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Watch videos: C Ramchandra sings his classic compositions

For the music composer’s birth centenary today (12 January), we go back in time to review one of his last live performances at the BBC Studios in Birmingham, England in 1981.

Sonal Pandya

Legendary music composer C Ramchandra infused the golden era of Hindi film music with new sounds and foot-tapping beats with songs like 'Gore Gore, O Baake Chhore' from Samadhi (1950) and 'Shola Jo Bhadke' from Albela (1951). He was also a versatile singer who sang under the pseudonym Chitalkar.  

Initially, he wanted to be become an actor and came to Kolhapur in 1932 looking for roles. But the studio he had joined, Samrat Cinetone, shut down in 1934 and Ramchandra had to abandon his acting plans even though he had just completed a film Naganand (1935) as a hero.

In 1937, he came to Mumbai (then Bombay) and managed to get a job as an extra in the Sohrab Modi’s Minerva Film Company for a while. However, when he couldn’t stay on as an extra any more, the young man went up to Modi and asked him for any job to stay on in the studio. The thespian kept him on as a harmonium player in the music department.

From thereon, he assisted and played instruments on the soundtracks of films like Meetha Zahar (1938), Jailor (1938), and Pukar (1939). In 1942, he got his first opportunity to score music as an independent music composer with Sukhi Jeewan, directed by his good friend and collaborator, Bhagwan Dada. The rest was history as he went on to become a jubilee hit composer.

He continued working until the 1970s, albeit not as successfully, but his listeners never forgot about the evergreen songs he had composed. In 1981, before his death on 5 January 1982, he visited the BBC Studios in Birmingham, England to perform live with his musicians. Playing on the harmonium, we could find his own melodious renditions of ‘Aadha Hai Chandrama’ from V Shantaram’s Navrang (1959) and ‘Mohabbat Aisi Dhadkan Hai’ from Anarkali (1953) on YouTube.

Wearing glasses and dressed in a red turtleneck and green jacket, C Ramchandra peeled back the years to transport viewers back to the original in his own inimitable way. Originally, ‘Aadha Hai Chandrama’ was a duet sung by Mahendra Kapoor and Asha Bhosle, while ‘Mohabbat Aisi Dhadkan Hai’ was sung by Lata Mangeshkar.

These songs are only a portion of what was recorded in 1981, making us wish that the whole programme is hopefully recorded somewhere for us to view and listen.

Watch the videos below: