Bombay Showcase

Rendezvous with Ravi

Many Mumbaikars have a July 2005 deluge experience to narrate. This is mine. The musical connection is that the day after the flood, I was lucky to spend time with the great music director, Bombay Ravi.

Both of us had been forced by circumstance to take refuge in the flat of his nephew, Ashutosh Bharadwaj, a friend of mine. Ravi’s Santa Cruz bungalow was waterlogged, and my Bandra East society was flooded.

The rain had settled down by July 27 afternoon, when I reached Ashu’s place after staying back in my EMI Music office the night before. I was so tired I just had a couple of rotis and slept for four hours. Ravi had apparently come earlier, but I got to know only when I woke up.

Though I had seen Ravi at various functions, it was the second time I was interacting with him closely. On the first occasion, I interviewed him about the 1960 Chaudhvin Ka Chand title track composed by him, written by Shakeel Badayuni and sung by Mohammad Rafi. This time, we spoke informally for a few hours.

First, about the floods; then about Hindi film music. It was a fun chat, off-the record.

Ravi, who passed away in March 2012, was a genius. He composed remarkable music in Waqt , Chaudhvin Ka Chand , Nikaah , Neel Kamal , China Town , Gumraah , Aankhen , Dilli Ka Thug , Ek Phool Do Mali , Gharana and Khandaan . He did many Malayalam films too, under the name Bombay Ravi.

Yet, he remained grossly underrated, in comparison with Naushad, Shankar-Jaikishen, S.D. Burman, O.P. Nayyar, Madan Mohan, R.D. Burman, Laxmikant-Pyarelal and Kalyanji-Anandji.

He retained a cult following like C. Ramchandra, Salil Chowdhury, Husnlal-Bhagatram, Khayyam, Roshan, Jaidev and Ravindra Jain. All masters.

There could be three reasons: first, barring his mentor B.R. Chopra, none of the big banners approached him; second, many of his films flopped, and great songs went unnoticed; third, he was selective.

His hits: besides ‘ Chaudhvin Ka Chand ’, two songs come to mind. In Waqt , he adapted an Afghani qawwali by Abdul Zahoor Breshna to create the Manna Dey classic ‘ O Meri Zohra Jabeen ’. And in Nikaah , he made Salma Agha sing the pathos-filled ‘ Dil Ke Armaan ’.

There were many more: with Rafi, he did ‘ Mili Khaak Mein Mohabbat ’ ( Chaudhvin Ka Chand ), ‘ Husnwale Tera Jawaab ’ ( Gharana ), ‘ Aaja Tujhko Pukaare ’ ( Neelkamal ) and ‘ Baar Baar Dekho ’ ( China Town ). With Lata Mangeshkar, ‘ Tu Hi Meri Mandir ’ ( Khandaan ), ‘ Gairon Pe Karam ’ and ‘ Milti Hai Zindagi ’ ( Aankhen ). His work with Kishore Kumar in Dilli Ka Thug was exemplified in the songs ‘ Yeh Raatein Yeh Mausam ’ and ‘ Cat Maane Billi ’.

With Manna Dey, he also did ‘ Tujhe Sooraj Kahoon ’ in Ek Phool Do Mali . With Mahendra Kapoor, the Gumraah hits ‘ Chalo Ek Baar ’ and ‘ Tujhko Mera Pyaar Pukaare ’. With Asha Bhosle, the Waqt songs ‘ Aage Bhi Jaane Na Tu ’ and ‘ Kaun Aaya ’. And with Geeta Dutt, ‘ Baalam Se Milan Hoga ’ ( Chaudhvin Ka Chand ).

Imagine sitting with such a legend a day after the Mumbai floods. Ashu told me Ravi was a strict disciplinarian who never exceeded two pegs and ate early. It was pure nostalgia.

I made one mistake: I gathered the courage to sing ‘ Chaudhvin Ka Chand ’. Obviously, he didn’t say ‘ Lajawaab Ho ’, but was polite enough not to stop me midway. What a gentleman!

The author is a freelance music writer

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Printable version | Jul 23, 2021 5:24:40 PM |

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