As one rewinds to music nostalgia and melodies of the years gone by, the prominent name of music composer C Ramchandra springs up from as early as the 1940s. Chitalkar Ramchandra, fondly called Anna by music lovers, was born in the year 1918 in Puntamba, a small town in Ahmednagar district in Maharashtra, India. He studied music under Vinayakbua Patwardhan at "Gandharva Mahavidyalaya". He joined the movie industry playing the lead role in Y. V. Rao's movie, "Naganand". He also had some small roles in early movies like "Saeed-e-Havas" and "Atma Tarang".
Debuting as composer with the movie 'Sukhi Jivan' in the year 1942, C Ramchandra's early hits were “Aana meri jaan sunday ke Sunday” (Shehnai, 1947), “Mere piya gaye Rangoon” (Patanga, 1949) and “Gore gore o baanke chore” (Samadhi, 1950). He hit big league with the movie 'Albela' in year 1951.
Anna was a truly versatile composer with expertise in various genres of film music - be it the Ghazal, Romance or Fusion music. An essential feature of many of C Ramchandra’s songs has been the easy blend of Indian and Western styles of music. Besides the subtle use of Indian instruments, the exemplary use of brass instruments like the Clarinet, Trumpet and Saxophone manifest in many of his songs.
He sang some songs in Hindi films (mostly his own compositions) by his last name “Chitalkar”. As a singer, Anna is more remembered for his vintage duets with his favorite female playback singer Lata Mangeshkar. "Kitna haseen hai mausam" (Azaad,1955) and the songs of Albela readily come to mind.
With Geeta Dutt, his association as composer has already been discussed here.
His pairing with her as co-singer was seen on about eight occasions. Interestingly, all were sung when She was still Geeta Roy. The debut was made with the simple yet rhythmic "Chadhati jawani mein jhoolo meri raani" from Shehnai in the year 1947. Don't forget a third co-singer alongside by the name Binapani Mukherjee. Ditto with "Jawani ki rel chali jaayi re" from the same movie; albeit this time along with Lata Mangeshkar as the co-singer. Both of these songs from the Shehnai were filmed on the scenes of a mela (fair) in the film. "Chadhati jawani mein jhoolo meri raani tum prem ka hindolanaa” had relatively bold lyrics for a Hindi film song compared to those times. The other song had actually a life size toy train going around in the fair. Anna gives playback to veteran actor Yakub and Geeta Roy gave playback to the lead heroine Rehana in these songs.
The next year Anna gave another lovely song, yet another trio with himself and Lata Mangeshkar to Geeta. The song is “Tere bina soona soona, man ka mere aanganaa” from the film Khidki (1948). The next year Anna and Geeta sang a Diwali song for the film Roshni. Anna’s assistant Chic Chocolate composed music as a solo composer for the film Naadan (1951) and gave the song “Dilon ke mele ka naam picnic” to Anna and Geeta. Unfortunately the audio of this rare song is not available.
"Tujhse nazar milte hee, dil mein mere aag lagi" from Bach Ke Rehna(1949) certainly warrants multiple listening. The earnest feeling and honest singing leave a lasting impression in this song.
The pair's knock-out punch came in the form of the song "Hum hain tere deewane" from Shabistan (1951). Though one can only hear Anna's voice at the beginning of the song, the song's quivering magic and romance linger, thanks also to a breezy Talat Mahmood performance. The Anna-Geeta swansong "O haseena sambhal ke chal" from Saqi in the year 1952 has a totally different effect. It is a lovely light hearted comic song where the male character (Gop) is asking the dancer (Mohna) to walk carefully otherwise she will have her delicate waist getting twisted! The song shows a unique soft side of Chitalkar-Geeta where one side the lover is showing concern for the beloved who is not interested in him.
Sadly, the Saqi song was their last one together. Yet one can't help wanting for more. The late forties and early fifties could have been the peak time for the Anna-Geeta pairing. It was not to be, though. Was it due to the phenomenon called Lata Mangeshkar ? Did it have anything to do with movie Anarkali? We'll probably never know for sure. But as fans, we are grateful for the songs this duo did give us. After all, these tiny musical drops have contributed to the lasting ocean of vintage Hindi film music. No wonder, the reservoir of songs continues to overflow.