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The forgotten classics of music composer N Datta

On the music composer’s 89th birth anniversary today (12 December), a look back at his memorable compositions from his film career in Hindi and Marathi films.

Sonal Pandya

Dattaram Baburao Naik, more popularly known N Datta or Datta Naik, was born on 12 December 1927 in small village of Goa. As a teenager, he ran away from home to Mumbai to learn and play music. He assisted music composer Ghulam Haider and learned classical music from him. When Haider left for Pakistan, Datta assisted SD Burman before turning to independent as a music composer with Raj Khosla’s first film Milaap (1955). Datta worked in the film industry until 1980 when his failing health caused him to slow down. He passed away on 30 December 1987 and left behind a filmography of mostly forgotten classics. Here are some of his lesser known songs from his Hindi and Marathi films.

1) Maine Chand Aur Sitaron Ki Tamanna Ki Thi — Chandrakanta (1956)

After his debut with Milaap (1955), Datta composed this song written by Sahir Ludhianvi, his frequent collaborator in the early part of his career, for the GP Sippy film Chandrakanta. Mohammed Rafi sang this despondent number of regret in the film starring Bharat Bhushan and Bina Rai. She played the daughter of a ruler who gets ousted from his own kingdom; she then decides to outwit and remove the invaders from her home.

2) Aurat Ne Janam Diya Mardon Ko — Sadhna (1958)

N Datta had a long-standing relationship with BR Films for whom he composed his best work. In the Vyjayanthimala-Sunil Dutt drama, BR Chopra directed Vyjayanthimala to her first Filmfare award for best actress. The Filmfare-nominated song, written by Ludhianvi, narrated the unfortunate cycle of blame assigned to fallen women who had no one to turn to. Datta’s music gave the Lata Mangeshkar number added gravitas.

3) Tere Pyaar Ka Aasra Chaahta Hoon — Dhool Ka Phool (1959)

BR Chopra brought back N Datta for his younger brother’s directorial debut, Dhool Ka Phool. The film’s soundtrack is most well-known for secular anthem, ‘Tu Hindu Banega Na Musalman Banega’ sung by Mohammed Rafi. However, the playful romantic number, ‘Tere Pyaar Ka Aasra Chaahta Hoon’, between Lata Mangeshkar and Mahendra Kapoor picturised on Rajendra Kumar and Mala Sinha, gets largely ignored. It’s a lighter song in the composer’s repetoire.

4) Tum Mujhe Bhool Bhi Jaao — Didi (1959)

In K Narayan Kale’s Didi, Sunil Dutt plays Gopal, an over-protected younger brother of Jayshree’s Kamala, who only wants the best for him. When she wants him to settle down and marry, he vehemently protests. In duet sung by Sudha Malhotra and Mukesh, Shubha Khote plays a young woman, Radha, who loves Gopal. Sudha sings of the anguish of one-sided love while Mukesh (as Gopal) promises of friendship only.

5) Naina Kyon Bhar Aaye — Dharmputra (1961)

Yash Chopra’s second film, Dharmputra was a flop despite winning the National Award. Datta dutifully composed another stellar album which contained classics like ‘Main Jab Bhi Akeli Hoti Hoon’ and ‘Yeh Kis Ka Lahu Hai Kaun Mara’, but the solo number, ‘Naina Kyon Bhar Aaya’ sung with especial pathos by Asha Bhosle lingers on after. Mala Sinha plays Husn Bano who has to watch her young son be raised by another family and her sorrow in the song to lose out on the chance to be around her son is felt by both Sinha and Bhosle.

Honourable mention:

6) Sur Tech Chedita — Apradh (1969)

Besides Hindi films, Datta also composed for Marathi films. One of his classic songs, sung by Mahendra Kapoor and written by Madhusudan Kalelkar, is ‘Sur Tech Chedita’. The black-and-white film is an adaptation of Henry James’s novel, The Wings of a Dove, with actor Ramesh Deo and actresses Seema Deo and Indrani Mukherjee in the main roles. The film was directed by Rajdutt.

7) Suravatinvar Tuzya Umatti — Madhuchandra (1967)

Two years before Apradh (1969), Datta composed the music of another Marathi film directed by Rajdutt, Madhuchandra (1967). The romantic comedy starred Kashinath Ghanekar, Shrikant Moghe and Uma. The duet ‘Suravatinvar Tuzya Umatti’ was written by GD Madgulkar and sung by Asha Bhosle and Mahendra Kapoor.