Versatile composer Anandji Virji Shah ( of the legendary Bollywood sangeetkaar duo Kalyanji-Anandji) just turned 88, but he is as active and enthusiastic as a 28 year old.
When I called up Anandji-bhai on phone to wish him ( I share a warm personal rapport with him and his family over past 27 years), he was in his usual cheerful mood – by Chaitanya Padukone
Reacted Anandji, “Generally I celebrate my birthdays every year on a quiet, simple note with my family and few close well-wisher friends.
This time due to the corona situation, everything is happening only on whatsapp and thru video-calls.
Once the vaccination phase is completed, I am hoping to socially meet people and attend music-events.
For past almost one year , Corona had fully cornered free-movement. Let’s hope we all become mask-free in the near-future, with no more face-cover-versions,” quipped family-centric person Anandji.
Asked to share the raaz (secret) of his good health, Anandji comes up with, “I eat to live and not live-to-eat. With no baahar-ka-khaana, even my home-made food intake is limited.
Be positive, cheerful, calm and laugh as much as you can. Harmful addictions and vices have no place in my life.
Sometimes, I do get a creative ‘high’ composing on my keyboards and shooting well-composed pictures with my camera,” smiles Anandji, who is an excellent ‘mimic’.
Like his ‘late’ elder genius-composer brother Kalyanjibhai, multi-talented music-savvy Anandji-bhai is also known for his sense of philanthropy and witty humour.
Asked to comment on his musical journey for the past 70 years, voracious reader Anandji who is also hailed as the ‘gyaani’ human encyclopedia of music has a meaningful impish smile on his face as he opens up.
“Originally, I had this plans of becoming an actor-hero, but my short stature proved to be a setback.
By divine intervention along with my elder brother-partner Kalyanji-bhai I was destined to ‘compose’ hundreds of memorable film songs and also give big breaks to a large number of upcoming singers From optical tracks to analog to hi-tech multi-track digital recordings.
we have been very instrumental in the fast-forward technological progress of film-music,” he says with passion in his voice.
What was articulate Anandji’s ‘take’ on today’s chartbuster filmy song-tracks most of which ‘fade-out’ within maybe five weeks, in sheer contrast to the ‘evergreen’ haunting retro-melodies of yester years that are timeless even after 50 years ?
After a brief pause he offers his analysis.. “That’s because there is a constant overexposure and overdose of most songs on TV, radio, mobile phones-apps, on internet-youtubes, in shopping malls etc.
Which results in music-lovers getting ‘fed-up’ after listening to the same ‘digitally’ created songs on-loop baar-baar aur lagataar.
Secondly, you rarely come across emotionally-feel soulful songs with pure melody, snappy rhythms and simple, hummable lyrics.
Like for instance, our landmark track ‘Zindagi Ka Safar, Hai Yeh Kaisa Safar.’ In fact, we insisted that Kishoriyaa ( Kishore Kumar) sing this soulful, philosophical song while ‘sitting’ on an easy-chair posture, instead of dancing and swinging in the singer’s cabin.
Even Kishore-da was surprised after the recording when he observed the soothing, relaxed ‘feel’,” recalls Anandjibhai, who is so attached to his NRI entrepreneur-daughter (Rita Valambia) that his favourite cellphone caller-tune is the iconic song ‘O Babul Pyare’ from ‘Johnny Mera Naam’ .
In the recent past, at a live memorial K-A concert, in Mumbai, extempore ‘singer’ Anandji sang on stage, the soulful ‘Mera Jeevan Kora Kaagaz’ without referring to any lyrics-prompter.
“Since I sing it with my heart, I know my song by-heart,” he quipped Known for his witty humour, the jovial Anandji had the audience in splits with his spontaneous stand-up comedy and mimicking, even while he was being honoured on stage.
When his traditional wife (Shantaben) was called on stage, Anandji jestfully claimed that he had not even ‘seen’ his newly-wed wife for so many years.
“That’s why I could not hum our song ‘Haan tum bilkul waisi ho, jaisa maine socha tha,”, he said amid thundering applause. “Melody and comedy’ are among the best rejuvenating mantras,”
Top-Ten Kalyanji Anandji musical landmarks :
Chhalia, Kora Kagaz, Saraswati Chandra, Purab Aur Paschim,
Johnny Mera Naam, Don, Qurbani, Sachha Jhutha, Jab Jab Phool
Khile and Zanjeer