Babla & Kanchan

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Babla & Kanchan were an Indian husband-wife musical group best known for work in the chutney music and Desi Folk music genres. They performed together for forty years until Kanchan died in 2004. Originating from India, their music is well known through the world, especially in countries like Canada, United States, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Jamaica, the Caribbean, the Netherlands, Mauritius, Fiji, South Africa, Suriname, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and United Kingdom. Babla is the younger brother of famous music director duo Kalyanji Anandji.

Babla Shah, drummer, percussionist, live performing artist, composer and record producer (b. Lxmichand Shah 1942, in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India), started his band popularly called Babla Orchestra in 1962, and since then performed over a thousand dance concerts and music shows around the planet.

Shah was perhaps at his most active when touring with Kumari Kanchan Dinkerao Mail Shah in the 1980s, as the CD music revolution in pop music was first taking hold.

A form of Folk Dance from the state of Gujarat called Dandiya Raas or Garba Raas was musically redefined by Babla Shah in the 1970s at his live Navratri Music Performances in India, the USA, Australia, Singapore, Canada, London, and many other places.

The dance music for these sensual folk dances came to be termed chutney (from a morph on the culinary term chutney) and was later credited to having originated in Trinidad and Tobago, due to its prominent semi-traditional Indian-ancestry population. However, sources insist that it was this lively duo and their efforts to revive the hit songs of lesser-known chutney pioneers like Sundar Popo that truly made chutney the international dance phenomenon it is to this day.

However, the music soon took on a trajectory and had a life of its own and became a Caribbean-origin popular style in its own right, arguably cross-pollinating and influencing various other popular styles. Chutney music and dance concerts remain popular social and cultural events in the so-called Lesser Antilles until today, and perhaps due in part to the touring groundwork laid by Babla & Kanchan decades earlier, is arguably an important pillar of Caribbean culture.

Because popular music tends to be released en masse (e.g., dance music compilations often used by DJs to cover a wide variety of styles), chutneys origin as a primarily Indian style may have become somewhat unknown.

Babla Shah is popularly called India's "Pioneer of Disco Dandiya".

In the year 2011 Shah was awarded the Radio Mirchi (one of India's largest FM broadcast networks) Music Award for Outstanding Contribution to Hindi Film Music.

He has served as a Rhythm Arranger & Music Producer in over 100 Indian feature films alongside veteran Music composers such as Padmashri Kalyanji Anandji.

Shah started playing rhythms in live performances at eight years old with his elder music composer brothers, to their combined acclaim. As a Music Director on his own, he has also composed music for several Indian films.

Babla Shah was also credited as the first music director to add the then-new sounds of rapidly tunable "Roto Tom" drums in soundtrack recordings for the iconic Indian original song “Laila O Laila” sung by his wife Kanchan in the 1980 film Qurbani.

After appearing as a playback singer in the films Rafoo Chakkar, Dharamatma and Qurbani, Kanchan joined her husband and together they performed and toured around the globe.

Their international engagements (playing live shows and orchestra music) then kept them away from Hindi (Bollywood) film music. They were mostly popular in Caribbean countries, where they covered soca hits like "Hot Hot Hot" and they also revived older hits by their chutney music predecessor singer Sundar Popo. Due to their extensive touring support, their LP albums including Kuch Gadbad Hai sold well for an Indian group traveling abroad.

Kanchan's solo albums like Kaise Bani were popular with the Bhojpuri audience. Her fame led to product endorsement deals for promoting various consumer brands including those of Johnson & Johnson.

According to film music expert Rajesh Subramanian the song "Khaike Pan Banaraswala" was composed by Babla.

Babla Shah is still actively performing music across India, and he occasionally appears at selected shows abroad, where his decades of works created as artist, producer and Caribbean cultural icon have elevated his profile to a beloved and legendary status.[citation needed]


Many songs Kanchan sang were remakes of older songs by West Indian locals, or were soca classics or by Sundar Popo from Trinidad. Her producer and manager was filmmaker and radio personality, Rohit Jagessar.

  • "Kaise Bani" (originally by Sundar Popo) - Rohit Records
  • "Chaadar Bechaow" (originally by Sundar Popo) - Rohit Records
  • "Benji Darling" (originally by Neisha Benjamin) - Rohit Records
  • "Ai Ai O" ("Buss Up Shot" by Baron) - Rohit Records
  • "Kuch Garbar" Hai ("Hot Hot Hot" by Arrow) - Rohit Records
  • "Tiny Winy" ("Tiny Winey" by Byron Lee & The Dragonaires) - Rohit Records
  • "Kuch Kuch Baby" ("Rock It" by Merchant) - Rohit Records
  • "Hum Na Jaibe" (originally by Sundar Popo) - Rohit Records
  • " Na Manu (originally by Bidjanwatie Chaitoe, Diamond Collection) - Rohit Records
  • " Leggo Me Na Raja (originally by Halima Bissoon) - Rohit Records


The couple has two children, Nisha Shah and Vaibhav Shah. Nisha has been touring with her mother since birth and has made her appearance in both Trinidad & Tobago and in Guyana in 2011, much to local satisfaction. Vaibhav is a drummer on the TV show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Lil' Champs & is currently working as a Music Programmer / Arranger in Hindi Film & Television industry. Vaibhav also performs with his band for various cultural/commercial programs .

Daughter in Law, Insha Vaibhav Shah an aspiring writer & a Master of Arts in Communication & Journalism, is currently managing Babla & Vaibhav's Concerts from several years.

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