Ten of my favourite C Ramachandra songs

…specifically, songs which he composed, not just songs he sang (since C Ramachandra also lent his voice to some of his best songs).

Chitalkar Ramachandra was born 97 years ago—on January 12, 1918, in the town of Puntamba in Maharashtra. Although he’d studied music, it was as an actor that C Ramachandra joined the film industry—he debuted in a lead role in a film called Nagananda. This didn’t continue for long, though; he eventually shifted to composing songs, first for Tamil cinema, and then for Hindi. And he came like a breath of fresh air to Hindi film music: in a period dominated by classical tunes composed by the likes of Naushad, Anil Biswas and Pankaj Mullick, C Ramachandra had the guts to bring in music with distinctly Western rhythms, what with hits like Aana meri jaan Sunday ke Sunday and Mere piya gaye Rangoon. And he was brilliantly versatile: as the following selection will (hopefully) show, he could compose just about everything from peppy club songs to lullabies to ghazals (if one can expect a particular style of music for a ghazal) and lilting love songs.

Chitalkar Ramachandra, b January 12

Therefore, without further ado, a list of ten of my favourite C Ramachandra songs. These are all from pre-70s films that I’ve seen, and no two songs are from the same film (yes, that was a toughie, because there are several instances of C Ramachandra scores where almost every song was a gem). In no particular order

1. Jaag dard-e-ishq jaag (Anarkali, 1953): To begin with, a song that most people would not associate with C Ramachandra: a song with a distinctly classical bent to it, probably something one would expect of a Naushad (or a Madan Mohan?) But Jaag dard-e-ishq jaag is C Ramachandra’s music, and how beautifully restrained it is. I love the way Hemant’s and Lata’s voices are allowed to take centrestage, and the instrumentation is kept pretty much in the background.

Incidentally, one of my earliest memories of trying to sing (thankfully at home, not anywhere public) is of Jaag dard-e-ishq jaag. By the time I was about 12, this was one of my favourite songs. It sounded (as I realized later, deceptively) simple, so I tried to sing it—and failed miserably. Because the voices, especially Lata’s, go from very low to very high. I ended up growling one moment and shrieking the next. I still can’t manage it. Full marks to Lata for pulling it off, and full marks too to C Ramachandra for composing it that way.

Jaag dard-e-ishq jaag, from Anarkali
2. Taaron ki zubaan par hai mohabbat ki kahaani (Nausherwan-e-Aadil, 1957): Long before I’d ever watched this film (or even knew heard of C Ramachandra), I’d seen Taaron ki zubaan par hai mohabbat ki kahaani on Chitrahaar, and had fallen in love with it. This is one of those fairly predictable love songs as far as elements are concerned: a beautiful night, the stars, the moon, the two lovers singing of their love as they go out in a boat. C Ramachandra’s music is very sweet and melodious—and, interestingly, while it seems that each verse is going to play out the same way as the previous one, there’s an unexpected twist midway through the song, with the tune taking a lovely little diversion before going back to the refrain.

Taaron ki zubaan par hai, from Nausherwan-e-Aadil
3. Gore-gore o baanke chhore (Samadhi, 1950): This was a song that gave me a hard time. I wanted very much to include it in my list simply because it’s such a delightfully peppy song—so essential C Ramachandra. On the other hand, it’s also not an original song (the original was Edmundo Ros’s Chico-chico, released in 1945). Eventually, my love for Gore-gore o baanke chhore won: it’s so infectious, so lively and charming. The two voices—Lata singing playback for Nalini Jaywant while Ameerbai Karnataki sings for Kuldeep Kaur, who acts as Nalini Jaywant’s sister and fellow spy in this INA-centric patriotic film—blend together perfectly. And, while the song is an easily recognizable copy of Chico-chico, there are little details that are new and unique to the Hindi song, too.

Gore-gore o baanke chhore, from Samadhi
4. Kitna haseen hai mausam (Azaad, 1955): The score for Azaad is one of C Ramachandra’s best, with songs like Radha na bole na bole and Aplam chaplam chaplai re—and this one, a beautifully romantic duet. The best part of Azaad’s music is that it’s a brilliant example of the man’s legendary speed at composing. C Ramachandra hadn’t been director SM Naidu’s first choice: that had been Naushad. But SM Naidu could offer only two weeks for the composer to create the score, and Naushad flatly refused. It was then offered to C Ramachandra, who composed ten songs for Azaad in that seemingly impossible period of a mere two weeks.

Of those songs, this one’s my favourite. It was initially supposed to have been sung by Talat (one of C Ramachandra’s favourite singers), but since Talat couldn’t find time for the recording, C Ramachandra stepped in and sang (and in a voice so reminiscent of Talat’s, I actually used to think, till some years back, that it was Talat. Lilting, lovely music with more than a hint of the Middle East in it.

Kitna haseen hai mausam, from Azaad
5. Shola jo bhadke dil mera dhadke (Albela, 1951): Another song sung by C Ramachandra himself (as a singer, he used to go by the name ‘Chitalkar’). And this, from another film known for one great song after another, all the way from Shaam dhale khidki tale to the lullaby Dheere se aaja re akhiyan mein. (The latter, incidentally, has also gone down in legend as an example of C Ramachandra’s speed as a composer: according to Ganesh Anantharaman (in Bollywood Melodies), C Ramachandra received the lyrics for Dheere se aaja re akhiyan mein at 4 PM for a recording scheduled at 6 PM. He composed the tune in the car on his way to the recording studio).

While that’s impressive, and I like the song, Shola jo bhadke is the defining song from Albela for me. Frothy and playful, romantic and seductive, this one’s such a fabulously infectious combination of musical instruments, the solo voices, the chorus, and clapping, my feet start tapping of their own accord every time I hear it.

Shola jo bhadke, from Albela
6. Dil lagaakar hum yeh samjhe (Zindagi Aur Maut, 1965): C Ramachandra was sadly underrated, and perhaps one reason for that is that some of his best songs were for films very few people have even heard of. NA Ansari’s B-grade, extremely convoluted spy flick Zindagi Aur Maut, for example, is an imminently forgettable film—except for Dil lagaakar hum yeh samjhe. This song appears in the film in two avatars: once in a female version (a sad one) and once here: a softly romantic male version sung by Mahendra Kapoor. While the female version is also good, I prefer this one: there’s something very soothing and dreamy about it.

Dil lagaakar hum yeh samjhe, from Zindagi aur Maut
7. Eena meena deeka (Aasha, 1957): Like Dil lagaakar hum yeh samjhe, another song which had two versions—a male one and a female one, though in the case of Eena meena deeka, both songs were similar in tone: peppy and light-hearted. I’m choosing the Kishore Kumar version because I prefer it just that little bit to the Asha Bhonsle one: more madcap, more an embodiment of total nuttiness (Kishore, after all!)

But we’re talking about the music here, and I think C Ramachandra’s virtuosity as a composer of Western-oriented songs shines through here. Listen to the occasional flourishes, of wind instruments, of piano (towards the end). Note the sudden, momentary silences that act as a prelude to a flourish. Note the rhythmic clapping, the foot-tapping beats. This is one of those songs I can’t listen to without wanting to get up and dance.

Eena meena deeka, from Aasha
8. Main jaagoon saari rain (Bahurani, 1963): My first instinct was to choose Umr hui tumse mile from Bahurani—a fairly ‘typical’ C Ramachandra tune (if one still insists, even after listening to some pretty atypical songs, that there was something typical about his music). Umr hui tumse mile is a sweet, frothy little song, but I finally chose this: a suhaag raat song with a difference, a lullaby with a difference. A new bride, married to a man she has never even met, realizes that her new husband has the mind of a child. Her attempt to be a ‘mother’, to lull him to sleep, finally gives way to despair, revealing her anguish and disappointment.

I love the gentleness of the music here, the way it allows the words to stand forth. Even when the music swells, it never gets intrusive.

Main jaagoon saari rain, from Bahurani
9. Aa dil se dil mila le (Navrang, 1958): Navrang was one of those occasional films (with, invariably, a singer, poet or dancer as a protagonist) that have a fairly basic and uncluttered storyline, whose main purpose is to showcase lots of songs. Here, with Sandhya acting the dancing muse to Mahipal’s poet, there were songs galore—including the extremely popular Aadha hai chandrama raat aadhi, the defiant Toh maati sabhi ki kahaani kahegi, and the Holi song Arre jaa re hatt natkhat.

More than any of those, however, I choose Aa dil se dil mila le. This song—picturised on Vandana Karmarkar (and, interestingly, sung by Asha Bhonsle in a somewhat nasal voice quite different from her own, but well-suited to Vandana Karmarkar’s)—seems straightforward at first, but gets more complex and nuanced as it progresses, Asha’s voice rising to a crescendo, tapering off, rising again. And with only a very few instruments to support it. A brilliant composition, and a rendition to match.

Aa dil se dil mila le, from Navrang
10. Gagan jhanjhana raha (Nastik, 1954): Like Navrang and Aadha hai chandrama raat aadhi, so it is with Nastik and Dekh tere sansaar ki haalat kya ho gayi bhagwaan: both songs tend to eclipse all the other songs in their respective films. Here, too, I choose a song that is comparatively little-known, but is a beautiful song nevertheless. Gagan jhanjhana raha, sung by Hemant (whose voice, nasal and deep and mellifluous, seems so perfectly suited to this song of a storm) and Lata. And supported by a chorus which comes in now and then, the ‘music’ of thunder, the occasional—and superbly timed—clang of a temple bell. One of those great songs which incorporate everyday sounds in their music.

Gagan jhanjhana raha, from Nastik
Which C Ramachandra songs do you like?

86 thoughts on “Ten of my favourite C Ramachandra songs

  1. Good list, Madhu. :-)
    C. Ramchandra was such an underrated music composer and funnily known more for his ‘western’ tunes despite his versatility.

    Good that I did not make a C. Ramchandra list – we would have had 6-7 songs in common :-) From Anarkali, my pick would have been Yeh zindagi usiki hai. Also, I would have included Umra huyi tumse mile (I love that song!). And finally instead of the Nastik number, I would have included Katate hain dukh mein yeh din (Parchhaiyan, 1952).

    I have always liked Aa dil se dil mila le from Navrang cos Asha sings it so differently imitating Noorjehan (another singer I like) and manages to sound like Vandana Karmarkar.

    • Yes, it’s good you didn’t do a C Ramachandra list. Knowing us, we’d not just have chosen pretty much the same songs, we’d even probably have about the same things to say about those songs! I have to admit I didn’t recognise Katate hain dukh mein yeh din when you mentioned it – I haven’t seen Parchhaiyaan and couldn’t recall having heard the song, but when I listened to it, I remembered having heard it. Yes, nice one.

      You know, the odd thing was that I actually didn’t even recognise Asha’s voice at first in Aa dil se dil mila le: she sounds so different! Yes, rather like Noorjehan. I was reminded, too, of Naushad telling Lata, prior to her recording Uthaaye jaa unke sitam: “Yeh gaana aap apni Pakistani behen ke andaaz mein gaaiye” or something like that. I thought Lata did a good job there…

        • Yes, I came across that anecdote a few years back, and realised when I listened to the song again that yes, Lata’s rendition of it is very similar to how Noorjehan would have sung it.

          Talking of Noorjehan, have you seen her in the Pakistani film Dopatta? It’s got some lovely music, but also a very nice film.

  2. Great compilation of songs of one of the most underrated music directors of Hindi cinema. C Ramchandra’s range and versatility was amazing. He was also good at semi-classical type of songs, like this one:

    He had some outstanding scores in movies like Anarkali, Azaad and Albela, where it is difficult to pick one song – all these movies have so many good songs to choose from. I personally think Anarkali’s music was overall better than that of Mughal-e-Azam.

    Amar Deep was another movie of CR’s which had several good songs. A couple of examples below (the second one is a quirky Johnny Walker song)

    I also like this one from Baarish (sung by Chitalkar himself):

    And this one from Nausherwan-e-Adil:

    • That’s a good selection of songs – in particular, I like Kaise aaoon Jamuna ke teer and Bhool jaayein saare gham. Somehow I find the score of Baarish not very memorable, though Daane-daane pe likha hai is fun.Amardeep is a film I haven’t seen – and I wasn’t even familiar with either Ab dar hai kiska pyaare or Dil ki duniya basaake saanwariya. Good songs, both.

      • Amardeep, despite having the star cast of Dev Anand, Vyjayantimala and Padmini, is quite an average film. Worth watching only for its music. Two other good songs from Amardeep:

        • I’ve heard Mere mann ka baanwara panchhi before (and I like it), but Dekh humein aawaaz na dena was new to me. Thanks for that! I do feel that Dev Anand was one of those actors whose films invariably had good music, even when the film itself wasn’t too great. There’s also Sarhad, for example, which was otherwise a fairly average movie but had good songs (even if they were never superhits). Also scored by C Ramachandra. Here’s Naacho ghoom ghoom ghoom ke, for example:

  3. That is a fine list of an underrated music director. Here are the one I like,
    from Yasmin

    from Sharda

    from Sargam (this tune was reused and popularised by Mehmood later)

    from Wahan ke log

    • Oh, yes. I like Bechain nazar betaab jigar a lot. And O chaand jahaan woh jaayein had been one I wanted to include. But my self-imposed restriction of only including songs from films I’ve seen meant that I couldn’t do that – I still haven’t got around to watching Sharda. The same goes for Wahaan ke Log – I’ve had that film on my watchlist for a long time now. I might just watch it for Zindagi ka nasha halka-halka suroor: nice.

      I hadn’t known there was an ‘original’ of the Mehmood song. Sabse bhala rupaiyya is good. :-)

    • Thank you for these! I hadn’t heard either Malmal tarunya maze or Bamboochya vanat before, but liked both. In the latter, before the words started, I thought it was Tequila – then, of course, I realised I was wrong.

      This No. 54 ‘inspiration’ reminded me of another C Ramachandra composition that is a copy of a Western hit. Aaja re from Sarhad is a pretty faithful copy of Volare (but I still like it):

  4. Madhulika: A great read on C. Ramchandra and a fine selection of songs, indeed. The only trouble is that when you write about a personality and his career one is compelled to select a few at the cost of many. It was perhaps the great Manohar Mahajan of vintage Radio Ceylon who described him best in four words one late Sunday night on his Hameshan jawan geeton ka karyakram: “Kya sangeetkar, kya rachnaein” he said, which about sums up the man’s genius in a nutshell.
    To your list of songs, Madhulika, let me add a few of my own:
    Perhaps the most exotic lilt that he created was the duet-cum-chorus that he sang with Lata for the film Khazana, Hum diwanonka afsana ai chand kisise na kehna (I do hope you and all your responders are familiar with it! If not, I will be happy to send it to you).
    Then, there was Lata’s solo from Devta, Ai chand kal jo aana unko bhi sath lana. It plays second fiddle to Kaise aoon jamuna ke teer from the same film but is a wonderful treat for the heart and soul, nevertheless.
    Mehfilmein jal uthi shama and Aisi muhabbatse hum baaz aye, both Lata solos from Nirala, retain pride of place in any collector’s repertoire, as does O janewale from Patanga.
    As great as the entire soundtrack from Nastik was, the pride of place in my books belongs to the shattering Tere phoolonse bhi pyar, tere kantonse bhi pyar, with its moving couplet at the top.
    Yasmin carried some of the best Lata solos ever and to this day it is difficult to elect the piece-de-resistance from among Bechain karnewale, Dil unko dhundhta hai, Hans hanske hasinonse, Ab woh raatein kahan and Mujhpe ilzaam-e-bewafai hai.
    Talaq boasted the wonderful Manna Dey-Asha duet Mere jeevanmein kiran banke bikharne wale but a gem of a tune is the Asha solo Nai umarki kaliyon tumko dekh rahi duniya sari.
    His only odd ball creation was for Mukesh (and to my mind the only track that that fine crooner recorded for CR: he had to: it was Raj that he was singing for!) for the film Sharda: Japu japu japu jap re. I am aware that Mukesh himself did not care much for it but the melody and the arrangement and that singer’s rendering of it cannot be ignored.
    Manohar Mahajan’s words have stayed with me verbatim for almost five decades. CR remains the standard bearer in an age that revealed the genius of one great music director after another!. It was an age where each respected and admired the creation of the other! I will always remember how CR ended his eulogy to S D Burman, on a radio programme, upon the latter’s passing: “Burman-dada, mere Burman-dada, ab nahin rahe.”

    • “The only trouble is that when you write about a personality and his career one is compelled to select a few at the cost of many.

      Ah, well. But the trouble would be then only if I said I was making a definitive ‘best of’ list. These are my favourites, so there’s really no trouble, actually. I know which C Ramachandra songs I like best. :-)

      Thank you, though, for that very detailed comment about some of his best songs. I agree, especially, about Yasmin – it had some beautiful songs.

      I’ve never heard Hum diwanon ka afsana ai chand kisise na kehna – looked on Youtube, too, but couldn’t find it. Where can I hear it, please?

      • Madhulika: In hindsight, I did not really say enough about Anna-saheb and his music in my previous response. I wanted to write a bit more on my choice of तेरे फूलोंसे भी प्यार, तेरे काँटोंसे भी प्यार. The song is a prayer, a complete submission to the will of the Almighty. The gentleness of the flute at the beginning belies the turbulence and horrors of a nation in the throes of partition, against which नास्तिक unfolded. It has a calming effect on the listener~all is not lost.
        Compare this with the gentleness of the सितार as it develops a soft, yet disturbing mood in धीरे से आजा री अँखियनमें, राजेंद्र क्रिशन’s gentle delineation of poverty and man’s self-delusion that was the film अलबेला. While लता carries the whole song चितलकरजी makes a touching appearance in the second half. I must hasten to add that as it often happened in those days, it was the two-parter 78 r.p.m. tandem track, with its सितार that was more compelling.

        I could go on and on about this maestro: there was लताजी’s अपना पता बतादे, या मेरे पास आजा which I just love and cannot get enough of, the light and the heavy forming two sides of a ’78’ disc from शगुफा, and her fantastic voice magic in परछाईं as it dovetailed with the arrangement.

        CR has gone on record to confess his affection for तलत-saab (साक़ी , सुबह का तारा , परछाईं ) but there was also हेमंत बाबू. Apart from the two-and-a-half songs that हेमंतदा sang in अनारकली, we have poignant memories of at least two other songs that that endowed singer sang for CR. One of them was the duet बदलीमें छुपे चाँद ने कुछ मुझसे कहा है in the अशोक-मीना starrer शतरंज (१९५६) and the other, the deeply philosophical ज़मीन चल रही आसमाँ चल रहा है, from पहेली झलक (१९५७), which starred किशोर and वैजयंतीमाला . Both these bear the stamp of CR’s love of the minimalist composition. The first is a dream to watch and the second, a two parter 78 r.p.m. disc which vindicates Lata’s comment as to why हेमंत बाबू’s singing always reminded her of a pujari singing to his Lord atop a hill, at day’s end. It is food for the soul, indeed.

        I could listen to his music forever, discover something fresh and new everytime…

        • That’s a touching little tribute to Hemant’s voice from Lata – and something I agree with. There’s something about his voice which is really food for the soul. Listening to Tum pukaar lo, for instance, I can’t help but think nobody else could have sung it with so much feeling.

          • To get the full impact of Lata’s words one must listen to the Bangla song ‘O Nodi Re’ from the film ‘Neel Akasher Neeche’ (1959). You probably are already familiar with it.

            • No, I wasn’t familiar with it, but am listening to it right now. Beautiful song. Of course, what did strike me was that this is the same tune as O beqaraar dil ho chuka hai mujhko aansoowon se pyaar.

              • Madhulika: Thanks for responding. Hemant Kumar also used the same tune for the mukhda in Lata’s great rendering of “man mora nache, tan mora nache” in Hrishida’s Do Dil (1964). Finally, O Nodi Re also became The Fisherman’s Song in Conrad Rooks’ bad delineation of Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha (1972), which starred Shashi Kapoor and Simi Garewal. I guess the song was used best in all its reflective intensity in Neel Akasher Neeche (1959).
                By the way did you get a chance to listen to the three tracks of Khazana that I sent you the other day?
                An aside: I am still foundering in your blog site. I need to respond to the Mahendra Kapoor post but cannot access it. Just how do I get to it. Word Press is very confusing. HELP!

                • Here is the link to the Mahendra Kapoor post:


                  (If you look at the right hand panel of my blog – below those pesky ads – there’s a ‘Browse Dusted Off’ section, in which one of the pages is ‘Lists I’ve Made’. You can click this to find any of the list posts I’ve done).

                  I haven’t had a chance to listen to the Khazana songs yet. Will do that over the weekend.

                  • Thank you, Madhulika. I will log in on the MK site and put my choiuce of 10 songs.
                    Aside: There is something wrong with formatting somewhere which prevents my responses from reaching Dusted Off not in regular paragraphs, but as thin straight lines. I notice it also when I write to ‘SWW’.
                    Is there something that I need to do? Hate to be a pest.

                    • The problem with replying to comments is that as the thread of comments grows longer, the column width grows narrower – that is why your comments are appearing in that odd way. You could write a fresh comment, at the bottom of the page.

              • I hope you have been able to view the actual black-and-white clip from the movie and not just listen to the song, via an audio. It is available on YT and is a feast for eyes tired glaring colour. The chiaroscuro is amazing.

  5. Excellent list, as always! His brilliant versatility, as you pointed out was one of the highlights – for he created songs in so many genres.

    My favorite song from C Ramachandra is a well known song but I don’t think it was actually written for a movie. This is the 1963 composition of “Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon” that never fails to inspire me. Written by Kavi Pradeep and sung by Lata Mangeshkar. It was written after Sino-India war of 1962. I think everyone knows how much Nehru was moved after he heard Lata sing it live in 1963. It brought him to tears and he was quoted as saying “Those who don’t feel inspired by ‘Aye mere watan ke logo’ don’t deserve to be called a Hindustani”

    The song is over 50 years old but it can still make one feel those emotions so clearly. That was the magic of C Ramachandra!

    • Yes, Ae mere watan ke logon is an absolute classic, isn’t it? And so very popular when it comes to patriotic songs. I’d be surprised if even half the people who praise it so much would even know who composed it. It’s sad that people like C Ramachandra or N Datta are so extremely underrated: they created some gems, songs that have far outlasted their own lives.

  6. Eena meena deka, Shaam dhale khidki tale ,mere piya gaye rangoon will be in my list.
    Do give this a watch
    If it does not work Type vanjikottai vaaliban and dance competition song. Great song , great dancing and a fitting end.(Vijayanthimala & Padmini – may be the other way around in terms of seniority ) CR is synonymous with this song down in Ammaland!
    Didn’t know until much much later that C Ramachandra started from South and went to Hindi afterwards.

    • Thank you for that! Coincidentally, a blog reader (who rarely comments on this blog, but sends me mails now and then) also sent me the link to Vanjikottai vaaliban, and said that they hadn’t known the C Ramachandra of the south was the same man who went on to become a composer in Hindi cinema. (Rather like Ravi, I suppose, except that in Ravi’s case it was the other way round – first Hindi cinema, and then the South).

      I like this song – such a good blend of classical Indian and a somewhat Western-tinged section.

      • Goodness gracious, I too thought of writing about (Bombay!) Ravi in my comment but decided against it. I tend to get carried away and get off topic ,if you know what I mean.

        • Hello Kayyessee, I need to air my views, here. I agree with Madhulika: it’s OK to go off on a tangent when one discusses something as vibrant as our film music, and especially so when one had roots in Bombay which I suspect you do. Being a blogger myself, I found myself holding back the pen or reediting my copy any number of times when thoughts of the city of my birth began to surface and encroach. I need not have worried: thoughts of the city formed an essentially backdrop to the songs I wrote about!
          It occurred to me then that when I listened to the songs as a kid I also absorbed the sights and sounds of the city around me so that they coalesced and made themselves when I took up blogging a few years ago.
          If you are a blogger I would love to read what you may have written about Bombay. At the same time, I would like you to read my posts on http://www.groove78.blogspot.com
          As a friend of mine recently put it, blogging has becoming a fraternity.

          • No bhai,
            I am not from Mumbai. The Bombay I had parenthesized in my post was a reference to the way Ravi was referred in the Malayalam movies he composed!
            I am presently based in NCR ( work in Delhi and reside in UP!)

    • When two trained Bharatanatyam dancers dance one would be tempted to use a classical raga. But CR chose differently and till date it is a favorite in TamilNadu(of course the presence of legends adds to it)

    • What a dance!! I’d state it as Padmini and Vyjanthimala simply on the basis of virtuosity. Comparing the two in this dance made me see the sheer perfection of each of Padmini’s movements… every position, every movement is perfect. Vyajanthimala is great, but Padmini is absolutely stupendous.

  7. How did I miss this post? (It only showed up on my sidebar this morning.) Lovely post, Madhu and an excellent compilation. Would it surprise you that a CR list languishing in my drafts has seven of the songs you listed here?

    I’m not a great fan of Eena Meena Deeka though I agree with you about the music. I would have added Mehfil mein jo uthi shama from Nirala instead.

    Some other favourites?
    Tu chhupi hai kahan from Navrang

    aplam chaplam from Azaad

    Paas na aayiye from Saqi

    Kanha bajaye bansuri from Nastik

    • “Would it surprise you that a CR list languishing in my drafts has seven of the songs you listed here?

      No, it wouldn’t surprise me at all! :-D I like the songs you’ve posted in your comment too, though I don’t recall hearing Paas na aaiye before. On a tangential note (and where would my blog be without me running off on a tangent?!), how gorgeous Madhubala and Premnath look. I saw them ages ago in Badal, and didn’t even know they’d done Saqi together. Have you seen the film?

      • Glad you liked it, one of the best Lata solos in any era in my opinion and C Ramchandra was an amazing composer. . The unexpected twist in “Taaron ki zubaan” can be loosely termed a sanchari. As a musical construct was used pretty regularly by Bengali composers possibly the most famous sanchari being “aise rimjhim me o sajan , pyaase pyaase tere nayan”.

        • Forgive me for butting in, SSW, but Salil-da created an equally melodious sanchari in Lata’s now almost forgotten solo dainty from his तांगावाली (1955) composition रिम झिम झिम झिम झिम बदरवा बरसे नैना मोरे तरसे ……..halfway down the song लता-बाई simply melts the heart with her articulation of प्रेम धवन’s……आओ जो घर मोरे पिया कानों में कुछ समझाऊँ, कह दूँगी बात कुछ ऐसी कहते हुए शरमाऊँ. I am sure you will remember it.
          Kersi N. Mistry

          • Mr. Mistry the original song in Bengali from Pasher Badi (1951) contained the same sanchari and so did the duet in Malayalam that he created 27 years later with a slightly different chord progression.
            Another one of Lata’s best sanchari’s by Salilda is in this song. You will recognize the Hindi equivalent though the arrangement is different. The sanchari begins at 2:09

            • Thank you indeed, SSW, for this wonder, although Lata-bai falters just a wee bit. We have all been very lucky to have lived contemporaneously with this generation. We are all the richer for it! Please explain the term Ki Je Kari. I am not a Bengali speaking person although I listen to the wonderful singers and composers. Thanks.

              • Dear Mr. Mistry, I don’t see anything wrong with her singing here. The composition is quite complicated with its slurs and quick notes and though loosely based on a raga’s scale takes a completely different treatment. It is more complicated than the Talat version. I do not understand Bengali myself. I only pay attention to the notes in a composition when listening to the music. The lyrics were written by Salilda too if I am not mistaken.

                • Thank you, SSW. No, there is nothing wrong with Lataji’s singing nor has there ever been, in my books. You see, I do not understand the technicalities of a musical composition because my response to music is not temporal, purely emotional, instinctive. In fact, I just heard the word ‘sanchari’ from you for the first time today.
                  So, I could never tell if any singer, particularly Latabai, has missed a note here, there or anywhere. What I just happened to notice was that between 1.15 and 1.25 she loses breath control for a mini second, at a couple of places.
                  Once, a while ago, I noticed something similar in another song she sang for a 1970 film. I brought it up to the small gathering before which I was speaking and some of them grudgingly agreed.

                  Take a careful look at what I have stated above and convince me I have deluded myself. By the way could you remove the ‘Mr.’ from my name? It’s fun communicating with you.

                  • I’m not sure if that is loss of breath or the effort required to modulate the tone to go from loud (forte) to soft (pianissimo), because at that point she is singing at a concert pitch of C5 and above. But yes you are right there is an appearance of wavering there though sometimes I think our recording techniques of those times were less than optimal. The notes are still true. That portion is a crazy dip and very typical of Salilda. You have to be on your toes while singing some of his stuff.

                    • Dear SSW: Thank you.
                      Well, at least the lapse was not technical on her part: subconsciously we, as her admirers, would not want to accept one.
                      Not that I want to split hair or find fault with the excellent matchless manner in which this song was rendered, but I am attaching a URL that I want you to listen to. I am sure you know the song: I will always consider it one of the best that LP did for Lataji. It is also one of the last three great duets she sang with Manna Dey. Let me point you to the the track between 5.8 & 5.12. Once again that quiver in the breath which while not being pretty obvious is present, as she comes in with “jo bhi miley yahi puchhe sun O kishori…” One notices it more because one has not yet recovered from the controlled, firm manner in which she articulates “Mohanse laage Radhaki ankhiyaan”, a tad earlier as the counter reaches 4.54.
                      As in the previous instance help me understand this.

            • What a lovely song. Even makes you forget that plurals don’t typically contain apostrophes. ;-) Let the bloody apostrophe be – I don’t think anybody’s paying attention anyway. Only you, Anu, and me. :-D

        • Ah. Thank you. I’ve learnt something new! (and that example makes things clear – I’ve always loved the way O sajna barkha bahaar aayi suddenly takes an unexpected turn with aisi rimjhim mein o sajan).

  8. Madhu,
    Your write-up is very informative, and within the self-imposed constraint of posting only songs from the movies you have watched, your selection contains his greatest songs. We generally miss out his songs for Mahendra Kapoor and Asha Bhosle, your list reminded that some of their best songs were composed by CR.

    However, I was somewhat puzzled by your use of the word ‘underrated’ for him at one place, and some readers, too, agreeing with it. During his time he was reckoned among the big two or three, both commercially and artistically. I doubt if this adjective fits him. A perfect example of ‘underrated’ music director would be someone like Chitragupt.

    • My thoughts precisely, AK. N. Dutta was underrated as also were Chitragupta and S. Mohinder and several others who fell by the wayside. But no one who listened to CR’s compositions failed to doff their hats to him. He was just plumb unlucky… and under utilized. The only big banners that he had the good luck to be associated with were Filmistan (Anarkali), Rajkamal (Navrang, Stree, Parchhain, Subah Ka Tara) in all of which his music remains immortal. He also did the odd movie for Gemini (Insaniyat) and Prasad Productions (Sharda) with fairly telling effect.

    • AK, I’m glad you liked the selection. As for why I called C Ramachandra underrated, it’s because I’m looking at Hindi film music from the point of view of the average Indian listener. Not you or Kersi Mistry or anybody else whose knowledge of old Hindi film music is encyclopedic! The regular listener, the sort of person who can distinguish between Hemant and Rafi and Kishore and will probably be able to tell you that their favourite MDs are SD Burman, OP Nayyar, Madan Mohan, Naushad, or one of those other really big names. I’m talking about those listeners; among them, C Ramachandra tends to be one of those names that tends to slip through and get ignored.

  9. Its very good information and collection of songs mentioned above.Its always difficult to move out of the Blog, once I start reading…Thankyou.

    • Well, I did mention in my introduction to this list that C Ramachandra began his career as a composer with Tamil films. And someone has, in the comments, linked to the song Vanjitkottai vaaliban, picturised on Padmini and Vyjyantimala, which was composed by C Ramachandra. I do know he composed for other Tamil films as well as Marathi films – you just need to look at his filmography on IMDB – but I must confess to total ignorance about those songs.

  10. Great write up on C Ramachandra! He was indeed underrated. I am very fond of his fun songs from the 40’s and 50’s, be it ‘Aana meri jaan Sunday ke Sunday’ from ‘Shehnai’ and ‘Mere piya gaye Rangoon’ from ‘Patanga’. He was very modern somehow.

  11. Great post, I like several posted here.
    My additions —
    1) Koi Kisika Deewana Na Bane — Sargam

    2) Kehta hai pyar kisko — Baarish

    3) Sunday Ke Sunday — Shehnai

    4) Bholi Surat Dil ke khote — Albela

    • Thank you, Samir! I like all the songs you’ve listed, except – to some extent – Bholi soorat dil ke khote, which somehow has never appealed to me.

      Another song which had been on my shortlist, and which made me dilly-dally for a while was this one, Yeh hasrat thhi ke is duniya, from Nausherwan-e-Aadil:

  12. I have a great fondness for C. Ramchandra’s music so this post (and the comments section) has been a real pleasure to read through. So many wonderful songs have been posted already but here a few of my personal favorites that haven’t been mentioned:

    Raat hai sitaaron wali (Talaash)

    Kahin se shaam hote hi (Shatranj)

    Jaa ri jaa nindiya ja (Jhanjhar)

  13. I was listening to C. Ramchandra singing “aadha hai chandrama, raat aadhi”, happened to check your site and here is a wonderful post on him ! Thanks for the most delightful songs both on your list and the gems in the comments. I don’t know why he is considered underrated ? He was extremely popular in my opinion, then perhaps I have always been fond of his music. He had good rap ore with Kavi Pradeep, bringing out his poetry with the simplest of tunes and instruments. I liked your choice of ‘aa dil se dil mila le’ from Navrang. It really showcases Asha’s versatility. I think it was the first movie where she got all the songs. I still remember our ride on an ikka to go watch the movie. One of my favourite is also ‘jab dil ko satave gham, tu ched sakhi sargam’. I posted it under your instrumental songs. Thanks again for a delightful evening of listening to wonderful songs.

    • I’m glad you like Aa dil se dil mila le too, Neeru! I got a pretty virulent e-mail the other day from someone deriding me for having liked that song and pointing out all the many ways in which that song is bad. I was beginning to think my taste was so foul, I had started to toy with the idea of shutting this blog down!

      I remember Jab dil ko sataave gham: lovely song. Thank you. :-)

      • People often forget that a song is essentially an extension of the character on the movie screen and playbacks are expected to portray the lyric in their rendering of it. Thus, when Asha sang “aa dilse dil mil le” she was reflecting the song as the nachnewali would have warbled it. Some great vocals there, actually.
        Kersi Mistry

        • Very true. I must admit the first time I heard the song, I didn’t much like it. It grew on me on subsequent listenings, and that too when I realised how well Asha had altered her voice to suit Vandana Karmarkar’s rather more high-pitched tone. And yes, the vocals are great.

          • I recalled a comment made by an extremely respected composer of the old guard who, when asked why he did not have much use for आशा, replied that good as she was, “उनकी आवाज़ में बाज़ारुपन कुछ ज़्यादा आ जाता है.” As it is, he has actually made her sing an invocation to Krishna in one of his movies!😇
            An unfair statement considering who made it and I will not name names because I was never able to verify it.
            As for आशा, one cannot not love her. One only has to listen to गीत कितने गा चुकी हुँ इस दुखी जग के लिये, to know how she can move her listener!
            Aside: did you get a chance to listen to the three tracks from Khazana that I have sent you? I am keen to know what you think of them.

            • I think that’s an unfair comment about Asha’s voice – but then, I’m just talking as a completely untrained person. All I know is that her voice is amazingly versatile. Anybody who could sing something like Yehi woh jagah hai with as much ease as she could Aaiye meherbaan deserves to be applauded. :-)

              Yes, I did hear the songs you sent. Very nice – especially Ae chaand; I really liked that one. Thank you!

    • Just a friendly correction, Neeru, if you don’t mind, in the interests of accuracy. All the tracks with female leads in अनुपम चित्र’s तलाक़, were recorded by आशा, in the music composed by CR, although the film did not boast too many songs. That film preceded नवरँग by at least two years.

  14. Hmmm, it IS your blog, and you did say ten of MY favourite, one does not have to like every song that someone picks. I saw Navrang as a youngster and then again years later, but i still remember the character who sings ‘aa dil se dil mila le’ saying “aaiye, baithiye” and the song sounded as if she is singing herself. That is what strikes you about Asha’s singing. I like all the songs from the movie, they all have something different to offer in music. I had an interesting encounter in US, we were listening to Navrang songs in the car, it was summer and windows were down, as we stopped at he lights, a car pulled up pretty close and I turned the volume down, the other cars’s driver asked me what music was that, I thought he was going to say something awful for playing the radio too loud, but he said he loved the music and has been driving along hoping to get a chance to ask about it. Now that is good music.

  15. I wanted to post this one from Sargam. The song showcases classical song presented in two ways, how the same notes and tune can sound pleasant and not quite.

  16. When I opened your blog I found melody and melody and melody everywhere. I and my elder brother are “prashansak” (fans) of C. Ramchandra’s compositions. My brother asked me to find vasant hai aaya , He likes it very well an now I got it, I would listen, my favourites from C. Ramchandra are Aaj vadhuvatas, O nirdayi pritam and tum kya jano hum kitana roye

    • Thank you for those suggestions. I must admit, offhand, I cannot recall any of the songs you’ve listed in the last sentence, but I will go and look for them to listen to, at once.

  17. Very interesting discussion on music of the great composer. He was certainly a genius and comparable in terms of creativity and application to another great Sachin composer Dev Burman. Apparently, Anna’s (C Ramchandra’s) favourite raga was Bageshri and he composed many tunes in Bageshri. His background of classical music was sound and this is the reason he could compose many songs with a strong bias to thumri, gazal and ragdari. He had an able assistant and arranger-Chic Chocolate who provided matching interludes to Anna’s melodies. Data Davjekar, the popular marathi composer was also his assistant. There was a period when Lata would not sing for him. Nevertheless, he gave wonderful tunes to Navrang without Lata. He did use male voices, but these were limited. He had a tendency to sing some of the songs in the moves by himself. Unfortunately, he faded out much early. I consider him as one of the six great composers of Hindi film music. The others include
    S. D. Burman, Shanker Jaikishan, Naushad, Anil Biswas and Madan Mohan!

  18. I chanced upon this article while scouring for info about the the FIRST Trendsetter in Hindi Film music. (apparently, he is followed by SJ, OP, RD and AR) Madhu Madam, in the process of listing your top ten Ramchandra numbers, you have blessed us with such a lovely summary of the great composer/singer himself. Anecdotes of your personal brushes/introductions to his songs make an interesting reading themselves.
    However, by limiting your list to just 10, in effect, you have prevented people (novices) like me, some more of your valuable insights on more such valuable songs by the great composer/singer. You could have at least done a Top 20, (if not more)
    Mind you, your style of writing and description gives that added impetus to the reader to delve into this beautiful piece of writing with the enthusiasm it deserves and frankly I was sold out on that (your style)
    All in all, in an era where junk reigns supreme, we are grateful to people like you, who usher us back in (the golden) time.
    Thanks a ton, Madam!

    • You have made my day with that comment. :-) Thank you so very, very much! I’m glad you liked this post.

      As to why I restricted myself to 10 songs… because I like to be consistent. All my lists always consist only of ten items, because I feel that fewer than ten is insufficient, and more than 10 – well, at times (depending upon the theme of the list), it does get difficult to find more than 10 songs that fit. So 10, I have realized over the years I’ve been writing this blog, is just right for me.

      Thanks for stopping by to comment, and do come back.


  20. There many more. Shin shina ke babalu,s , Jab,Jab fule ,Ae jindagi usi ki hai, Gore Gore,Mere pita Gaye,Mahafi me jab uthi shama
    And so on .

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