Vanraj Bhatia
Composer Vanraj Bhatia. Image Credit: ANI

Padma Shri winning composer Vanraj Bhatia died on Friday at the age of 93. The veteran musician had reportedly been battling poor health and financial constraints.

According to reports, his health further deteriorated in the last couple of months and he died at his home, Rungta Housing Colony on Napean Sea Road, where he had lived on his own.

The legendary composer won the National Film Award for Best Music for Govind Nihalani’s ‘Tamas’ in 1988 and India’s fourth-highest civilian honour, the Padma Shri, in 2012. He carved his niche with his distinct notes in the 70s and the 80s in the art cinema circuit.

Union Textiles Minister and former actor Smriti Irani tweeted about Bhatia’s demise writing, “Shocked to learn about the passing away of Vanraj Bhatia. Wagle ki Duniya, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, he leaves behind countless memories in his scores. My condolences to his loved ones & fans. Om Shanti.”

Actor and director Farhan Akhtar tweeted: “RIP #VanrajBhatia .. apart from the many other brilliant musical works he created, I vividly remember the theme of ‘Tamas’ that started with a shriek so filled with anguish, it could send a chill up anyone’s spine and break anyone’s heart.”

Filmmaker Hansal Mehta took to social media to mourn the loss. He wrote: "RIP Maestro." 

Musician Ehsaan Noorani of the Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy trio wrote: "Farewell Vanraj Bhatia one of India's finest composers … was glad to have known you worked with you and been part of your music. There will not be another you."

Born on May 31, 1927, in Mumbai, Bhatia studied western classical music at the Royal Academy of Music in London and the Paris Conservatory. He returned to India in 1959 and started working as a Reader in Western musicology at the University of Delhi.

He was also one of the pioneers of spiritual music with albums such as ‘Bhagavad Gita’ and ‘Anant’. He had more than 7000 advertising jingles to his credit. In 1972, Bhatia composed the background music for his first Shyam Benegal film, ‘Ankur’.

His television show compositions included ‘Khandan’, ‘Tamas’, ‘Wagle Ki Duniya’, ‘Naqab’, ‘Lifeline’, and ‘Banegi Apni Baat’, but his most iconic compositions for television was for ‘Bharat Ek Khoj’.