(C Ramchandra : 12th January 1918 to 5th January 1982)
Welcome to the second part of the series. It’s his 37th Death Anniversary today and he surely deserves to be remembered.
In today’s post, let’s take a look at the early years and the first decade of his career, the 1940s.
Born on 12th January 1918, as Ramchandra Narhar Chitalkar to a Brahmin family in Puntambe (District Ahmednagar, Maharashtra), nothing much is known about the childhood of the legendary composer – singer. He was trained under Pandit Vinayakbuva Patwardhan, founder of the गंधर्व महाविद्यालय in Pune. Ha also got training under Shankar Rao Sapre from Nagpur. There are a number of composers and singers, who actually came to Mumbai to be an actor. But destiny had its own plans and ultimately they found their destination in the field of music. C Ramchandra was also one of them.
It is said that he was interested in films since childhood and wasn’t much so in studies. Fortunately he was six feet tall, handsome with thick curly hair. He was also a very good singer. So he was a perfect person to be a hero. And surely he did. After playing roles of extra in a few movies, he finally got role of main lead. The movie was, Y V Rao’s ‘Naganand’.
It was the year 1935. Unfortunately the film was a big flop. His subsequent films Said-e-Hawas (1936) and Atma Tarang (1937) were failures too. He was also rejected as he wasn’t able to ride a horse and a motorcycle. He soon realized that he wasn’t made for acting career. It is said that he requested Sohraab Modi, of the Minerva Movietone to offer him any job suitable for him. And he joined Minerva Movietone as a Harmonium player. After assisting the composers there, he realized his own potential to be a composer. Incidentally he met Bhagwan dada, who was impressed with him. And he gave Chitalkar a chance to compose for both the movies, he was directing. So he started his career with Tamil films, named ‘Jaikoddi’ and ‘Van Mohini’ in 1941, and got his first break in Hindi films in 1942. The film was, ‘Sukhi Jeevan’ also by Bhagwan Dada. The same year , he composed for a stunt film, Badla.
He was credited as ‘Ram Chitalkar’ for the movies. He would call himself, ‘Annasaheb’ for a few movies, R N Chitalkar for a few others. He even used a name Shyamoo, but I was unable to get the name of the movie. When he was composing for Producer – Director Jayant Desai’s ‘Bhakta Raaj’ (1943), he named him ‘C Ramchandra’, and that stuck and he continued with it.
In 1944, he assisted composer, Mir Sahib for the film, ‘Laal Haveli’ and sang a solo. The song was ‘Tum Bhool Ke Phande Mein’. It is also mentioned that, he composed his only song for Noor Jahan in Laal Haveli. The composer wasn’t available and Chitalkar working as his assistant, composed, orchestrated and recorded the song in Noor Jahan’s voice. The song was, ‘Teri Yaad Aaye Sawariya’. Some sites mention that, the song was ‘Aao Mere Pyare Sawariya’ which was a part of the movie, but 78 rpm record was never released. I think Mr Arunkumar Deshmukh can throw light on this issue.
He composed for 3 to 4 films per year on average, he had around 18 Hindi films to his credit till1946. He composed for, Mr Jhtapat, Zabaan, Bahadur, Dil Ki Baat, Manorama, Samrat Chandragupt, Dosti, Lalkaar etc. None could bring him fame.
But in 1946 itself, he joined Filmistan and composed for Safar. And there came a turning point in his career. The film was not a superstar laden one. The lead pair (Kanu Roy & Shobha), the director (B Mishra) were not renowned. Chitalkar wasn’t a successful composer himself, the playback singers Binapani Mukherji & Rafi were also newcomers. The popular playback singer, Shamshad had only one song in the movie, a duet with Chitalkar (perhaps her first with him). But all the songs did so well that, the movie was a grand success. The name ‘C Ramchandra’ was now a successful name.
His success story then continued for a number of films in the late 1940s. He suddenly became a big name in the Hindi film industry, so much so that by the end of the decade, he had 41 films to his credit.
• In 1947, he composed for 8 films, with two superhits, Saajan & Shehnai. Lata Mangeshkar perhaps sang for him for the first time for Shehnai. She was a newcomer then and S Mukherji had reservations about her ‘thin voice’. She had only a few independent lines and her presence was hardly noticeable if at all. Shamshad Begum, Amirbai, Geeta Dutt were his lead singers for the film. For Saajan, Chitalkar chose Lalita Deulkar and Rafi.
Of the remaining films, Leela had some good songs by Amirbai and Binapani Mukherji. The film, Shadi Se Pehle had the first ever duet by Lata Mangeshkar & Rafi. The film was credited to Paigankar & Karnad, who were assistants to C Ramchandra, the latter perhaps could not compose openly for the film. But in reality he was the composer.
• In comparison, only three of his films were released in 1948. Khidki & Nadiya Ke Paar are still remembered for the songs, the third movie, Mera Munna perhaps didn’t do well. The songs from Nadiya Ke Paar were landmark, and are still popular. Lalita Deulkar was the lead singer with Rafi and Shamshad in supporting role. The film by Kishor Sahu had a backdrop of fishermen’s story and Dilip Kumar & Kamini Kaushal were the leads. The film brought a folk flavour of the north and Chitalkar was wise enough to make use of it. The lyricist, Moti wrote also used Chhattisgarhi language in the songs and added a different charm. In the film, ‘Khidki’ again, Shamshad was his lead singer with Amirbai. Lata Mangeshkar was a part of two trios and had no significant role. She was yet to achieve her place in his musical team. We generally do not associate Mukesh with C Ramchandra. But Mukesh sang for him for Mera Munna.
• The year 1949, saw some spectacular hits like (out of the seven films), Patanga & Namoona. The other films, Girl’s school, Duniya, Sipahiya, Roshni are also remembered for some of the gems. The film Nazrana was produced by the lyricist G S Nepali and Chitalkar composed for the film. The film wasn’t completed and was never released. (Though I am not sure about it. Some sites mention it as a 1949 film) But some of the songs were popular.
• In 1950, the last year of the decade was a great year for him, where all the four releases were popular, namely Sargam, Sangeeta, Nirala & Samadhi. We will consider them in detail on the song list.
Chitalkar’s playback singers in the 1940s –
Before we go to the list, let’s have a look at the singers, Chitalkar worked with. He started in 1942, and the big names in playback singing were Rajkumari, Amirbai, G M Durrani etc. So his initial films had these singers. Amirbai was a consistent name in his team of singers for quite some time. However, as Shamshad entered, she appears to have lost her place. Amirbai’s married life wasn’t a pleasant experience for her. Perhaps it was a reason for her unavailability. Afterwards we see Shamshad Begum and Lalita Deulkar making their way into his team of singers. He also offered a fair chance to Geeta Dutt, Surinder Kaur, Zohrabai Ambalewali, Naseem Bano, Hameeda Banu, Mohantara Ajinkya and of course Binapani Mukherji. Singer actress Suraiya sang for him in a couple of films. The songs are not much talked about, but some of those were good. Though they couldn’t play a long innings with him, they had opportunities to work under his Baton. Lata Mangeshkar entered very late in the team, making a debut in 1947. For initial couple of years (1947- 48), she had a minor place in his team. Her first song with Chitalkar was perhaps, Jawani Ki Rail Chali Jaye Re for Shehnai (1947). It was a trio with Geeta Dutt and Chitalkar. Though she again sang for Shadi Se Pehle in the same year, only a few songs (a solo by Rafi, a solo by unidentified female singer and a duet by Lata Mangeshkar and Rafi) from the movie are available and any opinion about Lata Mangeshkar’s contribution for the movie is not possible. She again had a duet in Nadiya Ke Paar (1948) and two songs (both trios) in Khidki (1948). Again her share was very small. For Girl’s School (1949) as well, Chitalkar called for Shamshad Begum.
In 1949, however, the films Namoona and Patanga seem to have changed the scenario. Both the movies had both the singers singing near equal number of songs. Lata Mangeshkar mainly for soulful, sad songs, while playful, happy, or comedy songs were offered to Shamshad. These lines fit perfectly for Patanga. In Namoona however, both the singers sing for both the ladies, Kamini Kaushal and Cuckoo. From 1950 onwards, Shamshad rapidly lost her position and Lata Mangeshkar took over completely. In 1950 itself, Shamshad had very little contribution. In the 1940s, in general female solos used to outnumber male solos. So we see more voices on female side than the male side.
Chitalkar initially went for his own voice, and offered a few songs to G M Durrani. Mukesh was also a part of a film, Mera Munna. Though we usually don’t consider much about the association between Rafi and Chitalkar, actually we can see him offering Rafi a number of songs in the late 1940s. They first worked together for Safar in 1946. The two Rafi solos of were quite popular in those days. Their journey continued till early 50s. Rafi got to sing solos and occasionally duets with Chitalkar. Rafi was one of his main singers in the late 1940s, and perhaps would rank second in the male playback singers list for Chitalkar. The first place was obviously occupied by Chitalkar himself.
Chitalkar’s lyricists in the 1940s –
His first Hindi film, Sukhi Jeevan had lyricist, M R Kapoor. I couldn’t get much info about him. Before he formed an alliance with Rajendra Krishan, he had successful associations with Gopal Singh Nepali (Safar, Leela, Nazrana), Moti B A (Nadiya Ke Paar and Saajan), P L Santoshi (Shehnai, Khidki, Sargam, Nirala, Sangeeta).
Santoshi wrote the typical light hearted, fun filled comedy songs for Chitalkar. It became the latter’s forte. But for a film like Nirala Santoshi also wrote soulful songs with equal ease. So these lyricists form an important part of his successful career in the 1940s. He also worked with, Qamar Jalalabadi, Kavi Pradeep, Raja Mehdi Ali Khan, Nakshab Jarchavi, Rammoorthy Chaturvedi etc. After the success of songs from Patanga, Rajendra Krishan formed an important part of his musical journey and they continued delivering hits throughout the 1950s.
Let’s now get on to the song list, this time in chronological order.
1. Mere Naina Tujhe Dhoondhe Hai – Bhakta Raj (1943) Kaushalya / Lyrics – D N Madhok
I’ve selected an unknown song, by an unknown singer, Kaushalya to open today’s song list. It appears to be a devotional film. The singer’s voice is tender, with very apt expressions and the song has typical vintage era flavour. Still some of the interlude pieces have typical Chitalkar’s stamp.
(Other songs, by Amirbai Karnataki And By Rajkumari are worth listening too)
2. Bhanwron Na Tab Tak – Lalkaar (1944) G M Durrani & Zohrabai Ambalewali / Lyrics – Pandit Madhur
Another unheard composition from a lesser known film. A cute romantic duet.
Only a couple of songs from the movie are available. The film had Ishwarlal and Ramola, directed by Jayant Desai. C Ramchandra is known for light hearted comedy songs. The film had one such song, ‘Padhoge Likhoge To Hoge Kharab’. But not even audio of the song is available.
3. Piya Piya Ratke Main Ho Gayi – Samrat Chandragupt (1945) Suraiya / Lyrics – Buddhi Chandra Agrawal Madhur
As I said in the introduction, Suraiya’s songs with C Ramchandra are not usually talked about. Perhaps because the movies were not so popular. Still, I guess, this song is somewhat known among the music lovers. It’s a very sweet composition, sung very sweetly by Suraiya. And, it sounds more like a Husnalal Bhagatram song, than a Chitalkar one. Is it really so? Or my misinterpretation!
4. Kehke Bhi Tum Na Aaye – Safar (1946) Rafi / Lyrics – G S Nepali
One of the earlier hits by Rafi. He portrays a disappointed young man, waiting for long for his beloved. She didn’t keep her promise and he is distressed. Rafi aptly expresses the pathos. And notice the excessive nasal pronunciations of the words like, Aankhiyan or Ghadiyan in the third verse. It must be taken as a normal, in those days. But we can feel his efforts. The link below has both the songs from Safar. The second song sounds like a Ghazal recitation.
5. Maine Lakhon Ke Bol Sahe Sanwaraiya – Leela (1947) Binapani Mukherji / Lyrics – G S Nepali
This is actually based on a traditional Thumri. Many classical singers have their own rendition. The song adopts the opening line from the Thumri. It can be labelled as one of the most popular Hindi film songs by Binapani Mukherji. She also presents it in a similar Thumri style. Perhaps it was a Mujra song in the movie. Amirbai has sung a couple of songs for the movie, which I guess, are quite popular too. But finally I settled for this one.
Leela was Filmistan’s next venture, after the success of Safar (1946). Most of the cast and crew were the same. The film however wasn’t much successful. Today the movie is remembered only for its songs.
6. Tum Hamare Ho Na Ho – Saajan (1947) Lalita Deulkar & Rafi / Lyrics – Moti B A
For me, this is the best song of the movie. The movie also had songs by Chitalkar, Geeta Dutt and Zohrabai Ambalewali. The story has a gypsy setting. Hence a number of songs with the word banjara. But the other songs didn’t enchant me much. Yet a trio by Geeta Dutt, Lalita Deulkar and Rafi did attract my attention. https://youtu.be/tHhphdw5CDQ
7. Maar Katari Mar Jana – Shehnai (1947) Amirbai Karnataki / Lyrics – P L Santoshi
All the songs of Shehnai are so wonderful, it’s difficult to select one. Sunday Ke Sunday was already covered in last post. I like Amirabai’s rendition a lot in the mentioned song. And it’s just tabla, harmonium and sitar. Just a supportive rhythm, the main focus is on Amirabai’s expressions.
I’m curious about the movie, as the majority of the songs appear to be stage performances. I’m not aware of the story.
8. Kathwa Ke Naiyya Banaihe – Nadiya Ke Paar (1948) Chitalkar, Lalita Deulkar, S L Puri, P Chander & Chorus / Lyrics – Moti B A
Though, ‘More Raja Ho Le Chal’ or ‘Dil Leke Bhaga’ would be the obvious selections, I already had these songs on the Lalita Deulkar list.
So I decided to go for another. And it was difficult, as all the songs are good enough. But as Chitalkar used very wisely the folk music, I thought of choosing a song, that would highlight the aspect. As the story has a background of fishermen, it was apt to choose this song. Fisherman singing in a boat, describing the blooming romance between the couple and their separation as well. The boat takes her beloved away from her and she reminds him not to forget her. A touch of local language always adds an enchanting element in a song.
9. Qismat Hamare Saath Hai – Khidki (1948) / Lyrics – P L Santoshi
The duo of Santoshi and Chitalkar were scoring sixes with every song they played together. The comedy, light hearted, fun songs was really Chitalkar’s strong forte. This song also falls in the same category. It was a major highlight of the film. The qawwali has two parts, one part by female singers and other by male singers.
Female version by Shamshad Begum, Mohantara Ajinkya & Lata Mangeshkar
Quite an enjoyable funny qawwali, ‘टटटँ टटटँ टटटँ टटा टटा’ adds a very casual and carefree touch to it. I don’t think anyone would have thought of adding such words in a qawwali.
The male version sung by, Rafi, Chitalkar, G.M.Sajan & Chorus
Except the first verse, rest two are the same. Nevertheless this version is equally funny.
10. Dil Se Bhoola Do Tum Humein – Patanga (1949) Lata Mangeshkar / Lyrics – Rajendra Krishan
Poornima pouring out her agony in Lata’s voice. After singing trios and duets for other characters, Lata Mangeshkar sang for the lead role. The pathos she creates in the songs is heart touching. Patanga has a number of songs and all are too good making it a difficult task to choose only one song. But finally I chose this one.
I think it was Rajendra Krishan’s first hit with Chitalkar. Lata Mangeshkar got to sing three solos for Patanga. But all were sad songs. Her only duet with Shamshad was however playful.
11. Tamtam Se Jhanko Na Raniji – Namoona (1949) Shamshad Begum / Lyrics – P L Santoshi
Namoona is studded with songs too. As I already said in the introduction, Shamshad and Lata Mangeshkar both sang for Kamini Kaushal and Cuckoo. Kamini Kaushal’s sad songs went to Lata, while some of Cuckoo’s dance numbers went to Shamshad Begum.
I take this song as the most popular from the movie. I read in one of the film based books by veteran film enthusiast, late Mr Isaq Mujawar that, the song was caught up in a controversy due to some of the lines in the verses allegedly having double meaning.
12. Aisi Mohobbat Se Hum Baaz Aaye – Nirala (1950) Lata Mangeshkar / Lyrics – P L Santoshi
Same situation here as well. It’s a difficult choice ‘Mehfil Mein Jal Uthi Shama’ would perhaps be the most likely choice. But I love the other songs too. So chose this one. The pathos is there in both the songs, but the former sounds too pessimistic.
The latter shares a regret about falling in love. The love gave her only sorrows. And there is a touch of repentance in it.
13. Jab Dil Ko Satave Gham – Sargam (1950) Lata Mangeshkar & Saraswati Rane / Lyrics – P L Santoshi
At one end the movie has stage performances, comedy songs influenced by western culture. At the extreme end, it also has pure Indian classical based songs. Chitalkar composed with ease on both the fronts. Each and every song is a gem. The song talks about the power of सरगम, that incorporates all the seven notes. The violin pieces at the end are excellent.
Sargam also has a plethora of songs, most difficult to choose only one. But I think the song sort of talks about the central theme of the movie. Whenever you face sadness, think of watching the movie Sargam.
14. Na Ummeed Hoke Bhi – Sangeeta (1950) Lata Mangeshkar / Lyrics – P L Santoshi
The film is mainly remembered for the soulful sad songs by Lata Mangeshkar. The mentioned song tops the list. I think it was also an inspired song. But I like it a lot.
It was the first movie, where Chitalkar offered all the female songs to Lata Mangeshkar. No other female singer had an opportunity to sing for the movie. But for male songs, he sang himself, with Rafi and Snehal Bhatkar. The latter had one duet each with Chitalkar.
15. Abhi Sham Aayegi Nikalenge Tare – Samadhi (1950) Lata Mangeshkar / Lyrics – Rajendra Krishan
The movie is popular for the foot tapping, ‘Gore Gore O Banke Chhore’. But Lata’s solos are equally good. Besides Nalini Jaywant looks great in capris. She is requesting Ashok Kumar to stay back, as a romantic evening full of stars is just to begin. At the peak of the evening, she will miss him. A good song in all. But I can never imagine Ashok Kumar in a romantic role, though he continued to be hero till 1960 nearly.
A Bonus track
§§ Sach Hui Sach Hui – Duniya (1949) Suraiya / Lyrics – ? §§
I wasn’t sure about the song, but finally decided to add it. There are very few happy and lively songs by Suraiya, who was as if reserved for sad, weepy songs. Here’s a refreshingly youthful song from Duniya. It is said that, Suraiya feared that even her own songs would also be sung by Lata on screen. Lata’s association with him was that strong. But of course, the one film, he did without Lata’s song. Suraiya singing a western styled song, with a pleasant rhythm of Chinese blocks.
Would you add your favourite song?
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