N Datta – A Tribute

One of the forgotten music directors from the golden era, he was more often remembered as S D Burman’s assistant in the beginning.

N Datta, born as Dattaram Baburao Naik on 12nd December 1927 in a small village in Goa. He ran away to Mumbai (then Bombay) at the age of twelve and learnt classical music at ‘Deodhar’s School of Indian Music’. Meanwhile he also visited music studios where he worked as an assistant to Master Ghulam Haider.
He used to participate in poem & music symposia, where his talent was spotted by Burman Da, who made him his assistant during early 1950s for films like Bahar, Sazaa, Ek Nazar, Jaal, Jeevan Jyoti and Angarey. The film Jaal was set in Goa and he helped Burman da in composing the tunes. N Datta was fond of Portuguese influenced songs and regional folk songs since his childhood. So the typical Goan tunes of the songs like ‘Chori Chori Meri Gali‘ was his gift to Burman da. It is a vibrant song full of energy and the catchy rhythm that makes us wanna dance. It is also said that he helped Burman da for tunes in many songs, but never demanded his due credit!
He started as an independent music director in film Milaap (directorial debut of Raj Khosla) in 1955, which is still remembered for songs like ‘Jaate Ho To Jao Par’ by Geeta Dutt & ‘Yeh Baharon Ka Sama’ separately sung by Lata Mangeshkar & Hemant Kumar.
His association with B R Films was well known, where he worked as a music director for films like Sadhana (1958), Dhool Ka Phool (1959) & Dharamputra (1961). The songs from all of these films are still popular. He wasn’t blessed with good health and I suspect that was the reason he couldn’t get associated with B R Films in the long run.

Though he composed later as well, the majority of the films were B grade or low budget. So, though talented, he couldn’t get associated with major production houses. But his tunes used to be melodious and so easy to hum that the songs were popular, even if the films were not commercially successful.
He was at home with classical based songs (though less in number) as well as club songs, where he used all the forms from Rock N Roll to Waltz. He has also composed patriotic songs, ‘Sare Jahan Se Achha‘ from Bhai Behen is one of the examples, ‘Hum Panchhi Ek Daal Ke’ from ‘Hum Panchhi ek Daal Ke‘ also highlights the importance of unity amongst the diversity. ‘Tu Hindu Banega Na Musalman‘ from ‘Dhool Ka Phool’ also shares the feeling of unity and talks against casteism.
His friendship with Sahir was well known in the industry and as Sahir already knew his talent, he was with N Datta from his very first film, Milaap and they together created musical masterpieces in other films as well. His lyrics complemented Datta’s style of composition & orchestration very well.

These include some popular films like, Marine Drive, Didi, Lighthouse, Sadhana, Dhool Ka Phool, Dharamputra, Chandi ki Deewar, Naya Rasta. His last film was Chehre Pe Chehra in 1980. He struggled with ill health in his last years. He passed away on 30th December 1987 in Mumbai (then Bombay).
His contribution to Marathi Film Industry is also well known, He composed for twelve films and blessed us with popular songs. He many a times trusted Mahendra Kapoor for Marathi songs as well. He composed a song for ‘Marine drive’ – Dil Bhi Mit Jaye To (by Asha Bhosle) that didn’t click at that time. But he was sure about the spark in the tune & reused it for a romantic Marathi song ‘Dhundit Rahu, Mastit Gaau‘ (by Asha & Mahendra Kapoor) from ‘Bala Gaau Kashi Angaai’ and the song is still popular.
His popular Marathi films include, Madhuchandra, Aparadh, Mama Bhache, Preet Tujhi Majhi etc.

Today I’m posting my favourite Hindi & Marathi songs composed by him, on his 30th death anniversary. The songs are in no particular order.

1. Dhadkane Lagi Dil Ke – Dhool Ka Phool (1959) Asha Bhosle & Mahendra Kapoor / Lyrics- Sahir
One of the most popular songs by N Datta. The theme of this film was unmarried mothers which was a taboo at the time and I think still is. The song comes at the crucial moment of the film, where both of them are enjoying each others company. Here we come across a western type of composition, that Datta was fond of & was good at too! It surely creates a romantic atmosphere.

2. Aurat Ne Janam Diya Mardon Ko – Sadhna (1958) Lata Mangeshkar / Lyrics- Sahir
One of the song where Sahir speaks about typical male dominating society’s mentality towards a helpless lady. It speaks about how men exploit women by physical force, how they mentally torture them! Oh God! It’s not possible for me describe any more. Better listen to it.

3. Maine Chand Aur Sitaron Ki Tamanna Ki – Chandrakanta (1956) Rafi / Lyrics- Sahir
A classic without which no N Datta song list appears complete! The film was a costume drama. Still the duo creates such a masterpiece that has made the film immortal. The pathos in the song gets highlighted by the intense & emotional voice of Rafi. The song tells how he suffered a lot and never got anything he wished for. In fact he always got the exact opposite.

4. Tang Aa Chuke Hai – Light House (1958) Asha Bhosle / Lyrics- Sahir
The ghazal was not written for any film, but due to its poignant content, it found place in two films. First in Pyaasa, where Vijay presents it on a stage without any support of instruments. He is very bitter about the life itself and lost all his hope. The second time, N Datta composed a ghazal based song and Asha’s excellent rendition further enhanced its impact.

5. Laal Laal Gaal – Mr X (1957) Rafi / Lyrics- Majrooh
This song was a huge hit of that year & got third place in Binaka Geetmala. This Rock N Roll song was inspired from a popular Rock song by Elvis Presley. In fact it was a copy of that song with Hindi lyrics made fit into its tune. This song was the only highlight of the film that featured Ashok Kumar in lead role. His character has ability to get invisible.

6. Main Jab Bhi Akeli Hoti Hoon – Dharamputra (1961) Asha Bhosle / Lyrics- Sahir
All the songs from the movie are popular till date, but the movie couldn’t show magic at the box office, though the songs and Shashi Kapoor’s performance were well appreciated that time. The song so beautifully describes their first meeting, their romantic journey and finally their parting. She is desperately waiting for him. But she has no idea where he is, and she is beckoning him to reply. Asha Bhosle shows all the shades from cheerful remembrance at the beginning to the tearful end of the song.

7. Dil Ki Tamanna Thi – Gyarah Hazar Ladkiyan (1962) Asha Bhosle & Rafi / Lyrics-Majrooh Sultanpuri
A romantic song full of joy and happiness. N Datta prefered Asha Bhosle more frequently in 1960s than Lata Mangeshkar. Bharat Bhushan & Mala Sinha are running round the trees cheerfully along the landscapes and gardens. The whistling in the song is quite enjoyable. They are saying both of them always wanted a life partner just like each other and are very happy that they got one another to share life’s joys and sorrows. Rafi sang the sad version. The link added has both the versions.

8. Yaadon Ka Sahara Na Hota – Patthar Ke Khwab (1969) Talat / Lyrics- Pal Premi
A rare Talat song. He rarely sang for MDs in late 60s. This ghazal of remembrance takes full advantage of his shaky voice that suits the emotions effectively. It talks about broken heart & his devotion to her. He says his life won’t be worth living if it hadn’t been for her love. Another notable Talat song by Datta is ‘Ashkon Mein Jo Paya Hai’ from Chandi Ki Deewar.

9. Dhoonde Nazar Nazar- Dilli Ka Dada (1962) Asha Bhosle & Mahendra Kapoor / Lyrics- Majrooh
A sweet romantic song from a B grade movie. Still the quality of the composition is superb. Both are hopelessly in love, seeking each others company. It’s O P style tune & orchestration, the interludes also remind us of O P’s songs. The use of chorus is interesting, as they don’t just hum, but actually sing a few lines. Usually chorus have only a supportive role in such romantic duets.

10. Ae Dil Zuban Na Khol – Naach Ghar (1959) Lata Mangeshkar / Lyrics- Sahir
The song is a good example of Sahir’s sarcastic comments on the materialist world’s duplicity. Lata’s soft voice adds a different dimension to this Waltz based song.I feel lyricist, singer & music director have equal share in the success of the song. No video is available unfortunately.

11. Jigar Mein Dard Kaisa – Apna Ghar Apni Kahani (1968) Mahendra Kapoor & Kamal Barot / Lyrics- Qamar Jalalabadi
A very soft romantic song. The words sound like a gentle breeze. Just a whisper. Kamla Barot is only as a supportive co-singer. The song is fully filled with romance. He is not certain about his feelings and has a ‘different kind’ of enjoyable pain. He is not sure if this is love or not!

Click here, for the video song

12. O Chhokari Woh Tu Hai – Bhai Behen (1959) Rafi & Suman Kalyanpur / Lyrics- Sahir
It is rare for Sahir to write such light hearted songs. I purposely selected this Johny Walker number to add a fun element to the otherwise serious list of songs. It’s a Chhed Chhad song where he says she is basket full of juicy fruits not literally but calls her saucy, fruity, bootylicious & she puts on angry face and reminds him to be careful before saying anything nasty!


Now, I move on to Marathi Songs

13. Dhundit Rahu Mastit Gaau – Bala Gaau Kashi Angaai (1977) Asha & Mahendra Kapoor / Lyrics- Jagdish Khebudkar
As I said earlier, this tune is reused by N Datta. The picturization is like a Hindi movie, with snow, mountains and all. This happy romantic song puts you in a joyful mood and makes you wanna dance

14. Madhu Ithe An Chandra Tithe – Madhuchandra (1967) Asha Bhosle & Mahendra Kapoor / Lyrics- G.D.Madgulkar
This is a funny song. The couple are seperated on the wedding night and for some reason are detained at government’s expense, I mean put in jail of course. They are in opposite cells and helpless. All other cellmates are enjoying the song but the girl is mad about the entire situation.

Click Here, for actual video of the song.

15. Sang Kadhi Kalnar Tula – Apradh (1969) Suman Kalyanpur & Mahendra Kapoor / Lyrics- Madhusudan Kalelkar
It is a romantic number filmed on famous Marathi pair Seema and Ramesh Deo.He is in the hospital with her as a nurse. Radio is playing a song and they both have feelings for each other,so they begin dreaming that they are together. Seema dev actually played a vamp in this movie.


Which N Datta Song would you add to the list?

( I sincerely thank my sister, Anagha, who helped me a lot in this article )


Mehfil Mein Meri, claims no credit for any image, screenshots or songs posted on this site. Images on this blog are posted to make the text interesting. The images and screenshots are the copyright of their original owners. The song links are shared from YouTube, only for the convenience of music lovers. The copyright of these songs rests with the respective owners, producers, music companies.

19 Replies to “N Datta – A Tribute”

  1. What a fine list! There were plenty of songs there that I like a lot, and I surprised myself by actually having heard one rare song before 😀 – Yaadon ka sahara na hota. The Marathi songs, unsurprisingly, were all new to me. Liked them a lot, though, and Apradh sounded intriguing (Seema Deo as vamp? Wow).

    A couple of other N Datta songs that I like a lot are Chaand bhi koi deewaana hai (Pyaas), Sambhal ae dil (Sadhna) and Ashqon ne jo paaya hai from Chaandi ki Deewaar.


    1. Thanks Madhuji.
      I’m happy you liked the list and enjoyed Marathi songs as well.
      I was sure to find, Chand Bhi Koi Deewana on your list (Though I didn’t find it on your blog!)
      So I didn’t include it and my more favourite, Jigar Mein Dard Kaisa was included.

      I think you were too busy to get time for the N Datta List.


  2. I would like to add two iconic qawwalis by N. Datta. Sad you have not mentioned any of these.
    “Aaj kyon humse parda hai” “SADHNA”
    “Mere dilbar mujh par khafa na ho” “DHARAMPUTRA.


    1. Thanks Naghma Ji for adding the two qawwalis.
      The first one is quite popular, but I had forgotten about the second one, I heard after a long time.
      I had forgotten its tune, its picturaisation, and all. Thanks for refreshing my memory!


  3. A great tribute to an equally great ND. Don’t know if he was destined to get only B grade films because of his humble bg.


    1. Welcome Dattatray ji to Mehfil!
      Thanks for the appreciation. I think, all the assistants to a well known composer, were always treated as a second rug composer. And it is said that his health issues were also stumbling blocks in his career. He was a regular with B R Chopra films, but his illness didn’t let him compose for the banner in the 1960s. They went for Ravi. who later composed for it in along run.


  4. N. Datta’s song ‘ मैं तुम्हीं से ये पूछती हूॅं – ब्लॅक कॅट’ should be included here. Did he also assist Shankar-Jaikishan ?


    1. Pradeep Deshpande,
      Welcome to Mehfil. I too like the song from Black Cat. It was there on my long list, but I dropped it later. The selection of songs is very subjective.

      I found a mention of N Datta working in SJ’s orchestra, though he was not an assistant to the duo.


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