The 1970s saw a gradual transition from social, romantic movies of the 60s and early 70s to more of crime oriented and dishum-dishum movies made by big banners in the late 70s. And the 80s saw the arrival of disco music and a gradual decline in the quality of film music.
Among music composers, some of the stalwarts of the golden era (50s and 60s) like Madan Mohan, Shanker-Jaikishen saw a decline in their influence in the 70s. RD Burman, Kalyanji-Anandji and Laxmikant-Pyarelal dominated the 70s and cornered all the big banners and big star movies.
In the midst of these big changes, Ravindra Jain made a strong impression in the 1970s – very quietly and unobtrusively. Among the big composer names and popular movies dominated by big stars, Ravindra Jain was an outlier in more ways than one.
First – the quality of his music was different and very unusual in the 70s; it was melodious, soft with relatively simple orchestration unlike the large orchestra songs in the big name movies.
Second – a number of his movies were the small budget, no big star cast movies (there were however some Shashi Kapoor movies) but his music was outstanding even in small movies.
Third – he used well known singers like Lata, Rafi and Kishore but at the same time created lovely melodies with relatively unknown singers like Hemlata, Aarti Mukherjee. That called for real bravery. He was also brave enough to use Yesudas, the South Indian legend in many songs.
Despite being so different and an outlier in the 70s and also in the 80s, millions continue to hum his songs even today because they were so melodious – whether they are sung by big names or Yesudas or anyone else.
For these reasons, I think Ravindra Jain deserves a special place as an outlier and a wonderful melody maker even though other composers grabbed big banner and big star movies. Unfortunately, not many write about him, though his music is among the best in the 70s and 80s.
It is said that Ravindra Jain was born blind. Perhaps this made him pour his heart out in the soul stirring song of a blind man, Nazar aati nahin manzil in one of his earliest movies, Kaanch Aur Heera. The emotion and melodic content of this song may make you think it was a Madan Mohan or Naushad composition – if you did not know the name of the composer.
After scoring big hits in movies like Geet Gaata Chal, Chitchor, Chor Machaye Shor, Saudagar, Fakira and many more in the 70s, he finally landed a big banner in the 80s when he scored music for Raj Kapoor’s Ram Teri Ganga Maili followed by Henna.
Though he had a number of lovely songs, I restricted myself to only 15 to compile a playlist. Here is the link to 15 of Ravindra Jain’s best songs.
(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!)
Gaon, Naiyya and Lilting Melodies
Even when scoring music for small budget movies, Ravindra Jain’s music stood out and was a big asset to the movie. His songs had relatively simple orchestration dominated by flute, mandolin and violins.
All the songs in Chitchor were big hits with two classical numbers and two breezy numbers standing out – Aaj se pehle and Gori Tera Gaon, were the breezy numbers. Amitabh and Nutan starrer Saudagar also had lovely songs (before Amitabh became a big name) with Lata’s Tere mera saath rahe standing out for the melody.
Geet Gaata Chal songs were a big rage with Jaspal Singh standing out with his full-throated singing in the title song. Aarti Mukherjee also had a cheerful number Main wohi darpan wohi. Yesudas was a regular in Ravindra Jain’s songs and his solo in Sunayana also became a big hit. Another Ravindra Jain regular Hemlata had a big hit in Ankhiyon Ke Jharokon Se.
Two boat songs of Ravindra Jain are worth listening to over and over again – picturized on relatively unknown faces. Naiyya had the lovely O Goriya Re and Do Jasoos had Shailendra Singh and Lata singing the melodious Puruvaiyya leke chali meri naiyya that has a lilting folksy touch.
Stars, Banners and Popular Melodies
Ravindra Jain scored music for the Shashi Kapoor starrer Chor Machaye Shor. His Le jayenge Le jayenge Dilwale Dulhaniya Le jayenge became a cult song and inspired a film title that became one of the biggest hits of the 90s. There were also two lovely duets from the same movie – Ek daal par with melodious flute and Paon mein dori with a folksy touch. Another Shashi Kapoor starrer Fakira also had a popular duet Tota Maina Ki Kahani, again with a sweet touch of flute.
Perhaps Do Jasoos brought Raj Kapoor and Ravindra Jain together. After working with Laxmikant-Pyarelal for a few movies, Raj Kapoor chose Ravindra Jain for Ram Teri Ganga Maili. Sun Sahiba Sun was a huge hit in this movie. Some say this tune was an old tune from Raj Kapoor and Shanker-Jaikishen days and Raj Kapoor reused it as Sun Sahiba Sun.
Raj Kapoor apparently could not get over his close association and musical partnership with Shanker-Jaikishen. Later, in another Raj Kapoor movie Henna, some songs like Main hoon khushrang Henna sound like the descending style songs popularized by Shanker-Jaikishen! Raj Kapoor known for his discerning musical ear, perhaps influenced Ravindra Jain to adopt the Shanker-Jaikishen style. Some of Ravindra Jain’s songs also unwittingly shared another characteristic of Shanker-Jaikishen songs – long preludes!
Though Ravindra Jain was not in big hits of Amitabh Bachan, Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna or Rajesh Khanna or the other big stars of the day, his melodious music, simplicity in style of music and brave choice of singers made his music stand out and made him truly different – an outlier in the garish world of 70s and 80s.