HANSRAJ BEHL: Haaye Jiya Roye…
by Ajay Deshpande
A man who could compose sheer melodies would be his brief introduction…Not without these reasons, would he be called as MASTERJI in his lifetime! Born on 19th Nov 1916 in Ambala District of United Punjab, Hansraj Behl was born with his heart on right side! Here in SKS there are so many doctors who may explain, what this phenomenon is. Some 5’10” tall and slim was he, quite handsome in his youth. Hope somebody might post his old photographs too, as the day would progress.
Not many people would believe that new singers would stand in queues for hours/ days in early 1950s, so that Master-Ji would have a glimpse of their talent! He must have composed music in close to 100 movies in Hindi and Punjabi. Not at all to be marginalized by any means!
His initial musical tutelage was under Pt. Chiranjilal ”Jigyasu’,’ and not under Pt. Chunnilal as is commonly written and perceived at Ambala. But his ambitions to do more in music brought him to Lahore, the then Cultural Capital of India in late 1930s. He had even set up his music school at the famous Anarkali Market at Lahore, where HMV supposedly brought out around 15-16 non-filmy 78rpm records in early 1940s. Not satisfied with the proceedings of life, the charm of Maya-Nagri brought him ultimately to Mumbai in around 1943-44.
After initial struggles, somehow he could get his first chance in Nav-Yug pictures some time around 1944-45, but only for some 15-20 days, when its regular Film Composer Rashid Atrey went to Lahore, and on Atrey’s return to Pune, Hansraj Behl was asked to leave the studios. He subsequently had some small assignments with Ranjit Movietone movies also in 1944-45 period, but remained quite luckless.
His true break came in 1945-46, when on strong recommendation of Prithviraj Kapoor, he was assigned the job of full-time Music Composer for the film Poojari-1946, where Madhubala sang that song – Bhagwan mere gyaan ke deepak ko jala de …quite very well remembered was this song those days.
Subsequently came films such as Gwalan-1946, Phoolwari-1946, Lakhon Mein Ek-1947, etc. but again commercially not successful. Mukesh was his mainstay male singer those days. Although Ranjit Movietone’s Chheen Le Azadi-1947 had some very good songs, again people opted to forget them.
Then came year 1948, and the film Chunariya changed the equations as well as fortunes of Hansraj Behl, as well as a new singer who was to set to rule the Hindi Films right until this day….LATA MANGESHKAR ! This Ghazalish composition Dil-e-nashad ko jeene ki hasrat ho gayi tumse was an instant success across the Sub-Continent! Even the first break to Asha Bhonsle in Hindi Films was given by him in the same film Chunariya-1948, although Asha sang only one line. Also her first independent solo is credited to Hansraj Behl in Raat Ki Rani-1949, the song being Sawan Aaya re….
How many of us might be knowing all this is a big question here? Why do we forget such legends so easily?…Tragedy it is, I would say!
Anybody remembers that fabulous Lata and Inder Goyal duet from Chunariya-1948? Aankh meri lad gayi re lad gayi re…..There is a background behind making this song. Master Ji told Lata Ji that he one beautiful composition to offer her, but for that she would have to accompany him to Kashmir! There was one Kashmiri Tribe that would sing this tune, while returning after the weekly bazaar. Lata got to listen to the original tribal tune, and in the evening itself the notations of this beautiful song were ready on the harmonium! Inder Goyal was his nephew ( भांजा ), who subsequently in 1960s he went to Jammu to become a Professor in one of the Jammu colleges.
After Chunariya-1948 success came to Hansraj Behl after some 4-5 commercial flops, and again he was destined to work in association with some other Music Composers, but after this brief hiccup, came the year 1949, and now he was to be taken a notice in Hindi Films forever! Chakori, Zevraat, Raat Ki Rani, and Karwat got released this year…Although Karwat-1949 was a non-Lata soundtrack, it had that fabulous Shamshad Begum solo Deewana gaya daman se lipat, kabhi is karwat kabhi us karwat….! What a melody is this! One of the very best of Shamshad Begum, I must say! And then those 3-4 fabulous songs of Geeta Dutt…! Unbelievable melodies of Hansraj Behl!
Chakori-1949, was produced and directed by Mulkraj Bhakri, a close friend of Hansraj Behl, and partly financed by Nalini Jaywant. It had this immortal Lata song, Haaye chanda gaye pardes chakori yahan ro-ro mare. Hansraj Behl himself told Shri Biswanath Chatterjee that during the final recording the recordist broke down and started crying like a child… so emotional he went at this composition!
Raat Ki Rani-1949 also saw a shift of Hanraj Behl as long as his choice of lead Male Singer was concerned. Now Mukesh was to be replaced by Mohd. Rafi. This immortal duet, Us chand se pyaare chand ho tum was indeed rehearsed by Mukesh with Lata in Raat Ki Rani-1949, but for some reason or the other, Hansraj Behl brought in Mohd. Rafi and so much was he elated, he got recorded the other Lata-duet with Rafi only Sunlo to mera afsana…These two Lata-Rafi duets are still remembered amongst the best 10 duets of Lata-Rafi. Can Rafi fans ever forget Jin raaton mein ud jaati hai? What a melody!
Usage of la..la..la…with a typical Punjabi Flavour, should indeed be credited to this Master Composer….I am referring to Sajan ki Ote leke haatho mein from Zevraat-1949! So many times, these words might have been used in years to follow, but this indeed is a stand-out!
Hansraj Behl should be admired for one aspect – that is, he used practically all the singers of that era. Although Lata Mangeshkar and Mohd. Rafi were his first choices, in his repertoire one would find everybody…Mukesh, Talat, Manna Dey, Mahendra Kapoor, Surraiyya, Asha, Bhonsle, Geeta Dutt, Shamshad and most importantly Madhubala Zaveri!
Yes, it was somewhere in 1950-51, he found Madhubala Zaveri singing in one of the programs in Mumbai and immediately gave her break in his next film Rajput-1951, So melodious one finds her songs under Hansraj Behl – Apni Izzat-1952, Andhakar-1954, Pensioner-1954, Dost-1954, Khyber-1954 to name a few. Dil leke bahot pachhtaye ke saara jag bairi ho gaya is an ultimate sweetener! Jaayega jab se yaha se – Motimahal-1952 and Ae meri mehboob maangle jo tujhko manzoor – Andhakaar-1954 are some of her outstanding duets with Mohd. Rafi.
Surraiya too had some great songs under Hansraj Behl namely from films, Khiladi-1950, Shaan-1950, Rajput-1951, Resham-1952, Moti-Mahal-1952 etc. Absolute GEMS! With Talat Mehmood he had Aaye bhi akela that any Talat fan can’t simply forget! Mast Qalander-1953 had those two unforgettable Talat Asha duets! As long as Talat Geeta Dutt duets are concerned, some of the very best from films like Lal Pari-1954, Darbaar-1955 were there!
A film that again, needs a special mention is Rajdhani-1956! Shri Vijay Nafde, a well-respected collector, shares this very interesting anecdote about this film. Somewhere in 1964-65, when he was badly haunted by this composition Bhool Jaa, sapne suhane bhool jaa, he went to Master Ji and asked for the record. Master Ji told him, he had only one copy of this song, and the same Sunil Dutt took it and needless to say, never to return! Eventually Nafde Ji got this 78 rpm record somewhere in 1967-68 from a Mumbai Kabadi after a long and untiring search! And what a record that is! The Palti (flip) Side contains Din khushiyo.n ke lut gaye O sajna, another KILLER of a tune! And most importantly, the day Shri Nafde got this record, in the evening he was with Master Ji, and the whole night, they were listening to this record!
Now to end, a mention of his masterpiece Haaye Jiya Roye from Milan-1958 is an absolutely must! A wonderful Raag Darbari tuned in Drut-laya, this is amongst those songs that simply ”deports” to you to an altogether new plane… and just observe the musical instruments that complement Lata’s SWAR….Bansuri and Sarangi, that’s all! Absolute DIVINE composition! This along-with Zindagi bhar ghum judai ka mujhe tadpayega – Miss Bombay-1957 remained his most favourite compositions!
Later in 1954-55, he along-with his brother Gulshan Behl set up their own production house named NC Films named after his father Nihal Chand, but commercial success always eluded him. Under his NC Films banner, Hansraj Behl was to produce another Changez Khan featuring Dharmendra and Hema Malini in 1968-69, even Mohd Rafi did sing the same song Muhobbat zinda rehti hai with a few alterations!
Hansraj Behl was also a force to reckon with in Punjabi Films, rather a DOYEN, I would say! Lata Mangeshkar’s early fame came also from his Punjabi Films namely Lachhi-1949.
Well, a person who never touched alcohol died of liver cancer on 20th May 1984, and the person who first diagnosed it some 3 years before his death was none other than Dr Prakash Joshi, a very close friend of Shri Vijay Nafde, and a great records collector from Mumbai. Shri Biswanath Chatterjee remembers very well that a few months before his death, on the publication of Hindi Films Geet Kosh – Volume 2 (खण्ड -2) on 25th Feb 1984 at Jai Hind College Auditorium, Hansraj Behl spoke at length at the falling standards of melody… a perfectly justified grouse from a person for whom melody was the focal point of any composition. And he left us with melodies, and immortal melodies. Much like his famous song from Changhez Khan, his music is also immortal!
Mohabbat Zinda Rehti Hai, Mohabbat Mar Nahin Sakti
I am extremely thankful to my GURU-s of this field Shri Biswanth Chatterjee, Nagpur and Shri Vijay Nafde, Belgaum, who had shared first-hand information about Hansraj Behl! Needless to say, both of them were very close and met Hansraj Behl so many times at his residence in Mumbai, before he departed on 20th May 1984. Also the Listener’s Bulletin issue of Sept 1982 has come absolute handy to me! List of films of Hansraj Behl is well-known and hence not mentioned here. A partial list can be found at: http://downmelodylane.com/hansrajbehl.html
picture courtesy :sangeeta gupta ji
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May 11, 2013 at 6:08 pm
Hello Sir, I am really very very happy, in fact too glad to hear such a wonderful life story of Shri Hansraj Ji. Actually I want to say something that His younger brother Mr. Gulhan Behl is very good friend of my Grandfather and he has not heard from him for long long time. We tried to contact him but did not get any response.. Please its a humble request to you to let me know if you get to know about him.. Will be too grateful to you. Thanks a lot.
July 26, 2013 at 11:55 am
Would like to link up with his children if possible. If you have their name & mobile number, please forward it to me. I live in the building at 41, Union Park, Chembur, where his Bungalow once stood! Regards, Sunil Vohra (+919820034742)