Veteran Bollywood music composer Anandji wears an expression on his face that suggests he will either break into a telling banter or a captivating song.
His banter was in evidence during the World Gujarati Congress 2006, which concluded here on September 3, as he went from table to table and left guffaws in his wake. His music was hidden rather well.
"It is not necessary to project creativity all the time. It is also not essential that you will get the kind of work you want," Anandji, the surviving of the legendary sibling duo Kalyanji-Anandji, told IANS.
It is a measure of how closely intertwined the two brothers were that throughout the conference Anandji was introduced either as Kalyanji-Anandji or just Kalyanji.
"Why should I mind being referred to like that. Kalyanji was like a father figure to me. His presence meant that everything was fine with the world," Anandji said of his brother, elder to him by five years, who died in 2000.
At 73, Anandji is sprightly and has been in the news lately for a couple of reasons.
Recently his efforts led to the US-based Broadcasting Media Inc (BMI), which deals with copyright issues, honouring the brothers after the hit band Black Eyed Peas used a part of their hit songs Yeh Mera Dil (Don) and Ae naujavan from Apradh in the chartbusting song Don't phunk with my heart.
The other reason Anandji has been attracting attention is because of the remake of Don by Farhan Akhtar - the music for the original being scored by the brothers. To the inevitable question of what he thinks of the new version of their hit score by Shankar-Ehasn-Loy, Anandji offers a circumspect and tantalisingly ambiguous response: "What am I supposed to say? The score of
'Don' was very modern when it was first made. Maybe the generation now wants different orchestration."
During a career spanning over 40 years Kalyanji-Anandji brought in a remarkable mix of modern instrumentation and full-blooded folk influence of the Kutch-Saurashtra region of Gujarat where they hailed from.
Their entry into Hindi cinema music was at a time when the landscape was packed with giants of composition such as Naushad, Sachin Deb Burman, Madan Mohan and Hemant Kumar. But the two knew that there was some room to be carved with their background in folk music inherited from one of their grandparents.
From 1959 when Kalyanji Virji Shah began with Samrat Chandragupta right up to the 1990s the composer siblings excelled at producing songs that effortlessly captured the popular mood.
Although derided as wannabe Shankar-Jaikishan during the early days of their career, Kalyanji-Anandji quickly established themselves.
In 1960, their hit score for the Raj Kapoor-starrer Chhalia, which included the foot-tapping chartbuster Dum Dum Diga Diga and gloriously melancholic Mere Toote Hue Dil Se, was dismissed by many as a fluke success. However, the brothers proved their versatility with Purnima (1965) with Chand Ahen Bharega, followed by Himlay Ki God Mein and Jab Jab Phool Khile. For the next 20-plus years Kalyanji-Anandji produced some of the biggest songs in Hindi cinema including the national award winning Mere Desh Ki Dharti (Upkar 1967).
Between the shy and retiring Kalyanji and the more gregarious Anandji, the music produced may not have the profound classical depth of Naushad or the varied brilliance of SD Burman but it had irresistible melody and easy approachability which could not have come without unquestionable talent.
Ask Anandji what he would do if he woke up one morning with a score he knows is outstanding. What would he do with it? "Great music stays alive in one's soul. It does not necessarily have to be etched on a CD," Anandji says.
And what is great music, one might wonder. "Great music has to be spontaneous. If some one tells me that he has worked very hard to produce some great music, I would have problem believing it. Unless it comes to you spontaneously it would be like sawing a piece of wood. That too is hard work."
Anandji says he spends his time doing a lot of charitable work as well as training fresh talents. Unlike many composers of his era Anandji's reply to the inevitable question of the quality of today's music is not bitter.
"Music is a product of its ecology. Just as it would be extremely hard for another Mahatma Gandhi to emerge, it might be hard for great music to emerge. But I still think it is possible to produce great songs."