In the history of Hindi films, many people had pseudonyms & got so popular that their original name was forgotten. My post today talks about a song composer, who took a pseudonym and no one recognizes him by his real name any longer. I’m talking about Snehal Bhatkar.
With his very much simple attire, white shirt & pajama with white Gandhi topi (as we call it in Maharashtra), he was a perfect example of simple living and high thinking. He was indeed connected to a ‘Bhajani Mandal’ in Dadar, which he founded with other members. It is still active.
His was born as Vasudev Bhatkar on 17th July 1919 in Mumbai. His mother, Sakhubai was a teacher and a singer too, of course he listened to her songs since childhood.
She used to play harmonium, and he learnt his basics of music from her.
He joined HMV in June 1939, when he was 20. He worked there for ten years. He enjoyed his job a lot and learnt a lot too. He could meet many composers, senior as well as budding, and he developed skills as a composer. But that wasn’t the end of it. He was still to achieve fame in the outside world.
One day, which proved to be a turning point in his life, he met Kedar Sharma, who was very much impressed by his compositions. It was the year 1941. Sharma gave him a chance for playback in a movie Kaliyan in 1944. He offered him to work as a composer for his film. Bhatkat had composed in association with Sudhir Phadke in 1946, for a bilingual film, Rukmini Swayamvar. They never did a film together afterwards. He was not allowed to work outside HMV, so he opted for pseudonyms, ‘B Vasudev’, ‘Snehal Bhatkar’. The latter was derived from the name of his daughter ‘Snehlata’ and was used forever later. I’ve seen some people including his name in the list of female composers, because of it. He also composed for some films as ‘V G Bhatkar’and ‘Snehal’.
His first Hindi film as a solo composer was ‘Neel Kamal’ (Raj Kapoor & Madhubala’s debut) in 1947. He called himself ‘B Vasudev’ this time. The songs became popular, e.g. ‘Bhool Jate Hai, Bhool Jaya Karen (by Rajkumari) & Jaiyo Na Bides (by Rajkumari & Bhatkar himself). Bhatkar and Sharma shared a special bond and worked together for Sharma’s forthcoming films as well. He composed for Sharma’s 9 films.
Their next venture was Suhag Raat (Geeta Bali & Bharat Bhushan’s debut film) in 1948. The film had a backdrop of hilly area and he suitably flavoured the songs with Pahadi music. The music was acclaimed by other composers, like Naushad as well. The popular songs include duets by Geeta Dutt & Rakumari, ‘Rumjhum Matwale Badal‘ & ‘Baje Mori Payal‘.
In the same year, 1948, he composed one song for celebration of Indian Independence. It was sung by none other than ‘Mogubai Kurdikar’ and was written by Madhukar Rajsthani. Unfortunately, the song is not available to post it here. He left HMV in 1948, as the company became aware of his outside music directorial ventures.
Later, he also composed for Nutan’s debut film, Hamari Beti, in 1950 and Tanuja’s debut film, Chhabili, in 1960. Four great actresses and two actors had their debut in a film, composed by him. It’s a great coincidence!
Now, I will share a well known story. Kedar Sharma was preparing for his next film, Neki Aur Badi in 1949. He wanted to give a chance to Roshan this time, who was a new comer and wanted a break. Kidar Sharma asked Bhatkar about it, who kind heartedly supported his decision and Roshan got his first film. The film didn’t perform well at the Box office. But Sharma again gave him a chance for ‘Baware Nain’, that proved to be a huge musical success. Roshan never looked back afterwards. He always respected Bhatkar and never forgot his kind hearted attitude. In that era, composers had a healthy competition, no one tried grabbing away a film from other composer.
He worked as a composer for about 28 Hindi films, the last one in 1994.
His best remembered song is ‘Kabhi Tanhaiyon Mein Yoon’ by Mubaraq Begum, from ‘Hamari Yaad Aayegi’ in 1961. The song made both the composer and the singer immortal. His other notable films include, Gunah, Chhabili, Hamari Beti, Nand Kishor, Aaj Ki Baat, Bindiya, Fariyad, Thes etc.
He was a talented composer, but didn’t get much opportunity to work with big production houses. He seemed to offer a limited variety for Hindi film songs. In 1960s, the Hindi film songs underwent drastic changes. The heavy and noisy orchestration took over melody. Soft, melodious music took a backseat and talented composers suffered. Unfortunately Bhatkar was one of them.
Coming back to his compositions, he chose Mukesh & Talat among, other male singers. Mukesh appears to be his favourite male singer right from the beginning. Talat was his choice for low budget films. He has used Rafi’s voice inconsistently. His association with other male singers was not popular.
Rajkumari was his choice for his first few films, along with Geeta Dutt for second lead. If we consider the era of late 1940s, this appears obvious. He has preferred Lata Mangeshkar for a films like, Nand Kishor and Bhola Shankar, but their association for films in 1950s didn’t get much popular. Hamari Yaad Aayegi was again with Lata as a main female voice. Her two duets with Mukesh are excellent. Her busy schedule didn’t allow her to sing ‘Kabhi Tanhaiyon Mein Yoon’, which was sung by Mubaraq Begum. Its immense popularity made him to go for her voice in ‘Fariyad’, where she sang three duets. ‘Tune Teri Nazar Ne’ being the popular one! He also called for Suman Kalyanpur for a few songs, some of which became hugely popular. Nutan had an inclination for singing, which he encouraged and made her sing for the films,Hamari beti (1950) & Chhabili (1960). His association with other female singers wasn’t popular.
His contribution to Marathi songs is also well known. He composed film and non film songs in Marathi. His bhajans & devotional songs, patriotic songs, and film songs are
still popular. The notables among them are, Bahu Asot Sundar ( a well known song in praise of Maharashtra) – Jyotsna Bhole & Vasudev Bhatkar, Variyane Kundal Hale & other Marathi devotional folk songs, and few of my favourite film songs like, Preeticha Nav Vasant Phulala – Asha Bhosle & Usha Mangeshkar (Ya Malak), Tuj Sathi Shankara – Lata Mangeshkar (Chimukla Pahuna).
He received Lata Mangeshkar Award, given by Govt of Maharashtra in 2004. His son Ramesh Bhatkar is a talented actor and a well known personality in Marathi and Hindi films. Snehal Bhatkar died on 29th May 2007 in Mumbai.
Today I’m posting, my favourite Hindi film songs composed by him, as a tribute on his 11th death anniversary. Let’s start the journey………..
1. Lakhi Babul Mere – Suhag Raat (1948) Mukesh / Lyrics – Amir Khusro
An eternal composition. It shows a father daughter pair. Geeta Bali sitting at his feet. He is singing the song, and she listens to it with eagerness. It describes our traditional way of looking at a daughter as ‘Paraya dhan’. She is like a bird that flies the nest someday. Composed very well, it sounds very much like a classical song.
2. Kisane Ye Kisane Chhede Taar – Hamari Beti (1950) Geeta Dutt & Mukesh / Lyrics – Pandit Phani
A sweet and innocent romantic song, a simple but lingering tune. It maintains the flavour of late 1940s with the typical orchestration, style of the tune etc. Hamari Beti was Nutan’s debut film, produced and directed by her mother, Shobhana Samarth. Enjoy this lesser known song!
3. Pyar Ki Nazaron Se Unko – Aaj Ki Baat (1955) Talat / Lyrics – Raj Baldev Raj
One of my favourites by Talat. A beautifully written Ghazal, very aptly composed and sung as well. It portrays the emotions of a shy man, who’s in love but is unable to express his feelings. His heart beats faster at the thought of it and he just keeps on staring at her. His eyes express his love for her.
Another song, Woh Chali Gham Ki Hawa, from the movie, sung by Lata Mangeshkar, is also worth listening.
4. Kabhi Tanhaiyon Mein Yun – Hamari Yaad Aayegi (1961) Mubaraq Begum / Lyrics – Kedar Sharma
Now, his masterpiece! Even a mention of this song, brings his name in our minds. A well known story about it is that, Lata was actually going to sing it. But due to some reasons, she was unable. Kedar Sharma wanted to get it recorded immediately, so he summoned Bhatkar to search for a singer. He got it recorded by Mubaraq Begum, who is still remembered for this song! The song gave her immediate recognition. Enjoy this song.
5. Leheron Pe Leher – Chhabili (1960) Nutan & Hemant Kumar / Lyrics – S Ratan
Another popular song, from his basket. It was inspired by (or should I say copied from?) an english song’ The Man Who Plays Mandoline’ by Dean Martin. Of course, Bhatkar always sportingly confessed about it. What if it is a copy, it’s a darn good one, I just love it, the tune is extremely melodious and romantic. The mandoline pieces in the song are simply great! Out of this world! Hemant Kumar’s solo appears to be more famous, but I like this duet version. Nutan sizzles here, with Hemant da. The tune for stanza is not a copy, though mukhada is completely copied.
6. Aap Ne Huzoor Mujhe – Fariyad (1965) Rafi & Suman Kalaynpur / Lyrics – Kedar Sharma
Though ‘Haal E Dil Unko’ was my original choice for this position, I finally settled for this one. It’s equally melodious. The change in tempo from a slow paced to a fast rhythm, with Rafi’s entry in it, makes it really worth listening. A good composition. Enjoy it! You may also forgive the actors for their average acting, for the song!
7. Ae Mere Humsafar – Chhabili (1960) Nutan / Lyrics – S Ratan
A solo by Nutan. She always had a zeal for music and singing. Bhatkar made her rehearse for the song, even in her busy tight schedule. No wonder, she comes out with flying colours. Her voice at times resembles Geeta dutt’s. She had sung for him before in Hamari Beti, ten years back. But this sounds obviously more mature and more perfect to notes! A well known & famous song among Nutan lovers! (like Me)
8. Yeh Khushi Ka Sama – Diwali Ki Raat (1956) Talat / Lyrics – Naksh Layalpuri
A western styled composition. It wasn’t his comfort zone, still he has composed it wonderfully well. The same is true for Talat! But the song is memorable and the tune lingers in our mind for the whole day. For me, this is one of Talat’s best songs.
9. Bolo Bolo Sajan – Thes (1949) Mukesh & Rajkumari / Lyrics – Kedar Sharma
Again a song with two distant phases. Stanzas have a slower pace, that merges softly into fast pace as singers enter the mukhada again. A cute chhed-chhad song! Unfortunately Rajkumari had to sing later in chorus as she continued in her 70s as well.
10. Main Naar Albeli – Bhola Shankar (1951) Lata Mangeshkar / Lyrics – Bharat Vyas
His choice was Lata Mangeshkar even for mythological films like, Bhola Shankar & Nand Kishor. He made her sing some melodious sweet songs with minimal orchestration. This also is a classical based song where Lata as usual sings wonderfully well. The tune itself is very sweet. The film also has a few more songs by Lata, worth listening.
Which song would you add to the list?