In the first part of the series, I took overview of Ravi’s career as a lyricist. Today on his 7th Death Anniversary, let’s consider his musical journey as a composer.
He was born as Ravi Shankar Sharma, on 3rd March 1926 in Gurgaon, near Delhi. He was fond of music since childhood. He used to perform at Bhajan recitals and got acclaimed there as a bhajan singer while he was still at school. His father, Kanhaiyalal Sharma, also encouraged him and bought a harmonium, which Ravi became fluent at in due course. After studies (it’s mentioned that he wasn’t good at studies and couldn’t succeed at matriculation) he joined a company in Delhi as an electrician. He also worked in a post office for some time. He used to sing as an amateur artist on radio as well. Meanwhile he got married and soon became father of a baby girl. His zeal for music remained throughout his job.
He finally decided to follow his heart and went to Mumbai (then Bombay) alone for an opportunity as a playback singer. His wife and child were still in Delhi. He used to stay in lodges and spend his time searching for an opportunity. Finally in 1950-51, he sang in chorus for a song from Naujawan under S D Burman’s baton. (Ref: – Rahe Na Rahe Hum by Shantaram Mankikar)
Meanwhile he got acquainted with composer, Jimmie who used to visit producers and Ravi used to accompany him, as harmonium player. One day, the duo visited Filmistan studios. There he met Hemant Kumar, who was composing for ‘Anand Math’ and he selected Ravi in his crew. Soon he spotted Ravi’s talent and encouraged him. He was promoted as chief Assistant to Hemant Kumar himself and also used to assist the arrangers. Sometimes he sang in the chorus as well. Later he worked with Hemant Kumar in Shart, Nagin, Jagruti, Durgesh Nandini, Ek Hi Raasta etc, as an assistant. It’s now well accepted that Ravi was the main player on harmonium for the famous ‘Sapera dhun’ from Nagin.
He had to move to a place in Kandivali, when his wife and daughter joined him. He had a bad time there, as there was no electricity and water supply. But he was now slowly gaining popularity and achieving success. He was a good electrician himself, and soon installed electricals at home. In due course, he even had two cars of his own, but no decent place to stay. He purchased a plot at Santacruz and soon moved there in early 1960s. He himself did the electric work there as well, and decorated his own music room. The room was to see various playback singers’ rehearsals and tunes getting finalized as he moved into the new place. He never looked back and delivered hits continuously in 60s.
His first film was, Vachan (1955) which was produced by Devendra Goel. (The credits of the film, Vachan mention a second composer, Chandra as well. But I could not get any information about him, except that he composed the song, Yunhi Chupke Chupke Bahane, which was a duet sung by Ravi himself and Asha Bhosle) The songs were hits and later he worked with Goel Films, for a number of films, the notable ones being, Albeli, Ek Saal, Chirag Kahan Roshni Kahan, Pyar Ka Sagar, Dus Lakh, Ek Phool Do Mali etc.
He had a successful musical association with Gemini Films as well with hits like, Ghunghat, Gharana, Grihasthi etc.
And I must mention the B R Films, with whom Ravi created his all time hit masterpieces. Gumraah, Waqt, Humrazz, Aadmi Aur Insaan, Dhoond, Nikah etc. Of course for me, Ravi’s heydays lasted till 1970.
His other hits include, Choudhvi Ka Chand, Dilli Ka Thug, Nazrana, Tower House, China Town, Do Badan, Nartaki, Bharosa, Shehnai, Kajal, Neelkamal…….. the list is endless.
As we always tend to associate one composer with his favourite singer, Ravi is linked with Asha Bhosle very often. And while doing so, we tend to overlook his association with Lata Mangeshkar. If we carefully see his earlier films, he worked with Lata Mangeshkar in his early days. She wasn’t a part of his first film, Vachan. But, his songs from films of late 1950s, are mainly sung by Lata Mangeshkar, so maybe she was his first choice too! And when it comes to choosing a singer, the composer is the final authority to decide about the playback singer, so we should not go into details like why it was so?
Lata Mangeshkar sang all types of songs for Ravi, from lullabies to romantic songs, and from Mujra to soulful songs. Ravi had been very choosy for Lata Mangeshkar. In some of the films, he would call her just for a song or two, and that would be the main highlight of the film. Tumhi Mere Mandir from is a perfect example! Lata achieved Filmfare Best Female Playback Singer award for the song. In the film Aankhen as well, she was offered songs that would otherwise be sung by Asha Bhosle. In the film,Vandana (1975) she sang a seashore song, picturised on Jayashree T. It’s full of energy and peppiness, I wonder how she got ready to sing it. But of course she sang it perfectly!
Ravi has said once. that he used to feel tensed because of the aura associated with Lata and the recordings would take place in a serious atmosphere. He also added that Rafi & Lata Mangeshkar were not always available to him, for the low budget films. His producers were financially more comfortable with Asha Bhosle & Mahendra Kapoor.
Still if we see his career, till his last films of 1970s, Lata Mangeshkar was associated with him. We miss her name in some of his major hits like Waqt, Humraaz, Gumraah, Kajal, Pyar Ka Sagar though the films belonged to big banners. So I think, after a certain period, he chose his comfort zone and worked with his favourites.
I have found around 80 songs, sung by Lata Mangeshkar for him. There could be more, and the number is not big, I agree. And this includes, solos and duets. But this may not be the exact number, and statistical analysis is not the purpose of the post. After his comeback in 80s as well, one of his films (Khamosh Nigahen) had Lata’s song.
In general, her duets under Ravi’s baton are few, Mukesh, Hemant Kumar, Mahendra Kapoor, Rafi are the main male co singers. A handful of songs with each, and a duet or two with Kishore Kumar. And a few female duets mainly with her sisters.
Today, let’s hear some of my favourites (and some that I heard for the first time) by the combo, Lata Mangeshkar & Ravi. The songs are in no particular order.
1. Muskurati Hui Chandani – Albeli (1955) with Hemant Kumar / Lyrics – Ravi
The song is so melodious and romantic, as if it floats lightly in the air. The tune lingers in our mind for long. Sung in high pitched voice in stanzas, still it never irritates you. The expressions are superb! Majority of the songs from Albeli were sung by Lata Mangeshkar, indicating that Ravi was perhaps inclined to her in the beginning of his career, which I think was obvious enough and understandable.
2. Chal Mere Ghode Tik Tik Tik – Chirag Kahan Roshni Kahan (1959) / Lyrics – Prem Dhawan
A cute story telling with active participation of the kid as well. Meena Kumari and Honey Irani also say a few dialogues in between. The story of King and his faithful horse, how they overcome the trouble.
Just look at Meena Kumari enacting various characters, The King, wicked magician, The Queen. So lovely! And what should I say about innocent Honey Irani. A cutie!
3. Apne Kiye Pe Koi – Mehendi (1958) / Lyrics – Khumar Barabankvi
Mehendi was a Muslim social film, featuring Ajit and Jayashree. The film wasn’t a success, but there were four solos by Lata Mangeshkar that were really worth listening to. It is said that Guru Dutt was impressed by his tunes and decided to give him a chance, for his Muslim social, Chaudhvin Ka Chand. So in a way, this film proved a turning point in Ravi’s career.
Ravi was of course spot on, to choose Lata for the songs. Even if the songs are not so popular, they are good lyrically and tune wise too! Touching and soulful songs.
4. Kal Ke Chand Aaj Ke Sapne – Nai Raahen (1959) with Hemant Kumar / Lyrics – Shailendra
A couple dreaming about their child. A very cute dream, the eagerness of a would be mother, in dreamy voice of Lata with Hemant Kumar supporting greatly. Nothing more to say.
It has a sad version in Lata’s voice, but the verses are the same.
5. Badle Badle Mere Sarkar Nazar Aate Hai – Chaudhvin Ka Chand (1960) / Lyrics – Shakeel Badayuni
I think this is the only song, Lata got to sing for Guru Dutt films.
Geeta Dutt refused to sing for Waheeda, or so I’ve heard.
Lata sang it with usual dedication and devotion. The despair of a wife, who couldn’t understand her husband’s changed behaviour. She fears the worst! A broken home.
6. Mori Chham Chham Baje Re Payaliya – Ghunghat (1960) / Lyrics – Rajendra Krishna
In contrast to the earlier song, here’s a happy wife, who expresses her extreme happiness through tinkling anklets. Lata sings for Bina Rai in the film.
Bina Rai was never my favourite, but her superb expressions steal the show. Too apt! Lata’s magical voice gels well with her.
7. Main Khushnaseeb Hoon – Tower House (1962) with Mukesh / Lyrics – Asad Bhopali
This is a song that I always liked more, than the famous, ‘A Mere Dil e Nadan’. The western styled composition with excellent use of piano lingers in mind for long. Handsome Ajit singing in Mukesh’s voice and charming Shakila responding in Lata’s voice, makes a perfect combination. And Lata’s stanza ‘मेरे चमन का हर एक फूल’ is my special favourite, there is something very touchy in her voice. I adore it.
8. Tumhi Mere Mandir – Khandan (1965) / Lyrics – Rajendra Krishna
Lata Mangeshkar and Rajendra Krishna both were awarded the prestigious Filmfare Award for the song. It was her only song in the movie. Ravi always chose his singers carefully, and obviously his choice never failed. The expressions of devotion (though sound today too orthodox) are sung supremely. We can hear a motherly expression when she sings the lullaby humming.
9. Bikhra Ke Zulfen Chaman Mein Na Jana – Nazrana (1961) with Mukesh / Lyrics – Rajendra Krishna
A full on romantic song, from a typical Madrasi melodrama. Lata sings for both, Vaijayanti Mala and Usha Kiran. Asha is called only for a peppy number with Mukesh.
(I’ve always thought of this song for anti dandruff shampoo ad.
He sings, “बिखरा के जुल्फे चमन में ना जाना”.
She shyly asks “क्यूँ “?
He again says, “इसलिए! के सारे चमन में डँड्रफ फैल ना जाए”
And the embarrassed lady then goes for the anti dandruff shampoo and both of them live happily ever after.)
10. Woh Dil Kahan Se – Bharosa (1963) / Lyrics – Rajendra Krishna
A soulful song. The helplessness is expressed so brilliantly, in the second line of Mukhda. She’s completely heartbroken, very emotionally unstable. She asks, was it her fault to love him? And if it was, why such hard penance?
Each and every word is full of agony and despair. It touches your soul.
11. Khile Hai Sakhi Aaj – Grihasthi (1963) with Asha Bhosle & Usha Mangeshkar / Lyrics – Rajendra Krishna
This is one of my all time favourite songs. So I repeatedly add it whenever I get opportunity. I like Shubha Khote’s expressions the most, her eyes also pour cheerfulness with a cute smile on face.
12. Lo Aa Gayi Unki Yaad – Do Badan (1966) / Lyrics – Shakeel Badayuni
Her only song from the movie. The song had a tough fight with ‘Jab Chali Thandi Hawa’, which is an iconic song and an identity of the movie.
She’s desperate for him and has been waiting for long, but in vain! The loneliness and the emptiness of her mind is conveyed very effectively.
13. Bachche Man Ke Sachche – Do Kaliyan (1968) / Lyrics – Sahir
This film again had majority of Lata’s songs. She was the voice of Mala Sinha and Baby Sonia (Neetu Singh). Lata maintained the innocence in her voice so well that even after 20 years of career, her voice suited a child artist. The song takes me to my school days, when the song used to feature quite frequently in Chitrahar. And I remember watching the movie too on Doordarshan on a Sunday evening. Oh! Good old days!
14. Milti Hai Zindagi Mein – Aankhen (1968) Lata Mangeshkar / Lyrics – Sahir
I should have thought of this song, for my ‘Heroine teasing hero’ post, that was published a few months back. Handsome Dharmendra is eye candy to Mala Sinha, who looks equally gorgeous. She falls for him and follows him in the gardens and on the streets of Japan. She makes him aware of her love and that very few people get genuine love. Her kimono and the typical Japanese umbrella look very attractive.
15. Main Gunahgar Hoon – Nai Roshni (1967) with Mahendra Kapoor / Lyrics – Rajendra Krishna
Mala Sinha again, with Vishwajit in a dream sequence. He confesses her about entering into her dreams and disturbing her and wants penance. She cheerfully offers him her love forever as a penalty. A cute and typically Rajendra Krishna concept. When I heard the song, I thought it must be Rajendra Krishna’s concept. And it is!
16. Taaron Ki Chhaon Mein – Samaj Ko Badal Dalo (1970) with Rafi / Lyrics – Sahir
A couple singing lullaby to their little one. A cute song, but very unlike Sahir, who never used clichés in his songs. Sung suitably by both the singers.
Coming to other aspects of the song, Shammi looks horrible with that awful wig. The couple sleeps inside the home, while the baby sleeps with Shammi, outside! How cruel! The song takes a leap and now the couple has three children, the youngest one, of a few months old. But the couple has changed subtly.
17. Main Nadiya Ki Dhara – Naag Panchami (1972) with Kishore Kumar / Lyrics – Indeevar
Many composers ended up with mythological or b grade films in the later part of their career. Ravi was perhaps an exception! I think he started with socials and was always associated with socials. Still I came across this b grade movie, with Lata Mangeshkar as main singer. I think it had one of the few duets she sang with Kishore Kumar under Ravi’s baton. Here’s it, a good melodious song.
18. O Jag Ke Palan Hare – Vandana (1975) with Chorus / Lyrics – Asad Bhopali
The song has two parts, one sung by Sadhna in a Jail. She is victimized by an opportunist and she’s in Jail as she has nothing to prove her innocence. Still she is not complaining about her destiny. She has full faith in the God, and accepts whatever comes her way, agony or happiness. Lata is always best in such devotional songs.
The second part is sung by Baby Sarika on screen.
And the second part
Would you add your favourite?
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