Ninu is the family pet name of Niranjan Mazumdar (B: 9-9-1915 | D: 3-3-2000), who has 20 Hindi films to his credit as music director, 28 Hindi film songs in his own voice, one film each as lyricist and as a film director. Ninu Mazumdar was born in a community, which was traditionally more literate in those times. His father, Nagendra Mazumdar, was a dramatist and director of silent film era. Nagendra Mazumdar has also acted in a comedy cameo role in K L Saigal’s classic Tansen (1943). Ninu Mazumdar’s childhood upbringing happened under the guidance of his maternal grandmother at the then Gaikwad princely state Baroda. She herself was a leading social reformist. Here Ninu Mazumdar got his initial training in classical music under Ustad Faiyaz Khan and Ustad Imam Chili Khan.
In 1931, he came to Bombay and settled with parents. Here he met wide-ranging film personalities. His early initiation to Rabindra Sangeet also happened in those years. For some time, he had stayed in UP as well, where he picked up his liking for folk music as well as semi-classical music forms like, Chaiti, Hori, Thumri, Dadra etc. Soon he got his chance to compose music for Hindi films. His involvement in the world of music spanned singing, lyrics-writing, and music composition. Avinash Vyas, his contemporary in the world of Gujarati Light Music, used call him trifoliate bael (Aegle marmelos) leaf – स्वर, the (sound) note (the seven notes base of Indian Classical music), शब्द, the word (lyric of a poem) and सूर, the tune
The uncertain nature of Hindi films drove him to pick up invitation to join All India Radio (AIR) in 1954. His creativity fully flourished here. He introduced many budding Gujarati singers to the world of radio, and in the process popularized ‘light’ Gujarati music to the masses. He invited leading Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati poets to lend their poems to the AIR programmes to lend the breadth and depth to the Gujarati Light music. He introduced the concept of chorus singing into Gujarati light music with the help Bombay Choir Group (an association with which Salil Chowdhury also was associated). He is also credit with initiating one of the most popular programmed on AIR – Jaymala. His insatiable urge to learn and experiment led to him to learn Sanskrit after his retirement from a 20-year stint at the AIR service in 1974.
Ninu Mazumdar has composed music for 20 Hindi films, spanning a period of 1942 to 1967. Of these films, the films for which there is no trace on YT are: Masterji (1943) -co-music-director B R Deodhar; Pratigya (1943) – as recorded by Shri Harish Raghuvanshi in his famous Gujarati newspaper column article*- ; Rangile Dost (1944), Gudia (1947); Pul (1947); Ramshashtri (1944); Aflatoon (1950): Azamyish (1952) – except one song. Ninu Mazumdar has penned songs for ‘Paristan’ (1944) and directed ‘Kuchh Naya’ (1948).
The Singer of His Own Compositions
To commemorate the death anniversary of Ninu Mazumdar, we will listen to his compositions in Hindi films in his own voice, as are available on YT at present.
Haay Haay Haay Haay Dil Ko Le Gaya Chor – Black Out (1942) – Ninu Mazumdar, Rehmat Bai – Lyrics: Wahid Qureshi
The song opens with prelude orchestration based on western music instruments. runs on a fast-western rhythm in the male voice and switches over to a slow waltz rhythm in the female voice. Ninu Mazumdar also easily improvises with scale variations in the second line.
If we have had more songs form this very first film of Ninu Mazumdar digitally available, we would have had enough proof of his intense willingness to experiment.
Main To Lambe Safar Ko Jaaungi, Saiyan Mera Ticket Babu – Kiran (1944) – Unidentified Female and Male Singer
HFGK records female and male singer as Unidentified. However, while uploading the following video on YT, Sadanand Kamath identifies female singer as Leela Chitnis and I would place my bet on the male singer as Ninu Mazumdar.
The song is light-hearted romantic song wherein the female singer enlists he wishlist and male singer agrees to meet that and more.
Pal Bhar Ki Aap Se Pahechan… Kal Se Aaj Suhanaa Lage – Paristaan (1944) – Ninu Mazumdar, Amirbai Karnataki – Lyrics: Ninu Mazumdar, Roopdas
The song rendition is more in the typical vintage era style, but Ninu Mazumdar’s orchestration has his own stamp, So are the skilful variations in throw of words by both singers as they melodiously sing the initial lines in after another. Amirbai Karnataki singing only one word ‘Bhala’, @00.54, with a little extension of the last vowel ‘aa’ is again ample testimony of Ninu Mazumdar’s experimentations. The first stanza opens on a higher scale at a slightly rapid beat and then switches on to an easier paced second line. This is how Ninu Mazumdar has used folk tunes in his compositions.
Bamna Ki Cchhori Dil Le Gayi, Ho Baniye Ka Put Jiya Le Gaya – Main Kya Karoon (1945) – Ninu Mazumdar, Hameeda Bano – Lyrics: D N Madhok
The song is set to Gujarati folk music – Garba- rhythm, but the delivery of the lyrics is very innovatively presented as a light mood song. In the initial line- mukhda- Hameeda Bano literally cuts through the line being sung by Ninu Mazumdar. In the first stanza, Ninu Mazumdar chirps in, almost as counter melody, at every pose by Hameeda Bano. Interestingly first stanza itself comes in seamlessly with the mukhada, without any intervening interlude music as usual.
O Gori Kahaan Chali Us Paar … Chhod Ke Ganv Ki Bahar – Jail Yaatra (1947) – Ninu Mazumdar, Meena Kapoor – Lyrics: Sajjan
Jail Yatra has attained fame more as Raj Kapoor’s one of those initial films where he was not the lead actor. Ninu Mazumdar has recorded songs filmed on Raj Kapoor in Raj Kapoor’s own voice. So the songs that Ninu Mazumdar has chosen to sing in his voice may have been filmed on the Gajanan Jagirdar, who was the lead actor in the film. Ninu Mazumdar is credited with using Meena Kapoor very early in her career.
The song composition is nearer to vintage ear style, but the song does not progress linearly. Every line of the song has some or other variation in the delivery. Ninu Mazumdar once more demonstrates his improvisation skill in the way he has used the folk dance music at the end of the song from 2.18 onwards.
Duniya Sari Jail Re, Jiski Unchi Hai Deewarein – Jail Yatra (1947) – Ninu Mazumdar – Lyrics: Sajjan
The song is basically set to Bengali folks baul styles tune. Ninu Mazumdar, as can now be expected, introduces his own improvisation in the template. The way chorus has been used in the song one such sweet improvisation.
Aayee Gori Radhika Brij Mein Balkhaati – Gopinath (1948) – Ninu Mazumdar, Meena Kapoor – Lyrics: Surdas
In the glory of the fame that this song has got as the inspiration of Yashomati maiya se bole nandlala (Satyam Shivam Sundaram, 1978), it is perhaps being missed that is was Ninu Mazumdar who introduced the traditional ‘bhajan’ (prayer) music styles into Hindi films through the Surdas and Meerabai bhajans in this film.
Kaare Badar Baras Baras Kar Thak Jaaein Bar Bar, Re Birhan Ke Dware .. Gae Koi Aaj Koi Gaaye Re Malhar – Gopinath (1948) – Ninu Mazumdar – Ram Murti
Ninu Mazumdar has based the song on the folks ritual singing styles of wandering ascetics.
Piya Milan Kaise Jaogi Gori, Rang Roop Sab Jaat Raho Ri – Kuchh Naya (1948) – Ninu Mazumdar, Meena Kapoor – Lyrics: Meera Bai
Ninu Mazumdar comes up in new style by singing the song in base scale. As a music director, he uses Meena Kapoor in a contrasting scale, to come down athe same scale in the last line, wherein Ninu Mazumdar also joins to end the song.
Kar Ke Singar Chali, Sajan Ke Dwar Chali Chatura Albeli – Part 1 – Teen Tasweeren (1954) – Kaumudi Munshi, Ninu Mazumdar, chorus – Lyrics: Prem Dhawan
Kaumudi Munshi**, a trained semi-classical singer, popularly known “Nightingale of Gujarat”, is an established and well-respected name in Gujarati ‘light’ music world. She started as chorus singer in AIR music programmes when Ninu Mazumdar was heading the Gujarati music programmes section. Ninu Mazumdar’s first wife, Shardaben, had passed away a few years back. The professional relationship between Ninu Mazumdar and Kaumudi Munishi got converted in personal relationship and they married in 1954.
This song is also set to a ascetic ritual folk rhythm. Ninu Mazumdar has very easily crafted the tune to a different mood, of a young maid expectantly looking forward to proceeding to her new, in-laws home.
The song has a twin part 2 which is a solo by Ninu Mazumdar. Since we only have an audio clip here, we are not able to ascertain the siutaion in which the song would have been filmed on the screen. However, the Kar Ke Singar Chali Sajan Ke Dwar of female version now becomes Kar Le Singar Chatura Albeli Jaan Hoga Sajan Ke Dwar in the opening line and the song takes a form of well-wishing message.
Dekh Liya Jag Wale Tera Jag Dekh Liya – Teen Tasveeren (1954) – Ninu Mazumdar – Lyrics: Prem Dhawan
In song based on wandering ascetic folk song style, Ninu Mazumdar has introduced a novel approach to the orchestration support.
We now have a song in Ninu Mazumdar’s voice, which is technically not his own composition.
Karo Hamein Parnam Karo Jee, Baar Baar Parnam – Manjhu, Ninu Mazumdar, Unidentified voice – Ramshahstri (1944) – Music: G Damle – Lyrics: Qamar Jalalabadi
Kaumudi Munshi’s site records Ramshastri in Ninu Mazumdar’s filmography. However, HFGK records G Damle as the music director for Hindi version of the film (YT has several videos of film’s Marathi version). The names of the singers have been added in addenda of HFGK , Vol. II -1941-1950, signifying that the information was available at a very late stage.
This led me to approach Shri Harish Raghuvanshi, whose article* mentions this film, Shri Har Mandir Sinh ‘Hamraaz’ of HFGK and Shri Arun Kumar Deshmukh, who has done pioneering posts on Atul’s Song A Day w.r.t. Ninu Mazumdar. Har Mandirji informs that Ninu Mazumdar himself had confirmed to him that he had composed songs for this film with another music director, K. Bhole.
Shri Arun Kumar Deshmukh throws further light on the background of this film. He states that, “Film Ramshastri-44 was originally directed by Raja Nene. During the shooting of the film in 1943, Raja Nene along with Mukhram Sharma, Datta Dharmadhikari and few others decided to quit Prabhat. Keshavrao Bhole was the first MD for this film. He too wanted to quit, but he stayed, completed the work, and then left. This is told by Bhole himself. After Raja Nene left, Vishram Bedekar directed the film, but he too quickly left and the film was completed by Gajanan Jagirdar as a Director. He was the Lead actor too in it. I do not know who this G. Damle is, mentioned as MD. Ninu might have assisted Bhole in this period.”
The audio version of the song also is very kindly provided by Shri Arun Kumar Deshmukh.
The following are the songs for which I have not been able to locate digital versions. Since, there was enough number of songs already available for one post, I have not troubled knowledgeable sources like Har Mandir Singh ‘Hamraaz’. Harish Raghuvanshi, Arun Kumar Deshmaukh, who already have taken enough pains to provide base material and clarifications even for the present post.
(Note: Subsequent to posting the article, Shri Arun Kumar Deshmukh has sent in audio files of three of the songs in the list herebelow. These files ar now auploaaded along with the respective songs)
Sajan aao chalein kahi door, is neele aakash ke neeche – Black Out (1942) – Ninu Mazumdar, Leela Sawant – Lyrics: Wahid Quereshi
Mauj kare duniya anadi bahar, phoolon se mauj kare – Amanat (1943) – Ninu Mazumdar, Jyoti, Harish – Neelkanth Tiwari, M A
Pujari ab to mandir kholo – School Mater (1943) -Ninu Mazumdar, Chorus – Lyrics: Pt. Indra
- Sipahi sipahi ab to bigul baja – School Mater (1943) – Ninu Mazumdar, Chorus – Lyrics: Pt. Indra
- Aa Bahar Kar Ke Phoolon Ka Singar – Pul 1947 – Neenu Mazumdar – Lyrics : Rammurti Chaturvedi
- Aaye Bhi Nahin Bit Gaye Din Bahar Ke – Pul 1947 – Neenu Mazumdar, Meena Kapoor – Lyrics: Rammurti Chaturvedi
- He Ji Dagmag Dole Hamari Naiya, Bichhad Gaye hain – Kuchh Naya (1948) – Ninu Mazumdar
- Bahut Rahi Babul Ghar Dulhin Chal Tere Piyu Bulai Hai – Kuchh Naya (1948) – Ninu Mazumdar
- Lena Fakiri Phir Kya Dilgiri, Sada Magan Mein Rahena Ji – Kuchh Naya (1948) – Ninu Mazumdar – Lyrics: Meerabai
- Koi Saaf Na Dekha Dil Ka, Ye Chola Ban Zilmil Ka – Kuchh Naya (1948) – Ninu Mazumdar
- ………Kar Le Singar – Kuchh Naya (1948) – Ninu Mazumdar
- Rami Dhoban (1953), noted in the filmography of Ninu Majumadar at Kaumudi Mishi’s site**, apparently appears to be an error of memory, since HFGK database records Hiren Bose as music director,
- Kaumudi Munshi’s site** also notes that Ninu Mazumdar has sung a duet with Sardar Akhtar in Uljhan (1942, Music: Ramchandra Pal), but HFGK database does not validate this claim. All, except, the 20 songs that he has rendered in his own voice, belong to his early career of 40s. As such, I have not been able to locate the digital version of these songs:
Ninu Mazumdar consciously charted his own course at a time when vintage era music directors like R C Boral, Khmechand Prakash, Pt. Amarnath, Anil Biswas, Ghulam Haider, Feroze Nizami held the sway over the public taste. His compositions in the voices of other singers is also an equally interesting area which we will recall at some other opportune occasion.
Acknowledgements and references:
- * Harish Raghuvanshi’s Gujarati article “ઉત્તમ સંગીતના તરફદાર નીનુ મઝુમદાર”
- ** Kaumudi Munshi’s website: The Life and Art of Kaumudi Munshi
- A pioneering anthology, ‘Gaurav Gurjari: – Nandini Trivedi, Published 2006; Publisher N M Thakkar and Co, Mumbai 400002., e-version located at com @ hyperlinked title of the book.
The article is first published on Songs of Yore as Remembering Ninu Mazumdar – the composer and the singer.