08 Nov
Laal Nishaan was the second film where he composed as 'Nirmal Kumar

by Chetan Vinchhi

Pt.Shiv Dayal Batish is better known to the film music world as S.D.Batish or simply Batish. He also used the nicknames Nirmal Kumar and Master Ramesh. He was a multifaceted musician – singer, composer, sitar player, vichitra veena vaadak and so on. Pt. Batish was born in December 1914 in Patiala. His mother, uncle and maternal grandfather were musicians. So he was attracted to music at a very early age. He is said to have regaled a crowd amid professional musicians at the tender age of 7. Later, he also won the praise of Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir. During college days, he starred in a play named ‘Parivartan’ where his songs became extremely popular. The producer of this play Vijay Kumar advised him to try his luck in Bombay. Thus, he first landed in the film capital of India in 1934. His musical performances got critical acclaim and he even tried his hand at acting. However, that did not suit him and he returned to Patiala.

For any musician or singer, we usually have a Eureka moment. When something snaps within and we sit up and notice a beautiful quality about the singer. Batish-ji was a familiar name from Kaise Kahoon, Barsat Ki Raat, Meri Surat Teri Aankhen. However, when I came across “ye aa.nkhe.n kah gayii.n dil kii baat” from Anil-da’s Ladli, I was profoundly impressed this remarkable musician. The listener can partake in the delicate emotions conveyed by the singer when he says “anokhi ghaat” or “mil gayii woh saugaat”. A fine musical sensibility needs to reside underneath such an openhearted rendition.

There are several milestones to be covered before the Laadli phase though. After returning home, Batish-ji learnt music from Chandanram Charan. Apart from vocal music, he seems to have picked up various instruments during this time. He began singing for AIR (Delhi) and got associated with HMV. It was at HMV that he came in close association with Pt.Amarnath. It was through this connection that he began getting singing assignments in films. His “pagdi sambhal jaTTaa” from the Punjabi film Gavandi (1942) gained immense popularity. His first major hit in Hindi was possibly “khamosh nigahen” from Daasi (1944). This was produced by Dalsukh Pancholi of Lahore. Batish-ji was assistant MD to Pt.Amarnath for some Pancholi films during this phase. True to these roots, his musical oeuvre was an amalgam of classical music and Punjabi folk & popular styles.

During the Lahore days, there are many popular film songs sung by him. Additionally, he was singing geets and ghazals for various radio stations, notably AIR (Bombay). Post-partition Batish-ji left Lahore for Bombay. Singing assignments were many and he soon became quite a popular playback singer. Chunariya, Bhoolbhulaiya, Kaneez and yes, Laadli, among others had highly acclaimed songs sung by him.

Batish-ji was a trained classical singer. At the same time he was an expert at many musical instruments. This background, along with his musical acumen, made him a very good music director. His finest compositions are heard in his films from the 1950s. Bahu Beti (1952) and Betaab (1952) had very nice music. It was with Haar Jeet (1954) and Toofan (1954) that he won the hearts of his listeners through such lovely songs as “tujhe aawaaz deti hai taDap kar zindagi meri” and “armaan bhara dil TooT gaya”.

One of the best-known songs sung by him was the Adana-based “man mohan man mein” from Kaise Kahoon (1964), for which he won the Tansen award from Sur Singar Samsad. Soon after this remarkable achievement, Batish-ji left the film world, never to return. He joined BBC and gave vocal and instrumental music for several years. He worked for the Beatles film Help during this phase. He gained immense popularity as a versatile composer, singer and musician during his stay in Britain. In 1970, he was invited to UC-Santa Cruz to give lectures on Indian music. He moved to the US in response to this invitation and made it his home for the rest of his life. His work as a teacher of music blossomed after he relocated to the US. Not only did he teach a number of students, but also wrote many scholarly books on Indian music and produced instructional videos. His works are invaluable for any serious student of music. He established the Batish Institute, which has become a veritable university of Indian music in the US and has contributed immensely to popularising Indian music in the West.

Some of our RMIM friends had the opportunity to interact with Batish-ji in California. He had a sharp memory, a keen intellect and also a ready smile. Music – be it classical or film – was everything to him. He was very happy that people remembered him for his film work from decades earlier. And he was very enthusiastic about his newer works like the seminal Ragopedia set.

Pt.S.D.Batish passed away in 2006, leaving behind a rich legacy of musical works and a knowledge base for posterity. His film legacy includes ~100 songs sung by him for over 55 Hindi movies, music composed for 16 Hindi movies (2 using the name Nirmal Kumar), 3 Hindi movies as Asst. MD, and 2 Punjabi movies as music director. Today, SKS remembers him affectionately for the immense joy he has brought to us through his music.

4. “Dhunon Ki Yatra” – Pankaj RaagLaal Nishaan was the second film where he composed as ‘Nirmal Kumar ‘

audio file(S) :
film : Taksaal
song :Aaye sajna, hamar leke doliyan kahar, chali jaibe mohe –
sd batish,Laxmi Shankar and Chorus

Statistics Related to Pt. Shiv Dayal Batish (Hindi Films only)

**List of Music Directors for whom Pt. Batish has sung
    1. A. R Qureishi
    2. Anil Biswas
    3. Anna Saheb Mainkar
    4. Baldev Nath Bali
    5. Bulo C. Rani
    6. Ghulam Haider
    7. Ghulam Mohammed
    8. Hansraj Bahl
    9. Husnalal Bhagatram
    10. Jaidev
    11. Jhande Khan (?)
    12. Jimmy
    13. K. Dutta
    14. Lachchhiram (with Shyam Sunder)
    15. Madan Mohan
    16. Ninoo Majumdar
    17. Nisar Bazmi
    18. O.P Nayyar
    19. Pt. Amarnath
    20. Pt. Gobind
  • Ramchandra Pal
  • Roshan
  • S. D Batish (Nirmal Kumar)
  • S. Mohinder
  • S. N Tripathi
  • Sachin Dev Burman
  • Sardul Kwatra
  • Shankar Jaikishan
  • Shyam Sunder
  • Suresh Talwar
  • V. Balsara
  • Vinod

List of films for which Pt. Batish was the composer

  1. 1948 Balma
  2. 1948 Chupke Chupke
  3. 1948 Patjhad
  4. 1948 Roop Rekha
  5. 1949 Khush Raho
  6. 1940s (Unreleased) Reet
  7. 1952 Bahu Beti
  8. 1952 Betaab
  9. 1954 Amar Keertan
  10. 1954 Haar Jeet
  11. 1954 Toofan
  12. 1957 Shehzaadi
  13. 1958 Hum Bhi Kuchh Kam Nahin
  14. 1959 Chaand Ki Duniya (as Nirmal Kumar)
  15. 1959 Ek Armaan Mera
  16. 1959 Laal Nishaan (as Nirmal Kumar)
  17. 1959 Saazish
  18. 1959 Tipu Sultan
  19. 1960 Zalim Tera Jawab Nahin

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Posted by on November 8, 2012 in Articles, info and facts


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