The Covid-19 crisis in India has escalated to new heights and even the high-flying Bollywood is not immune to its spread as it has consumed another of its victims. One of the most iconic music director duo in Bollywood has just lost one half of it as Shravan Kumar Rathod of Nadeem-Shravan fame lost his Covid battle on 22nd April 2021. In his late 60s, Rathod had a rough few days before succumbing to the illness in Mumbai. But what this man leaves behind is a legacy of some of the most iconic music even made in Bollywood! We are pay our tribute and salute this amazing music talent who will dearly be missed forever.
Even though Nadeem-Shravan split up in 2005, they created some amazing music together in the 30 odd years of their career. They ruled the 90s and defined the sound of Bollywood in that era. The best thing about this duo was they created their musical career with relationships. Not just with each other but with their singers, lyricists and even the music label. Lyricist Sameer was their partner in crime and a common name on most of their successful soundtracks. They literally created magic together. Their music established the career of singers including Anuradha Paudwal, Kumar Sanu, Vinod Rathod, Alka Yagnik and Udit Narayan to name a few representing as the voice of their huge hits. They were almost the main artists under the T-Series music label and that set the fortunes of that business. Even amongst controversies in late 90s they kept the music alive to return in 2000s with a bang staying loyal to their unique melodic styles.
Their style of music in 90s was unique and their compositions could be clearly identified as theirs, and that is a true mark of a music composer. They had an ear for the changing Indian music scene and brought in some western instruments into the Bollywood world that created a unique sounding mix which is what really worked for them. They evolved the Bollywood sound from the classical mode or completely western mode into an amalgamation of genres that changed how Bollywood music was perceived at the time. A lot of their success came from the romantic genre and Bollywood ghazal was the chosen treatment that got this most of their success. They wrote some terrific scores that brought classical genre like ghazal into the Bollywood domain with some western instrumentation. This was truly their exclusive signature style that defined that romantic music era. Clearly Shravan was the main essence in the duo’s success as even though Nadeem returned as a solo composer he was missing that spark in his music.
Looking back at their most iconic music run one has the recognise the most successful album of all time that catapulted their careers to become one of the most successful music directors in Bollywood. This was the award-winning soundtrack of ‘Aashiqui’ (1990). With 12 songs on the album and each song a super-hit, that is no mean feat! Every song was a mammoth hit and even 30 years later today rule the hearts and minds of all who witnessed the magic in the 90s. The stunning Nazar Ke Saamne or Bas Ek Sanam Chahiye or Dheere Dheere Se are three of the most gorgeous love songs in the history of Bollywood music. Be it the iconic electric guitar that opens Bas Ek Sanam or the Santoor melodies layered with dholak in Nazar Ke Saamne or simply the more western styling with bongos in Dheere Dheere, the melodies that they created are unforgettable. The sad romantics of Ab Tere Bin, Main Duniya Bhula Doonga, Tuu Meri Zindagi Hai and Dil Ka Aalam were all terrific songs that truly made them the stars in the music domain and made ‘Aashiqui’ the bestselling album of all time.
For those who thought Nadeem-Shravan would be one hit wonders were in for a rude awakening with 10 album releases in 1991 of which four featured blockbuster music. ‘Saajan’ (1991) was at the epitome of the ghazal romantic genre with Bahut Pyar Karte Hain, Jiye To Jiye Kaise and Mera Dil Bhi Kitna Paagal Hai representing this genre and becoming the huge hits that they were. The piano melodies and violin orchestration on this soundtrack were epic along with some truly brilliant lyrics. Add some jhankar beats and we get the song that became one of the most famous songs of Madhuri Dixit, Dekha Hai Pehli Baar was one brilliant song and still one of the most iconic number of the 90s. Tum Se Milne Ki Tamanna Hai, Pehli Baar Mile Hain and Tu Shayar Hai were other hits making this another of their albums packed with one hit after the other.
Tumhein Apna Banane Ki from ‘Sadak’ (1991) was another of their romantic ghazal while Tumse Milne Ko Dil Karta Hai and Dheere Dheere Pyar Ko Badhana Hai from ‘Phool Aur Kaante’ (1991) were more 90s Bollywood in their composition and set the tone for the year ahead. But the album that really was the underdog in that year was ‘Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin’ (1991). It did not get the recognition in the awards considering competition from their own albums but it truly made a mark. The ghazal style worked really well even in this young love movie with songs like Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin, Adayein Bhi Hain, Mainu Ishq Da Lagiya Rog, Tu Pyaar Hai Kisi Aur Ka were such amazing songs of the time and worked like a charm even with the younger demographic that the film targeted then.
1992 was another great year for the duo with the evergreen music of ‘Deewana’ (1992). Aisi Deewangi had such a strong composition that it is one song that difficult to get out of one’s head. The instrumentation was such a perfect mix of classical and western it this song that it became the best song of the year. Sochenge Tumhe Pyar, Teri Umeed Tera Intezaar were other great romantic numbers while Koi Nai Koi Chahiye proved that they can do a good upbeat fun number too.
‘Dil Ka Kya Kasoor’ (1992) and ‘Sapne Sajan Ke’ (1992) were other good soundtracks that year with great songs including Dil Jiger Nazar Kiya Hai and Sapne Sajan Ke respectively.
The following year they had their hands full a whole load movies to their credit including ‘Shreeman Aashique’ (1993), ‘Dil Tera Aashiq’ (1993) and ‘Damini’ (1993) to mention a few. But it was the super fun soundtrack of ‘Hum Hai Rahi Pyar Ke’ (1993) that too the charts by a storm that year. A musical family movie in essence, each song was a hit with tons of variety in the OST. The Bollywood jhankar sound was more pronounced here with iconic numbers like Ghunghat Ki Aaad Se Dilbar Ka, the sad romantic Woh Meri Neend Mera Chain, the fun road song Yunhi Kat Jaayega Safar Saath and the dancy Bambai Se Gayi Poona. This album helped them be known as not just the romantic music gurus of the time.
The next couple years saw them rule with singles like the ghazal romantic Kitna Haseen Chahra from ‘Dilwale’ (1994), modern romantic Humko Sirf Tumse Pyar Hai & Nahin Yeh Ho Nahin Sakta from ‘Barsaat’ (1995) to the fun Amma Dekh Tera Munda from ‘Stuntman’ (1994). But 1995 brought their controversial soundtrack of ‘Raja’ (1995) where their biggest hit Akhiyaan Milaoon Kabhi and Nazrein Mili Dil Dhadka were ridden with plagiarism accusations. Nonetheless, the controversies held making this another of the award winning albums.
They hit another peak in the next two years with two major hits of their career where they reinvented their sound. ‘Raja Hindustani’ (1996) was perhaps the second most successful soundtrack of their career with 8 songs that till date are known just from their memorable melodies. As cheesy as this soundtrack was, it was a defining album that appealed to the masses across India. Pardesi Pardesi was one of the most powerful songs of their career delivered with some terrific vocals that won all the awards that year. Poocho Zara Poocho and Aaye Ho Meri Zindagi Mein were songs on everyone’s tongue ruling the radio airways and made Alka Yagnik a superstar.
From the massy ‘Raja Hindustani’ they went to ‘Pardes’ (1997) doing a more western sound rooted in Indian values. From the super romantic Meri Mehbooba and Do Dil Mil Rahe Hain to the patriotic I Love My India to the upbeat Yeh Dil Deewana, this album had it all. Kumar Sanu to Sonu Nigam all gained new heights to their stardom at the back of this album and this one too gained the mass appeal that they drove on their previous work.
With the murder of Gulshan Kumar in 1997 their career hit a roadblock but Shravan was always in the clear. While Nadeem grappled with accusations of being involved in murder, Shravan continued with his musical work delivering great music on albums like ‘Sirf Tum’ (1999) and ‘Aa Ab Laut Chale’ (1999). Pehli Pehli Baar Mohabbat Ki Hai and Dilbar were chartbusters and till date Dilbar with its remakes is a super-hit composition that rules the dancefloor.
They returned to the top winning all the awards with ‘Dhadkan’ (2000). This was another mammoth OST. Dil Ne Yeh Kaha Hai Dil Se and Tum Dil Ki Dhadkan Mein became legendary love tracks while Dulhe Ka Sehra a popular wedding song of the era. The other successful songs were Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s Dulhe Ka Sehra, Aksar Is Duniya Mein and Na Na Karte Pyaar making this a favourite album with the masses at the turn of the century. This was a great time to hear the old-skool early 90s romantic ghazals that made them the stars of the decade.
Their career over the next 5 years saw a lot more great work with songs including Kitni Bechain Hoke & Dil Mera Tod Diya from ‘Kasoor’ (2001), Dil Lagaane Ki Sazaa from ‘Ek Rishtaa: The Bond of Love’ (2001), Dayya Dayya Dayya Re, Saajan Saajan and title song from ‘Dil Ka Rishta’ (2003), Rabba Ishq Na Hove & Kitna Pagal Dil Hai from ‘Andaaz’ (2003), Woh Ladki Bahut Yaad Aati Hai from ‘Qayamat: City Under Threat’ (2003) were some of the major hits that the duo churned out in their typical rhythmic style.
During these 5 years was their last major hit, and what a fabulous soundtrack at that! ‘Raaz’ (2002) was one impressive album and an international success. Tracks like Aapke Pyaar Mein, Jo Bhi Kasmein Khayi Thi, Yahaan Pe Sab Shanti Shanti Hai and Main Agar Saamne became a rage soon after the release and were observed being played in almost all wedding and celebrations. The arrangement and melodies of these songs were just brilliant and ruled all the charts and awards, and truly well-deserved at that!
Shravan Kumar Rathod was instrumental in forging the amazing partnership that the duo had with Sameer that lead to the success that they had delivering music with a message and feelings. His music had the power to capture and hook listeners like not many composers seen in recent times. It is not easy to consistently produce great music and rule the charts for 15 years continuously and they did that. His rhythmic style and melodic compositions had a flair that made him the king of romantic Bollywood of the 90s and he will never be forgotten as his music lives on…
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.