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Forgotten Composer, Unforgettable Melodies

Tribute to one of the most talented music directors of Bollywood, Arjun Chandnani, popularly known as C. Arjun.

The legendary Music Director C. Arjun who was born in Karachi on September 01, 1933 and passed away on April 30, 1992 at the age of 59 years. 

Sindh Courier

One of the most talented music directors of Bollywood, Arjun Chandnani, popularly known as C. Arjun, was born on September 1, 1933 in Karachi. After partition his family settled in Baroda. He inherited his musical talent from his father Parmanand Chandnani who was a singer. He started his career with composing for a Sindhi film Abana (اباڻا). He also composed music for a number of other Sindhi Indian films including انصاف ڪٿي آهي، جهولي لال، سنڌوءَ جي ڪناري، لاڏلي، شل ڌيئر نه ڄمن، هو جمالو ۽ هل ته ڀڄي هلون.

C ArjunHis first Hindi film was Road No. 303 (1960). He is most remembered for his songs in Hindi films like Punar Milan, Jai Santoshi Maa and Kanoon Aur Mujrim. Some of his notable films include “Road No. 303” (1960), “Main Aur Mera Bhai” (1961), “Ek Saal Pehle” (1965), “Sushila” (1966), “Guru Aur Chela” (1973), “Love in Kashmir” (1976), “Karva Chauth” (1980), ‘Kanoon Aur Mujrim’ (1981) and “Sati Naag Kanya” (1983).

C. Arjun started his career by assisting to another Sindhi music director Bulo C. Rani. He was recognized for his songs in the film ‘Jai Santoshi Maa’ (1975). ‘Jai Santoshi Maa’ was released in the year of the mighty ‘Sholay’ and ‘Deewar’, established itself as one of the highest grossing films ever on the strength of his music. One of his most memorable songs was “Paas Baitho Tabiyat Bahal Jayegi, Maut Bhi Agayee To Tal Jayegi’ from the movie ‘Punar Milan’ (1964). The song featured the actor, Jagdeep, who was the lead in this film and was made a timeless classic by the legendary music composer C. Arjun.

C. Arjun inherited his musical talent from his father Parmanand Chandnani who was a singer. He started his career with composing for a Sindhi film Abana.

Any mention of C Arjun has to start with this song. It is among Rafi’s all-time greats. Decades back, once, in an interview in radio program ‘Binaca Geetmala’ hosted by Ameen Sayani, late C Arjun told the story behind as to how this song was written by Indivar and how it was tuned.

C Arjun-3C. Arjun said ….”One day we (both me and Indivar) were travelling in a bus while returning home in the evening, from the recording studio. Both of us were sitting on the same seat and the bus was packed full with passengers. After 2 or 3 stations Indivar saw that a young and very beautiful girl boarded the bus and she came near our seat standing in the middle amongst other standing passengers. Indivar was looking at her time and again. After 4 or 5 minutes, Indivar asked me to leave my seat and offer it to the pretty girl standing beside us.

After a bit hesitation I agreed and gave my seat to her. To my surprise, Indivar didn’t talk to her even once while she was sitting beside him for about 20 -25 minutes before she disembarked the bus at one of the stops in our way. When I asked Indivar why he didn’t talk to her? He replied only when we reached home. On reaching home Indivar said, “My dear Arjun thank you so much for offering your seat to her and letting her sit beside me and I have imagined and thought of some lines while she was standing and then sitting beside me”.

Indivar there and then spoke those lines to me and they were “PAAS BAITHO TABIYAT BAHAL JAYEGI….MAUT BHI AA GAYI HO TO TAL JAYEGI”. And then Indivar wrote this whole song there and then in about one hour and asked me to compose its tune the same night. We sat together after our dinner and composed its tune before we went to our beds late night. Indivar stayed with me that night and left for his home next day morning….”

That was the example of the spirit, the circumstances, the inspiration and the passion behind most of the songs created and tuned during that golden era of Hindi film music.

Incredibly this song is pictured on Jagdeep who was in the lead role opposite Ameeta, who had a brief period of glory with some super hit films in the late 50s and early 60s such as Tum Sa Nahi Dekha and Goonj Uthi Shehnai.

C-Arjun2
C. Arjun (2nd from right) with some singers.

“Paas baitho tabiyat bahal jayegi was not a flash in the pan. His other famous composition was ‘Chaah karni thi chaah kar baithe’ by Asha Bhosle and Mubarak Begum from Punarmilan, lyrics Raja Mehdi Ali Khan. Punarmilan had several outstanding songs. C Arjun showed his prowess for composing ghazal in this beautiful poetry of Raja Mehdi Ali Khan. Asha Bhosle and Mubarak Begum had rendered it equally beautifully, so Shashikala and Ameeta acted it on the screen.

Third famous composition was ‘In pyar ki rahon mein tera hi sahara hai’ sung by Rafi and Asha Bhosle from Punarmilan, lyrics Gulshan Bawra. Punarmilan had three lyricists. This one is a duet by Rafi and Asha penned by Gulshan Bawra. This duet would compare with the best Rafi – Asha Bhosle duets by OP Nayyar. Jagdeep and Ameeta do the dancing around trees like any mainstream stars.

“Bhai re bhai, main to bawri bhai” by Manna Dey and Lata Mangeshkar from Punarmilan, lyrics Gulhan Bawra, was a totally different flavor. A beautiful Krishna – Radha dance song was performed on stage by Jagdeep – Ameeta.

“Gham ki andheri raat mein’ by Rafi and Talat Mahmood from Susheela (1966), lyrics Jaan Nisar Akhtar, must be one of the best male duets of two legends Rafi and Talat Mahmood. The beautiful poetry is again by Jaan Nisar Akhtar who seemed to have a very creative pairing with Jaan Nisar Akhtar. This song bears an uncanny similarity to Sahir Ludhiyanvi – Khayyam composition ‘Wo subah kabhi to ayegi’ from Phir Subah Hogi.

“Bemurravat bewafa begana-e-dil aap hain” by Mubarak Begum from Susheela is also an unforgettable song. “Main abhi gair hun mujhko abhi apna na kaho” by Mukesh and Asha Bhosle from Main Aur Mera Bhai (1961), lyrics Jaan Nisar Akhtar, is one of some heavenly duets.

“Peenwale meri ankhon se piya karte hain” sung by Asha Bhosle from Mangu Dada (1970), lyrics Jaan Nisar Akhtar, displayed amazing variety in whatever limited assignment C. Arjun got.

“Jitni haseen ho tum utni hi bewafa ho” by Rafi from Mangu Dada, lyrics by Jaan Nisaar Akhtar is an amazing Rafi solo.

C Arjun 5The pinnacle of C Arjun’s work was Jai Santoshi Ma, a low budget film which came in the year of Sholay and Deewar and soon became a surprise super-duper hit ranking among all-time highest grossers, obviously riding on the wave of his amazingly lilting compositions. Those were the days of radios at paan-shop and loudspeakers at every neighborhood corner, blaring songs incessantly. You could not spend half an hour without listening to one or the other song of Jai Santoshi Ma. Though the music he had created for films are melodious and memorable, he never had the fortune to work under big banners.

The legendary music composer C. Arjun passed away on April 30, 1992 at the age of 59 years.

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Courtesy: Mr. Prakash Khilnani from USA and website ‘Songs of Yore’

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