Film composer Ravi dies at 86

Created hits songs for Indian films

Bollywood composer Ravi Shankar Sharma, whose tune “Darshan do Ghanashyam” was used in “Slumdog Millionaire,” died March 7 in a Mumbai, India, hospital where he was admitted after two heart attacks. He was 86.

Ravi, who went by his first name, composed music for more than 70 Hindi films as well as for a number of regional pics. An obscure number in 1957’s “Narsi Bhagat” gained notice when it was used in “Slumdog” as one of the questions that the protag has to answer. Pic wrongly credited 15th century poet Surdas with the song, a fact not lost on many Indians.

Among the many hits that Ravi composed music for were songs in “Chaudhvin ka chand,” “Humraaz,” “Waqt,” “Phool aur pathar” and “Neel kamal.”

The self-taught musician was homeless when he was discovered by composer Hemant Kumar at a train station in Mumbai in 1952. Hired on as an assistant, he went on to compose music for Malayalam and Hindi films and got his big break in 1960 with Guru Dutt’s “Chaudhvin ka chand,” whose breathtaking tunes, including the titular number, helped make the pic a hit.

He gave a new dimension to thrush Asha Bhonsle, known for sensuous tunes, with the philosophical “Tora man darpan” in 1965’s “Kaajal” and boosted the career of singer Mahendra Kapoor.

Ravi was absent from the composing scene for several years beginning in 1972; 1980’s “Nikaah,” with its “Dil ke armaan,” brought him back to Mumbai as “Bombay Ravi.” After 1984’s “Mehndi,” he drifted back to Malayalam films.

Scribe Raju Bharatan, author of “A Journey Down Memory Lane” and other books on Bollywood, said, “That leaves behind only Khayyam of the Grand Old Order,” referring to composers of an era when music ruled Hindi films.

Survivors include a son, Ajay, and daughter-in-law, thesp Varsha Usgaonkar.

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