. Anonymous says:

    I have observed that on You tube many songs composed by Kalyanji Anandji uploaded and viewers have mentioned composers as Laxmikant Pyarelal, Sj or RDB.These songs are immensely melodius but people don’t know the name of actual composers. Some songs I noticed are from Haseena Maan Jayegi,Rakhwala(1971) Professor Pyareal. Kalakaar etc.I think more awareness is required about KA by their fans.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This is Dhiren Anandji, Anandji bhai’s son . Thank you for your wonderful thoughts on the work done by the 3 brothers. It would be a pleasure to connect with you. please contact me on my email . Regards.

  8. This is peter valambia. Son in Law of Anandji Virji Shah. Your comments are truly appreciated.
    for what you have written about
    Kalyanji Ananji Fame- Duo Music Maestros and composers have r have created so many wonderful unforgeable & remember able melodies in there 50 years of Music carer in Indian film Industry & their hard work is still appreciated by many worldwide music lovers.
    They have created and given chance to many new upcoming singers in the film Industry today and they all are doing well. in 21st century. Keep it up |& good luck.
    vist Website http://www.kalyanjianandji.com..

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