Birthday greetings to Lata Mnageshkar on September 28
Presenting my favourite Lata Mangeshkar songs composed by C Ramchandra, as my birthday greetings to her on September 28, is not a very diplomatic thing to do, given the history of their relationship. As her biographical accounts go, Lata Mangeshkar was more than a muse to C Ramchandra, and central to his music. But when the relationship turned sour, its repudiation (by her) was ruthless and complete. When she gave her famed public performance of Ae mere watan ke logo at Lal Quila on the Republic Day 1963, which brought tears to Nehru’s eyes, its lyricist Pradeep was acknowledged, but its composer C Ramchandra was not. (Note: Please also see comments 49, 51, 52, 54). When in 1967 Lata Mangeshkar selected her best 10 songs for HMV, she did not include any song by C Ramchandra, but her by then favourite boys Laxmikant Pyarelal’s – made it to the list!
Let us leave the human Lata Mangeshkar for her biographers to analyse; for me her music is divine, and to a great extent I consider her C Ramchandra songs, especially of early 1950s, among her best, most romantic, most melodious and deeply moving. But his music became so Lata-centric that the breakdown of their relationship also spelt his music’s doom. Among the greats of the Vintage/Golden Era, he faded out relatively early. In a sharp contrast, SD Burman was able to weather his hiatus with Lata Mangeshkar for about 5 years 1957-62 (she came back to him with Bandini) because he could work wonders with Geeta Dutt and Asha Bhosle, and he gave immortal songs with all the great male singers Rafi, Mukesh, Kishore Kumar, Talat Mahmood, Manna Dey and Hemant Kumar, and of course, himself. No wonder Dada was the longest lasting among the great composers. Interestingly if I try to recall C Ramchandra’s great songs by male singers, there is hardly much beyond his own (Chitalkar) songs.
Another important aspect of C Ramchandra is that among the great composers, he has the largest number of Lata gems, which are still hidden and relatively unknown, but incredibly beautiful. Of course, as music lovers know, there are two distinct C Ramchandra’s – one, fast, western and comic a la Ana meri jaan meri jaan Sunday ke Sunday and the other, soulful Lata, best characterized by the iconic Ye zindagi uis ki hai. Here are ten of my very special Lata Mangeshkar songs composed by C Ramchandra.
1. Dil se bhula do tum hamein from Patanga (1949), lyrics Rajendra Krishna
Picturised on Purnima, with Shyam in the frame, is a quintessential C Ramchandra-Lata Mangeshkar melancholic song. Lata Mangshkar in 1949 was still under the influence of Noorjehan style. C Ramchandra was one of the major influences to help her evolve her own distinct style. Patanga is a prime example of two contrasting C Ramchandra’s. This is the film which had breezy songs with Shamshad Begum and C Ramchandra himself (Chitalkar) like Mere piya gaye Rangoon, Pahle to ho gayee namaste etc.
2. Aisi mohabbat se hum baaj aye from Nirala (1950), lyrics PL Santoshi
Mehfil mein jal uthi sama from Nirala was very famous and well known. Many years later I heard this song for the first time from an elderly lady who could reproduce the exact tune and the emotion of the song, but she was not aware about its film or the composer. I had no doubt it had to be C Ramchandra, but only in the internet era I could fully place the song.
3. Abhi sham ayegi nikalenge tare from Samadhi (1950), lyrics Rajendra Krishna
Who has not heard the foot tapping breezy song Gore gore banke chore from this film, which has acquired an iconic status, and you have this somewhat less heard but absolutely mesmerising soulful Lata Mangeshkar melody picturised on Nalini Jaywant. Two very distinct C Ramchandra’s again.
4. Koi kisi ka diwana na bane from Sargam (1950), lyrics PL Santoshi
Picturised on Rehana, this song is one of the defining songs of C Ramchandra-Lata Mangeshkar.
5. Balma bada nadan from Albela (1951), Rajendra Krishna
Albela was another movie which had two distinct and contrasting C Ramchandra’s. You have the breezy dance songs, all legends by now, such as Shola jo bhadke, Sham dhale khidki tale and Bholi surat dil ke khote, and you have soulful, emotional melodies including the iconic lullaby Dheere se aa ja ri ankhiyan mein. It is a difficult choice but my favorite is Balma bada nadaan re for its pathos.
6. Dil ki kahani to chahe from Sagai (1951), lyrics Rajendra Krishna
On Rehana again. His favourite lyricist creates another masterpiece, composed equally beautifully by C Ramchandra.
7. Ai pyar teri duniya se hum from Jhanjhar (1953), lyrics Rajendra Krishna
C Ramchandra-Rajendra Krishna-Lata Mangeshkar is matchless when it comes to most beautiful Lata Mangeshkar songs. This one is again not among his very well known, but it has again the same quality of mesmerising you the first time you hear it.
8. Kaise bhaye sakhi rut sawan ki from Pehli Jhalak (1954), lyrics Rajendra Krishna
When I heard this song for the first time on the internet, my reaction was O my God, where was this song hidden? I have mentioned about undiscovered C Ramchandra gems. You have this fabulous classical song performed equally brilliantly by Vyjayantimala.
9. Kaise aaun Jamuna ke teer from Devta (1956), lyrics Rajendra Krishna
One of the best classical Raga based songs picturised on Anjali Deve.
10. Dil ki duniya basa ke sanwariya tum na jane kahan kho gaye from Amardeep (1958), lyrics Rajendra Krishna
I started this list with a dil song, there was another dil song in between and now I end with a fabulous dil song. C Ramchandra – Lata Mangeshkar gave some of the most heart touching songs. My all-time great Lata-C Ramchandra favourite, picturised so beautifully on Vyjayantimala.
I have reached ten, all absolute gems, without including any song from his runaway hits Anarkali and Azad. C Ramchandra was reputed to be a very fast composer. After completing the Tamil version of Azad, its producers wanted to complete its Hindi version on the same sets in Madras in quick time of 3-4 weeks. For its music Naushad declined the offer on the ground that he did not do a rush job. C Ramchandra, of course created an all time great score. Dilip Kumar wanted Talat Memood to playback for him. When he was unavailable, C Ramchandra convinced Dilip Kumar that he would sing for him in Talat style, and no one would notice the difference. How true when you hear Kita hassen hai mausam. None of his great songs appear to be a rush job, every song seems to be crafted with a great deal of effort. I feel very happy to present these songs as my birthday greetings to Lata Mangeshkar on her 82nd birthday.