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The greatest compositions of C Ramchandra

On the pioneering music composer’s 35th death anniversary, a look at some of his most famous numbers.

Sonal Pandya

1. 'Sunday Ke Sunday' – Shehnai (1947)

C Ramchandra was initially approached to compose one song for the film, but the original choice Ghulam Haider was busy with many projects. So Ramchandra asked to score the entire album with the backing of Filmistan’s S Mukerji and director PL Santoshi. The result was a popular, fun soundtrack with lyrics by Santoshi and music by Ramchandra. ‘Aana meri jaan, meri jaan, Sunday ke Sunday’ was sung by Meena Kapoor, Shamshad Begum and C Ramchandra himself whose singing voice was often credited as Chitalkar, his surname. Apparently, Ramchandra was inspired by the folk song ‘Majhya Ektyachi Majhya Ektyachi’ which he heard at a Goan restaurant and came home to compose this song. Shehnai (1947) is notable for another reason: it was the first time Ramchandra heard a young singer named Lata Mangeshkar sing an alaap in the song ‘Jawaani Ke Rail Chali Jaaye’.

2. 'Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon' – Patanga (1949)

In HS Rawail’s Patanga (1949), Nigar Sultana plays Rani, a young theatre actress who becomes the object of the affections of a suspended traffic policeman Raja (Yakub) and a wealthy young man Shyam (Shyam). C Ramchandra’s score of 12 songs features singers like Shamshad Begum, Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammed Rafi and Ramchandra himself as Chitalkar. The song and its picturization are often remembered today – the comedian Gope and Nigar Sultana serenade each other on telephone on stage with only a curtain separating them. ‘Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon’ was written by Rajinder Krishan and sung by Shamshad Begum and Chitalkar; it was one of the lyricist and composer’s many memorable collaborations.

3. 'Shola Jo Bhadke' – Albela (1951)

Actor-filmmaker Bhagwan Dada and C Ramchandra were good friends and Ramchandra even composed the score as Anna Saheb for Bhagwan’s stunt films. The story goes that Ramchandra asked Bhagwan to start making more family-orientated content so he could attach his own name to the films. Bhagwan showed Ramchandra five reels of an in-progess Albela; impressed, Ramchandra set about composing 12 songs for its soundtrack which remains a classic. At the time, songs like ‘Bholi Soorat Dil Ke Khote’ and ‘Shola Jo Bhadke’ were hailed for bringing a new Westernized sound to Hindi film music with Ramchandra’s use of bongo drums, clarinet and saxophone. Picturized on Geeta Bali and Bhagwan, the song immortalized the lead pair with its simple, rhythmic dance steps. The duet was sung by Lata Mangeshkar (who sang all the female portions in the film) and Ramchandra as Chitalkar. The lyrics were written by Rajinder Krishan.

4. 'Gore Gore, O Baake Chhore' – Samadhi (1950)

For Filmistan’s grand box-office success starring Ashok Kumar, Nalini Jaywant and Kuldip Kaur, C Ramchandra and Rajinder Krishan once again came together to create an outstanding soundtrack. Jaywant and Kaur played sisters Lilly and Dolly D’Souza who meet and fall in love with brothers Shekhar (Ashok Kumar) and Suresh (Shyam) during World War II. Supposedly based on a true story, the film supported Subhash Chandra Bose and his rally for the Indian National Army (INA) against the British. One of the highlights of the top-grossing film of 1950 directed by Ramesh Saigal was this infectious number, ‘Gore Gore, O Baake Chhore’ sung by Amirbai Karnataki (for Kuldip Kaur) and Lata Mangeshkar (for Nalini Jaywant). The song is said to have been inspired by ‘Chico Chico’ by Edmundo Ros and his orchestra.

5. 'Mehfil Mein Jal Uthi Shama' – Nirala (1950)

Apart from fun, upbeat numbers, C Ramchandra also composed some classic somber tunes. One of those was the Lata Mangeshkar solo, ‘Mehfil Mein Jal Uthi Shama’ from the lesser known Madhubala-Dev Anand starrer Nirala. Madhubala played Poonam, who is in love with the dashing Dr Anand (Dev saheb) in the film directed by Deben Mukherjee. Dr Anand does not return Poonam’s affection and she has to marry another man. The sorrowful ballad written by PL Santoshi managed to convey her feelings of unrequited love.

6. 'Yeh Zindagi Usiki Hai' – Anarkali (1953)

Music composer Vasant Prakash (nephew of Khemchand Prakash) was first signed on to produce the music for Filmistan’s Anarkali. But Filmistan boss S Mukerji thought the pair of C Ramchandra and Lata Mangeshkar would be able to do better justice to the film. Thus, Mangeshkar became the voice of actress Bina Rai in the film. Among the classics from the soundtrack are the happy and sad versions of ‘ Yeh Zindagi Usiki Hai’ written by Rajinder Krishan. Mangeshkar brought alive Anarkali’s joy and anguish on her love for Salim in both versions composed by C Ramchandra.

7. 'Kitna Haseen Hai Mausam' – Azaad (1955)

For SM Sriramulu Naidu’s film Azaad, C Ramchandra accomplished what the maestro Naushad could not. Naidu went to Naushad and asked for 10 songs in 30 days. Naushad refused. When Naidu went to C Ramchandra, he composed the soundtrack in 25 days and charged the producer Rs1 lakh against his usual fee of Rs80,000. All the songs of Azaad were successful, from ‘Radha Na Bole Na Bole Na Bole Re’ to ‘Aplam Chaplam’, but ‘Kitna Haseen Hai Mausam’ is remarkable because Dilip Kumar, on whom the song is picturized, wanted Talat Mahmood to sing for him. As Talat Mahmood was out of the country, Ramchandra sang it instead, trying to emulate him. The duet sung with Lata has Chitalkar sounding very much like the ghazal king. The song, of course, was written by Rajinder Krishan.

8. 'Eena Meena Deeka' – Aasha (1957)

C Ramchandra created the madcap song ‘Eena Meena Deeka’ from the silver jubilee hit Aasha (1957) at home with his assistant John Gomes. The first part of the song was created by listening to children outside playing ‘Eeenie-Meenie-Miny-Moe’ and adding the words ‘de dai damanika’ to the tune. Gomes suggested the Konkani phrase ‘maka naka [I don’t want]’ and kept adding nonsensical words until it ended with ‘rum pum po!’. And that’s how the first rock-n-roll song in Hindi cinema was created. Aasha (1957) featured two versions of the song, male and female, written by Ramchandra stalwart Rajinder Krishan and sung by Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle.

9. 'Aadha Hai Chandrama' – Navrang (1958)

After parting ways with his lead singer Lata Mangeshkar, C Ramchandra produced a successful soundtrack of 12 songs for V Shantaram’s Navrang. The filmmaker, too, was working with a new composer after parting ways with his frequent collaborator Vasant Desai. Ramchandra introduced a new singer Mahendra Kapoor for a few songs and, thankfully, the newcomer’s songs like the duet ‘Aadha Hai Chandrama’ with Asha Bhosle became a hit. After a long time, Ramchandra wasn’t working with lyricist Rajinder Krishan on this film. All the songs of Navrang were written by Bharat Vyas.

10. 'Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon'

One of C Ramchandra’s best songs does not feature on any film soundtrack. The patriotic song was written by Kavi Pradeep after the disastrous Sino-Indian war of 1962. Pradeep wrote the song in late 1962, when he was asked by filmmaker Mehboob Khan to pen something for a fundraiser at New Delhi’s National Stadium in honour of the fallen soldiers. Pradeep roped in Ramchandra to compose the music. It was understood that because of the composer's cold war with Lata Mangeshkar, she would not be considered for the song. But Pradeep insisted that only Mangeshkar could do justice to the song. There was even talk that Mangeshkar's younger sister Asha Bhosle would sing it as a duet with her. But in the end, it was Mangeshkar who ended up signing the seminal song. She sang the song live at the stadium on 27 January 1963 in front of president S Radhakrishnan and prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, moving not just the great leaders present but an entire nation.