Think of Ravi, the music director and you immediately associate his music with melodies dominated by Santoor and Flute. Many stalwarts of the golden era of film music (1950s and 60s), enjoyed tremendous popularity, huge visibility and an envious image. During these two decades, Ravi was ‘flying under the radar’ all along, alongside these stalwarts and popping up unexpectedly with superb scores that were simple, easy to sing and hugely popular. Ravi became an independent music director in the early 50s. A set of loyal producers backed him throughout his career.
His songs were predominantly simple melodies. His music may not appear extravagant or carry the ‘flourishes’ of the top music directors of the golden era. However, since his melodies were simple, they were appealing, easy to sing and extremely hummable. Ravi boasted that he could create a tune from almost any set of words, including newspaper headlines or columns! It would not have been very difficult for him. Give him santoor, flute, tabla players and a newspaper and I can imagine him creating simple tunes from the newspaper.
With Ravi, the lyrics came first and the tune later. A number of his songs captured the power and emotions of the lyrics and were impactful because they were very soulful.
Most films have a set of standard situations for songs for heroes and heroines like a peppy or romantic situation, a location or situation meant for duets and a solo sad song situation. Ravi was a master in unusual and special situations and created many unforgettable songs for such situations. His legacy also lives on with many evergreen songs that are hugely popular even today.
Sadly, like most of his peers from the golden era, he was unable to cope with the changes of the 1970s and lost his way in the 70s. After several years in near hibernation, Nikaah was his swansong in Hindi films in 1982, thanks to his faithful producer B R Chopra. Ravi also scored many popular songs in Malayalam.
Enjoy 24 of his lovely songs from the link below.
(This link will take you to Gaana.com where you have standard features of Play all, Shuffle and Skip song available. Sometimes, you may have to skip Ads to enjoy the music! Unlike my earlier posts, this player opens in a new window/tab. Since the music player opens in a new window/tab, you can browse through this site or others and enjoy the music playing in the background while you browse!)
Master of special situations
Ravi’s predominant style of simple music without any ornamentation or flourishes, was tailor made for songs by children. Chanda Mama door se (Vachan) and Dadi Amma Dadi Amma (Gharana) are extremely simple and very appealing. Also, in another special situation, Balraj Sahni’s adoration of his ‘son’ is captured beautifully in the song Tujhe suraj kahoon yaa chandaa (Ek phool do maali). Similarly, Garibon ki suno (Dus Laakh) is another song that stands out for the specific situation.
Ravi created many memorable songs for wedding situations with the tear jerking Babul ki duayen lethi jaa (Neelkamal) at one extreme and the peppy and joyful baaraat song Dil karta yaara dildaara (Aadmi aur Insaan) on the other extreme.
Though his music and popularity began to fade in the 1970s, Ravi created a wonderful song Sansaar kee har shay kaa (Dhund) for a situation that shows the obligatory titles and credits in the beginning of the film. Sahir Ludhianvi seems to capture the philosophy of life with his lyrics, reminding you of his other philosophical and timeless classic Aage bhi jaane na tu.
A bhajan is not unusual in Hindi films. However, this is not the standard hero, heroine, romance-sad song type of situation. Ravi created Tora man darpan (Kaajal) that appears to be a bhajan but has loads of philosophy as well.
Perhaps his most popular song for special situations is for the ‘not so young’ Balraj Sahni becoming a youngster for his wife and singing Ae mere zohra zabin (Waqt).
Simple and melodious
Music directors strive to create mukhdas that are catchy and appealing. Keeping the mukhdas simple came naturally to composers like Ravi.
Ravi is perhaps best remembered for his simple melodies – solos, duets and the like that are very easy to sing and hum. Many of these simple melodies became huge hits. Sometimes, Ravi’s songs appeared to be very similar and repetitive. Perhaps his liking for santoor and flute was the reason. Santoor and flute dominated a number of his songs. A number of his simple melodies are also soothing to the ears, because of the limited number of instruments and his preference for the sweet sounds of flute and santoor.
Tumhin mere mandir (Khaandaan) is an example of his simple style. Also, Chalo ik baar phir se and Aaja aaja re tujhko meraa pyaar pukare from Gumrah are two simple melodies that are very appealing. Also, in a similar simple style, Tum agar saath dene ka (Humraaz) is easy on the ears and attractive as well.
Kisi pathar ki moorat se (Humraaz), Milti hain zindagi mein mohabbat (Ankhen) and Door rehkar na karo baat (Amaanat) are simple solo melodies in Ravi’s trademark style. His O neele parbaton ki dhara from Aadmi aur insaan and Aaj ki mulaqat bas itni (Bharosa) are two attractive duets.
My personal favourite is the happy version of Tumhari nazar kyon khafaa ho gayee (Do Kaliyan). And for a change, you get to hear lovely accordion pieces in the song along with the extremely melodious humming by Lata.
Ravi preferred to set his tune to lyrics. He believed that one has to capture the emotions in the lyrics. His special focus on the lyrics gave us some soulful and impactful songs. Who can forget the soulful Sau baar janam lenge (Ustadon ke Ustad) or the equally soulful Tujhko pukare mera pyaar (Neelkamal).
Ae mere dil-e-nadaan (Towerhouse) is also memorable for the impact of the lyrics and tune. Similarly, Is bhari duniya mein (Bharosa) makes an impact with soulful singing by Rafi.
Perhaps his best and most impactful song is Aage bhi jaane na tu (Waqt), thanks to Sahir Ludhianvi’s classic and timeless lyrics on Now. I consider this to be among Asha Bhonsle’s best songs.
Some of Ravi’s songs can be considered among the best songs in their category and live on as evergreen songs. Chaundvin Ka Chand ho (Chaundvin Ka Chand) is one such top of the category evergreen songs for solo romantic songs. And who can forget Yeh Raaten Yeh Mausam (Dilli ka thug), the romantic evening duet set against moonlight, stars and water! Dilli ka thug also featured yet another evergreen song – CAT Cat, Cat mane billi, the song that puts life into anyone and any situation.
A number of Ravi’s songs were set among hills. He makes the hills, flowers, water and trees reverberate with the melodious He neele gagan ke tale (Hamraaz) and Aa bhi jaa from Gumrah with superb use of flute, santoor, Mahendra Kapoor’s voice and the echoes!.
Despite being ‘under the radar’, Ravi created a unique place for himself and had a clutch of loyal producers who swore by him. Hats off to this creator of simple and appealing melodies.