Dattaram – A Tribute

Last week I was reading a newspaper article about assistants and arrangers in old Hindi films, which had interesting information. Few of the assistants left their mentors after a struggle period and started working on their own. Ravi, Kalyanji Anandji, Chitragupt, Laxmi Pyare fall under this category. Though LP worked with Kalyanji Anandji, even when they composed for their initial films.
A few continued to assist while they were composing independently for movies or even after retirement. Suddenly Dattaram’s name flashed in my mind, as he was on my radar for a long time now. I missed his death anniversary earlier this month (on 8th June) as I was busy with another post, which was published on 9th June. So I thought of a tribute post, dedicated to this talented composer. Better late than never!!

Young Dattaram

He was born in 1929 in Goa. His original surname was ‘Shirodkar’. But he was known as ‘Wadkar’. He used to live in Sawantwadi in childhood hence the name. (It’s not known exactly how his surname changed to Wadkar).
He was from a poor family and came to Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1942 with his mother. He worked there as a labourer for some time. One day his mother introduced him to Pandit Pandharinath Nageshkar, who ultimately became his formal trainer in Tabla & Dholak. Soon he was an excellent Tabla player. He was always thankful to his mother, as she was the one, who made him learn musical instruments and he could earn his living in Mumbai and made his mark on Hindi film industry.
He worked as a musician for music director, Sajjad for three months. He was also keen about his health & used to visit gym regularly. That actually proved a blessing for him. One day he met Shankar (from the duo, Shankar Jaikishan) there. He asked Dattaram to join as a musician at Prithvi Theatres. From that point onwards, he became a part of SJ team till their fall. He was with them right from the movie, Barsaat. He mainly worked as a Tabla & Dholak player, and was SJ’s backbone for the rhythm section. Though he always used to play for the rehearsals, it was not before 1951, when for a song in Awara (Ek Bewafa Se Pyar Kiya) he actually played for final recording as well.
Later his popular songs as a rhythm player for S J include,

with SJ
Dattaram with S J

Raja Ki Aayegi Baraat – Aah (1953),
Ichak Dana Bichak Dana & Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh – Shree 420 (1955),
Jahan Main Jaati Hoon – Chori Chori (1956),
Mera Naam Raju – Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai (1960) etc.
He worked as their assistant as well, even after starting his own innings as an independent composer.
Raj Kapoor had an ear for good music and brains to spot talent. He offered Dattaram, a film produced under RK banner, Ab Dilli Door Nahin, which was released in 1957. He proved himself in his very first movie and all the songs were acclaimed by audience. He didn’t fall short in popularity against any other films released that year. The fame helped him getting his next film, Parvarish (1958), which this time had Raj Kapoor in lead. The songs were even more popular and Dattaram is still remembered for it. He never achieved the same popularity for any of his later movies. The later movies include, Santaan (1959), Qaidi No 911 (1959), Kala Aadmi (1960), First Love (1961), Neeli Aankhen (1962), Jab Se Tumhe Dekha Hain (1963), Tarzan Comes To Delhi (1965), Balak (1968) & Beqasoor (1969). His last film was released in 1971(Ek Din Aadhi Raat) , though I couldn’t get exact details.
The song ‘Masti Bhara Hai Sama’ highlighted the famous ‘Dattu Theka’ which later became his identity. But he used it too often, to maintain it’s fame. His music was melodious, sweet, and easy to hum. He shares this quality with his mentors SJ. Many a times his songs bear a close resemblance with their songs. Their styles were matching and at times confuse us, as to credit a song to either of them.

with Shankar
Dattaram with Shankar & K Lord

He composed songs in all genres and those simple but attractive tunes bring a wave of freshness. He composed for more than 15 Hindi films, but his popularity saw a downfall in late 60s. His songs are melodious, no doubt, but he appears to use a similar tune, a limited variety to offer. Also his career graph went on rising high, but in early 60s it came to a plateau,unfortunately falling down over the years. He remained restricted to B grade or low budget movies. Once you get typecast, it’s difficult to break the jinx . He couldn’t outshine the other upcoming composers, who made their mark and surpassed him easily.
He remained a main pillar for SJ and RK banner. He was RK’s trustworthy when he worked with Laxmi Pyare for Bobby. He preferred retirement in late 70s and moved back to goa.

Mangeshkar sisters were his choice for earlier movies, though he appears more inclined to Lata than Asha. But in late 60s, he more often called Asha Bhosle. But no memorable songs! He opted for other singers only for songs picturised on second lead or supporting characters in the movie. In his first film, he chose Sudha Malhotra for the child artists’ songs. So she had two solos (both worth listening) and a trio song with Asha Bhosle and Geeta Dutt. But he never gave her a chance again.
He was one of the major composers in Suman Kalyanpur’s career. He gave her opportunity in his films from early 1960s like, Kala Aadmi, Shriman Satyavadi, Dark Street, Zindagi Aur Khwabon, Neeli Aankhen, etc. The songs were popular and attracted SJ’s attention. She started singing for them soon.
As far as male playback singers are concerned, he opted for Mukesh in solos, while taking advantage of Manna Dey’s soulful voice in duets for the same actor in the movie. This holds true not only for Raj Kapoor, but for other actors as well,though both singers were competent for all types of songs. His first film with RK, was Parvarish which had only one solo for Mukesh (and that was the most memorable and popular song), the other duets had Manna Dey, singing for RK. In 60s however,we find him offering equal share to Rafi.
He worked with Shailendra and Hasrat jaipuri, right from his first movie. Later he seems inclined to Hasrat and many of his songs were penned by him. Dattaram also worked with upcoming lyricists that time, like Anand Bakshi and Gulshan Bawra.

He also worked for other composers as and when called for, to assist for rhythm section
Kalyanji Anandji – Mere Dil Mein Hai Ek Baat (Post Box 999)
Salil Choudhari – Suhana Safar, Aaja Re Pardesi & Ghadi Ghadi Mora Dil (Madhumati)
Roshan – Sari Sari Raat Teri Yaad (Aji Bas Shukriya)
He also composed for a Marathi film, सावली प्रेमाची (Sawali Premachi) in 1974. Sunil Gavaskar acted in that Marathi movie for the first and last time.

Dattaram 2


He finally settled in Goa again, but wasn’t financially secure. He was to undergo gall stone operation, but was short of money. It seems no one cared for him in his old days. A story, not unusual in film industry. He died on 8th June 2007.


Let me present today my favourites composed by Dattaram. As usual the songs are in No particular order.

1. Aansoo Bhari Hai Yeh Jeevan Ki Raahe – Parvarish (1958) Mukesh / Lyrics – Hasrat Jaipuri
I take it as the most popular song by Dattaram. It’s also one of Mukesh’s best songs. Sung with deep agony, it depicts a broken heart. Tune based on Raag Yaman, truly convinces us that the ways of life are full of sorrow. The song touches our soul.

2. Bhej Chhana Chhan Khub Rupaiya – Ab Dilli Door Nahin (1957) Rafi & S Balbir / Lyrics – Hasrat Jaipuri
A song from his first film, I chose this one as it’s a fun song that changes our mood. It begins with a Marathi folk song styled Dholak, and continues in a fast pace. The interludes remind us of SJ.
Picturised on Yakub and Jagdeep, it’s funny and a sort of philosophical too.

3. Dil Dhoondta Hai Sahare – Kala Aadmi (1960) Mukesh / Lyrics – Hasrat Jaipuri
Again a masterpiece by Mukesh, picturised on Ashok Kumar. Dattaram uses sitar and sarangi along with high pitched violins to intensify the melancholy in the song. It creates a deep impact.
This film also has a light comedy song picturised on Johnny Walker. His character appears to be an insurance agent, who sings this song to emphasize the importance of life insurance. It’s a fun to listen.

click here for video song

4. Bole Yeh Dil Ka Ishara – Santaan (1959) Lata Mangeshkar & Manna Dey / Lyrics – Hasrat Jaipuri
‘Dattu Theka’ was a famous rhythm in Hindi films. But he used it repeatedly in few songs, after the success of Parvarish. This song is an example. Santaan also has other good songs by Mukesh. Enjoy the romantic duet!

5. Meethi Meethi Baaton Se Bachna Zara – Qaidi No 911 (1959) Lata Mangeshkar & Daisy Irani / Lyrics – Hasrat Jaipuri
One of his best known songs. Nanda teaching the little boy (played by Daisy Irani) how to behave in this illusive world. Never to be disheartened, always keeping faith in ourselves. Keep calm and carry on.Dattaram very beautifully used mouth organ, that makes the song cheerful. Daisy Irani sang for herself. The film also has a song with his famous ‘Dattu Theka’, a romantic duet by a delightful waterfall.

6. Haal E Dil Hamara – Shreeman Satyavadi (1960) Mukesh / Lyrics – Hasrat Jaipuri
Again Mukesh singing for RK. A story of a man used to speaking the truth, pathologically incapable of lying and how he suffers in the process. Sounds very much like SJ. RK as usual portrays an innocent and straight forward man, and the song helps him build his image in the movie. A well written philosophical song, well woven in a pleasing melody. The mandolin pieces in the opening and in interlude are fabulous.

7. Yeh Nashili Hawa – Neeli Aankhen (1962) Manna Dey & Suman Kalyanpur / Lyrics – Gulshan Bawra
Ajit and Shakila romancing on Dattaram’s tune. Dattaram offers a simple but catchy tune that will be remembered for a long time. This is one of my favourite song by Dattaram. Enjoy it.

8. Na Jane Kahan Tum The – Zindagi aur Khwab (1961) Manna Dey & Suman Kalyanpur / Lyrics – Pradeep
This song has appeared in my post on Suman Kalyanpur, but it’s so melodious and sweet, that I couldn’t resist the temptation to add it once again. An infectious tune that lingers in mind for long.

9. Tumhen Husna Deke Khuda Ne – Jab Se Tumhe Dekha Hai (1963) Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Manna Dey, Rafi & Chorus / Lyrics – Anand Bakshi
A wonderful qawwali, perhaps it’s much awaited. All stalwarts in a single song, plus an eye candy too. Kumkum, Shyama (both sizzle), Shammi and Shashi Kapoor singing and dancing with Bhagwan dada and Om Prakash. A splendid song, we can enjoy thoroughly. Otherwise a perfect qawwali that made me remember Roshan every now and then. Dattaram composed it with all the necessary elements.

10. Husna Ikrar Karen – Tarzan Comes to Delhi (1965) Lata Mangeshkar / Lyrics – Anand Bakshi
A stunt film featuring Dara Singh ana Mumtaz. This song is one of Dattaram’s most melodious songs, for me. He used much different style of music than his usual SJ inspired music. Lata just whispers at places for a smooth romantic feel. Enjoy the song.


Would you like to add a song?

12 Replies to “Dattaram – A Tribute”

  1. What a lovely collection of songs! (And Na jaane kahaan tum thhe, of course). 🙂

    Another song of his that I like a lot is Ae dil dekhe hain humne bade-bade sangdil:


    1. Thank you Madhuji,
      I am happy, you enjoyed the list.
      The song suggested by you is very melodious, I loved it!
      I was also surprised to watch it. But why I was surprised, you will come to know next Sunday!


  2. Anup G ,
    I liked the post . A short but complete biography of Duttaram ji.Nice collection of his hit songs nd his photographs.

    I also liked some conclusions drawn by U like ” Once U get typecast , it is difficult to break the jinx ” nd ” It seems no one cared for him in his old days.A story , not unusual in film industry ”

    Tarzan song was new for me .Lata ji sounds so much like Suman Kalyanpur.

    Well , in my list , in place of Tarzan nd Neeli aankhen , I would hav added the following
    ” Dil ne jise maan liya ” of ‘ Santaan’
    ” Kyun uda jata hai aanchal ” of ” Shriman Satyavadi .

    Now till next Sunday , let me think of the suspense created by U in the reply given to Madhu G !!! ☺

    Thnx for a nice post Dr.


    1. Thank you Pramodji for your praising words.
      The songs suggested by you were there on my long list. But as I wanted only one song per film, I have to cut these songs.
      I love both the songs, a slight more preference to Suman’s song. She is my favourite, and I tend to get inclined more to her solos.
      Keep guessing about the suspense.


    1. Thanks Swanand for those kind words.
      And yes, goa has given many composers and musicians to hindi film industry.
      Many of the arrangers, and musicians were basically from goa. It seems the area is full of talent.


  3. Anup
    Very much surprised about your great writting skills on the different topic.
    Must appreciate your knowledge and liking in this.
    I like all the songs which you selected, now very much curious about your next blog.


    1. Thanks Shruti,
      I used to be very curious about the songs even when in school, this you may remember!
      That interest increased over the years and now here I’m with my own blog.
      Its so nice to see you here commenting!
      next post will publish tomorrow, you may visit it.


  4. Thanks for Brief but full of information article
    I would like to suggest a song for’ dattu thekha’
    Ye to kaho kaun ho tum, mujhe puchhe bina dil mein aane lagi.
    I don’t know much detail but i love that ‘theko’


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