Pandit Ravi Shankar : As Film Music Director

English: Master of Sitar, Ravi Shankar. Deutsc...

Master of Sitar, Ravi Shankar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           DECEMBER 13 , 2012           11.59 P.M.

Pandit Ravi Shankar , a Sitar maestro par excellence , an unofficial ambassador of Indian classical music , the first India Rock Star in true sense of the term , died yesterday on December 11 , 2012 in San Diego , California , U. S. A.

Apart from classical music , he had given music for some feature films also .

Hindi Films of Pandit Ravi Shankar As Music Director


1 – Neecha Nagar [ 1946 ]

This Chetan Anand directed film was his debut film as well as debut film of Pandit Ravi Shankar also . It starred Kamini Kaushal , Uma Anand and Zohra Sehgal . It was written by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas .

2 – Dharti Ke Lal [ 1946 ]

This Khwaja Ahmad Abbas directed film was his debut film and the second film of Pandit Ravi Shankar . It starred Balraj Sahni , Tripti Mitra , K. N. Singh , Zohra Sehgal , David and Sombhu Mitra . It was written by Kishan Chander .

3 – Anuradha [ 1960 ]

This film was produced and directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee . This film had lyrics by Shailendra and several gems sung by Lata Mangeshkar . It starred Balraj Sahni and Leela Naidu .

4 – Godan [ 1963 ]

This Trilok Jetley directed film was based on Munshi Premchand’s immortal novel of the same name . It had some immortal melodies . It starred Raj Kumar , Kamini Kaushal , Mehmood and Shashikala .

5 – Meera [ 1979 ]

This Gulzar directed film had several Meera Bhajans tuned by Pandit ji . It starred Hema Malini and Vinod Khanna .

Bengali Films of Pandit Ravi Shankar As Music Director


1 – Pather Panchali [ 1955 ]

This Satyajit Ray directed film was his debut film . It is the first part of Apu Trilogy .

2 – Aparajito [ 1956 ]

This Satyajit Ray directed film was the second part of Apu Trilogy .

3 – Kabuliwala [ 1957 ]

This is the Bengali film based on Rabindra Nath Tagore’s story .

4 – Paras Pather [ 1958 ]

A social satire directed by Satyajit Ray .

5 – Apur Sansar [ 1959 ]

Third and final part of Apu Trilogy .

6 – Genesis [ 1986 ]

This Mrinal Sen directed film starred Shabana Azmi , Naseeruddin Shah & Om Puri was the last film of Pandit Ravi Shankar as music director .

English Films of Pandit Ravi Shankar As Music Director


1 – Gandhi [ 1982 ]

This Richard Attenborough film had Ben Kingsley in the title role as Gandhi .

I made this list for the connoisseurs of film music and for the benefit of the acting students of my acting class Vidur’s Kreating Charakters .




Farewell Uncle Pai !


It was with deep shock that I read about the death of Mr. Anant Pai aka Uncle Pai , few days back. He died on February 14, 2011 in a Mumbai hospital.  He was admitted there for the operation of his fractured leg but shortly before he was to undergo surgery, he suffered a fatal heart attack and died. He was 82-year-old at the time of his death.

He was the founder of India‘s most famous comic series ” Amar Chitra Katha “. Later on he also started a magazine for children ” Tinkle “. In mid-60s, when he was working with The Times of India, he was watching a television quiz and to his utter dismay and shock saw a child, who knew so many things about Greek history but didn’t know the name of the mother of Bhagwan Ram. Mr. Anant Pai decided to do something.

Amar Chitra Katha

Image via Wikipedia - Logo Amar Chitra Katha

In 1967 he conceptualized and along with some of his loyal illustrators , started publication of Amar Chitra Katha. First of the series was about Bhagwan Krishna. Initially all the books of Amar Chitra Katha series were published by India Book House. This world-famous series went on to sell 100 million copies of 440 titles in 20 Indian languages.

Later on in 1984 Uncle Pai launched ” Tinkle “. This magazine had so many comic characters of its own like ; Suppandi, Shikari Shambhu , Kalia the Crow and Tantri the Mantri. Suppandi and Kalia the Crow were my favourites. I was so impressed by the character of Suppandi , the lovable goof, that I coined a new word also. It was Patandi. A verb for the actions of Suppandi. Whatever Suppandi did was Patandi for me. I used it frequently whenever my siblings were up to some pranks. I still sometimes use it for the asinine acts of my kids.


Image via Wikipedia - Suppandi

I must admit here that Amar Chitra Katha had a lasting impression on me during my formative years. For history and mythology, apart from history books, Amar Chitra Katha , was the only authentic informative source that we had. In those pre-google days Uncle Pai became an encyclopedia for the kids.

He was basically a Kannadiga and got educated in Mumbai. He used to work in the book division of Times of India. The paper used to bring Indrajal Comics at that time. Famous characters of Indrajal Comics were Phantom and Mandrake the Magician. I was avid follower of both these comic series.

I am fortunate that I had privilege of meeting uncle Pai several time. Years ago in 1998 Star Plus was making a TV series on Amar Chitra Katha. Mr. Rohit Kaushik was assigned to direct ” SHAKUNTALA “ and Mr. Gaurab Pandey was assigned to direct ” RABINDRA NATH TAGORE “. I was writing scripts for both the series. I used to go to uncle Pai’s apartment in Shivalik building at Prabhadevi for consultations. He used to live with his wife Lalitha. Because of my knowledge of Sanskrit and Indian scriptures, he became very fond of me and in fact gifted me a novel written by him. Name of the novel is ” BEECH KI KADI “ , which he wrote under pseudonym of Parth. This novel is not available in the market and I am the proud owner of it, with his signature and small note. He used to come to the ESSEL studio , where we were shooting ” SHAKUNTALA ” . I spent many memorable evenings talking to him about his life, his work and his vision. I am happy that I wrote script for his ” SHAKUNTALA ” , and ” RABINDRA NATH TAGORE ” , which he liked and praised. His faith in me was so unflinching that when something went wrong with  ” SHAKUNTALA ” , he said, ” how did this happen when vidur was there? ”

It is sad and pathetic that he was not honoured by Indian government for his herculean contribution. In spite of being a pioneer, he was not honoured by the governments of all hue and colours. Towards the end of his illustrious career, he was conferred the Lifetime Achievement Award at a comic book conclave in New Delhi. Even after his death, clamour to confer the Padma Award fell to deaf ears.

Uncle Pai in His Office

It is sad, very sad. But people of two generations will always remember their uncle Pai with fondness and love.

Farewell uncle Pai ! You and your Amar Chitra Katha series are always AMAR [ immortal ]. This KATHA [ story ] will never end.

I consider myself extremely fortunate that I could meet you several times and could interact with a person of your caliber.



150 Years of Tagore

On May 09, 2010 as the world started celebrating 150 birth anniversary of Rabindra Nath Tagore, I started thinking about the Nobel prize winning author, who,among the writers, has influenced me most. Throughout the day, while unpacking my bags after my return from Dabra, a small town near Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, I kept on thinking about Rabindra Nath Tagore, his works and his legacy. Death is a very important and prominent feature in Tagore’s writings and death is the most intriguing part of my psyche. My feelings were compounded that day, as I was returning from the shraddha of my wife’s bhabhi.

I was introduced to the writings of Tagore in between 1965/1967. Rajpal & Sons, a very prominent and influential publishing house started a programme called Gharelu Library Yojana ( Domestic Library Scheme ). In this scheme they were publishing cheaper version of classics under the name of Hind Pocket Books. Abridged versions were priced Rs. 1.00 and un-abridged version were priced Rs. 2.00. This price tag seems impossible and implausible today. But it was a thriving scheme of its time. They published all the classics of Bengali literature and I became a member of this scheme. Kumudini ” ( “Yogayog” in Bengali ) is the first novel of Tagore which I read. It is my favourite till today. After this I read “ Geetanjali ”. On my first reading I couldn’t understand it fully. Then I read un-abridged version of his novel “ Gora ”. Again I was unable to understand it in totality. After this I started reading English translation of his short stories, named “ Hungry Stones & Other Stories”. To my astonishment, again I couldn’t understand a word of what he has written, but I couldn’t forget him also. It is paradoxical, but it is true. I was unable to solve this conundrum.

In 1969, when I started learning Bengali, I started pursuing Tagore religiously. One fine morning, while hearing Rabindra Sangeet, I was mesmerised. I started buying cassettes of Rabindra Sangeet and started listening it 24×7. After this when I re-read Geetanjali “, I was in trance. It was a devotee’s prayers and wish lists addressed to the God. The poems haunted me then and they still haunt and enchant me. Motivated by  Geetanjali “, I then started reading and re-reading all the novels, short stories and poems of Tagore. Among his novels, ” Kumudini ” ( Yogayog ) ,  ” Aankh Ki Kirkiri ” ( Chokher Bali), ” Nauka Dubi ” and Nashta Need “ are my favourites.

It is astonishing that Tagore wrote novels, short stories, plays and thousands of songs. He himself set tunes to his songs. It is called Rabindra Sangeet. He painted and is considered today as the father of modern Indian painting. He was the founder of a university  called Shantiniketan. It is amazing that he dabbled in so many fields, and that too so  successfully.

On his 150th birth anniversary I pay tribute to the only poet of India who won Nobel prize for literature.



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