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

Kaho guinyya kaise kate saari raat

Posted on: August 21, 2014

This article is written by Arunkumar Deshmukh, a fellow enthusiast of Hindi movie music and a 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.

The early phase of Talkie films was full of 2 types of people.

1. Those who wanted to do something worthwhile in this new field, and

2. Those who saw this field as an opportunity to showcase their skills.

Initially, due to the Studio System, no special qualifications were required to get a job, because in this system anybody was required to do any job. There was no job specification. For example, a script writer would be required to do a role in a film, or the music Director would have to sing a song in the film. So, there are cases where people initially taken for one job, finally excelled in some other job. Such examples are many. Amiya Chakrawarty who was working as a Canteen Manager in Bombay Talkies, ended up as a respected Director of films. Najam Naqvi, a continuity man in BT again, became an actor and a well-known Director, Ashok Kumar-a technician in Photo department became a famous actor and also sang songs, Guru Dutt starting as a Choreographer ended as an actor and a famous Director.

In the Music field also, the film makers needed actors and actress who were reasonably good looking and had a knowledge of singing. This was a great opportunity for the Kothawalis, Tawayafs and singing families, where singing was the profession. Good looking girls from such families had comparatively an easier entry in films. Such actresses were generally called “Bai”, like Jaddanbai, Rattanbai, Waheedanbai, Zohrabai etc. Most joined the industry, acted or sang for few films, and then got married to some actor or a director and settled in life. But some girls joined the films to make a career and contribute substantially. One such was a girl from Karnataka …

Amirjan was born in a Julaha( singing family) family of Belgi in Bijapur district of Karnataka. She was one of the 6 sisters and 1 brother. Singing was very much in the family and her sister Gauhar was already in films- acting and singing. Amirjan was also fond of singing and had dreams of joining films and making a name in it.

Unlike other girls from singing families, Amirjan first completed her schooling and then went to Bombay. Her sister Gauhar helped her to get her first film ‘Vishnu Bhakti’-1934. This film did nothing much for Amirjan’s career advancement, except that her name was now changed as AMIRBAI KARNATAKI.
Undaunted she continued with other films. Her real break came with Kismet-1943. Her own kismat also changed with this film.

I will not go into the details of her Bio, Filmography or Discography, which is too well known and easily available on Internet. I would especially recommend Mr. Vidur Sury ji’s exhaustive article here:

From all the female singers of the 40s, my first vote goes to Amirbai. She was, in true sense, Amir in her singing and justified her name.
Amirbai’s voice was very flexible. She could sing any type of song with great ease, be it a Bhajan, a Naat, Lori, Holi, Diwali, Party, Comedy, Tragedy, Ghazal, Thumri, Qawwali- you just name the genre and she has sung it.

I would like to highlight some of my favourite Amirbai songs that exemplify her comfort level in various genres.

The first among these is the famous song from Samadhi-1950, sung with Lata-“Gore gore o banke chhore.” This song from Samadhi, composed by C. Ramchandra, created a hurricane in the music lovers and for a long time everybody hummed this song. Young boys and girls danced on this song in festivals and functions and youngsters sang it to impress others. Amirbai skillfully combined her golden voice with the novel lilting tune to give a superb inviting effect to the song. Appropriately shot on Kuldip kaur, the song gave a “come hither” invitation to the listeners. This song also went to prove that whatever the genre, Amirbai could ‘just do it’ !

Out of all her songs, from the first to the last, my favourite is a duet with Surendra from film Bharthari-1944. The song is “Bhiksha de de maiya Pingala”. In this song Queen Pingla is responding to Raja Bharthari, who comes as a Jogi asking for Bhiksha (Alms). She recognises him and expresses concern how he would cope up with the hard life of a Jogi, when he had enjoyed a King’s life earlier. The song is like a question answer session, written by Pt. Indra and composed by Khemchand Prakash. This song had become very popular in India and was copied in the Gujarati version of the film. It is still played during poojas.

Another song sung by Amirbai that is my favorite is a Bhajan from the film Village Girl-1945. This film had some very popular and evergreen songs, like “Baithi hoon teri yaad ka le kar ke sahara” by Noorjahan, but this Bhajan by Amirbai was something out of the world. Though MD Shyamsunder had copied the popular tune of Jagmohan’s Geet- “Us raag ko paayal mein” famous in those days, for this song’s mukhda as well as Antara, Amirbai made it a Bhajan dripping with Bhaktiras. Coupled with the scenes on the screen this Amirbai Bhajan can be rated amongst the best Bhajans of HFM.

As I said earlier, Amirbai was at ease with any type of song and she would put all her skill and appropriate emotions in it to make it the Best. There are many sad songs in Hindi films. Even Amirbai has sung many sad songs in her career, so it was difficult to pinpoint just one. However I opt for the sad song from Nargis-1946, “Roti aankhon mein.” Music Directors Husnlal Bhagatram had given excellent music to this song and the tune haunts one for a long time.
Though Amirbai sang about 350 songs in about 135 films, her real singing reign was from 1940 to 1950 only. After 1950, the competition became intense, she became tired, public taste and singing pattern changed and consequently singing offers dwindled. From 1951 to 1954 she sang only 17 songs in 12 films. Her last song was in Bankelal-1972.

Amirbai was very popular in Karnataka and she too was proud to be from Karnataka. Her family runs a cinema Theatre called “AMIR ” in Bijapur even today.
She died on 3-3-1965, but left a sweet legacy of her songs. They will forever remind us about this exceptional singer.

There is one song of Amirbai,which I have kept in my Mobile phone and to which I listen to,when I am alone and in a mood for best music. The song is from film ‘Parbat pe apna dera’-1944…”Pareshan hoon ki kyun meri pareshani nahi jaati”. There is something divine about this song. Vasant Desai had never been so good in composing and no other singer would have done justice to it-except the great Amirbai Karnataki.

Amirbai was an exceptional singer who could do justice to the song, lyricist and the music director in every piece that she performed. She was one of those who came to the Industry with a desire to do something worthwhile and she really did it!

I dont know what is God’s design in making good souls suffer in their last days. Amirbai’s last days too were not very good.

Amirbai had sung very few Non Film Songs during the period 1943 to 1950.

Today we will hear a rare NFS by Amirbai Karnataki. This is a song recorded in 1914, when she was known as Amirjan Karnataki and when she was just 8 year old. This song has been uploaded by an Amirbai ardent fan and one of our contributors-Vidur Sury ji. He writes on You Tube,about this song as-

” Here is a truly extremely rare audio excerpt of supreme singer Amirbai Karnataki Ji’s Dadra in Raga Pilloo (Kafi Thaat). She sang this when she was 8 years old! (She was born in 1906). What musical maturity and singing supremacy! “

Considering that this song was recorded in 1914,this should be the oldest song on this Blog,beating the earlier 1925 song by a decade.
My thanks to Vidur ji for making this rare song available.

Song-Kaho guinyya kaise kate saari raat (Baby Amirjan NFS)(1914) Singer-Amirbai Karnataki


kaho guinyya kaise kate saari raaaat
arre sainyya nahin aaye ae
jiya ghabraaye
kaise kate saari raat
arre guinyya kaise kate saari raat

aa aa aa aa
aa aa aa aa aa
aa aa aa aa
aa aa aa aa

kaho guinyya kaise kate saari raaaat
sainyya nahin aaye
jiya ghabraaye
kaise kate saari raat

aise mein ?? ke
ae ae

12 Responses to "Kaho guinyya kaise kate saari raat"

Very interesting article on Amirbai Karnataki – cannot believe she also sang -“Gore gore o banke chhore” with Lata – she could indeed sing any type of song. And Arunji, thank you so much for making me aware of the soul rendering bhajan from “Village Girl” – 1945. How could I have ever overlooked it. I have updated my dad’s website with the bhajan –“ Bansi ki Madhur dhun se” by Amirbai Karnataki.
Thanks again.
Manju Amarnath Das


So we today got an opportunity to listen to a 100 year old song! Thanks to Arunji And Atulji!


Arun ji,
Many Thanks for the post on “Kannada Kokila”.
Even after the phenomenal success of Kismet, Anil Biswas and other MD’s have very few songs of her. Then the Lata storm in 1948-1949 changed the singing careers of many singers including Amirbai.
She definitely deserves more fame and recognition than has been due to her. A true legend indeed.


Thanks Arunji for this century old song.


Oldest song from the youngest blogger. Great going.


Arun-ji / Sury-ji,
Wonderful article about Ameerbai. Thanks for the unique 100year old song.
Talking about her memorable songs, one can not forget ‘maar kataari mar jaana’ from Naushad’s ‘Ratan’
Since you have stated that she was from a ‘julaha’ family, I would like to point out that ‘julahas’ are weavers, not singers. (Sant Kabeer was a julaha)


Thanks for this valuable information.


Thanks for this valuable information.
The song ” Maari katari mar jaana” is from Shehnai-1947 and the MD was C.Ramchandra.


The song ‘ Maari katari mar jaana’ is from film Shehnai-47 and the MD was C.Ramchandra.


Thanks for featuring this song Arunkumar Sir. As always you have done a great job. Iam so happy that you have given due appreciation to Amirbai Ji and explored her singing skills. One can realise that she is one of the singers of your choice too. Also thanks for writing down the lyrics – a long time since I heard it and earlier could not make out due to bad quality of recording.

I would also like to point out that Amirbai Ji’s pronunciation was an asset in itself. First of all, she had no regional accent as such, rather, her accent was quite like a Hindvi woman and very suited to Hindi – Hindustani songs. In fact, her pronunciation in all of Khadi Bolis, Hindustani, Urdu as well as Sanskrit (sung in some songs of Vikramaditya (1945)!) was excellent. It could suit the traditional Hindvi accent very well. She has also sung in Gujrati, Marwari, Marathi and Kannada films and her pronunciation was fairly good in those too. It may be noted that she actually did not have such a ‘Kannada’ accent, and sometimes her singing of Kannada song (in northern Karanataka style) sounds slightly more upper Indian.

She has sung numerous songs during 1940s and was one of the most major musical contributors of that period. Many more songs with uncredited singers are being discovered to be sung by her!

P. S. I also found that Julahas were weavers of the Indian subcontinent, thanks to Bharat Sir for pointing out. I remember reading somewhere that Amirbai Ji was actually native to some place in northwestern India even though she was brought up and settled in Bijapur.


A great find!! Many thanks


It is a pure delight to hear and read about Amir bai who happens to be even our favourite singer. I personally love her beautiful songs of film sindoor and kismet. Thanks a lot for giving us such information and happiness.
suresh & veera chaturvedi, gurgaon (haryana)


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