Composer Raamlaxman, who passed into the ages on Saturday, May 22, was best known for his stupendous chartbusters in Sooraj Barjatya's Maine Pyar Kiya, Hum Aapke Hain Koun and Hum... Saath Saath Hain.
Vijay Patil -- for that was his name -- started his musical partnership with Surendra. They called themselves Raamlaxman and composed music for Dada Kondke's Pandu Havaldar.
But before they could see any real success Surendra (or Raam as he was called professionally) passed away.
Vijay Patil (Laxman) preferred to continue his career as Raamlaxman and found some success in Rajshri Films' Agent Vinod (Loveleena aa gaya main, Sabse nirala rangeela diwala, Band kamre mein ek ladki akeli) and Tarana (Sultana sultana, Kaisi yeh judai).
But it was only when Sooraj Barjatya, the Rajshri scion, decided to turn director with Maine Pyar Kiya in 1989 that Raamlaxman came into his own.
Every song from Aaja sham hone aye to Kabootar ja ja to Aaya mausam dosti ka was a chartbuster.
The biggest and best number in Maine Pyar Kiya, Dil deewana was a tune Raamlaxman had composed for Agent Vinod.
Sooraj heard it and saved it up for his directorial debut.
After Maine Pyar Kiya, Salman Khan wanted and got Raamlaxman to do the music for his post-debut film Patthar Ke Phool where Lata Mangeshkar and S P Balsubramaniam again sang Kabhi tu chhalia lagta hai, Tumse jo dekhti hi pyar ho gaya and Deewana dil bin sajna ke mane na into the charts.
Five years after Maine Pyar Kiya when Sooraj Barjatya returned to direction with Hum Aapke Hain Koun he teamed up with Raamlaxman again for a full-on musical with 14 songs each a chartbuster. Didi tere devar, Maaye nee mayee, Joote de do paise le lo were iconic chartbusters.
The next Barjatya-Raamlaxman collaboration in Hum Saath Saath Hai was not as magical. But then a Maine Pyar Kiya or a Hum Aapke Hain Koun happens once in a lifetime.
With Raamlaxman it happened twice. He went on to give hit songs in Humse Badkar Kaun, Sun Sajna, 100 Days, and Manmohan Desai's Anmol.
But it was the collaboration with Sooraj Barjatya that remained Raamlaxman's signature tune.
In 1997 Raamlaxman composed the songs for a lavish adaptation of the Ramayan called Lav Kush. It featured a staggering 16 songs, 5 of them duets by Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle.
The film directed by V Madhusudhan Rao featuring Jeetendra and Jaya Prada as Ram and Sita would have been a game changer for Bollywood musicals had it worked.
Says music composer Lalit Pandit, "Raamlaxmanji's work, specially the work with Rajshri and the songs with Lata didi, were outstanding.
"I last met him at the Radio Mirchi music awards where we had felicitated him with a lifetime achievement award. Even at that time, a few years back he wasn't well.
"What Raamlaxmanji did with Sooraj Barjatyaji in Maine Pyar Kiya and Hum Aapke Hain Koun was beyond a miracle," says Sanjay Leela Bhansali.
"These two films lifted the traditional musical of Indian cinema to unheard-of heights.
"Lataji was about to retire when Maine Pyar Kiya started another innings in her career.
"There were 14 songs in Hum Aapke Hain Koun, all written into the screenplay like a roadway musical, so beautifully composed and sung by Lataji and S P Balasubramaniamji.
"I don't think we've produced a bigger musical hit than Hum Aapke Hain Koun."
Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com