Snehal Bhatkar was from Maharashtra and his real name was Vasudev Bhatkar. While officially working for HMV, he used to secretly work as a composer under various pseudonyms like ‘B. Vasudev’, ‘Snehal’ and ‘Snehal Bhatkar’ – out of which the last one seems to have stuck forever! By the way, this pseudonym was a shorter version of his daughter’s name – Snehlata!
Bhatkar and lyricist Kidar Nath Sharma shared a special bond. Bhatkar’s main claim to fame remains Mubarak Begum’s ‘Kabhee Tanhaaiyon Mein Yoon’ – the immortal title song for film maker Kedar Sharma’s Hamari Yaad Aayegi (1961). Actually Bhatkar had originally composed this song for Lata. She had earlier recorded two duets (‘Sochtaa Hoon Yeh Kyaa Kiyaa Maine’ and ‘Jawaan Mohabbat’ with Mukesh) for the film but later in her busy schedule, she could not fit in the new recording. She then suggested that Bhatkar use Asha for this song, but Kedar Sharma opted for Mubarak Begum instead. Mubarak’s distinctive voice and Bhatkar’s exquisite tune then combined to produce an all-time classic!
Other melodious songs to his credit include ‘Ham Par Jaadoo Daal Gaye’ (Gunaah), ‘Raadhaa Ke Man Kee Muraliyaa Pukaare’ (Nand Kishore), ‘Dil Kaa Milnaa Mushkil Hai’ (Hamari Beti), ‘Woh Chalee Gham Kee Hawaa’ (Aaj Ki Baat) and ‘Lehroun pe Lehar’ (Chhabili). The last-mentioned song is perhaps Bhatkar’s best Hindi collaboration with Lata Mangeshkar. Right from the opening couplet ‘Mohabbat mein kaheen do dil hasenge, geet gaayenge/Magar ham gham ke maare raat bhar aansoo bahaayenge’, the song immerses the listener in a moody melancholy!
On May 29, 2007 Bhatkar left this world at the ripe old age of 88 at his residence in South Mumbai. He is survived by two sons, including noted Marathi actor Ramesh Bhatkar and a daughter. His funeral was held at Dadar in Central Mumbai. (Dr. Mandar V. Biuchu)