Sunday, July 12, 2009


For an old timer and lover of radios it is difficult to stop being reminiscent about Radio Ceylon and their Hindi broadcasts. Radio Ceylon gave a lot of prominence to instrumental music and instrumental version of Hindi film songs were aired by them regularly.In fact their morning programs included a regular spot of 15 minutes for 'Vadya Sangeeth'. There was also a regular program at night in which a song was followed by its instrumental version. The names of the instrumentalists and the instruments they played were always announced before airing their tunes.

Going down the memory lane, the most familiar names were that of Van Shipley, Enoch Daniels, V. Balsara, Hazara Singh, Sunil Ganguly, Milon Gupta and a few others. They were as popular and well known as any other singer or music director. They were considered 'virtuosi'as far as their favourite instruments were concerned.They were integral part of the teams of great music directors of those days.
Van Shipley,, born in Lucknow, and trained in Hindustani and Western music, was the first electric guitarist of India. He designed his own guitar and violin and could play both classical and Western music on them. Known as the 'Man with the golden guitar', he worked with great music directors like Shankar Jaikishan. He played violin for the film Barsaat and guitar for the dream sequence in film Awaara. For several years he was with the Gramophone Company of India and they released an album" Van Shipley Sh0w' to mark his 25 years of association with them. The album containing 12 tunes from films like Caravan, Hare Rama Hare Krishna,Shirmilee, Andaz, Bees Saal Baad etc., mainly on guitar accompanied by violin and other Indian and Western instruments, amply revealed the genius of Van Shipley.

Another great instrumentalist whose tunes were frequently aired by Radio Ceylon, was
Daniels, the ace accordion player and the recipient of the first O.P.Nayyar Foundation Award in 2007. When one heard a tune on Piano Accordion on radio in those days it was sure to be Enoch Daniels just as it was Van Shipley when one heard a tune on electric guitar and Sunil Ganguly if it was Hawaiian guitar. There are several albums by Enoch Daniels and the one ,viz., 'Vintage Wine' containing 12 tunes like,'Suhani Raat( Dulari), Aaja Sanam(Chori Chori),Mera Salaam Lejaa(Udan Khadola)', Awaas De Kahan hain(Anmol Ghadi), and above all, the sweet 'Hai Apna Dil'(Solva Saal) all showed the mastery of Enoch Daniels over Piano Accordion and orchestration.

V. Balsara was another well known instrumentalist who had composed music for several films and whose tunes on Harmonium, Univox, Electric Organ and Accordion were often heard on Radio Ceylon. One of his LP Albums, '12 Hits of R.K.', playing the tunes of songs from R.K.Fims like Barsaat, Awara,Boot Polish, Shree420, and Aah is a treat to the ears.

For the lovers of Mouth Organ, rarely heard nowdays, there is one LP Record, 'Aao na Pyaar Karen', by that ace mouth organ player Milon Gupta, containing tunes of more recent films like Nazeeb,Kudrat, Rocky,Laawaris and two tunes from the hit album 'Disco Diwaane' of Nazia Hassan. Sunil Ganguly's album,'Encore' contained tunes on electric guitar from films like Gharoanda,Swami, Chitchor, Hum Kisise Kum nahin,etc.

While Van Shipley, Enoch Daniels, Sunil Ganguly, etc., played Western instruments, Sridhar Kenkare played tunes on flute. The LP record 'Vintage Films on Flute' by HMV containing 12 beautiful tunes like,Jyoth Kalash Chhalke', Bole re Papihara, Hum Pyar Ne Jalnewalon ko, Ansoo Bhari Hain, Yeh Mera Diwanapan, etc., always made me marvel at the sweetness of the tiny instrument called flute! Bits of these tunes on flute could still be heard sometimes on Aakashvani as 'fillers'! This album by Sridhar Kenkare in my collection has high nostalgic value for me . Purchased in 1977 along with a tuner, HMV SONIC IV, together costing about Rs.600/-,it was then, for me, a far from affordable price which I paid in instalments! This also reminded me about the experience of a fellow 'gramophone lover' and one of a few technicians in the area, who can and is willing to repair old valve radios! On seeing the LP Record,'In a Blue Mood' by Talat Mahmood, on my shelf he narrated how he and three of his friends pooled together Rs.10/- each to buy the record from Bangalore when it was first released in 1969!

It is regrettable that the present day music industry and the mushrooming FM broadcasters have neglected light music on instruments.It had the potential to develop and grow into a distinct branch of music. But, somehow, it got lost in the wilderness. The decline of music companies like HMV,INRECO, MUSIC INDIA, etc. and big production companies like RK Films, Navketan, AVM, Filmstan, Mahboob ,etc., who used to engage instrumentalists and orchestra exclusively for them must have contributed to this. Technological advancement and modern methods of recording as well as the versatility of Keyboard, Rhythm composer etc., have reduced the dependence of music directors on instrumentalists. Even for a stage program instrumentalists have become almost redundant.The young generation of listeners does not appear to mind this development. But, for old timers, this is a sad turn of events.


Haddock said...

The fillers of Enoch Daniel used on Radio Ceylon was something that I used to wait for.

Baku said...

I am still listening Vividh Bharati at 9.830MZ (8PM India time) here in Calgary Canada. Try to catch Shri Lank Broadcasting Corp. but could not do so. Very happy to see similar guys here. Please drop more lines on old Hind Old movie (16mm film). Interested to buy those. Have 16mm projector. Regards

Jay's music world said...

Thanks for reading my post. Radio Ceylon Hindi program is still available in the morning from 6A.M. to 8 A.M.(IST)on 41 meter band