Echoing Melodies of a Bygone Era: Music Director Ravi – Part II
Hindi film music director Ravi (Ravi Shankar Sharma) who passed away recently has left behind immensely pleasing and hummable songs and melodies that were all the rage and hugely successful when first released primarily in the 1960s. To this day, Indians of all regional backgrounds are familiar with at least a few melodies of master composer Ravi. These songs have become an integral part of the popular music lexicon of India without really crediting the composer. This mild-mannered and unassuming music director’s talent was highly underrated.
In the 1962 film “Tower House” starring Shakeela, Ravi has created some poignant tunes for melody-queen Lata Mangeshkar. ‘Aye Mere Dile Naadan’ is one such haunting song. The ghazal-like melody ‘Mein Khush Nasib Hoon’ is another classic by Lata. In 1966’s “Do Badan” with stars Manoj Kumar and Asha Parekh, the songs were instantly popular. Ravi was a master of conveying pathos and melancholy in his love songs thinly disguised by a veil of catchy rhythm and vibrant intonation. Asha Bhosle’s ‘Jab Chali Thandee Hawa’ and Rafi’s ‘Bhari Duniyan Mein Aakhir Dil’ were iconic.
The 1960s in Indian cinema saw the birth of bold, modern and sometimes vampy heroines who regaled with garish makeup and big hair. Wigs that looked like hornet’s nests were the fashion statements of the decade. Actress Mala Sinha fit the bill in so many entertaining movies and especially in “Ankhen” (1968), Lata belted out composer Ravi’s ‘Gairon Pe Karam, Apnon Pe Sitam.’ The multi-starrer, huge epic blockbuster movie from 1965 “Waqt” featured the most memorable song of Ravi. Veteran actor Balraj Sahani boldly confessed his love for his coy wife Achala Sacchdev through the distinct masterful voice of Manna Dey. The song was ‘Aye Mere Zohre Jabi’ and became an evergreen symbol of the ageless love and strong bond of marriage. 1965’s “Khandaan” starring Nutan and Sunil Dutt was popular for Lata Mangeshkar’s ‘Tumhi Mere Mandir Thumhi Meri Pooja Thumhi Devta Ho’ epitomizing the spiritual stature given to traditional marriage in Indian culture.
“Humraaz” (1967) starring the anti-hero Raaj Kumar featured beautiful songs sung by Mahendra Kapoor. This singer became well-known mainly because of Ravi’s patronage. The soothing ‘Neele Gagan Ki Tale’ describes the infinite marvel of nature. 1963’s “Gumraah” also featured some of Mahendra Kapoor’s best songs. Yet again Ravi used his favorite raaga Pahaadi – a melody of the mountains in many of his compositions. Some memorable songs from this film are ‘Aap Aye To Khayali,’ ‘Yeh Hawa Yeh Fiza,’ ‘Aaja Aajare Tujko Mere Pyar Pukare.’ 1965’s “Kaajal” showcased Rafi’s ‘Choolenedo Naazuk Hoton Ko’ and the classical-based ‘Tora Man Darpan.’
After a slew of hit songs, Ravi took a long hiatus and came back with the 1982 Hindi film “Nikaah.” The movie featured the Pakistani singer/actress Salma Agha who was as famous for her characteristic nasal twang as for her beauty. The popular song ‘Dil Ke Arman Aasuon Mein Beh Gaye’ won the singer many awards. Ravi had a reincarnation of sorts in the Malayalam film industry in the 1980s. He composed music for about 14 Malayalam movies under the name Bombay Ravi.
Ravi, who remained active till the end, also performed at live programs all over the Indian subcontinent playing the keyboard and harmonium, while keeping his unforgettable compositions alive. The lilting Pahadi song 'Kaun Aaya Ki Nigaahon Mein Chamak Jaag Uthi' rendered so wistfully by Asha Bhosle, enacted mezmerizingly by the beauty Sadhna from “Waqt” (1965) illustrates composer Ravi's lifelong tryst with melody, romance, love and sheer poetry.
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