Although grossly neglected by the Filmfare, Jatin Pandit and Lalit Pandit (composing as Jatin-Lalit) remain the most-admired composer duo of the 90s as is reflected in a BBC Asian Network poll for ‘Top 40 Hindi soundtracks of all time’, where compositions by the duo occupy the top three slots.
They had composed the highest-selling Bollywood soundtrack of the year on three occasions in that decade – Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), and Mohabbatein (2000). Their initial claim-to-fame songs, “Bin Tere Sanam” from Yaara Dildara (1991) and “Pehla Nasha” from Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar (1992) continue to have a cult following even more than two decades after the release of the movies. Although Yaara Dildara was their debut Bollywood soundtrack, this was not the beginning of their musical journey.
The brothers were born into a family with an enviable musical lineage and, therefore, had a strong base in classical music. Their father, Pandit Pratap Narayan, was a famous singer, and their uncles, Pandit Motiram and Pandit Jasraj, are stalwarts in classical music. Their elder brother Mandhir Pandit is a singer and composer and their sisters, Sulakshana Pandit and Vijayta Pandit, are trained singers too.
Jatin had initially started his musical journey with Mandhir composing as Mandhir-Jatin but the two films – Vinod Mehra & Sulakshana Pandit-starrer Dil Hi Dil Mein (1982) and Farooq Sheikh & Vijayta Pandit-starrer Wafaa (1990) that they scored music for were a disaster at the box office. Although Dil Hi Dil Mein had the Rafi gems “Bheegi Bheegi Wadi Mein” and “Geet Wafa Ke” and Wafaa had the lovable Kishore song “Yeh To Sach Hai Ke Jeevan Mein”, the abysmal performance of both the movies affected the popularity of the soundtracks and thus, the careers of both brothers, Mandhir and Jatin, who eventually decided to quit as a duo.
Lalit was a music aficionado but did not want to take it up as a profession because he had seen his elder brothers struggle to get a break. But since he loved music (with special affection for R D Burman and Laxmikant Pyarelal compositions), he continued to pursue it passionately and composed tunes as a hobby. Two such compositions in 1986 during a visit to London were so loved by his friends that he eventually decided to record them with the help of Jatin, who wrote the lyrics. This eventually became a part of a private album Rhythmic Love. It was a complete family affair with songs composed by the duo, written by Jatin and sung by the siblings Jatin, Lalit, Sulakshana and Vijayta.
The brothers sold the album to Polygram, who had little faith on the budding composers and did not put much effort in promoting it, which thus failed to find any recognition.
Producer-directors Mirza brothers (of Kasme Vaade and Sitamgar fame) were planning their next venture Yaara Dildara and had stumbled upon the album and had liked the two compositions of Lalit and a few other tracks. They signed the duo for the movie as composers.
With changes to the lyrics by Majrooh Sultanpuri, the tracks composed by Lalit and sung by Jatin from the album Rhythmic Love – “Leja Mera Dil” and “ Tumko Jo Dekha” became the duets “ Bin Tere Sanam” sung by Udit Narayan and Kavita Krishnamurthy and “Tum Hi Ho Meri Manzil” sung by Udit Narayan and Anuradha Paudwal in the Yaara Dildara soundtrack.
Other tracks from the Rhythmic Love album composed by the duo that found a place in the Yaara Dildara soundtrack were “Ghanti Baji To Aisa Laga” (vocals by Sulakshana Pandit) and “Yehi Hai Meri Zindagi” (vocals by Lalit Pandit) which became “Woh Jo Kaha Tha Maine” sung by Udit Narayan and Kavita Krishnamurthy and “Humare Papa Aur Hum” sung by Amit Kumar respectively.
Another song from the Rhythmic Love album that eventually found its way into another popular movie soundtrack of the 90’s, almost 13 years after it was originally composed, was “Dil Kehta Hai” sung by Lalit Pandit. The tune of this track was used by Jatin-Lalit for “Chand Taare” with lyrics by Javed Akhtar and sung by Abhijeet in the movie Yes Boss in 1999.
The success of the music of Yaara Dildara was immediately followed by Mansoor Khan’s Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar in 1992 with Filmfare nomination for “Pehla Nasha”.
Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar announced the arrival of the duo in the big league.
(The writer is a doctor and public health specialist by profession but a passionate music enthusiast with special liking for Bollywood music from 80s and 90s)