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Monday, June 01, 2020

Durlabhdas Odhavji Bhansali (1925-2020): A prolific sound engineer

Durlabhdas Odhavji Bhansali, popularly called 'Baba' in the industry and 'Bhai' at home, worked with composers like O P Nayar, Shankar Jaikishan, Madan Mohan, Kalyanji Anandji and Laxmikant-Pyarelal.

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad | Updated: May 6, 2020 8:50:30 pm
Durlabhdas Odhavji Bhansali dead Durlabhdas Odhavji Bhansali (2nd from left) with the late Raj Kapoor.

Durlabhdas Odhavji Bhansali always talked about how huge temple bells were brought inside the studio to record the Satyam Shivam Sundaram title track in 1978. He would recall it in every interview, says Bhansali’s daughter Helen, who never left her father till the end came, on Monday, at the age of 95.

Bhansali, mourned by greats like Lata Mangeshkar who took to Twitter to pay homage, died in his hometown Jamnagar, where he had moved from Mumbai some six years ago. One of Bollywood’s veteran sound engineers at Mumbai’s Famous Studio, he was among the last who would place the music directly on celluloid. His repertoire including gems like “Gaye jaa geet milan ke” of Mela in 1948, to “Sun Saiba Sun” from Raj Kapoor’s Ram Teri Ganga Maili, which was also among the last songs he recorded. In fact, most of RK Studio’s film music would be recorded by Bhansali, says Helen.

He was also among the few, from his time, who made music by weaving in sounds from five microphones using single track analog recording.

Top production houses then, such as Raj Kapoor’s R.K. Films, Guru Dutt Films, Dev Anand’s Navketan and the Barjatyas’s Rajshri Production, did bulk of their recording at the Famous Studio. Durlabhdas Odhavji Bhansali, popularly called ‘Baba’ in the industry and ‘Bhai’ at home, worked with composers like O P Nayar, Shankar Jaikishan, Madan Mohan, Kalyanji Anandji and Laxmikant-Pyarelal.

Bhansali would have been a pilot or a naval officer but for his father who was a booking clerk at a cinema hall. He was only delighted when his son chose films instead. He joined the industry in the 1940s, and joined Famous studio as an assistant to the late Minoo Katrak. He remained with the studio till 1994 when it stopped recording. “He continued to stay in touch with his field by freelancing and would mostly work for the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA) in Mumbai”, says Helen. She recalls their family being close to the Kapoors and going to Bollywood parties when they lived in Mumbai. In 2017, Bhansali was awarded Life Time Achievement Award for excellence in Recording Art by the Indian Recording Arts Awards (IRAA).

Durlabhdas Odhavji Bhansali is survived by his two daughters and a son, who lives in the US.

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