Viju Shah remembers Kalyanji-Anandji's evergreen musical partnership

On Anandji's 84th birthday today (2 March), his nephew Viju talks about his uncle’s support, how the duo worked together as a team, among other things.

Sonal Pandya

Music composers Husnlal-Bhagatram were amongst the first director duos in the Hindi film industry. The two were also brothers which explained why they were able to work well together.  The two set the path for other music composer duos like Shankar-Jaikishan and brothers Kalyanji-Anandji to follow after them.

Anandji Virji Shah joined his elder brother Kalyanji in the music industry and the two brothers became the composer duo, Kalyanji-Anandji in 1959. Despite initial family opposition, Kalyanji embarked on his career in music. He played several instruments and actually played the clavioline on the now-iconic ‘been music’ in Nagin (1954) for Hemant Kumar.

Kalyanji got his break as an independent music composer with Subhash Desai’s Samrat Chandragupt (1958) and six films later, took on his younger brother Anandji as his partner with Madari (1959). The next year, their fortunes changed with another Subhash production, Chhalia (1960) directed by Subhash’s younger brother Manmohan. Their songs such as ‘Dum Dum Diga Diga’ and ‘Chhalia Mera Naam’ have become evergreen classics since then.

Kalyanji’s son, Viju, who followed his father into the music business, told about his father’s monumental decision in 1959.  “It’s very difficult once you branch out solo and then you change your name and become something else. But when he saw that [Anandji] is also inclined, he must have taken a decision,” he said.


Viju said the two brothers had different styles, but they worked together seamlessly. “It was a complete team effort. Of course, there were arguments and all. That is okay, it was in the interest of the project. They both used to sit for all the [music] sittings. It was not that if it was not his song, [the other] wouldn’t be there or vice versa. Anandji bhai really played a role of a younger brother to the elder brother," he pointed out.

The two brothers were different in personality too — one was more outgoing, the other more reserved, but they came together as a team to balance out their film assignments.

His uncle also guided Viju as he was starting out in the beginning as a musician. He encouraged his nephew reminding him that he was always quick at grasping the notes on the harmonium. Viju's first big recording as a musician was for the background score of Hari Darshan (1972).  

He recalled, “It was my uncle who sort of pepped me up. I was scared because then it was live [recording]. There was no dubbing or anything. You have to see the film and start playing. He just told me that you come on along with me and I also didn’t know what I was heading for. That was the first day I played, but that was just the background score. He used to always handle the background scores in those times. Dad (Kalyanji) was never there for the background.”

Kalyanji-Anandji scored the music for over 250 films, but Viju says 'Main To Ek Khwab Hoon’ sung by Mukesh in Himalay Ki Godmein (1965), ‘Jeevan Se Bhari’ sung by Kishore Kumar in Safar (1970) and ‘Waqt Karta Jo Wafaa’ from Dil Ne Pukara (1967) are his personal favourites.

Viju talked about the shelf life of these older songs. He explained, “At that time, the lyrics were so strong. [In] ‘Jeevan Se Bhari Teri Ankhen’, you see the wording, you see the lyrics. It’s something else. Or for that matter, you see ‘Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas’. The fact is that these compositions are almost 50 years old and you have people enjoying those songs even now.”