The Sculptors of Film Songs – 2- Anthony Gonsalves

   Originally in Gujarati, by Piyush M Pandya

Translated by Ashok M Vaishnav

Even a very keen follower of film music would it find it very difficult to list the music arrangers and instrument players beyond a few, more by luck than design, handpicked popular names. When radio was the major source of listening to the film songs, one possible reason that music arrangers and instrument players hardly got any mention when the song was played was that for each song such a list would probably take more time than possibly the actual paying time of song, typically recorded on one side of a 78-RPM shellac record. By the time FM radio listening generation came in, this genre of supporting music was confined to pre-programmed database of ‘digitally generated’ sounds of digital or electronic instruments. So, when the music director himself was becoming more of an assembler, it would be only surprising if any other support sources would have got some mention.

However, the film music in general, and keen followers like us in particular, are indeed very fortunate that at every stage of evolution of the film music, there always were some music lovers who always scraped up bits and pieces of some valuable information regarding many known and even more unknown artists associated with different elements of making of a song.

It is to the credit of such pains of those followers that we have some very interesting, and key, pieces of information of two epochal songs – Aayega aanewala … (Mahal, 1949; Lata Mangeshkar; Lyrics: Nakshab Jarachvi; Music: Khemchand Prakash) and Tere bina aag ye chandani …..Ghar aaya mera pardesi (Aawara, 1951; Lata Mangeshkar, Manna Dey and Chorus; Lyrics: Shailendra; Music: Shankar Jaikishan).

In order not to digress from our main subject for the day, we will sidestep good deal of information, like these songs started the future trends like haunting melody or a dream sequence or that if one song went on to launch Lata Mangeshkar into higher orbits, the other song laid foundation for many non-traditional styles of song composition or song recording or even the rhythm and orchestrion arrangements.

However, let us put on our headphones and listen to the preludes of both songs –

Aayega Ayega Aanewala – The prelude- or rather intro – running up to 3.42 is basically composed of short opening lines (Saakhi – साखी), interspersed with short pieces of violin,) is supported by soft counter melody accompaniment of piano.

Tere Bina Aag Ye Chandani – Listen to the solo violin pieces at 1.26 to 1.35 and then from 1.36 to 1.39.

Many keen listeners would have noticed these nuances of orchestration of the two songs. However, hardly a few would perhaps know that the piano in Aayega aanewala or the second violin piece of just three seconds in Tere bina ye are played by the same player whom we know as Anthony Gonsalves – one of the pioneering music arrangers of Hind Film Music of Golden Era.

Aside Trivia:

During the first stage rehearsal Raj Kapoor did not appreciate the above solo violin pieces in the prelude of Tere bina aag ye chandani and passed some disparaging remark, The two violin players immediately walked out of the recording room. However Shankar and the music arranger Sonny Catalino knew the true worth of these violinists – Peter Dorado and Anthony Gonsalves. They somehow pacified these two players and managed to bring them back to the recording. And as it is said, the rest is history.

Anthony Gonsalves – born on 12 June 1927, at Majorda in South Goa – had started imbibing the sense of music from the very childhood from his father Jose Gonsalves, who had his own band and was the choir master at the Church, and the other family members who regularly participated as part of the choir at the Church. Anthony Gonsalves’s father also used to teach music to village boys. By the age of six, Anthony had started assisting his father in these music lessons. When Anthony was sixteen, he managed to escape to Bombay, much against his father’s wish.

At Bombay, Anthony Gonsalves got exposure to Indian classical music. He would play violin with leading bands in the day and attend music classes to learn playing raags, sargam, harmony and such elements on traditional instruments of Indian classical music. He also took up learning reading and writing Devnagari script. In the due course, he developed the writing of the Indian classical music in staff notations and harmonize them with western music pieces.

In the ‘30s, during the period of greats like R C Boral or Pankaj Mallik, music directors would explain the tune to all instrumentalists and the instrumentalists would convert these instructions into playing their respective instruments. Then came a period when the strong influence of North Indian and Punjabi music traditions pervaded the film song compositions.  The songs were pleasing to listen to, but beyond a limit, there was not much scope for experimentation in terms of rhythms or tunes or selection of instruments and the orchestration. Young Anthony Gonsalves joined the world of Hindi film music of Bombay.

Anthony Gonsalves started weaving the harmonic pieces of Western music styles into the traditional Indian music style compositions of music directors like Ghulam Haider, Shyam Sundar, Naushad etc. This dramatically altered the entire character of music composition culture of Indian films. It can be safely stated that this established the practice of music arrangement that was to be followed by the music arrangers for next fifty years.

Anthony Gonsalves also introduced the chord chart system and integrated different instrument pieces in the entire structure of the system. With his knowledge of Indian classic music structure of prelude, mukhda (sthayi), interludes, antaras, cadences, post-ludes or fade-outs that was to shape the solid foundation of Golden Era of Hindi Film Music.

While working for different bands in those days, Anthony Gonsalves was noticed by Naushad. Naushad used violin playing expertise of Anthony Gonsalves for the songs that he was composing for his film Sharda (1942). Anthony Gonsalves assisted Naushad and his official assistants Mohamad Ebrahim or Ghulam Mohammad in orchestration of the songs of films like Anmol Ghadi (1946), Dillagi (1949), Dastan (1950), Baiju Bawra (1952), Mother India (1957) etc.

Tara Ri Aara Ri… Ye Saawan Rut Aur Tum Aur Hum – Dastaan (1950) – Mohammad Rafi, Suraiya – Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni – Music: Naushad

In this totally un-Naushadian touch composition, we can clearly feel that it was Anthony Gonsalves was given the full charge of rhythm as well as orchestration, song being set to waltz dance rhythm with violin, guitar, accordion prelude with extensive use of soft counter melody support with a choir style humming as icing on the cake.

The intrinsic insights of knowing western and Indian music and his practice of writing staff notations for all types on instruments soon was to make Anthony Gonsalves gain popularity in the Hindi film music circle.

Soon, Anil Biswas invited Anthony Gonsalves to join his team of music for Bombay Talkies. Anthony Gonsalves actively assisted Anil Biswas for Jwar Bhata (1944) and Pehli Nazar (1945). Here are a few songs of those years wherein Anthony Gonsalves has played the violin –

Sawan Ke BadaloN Unse Jaa Kaho – Rattan (1944) – Zohrabai Ambalewali, Karan Diwan – Lyrics: D N Madhok – Music: Naushad

Dil Mera Toda O Mujhe KahiNkaa Na Chhoda Tere Pyar Ne – Majboor (1948) – Lata Mangeshkar – Lyrics: Nazim Panipati – Music: Ghulam Haider

In was around the same time that another veteran music director Khemchand Prakash also invited Anthony Gonsalves to assist him in the composition of music for Mahal, released quite belatedly in 1949.

It was with Dholak (1951, Music: Shyam Sundar) that Anthony Gonsalves opened his almost a two-decade illustrious career as independent music arranger of jaw-opening figure of over 1,000 songs.

Mausam Aaya Hai Rangeen, Baji Hai KahiN Surili Bin – Dholak (1951) – Sulochana Kadam, Satish Batra, Chorus – Lyrics: Aziz Kashmiri – Music: Shyam Sundar

The song opens with typical beats of dholak of Punjabi folk songs – a trademark rhythm style adapted by Punjabi Music directors of that period. The introduction of accordion strains @0.21, trumpets @ 0.32 joined further clarinets @ 0.42 transforms the song radically. Anthony Gonsalves also has quite smoothly introduced harmony too from 1.02 to 1.22 in the form of voices of Satish Batra and chorus.

Let us listen to one more smash-hit song from the same film to further appreciate how western style of orchestration of Anthony Gonsalves and Punjabi dholak rhythm are seamlessly integrate –

Hulla Gulla Laaiala .. Ho Kullam Khulla ..  Gaye Jaa – Dholak (1951) – Mohammad Rafi, Satish Batra, Shamshad Begum, Chorus – Lyrics: Aziz Kashmiri – Music: Shyam Sundar

The vast range of instruments that have been in the orchestration of prelude and interludes also visible in the song.

Anthony Gonsalves long association with S D Burman, right from early films like Shikaar (1946), has given us many evergreen songs.

Saiyaan Dil Mein Aana Re – Bahaar (1951) – Shamshad Begum – Lyrics: Rajendra Krishna – Music; S D Burman

Anthony Gonsalves has played major role in the orchestration of the song. However, the solo piece of violin from 0.34 to 0.40 shows that magical touch that Anthony Gonsalves could infuse by his unique style of playing the violin.

Even as Anthony Gonsalves got closely working with the front-line music directors, he went to collaborate with same dedication with other highly talented but not so appreciated music directors like Pt. Govindram (Aabroo and Sahaara 1943), Gyan Dutt (Dilruba, 1950; Gul-e-Bakawali,1956),  Hansraj Behl (Rat Ki Rani, 1949; Rajdhani, 1956; Sikandar-e-Azam, 1965) or N Dutta (Milap, 1956; Ham Panchhi Ek Daal Ke, 1957; Jaal Saaz, 1959) to name  a few.

Ham Se Bhi Karlo Kahin Kabhi Kabhi Do Meethi Meethi Baatein – Milap (1956) – Geeta Dutt – Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi – Music: N Datta

Here is one more fine illustration of so smooth blending Indian and Western styles.

Here are two songs that we have always associated as the creations of the respective music directors. However, searching for finer details of Anthony Gonsalves has added to the enrichment to the beauty of the song that an arranger / musician creates by his / her contribution.

Sham-e-gam Ki Qasam Aaj Gamgin Hai Ham – Footpath (1953) – Talat Mahmood – Lyrics: Sardar Jafri – Music: Khayyam

How imaginatively Anthony Gonsalves has matched the imagination of of he composer while selecting each instrument so thoughtfully and arranging each one of it so much delicate touch.

Hum Pyar Mein JalanewaloN Ko Chain KahaN Aaram KahaN – Jailor (1958) – Lata Mangeshkar – Lyrics: Rajendra Krishna – Music: Madan Mohan

Right from the first stroke of piano in the prelude, Anthony Gonsalves has so effectively weaved violins with sound of piano in addition to one of the finest countermelody accompaniments that adds to the pathos of the song!

The list can ultimately land up putting in each of his arrangements, so I stop here with heavy heart, leaving many uncharted waters like Ashok Rane’s 58-minute documentary ‘Anthony Gonsalves – The Music Legend’.

With his practice of providing detailed notations not only musicians were very happy because they exactly knew what was expected of them and with what emphasis when, Anthony Gonsalves also very popular among sound recordists because he made it a point to provide these notations to them as well, enabling thereby to fine tune the recording touches as the final take would take-off.

Anthony Gonsalves’s penchant for blending the Western and Indian systems of music led to creations like Sonatina Indiana, Concerto in Raag Sarang, Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in Todi Taat. He also went to establish, and fund, in 1958, a group of around 110 musicians with Lata Mangeshkar and Manna Dey as soloists, Indian Symphony Orchestra, specifically to perform his creations.

These experiments did not succeed as much as Anthony Gonsalves had expected. The infamous episode of Anthony Gonsalves being refused to arrange music for an animation film for (the then) Films Division, by the then I&B minister B V Keskar,  whoparochially would not entrust such job to a Christian, also did not help Anthony Gonsalves to keep his self-motivation to continue to experiment!

However, Anthony Gonsalves’s efforts in the field of fusion of Western and Indian music did spread his reputation across the seas. Years later, in 1965, when Howard Boatwright, the then dean of the school of music at Syracuse University, was visiting India, he had a chance meeting with Anthony Gonsalves, that followed in an invitation to work at the university. Anthony Gonsalves readily accepted the invitation. He worked for around two years there and then worked in Hollywood for creating the educational films. Even though not much of authentic information is available on his experiences during America, it is generally believed that Anthony Gonsalves so much remained disheartened at the heart that when he chose to come back to India, he remained so much incognito that even his very close friends or associates at Bollywood had any idea the Anthony Gonsalves is back to India. He chose to settle down at his place of birth and continue to teach music to the children of the area.

That passion for teaching the music, perhaps inherited from his father, had not died down even during his busy career at Bollywood. It is said that his apartment at Sushila Sadan at Juhu-Bandra linking road, Mumbai, was always open to the students of music. Two of his the then students were Rahul Dev Burman and Pyarelal Sharma (of Laxmikant-Pyarelal music duo). Pyarelal, who went onto become an ace violinist and accomplished arranger, has paid his tribute to his Guru by convincing Manmohan Desai to change the name of character being played by Amitabh Bachchan for Amar Akbar Anthony from Anthony Fernandes to Anthony Gonsalves, and even coined the opening line of a song My name is Anthony Gonsalves. And perhaps as the fitting touch of the magic of Anthony Gonsalves’s immortal contribution, the song – otherwise not a very exceptional composition – went on become a roaring success!

An artist who was ‘far ahead of his times’, Anthony Gonsalves breathed his last on 18th January 2012, away from the fame and dazzle of the world of music he loved so intimately and passionately!

Credits and Disclaimers:

    1. The song links have been embedded from the YouTube only for the listening pleasure of music lovers. This blog claims no copyright over these songs, which vests with the respective copyright holders.
    2. The photographs are taken from the internet, duly recognising the full copyrights for the same to the either original creator or the site where they were originally displayed.

Additional References:

The article is originally published on Songs of Yore as The Sculptors Film Songs (2): Anthony Gonsalves.

The Sculptors of Film Songs – 1 – Sebastian D’Souza

Originally in Gujarati, by Piyush M Pandya

Translated by Ashok M Vaishnav

Evolution of Film Music

A school of knowledgeable people believe that the music came into being when an infinitely dense singularity exploded with a Big Bang to bring our universe into existence. That explosion is our primal sound.  The spread of that sound on a wave of radiation brought rhythm into existence. Thus, the two basic elements of music – the note (melody) and the beat (rhythm) – also can be believed to have come into existence simultaneously with the universe coming into being. The blowing of winds, explosions of volcanoes, the thunders of clouds and the strong winds of tornadoes that kept happening throughout the chain of events on the earth brought in them vast range of sounds, The waves of oceans, flowing waters of streams, winds blowing through the woods, the chime of rain drops falling on the leaves blended variety to the diversity of sound.

Then, at some stage of evolution, human beings started recreating this ‘music’ of the nature into the languages that human beings understood. The process has been evolving over the path of millions of years of human evolution and shall continue as long as humans exists.

One of the paths that led to the development of a form is what we now know as film music. In the Indian context, along with the advent of ‘talky’ films, in the third decade of twentieth century, the songs also came into being in the films. That indeed was the dawn of a new era. By 1935, the playback singing also came onto field. The film music gradually, but surely, came out of the shadow of theater style music. New crop of music directors and singers entered the arena. Also came in the then modern recording technology as well.

In consonance with rule of market economy- more the decent returns, more will be the competent players in the market – the virtuous cycle of pull for different forces of the film music started gaining momentum. As such, between the period of second half of ‘40s to ’60s, many outstanding music directors, music arrangers, musicians, sound recordists, lyricists and singers emerged on the stage. As they kept getting favourable circumstances, they boldly tried new experiments that showcased the breadth and depth of their creative competency spectrum.

At this stage, we do have to recognise that an average listener of any form of the music hardly has inclination for the technicalities like raags or scale or rhythm. As such, it should be no surprise if they do not notice the subtleties of different music instruments or the variations in singing styles. For him, what pleases to the ears or what can be easily hummed is a good music. It was this effect that drew that average lay listener to the film music. Along with actor enacting a song on the screen, he could now recognize the singer and perhaps the music director. Some discerning listeners also started giving recognition to the lyricist. It may not be overstatement to note that film music played a very strong, even if unconscious, role in cultivating some rudimentary appreciation of the music per se at the mass appeal level.

But, alas, very critical link in the entire chain of a film song composition, that of music arrangers like Frank Fernand, Antonio Xavier Vaz (a.k.a. Chic Chocolate), Sebastian D’Souza, Anthony Gonsalves, and musicians ranging from ace accordionists Gudi Saravai and Sumit Mitra to classical flutists Pannal Ghosh and Hariprasad Chaurasia.and many other such legendary instrumentalists still remained unrecognised in terms of their contribution to the film music. Even this list would be grossly incomplete if we do not mention names of instrumentalists / arrangers like Dattaram, Basu-Manohari, Sonik-Omi, Babla, Uattam Sigh and the likes who ventured into the field of independent music direction but could not make, so called, successful headway.

To buttress the point of intention, a few examples will better serve the purpose:

    • Who has played that master piece of saxophone just after the line Bhul Koi Na Jo Hamse Ho Jaaye in the famous song Roop Tera Mastana of Aradhana (1969)?
    • Do you remember sweet pieces of flute in Main Piya Teri Tu Maane Ya Na Maane (Basant Bahar, 1956)? Who would have played such enchanting pieces?
    • Or, that harmonium piece in Kajara Mohabbatwala from Kismat (1968)?
    • Have you noticed the pain of loneliness in Tu Chhupi Hai Kahan (Navrang, 1958) being so effectively being accentuated by the Shehnai pitching in the music?

The role of music arranger was to shape the basic idea of the tune that.the music director has composed for the lyrics penned by the lyricist into a full-fledged song. It is the arranger who selects the correct rhythm and corresponding appropriate percussion instrument as well as the other melody music of prelude or interludes or countermelody support and the corresponding instrument(s). Each piece will be designed in detail, which instrument will play exactly when, in what scale and what style, who will play what etc. These details were all codified by the arranger and meticulously explained to each instrumentalist. Then, there would rehearsals to iron out the kinks as well as the need to tune in the different orchestra elements as one unit. Next, the rehearsal would be held with singer, usually, prior to the recording sessions. And when all was set to a level of acceptable standard, the final recording would take place.

Without taking away the due credit to music director for imagining such notes, the lyricist giving it a concrete body and the singer making it come alive, it is the arranger and the instrumentalist concerned who are the unsung cornerstones for that imagination to fructify into the reality of a glorious structure of art that we call a song.

With this prelude, we gear up to commence our present series of The Sculptors of Hindi Film Music, that would introduce us to some of the leading music arrangers and instrumentalists who played great role in shaping the music of the golden era of the Hindi film music.

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As is most timely apt, we commence the series with Sebastian D’Souza (29 January 1906 – 9 March 1998), a successful Goan music arranger in the Bollywood music industry, who is largely credited with changing the entire harmonic structure of the Hindi film song to create an extremely listenable full body of sound behind the voice of the singer

Sebastian D’Souza spent his childhood and adolescence in his native Goa. His natural passion and inborn knack for the musical instruments were nourished in the tradition of Church music there. He easily went on to learn violin, cello and piano. While learning to play these instruments, he also learnt the writing of notations. It was during this time that he very attentively used to listen to the famous symphonies of well-known composers of the western world.


At the risk of a little digression, since we would be focusing more on orchestral arrangement of musical instruments in the present series, a word about the violin family of string instruments would be in order.

Quite easily recognised ‘violin’ comes in four different sizes. The violin, which is the smallest, viola, cello, and the biggest, the double bass, sometimes called the contrabass. (Bass is pronounced “base,” as in “baseball.”) The smaller instruments, the violin and viola, make higher-pitched sounds, while the larger cello and double bass produce low rich sounds.

After partition in 1947, Sebastian D’Souza decided to settle in Bombay and pursue his career as violinist in the film industry. Here he would play violin for many of the then stalwarts like Anil Biswas, Ghulam Haider, Sajjad Hussain, Vinod, Husnlal Bhagatram etc. In 1948-49, when O P Nayyar got his first assignment to compose a solo for CH Atma  (Preetam Aan Milo), he assigned its music arrangement to Sebastian D’Souza. When O P Nayyar got his first film – Aasmaan (1952) – he again entrusted Sebastian D’Souza the responsibility of full-fledged music arrangement. O P Nayyar – Sebastian association prospered very well and continued till 1973. Their last film together was Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye.


Incidentally, the Filmfare awarded song of the film, Chain Se Humko Kabhi Aapne Jeene Na Diya, was recorded just before Asha Bhosle – O P Nayyar parted ways.

For our present purpose, listen to the effective the soft instrumental notes accompanying the song as counter melody has been in enhancing the pathos of the song!

In 1952, Sebastian D’Souza’s Sonny Castelino, a Shankar Jaikishan team regular, introduced Sebastian to the SJ duo. Daag (1952) marked the beginning of another unstinted long association in the film industry. Sebastian went on to arrange music for each of SJ film, till 1974, ending the run with Sanyasi., all songs of the film set to raag Bhairavi. As someone trained in western classical music, Sebastian faced the challenge of learning Indian classical raag structure, since both Shankar and Jaikishan markedly preferred their songs to be based on Indian Classical music.

Another major work of Sebastian was with Salil Chowdhury. Salil Chowdhury is well known to recycle his Bengali songs into Hindi films. Here is one illustration wherein the value addition that a music arranger fully entwined with style of the music director can make:

Dhitang Dhitang Bole – Awaz (1956) – Hemant Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, an unknown singer and chorus – Lyrics: Prem Dhawan – Music Salil Chowdhury | Bengali version – Singer: Hemant Kumar – Music” Salil Chowdhury

The creative use of counter melody, harmony and chorus in the music arrangement seems to make so obvious a difference between the two versions, composed by the same music director. The music arrangement of the Hindi version is by Sebastian D’Souza.

Before we take up some representative songs for a closer view, let us look at some typical songs exemplify the benchmark that Sebastian has set for the role of an ideal music arranger.

Bol Ri Kathputali Boli – Kathputali (1957) – Lata Mangeshkar – Lyrics: Shailendra – Music Shankar Jaikishan

Mera Naam Chin Chin Chu – Howrah Bridge (1958) – Geeta Dutt – Lyrics: Qamar Jalalabadi – Music: O P Nayyar

Ye Bansi Kyun Gaye – Parakh (1960) – Lata Mangeshkar – Lyrics: Shailendra – Music: Salil Chowdhury

Mohe Laa De Chunariaya Lal – Char Diwari (1964) – Geeta Dutt, Suman Kalyanpur – Lyrics: Sahir Ludhiyanvi – Music: N Dutta

It can be so easily identified that first one is a SJ composition, second one a OPN composition, the third one a Salil Chowdhury composition and the last one that of folk tune composition of another western music trained music director, N Dutta. But what requires to be noted is the value that Sebastian as a music composer has added, by so intimately blending the musical score with the natural, unique, style of the respective music director. This was the role that a music arranger was expected was to play – addition of such richness that he enshrines in the songs, while remaining totally incognito.

In 1974, when Sebastian D’Souza could no more was intrinsically able to identify himself with the then new trends of song composition, he chose to go back to his native place and spent the rest of life in teaching music to the children.

We will take up a few of the most representative songs that he arranged for Shankar Jaikishan to showcase the versatility of Sebastian’s range of creativity and devotion as a music arranger.

Here are two very well-known YT clips that further demonstrate how seemingly effortlessly Sebastian has enlivened Jaikishan’s vision of long preludes or highly experimental interludes and counters,.which we all know as the signature identification of music of SJ duo!

The magical violins of Shankar Jaikishan – Part I

The magical violins of Shankar Jaikishan – Part II


Raj Kapoor was also extremely fond of Sebastian’s work. He, SJ and Sebastian had so matching wavelengths that they could compose off the complete background score of RK’s magnum opus Mera Naam Joker in one week flat.

Normally to describe a piece of art, no words can ever do full justice. So, as we take up these illustrations, it would be better that we put on earphones and listen to the magic of SJ’s compositions and Sebastian’s immortal arrangements.

Aye Mere Dil Kahin Aur Chal – Daag (1952) – Talat Mahmood- fast and slow versions – Lyrics: Shailendra – Music: Shankar Jaikishan

In the first slow paced version, just listen to the soft strumming of guitar giving rhythmic support with so faint instrumentation play of constantly accompanying countermelody, giving the unfathomable depth to the song. In the second fast paced version, simply listen to all the variations that Sebastian has arranged for V Balsara to play on harmonium (which sounds almost like piano accordion). These pieces of countermelody remain the cherished peaks of Mount Everest benchmarks for all the music arrangement practitioners to scale!

Ban Ke Panchhi Gaye Pyar Ka Tarana – Anari (1956) – Lata Mangeshkar, chorus – Lyrics: Hasrat Jaipuri – Music: Shankar Jaikishan

This is the song that has some wonderfully imaginative uses of chorus and choir. After brief prelude (till 0.44) the song begins with fast rhythm of dholak. When the initial lines get repeated at 0.35, chorus seamlessly joins Lata Mangeshkar, with choir supporting as countermelody. Then @1.02, the choir fuses with interlude music. that not only gives the effect of the song filling up the vast open space but also clear idea of the mood that friends have reached in their cycle journey. The choir countermelody comes back with chorus @1.44 again that helps recreates the divine mood that friends have now been enjoying. @1.55 when the line of stanza ends a the opening line closes the stanza in a classical mode of music composition again with soft choir countermelody. This experiment repeats @2.54. The song softly ends with chorus and choir support. Such minutely sculpted details, in an oft-used cycle-riding group of friends’ song situation, is one of the many unique facets of Sebastian’s finely carved music arrangements that can be said to be his own hallmark.

Ajib Dastan Hai Yeh – Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai (196) – Latamngeshkar, chorus – Lyics: Shailendra – Music: Shankar Jaikishan

Waltz rhythm-based song has three interludes, each one being different than the other. The prelude opens with strings of guitar and the choir then joins in the main piece of orchestra, followed by easy strains of piano-accordion and guitar ending with violin ensemble, signalling beginning of opening lines @0.36. The choir, then, accompanies the singing as countermelody @0.39. The first interlude is fine mix of saxophone and choir, with violin ensemble playing its due supportive role. The first stanza plays with mix of guitar and choir as countermelody support. The second interlude, starting @ 2.26 is dominantly a guitar and choir composition. The countermelody support for the second stanza is by very soft saxophone strains with even more soft violin ensemble support to deepen the effect. The third interlude, from 3.40 to 3.58, is again a saxophone-choir orchestration arrangement but set to totally different composition. The last stanza has guitar as countermelody support. As an overall impact, song keeps on playing in your mind the mixed mood of pathos with soothing tranquillity of the serene night, even after it has formally ended.

Shankar Jaikishan’s dance songs had its own style of presentation.

Kar Gaya Re Kar Gaya Mujh Par Jadoo – Basant Bahar (1956) – Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle – Lyrics: Shailendra – Music: Shankar Jaikishan

Basant Bahar (1956) was the first major challenge the duo had boldly accepted to showcase their versatility. They had even succeeded in roping in no less vocalist than Pt. Bhimsen Joshi for, Ketaki gulab juhi, with Manna Dey – a duet based on raag Basant and Bahar. However in a fim like this too, they had used as much creative liberty they could enjoy in the orchestration of this dance song.

A sad dance sequence – Amrapali (1966)

However, Amrapali (1966), being a pure history-theme based story of a classical dancer, the challenge was even more demanding. The script of the film necessarily gave space for depicting pure classical dance sequences different, intense, moods. However, Sebastian D’Souza has so deftly crafted intricate play of Indian classical string instruments like Sitar and Veena in sync with various classical percussion instruments-based arrangement for such sequences as well as background score.

Tadap Ye Din Raat Ki – Amrapali (1966) – Lata Mangeshkar – Lyrics: Shailendra – Music: Shankar Jaikishan

Weaving intricate multiple instrument-based large orchestra for highly emotional songs for such films is even more demanding. A highly committed and devoted music arranger like Sebastian D’Souza would not compromise a fraction of his own high standards even for such a less practiced field. Careful listening to the song clearly manifests unbearable pians of forced separateness in the form of rapid rhythm-based mix of ensembles of Veena and Sitars, which softly calms down after the outburst by slow-paced Surbahar strokes. Sebastian has used extremely soft violins support in the countermelody to impart the depth to the song but has studiedly used ensemble of Sitar as the lead instrument of the orchestra.

Shankar Jaikishan’s penchant for experimentation and inherent leaning towards Indian classical raags, and by now Sebastian D’Souza high confidence in his ability to do full justice to Indian classical music as much as western classical music fructified in the form of NFS Long Playing record Raag Jazz Style (EMI,1968; ECSD-2377) in collaboration with sitarist Ustad Rais Khan. SJ-Sebastian roped in such top-notch musicians like Bass – Eddie Travass, Drums – Leslie Godinho, Electric Guitar – Anibal Castro, Dilip Naik; Flute – Suman; Piano – Lucilla Pacheco; Saxophone – Manohari Singh; Tabla – Ramakant and Trumpet – John Pereira for the project. The disc had three of SJ’s favourite raags – Jaijivanti, Shivranjini and Bhairavi – along with challenging raags like Todi, Bhairav, Malkauns, Kalavati, Tilak  Kamod, Miyan Malhar, Bairagi and Mishra Pilu.. I have picked up Shivranaini here to showcase the high level of performance by the whole team, and intricate arrangement by Sebastian D’Souza.

One can keep recounting such nuances in each of music arrangements composed by Sebastian. However, we will limit our exploration to one more song that fully depicts the width of Sebastian’s spectrum of creativity, passion, and commitment.

Jhulmi Sang Aankh Ladi – Madhumati (1958) – Lata Mangeshkar, chorus – Lyrics: Shailendra – Music; Salil Chowdhury

The signature Salil Chowdhury composition opens with joyous mood of string and percussion instruments. The pure folk-effect chorus intensifies the mood. Sebastian has carefully crafted intricate pieces of flute ensemble in the entire arrangement thereby making out the entire outcome as unmistakably Salil Chowdhury composition. No wonder Dilip Kumar is shown mesmerised by the charm of the setting with vivacious Vyjayanthimala in the centre. So are we, too. with the magical environment that the entire song sequence creates.

Apart from the breadth and depth of virtuoso of Sebastian. these illustrations also demonstrate the pain and effort that the composer, the lyricist, the singer, the arranger, the musicians and each one associated with song recording used to take for each of the song. In return apart from the relatively paltry monetary rewards, the only recognition that the music arranger would get is small fine print mention in the credit titles of the film. However, in the hindsight, the ageless affection that these creations got that has not abated even after passing through so many generations seem to be the most invaluable rewards for their selfless devotion.

One of the rare photographs of Sebastian D’Souza conducting a live public concert performance speaks volumes for the role of the music arranger in selecting different instruments, selecting the right musician to play notes of particular standards, right positioning of the instruments w. r. t. each other and the microphones so as to yield a perfect harmony, whether in a studio recording or a live public performance.

We end our tribute to one of such great artists, Sebastian D’Souza, by recalling his one of the most iconic compositions that has all the hues of his creativity encapsuled for the future generations to savour –

Aa ab Laut Chale – Jis Desh Mein Ganga Baheti Hai (1960) – Mukesh, Lata Mageshkar, chorus – Lyrics: Shailendra – Music: Shankar Jaikishan

Credits and Disclaimers 

    1. The song links have been embedded from the YouTube only for the listening pleasure of music lovers. This blog claims no copyright over these songs, which vests with the respective copyright holders.
    2. The photographs are taken form the internet, duly recognising the full copyrights for the same to the either original creator or the site where they were originally displayed.

The article is originally published on Songs of Yore as The Sculptors of Film Songs (1): Sebastian D’Souza