Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ravi- composer of iconic songs in Bollywood movies

1950-60 was the era when Bollywood had an embarrasment of riches as far as quality music directors were concerned. There were so many of them that it was difficult to keep track of all of them unless you were a statistian or a historian of Bollywood music. The songs that they composed are popular to this date. Sometimes we may remember the songs and hum them, without being aware about who the music director was. The present generation have heard about the more prominent among them, but even those whose names are not that well known gave us songs that are very well known.

One of the lesser known music director from that era was Ravi. Like Roshan,he bacame popular by his first name whereas His full name was Ravi Shankar Sharma.He started his career in Hindi movies in 1955 with "Vachan" and his last movie was as late as 1990 in a movie called "Aulad ki Khatir". In addition, he gave music in some Gujarati and Malayalam movies as well in 1980s for which he got best music director's award for the state Governments of Gujrat and Kerala as well.For all practical purposes he can be treated as a music director of 1950-70 ( the golden era) though he gave us some good music in as late as 1980s as well.

He may be lesser known today, but when I looked at the list of his popular songs, I was simply amazed.There are quite a few movies under his music direction, where almost every song ( not just one or two) were huge hits and are popular even today. For example movies such as Chaudhavin ka chand(1960),Waqt( 1965), Kaazal(1965),Do Badan ( 1966), Hamraaz ( 1967),Ankhen ( 1968), Ek phool do mali ( 1969)had Ravi's music and almost every song( there used to be 7-8 or more songs in each movie in those days) is popular. These movies were hits, and Ravi's music played a role in making them hits.

In fact, Ravi gave some memorable music even in movies that have been long forgotten.For example, who remembers now that there were movies called Ek Saal(1957),Dilli Ka Thug( 1958), aaj aur kal ( 1963) and Ustadon ke ustad( 1963). The only reason why these movies are still remembered is because of their songs.

Ravi had a long career, spanning over three decades. There have been very few music directors enjoying such long and fruitful career. Here is a list of some of the most memorable songs that Ravi has composed ( or help compose, e.g. in case of the first song). There were many memorable songs that I had to omit from my list.

Here are some of the more memorable contributions of Ravi in Bollywood filmy music

Song 1
Man dole mera tan dole(Nagin 1954)-

No, Ravi was not the music director of this movie, Hemant Kumar was, but Ravi was his assistant in this movie. The been music in the Nagin song was played by Ravi on harmonium. There is a general misconception among fans that Kalyanji had played that on claviolin ( a new instrument- that could be called a synthesiser of that time). He was playing the claviolin but the main tune was on harmonium played by Ravi and not on claviolin. Kalyanji was called only for the tone. Ravi was the chief assistant, rather only assistant of Hemant Kumar and he was the incharge of this song. This fact was brought out by Ravi in a very long freewheeling interview on Vividh Bharati. When Hemant Kumar got the prize of the best music director of the year, he went down to the rear of the hall where Ravi was seated and handed over the trophy to Ravi saying that Ravi too deserved to share this award.
This song finished in Binaca geetmala top three in two consecutive finals- viz 1954 and 1955.

Song 2
Chanda Mama door ke (Vachan 1955)Singer-Asha,Lyrics-Prem Dhawan, MD-Ravi
This was the debut movie of Ravi as a movie director and he delived this song that became one of the first great lullabies to come from Bollywood movies. In this same movie he also composed a song that became popular with beggars all over the country, viz "Ek paisa dede babu". In fact, almost all songs of this movie became very popular at that time.

Song 3
Sab kuch luta ke hosh mein aaye to kya kiya
(Ek Saal 1957)Singer-Talat, Lyrics-Prem Dhawan,MD-Ravi
An iconic tragic song, as everyone would readily agree. It was the first time Ravi worked with Talat, and the result was this fantastic song.

Song 4
CAT cat, cat maane billi (Dilli ka thug 1958) Singer- Asha, Kishore, Lyrics-Majrooh, Ravi

And this was the first time Ravi worked with Kishore Kumar. The result was several outstanding comedy songs in this movie sung and acted by Kishore, ably supported on screen by Nutan, and on playback singing by Asha Bhosle. Other memorable songs from this movie being- "hum to muhabbat karega" and "ye raatein ye mausam, nadi ka kinara". This song finished second in Binaca geetmala final of 1958.

Song 5
Chaudhvin ka chand ho ya aftab ho ( Chaudhvin ka chand 1960) Singer-Rafi, Lyrics-Shakeel Badayuni, MD-Ravi
Producer Guru Dutt had signed Shakeel Badayuni as lyricist, but Ravi wondered if Shakeel Badayuni would agree to work in a movie without Naushad. But Shakeel Badayuni agreed and put Ravi at ease by grabbing his hands and telling him- "maine baahar kahin kaam naheen kiya hai, mujhe sambhaal lena" (I have never worked in outside movies .So please cover up for me.) And the result of this partnership between a nervous lyricist and a nervous music director was a spectacular musical blockbuster.
This sond finished at number 2 in Binaca geetmala final of 1960.

Song 6
Ek woh bhi diwali thi ek yeh bhi diwali hai( Nazrana-1961)Singers-Lata,Mukesh, Lyrics-Rajinder Krishan,MD-Ravi

Need one say anything about this song ?

Song 7
Wafa jinse ki, bewafa ho gaye ( Pyar ka saagar-1961)Mukesh, Lyrics-Prem Dhawan, MD-Ravi

Ravi used Mukesh's voice sparingly, like Talat and Kishore's voice heard earlier, but when he used them, he made their voices count.

Song 8
Ai mere dile naadaan tu gham se na ghabraana (Tower House)-Singer-Lata,Lyrics-Asad Bhopali,MD-Ravi
Surely this song is a music aficionado's delight.

Song 9
Yeh wadiyan, yeh fizayen bula rahin hain tumhe (Aaj aur kal 1963) Singer-Rafi, Lyrics-Sahir,MD-Ravi


Song 10
Sau bar janam lenge( Ustadon ke ustaad 1963)Singer-Rafi, Lyrics-Asad Bhopali,MD-Ravi

A divine voice at its most divine.

Song 11
chalo ek baar phir se ajnabi ban jaayen hum dono (Gumrah 1963)Singer-Mahendra Kapoor, Lyrics-Sahir

Creating great songs using the voice of great singers is alright, but Ravi could make the most of the voices of less gifted singers too. For instance, it is Ravi who utilised Mahendra Kapoor's voice the best. This song is just one of the earliesr example of this fact.

Song 12
Chhoo Lene Do Nazuk Honthon Ko (Kaajal 1965) Singer-Rafi , Lyrics- Sahir, MD- Ravi
Every song in this movie was hugely popular.

Song 13
If Lata/ Asha ever had a Deevar like showdown about singing Rakhi songs, and Lata says- I have sung a great rakhi song like-"Bhaiya mere rakhi ke bandhan ko nibhana", what rakhi song have you sung, haain ?. Then Asha can calmly point at this song.
Mere bhaiyya mere anmol ratan (Kaajal 1965)Singer-Asha, Lyrics-sahir, MD-Ravi

Song 14
Incidentally, this movie is a musical treasure trove. In addition to the above two all time great songs for dipsomaniacs and Rakhi tying sisters,It had an alltime great bhajan too,
Tora man darpan kahlaaye (Kaajal 1965)Singer-Asha, Lyrics-sahir, MD-Ravi

Song 15
Ae meri zohra zabeen (waqt 1965)Singer-Manna Dey,Lyrics-Sahir, MD-Ravi

What a mast song ! It give one goosebumps every time one listens to it.
Waqt was the first multistarrer movie of Bollywood after Kismat (1943). It was thought that a word like "zabeen" would turn off listeners from this song, but that was not to be. It became perhaps the most popular song of the movie where every song was popular.

Song 16
Aage bhi jaane na tu(waqt 1965)Singers-Asha,Mahendra Kapoor,Lyrics-Sahir,MD-Ravi
Another very popular song from Waqt. Incidentally, this movie was the one that pioneered the lost and found formula where familiy members would be lost in a tragedy only to unite in the last reel.

Song 17
Gareebon ki suno (Dus lakh 1966)Singers-Rafi,Asha,Lyrics-Prem Dhawan,MD-Ravi

Just as beggars were despairing, having to sing old songs, they got this brand new song which became their anthem all over the nation, and local train commuters in Bombay those days would readily vouch for this fact.

Seriously, there were quite a few nice songs in this movie, as was usual in most movies with Ravi as the music director.

Song 18
Lo aa gayi unki yaad( Do Badan 1966) Singer-Lata, Lyrics-Shakeel Badayuni,MD-Ravi

There were half a dozen memorable songs in this movie, and this is just one of them.

Song 19
Neele gagan ke tale (Humraaz 1967) Singer-Mahendra Kapoor, Lyrics-Sahir, MD-Ravi

This suspense movie ironically became a hit not because of its story, but because of its songs. This movie provided Mahendra Kapoor with his finest moments in his singing career. I recall this song and other songs from this movie being played on loudspeakers on carts selling ice cream in those days, it was that popular with ice cream vendors.

Song 20
Babul ki duayen leti jaa, jaa tujhko sukhi sansaar mile ( Neel kamal 1968)Singer-Rafi, Lyrics-Sahir, MD-Ravi

This mother of all bidaai songs ( or should it be the baap of all bidaai songs ?) was Ravi's composition. A song that has transcended the barriers of time and this song continues to be uppermost on the mind of every bride's baap in Indian weddings.

Incidentally, there was a very popular timepass song in this movie too that went "khali dibba khali bottle lelo mere yaar".

Song 21
Milti hai zindagi me muhabbat kabhi kabhi ( Aankhen 1968)Singer-Lata,Lyrics-Sahir,MD-Ravi

Song 22
Tumhari nazar kyun khafa ho gayi (Do kaliyan)Singers-Rafi,Lata, Lyrics-Sahir, MD-Ravi
A nice duet song in a movie which had a story of twin siblings. This double role was played by Ranbir Kapoor's mom, who was a kid at that time.

Song 23
Tujhe sooraj kahoon ya chanda (Ek phool do mali 1969)Singer-Manna Dey,Lyrics-Prem Dhawan,MD-Ravi
I can count 8 very popular songs from this movie, and this moving song is just one of them.

Song 24
O Neele parbaton ki dhara (aadmi aur Insaan 1969) Singers-Asha, Mahendra Kapoor, Lyrics-Sahir, MD-Ravi
Like many other movies of Ravi, it had quite a few nice songs.

Song 25
Aaj mere yaar ki shaadi hai (Aadmi Sadak Ka,1977)Singer-Rafi,Lyrics-Sahir Ludhianvi,MD-Ravi
Another very popular song for Indian weddings

Song 26
Dil ki ye aarzoo thhi (Nikaah 1983)Singers-Mahendra Kapoor,Salma Agha,Lyrics-Hasan Kamaal, MD-Ravi

The topic of this movie was not a mainstream topic for a bollywood movie ( unlike 1960s), and public taste had undergone a sea change, still Ravi came up with songs that became very popular, and this song finished at number 2 in Binaca geetmala 1983 final, ahead of another Nihaah song at number 3 ( Dil ke armaan aansuon mein bah gaye).


Toonfactory said...

Beautiful post Atul Sahab, you know what..Ravi sahab wanted to become a singer & during his struggling days He participated in Chorus where Hemant Da saw him and that's how they met. Hemant Da helped Ravi sahab in finding his niche.. Ravi joined him as a Dholak player and graduated to become his only assistant.
There came a time when Ravi Sahab became BR Films' permanent Composer.. This was the time he composed the Geeta Shloka - Karmanyewa Dhikaraste Maa Faleshu Kadachana.. for BR Films' Opening Theme and he recorded it in Hemant Da's voice. the voice BR Films still use is Hemant Kumar's voice (contrary to the popular belief- its Mahendra Kapoor's Voice)...
Brilliant post... :) will wait for more of such posts- your posts remind me of the song - Aaya Hai Mujhe Phir Yaad Woh Zaalim, Guzra Zamana Bachpan Ka..

squarecut.atul said...

Thanks a lot for your nice words, Toonfactory. I enjoyed reading your comments. The tidbit about Hemant Kumar's voice being in BR Chopra's opening theme was a nice addition to my knowledge.

The song- "aaya hai mujhe phir yaad wo zaalim" and other such nostalgic songs are my beacon too, in coming up with such posts.

Toonfactory said...

Speaking of Ravi Sahab-Hemant Da-Kalyan Ji Bhai & Naagin, that reminds me of another legendary Composer Lakshmikant ji of LP. He played Mandolin in the song (he was all of 13 years back then)

squarecut.atul said...

Thanks for this information. I was aware that Laxmikant started very early, but I was not aware that he was there in this song.

In fact, it is very interesting to realise that the orchestra of leading music director those days consisted of musicians who (speaking with the benefit of hindsight), consisted of people who would later become who is who of Bollywood music world.

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rajesh said...

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