C Ramchandra – The Gentle Giant
He is one kind of unusual, great artist who used 5-6 identities in his career span. In the composer’s role, he mostly used the name C. Ramachandra, though he also used the names Annasaheb in some movies, Ram Chitalkar in some and Shyamoo in the movie Yeh hai duniya. Further, he often sang and acted in Marathi movies under the name R. N. Chitalkar. For his career as an occasional playback singer he used only his surname Chitalkar. Yes, this Chitalkar sang some renowned and unforgettable duets with Lata Mangeshkar. He was a versatile man, lent music while acting in Marathi and Hindi movies or even played instruments for other composers. Hence he has many identities.
Ramachandra Chitalkar was born on 12 January 1918 in Puntamba, a small town in Ahmednagar district in Maharashtra, India. He studied music under Vinayakbua Patwardhan at “Gandharva Mahavidyalaya” and also under Shankarrao Sapre of Nagpur where he studied music alongside Vasantrao Deshpande. He joined the movie industry playing the lead role in Y. V. Rao’s movie, Naganand. He also had some small roles at Minerva Movietone in the movies Said-e-Havas (1936) and Atma Tarang (1937). He debuted as music director in Tamil movies with Jayakkodi and Vana Mohini. And thus began that incredible musical journey that was to take C Ramchandra to the dizzy heights of the Music of the Indian Cinema. A manufacturer of honeyed musical concoction. A concoction of sheer melody and sweet, simple compositions.
“Shehnai” in 1947 was a turning point in his career. He used the opportunity to showcase his musical genius and used several western instruments yet the songs in the movie were composed in such a manner that it never lost the Indian touch. His juvenile songs may be divided into those with highly westernized male and / or female chorus, duets or quawwalis. The mood of these songs was zany, raucous, irreverent, mischief-laden..joyful . It was ‘let’s have a good time’ music; on the screen the actors of these songs were either the raunchy comedy team of Yakub and Gope (Patanga, etc.) or the funny Bhagwan (Albela, Shin Shinaki Bubla Boo, etc.) who was often Ramchandra’s initial persona on the screen. These songs mirrored the curiosity of the educated, urbanized Indian youth of British India regarding their colonizers. Popular belief has it that Ramchandra introduced rock ‘n’ roll in India before it became a rage in the west. It is noteworthy that although C Ramchandra was most commonly associated with lyricists Rajendra Krishan and Santhoshi. In Anarkali he worked with three lyricists, Krishan,Shailendra, and Hasrat Jaipuri. In his later he employed Noor Lakhnavi (Parchhain), Jan Nissar Akhtar (Yasmin), Pradeep (Nastik),Shakeel Badayuni (Zindagi Aur Maut) and others. The diversity of poetic sources notwithstanding, his style remained intact.
He worked on Marathi, Telugu, Tamil and Bhojpuri films. And briefly he turned producer with New Sai Productions in 1953 and produced Jhanjhar, Lehren, Duniya Gol Hai under his banner. In the late 60s, he composed for successful Marathi films: Dhananjay, Gharkul. He got his autobiography published in the year 1977. His career went haphazard after mid 60s. Unfortunately his success story was cut short by many circumstances. He lost his ground to the newcomers. He died very young at the age of 64. Brilliant artists die or fade away but the masterpieces created by genius people remain eternal. Brilliant artists like C. Ramchandra live on through their music.
Humble tributes to this gentle giant!!