The Gujrati composer duo comprising of Kalyanji Virji Shah and Anandji Virji Shah were known for their hit soundtracks especially in the 1970s’. Though they were born into a business family, their love for music led them to learn under a teacher in Mumbai. Kalyanji started his career as a musician and learnt to play the Clavioline.
This instrument was used by composer Hemant Kumar in the film “Nagin” (1954), to produce the sound of the snake charmer’s ‘been.’ Subsequently, the brothers formed an orchestral group known as Kalyanji Virji and party which organized musical, shows in Mumbai and other parts of India. They have often named another esteemed music director duo - Shankar Jaikishen - as their influence. In fact, with thier maiden film “Post Box 999” (1958), which boasted of songs like “O Neend Na Mujhko Aaye”, their Shankar-Jaikishen allegiance became evident!
This obsession was to end just as quickly as it had come, with the coming of films like “Dulha Dulhan” (1964), which brought with it the song “Humne Tujhko Pyaar Kiya”, sung separately by Lata as well as Mukesh. From then on, one could see that the music director brothers were headed for success. The year 1965, brought with it the film “Jab Jab Phool Khile”, and its songs “Pardesiyon Se Na Akhiyan Milana” and “Ye Sama, Sama Hai Ye Pyar Ka” gained popularity. The 1968-released black-and-white “Saraswathichandra” also boasted of beautiful numbers like “Phool Tumhe Bheja Hai Khat Mein” and “Chandan Sa Badan”, which landed them their National Award for Music Direction. This streak of success was to continue in 1970 again with the success of the music of “Johny Mera Nam” and songs like “Pal Bhar Ke Liye” or even “Ghar Ghar Ki Kahani” released the same year, with the song “Sama Hai Suhana Suhana”; both the songs stayed quite high on the Binaca Geetmala popularity charts. Some of their other songs, that are still etched in our collective memory, are “Aaja Tujhko Pukare Mere Geet” (“Geet” 1970), “Mere Desh Ki Dharti” (“Upkaar”, 1967), “Hai Preet Jahan Ki Reet Sada” (“Purab Aur Paschim”, 1970), “Chhuk Chhuk” “Yaari Hai Imaan” (“Zanjeer”, 1973), “Mera Jeevan Kora Kagaz” (“Kora Kagaz”, 1974), (“Rafoo Chakkar”, 1975), “Khaike Paan Banaraswala” (“Don”, 1978), “O Saathi Re” (“Muqaddar Ka Sikandar”, 1979) and many others. “Kora Kagaz” (1974), in fact, won them a Filmfare Award for the Best Music Director. During the 1980s’, though their music was well received by audiences, critics wrote off the music they created during this time as “coarse” or “forgettable.” Some of their hits in the ‘80s’ include “Laila O Laila” (“Qurbani”, 1980), “Mere Angne Mein” (“Laawaris”, 1982) or even “Har Kisiko Nahi Milta” (“Jaanbaaz”, 1986).
This music director duo has also been credited with having discovered and groomed fresh voices that were to soon become famous, be it Manhar Udhas, Kumar Sanu, Alka Yagnik, Sadhna Sargam, Sapna Mukherjee, Udit Narayan and Sunidhi Chauhan, as also the careers of lyricists like Qamar Jalalabadi, Anand Bakshi, Gulshan Bawra, Anjaan, Verma Malik and M G Hashmat. Kalyanji and Anandji have worked as music composers for over 250 films and as many as 17 of their films were Golden Jubilees and 39 were Silver Jubilees.
In the year 2005,the American hip hop group ‘Black Eyed Peas’ utilised music pieces from two of their songs: "Ae Naujawan" from the 1972 film ‘Apradh’, and "Yeh Mera Dil" from the 1978 film ‘Don’, which won the rap group, a Grammy Award for the number "Don't Phunk with My Heart". There composition called ‘Pal Bharke Liye’ was used in an episode of the cartoon series ‘The Simpsons’. They were awarded the prestigious Padmashree award by the Government of India in 1992 for their outstanding contribution towards music.
Kalyanji breathed his last on 24 August 2000, they were also conferred with the IIFA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.