Husanlal Bhagatram were one of the earliest music directors in Hindi Cinema & also said to be the first musical duo of Indian Cinema.
The duo consisted of Husanlal (1910–1968) and Bhagatram (1916–1973). They were popular composers in the 1940s and 1950s. It is said that the concept of a duo of music directors began with them. They composed for Bollywood in the era of Naushad, Anil Biswas, and C. Ramachandra. They trained famous music directors Shankar (of Shankar Jaikishan), Khayyam and the singer, Mahendra Kapoor.
Husan Lal & Bhagatram became the first music director who worked as a pair. They got their first break in the film ‘Chand’ in 1944. They gave their first hit with ‘Do dilon ko yeh duniya milne bhi nahin deti..’ sung by Manju.
Bhagatram was an ace harmonium player and Husanlal was an accomplished violinist and a good classical singer. They were the brothers of the famous composer of the 40’s, Pandit Amarnath, and both worked as his assistants.
In 1944, the duo got their first break in the film Chand. The song, ‘Do Dilon Ko Yeh Duniya’ sung by Manju, was their very first hit. Husanlal – Bhagatram popularized Punjabi folk music, and featured its lilt and rhythm in their music compositions. In the late 1940s, they became the most celebrated composers with the success of films like Pyar Ki Jeet and Badi Bahen.
Their song, ‘Ek Dil Ke Tukde Hazaar Huye’ (Pyar Ki Jeet) sung by Mohammed Rafi brought in a new era of sad songs. They took a lot of pains to make sure this song was an instant hit. They also composed the famous song “Suno Suno Ai Duniya Walo, Bapu Ki Yeh Amar Kahani“, sung by Rafi.
They worked with highly acclaimed lyricists like Shewan Rizvi, Aarzu Lucknavi, Brajendra Gaud, Kaif Irfani, Sarshar Sailani, Nakshab Jarachavi, Qamar Jalalabadi, Asad Bhopali, Rajendra Krishan and Mulk Raj Bhakri. Besides Rafi, Husnlal – Bhagatram worked with famous playback singers like Ameerbai Karnataki, Suraiyya, Shamshad Begum, Zohrabai Ambalewali , Lata Mangeshkar, Geeta Dutt, Suman Kalyanpur, and Kishore Kumar.
The duo parted ways by the late sixties. Husan Lal left for Delhi and Bhagatram stayed on in Bombay.
Husnlal took up performing and teaching classical music in Punjab and Delhi while Bhagatram stayed back in Bombay to play in the orchestras of other music composers. In 1968, Husnlal died while out on his morning walk. The death of his younger brother hit Bhagatram hard. He died a few years later on 29 November 1973 at the age of 59.