Lost in time - Vinod

Though a talented and celebrated composer, Vinod fell short of reaching the pinnacle of commercial success in an era dominated by prominent composers like Shankar Jaikishan, S D Burman, O P Nayyar and C Ramchandra

It was the day of Christmas in 1959. Mrs. Sheela Roberts (Betty) along with her daughters, Veena (13) and Veera (10), were in a hurry to reach the hospital to wish her husband Eric Roberts right after attending the mass prayer. they wished him upon reaching, but there was no response. He didn't even open his eyes. He had already slipped into a coma and later in the day, he passed away.

Eric Roberts was born in Lahore on May 28, 1922. Eric as a child had a great fascination for music. He used to enjoy music during Punjabi weddings. To pursue his passion, he became the disciple of Pt. Amarnath, the elder brother of Hussanlal Bhagatram. Pandit ji was the most popular music composer for Hindi and Punjabi films.

Pandit ji taught him all the finer points of classical music as well as Punjabi folks. This helped Eric a lot when he became an independent composer. His first official composition, which he recorded at the age of seventeen, Samne aayaga koi jalwa dikhayega koi, became popular. For a couple of years, he used to play piano in a luxury hotel in Lahore. Several cinema personalities including producer-director Roop K. Shorey used to visit the hotel. On one such encounter, Shorey was impressed by Eric Robert's talent and allowed him to give music in his films. He changed his name to Vinod.

In 1946, Vinod gave music in his first film Khamosh Nigahen. The film was directed by Moti B. Gidwani who was trained at Hollywood. Vinod composed eleven songs for this film which had a lot of variety including ghazals with classical style and light soft paced numbers. The songs were written by Aziz Kashmiri with whom Vinod composed unforgettable melodies in years to come.

During partition, several artists from Bombay migrated to Pakistan and vice-versa. Several producers, actors and composers were effected including Dalsukh Pancholi, OP Nayyar, Shyam, Pran, OM Prakash, Manorma, Kuldeep Kaur and Meena. Vinod migrated to Delhi along with his wife Sheela and three-month-old daughter, Veena.

Vinod's mentor Roop K Shorey moved to Bombay. During his brief stay in Delhi, Vinod got an invitation from Shorey who had announced his next film, Ek Thi Ladki, starring Meena, veteran actor Moti Lal, IS Johar, Majnu and Kuldeep Kaur. The film was directed by Shorey himself. Ek Thi Ladki was the big musical hit of 1949 like Mahboob's Andaz and Raj Kapoor's Barsat. Since then, Vinod became a household name.

He composed ten songs. Most of these became hit, but the song which took the entire nation by a storm was Punjabi-Hindi mixed song, Lara lappa lara lappa layee rakhda (Lata/Rafi/Satish Batra). HMV by mistake printed the name of popular singer GM Durrani on 78 RPM and Long Playing records. These mistakes were rectified by a noted film historian who had checked this with G M Durrani himself. Later, HMV printed the name of Batra in place of Durrani.

Other popular hits of the film were: Ye shokh sitare, Ae haa-e-dil ya haal-e-jigar kuch na puchhaiye and Ghir ghir ke ayee badriya sajanwa aa ja. Shorey shot one song in Kashmir – Hum chale door hum chale door dil hua chhor haiya ho haiya ho. Vinod aptly used the Kashmiri folk song, Yaar peer dast geer, to further enhance the beauty of the song. Vinod himself was seen in the song Dilli se aaya bhai Pingu (Geeta Roy).

The next two films in which Vinod composed were Kamini and Nagin. In 1950, Vinod came back with superb music in Anmol Ratan directed by M Sadiq, starring Meena and Karan Deewan. One could see the versatility in his compositions. Talat Mehmood and Lata sang their all-time great duets, Shikwa tera main gaun and Yaad aane wale phir yaad aa rahein hain, set in Kehrawa Tall with soft notes of flute.

Another rare gem was Talat's Jab kisi ke rukh pe zulfein aake lehrane lagi set in Raag Bhairv. Nirmala Arun (Govinda's mother) also sang a thumri, Lakhon mein ek hamare saiyan haye. Lata's other popular numbers were: Mere ghunghat mein do nain pukare, More dwar khule hain aane wale but her personal favourite composition was Dard mila hai tere pyaar ki nishani o dene wale teri meharbani. According to Nalin Shah, Hemant Kumar's composition Na ye chand hoga na tare rahange (Geeta Dutt and Hemant Kumar sang it separately in film Shart) and N Dutta's Tere pyaar ka aasra chahta hun was inspired by Vinod's Dard mila hai tere pyaar ki nishani.

In Wafa (1950), Vinod composed Sooni kar gaye sham hamari (Talat Mehmood) and Lata's hit, Kaga re ja re ja re. Lata was lucky for Vinod. Strangely, Lata didn't sing a single song in some of his films: Tara (1949), Titlee, Mukhda (1951). His number in Mukhda, Hamari gali aao shyam (Zeenat Begum) and a duet in Titlee, Mera man jhoom jhoom lehrayein (Talat/ Asha) became popular. Vinod compositions in film Sabj Bagh were liked immensely by his fans: Apni tasveer se keh do hamein dekha na kare and Jo kuch hamein kehna hain. Lata was back in Sabj Bagh and sang Mere dil ke tarapne ka tamasa dekhne wale and Le mein kandi rah gai na.

After Ek Thi Ladki, Vinod became a permanent composer of Shorey films. In Aag Ka Dariya (1953), he gave few hit numbers: Kehta tha zamana magar ham ne na mana and Ja chali ja o ghata (Asha/Rafi); Talat's solo, Ek din hazar ghum kaise jee sakange hum. Shorey was known for making light-hearted comedy films. His wife Meena Shorey played the roles of a happy go lucky and carefree girl. In these films, Vinod composed tunes keeping her roles in mind.

He composed music in Ladla, Oot Patang, Haa Haa Hee Hee Hoo Hoo, Shri Nakad Narayan Makkhi Choos, Seikh Chilly and Garma Garam. Popular songs from these movies were: Haye raat ke barah baje (Ladla), the title track of Haa Haa Hee Hee Hoo Hoo by Asha and Ye muh masoor ki dall in Shri Nakad Narayan.

Vinod may have made light-hearted numbers for comedy films but he also made heart rendering compositions like Pyaar nahi chhupta chhupane se (Talat/Asha) in Ladla; Aayain hain dwaar tere (Asha) in Garma Garam. Vinod also gave music in some historical films: Ramman (1954), Jalwa (1955) and Mumtaz Mahal (1957). His compositions in Talat's voice, Ham ho gaye barbad, Beqrar kar gaya dil shikar kar gaya (Madhubala Jhaweri); and Ritu albeli aaye sahali (Asha) became popular in Ramman. Other popular numbers were Hum do ladke jeb ke kadke and O main hoon shahi lakaddhara (Rafi/Asha) and Asha's solo Surma bereli ka kajal hai dehli ka, Shama kahti hai parwane se and Phalak teri zamin teri in Jalwa.

His music in Sheikh Chilli were also appreciated for its popular numbers: Aye jawani jaye jawani (Rafi/chorus), Duniya ka muh kala (Rafi), Meri rahon mein aane wale (Sudha Malhotra), Madhoshi mein, tanhai men, jab husn naqab uthata hai (Geeta Dutt/GM Durrani) and Jawani dikh rahi hai (Asha Bhosle).

Mumtaz Mahal's prominent numbers were: Main dil ka saaz bajata hun, Aaiye hoon main chamak chandni (Geeta Dutt) and S Balbir's soft number, Mere dil jhoom zara.

Vinod composed music in 32 Hindi films and also has half a dozen Punjabi films to his credit. He experimented with ghazals and Punjabi folk in Chaman (1948). It's iconic number, Chann kithan guzari aye raat way was popular both in India as well as Pakistan according to Pushpa Hans. Chaman was the musical hit of 1948. Lata, Asha and Talat had acknowledged that some of their unforgettable numbers were composed by Vinod.

Vinod's career was cut short in a freaky incident. One morning, he shaved without realising that the blade he was using had rusted which later led to Titanus. He was admitted to a hospital but he died on December 25, 1959, at the age of 37 – leaving behind two young daughters and his wife, Betty.

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