Ramchandra Chitalkar was born in Chitli, Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra. He received his grounding in classical music under Pandit Vinayakrao Patwardhan of the famed Gandharva Mahavidyalaya and later under Pandit Shankarrao Sapre. His original ambition was to be a Hindi film hero and he even played the lead role in the 1935 film “Naganand.” He worked as an assistant to music directors, Bindu Khan and Habib Khan for some time and played the harmonium in many of their films.
His first film as a composer was a Tamil film “Jayakkodi” (1939), after which actor-producer Bhagwan gave him a chance to compose music for “Sukhi Jivan” (1942). Though the film did not do well, Ramchandra gained credibility as a composer. Ramchandra’s fascination for Western music became evident during this period. The song “Meri Jaan Sunday Ke Sunday” (“Shehnai”, 1947) became a raging hit. Lending his voice to the song, along with Meena Kapoor and Shamshad Begum only increased his popularity. After the song “Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon” from “Patanga” (1949) gained unprecedented popularity, his mettle as a composer was proved.
The 1950s would see C. Ramchandra at his peak because of one key reason - his association with Lata Mangeshkar during this decade. C. Ramchandra - Lata songs like “Mehfil Me Jal Uthi Shama” (“Nirala”, 1950) and “Jab Dil Ko Satave Gham” (“Sargam”, 1950) gave a glimpse of what was to come. His best work came with “Anarkali” in 1953 and “Ye Zindagi Usi Ki Hai” became an all-time Lata favourite.
Unfortunately, their relationship became strained in the late 1950s and Lata stopped singing for him. It was as if Ramchandra lost his muse with Lata and his compositions in the 1960s paled in comparison to his earlier work. The only song that redeemed him in this decade was perhaps “Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon”, written by Pradeep and sung by Lata in the 1963 Rebulic Day show attended by Jawaharlal Nehru. Ramchandra was initially rehearsing the song with Asha Bhosle since Lata would no longer sing for him. When Lata heard about it, she called Ramchandra and convinced him to replace Asha with herself. Lata’s brilliant rendition of the song brought tears to Nehru’s eyes and the song gained legendary status. After a rather sketchy 60s, C. Ramchandra called it a day finally with “Tulsi Vivah” (1971). He passed away on January 5, 1982.