Marathi Songs by Hindi Film Composers

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Almost right from the inception, Bombay (now Mumbai) came up as the home base of Hindi cinema, which thrived there phenomenally, so much so that Bombay and Hindi cinema became inseparable from each other. While Hindi cinema was prospering in Mumbai, its close sibling – Marathi cinema – also started taking baby steps and grew up in Kolhapur as well as in and around Mumbai. The interchange of ideas and artists was therefore an obvious and inevitable consequence. While quite a few Marathi artists got a chance to deploy their talent and rose to fame in Hindi films, many artists from Hindi cinema also couldn’t resist the temptation of trying their hands (rather arts) in Marathi films. Besides a good deal of actors and singers who have appeared in Marathi films, many composers have also composed Marathi songs. Of course, it was one-off appearance in most of the cases, barring very few. Their musical cameos nonetheless added a different tinge to the petrichor of the Marathi soil. Let us have a few glimpses of the Marathi songs by such composers.

1. Snehal Bhatkar – Tuz Saathi Shankara (Chimukla Paahuna – 1967)

Born as Vasudev Bhatkar in a Marathi family in Mumbai, Snehal Bhatkar joined HMV as a harmonium player in 1939. His career as a composer started with Rukmini Swayamvar (1946), for which he composed songs together with Sudheer Phadke under the joint name “Vasudev – Sudheer”. His first independent film was Neel Kamal (1947), which was directed by Kidar Sharma and was also the first film to feature Madhubala and Raj Kapoor in the lead roles. Due to his employment terms with HMV, he composed film songs under the pseudonyms B. Vasudev and Snehal Bhatkar. He became popular by the latter pseudonym, which was suggested by Kidar Sharma based on the name of his daughter Snehalata (Bhatkar). For the ease of reference for the current generation, he was the father of the veteran Marathi actor Ramesh Bhatkar.

He shared a special bond with Kidar Sharma and composed songs for many Hindi films, mainly in the late 1940s and the 1950s. His celebrated films include Chhabili (1960) and Hamari Yaad Aayegi (1961). Though he composed for many Marathi films too, the number of his Hindi films could be a tad more than the Marathi ones. In the later part of his career, he also composed many non-film Marathi songs, primarily belonging to the devotional genre. A semi classical composition based on raag Maaru Bihaag, “Tuh saaathi Shankara” (for you, oh Lord Shiva!) sung by Lata Mangeshkar and written by P. Savlaaraam for the film Chimukla Paahuna (1967) (meaning – a tiny guest) is one of his famous Marathi compositions.

2. C. Ramchandra – Malmali Taarunya Maazhe (Gharkul – 1970)

Famous for pleasant, toe tapping and melodious tunes and the maverick who experimented a lot with western music in Hindi films, the maestro named C. Ramchandra needs no introduction. Albeit a born Maharashtrian, he had a glorious career in Hindi cinema. He composed for Marathi films as well, but his Hindi films outnumber them. Here is a beautiful solo sung by Asha Bhosle for the film Gharkul (1970) (meaning – abode), which was produced by C. Ramchandra himself. The lyrics are written by the eminent Marathi poet and ghazal writer Suresh Bhat.


3. Salil Chowdhury – Preet Phule Maajhi Soneri Soneri (Soonbaai – 1962)

The wizard of music, Salil Chowdhury, composed the soundtrack of only one Marathi film, Soonbaai (1962) (meaning – daughter-in-law). It has this beautiful Lata solo written by the celebrated Marathi poet Shanta Shelke.

The tune was previously used by Salil Chowdhury for the Bangla non-film song “Saat bhai champa jaago re jaago re” (also sung by Lata Mangeshkar), which was in turn based on a Sri Lankan folk song.


4. Vasant Desai – Runanubandhaachya Jithoon Padalya Gaathi (Dev Deenaaghari Dhaavla)

Well known for melodious tunes based on classical and folk music, filled with simplicity and purity, Vasant Desai is regarded as one of the finest composers of the golden era. Though Marathi was his mother tongue, he pursued a notable career in Hindi films. However, he also composed music for a handful Marathi films and a few Marathi plays. His celebrated Marathi films include Amar Bhoopali (1951) and Shyamchi Aai (1953).

Natya Sangeet (dramatic music) is a form of music that is very close to the hearts of Marathi music lovers. It has been the soul of Marathi theatre right from the beginning. Natya Sangeet had come into being long before film music; and Marathi theatre saw the golden era of music with the legends like Baalgandharva, Deenanath Mangeshkar and Keshavrao Bhosle. However, the evolution of the silver screen proved to be a setback for Sangeet Natak (musical dramas), and it went almost extinct. Vasant Desai breathed a new life into the almost lifeless Natya Sangeet. “Runanubandhaachya jithoon padalya gaathi”, sung by the stalwart Pandit Kumar Gandharva and playback singer Vani Jairam, is one of his memorable Marathi compositions. It was composed by Vasant Desai for the play Dev Deenaaghari Dhaavla (meaning – God rushed to help the poor).

5. N. Dutta – Soor Tech Chhedita (Aparaadh – 1969)

The melodious composer N. Dutta (Datta Naik), famous for his songs from Sadhna (1958), Dhool Ka Phool (1959), Dharmaputra (1961) and Gyarah Hazar Ladikyan (1962), composed the soundtrack for a few Marathi films, the most famous being Aparaadh (1969) and Baala, Gaau Kashi Angaai (1977).

Aparaadh has a fantastic romantic solo written by Madhusudan Kalelkar, sung by Mahendra Kapoor and filmed on one of the most handsome heroes of Marathi films, Ramesh Dev.

6. Mohammed Shafi – Swarga Mile Dharanila (Shrimant Mehuna Paahije – 1967)

Mohammed Shafi was a well-known music arranger and sitar player in Hindi films. He started his career as an assistant to the music directors in a few New Theatres films in the 1930s. He also worked as assistant music director with one of the doyens of Hindi film music, Naushad, for 14 years. As an independent composer, he composed music for more than 15 Hindi films and 2 Marathi films, Shriman Balasaheb (1960) and Shrimant Mehuna Paahije (1967). The latter film (meaning – A rich brother-in-law wanted)has a sweet romantic duet sung by Manna Dey and Usha Mangeshkar.

7. Dattaram – Tu Maajhya Swapnaanchi Kalpana (Saavli Premachi – 1980)

Dattaram Wadkar, popularly known by his mononym Dattaram, was another composer in the Maharashtrian brigade in Hindi cinema. He assisted the composer duo Shankar Jaikishan for many years right from their initial days and later composed independently for more than a dozen films. He also assisted Laxmikant Pyarelal in making the music of Bobby (1973). He was a master of rhythm and developed his patent Theka (rhythm) that went on to be popularly known as Dattu Theka (Dattaram was fondly called as Dattu in the film industry). He seems to have composed only for one Marathi film Saavli Premachi (1980) (meaning – shadow of love) by the name “Om Dattaram”. The film has a euphonious semiclassical duet sung by Manna Dey and Usha Mangeshkar:

The film also starred Sunil Gavaskar besides Vikram Gokhale and Madhumati. Here is the song filmed on Sunil Gavaskar.

8. R. D. Burman – Sandhya Wela (Sukhi Sansarachi 12 Sootre – 1995)

The only Marathi soundtrack composed by the maestro R.D. Burman Sukhi Sansarachi 12 Sootre (meaning – 12 formulae for a happy married life) has a few mellisonant songs, sung by Asha Bhosle and Suresh Wadkar. Here is a beautiful romantic duet by both of them:

The tune is based on R.D. Burman’s Bangla song sung by Asha Bhosle – “Sandhya belay tumi aami boshe aachhi dujone”.

9. Ram Laxman – Pahaat Zhaali, Pahaat Zhaali (Durga Aali Ghara – 1996)

Born Vijay Patil, Ram Laxman started his music career with his own orchestra. The famous Marathi actor Dada Konde was impressed with him and offered him to compose songs for his Marathi film Pandu Havaldar (1975). He collaborated with his friend Surendra Hendre for composing the songs. Looking at their excellent rapport, Dada Kondke named them as “Ram Laxman”. However, soon thereafter, Surendra Hendre passed away. As a token of their friendship, Vijay Patil continued to compose using the name “Ram Laxman”.  After the first film, he also started getting Hindi film assignments simultaneously and got noticed with “Deva ho deva Ganapati Deva” from Hum Se Badhkar Kaun (1981). Maine Pyar Kiya (1989) was his first major break in Hindi. He continued to compose the songs in Marathi mainly for Dada Kondke films, many of which remain popular even today. The Marathi film Durga Aali Ghara (1996) (meaning – Durga comes home) has some nice songs sung by Lata Mangeshkar, Usha Mangeshkar, Suresh Wadkar and Sadhana Sargam, amongst others. Here is a glimpse of a pleasant Lata solo describing the arrival of morning on the backdrop of western music.

10. Ilayaraja – Ganjalelya Saavlila (Hello Jai Hind! – 2011)

“Hello Jai Hind!”, the only Marathi soundtrack composed by the celebrated South Indian maestro, also known for his excellent work in a few Hindi films, has a soulful Hariharan solo.

11. A. R. Rahman – Sachin, Sachin (Sachin: A Billion Dreams – 2017)

The trendsetter magician, who brought in a revolution in composing and recording film songs, A.R. Rahman has composed three songs for the documentary “Sachin: A Billion Dreams” based on the life of Sachin Tendulkar, which was simultaneously made in Marathi, Hindi and English.

12. Shankar Ehsaan Loy – Man Mandira (Katyaar Kalzaat Ghusli – 2015)

The trio famous for their melodious and catchy songs in Hindi cinema has composed a few songs for the celebrated Marathi film Katyaar Kalzaat Ghusli (2015) (meaning – A dagger through the heart), which was based on a celebrated Marathi play by the same name. Among the songs composed by the trio, the song “Man mandira” has attained immense popularity across generations of Marathi audience. It has two versions, one sung by Shankar Mahadevan and the other by his son, Shivam Mahadevan.

Some composers like Datta Davjekar, the composer of Lata Mangeshkar’s first ever Hindi playback and Sudheer Phadke are not addressed, as their career thrived primarily in Marathi films, though they did a few Hindi films. Do you know of any other Hindi film composer who has composed Marathi songs?

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