Atul’s Song A Day- A choice collection of Hindi Film & Non-Film Songs

Ghanshyam ke hain ghanshyam nayan

Posted on: February 8, 2014

This article is written by Arunkumar Deshmukh, a fellow enthusiast of Hindi movie music and a regular contributor to this blog. This article is meant to be posted in If this article appears in sites like and etc then it is piracy of the copyright content of and is a punishable offence under the existing laws.

Last entire week, SATYA NADELA’s name was in the headlines of almost every newspaper and TV channel. Since the time his name was announced as the next chief of Microsoft, all roads leading to the Public School at Begumpet, Hyderabad were adorned with Big banners. All this because Satya Nadela was an alumnus of this school many years ago !

Almost every literate Indian was proud. Names of Indira Nooyi and such other people who headed international companies were mentioned ( never mind if some of them were not even born in India).

How many of us know that several years ago, some of the Film and Music community in India too had similar achievements on foreign soils ?

Most people know about the international fame, awards and recognitions won by Sitarist Ravi Shankar, Sarod player Ali Akbar Khan, Veena vadak Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Shehnai player Bismilla Khan, Tabla player Zakir Hussain, Santoor player Shiv Kumar Sharma, Flutist Hari Prasad Chaurasia or A R Rahman. These people are also associated with Hindi films in some way or the other.

But, the question is, how many know about SABU DASTAGIR, a Hollywood Hero of 23 films, who was an Indian from Mysore ? How many of us know what tremendous work the ex playback singer and composer of Hindi films, S.D.Batish has done in the USA to promote Indian Music ?

Sabu Dastagir was an Indian, born in Mysore. He first acted in an English film when he was just 13 yr old. Then he went to UK and USA and became a big star. During IInd world war he joined American Air Force and also won Distinguished Flying Cross medal. He was an hero in 23 films.

S.D.Batish did monumental work in UK and USA to promote Indian classical music. He did shows on BBC, wrote Books like Ragapedia etc, made documentaries and opened ” Batish Institute of music and Fine Arts ” in California. For HFM lovers and old Film lovers, these are matters of Pride.

There is still ONE MORE Hindi film playback singer, who won several awards, got nominated for Grammy awards, held several shows and taught Classical music to American students. She was held in high esteem in USA. Her name is LAXMI SHANKAR. She died very recently, about 45 days ago, on 30-12-2013 in USA.

Today we will enjoy a song sung by Laxmi Shankar in the film Aandhiyaan-1952.

Born on 16th June 1926, at Jamshedpur, in a conservative Tamil Brahman family,,her career took a dramatic turn from an expert Dancer/Actor to an expert singer. In a very rare Interview, this is what Laxmi Shankar said about herself-

” I initially started training, at the age of eight, in classical Bharata Natyam. It was from Guru Kandappa Pillai in Madras. Dance was my first love and I was probably one of the first Brahmin girls to take it up as a career.It was my mother’s initial training and her tenacious effort, together with my arangetram and subsequent successful performances that helped in brushing aside any criticism.

In 1939, when Uday Shankar brought his troupe to Madras. I was so enchanted by their dance that, in 1940, I joined the Almora Centre to learn Uday Shankar’s original style of dance based on the Indian classics. I thus became a part of his troupe. From then on, my association with the family was to remain with me to this day. Through my marriage to Rajendra (Raju), Uday’s brother and subsequently my musical training with their younger brother, Ravi (Shankar).

I developed pleurasy and was forbidden to dance. My dreams were shattered. It was then that, encouraged by my husband and family, I took to vocal training. By then, we had moved to Bombay where I learnt intensively under Ustad Abdul Rehman Khan and completed my Bachelor of Music degree under Professor Deodhar.

In fact, I could almost say that, had I not fallen ill, my life would have taken a different turn, into the world of cinema. I took an active part in playback singing in Hindi and Tamil films, even acted in a Tamil film ‘Bhakta Tulsidas’, singing the songs and directing the dances. I had also performed in the ballet ‘Discovery of India’ based on Jawaharlal Nehru’s work. But classical music was now my main focus and interest so, after the initial five years of my training with Ustad Abdul Rehman Khan, which equalled fifteen to twenty years in intensity, I gave my first public concert in Calcutta. Here, I may add that my earlier training in Carnatic music greatly facilitated my rapid progression.

In 1962-63, I went to the US, Canada and Europe with Uday Shankar, as a vocalist and director of the ballet orchestra. My second trip was in 1968, in the Festival from India organised by Ravi Shankar. And then, in 1970 as a solo performer to Florence, Venice, Rome and the Shiraz Festival in Iran in what was to be the first of innumerable tours abroad.
My Guru, Ustad Abdul Rehman Khan, was of the Patiala Gharana. A woman’s voice is meant for sweetness and I feel this style is most ideal for her. Moreover, the words are sung clearly and this is necessary for the enhancement of the audience’s understanding. However, at present, gharanas have less significance as each takes the best from the other, thereby making a breakthrough in tradition without losing its classicism. That is what I have aspired to do.

My sound training in Carnatic music in my early years helped me immensely when I started learning Hindustani vocal. Acquiring a knowledge of both systems also helped me to learn many Indian languages. Today, I sing bhajans in Sanskrit, Tamil, Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Gujerati, Kannada and Telegu.
I believe a performer on the stage is never a completely different entity to the audience. As a performer, I must be able to feel the pulse of the listeners and react accordingly. In that sense, presentation is an important factor which every musician must bear in mind. As for western audiences, what began as a matter of curiosity in a novel experience many decades ago has burgeoned into a full-fledged understanding and proves once again that music is universal, transcending all languages and cultural barriers.

I never worry about criticism for critics have a right to give their honest opinion. Besides, I welcome it, as long as it is not biased, for it helps me to correct myself.
My music helps me to acquire this serenity for it is to me something divine in which Ican lose myself. Through my bhajan compositions, I try to infuse devotion, fordevotion is an important element to draw the listeners to music and to render it emotionally effective. I am grateful to God and the public for whatever I have achieved although I know there is no end to one’s accomplishments. “

She had settled in USA for many years. After her death, ‘ IndiaWest’ published her obitury, which clearly indicated her achievements and respect she earned in USA-

” One of the most influential Indian musicians in America, vocalist Lakshmi Shankar, passed away Dec. 30 evening in Southern California, surrounded by her son, daughter-in-law, grandchildren, and close friends. She was 87.

Shankar was extraordinarily versatile, excelling in Indian classical dance before illness halted her dancing career and she committed herself to vocal music. Shankar was proficient in a wide range of Indian vocal music styles including Carnatic, khayal, thumri, dadra, kajri, Rabindra sangeet and bhajans, and sang in 14 languages.

“Bhajans were her specialty,” her son, Kumar Shankar, told India-West by phone Jan. 2. “As far as I’m concerned, nobody could sing a bhajan like her.”

Lakshmi Shankar was born on June 16, 1926, in the eastern Indian city of Jamshedpur, and first trained as a child in Bharatnatyam. Later on, she was accepted into the prestigious music institute founded by Uday Shankar in Almora, in what is now Uttarakhand.

While working under Shankar, she mastered the Manipuri, Kathakali and ballet styles, and it was there that she met her future husband, Rajendra Shankar, Uday’s brother. The two were married in 1941, and went on to settle in Mumbai, where Lakshmi’s career grew as an actress and dancer, also branching out into playback singing for regional films.

In the early 1950s, she was struck with pleurisy, a condition that leads to painful inflammation of the membrane surrounding the lungs. “She could not dance,” explained Kumar. “She had breathing problems, and weight gain.”

But instead of giving up the arts, Lakshmi Shankar decided to put her talent on course in a different direction. In an interview with Traditions Engaged, she explained, “I know the meaning of what I am singing which is a very big thing in music. When I sing I see the expression and the movement of the words and feel them as a dancer would.”

Lakshmi Shankar had a musical epiphany when she discovered ghazals and other north Indian music forms, and soon started studying with Ustad Abdul Rehman Khan of the Patiala gharana. Her new affection for Hindustani music led her to collaborate with sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar (brother to Uday and Rajendra), for whom she assisted in many projects for ballets, films and festivals. It was a family affair, with her son Kumar handling sound checks for their performances.

Through her work with Ravi Shankar, Lakshmi’s talent was able to reach a global audience. She made numerous recordings with Western artists, including on the soundtrack to Richard Attenborough’s film “Gandhi,” and in 1974 she toured extensively in the U.S. and Europe with George Harrison and Ravi Shankar as the lead singer for George Harrison’s groundbreaking “Music Festival from India.”

Among the many honors she received, her 2008 Grammy nomination for “Dancing in the Light” was a milestone, but Shankar also received a Durfee Foundation grant to teach Indian music to American students; a Kalpana Chawla Award for “Woman of the Year”; a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Bengali Association of New York; and an award for “Uplifting the World with Music” from Sri Chinmoy.

Kumar Shankar explained that a private memorial will be held Jan. 6 in the San Fernando Valley, and a more public memorial will take place at this year’s Ravi Shankar Foundation music festival. A statement from the Shankar family reads: “She had a heavenly voice which would melt any heart. She was a kind and beautiful soul. We will miss her. “

Lakshmi’s children, Kumar and Vijayshri (who passed away in 1995), were blessed to grow up in a household where nonstop music filled every day, explained Kumar. “She would practice for hours and hours each day … we were surrounded by music all the time.”

Knowing that her loss will also be felt by countless music lovers around the world is small comfort for Kumar. “I have mixed feelings,” he told India-West. “I knew it would happen. But it’s overwhelming.” ”

Laxmi Shankar made her singing debut in Hindi movies with “Neecha Nagar” (1946) with the song So na o nanhi so na.

She sang two songs in “Aandhiyaan”(1952), but one was deleted from the film. She sang in Hindi films, but it was not a continuous affair. The gaps were there. In all, she sang in about 20 films,like Mastana, Pyar ki pyaas, Idd ka chaand, Do boond paani, Bawarchi, Teen Bhai, Sultana Daku, Taksaal, Yahudi ki beti, Sapna, Devi, Haveli, Aarop etc. Her duet with Rafi in Mastana-54,” Jhoom jhoom ke do dilwaale” was very popular and is remembered even today.

Aandhiyan-52 was Chetan Anand’s second film of direction in Navketan, after Afsar-50. He later directed Taxi Driver also in 1954. The plot of the film was very simple. An honest lawyer Ram Mohan (Dev Anand) loves Janaki ( Kalpana Kartik),daughter of a big businessman Deen Dayal. However the rival businessman Kuber Das (K N Singh) also wants to marry Janaki, so he starts blackmailing Deen Dayal to force him to marry off his daughter to him. The film details how Ram Mohan overcomes all obstacles and wins the hand of Janaki.

The cast of the film was Dev Anand, Nimmi, Kalpana Kartik, K N Singh,Johnny Walker etc. The music was by Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, who was especially brought from Jodhpur,by Chetan Anand to give music for Navketan films. later he gave music to another Navketan film Humsafar-53 also. Till that time, probably,S D Burman had not become a fixture in Navketan. Akbar Khan , a classical musician himself, brought Laxmi Shankar to sing songs in this movie. For the 8 songs in the film, 5 singers were used by him. Jaidev Verma (who later became an independent composer himself) assisted him in the music of the film.

So, let us enjoy this song of Laxmi Shankar, from the film Aandhiyaan-52.

Song-Ghanshyam ke hain ghanshyam nayan (Aandhiyaan)(1952) Singer-Laxmi Shankar, Lyrics-Pt Narendra Sharma, MD-Ustad Ali Akbar Khan


ghanshyam ke hain ghanshyaam nayan
ghanshyaam ke hain ghanshyaam nayan
man mera bana man mor sakhi
man mera bana man mor sakhi
ghanshyaam ke hain ghanshyaam nayan
ghanshyam ke hain ghanshyam nayan
mann mera bana man mor sakhi

jabse laagi lagan jabse laagi lagan
jabse laagi lagan
mera man hai magan an an
man hai magan
mere chit mein base chitchor or
mere chit mein base chitchor
man mera bana man mor sakhi

shyam sundar ke rang mein rangi ja rahi
shyam sundar ke rang mein rangi ja rahi
mere kaano mein
mere kaano mein
mere kaano me
radha ki dhun un
ga rahi

koi kehta milan ki ghadi aa rahi
koi kehta milan ki ghadi aa rahi
meri bainyyan hai preet ki dor or or
meri bainyaan hai preete ki dor
man mera bana man mor sakhi
jabse laagi lagan
jabse laagi lagan
jabse laagi lagan
mera man hai magan an an
man hai magan
mere chit mein base chitchor or
mere chit mein base chitchor
man mera bana man mor sakhi

4 Responses to "Ghanshyam ke hain ghanshyam nayan"

Thank you for the in depth info and remembering this most influential Indian musician in America. I was wondering why our blog missed to pay tribute to her. (Or it was posted and I missed it 😦 ) My memory goes back to my school days when I HAD TO listen to bhajans in the morning on radio while getting ready for school. (Now, I am thankful to my parents for making it as a “ritual” 🙂 ) One of my fav bhajan was “Mati kahe kumbhar ko, tu kya…….”. Never knew Lakshmi Shanker’s name back then as it was not of my interest to know any details about the artists singing bhajans kyun ki HFM ka jaadu chhaya hua tha. 🙂 It was only during my high school days when I was more interested in NFS (bhajans+songs+light ghazals) and then that led me to know the singers, writers and composers of that genera.
As you have said a program has been organized in Los Angeles on March 15th to pay tribute to her by “Music Circle”, an organization founded by Pandit Ravi Shankar and Shri Harihar Rao in 1973 to bring awareness of Indian classical music and dance to Southern California by inviting Indian artists. Here is the link for more info.
Thank you again.


Apart from Arunji list of LS: Pativrata-1959, Mohabat Ki Jeet-1960


Arun ji,

Thanks for the detailed post with so much information. Only your forte sir. 🙂

And an enchanting song – Laxmi Shankar’s rendering in incomparable.





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This blog discusses Bollywood songs of yesteryears. Every song has a brief description, followed by a video link, and complete lyrics of the song.

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