Indian music composer Vasant Desai was born on June 12, 1912 into a rich family in the Sonwad village in Maharashtra. He grew up around folk and devotional music and joined theater as an actor at a very young age.As many film composers and singers of that period, Vasant Desai began his career as an actor in Prabhat Film Company’s “Khooni Khanjar” (1930). He also sang and worked as assistant to music director Govindrao Tembe.
It was at Prabhat that he formed his career-defining relationship with producer-director V. Shantaram. When Shantaram left Prabhat to create his own film studio, Rajkamal, Desai accompanied him. His first movie as a music director was Shantaram’s “Shakuntala” (1943).
Desai was never a prolific composer and the few films he did through the 1940s did not make much of mark. He had to wait till the 1950s for people to recognize his work. His most famous work is probably his score for “Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje” (1955). It is another matter that Shantaram had first approached Naushad, who told him to use Desai instead. His next big success was “Do Aankhen Baarah Haath” (1957), particularly the prayer song, “Ae Malik Tere Bande Hum”, which remains popular to this day. He wrapped up the 50s with his brilliant score for “Goonj Uthi Shehnai” (1959), ably supported by Ustad Bismillah Khan on the shehnai.
In the late 1950s, Desai’s long relationship with Shantaram soured and he stopped composing music for him. It was perhaps because of this that Desai was not able to produce anything substantial in the 1960s. His score for “Guddi” (1971) was effectively his swan song with beautiful, classical-based compositions that appealed to the general public - “Bole Re Papi Hara” and “Humko Man Ki Shakti Dena”.
He continued to score for films till 1975, till he died in an accident.