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Gift from the heavens - Ravindra Jain

Ravindra Jain was an indomitable spirit – an ace composer and fighter of odds, his contribution to Bollywood across decades has actively shaped the Hindi film music industry

In the early-1980s, I met the man who was the harbinger of melodies in the 1970s. I spent two full days with him as he cooperated with the camera flute for a documentary. In the early-1970s, Bollywood was predominated by sex, violence and vengeance. The image of the angry young man became popular after Big B's Zanjeer which was directed by Prakash Mehra. There was hardly any scope for melodies in these films.

At this stage, the person who brought back melodies was singer-composer-lyricist Ravindra Jain, born on February 28, 1944, in Loyari village, Banswada district of Rajasthan. Visually-impaired since birth, his parents Indramani and Kiran Jain thought music would help their child. He was presented with a harmonium and soon became a master player, singing bhajans at local temples.

He then moved to Aligarh where his elder brother would read Indian classics to him. Ravindra was fascinated by Bangla literature, especially Tagore. He went to Calcutta and perused his music under the guidance of Pandit Janardan Sharma and Nathu Ram. He also completed a course in classical music from Prayag Sangeet Samiti, Allahabad. Poetry and music were his first love. In Kolkata, he met Pandit Jaichand Bhatt (father of singer Hemlata) who later became his favourite singer. Radheshyam Jhunjhunwala was planning to produce a feature film and took Jain to Bombay. He announced his film Lorie. Jain recorded a few songs, two of which were sung by Mukesh and appreciated immensely, but unfortunately the film was shelved.

His next film was N C Sippy's Silsila Hai Pyaar Ka, which had the same fate as Lorie. Ravindra Jain was noticed in the film Kanch Aur Heera (1972). He also made his debut as a lyricist in this film and introduced new voices Hemlata, Chandrani Mukherjee and Usha Timothi. He recorded Asha Bhonsle and Rafi for the first time. His song Nazar aati nahi manzil (Rafi) was sung in Chandrani Mukherjee's voice too. The film also had a romantic duet Ye bheegi fizayein (Rafi/Hemlata). Ravindra Jain made his place as lyricist and composer with this film.

Ravindra Jain worshipped S D Burman and was deeply influenced by his music. One could see it in his next film, Rajshree's Saudagar (1973) starring Nutan, Amitabh Bachchan and Padma Khanna. The film was shot in Bengal and directed by Sudhanshu Roy. Kishore, Lata, Asha and Manna Dey sang iconic songs written by Ravindra. His compositions were Har haseen cheez ka main talabgar hoon (Kishore), Tera mera saath rahe (Lata), Sajna hai mujhe sajna ke liye (Asha) and Door hai kinara (Manna Day).

Ravindra Jain had established himself after Saudagar and started getting offers from several producers. The most noted films of his career were Haathi Ke Daant (1973) and Satranj Ke Mohre (1974). The films didn't do well at the box office but his music was appreciated. His next film was Do Jasoos (1975) starring Raj Kapoor, Rajendra Kumar and new discoveries Shailendra Singh as actor Bhawna Bhatt. The film also had Prem Chopra, Aruna wwIrani and Manmohan Krishna. The popular numbers of this film were Do jasoos kare mahsoos, Kyun pape jayada chad gaiye, (Rafi/Mukesh). Shailendra Singh sang Purvaiya leke chalo meri naiya and Main bijali hoon, with Lata. Asha also sang Allah meri tauba nighein na milaungi. He shared the credit with lyricists Hasrat Jaipuri and Raj Kavi Tulsi. He also gave a super hit musical in Sippy's Chor Machaye Shor starring Shashi Kapoor and Mumtaz, directed by Ashok Roy. The film had super-hit number Ek daal per tota bole and Le jayange dilwale dulhaniya le jayange written by Raj kavi Tulsi. But the chartbuster of the film was Ghungroo ki tarah bajta hi raha hoon main (Kishore). His other popular numbers were Paun mein gori and Agra se ghaghra mangwa de rasiya (Rafi/Asha).

1975 was the luckiest year for Ravindra Jain. He gave another musical hit, Geet Gata Chal. Young Sachin and Sarika were in the lead and the film was directed by Hiren Naag. Ravindra Jain wrote all the nine songs. Its hit numbers were the title track Geet gata chal o saathi gungunata chal. He introduced the new voice of Jaspal Singh. Jaspal Singh and Aarti Mukherjee's duet Saam teri bansi pukare radha naam, and O mangal bhawan amangal hari was very popular. Kishore also sang Bachchpan har gham se begana hota hai.

In Tapsaya, directed by Anil Ganguly, Ravindra Jain roped in lyricist M G Hasmat. Its popular number were Jo raah chuni tune (Kishore), Do panchi do tinke (Kishore/Aarti Mukharjee) and Bhabhi ki ungli mein heere ka chhalla (Hemlata/Chandrani Mukharjee). Soon, Ravindra Jain started getting offers from regional producers. He signed films in Bhojpuri, Brajbhasha, Bangla and Malyalam. In 1976, Subodh Mukharjee signed S D Burman for his film Deewangi. S D Burman had just recorded one song and passed away. After that, Ravindra Jain was brought in to compose the rest and he did so in the style of his mentor.

In the same year, he gave another musical hit Chitchor starring Amol Palakar and Zarina Wahab which was directed by Bashu Chatterjee. Yasudas sang unforgettable numbers Gori tera gaon bada pyaara and duets with Hemlata Jab deep jale aana.

Films of Ravindra Jain which deserve special mention are Fakira (1976). Its numbers written by Jain himself and became extremely popular. In the 1970s, Ravindra Jain did a lot of films in different genres. His songs were composed in a uniwwque style. Hemlata's softer melodies included Purvaiya ke jhoke aaye, Le to aaye ho hamein sapno ki gaon mein and Jahan prem ka paavan diyra jare. Ravindra Jain also lent his voice in a song Achra mein phulwa lahke aaye re and hits most popular number was in the voices of Yasudas, Hemlata and Banshree Sengupta. Another social musical was based on Hollywood's film Love Story – Ankhiyon ke Jharoke Se featuring Sachin and Ranjeeta.

After these two successful films he got an opportunity to work with B R Chopra. In Pati Patni Aur Woh (1978), Chopra signed Sanjeev Kumar, Vidya Sinha and Ranjeeta. Its most popular number was Thandhe thandhe pani se nahana chahiye (Mahendra Kapoor/Asha). His next film with producer, director Chopra was Insaaf Ka Taraazu (1980). Chopra introduced two new faces Raj Babbar and Deepak Parashar against Zeenat Aman and Padmini Kolhapure. Chopra's own favourite Sahir Ludhanvi wrote the songs. The three songs of this film were well composed by Ravindra Jain Insaaf ka taraazu jo haanth mein uthaye (Mahendra Kapoor), Hazaar khawab haqueeat ka roop le lange (Mahendra Kapoor/Asha) but the song which Ravindra Jain enjoyed most was Log aurat ko faquat jism samajh lete hain.

80s and 90s belong to three music duo Anand Miland, Nadeem Shravan and Jatin Lalit. Ravindra Jain was contented and were busy with mythological and fantasy serials on Doordarshan including Ramanand Sagar's Ramayana. He also composed music for Hema Malini's Ballet's.

Ravindra Jain gave soulful music in Raj Kapoor's Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985). His compositions were Husn paharon ka (Lata/Suresh Wadkar), Sun sahiban sun (Lata) which was written by Hasrat Jaipuri and the title track was in the voice of Suresh Wadkar. Ravindra Jain got his only Filmfare Award for this Film.

His film, Raj Kapoor's Heena, was released in 1991 and before the film went on the floor Raj Kapoor had completed its music and died in 1988.

Ravindra Jain was a passionate poet. His collection of ghazals Ujalon ka Silsila was released by Raj Kapoor in 1987. His autobiography Sunhare Pal was also published. Ravindra Jain was married to Divya Jain and blessed with a son. He remained active with his music and brought out several cassettes with various singers. He was awarded the Padma Shri in April 2015 and died on October 9, 2015 at the age of 71.

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