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In the shadow of giants: Bulo C Rani

A music director, however popular, is often forgotten with the passage of time when the trend of music changes – Bulo C Rani was one such composer whose best is buried under the debris of time

Two and a half decades ago, I had gone to Bombay (Mumbai) to do the recce for a TV serial: The Melodies Makers. Nalin Shah, the renowned vintage film music historian, introduced me to various composers – Naushad, Khayyam, Ravi, V Balsara and producer-director-poet Kidar Sharma to mention few. He had also fixed a meeting with well-known music director Bulo C Rani. Unfortunately a day before the meeting, he committed suicide by setting himself on fire. Later, Nalin Shah gave me lot of inputs about the man and his music.

Bulo C Rani (Bulo Chandiram Ramchandani) was born in Sindh Province of undivided India on May 6, 1921. His father Chandiramani was also a well- known music composer. Bulo C Rani used to sing kalam (poetry) of Sufi poet, Abdul Shah Lateef, in his childhood. His love for music took him to Lahore which was a major centre of film production. He also had a chance to be present at the time of recording of Master Ghulam Haider's song, Tu kaun si badli mein mere chand hai aa ja , sung by Noorjahan in the film Khandaan. Young Bulo C Rani was astounded. Master ji didn't take notice of the young singer, but he was spotted by Dina Nath Madhok, the highest paid lyricist of the 40s and 50s. He took him to Bombay.

DN Madhok introduced Bulo C Rani to Seth Chandulal Shah of Ranjit Movietone. He got a chance to assist the famous composers of Ranjit's Khemchand Prakash and Gyan Dutt of film Surdas fame. He assisted Khemchand Prakash in films Chandani, Dukh Sukh, Tansen and Badshah Babar. Bulo C Rani composed O dukhiya jiyara (Khursheed) in the film Tansen (1943) independently. He also shared the credit with Khemchand Prakash in film Prabhu Ka Ghar (1945) in which he composed Piya mera kewede ka phool and Meri sajni sarangi si bole (Firoz Dastoor).

After assisting Gyan Dutt in Paighaam (1943), Bulo C Rani got his break as independent music director in Ranjit's Pagli Duniya (1944) starring Mumtaz, Shanti and Motilal in the lead. The hit numbers were –Kyun aankh milayee thi gar aankh churani thi and Sham bhai ghar aa ja o raja"(Ameerbai Karnataki). Bulo C Rani also lent his voice under the pseudo name of Bhola, Soy hue bharat ke mukaddar ko jala de and in a duet with Amritlal Pagle udass kyun rehta hai (1945). He also claimed that the number in Gyan Dutt's film Shankar Parvati (1943), O jogi o bairagi with Ameerbai Karnataki was composed by him.

His next film was Carvan in 1944. Bulo C Rani composed fifteen songs for the film and also sang four numbers – Roko na tum Carvan ko, Meri ro ro ankhiyan laal hui with Ameerbai Karnataki. His duet Sajanwa preet ki reet nibha and Apne chehre se parda hata ligye with actor-singer Arun Kumar (Govinda's father) was highly appreciated by music lovers.

Bulo C Rani was established by now. He was also responsible for bringing back the original style of Ghazal singing. The best examples are: Mana ki tum haseen ho and Haseeno ko mohabbat ho hi jati hai in Mukesh's voice in the film Moorti (1945). He also refrained himself from the Parsi style of singing. Veteran director, Kidar Sharma, was also with Ranjit Movietone in those days. He had directed the film Bhanwara (1944) with legendary singer actor KL Saigal. In 1945, he directed Chand Chakori starring Mumtaz, Shanti and Surendra. Bulo C Rani's music was highly appreciated in this movie. Ameerbai Karnataki sang some of her best classic numbers – O saiyan tohe bulbul kahun, Hawa tum kasid ban kar jana, Man mein basa le piya ko and Jogan bana ke piya chhod gaya.

Bulo C Rani had a fascination for heavy voices. He was adept in using robust voices of Ameerbai Karnataki, Zohrabai Ambalabali, Shamshad and Khursheed. Like Chand Chakori, Moorti is also remember for its super hit numbers – Badariya baras gai us par (Khursheed/Hameeda/Mukesh) which were set in Raag Tilak Kamod. Another Raag Saranga base number was Ambua pe koyal bole (Khursheed). In the next few years, he gave hit numbers in films Preet (1945) Dharti (1946) and Bela (1947).

Bulo C Rani's music in Rajputani (1946) was highly appreciated. Its unforgettable numbers were haunting melodious, Parwane ja kahi shama jal rahi hai (Hameeda/Mukesh) and Kunwar thane mein mujro kar kar hari (Zohrabai).

Bulo C Rani also gave a chance to budding singer Manna Day in the film Shravan Kumar where he sang Gaon se door chal.

When the studios system was collapsing Ranjit too was affected by this. It was also a set back to Bulo C Rani. But soon he got a chance to give music in Ranjit's Jogan (1950) starring Nargis and Dilip Kumar. The film was directed by veteran Kidar Sharma. It's music became country wide popular. Bulo C Rani composed sixteen songs mostly Meerabai's bhaajans. Geeta sang her all-time best numbers Main to girdhar ke ghar jaun, Ghunghaat ke pat khol re, tohe piya milange, Hey ri main to prem dewani and Jogi mat ja mat ja paun padun main tere.

Another film which needs mention is Pyaar Ki Batein (1951) in which he shared the credit with two other composers: Bhola Shrestha and Sharma Ji (Khyyam gave music as Sharma ji). Compositions of Bulo C Rani were Must chandni Jhoom rahi hai and Aansu bahao tum udhar (Geeta/Mukesh) are hummed even today. In 1950s Shankar Jaikishan, S.D.Burman, C.Ramchandra and O.P.Nayyar were ruling the roost. Bulo C Rani was pushed to the back seat. He only started getting B/C grade films but soon he was back with his magic in film Bilwamangal (1954).

In Bilwamangal, Suariya and CH Atma not only acted in the movie but sang their all-time great numbers. Suraiya's rare gems were Jake nain payare payare hain, Hum ishq ke maro ka, Parwane se preet sikh le and Bachchpan beeta aayi jawani.

Bulo C Rani gave few good ghazals in Haseena, Madhur Milan and Shikar (1955). He composed all-time hit Qawwali, Hame to loot liya mil ke husn walon ne, in a costume drama Al-Hilal which had Shakeela and Mahipal in the lead. He also composed some rare gems in Haqdaar (1964) – Main hoon deewana bada mastana (Mukesh) and Lata's hit number, Mangne se jo maut mil jati in Sunhare Kadam (1966). It also had two melodious numbers in the voices of Sudha Malhotra's and G.M.Durrani – Na to inkar kiya na to iqraar kiya and Ye ghar aapka hai chale ayea ji. Sunhare Kadam was his last film.

In a career spanning over 22 years, Bulo C Rani gave music in 66 films. He also gave music in few Sindhi hit films. Practically with no work towards the later half, he started taking coaching classes in light music. He was isolated which led to depression. To overcome this he developed the habit of drinking. This lead his health to deteriorate and he had to be admitted to hospitals multiple times. When acute depression became unbearable, he took the extreme step and committed suicide by burning himself on May 24, 1993. He died at 73 leaving behind some unforgettable creations.

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