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Lost in time Datta Naik

Buried in yesteryears, Datta Naik was a sensible music director who would use minimum orchestra to develop the apt atmosphere as expressed in the song

Whenever we talk about poet-lyricist, Sahir Ludhanvi's contribution to film music and his composers, the names which come to our mind are Sachin Dev Burman, Roshan and Ravi. But another personality was lost in crowd – N Datta also kown as Datta Naik – composed Sahir's many milestone and unforgettable songs since his debut.

Born as Dattaram Baburam Naik in Goa on November 12, 1927, he had an attachment to music since his childhood days. Giving up on studies, he came to Bombay at very early age and soon joined the Deodhar Sangeet Vidayala. After initial training, he tried his luck in the film industry to make a living.

Soon, he became an assistant to Master Ghulam Hyder. When Master ji migrated to Pakistan after the partition, SD Burman took him as his assistant. Datta assisted Burman Da in several films includind Bahaar, Jaal and Sazaa. Shamshad Begum's famous song, Saiyan dil mein aana re, and two numbers in film Jaal: Chori chori meri gali aana hai bura and De bhi chuke hum dil nazrana dil ka, (Geeta/Kishore) are his compositions. All these song were great hit.

Sahir Ludhianvi met Datta during the recording sessions of Jaal and was impressed with the latter. Dutta splitted from Burman Da after Guru Dutt's Pyassa. In 1955, Datta got his first offer as an independent composer from Raj Khosla who had directed the super hit film CID for Guru Dutt. Raj Khosla had assisted Guru Dutt in Jaal and was fond of Datta. Khosla decided to take him as his music director for Milap. Sahir Ludhianvi was the lyricist. The duo of Sahir and Datta gave catchy tunes in the movie. Geeta Bali and Dev Anand were in the lead. The music of Milap became very popular but unfortunately the film didn't do well at the box office. The most popular number of the film were: Humse bhi karlo kabhi kabhi mithi mithi do baatain in Geeta's sensuous voice. Other popular numbers – Jate ho to jao per jaoge khan, Bachna zara ye zamana hai bura and a romantic duet Ye baharon ka sama chand taron ka sama further enhanched the music of Milap.

The same year, Sahir and N Datta combined again for GP Sippi's Marine Drive. Beena Rai and Ajeet were in the lead. The chart-topper was a ghazal Ab wo karam karein ya sitam in Rafi's melodious voice. GP Sippy signed the duo yet again for his next production, Chandrakanta (1956), starring Bina Rai and Bharat Bhushan. Even today Chandrakanta is remembered for its slow paced ghazal in Rafi's enchanting voice – Maine chand aour sitaron ki tamanna dekhi. Datta used beautiful pieces of sitar in the opening and during interludes.

Sahir entered BR Chopra's production in 1957 with Naya Daur. The music of Naya Daur was humongous hit. Gradually, Sahir and Nayyar developed differences over royalty. In 1958, BR Chopra announced his home production Sadhna starring Vayajanthi Mala and Sunil Dutt. Sahir wrote the lyrics with the condition that he won't work with Burman and OP Nayyar. BR Chopra believed Sahir to do justice with the film and brought in Datta to compose music for Sadhna. It was a great hit of 1958 mainly due to the music and lyrics of this duo. Its iconic numbers were a mujara song, Kaho ji tum kya kya kharidoge, a bhajan in Geeta's voice Tora manwa kyun ghabraya re and a romantic duet Sambhal ae dil tadapne aour tadpane se kya hoga (Asha/Rafi). N Datta also composed the popular qawwali, Aaj kyun humse parda hai (Rafi/S.Balbir).

Again, BR Chopra opted for Sahir and Datta for his next production, Dhool Ka Phool (1961) starring Mala Sinha, Rajendra Kumar, Ashok Kumar, Nanda and Manmohan Krishan. Both Sahir and Datta recreated the magic of Sadhna in Dhool Ka Phool. Yash Chopra made his debut as director with this film. Its hit number were: Tere pyaar ka aasra chahta hun (Mahendra Kapoor/Lata), Jhukti ghata gaati hawa sapne jagaye (Mahendra Kapoor/Asha), Daman mein aag laga baithe (Rafi) and Tu Hindu banega na Musalman banega insaan ki aulad hai insaan banega (Rafi). Datta also composed a classical number – Ka se kahun man ki baat (Sudha Malhotra). According to various music pundits, N Datta and Sahir was at their best in Dhool Ka Phool.

The duo did a third film for BR Chopra – Dharamputra (1961). Once again, Yash Chopra directed the film. The film is remembered for its soft music and ultimate romantic number's sung by Mahendra Kapoor – Bhool sakta hai bhala kaun ye pyari aankhein set in Bilawal Thaat and Aaj ki raat yahi shikwe shikayat ke liye. Other unforgettable numbers were Main jab bhi akali hoti hun (Asha) and a qawwali, Kabe mein raho ya kashi mein (Rafi/Mahendra Kapoor). Despite boasting a remarkable playlist, the film flopped at box office.

In 1962, Sahir and Jan Nissar Akhtar were together for Dilli Ka Dada. N Datta composed catchy number of Hamne bhi mohabbat ki thi (Asha/Mahendra Kapoor) and Rimjhim rimjhim sawan barse (Manna Dey/Asha). After Dharamputra BR Chopra brought Ravi to compose music in his films. Sahir remained in his camp. But Sahir remained loyal to N Datta and kept on writing lyrics for him. In Kala Samander (1962) Sahir wrote for Datta and the popular number of this film were Meri tasveer laker kya karoge (Asha/S Balveer) and Mohabbat karo to karo chup chupa ke (Asha/Rafi/Chorus).

In 1964, Sahir and N Datta were back again since Dilli Ka Dada (1962) in Nutan Bharat Bhushan starrer Chandi Ki Deewar. Talat sang his unforgettable number Ashkon mein jo paya hai wo geeton mein diya hai. Also, Rafi sang his soulful number Kahi qaraar nahi aour kahi khushi na milee. Leaving the BR camp was a big blow to N Datta. He started getting B/C grade films. On the other hand, Sahir had become popular and was loaded with films. He couldn't help N Datta as producers used to have their own choice of composers. Even Yash Chopra, who had musical hits in Dhool Ka Phool and Dharamputra with the duo, opted for Laxmikant Pyarelal in his maiden home production Daag.

N Datta was in desperate search of a big banner but couldn't succeed. The composer who gave the music fraternity many unforgettable compositions, developed drinking habits out of frustration.

Looking back at Datta's career, he created a nationwide stir with his rock and roll number in Mr X, Laal laal gaal jaan pe hain lagu (Rafi). Datta used Accordions, Saxophones and Drums for this compositions.. In Light House (1958), he created Sahir's ghazals (Tang aa chuke hai kashm kashe zindgi se hum and O kis jagah jayein kisko dikhlayein jakhm-e- dil apna) in an unique style.

In 1962, Datta came back with extremely popular numbers for Gayarah Hazar Ladkiyan. Dil ki tamanna thi masti mein (Rafi/Asha) was a big hit. Kaifi Azami's Mere mehboob mere saath hi chalna hai also gained immense popularity.

In the 70s, Datta did get films but didn't have much impact. What an irony that he started his career with Sahir in 1955 and ended with Sahir in Chehre Pe Chehra (1980). Aaj socha hai khayalon mein bulakar hume (Rafi/Sulochana Pandit) was a prominent hit of this movie.

In the last few years of his life, Datta didn't get any films. He joined the orchestra of Laxmikant Pyarelal. They were aware of Datta's talent and sent him money even on instances when he didn't turn up for recording.

N Datta was another causality of the music industry. He died in anonymity on December 20, 1987, leaving behind a treasure of haunting melodies. After his death, the Maharashtra government honoured him by renaming a road near his house – the Sangeetkar N Dutta Marg.

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