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Birthday special: 10 everlasting hits of music composer Ravi

The favoured music composer of the 1950s and 1960s, Ravi produced memorable melodies over the course of his career. On his 91st birth anniversary, we pick some of his best compositions.

Sonal Pandya

Ravi assisted singer-composer Hemant Kumar on a number of years on films like Samrat (1954), Jagriti (1954) and played the harmonium with Kalyanji on the clavioline in Nagin (1954) but Hemant Kumar encouraged him to become an independent music composer himself. Later, Hemant Kumar sang for Ravi for Albeli (1955) and Mehndi (1958). In the mid-1980s, he began composing scores for Malayalam films as Bombay Ravi.

1. 'Chanda Mama Door Ke' – Vachan (1955)

Ravi scored his first film Vachan, directed by Raj Rishi, and starring Geeta Bali and Rajendra Kumar, in 1955. The film went on to become a silver jubilee hit (ran for 25 weeks) and set the path for him to compose for other films. The delightful children’s song ‘Chanda Mama Door Ke’ sung by Asha Bhosle and written by Prem Dhawan was one of the songs from the soundtrack that became popular with audiences. The producer of Vachan, Devendra Goel, retained Ravi for most of his future productions, many of which went on to be musical hits. Interestingly, Ravi named his bungalow in Santa Cruz, Mumbai after his debut film.

2. 'Yeh Raatein Yeh Mausam' – Dilli Ka Thug (1958)

Kishore Kumar and Nutan starred together in SD Narang’s comedic thriller Dilli Ka Thug (1958). Ravi had a couple of crowd-pleasing numbers in the film from the energetic ‘C-A-T, Cat Mane Billi’ to ‘Hum To Mohabbat Karega’, but it is the lovely romantic song ‘Yeh Raatein Yeh Mausam’ that endures in memory. The duet was sung by Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle and written by Majrooh Sultanpuri. Bhosle was present as a singer in most of Ravi's film scores; she sang over 350 songs for the music composer.

3. 'Chaudhvin Ka Chand Ho' – Chaudhvin Ka Chand (1961)

Guru Dutt usually worked with either SD Burman and OP Nayyar on his films as director and producer. But when SD Burman said Kaagaz Ke Phool was his last film with Guru Dutt, he chose Ravi as the composer. Chaudhvin Ka Chand was directed by Mohammed Sadiq but there’s no denying Guru Dutt’s strong hand in the film. It was his decision to film the title song in colour for the black and white film. Singer Mohammed Rafi and lyricist Shakeel Badayuni walked away with Filmfare Award trophies for the song, but it’s Ravi’s music that’s beyond compare.

4. 'Baar Baar Dekho' – China Town (1962)

Shakti Shamanta’s China Town (1962) featured Shammi Kapoor in a double role as a singer Shekhar and the gangster Mike. Shammi Kapoor’s Shekhar is the centre of attention as he woos Shakila’s character Rita in ‘Baar Baar Dekho’ written by Majrooh Sultanpuri. The song, sung by Mohammed Rafi, became an instant hit from the film and Ravi added a touch of the big band sound to the popular number.

5. 'Yeh Wadiyan, Yeh Fizayein' – Aaj Aur Kal (1963)

Sunil Dutt plays the good doctor who helps Nanda get back on her feet (pun intended) in Vasant Joglekar’s Aaj Aur Kal. Ashok Kumar is the rigid king Balbir Singh whose edicts are toughest on his family, including his daughters Hemalata (Nanda) and Ashalata (Tanuja). Sunil Dutt as Dr Sanjay aids Hemalata out of her depression as is evident in the upbeat song 'Yeh Wadiyan, Yeh Fizayein’ written by poet-turned-lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi and sung by Mohammed Rafi.

6. 'Tujhko Mera Pyar Pukare' – Gumrah (1963)

Ravi could not use his usual collaborator Mohammed Rafi in BR Chopra’s Gumrah as Rafi and Chopra had a squabble over a song in Dharmputra (1961). Instead, he used the singer Mahendra Kapoor (who sounds quite unlike himself here) with Asha Bhosle in the song ‘Tujhko Mera Pyar Pukare’. Sunil Dutt plays Rajendra, the former love of Meena (Mala Sinha) who is now a married woman. The song plays in the film at two different instances — once when Rajendra and Meena are in love and later when the two meet again when their circumstances have changed.

7. 'Aage Bhi Jaane Na Tu' – Waqt (1965)

Written by Sahir Ludhianvi, ‘Aage Bhi Jaane Na Tu’ sung by Asha Bhosle, was all about capturing the moment. The song was picturised on Erica Lal, an American woman who lived in Delhi at the time, with the ensemble cast of Sunil Dutt, Sadhana, Raaj Kumar, Shashi Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore all making occasional appearances as events unfold. The beautifully composed, yet underrated song was a just small moment in BR Chopra’s grand family saga about a family lost and separated. Directed by Yash Chopra, the multi-starrer Waqt went on to become a super-hit.

8. 'Tumhi Mere Mandir' – Khandan (1965)

This all-time classic song ‘Tumhi Mere Mandir’ picked up Filmfare awards for Best Female Playback Singer (Lata Mangeshkar) and Best Lyricist (Rajinder Krishan). Ravi also won his second Filmfare Award for Best Music Director. The first was for Gharana (1961). Picturised on Sunil Dutt and Nutan, the song reached the fifth position on the annual Binaca Geetmala list for that year. Khandan was a remake of filmmaker A Bhimsingh's earlier Tamil feature film, Bhaaga Pirivinai (1959).

9. 'Milti Hai Zindagi Mein Mohabbat' – Ankhen (1968)

In Ramanand Sagar’s spy film with a love story, Ankhen (1968), Dharmendra plays Sunil, the son of a former major in the Indian National Army (INA), who is on a secret mission to protect India from possible outside threats. Filmed in Japan, Ankhen’s romantic number ‘Milti Hai Zindagi Mein Mohabbat’, sung by Lata Mangeshkar, featured Mala Sinha (who played the half-Indian, half-Japanese girl, Meenakshi) and Dharmendra. Backed by Ravi’s compositions and Sahir Ludhianvi’s lyrics, the film went on to enjoy a golden jubilee at the box office.

10. 'Dil Ke Armaan Aansuo Mein Beh Gaye' – Nikaah (1982)

Ravi did not enjoy the same success he had in the 1960s during the next decade. He had an occasional hit song in films like Ek Mahal Ho Sapnon Ka (1975) and Amaanat (1977). He made a small comeback of sorts with BR Chopra’s Nikaah (1982) which introduced Salma Agha. She went to become forever associated with the song ‘Dil Ke Armaan Aansuo Mein Beh Gaye’ as she also won the Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer. Ravi was once again nominated for Best Music Director; he lost out to RD Burman for Sanam Teri Kasam (1982). The song was written by Hassan Kamal who was also nominated for Best Lyricist.