Echoing Melodies of a Bygone Era: Music Director Ravi – Part I
Life is often lived in nostalgia. Memories and haunting melodies of a bygone era that captured generations of listeners and music lovers are frequently eulogized and rightly so. Lately, the fields of Indian classical and film music have incurred many losses. Music director and composer Ravi Shankar Sharma, popularly known as Ravi who passed away on March 7 just a few days after his 86th birthday, is one such huge loss to the world of Hindi film music. Ravi’s compositions were resplendent in a golden era of Indian cinema during the 1950s and 1960s. Composer Ravi’s melodious, mellifluous and soulful songs are memorable and cherished to this day. This consummate composer leaves behind a vast treasure trove of hummable melodies spanning from 1955 all the way up until 2005.
My most favorite Hindi lullaby ’Chanda Mama Door Ke’ from the 1955 film “Vachan” skillfully sung by Asha Bhosle with equal parts pathos and liveliness and beautifully picturized on Geetha Bali is a shining example of music director Ravi’s keen sense of melody. ‘Jab Liya Haath Mein Haath’ is sung by Rafi and Asha in the same movie. The hilariously entertaining suspense thriller “Dilli Ka Thug” (1958) starring Nutan and Kishore Kumar was propelled to popularity because of Ravi’s songs that were novel to the era. The movie featured Nutan in a bikini for the first time ever in Indian cinema. The toe-tapping songs were highly influenced by Western, jazz and swing music. ‘C-A-T Cat, Cat Maane Billi’ playfully sung by Asha and Kishore has you in splits. The romantic ‘Yeh Raate Yeh Mousam’ (Kishore and Asha) blows like a cool balmy breeze. Composer Ravi has created songs atuned perfectly to singer/actor Kishore Kumar’s whimsical and manic personality, the funny ‘Hum Toh Mohabbat Karega’ is a fine example. This movie also has fun cabaret songs such as ‘O Babu O Lala’ sung by feisty Geeta Dutt. The iconic film “Chaudhvin Ka Chand” (1960) starring the super talented and handsome actor/director Guru Dutt and Waheeda Rehman catapulted Ravi’s music to even greater popularity and recognition. The title song ‘Chaudhvin Ka Chand Ho Ya Afthab’ describing the delicate beauty of a sleeping damsel is inimitably classic. Shamshad Begum’s qawwali song ‘Sharma Ke Yeh Parda Nashin’ gleans the sheer attractiveness of Urdu poetry. Composer Ravi’s music ably recreated the atmosphere intended by great film directors such as B.R. Chopra, S.D. Narang and so on, thus endearing him to great moviemakers. Ravi was always their first choice. This composer not only showcased talented lyricists of his time like M. Sadiq, Shakeel Badauni and Sahir Ludhianvi through his lovely melodies but also made popular singers such as Rafi and Asha Bhosle even more famous. Singer Mahendra Kapoor became well known because of Ravi’s tuneful compositions.
1961’s “Gharana” had the romantic hero Rajendra Kumar serenading dancing star Asha Parekh featured Rafi’s ‘Husnwale Tera Jawab Nahin’ and ‘Jab Se Tumhe Dekha Hai’ shot in the Brindavan Gardens of Mysore. Raj Kapoor And Vaijanyatimala’s “Nazrana” (1961) had the popular song ‘Mile Hain Chiragon Ke Rangeen Diwali Hain’ rendered by Lata Mageshkar. 1962’s thriller entertainer “China Town” starring Shammi Kapoor and Shakeela featured some Hindi cabaret songs sung by Asha with an Oriental twist. I simply love Rafi’s ‘Baar Baar Dekho Hazaar Baar Dekho,’ which makes you jive. “Aaj Aur Kal” (1963) starring Nanda and Sunil Dutt has some beautiful ghazals sung by Rafi in raaga Pahadi – a melody that was a perennial favorite of music director Ravi.
To be continued
Lavanya Dinesh, an accomplished performer and teacher of Hindustani classical vocal music, lives in Tampa. She regularly performs at musical venues in India and the United States. The singer has three album releases to her credit. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org