Posted: 12 March 2006 at 9:59pm | IP Logged
Here's an article I came across from "The Hindu".
|Ravi's scores for Hindi films have stood the test of time. |
Still Popular: Ravi's tunes are evergreen.
THERE are still some people alive who remind us of the golden age of Hindi film music from the mid-1940s to the 1970s. One of them, Ravi Shankar Sharma popularly known as Ravi, turned 80 on March 3. Along with Naushad and O.P. Nayyar, he keeps alive the rich tradition of that era.
Age sits lightly on Ravi. Tall and well built with a mane of white hair, Ravi stands erect and continues to be highly articulate. He never thinks of "retirement". "Why should I, the future may still have something to offer me," he says. For nearly 50 years, he composed tunes for over 250 films, many of them jubilee hits. Manohar Iyer, founder of "Keep Alive", a Mumbai-based organisation dedicated to the era of melody in Hindi film music, explains, "Ravi saab is not a one-film wonder. He is unique because every major producer repeated him in his films, and these included Devendra Goel, 'Gemini' S.S. Vasan, and B.R. Chopra. His tunes could be hummed by every member of the family."
Born and brought up in Delhi, young Ravi's foray into the music world was accidental. In his early teens he sang at satsang
functions and later worked in the Post and Telegraphs department. The world of music attracted him and he came to Bombay in 1945. Well-known composers like C. Ramachandra helped him and so did singer-music director Hemant Kumar who made Ravi one of his assistants. He sang in the chorus of Kumar's Vande Matharam
and worked in "Nagin".
Producer Devendra Goel promised him work and after a long wait offered him "Vachan" whose score (Chanda mama door ke, Ek paise de do, Jab liya hath
) is still remembered. Yet, Ravi, uncertain of his future, continued to work for Hemant Kumar for Rs. 200 a month.
Finally persuaded by Hemantda to be on his own, Ravi got offers from producers Nadiadwala, S.D.Narang and Guru Dutt for "Chaudhvin Ka Chand". Guru Dutt had been impressed with Ravi score for "Mehendi".
Ravi, now fairly well established, could exhibit his versatility. Contrast the light-hearted Kishore-Asha duet from "Dilli ka Thug", C A T Cat, Cat manne Billi
with the haunting Talat number Sab kuch loota hain
in "Ek Saal" and the lingering melodies from "Chaudhvin Ka Chand". Lyricist Sahir and singer Mohamad Rafi won "Filmfare" awards for this film, but the Best Music Director award eluded Ravi.
It was then Ravi turned southwards. The Chennai studios led by Gemini were churning out family socials with haunting music scores and Ravi fitted in easily. "The South was highly professional," he remembers. "Men like Vasan, Sridhar, Bhaskara Menon and A.V. Meiyappan, knew the art of filmmaking, respected talent and worked with zeal and discipline."
Ravi got some of the best banners and his music score in films like, "Gharana", "Ghungat", "Grahasti", "Khandaan", "Do Kaliyan" brought him national acclaim and two Filmfare awards for the Best Music ("Gharana" and "Khandaan").
One of Ravi's tunes for Gemini's "Ghunghat" was not suitable for the film and lay with Gemini Vasan. After 18 years, while composing for "Do Badan", Ravi discovered a situation tailor made for the tune. He requested Vasan to release the copyright, which the Gemini boss did willingly. "It was a wonderful gesture from a great man," observed Ravi.
He also spoke warmly of the contributions of the three lyricists he worked most with — Shakeel Badayuni, Rajinder Kishen and Sahir Ludhianvi.
Ravi also had a long association with B.R. Chopra in whose films he used the voice of Mahendra Kapoor effectively — "Gumrah", "Waqt", "Hamraaz", "Aadmi aur Insaan" and "Nikah" won him more laurels. Remember Manna Dey's foot-tapping number in "Waqt", Ai meri zohra jabeen, tujhe maloom nahin
. He created popular numbers based on western melodies on rare occasions but always with great effect — Zindagi Ittefaq hain
("Aadmi aur Insaan") and Baar baar dekho
("China Town"). Yet it is astonishing that Ravi was not considered to be in the top bracket of music directors like Shankar Jaikishan, C. Ramchandra, S.D. Burman and Naushad. One reason could be the absence of top stars in the films for which he composed the music. No Dilip Kumar, no Dev Anand , just one Raj Kapoor starrer ("Nazrana") and a couple of Shammi Kapoor films.
Further Ravi was never enthusiastic about sacrificing melody for mere orchestration and seldom used 100 or 150 piece orchestras to score the background music. Finally, this gentleman never pushed himself into the limelight. But his tunes speak for him.