Ravindra Jain’s Luminous Collaboration With Lataji
Ravindra Jain was a rare composer who wrote his own lyrics. So he knew exactly what he wanted the tune to sing to the words. That explains the precise compositional vocabulary of Tu jo mere sur mein sur milade(Chit Chor), Jab deep jale aana(Chit Chor), Ankhiyon ke jharonkon se(title song), Fakira chal chala chal(Fakira), Ley to aaye ho humein sapnon ki gaon mein(Dulhan Wohi Jo Piya Man Bhaye), Megha oh ri megha(Sunayana), Sajan mere main sajan ki(title song),Kya likhun kaise likhun(Maan Abhimaan).
All these were sung by RJ’s muse Hemlata, a self-confessed Latabhakt with serious vocal limitations.Think of what these monumental compositions would have sounded like if the Goddess Of Melodious Things had sung them!The ‘Hem’ factor came in the way of RJ’s compostions , and this factor stopped them short of achieving the glory they were meant for.
But whenever the dulcet composer collaborated with Lataji there was magic in the ‘ear’. At the beginning of his career RJ composed one of his finest melodies : Tera mera saath rahe for Lataji,filmed on the great Nutan. Saudagar also featured Lataji’s Phool bano which did not get the attention it deserved.
In Chor Machaye Shor, RJ’s next big project after Saudagar, Lataji sang the hit Ek daal par tota bole with Mohd Rafi; this duet was eclipsed by Kishore-Asha Bhosle’s Le jayenge dilwale dulhaniya le jayenge. The mukhda later served as the title of Aditya Chopra’s film.
RJ’s next major collaboration with Lataji was in Fakira in 1975 where again Jain did a tota-maina duet with Lataji(Tota main ki kahani) because it had worked in the same producer’s Chor Machaye Shor. But the stand-out track in Fakira was Lataji’s Dil mein tujhe bithake kar lungi main bandd aankhen. The love ballad which was sung by Shabana Azmi to Shashi Kapoor went on to become a popular evergreen Bhajan!
In 1978’s flop Mithun-Rameshwari starrer Mera Rakshak Jain got Lataji to sing two duets Tere hothon ke pyale and sabko chutti mili with his favourite male voice Yesudas. She also sang a sweet solo Behti hui dhara for this film produced by South’s leading producers Devar Films who considered Lataji their lucky mascot.
Thereafter for almost a decade RJ did not team up with the Nightingale, preferring his Lata prefixed with ‘Hem’ rather than the original. In 1985 Raj Kapoor finally reunited RJ and Lataji for a full album . And what soundtrack it was! Every song in Ram Teri Ganga Maili was a chartbuster. Lataji’s Ek dukhiyaree kahe baat yeh rote rote, Sun sahiba sun and Ek radha ek meera went a long way into making the film a blockbuster.
So pleased was Raj Saab with the music in Ram Teri… that for Henna in 1991 he again called RJ . This time the results,in my opinion were even better. Lataji sang Main hoon khush rang henna,Der na ho jaye and Anaar dana with a vigour challenging her age.She was 62 when she sang one of the most monumental melodies of her career Chitthiye truly the crooning glory of RJ’s career, in Henna.
Such was the overpowering impact of Lataji’s Heena’s songs that the two spirited solos Jind meriye and Chali jayegi pardes that she sang for RJ in Sunil Dutt’s anti-dowry film Yeh Aag Kab Bujhegi during the same year , were eclipsed.
My favourite composition by Ravindra Jain for Lataji is a song from an unreleased film: Jo dard diya tumne geeton mein piro lenge/Aankhen bhi na chalkengi jee bhar ke bhi ro lenge. It was the first song that Jain recorded with the Nightingale, and according to me , the best song of his career. Lataji counted it among her own favourites.
Jain collaborated with the Nightingale for the last time in Sawan Kumar’s Prem Daan in 1992 where she sang two lovely solos Piya Main to khil gayi re tose milke and Panchiyon ke shor se. Listening to these two rarities now as I write this, I wonder how far the RJ-LM collaboration would have gone had it been given a chance to grow unhampered.