Religiously rhythmic

Stalwart

“My family background and brief stay at Kolkata attracted me towards devotional music. I really liked to listen to K L Saigal, Pankaj Mullick and S D Burman. Each of them had distinct, individual styles that were inimitable. I secretly desired to become a creative composer though I never expressed this publicly,” Ravindra Jain speaks with a smile, as he sips a cup of black coffee at Peerless Inn Hotel, Kolkata on a winter evening early this year.

When he landed in Mumbai in the ‘70s, the music scene was ruled by highly gifted composers like R D Burman, Kalyanji Anandji and Laxmikant Pyarelal. S D Burman and Madan Mohan were also active. He explains, “I understood I would face tough competition right from the first day I started and imitating anyone would land me in a soup.”

After thinking for a couple of minutes, he carries on, “My first break was with Saudagar, which was a Hindi version of the highly acclaimed Bengali story, Ras, by Narendranath Mitra. The social and rural backdrop of the film allowed me to compose a variety of tunes.

My first recording was with the versatile Kishore Kumar who rendered Har hasin cheez ka sonorously. The grand singer that he was, he listened to me carefully and it was a lifetime’s experience recording with him. It was the same with Manna De who rendered Dur hain kinara for Saudagar.

He reminiscences, “The real challenge in Saudagar for me was to record Sajna hain mujhe with Asha Bhonsle. I combined Bengali folklore with some western melody effects created by violins, cellos and piano accordions. My only advice to Asha Bhonsle was to sound romantic and harmonious without any sensuous effects. She created musical magic with her singing.” 

Salil Chowdhury and R D Burman complimented Ravindra Jain for his compositions of Saudagar and predicted he would go far as a lyricist and composer.  

An interview with Ravindra Jain is incomplete without the mention of his lyrics and compositions for Ankhiyon Ki Jharokon Se and Jai Shakumbhari Maa. A complacent smile fills his face as he answers, “Thank you so much for remembering my creations.

I sang the solo, Jaate huye yeh palken in Ankhiyon Ki Jharokon Se and was initially not confident about my singing abilities. Both Yesudas and Hemlata encouraged me to experiment with my voice and I was fortunate that all the songs in the film, including my rendetion, were gladly accepted by listeners. Jai Shakumbhari Maa remains my truly personal and most satisfactory musical creation as I am a religious-minded human being and devoted to creating music for devotional themes. My musical experiment with Usha Mangeshkar proved to be very successful and the songs are still remembered with respect.”

Did he follow Shanker Jaikishan whilst composing the beats for the song, Sun sahiba sun in Ram Teri Ganga Maili, which was a take off on Oh maine pyar kiya from Jis Desh Mein Ganga Baheti Hain? Ravindra Jain thinks for a while again and answers politely, “Raj Kapoor saab always had a tremendous sense of music. His musical soul was created around Shanker Jaikishan. So, some influence of the maestros came invariably into his mind as he would record with his music director. I did not blatantly follow Shanker Jaikishan in composing Sun sahiba sun. The beats and rhythm may have some influence of the eternal duo.”

Ravindra Jain is very critical of remixes, “I strongly abhor it. Why remix and kill the essence of an original and beautiful tune? When I hear the remixed version of Sajna hain mujhe, I just shut my ears. It is impossible to tolerate such nonsense.” 

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