Ramachandra Chitalkar was born on 12 January 1918 in Puntamba, a small town in Ahmednagar district in Maharashtra, India. He studied music under Vinayakbua Patwardhan at "Gandharva Mahavidyalaya" and also under Shankarrao Sapre of Nagpur where he studied music alongside Vasantrao Deshpande. He joined the movie industry playing the lead role in Y. V. Rao's movie, Naganand. He also had some small roles at Minerva Movietone in the movies Said-e-Havas (1936) and Atma Tarang (1937).
Ramachandra provided harmonium accompaniment for Minerva composers Bindu Khan and Habib Khan. He debuted as music director in Tamil movies with Jayakkodi and Vana Mohini. He received public notice as a good composer in Bhagwan Dada's "Sukhi Jeevan", and established a long association that culminated with the musical box office hit "Albela".
Influenced by Benny Goodman, Ramachandra introduced in his compositions the alto sax in combination with guitar and harmonica. He also included whistling in one of his famous songs, Aana meri jaan Sunday ke Sunday in film Shehnai. He used a combination of a bongo, an oboe, a trumpet, a clarinet and a sax for the song Shola Jo Bhadke in film Albela. He sang the title song "Shin Shinaki Boobla Boo" with Lata Mangeshkar, which included rock rhythms. He provided the musical score for the scat song "Ina mina dika" in "Aasha".
Perhaps C. Ramachandra's biggest success as a music composer was the 1953 movie Anarkali starring Beena Roy in the title role and Pradeep Kumar. The songs that he composed for this movie are today legendary. Songs of this movie like "Yeh Zindagi Usiki Hai", "Mujhse Mat Poochh Mere Ishq Main Kya Rakha Hai", "Mohabbat Aisi Dhadkan Hai", "Jaag Dard-e-Ishq Jaag" etc. went on to become huge hits and were also highly acclaimed as masterpieces. Anarkali also perhaps saw the famed composer-singer combine of Ramachandra and Lata Mangeshkar at their best ever together. A film critic in London who watched the movie is said to have remarked that the heroine sang like an angel without knowing that the angel was actually Lata giving playback for the actress. Similarly, C. Ramchandra's compositions in V. Shantaram's 'Navrang' (Adha hai chandramana, raat aadhi, Tu chhupi hai kahan, Shyamal shyam varan, Are ja re hat natkhat) and V. Shantaram's 'Stree' (O' nirdayi priyatam, aaj mad-hava sath dole) were also quite popular and are still remembered.
The highly popular patriotic song "Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo", which was sung by Lata Mangeshkar and penned by poet Pradeep, was a composition of Ramachandra, it was later performed live, by Lata Mangeshkar, in the presence of Jawaharlal Nehru at the Ramlila grounds, in New Delhi on Republic Day, 26 January 1963. It is said Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru became so sentimental that tears rolled down his cheeks. On 27 Jan 2014 Lata Mangeshkar was felicitated by Shri Narendera Modi CM of Gujarat State at Mumbai to commemorate 51st Anniversary of this song. Lata once again sang this patriatic song on staze in front of thousands of her fans. Live TV Coverage on NDTV 24X7 & CNN IBN Ch.
Ramachandra similarly provided a memorable musical score accompanying a competition between two dancers whose roles were played by Padmini and Vyjayanthimala for the song Kannum Kannum Kalanthu lyrics penned by Kothamangalam Subbu, sung by P. Leela and Jikki in the Tamil movie Vanjikottai Valiban. He remade the song in Hindi as "Aaja To Aaja" from Raj Tilak written by P. L. Santoshi where Asha Bhosle and Sudha Malhotra rendered their voice.
Ramachandra provided music compositions for a few Marathi, Telugu, Tamil, and Bhojpuri movies besides Hindi movies. In 1953, he also produced with "New Sai Productions" three Hindi movies: "Jhanjhar", "Lehren", "Duniya Gol Hai".
In the late 1960s, Ramachandra produced two Marathi movies, "Dhananjay" and "Gharkul". He also acted in them and composed music for them. C. Ramchandra died on 5 January 1982 in Mumbai.
Ramchandra wrote his autobiography in Marathi in 1977.
Mumbai based troupe Musicolor, which is promoting vintage music, presented an exclusive tribute programmes featuring the gems of C Ramchandra at Dinanath Mangeshkar auditorium on 22 January 2010.
The following is a short list of some of Ramachandra's best compositions:Yeh zindagi usi ki hai jo kisi ka ko gaya (Anarkali)
Ae Mere watan ke logon
Dheere se aa ja re akhiyan mein (Albela)
Katatay hain dukh mein ye din (Parchhaain)
Tum kya jaano, tumhari yaad mein (Shin Shinaki Bubala Boo)
Aankhon mein sama jao is dil mein raha karana (Yasmin)
Kitna haseen hai mausam (Azaad)
Koi kisi ka deewaana na bane (Sargam)
Jaag dard-e-ishq jaag (Anarkali)
Mehfil mein jal uthi shama (Nirala)
Aye pyar teri duniya se hum (Jhanjar)
Wafaaon ka majboor daman bichha kar dua kar gume dil khuda se dua kar (Anarkali)
Muhobbat aisi dhadkan hai jo samjhayi nahi jati (Anarkali)
Main jagu sari rain (Bahu Rani)
Ab woh raate kahan ab woh baate kahan (Yasmin)
Kannum Kannum Kalanthu (Vanjikottai Valiban) (Tamil film)
Jo mujhe bhula ke chale gaye (Sangeeta)
Mujh se mat poochh mere ishq mein kya rakha hai (Anarkali)
Dekho ji bahar aayi (Azad)
Jo dil ko jalaye sataye dukhaye aisi muhobbat se hum baaz aaye (Nirala)
Mujh pe ilzaam-e-bewafaai hai (Yasmin)
Aye chand pyar mera tujh se ye kah raha hai (Khazana)
Muhobbat mein aise zamane bhi aaye (Sagaai)
Aa ja ab to aa ja (Anarkali)
Tere dar se khushi mangi magar gum de diya tu ne (Hungama)
Tere phoolon se bhi pyar (Nastik)
Kali kali ratiyan yaad sataye (Ghungaroo)
O nirdayi pritam (Stree)
Balma bada nadan (Albela)
Dil se bhula do tum humen (Patanga)
Kaghaz ki thi woh nao jis main ham jarahe the (Zaban)
Dil ki duniya basa ke sawariyan (Amardeep)
Ina Meena Dika ( ASHA )
Movies for which Ramachandra provided musical scores are listed below in alphabetical order: