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Ravindra Jain: the good old days

On Ravindra Jain's 64th birthday, Raju Bharatan rewinds to Ram Teri Ganga Maili and other musical films of the legendary music composer.

music Updated: Feb 28, 2008 18:37 IST
Raju Bharatan
Raju Bharatan
Hindustan Times

As Ravindra Jain turns 64 today, departing from the birthday-greeting tradition, I focus upon something traumatising that happened in this composer's life and times.

Aankhiyon ke jharokhon se (from the Rajshri hit of that name) is an emotive tune picturised on Ranjita with which a whole generation's youth empathised. Aankhiyon ke was composed by Ravindra Jain.

This near-inevitably meant it was rendered by Hemlata. A Hemlata on whom Ravindra Jain was so fixated that Lata Mangeshkar resented the singer's omnipresence in RJ's oeuvre.

Getting even
What transpired at Mumbai's Taj, that early-1986 evening, Ravindra Jain understandably interpreted as Lata settling with him the Hemlata score. Hemlata, if a trifle unsteady in the higher notes, was no mean performer, clinching the 1976 Filmfare Best Female Singer award for her rendition of the Ravindra Jain-composed Chitchor duet with Yesudas - Tu jo mere sur mein.

Ravindra Jain's not-so-magnificent obsession with this singer prompted Sulakshana, as Pandit Jasraj's niece, bitingly to tell me: "It's a Hemlata monopoly here if it's a Lata monopoly there!"

Over then to Lata at the Taj, addressing the HMV-invited audience celebrating the runaway success of RK's RamTeri Ganga Maili, fetching Ravindra Jain the 1985 Filmfare Best Music Director award. The film's music had put all Ganga on Lata's lips - upon Mandakini's exploding as the neo-RK sex bomb on the silver screen.

All time hit
Lata's Sun saiba sun, in this RK film, had been proclaimed by HMV to be its topmost-seller in 75 years. RK's Ram Teri Ganga Maili had thus verily pulled Gramco's HMV back from the brink.

Lata spoke with feeling that evening about how, after recording Jiyaa bequaraar hai for Barsaat in 1948, she and the RK unit had come out of Tardeo's Famous Studio and literally sat on the footpath outside, wondering what was going to happen next. As Lata went so nostalgic, Raj Kapoor, at her left, nodded misty assent.

Then came Lata's punchline, "One thing I've noticed through the years. That, no matter who the RK film's song composer is, in the end the music is given by Raj Kapoor himself." Who takes the credit? Pandemonium in that section of the Taj where Ravindra (Ramayan) Jain is seated facing me. Within handshaking distance, to RJ's chagrin, is Hasrat Jaipuri - that lyricist's sole contribution to RK's Ram Teri.., now, being Sun saiba sun.

True, the HMV record credits this RK number to Ravindra Jain. But it wasn't only Lata and Raj who knew that Sun sahiba sun stood okayed as far back as 1952 as a Lata-rendered Jaikishan solo to go on Nargis in RK's never-made Ajanta. The Ajanta and the Ellora of Mandakini had worked the Ram Teri RK oracle now.

Did Ravindra Jain have reason to feel Lata-diminished here? When Raj Kapoor had already made it crystal clear to Laxmikant-Pyarelal - upon that duo's 1973 entry into his fold with Bobby - that any new RK music director's job was merely to orchestrate the Shanker-Jaikishan tunes our Eternal Tramp already had on tape?