Vanraj Bhatia won the National Film Award for Best Music for Govind Nihalani’s “Tamas” in 1988 and the Padma Shri in 2012. Today at 92, the composer, who carved his niche with his distinct notes in the art cinema circuit of the seventies and the eighties, says that he has no money, even as he battles old-age ailments.
“I have no money, not one rupee left in my bank account,” said Bhatia to “Mumbai Mirror”, even as he battles memory lapses, severe knee pain and hearing problem.
His only company is his domestic help, and Bhatia is now forced to sell his imported crockery and other household items for sustenance.
The help, who has been with him for around a decade, told the Mumbai-based tabloid that Bhatia has not sought medical consultation in a long time, so it is difficult to pinpoint the exact status of his failing health.
Bhatia’s discography includes films such as Kundan Shah’s “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro“, Aparna Sen’s “36 Chowringhee Lane“, and Prakash Jha’s “Hip Hip Hooray“.
From “Ankur” in 1974 to “Sardari Begum” in 1996, he was the favourite composer of arthouse titan Shyam Benegal. The duo collaborated on several projects including “Manthan”, “Bhumika”, “Junoon”, “Kalyug”, “Mandi”, “Trikaal” and “Suraj Ka Saatvan Ghoda“.
A recipient of Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1989, Bhatia studied western classical music at Royal Academy of Music, London.