Renowned music director Anandji Shah, of the Kalyanji-Anandji duo, was Thursday named recipient of the Lata Mangeshkar Award of the Maharashtra government.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan made the announcement selecting Anandji (79) for the honour for his over four decades' contribution to music and film industry.
The award, instituted in 1992, carries a case prize of Rs.500,000 and a citation, and will be conferred on the next birthday of Bharat Ratna Lata Mangeshkar.
Born in Kundroli village of Kutchh region of Gujarat, Anandji and his elder brother Kalyanji came to Mumbai at a very young age and helped in their father Virji Shah's grocery-cum-provision store in Girgaum, south Mumbai.
In their spare time, the duo dabbled in their hobby of music and got music lessons from a local teacher who taught them free in return for free monthly provisions from their shop!
Initially, they worked as musicians under legends like Hemant Kumar, played individual instruments and also organised live music shows.
It was a struggle for the duo to make a mark in Bollywood then under the awesome shadows of greats like Naushad Ali, Shankar-Jaikishan, Madan Mohan, S.D. Burman, and later Laxmikant-Pyarelal, R.D. Burman and many others.
However, after serving as an assistant to Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Kalyanji got his first break as in independent music director in 1959 with Samrat Chandragupta and later Post Box 999.
Anandji, who used to assist Kalyanji, later became his official partner and the 'Kalyanji-Anandji' team that provided memorable music was born that year.
Over the years, they composed music for over 250 films, including memorable ones like Saraswatichandra, which bagged them a National Award, Safar, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Don, Qurbani, Chhalia, Jab Jab Phool Khile, Zanjeer, Himalay Ki Godd Mein, Purab Aur Paschim, Saccha Jhutha, Victoria No. 203, and Blackmail, among many others.
Kalyanji died in 2000 at the age of 72 and the younger brother continued to provide music occasionally and nurture new talent in the film industry.
Among their prominent discoveries were Manhar Udhas, Kumar Sanu, Alka Yagnik, Sadhana Sargam, Sapna Mukherjee, Udit Narayan and Sunidhi Chauhan.
They also gave important breaks to lyricists and poets like Qamar Jalalabadi, Anand Bakshi, Gulshan Bawra, Anjaan, M.G. Hashmat, Verma Malik and others.
In the 1990s-2000s, their music was introduced to the western audiences in the form of mix albums with top US artistes. One of them bagged a Grammy Award in 2005.
Some of the previous notables honoured with the Lata Mangeshkar Award include eminent singer Suman Kalyanpur, music director Khayyam and Hindi-Marathi actress Sulochana Chavan.