The painful partition of India in 1947 saw the largest exodus mankind has ever seen. Thousands of people left their homes and dragged their heavy hearts to come over to India. One such person was Eric Roberts or Vinod, a Christian by faith.
He moved from Lahore to Amritsar and then to the film city of Bombay. He had obtained lessons in composing film music from Late Pandit Amar Nath, had studied to the music of Master Inayat Hussain and learnt as to how Ghulam Haider was composing the preludes and interludes for his tunes. As a child Vinod was fascinated by the band music played during weddings.
By 1944, most of the Lahore-based music director’s like Hans Raj Behl, Ghulam Haider, Pandit Husna Lal Bhagat Ram had shifted to Bombay. Pandit Amar Nath and Pandit Gobind Ram were the only ones left in Lahore. After Pandit Amar Nath’s death in 1945, Vinod was asked to compose music for his mentor’s films Khamosh Nigahein, Paraye Bas Main and Kamini. However, none of the films did well at the box office.
In 1946, he started composing music for a number of films; including three Hindi films and a Punjabi film Chaman in which Vinod gave Lata Mangeshkar three songs to sing. All three numbers became landmark songs.While the film did not do well, the music of the film did a decent business.In “Chaman” Pushpa Hans sang a soulful song “Saari raat tera takni haan raah, haye tarian ton puchh chann wey”. Even Shamshad Begum sang some very nice songs for this film, but the climax was the two songs sung by Lata Mangeshkar.
The film “Lachhi” – another big hit was shot in 1949. Its music was composed by the Late Master Hans Raj Behl. Its landmark song is “Naale lammi te naale kaali, haye weh channan, raat judaiyan waali” sung by Lata Mangeshkar. Other songs sung by Lata include “Do milde haaye dilan noon, bedard zamana door kare, haaye vichhran te majboor kare” and “Haarha veh channan, yaad saannoon teri awe”. Lata mangeshkar and Mohammad Rafi had sung some very memorable Hindi songs for music director Shyam Sunder in film “Bazaar”, but the film “Lachhi”duet (Lata & Rafi) with lyrics “Kaali Kanghi naal kale waal payi vaahunia, aa mil dhol jaania” is no less than the “Bazaar” masterpieces.
Then came the break in which Vinod gave a super hit lata number to the vast hindi film audience. This was the hindi film Ek Thi Ladki (1949) starring the delightful Lahori Punjabi girl Meena Shorey, opposite a classy Motilal. The film was a success and its song Lara lappa lara lappa layi rakhda, addi tappa addi tappa layi rakhda sung by Lata Mangeshkar became a hit.The number was based on a folk tune of song “Jutti meri jandi e pahariye de naal, paula mera janda e musafire de naal”.
Following this, he composed music for another Punjabi film Bhaiya Jee in 1950. Lata sang several memorable songs for this film of which Ajj mera mahi nall tutt gaya pyar ve akhiyan na maar ve became a landmark.Also “Jhil mil tariya jah Akhiyan na maar veh, ajj saada mahi naal tutt gaya pyar veh” was very brilliantly sung by Lata Mangeshkar. Lata’s first three years in Punjabi films were outstanding. Lata reluctantly sang for another good musical Punjabi film “Vanjara” in 1953-54.
Lata Mangeshkar gave her best to Punjabi films in “Chaman” (1948), “Lachhi” (1949), “Bhaiyaji” (1950), “Madari” (1950) “Phumman” (1950) and “Vanjara” (1954). She gave us two dozen precious gems.Vinod composed music for only five Punjabi films — Chaman (1948), Bhaiya Jee (1950), Mitiar (1950), Ashtalli(1954) and Nikki(1958).
Vinod had no Godfather like Shanker and Jaikishan had in producer-actor Raj Kapoor and Naushad had in producer Mehboob Khan. Shanker Jaikishan, who started music direction with Raj Kapoor – Nargis starrer film “Barsaat” (1949), attempted to give Punjabi style music. Initially they composed a music which was similar to that of Pandit Husnalal Bhagatram, but by the time they composed music for Dilip Kumar – Nimmi starrer film “Daag” (1952), they had a new model before them and it was Vinod’s film “Bhayiaji” song “Jhil mil taariya jah akhiyan na maar veh”. This pattern they used for the Lata superhit song “Kahe ko der lagayi re, aye na ab tak baalma
Roop K. Shori, for whose films Vinod composed many songs, did not belong to the big league.When Shori a film producer in Lahore moved to Bombay, he took his entire team with him which included music director Vinod and lyricist Aziz Kashmiri. Among some of Vinod’s best-known creations were the musical compositions of Anmol Rattan (1950), Wafaa(1950), Sabaz Bagh(1951), Aag ka Dariya(1953), Laadla(1954) and Makhi Choos(1956). Vinod gave Talat Mahmood one of his first classic renditions in “Jab kisi ke rukh pe zulfen aake takraane lagi” in ‘Anmol Ratan’ (1950).
Vinod worked for a little while as a music director in Filmistan Studios too.Although Vinod did one or two successful films a year from 1948 to 1957, but this was not enough to ensure a decent living in a city like Bombay. Vinod, in spite of being thoroughly professional, was never financially well off .Vinod died penniless at 37 on December 25, 1959. Although Vinod composed music for 32 films, but most of these films were under small banners and the music of many was let down by the film’s poor showing at the box office. His last three films were released after his death.