Article Hindi

5 forgotten gems composed by Ajit Varman – Birth anniversary special

Varman scored the music for only a few films but left a mark with his nuanced compositions.

Suparna Thombare

Ajit Varman, a musician who often recorded for the likes of Satyajit Ray, Pankaj Mullick, Salil Chowdhury, Shankar-Jaikishan and Laxmikant-Pyarelal in the 1970s, stepped into music direction independently in the 1980s.

He composed for very few films, primarily for middle-of-the-road cinema made in the 1980s by directors like Mahesh Bhatt and Govind Nihalani.

His nuanced compositions, being a little different from the commercial mainstream music composed at the time, were more for discerning listeners.

On Ajit Varman's 71st birth anniversary (he was born on 26 March 1947), we revisit five of his fabulous but forgotten melodies.

'Sanson Me Dard' — Aakrosh (1980)

Govind Nihalani's Aakrosh was Ajit Varman's first film project as a music composer. The brooding mood of the film was also reflected in its music.

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While the melody sounds very simple, 'Sanson Me Dard' has a complex rhythm to it. Sung by Madhuri Purandare, it is not a song everybody can fathom.

'Man Anand Anand Chhayo' — Vijeta (1982)

Ajit Varman was especially good at composing songs based on Indian classical music. 'Man Anand Anand Chhayo' from Vijeta is proof of his talent.

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The track was picturized on Shashi Kapoor, who awakens from sleep and goes about his day while Rekha is doing her riyaaz [musical practice]. Asha Bhosle has rendered this song based on raag Ahir Bhairav, heralding the dawn, beautifully.

'Har Ghadi Dhal Rahi Sham Hai Zindagi' — Saaransh (1984)

Sung by the underrated Amit Kumar, this song is an extremely emotional one featuring Anupam Kher, who made his debut in Hindi cinema with this film. The emotion of this song is very similar to the one in 'Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli' from Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Anand (1971).

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Both songs speak of reflecting on the transient nature of life, but this one is more gloom-ridden. Ajit Varman's composition echoes the feelings of a lonely, aged man with a very sombre tune and extensive use of the violin.

'Andhiyara Gehraya Sunapan Ghir Aaya' — Saaransh (1984)

This song is another example of a sensitive composition by Ajit Varman. 'Andhiyara Gehraya Sunapan Ghir Aaya' holds so much pain and heartache that it is hard not to feel sad listening to it. The song, written by lyricist Vasant Dev and sung with feeling by Bhupinder Singh, depicts the emotional breakdown of an elderly couple who have just lost their only son.

Title track — Imtihaan (TV serial, 1995)

Ajit Varman also composed the title track for public broadcaster Doordarshan's popular serial Imtihaan, produced by Anupam Kher.

In those days, almost every television serial had an elaborate title track. The composition and the lyrics of this song, 'Aankhon mein rok le, tu ye aasuon ka toofan/ Leti hai zindgaani, har kadam pe ek Imtihaan', struck a chord with audiences. The track was sung by Abhijeet Bhattacharya, then an upcoming singer.

The serial starred the likes of Alok Nath, Renuka Shahane, Ninad Kamat, Sachin Khedekar and Anupam Kher's brother Raju. Most of them went on to make a name for themselves in Hindi or Marathi cinema.