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Wednesday 22 January 2020

A Soulful Composer


Erica Jong once said,

Everyone has talent. What’s rare is the courage to follow it to the dark places where it leads.

In the case of Ravindra Jain who was born blind, this line takes on a whole new meaning. A child who began by singing bhajans and reciting poetry at Jain temples, his life changed paths when his parents decided to teach him music.

Ravindra Jain began his career in music from Kolkata; where he taught music in schools and also worked for the radio. It is here that he met well known playback singer Hemlata and Pandit Jasraj. Ravindra Jain went on to give music for several non-film songs, which were sung by Hemlata, but the one song that shot them both to fame and successfully established Hemlata in Hindi film industry was Ankhiyon ke jharokhon se (1978). Eventually Jain moved to Mumbai and worked with the RK Films banner that gave him a break; later he went on to have a long association with Rajshri Productions also.

Over a long career that span from the early 70s and continued well into the 2000s, Ravindra Jain not only gave music to several films but also lent his voice to various projects in both television and films. It is, however, Ramanand Sagar’s television series Ramayan and later Shri Krishna that made his music resonate with an entire nation that remained glued to the television sets during these serials.

Perhaps it was his outer disability that made him understand so well the soul connect that is a large part of Indian devotional and film music. People remember him today for his compositions such as “Gori tera gaon”, “Main hoon khushrang henna”, “Le jayenge dilwale dulhaniya”, “Akhiyon ke jharokhe se”, “Jab deep jale aana” — all of which are still hugely popular even today. The music in all his songs remained simple and established an instant connect with people. Those who worked with him never ceased to be amazed at his genius and have commented again and again on his dedication, sense of lyrics, love for poetry and soul-satisfying compositions.

Ravindra Jain had long associations with both Yesudas (whom he introduced to the Hindi film industry) and Kishore Kumar for whom he composed many tracks. One of the high points of Jain’s career was introducing Yesudas to the Hindi film industry. The song “Gori tera gaon” from Chitchor (1976) was one of his most memorable compositions with Yesudas, and his work in the film went on to win him the title of the best music director in the Filmfare Awards that year. So mesmerised was Jain with Yesudas’s voice that he had said if he ever regained sight, he would first like to see Yesudas!

Another association that brought great results for Jain was his work with Kishore Kumar. Jain worked with Kumar in a song called “Ghungroo ki tarah” from the 1974 film Chor Machaye Shor; this became a huge hit and it also led to another string of hits that both the legends worked in together.

Jain went on to work in many films and had plenty of personal albums, too. Aged 71 when he breathed his last in Mumbai on Friday, there are perhaps few music directors who would have left as much impact on the hearts of people with his clean compositions and beautiful music. For a man who couldn’t see the physical world, he compensated it well enough by looking at the world through the music of the soul.

Maitreyee Chowdhury
Poet and writer based in Bangalore
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