C Ramachandra

I remember coming home from school one hot afternoon in our government flat in Yashodhan, opp the CCI (Criket Club of India) in Bombay (now called Mumbai), to the sound of harmonium music and animated clapping and cheering. This was not really an odd scene for me as my father who was a natural musician (he could play any musical instrument from the bulbul tarang to the sitar) and thanks to him being a Secretary in the Mantralaya (Government of Maharashtra Secretariat) he always had established celebrity artists as well as wanna-be in the limelight people partying in our home.

But what was a little different this time was the fact that this was afternoon; normally such mehfils would begin late evenings and definitely after a round of drinks!

Nobody noticed me, a small plump school girl, with laddoo cheeks, ugly spectacles, drop my bag in the corner of the room and until I had simply climbed on to my father’s lap, in the middle of this mayhem. For once he was not playing the harmonium but the white haired gentleman with an awfully kind face and a lovely warm smile, was making the everyday harmonium sound like a complete orchestra! I was completely fascinated by his overtures.

This particular mehfil started with endless cups of tea, samosas, batata wadas and puris and went on late into the night with my mother and her battery of helpers continuing to serve drinks, dry snacks, mutton cutlets, biryani and kheer!

In those hours I heard all wonderful songs that were  famous evergreen chartbusters – I cite a few examples: “Shola Jo Bhadke, (Albela), Shin Shinaki Boobla Boo, Ina mina dika (Aasha) Yeh Zindagi usiki hai, Mohabbat aise dhadkan hain, Jaag dard-e-ishq jaag" etc.

I didn’t know it then, but it was music composer C. Ramchandra who was holding everybody’s attention. His connection with my father as I gathered later on, went beyond that of a bureaucrat and public.  C. Ramchandran had a very strong Maharashtra connection as he had studied music under Vinayakbua Patwardhan at "Gandharva Mahavidyalaya". Also he was Vasantrao Deshpande’s “gurubandhu” as both had studied music under Shankarrao Sapre of Nagpur, and my father was already a good friend of Vasantrao Deshpande.

These were the songs I grew up with and I really thank my mother who was a complete and a very sincere movie-buff for showing me all the movies that featured them. I remember jumping up and down excitedly in the theatre while watching “Aasha” and Kishore Kumar singing “Ina Mina Deeka” simply because I had known the song much earlier and almost by heart!

Thereafter many a mehfils followed. But I remember this one vividly, especially because I was actually sitting on the great music composer’s lap when my father had to leave the room for a few minutes!

I believe this was “Fool’s Luck” and I am ever so glad for it!