Music from films

Hindi Cine Raag Encyclopaedia: An invaluable gift to the connoisseurs of Hindi film music

Rajnikumar Pandya

The numbers of the Hindi Film Music followers is beyond count and will remain beyond count.  And then, added to it, there are many layers and sub-layers too! The changing times and tastes has led to the present day situation where fan-following for the initial period of 1931 to 1940 is less as compared to that for the post-1941 era. The introduction of new style of compositions and orchestration by the music directors like Ghulam Haider and Naushad have certainly created an unfathomable sea of the fan-followers of the Hindi Film Music.

In other words, the tiny earthen stream that Hindi Film Music was in 1931 has now transformed into a limitless sea.  Many rivers and streams of classical music and semi-classical music-based songs, the courtesan court songs, regional or folk music-based songs, songs of different religions and faiths, songs created by one’s own inspirations or those that are inspired partly or wholly by the western music have totally immersed into this vast sea. It appears to be virtually impossible for anyone to be a master analyst of some meaningful study of any one type from among so many different types of the Hindi Film Music.

But here is one gentleman from Lucknow, UP (India), Mr. K L Pandey, who has made this seemingly improbable task a reality.  Mr Pandey is a retired Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS) officer, who has served in the prestigious capacity of Additional Member of the Railway Board. But other than that, his true worth is that of a musicologist of high order

As stated in the study by Mr. K L Pandey, it should be pertinent to note that, since the onset of talky films in 1931 till June 2020, more than 13,200 films, containing more than 81,000 songs, have been certified by India’s Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). As many as around 15,000+. of these songs are not traceable, as of now, because either the records were not cast, or the films have not been preserved. That means that merely [sic] around 66,000 songs remain available from those 81,000 songs!!

Mr. Pandey has short-listed some 20,000 songs (from 6,200 films) from among these 66,000 songs. The songs that he has selected are essentially well-known and have a fair degree of classical bend in the composition.

His aim of taking up this onerous task is to provide a bridge between the two different streams of Indian Classical Music and the Hindi Film Music. He expects that this bridge will provide the path for the common people to reach the vast, rich, legacy of the classical music through the medium of easily available, and more familiar, Hindi Film Music.

In his extensive treatise that analyses the base raag of the songs, Mr. Pandey has covered more than 17,000 songs, from around 5,700 films, for the period 1931 to June 2017. Mr. Pandey has presented the outcomes of his analyses in the form three, huge, volumes of Hindi Cine Raag Encyclopaedia. The first edition, which was released by Shri Anandji (of the famous music director pair of Kalyanji Anandji), which has presently ran out of stock, was in English / Hindi bilingual format.  The second edition of this magnum opus, with an analysis of 20,000 songs from 1931 to 2020 in English in 2 volumes and a set of 3 volumes, Hindi Film songs raag-wise,are also ready and are also expected to be released shortly. Pandeyji has been able to decipher 174 raagas from among these 20,000 songs. Raag Pahadi tops the list with 5,300 songs.  The subsequent order is as here under:

Raag Khamaj – 3,000 songs

Raag Nat Bhairavi (or Bhairavi with Shudhdha Rishabh) – 3,200 songs

Raag Kafi – 2,600 songs

Raag Bhairavi – 2,200 songs

Raag Kirwani – 1,000 songs

Raag Peelu – 900 songs

Raag Bilawal – 800 songs

Raag Jhinjhoti – 700 songs

Raag Yaman, and Yaman Kalyan – 600 songs, and

Raag Charukeshi – 500 songs.

There are many songs which have discreet use of Raagas in different parts, so called Raagmalikas and also Feature songs with explanation Raagas in the lyrics, so called Lakshan Geets.

The complete analysis has been tabulated in a nine-column table as:

Sr. No. Song

(Opening Line)

Film (Censor Year) Singer (s) Lyricist (s) Music Director(s) Taal (Beats) Scale Raagas (Order)

Here is one typical page:

In the Preface to the book, Mr. K L Pandey states:

‘To search the classical music in Hindi film amounts to churning the waters of oceans. The task becomes more onerous because of many wide-spread beliefs, such as there are too few classical music-based songs, or that the films hardly have any Raagas, at best it may be shadow of some or a mix of some Raag, or that the Hindi film songs have polluted the purity of classical music or that the film producers do not have any reason for using the classical style forms because their principal interest is commercial success of the film, etc.

I believe that classical music is the grammar of melody. Therefore, if any composition has to be imparted melody, then inevitably the classical music, in any form, has to be used therein. This can be done consciously in a planned manner or can be done intuitively, in unplanned manner. As such, if any Hindi Film song sounds melodious, then it shall invariably have use of the Indian classical music. In other words, it will contain one or many Raagas, in either pure or mixed adaption form.’

I, and my team, selected some 20,000 songs from 6,200 films for analysing the classical element of a song.  This has taken fourteen years. We listened each song fully, and then tried identifying the basic note, ‘Sa’, therein by playing it on an instrument. Then we tried to identify the movement of notes in the song composition to check it follows grammar of any Raag or not. Taking into consideration the practicalities, with due respects to the expert instrumentalists of the field, we have analysed only on the vocal part of the song, and not included preludes or interludes. Also, the presence of one Raag or mix of other Raagas or use of different Raagas in different stanzas made it difficult to clearly decide one principal Raag in a given song. Therefore, we have shown presence of different Raagas in the order in which they appear, starting from the beginning of the song. Similarly, we have shown the Taals (beats) also sequentially. For example, if a song begins with Bheempalasi, followed by Kaafi, then we have shown it as Bheempalasi + Kaafi or vice versa. We have followed similar practices for the scale and the Taals (beats) used in a song.’

This arduous task could be accomplished only by the blessings of our Gurus and by the support of the scholars. Our ‘Sa’-based analysis of a Raag has obvious room for difference of judgements with more knowledgeable and learned artists or musicologists. Our sincere apologies to them for that.  Rather than basing the analysis of a song in any given book, we have followed our own reasoning for this analysis. As such, every feedback to keep improving these analyses is certainly most welcome. The initial lines of a song, film name, year of censor, name(s) of singer(s), lyricist(s) and music director(s) are based on the dependable published books and internet resources, hence any improvement there, too, is always welcome. For ease of indexing and identification, we have set the songs in the descending order of English alphabet of the first word of the line as it is popularly known. The first edition was a Hindi -English bilingual work, resulting into 3 volumes in 1,900 pages. The soon to be published second edition is, in English only. As a result, 3,000 more, i.e., 20,000 in all, songs could be accommodated in a smaller number of – 1,250 – pages.  The number of hard-bound volumes also have come down to two from the three volumes of the first edition.’

The full-fledged raag-wise analysis that lists songs as per each of the 174 Raagas is also ready. This will be covered in Volumes IlI, IV and V and are expected to be released after the release of Vol. I & II of the second edition.

As can be appreciated, the publication of these volumes does not have any commercial motive, nor Mr. KL Pandey is a professional writer.  So, even as the formal sale price is fixed @Rs. 4200 for the first two volumes, Mr. Pandey has indicated that, initially, for the genuinely interested readers he will pass on some attractive reduction in the sales price, including bearing the postal costs as well to his account.

Mr. K L Pandey can be contacted at.

Mobile: +91 91295 06111 | Email:

Address: H-601, Celebrity Gardens, Sushant Golf City, Shahid Path, Sultanpur Road, LUCKNOW – 226 030 (U.P.)

Rajnikumar Pandya, Ahmedabad, can be contacted at:

WhatsApp: +91 95580 62711 | E-mail:

The original article, हिंदी फिल्मसंगीत के चाहनेवालोंके लिये एक अमूल्य तोहफा by Shri Rajnikumar Pandya, translated by Ashok Vaishnav