Popularly known as Laxman, one half of the music composer duo Raam Laxman, Vijay Patil is known for composing music for Dada Kondke’s Marathi films as well as hit Hindi films such as Hum Aapke Hai Koun (1994), Maine Pyar Kiya (1989), and Hum Saath Saath Hain (1999). Starting as a singer and instrumentalist in popular orchestra groups, he shifted to Bombay to become a music director. Collaborating with his friend Surendra ‘Raam’ Kadam, Vijay Patil became part of the music director team that came to be named as Raam Laxman by Dada Kondke. The well-known Marathi filmmaker-actor Kondke gave them their break in the film industry with Pandu Havaldar (1975). Even after Raam passed away soon after the duo bagged its first Hindi film Agent Vinod (1977), Patil continued scoring the music for more than 75 films under the title Raam Laxman. Composing across Hindi, Marathi and Bhojpuri films, he scored hit songs such as Lavleena aa gaya main from Agent Vinod, Deva ho deva Ganapati deva from Hum Se Bhadkar Kaun (1981), Wah wah Ramji and Maye ni maye from Hum Aapke Hain Koun, Aaja sham hone aaye and Mere rang mein rangnewali from Maine Pyar Kiya, and many more chartbusters during the 1980s and 1990s before the advent of newer composers like Nadeem Shravan and Annu Malik.
Born on 16 September, 1942 and brought up in Nagpur, Vijay Patil started off as a singer and instrumentalist in the city’s popular orchestra groups. He had received his initial training in music from father Kashinath and uncle Pralhad, and had gone on to learn classical music at the Bhatkhande School of Music, Nagpur. He came to Mumbai in 1962-63 at the age of 20 or 21, with the dream of becoming a music director. In the city, he used to perform at small functions and gatherings. It was at one such gathering that he happened to meet Surendra Kadam, who also wanted to become a music director. The two were on the same wavelength, and hit it off immediately. Later, it was Dada Kondke, impressed by Vijay Patil’s original compositions, who gave them the name Raam Laxman and also their break as music directors with Pandu Havaldar (1975). They went on to compose music for Kondke’s Tumcha Aamcha Jamla (1976) and Ram Ram Gangaram (1977). Incidentally, from Pandu Havaldar onwards, Vijay Patil scored the music for all Dada Kondke’s 25 films but one from 1974 till Kondke’s demise in 1998.
Raam Laxman got their first break in Hindi cinema with Rajshri Productions’ Agent Vinod (1977), starring Mahendra Sandhu. However, soon after signing this film, Surendra Kadam aka Raam passed away. Patil, however, continued to compose music for films under the Raam Laxman name in honour of his partner and friend.
Vijay Patil also had a long-standing relationship with Rajshri Productions. He worked on more than 15 films with the production house. He scored the music for director Deepak Bahry’s James Bond-esque action film Agent Vinod, produced by Rajshri, thus marking his association with the banner. He went on to compose for 10 musical hit films directed by Bahry including Tarana (1979), Hum Se Badhkar Kaun (1981), Ustadi Ustad Se (1982), and Hum Se Hai Zamana (1983).
Patil’s association with Sooraj Barjatya started a new phase in the former’s career. In the existing 1980s scenario of average film music being churned out, Patil created a fresh new sound for Sooraj Barjatya’s Maine Pyar Kiya (1989). Starring Salman Khan and Bhagyashree, the film was presented as a musical with 11 songs. It became the highest grosser of the year, overtaking Yash Chopra’s Chandni which also released in the same year. He went to compose super hit songs for Barjatya’s musical films Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!, and Hum Saath-Saath Hain. With his finger on the pulse of the audience, he was able to deliver what was desired and appealed.
Before he became a music director, Vijay Patil, being a musician, had established an orchestra with his wife, who was a famous classical dancer. The orchestra was named Amar-Vijay, after his son’s and his own first names.
As a music director, Patil worked with singing greats such as Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Usha Mangeshkar, Suresh Wadkar, Shailendra Singh, Bhupinder Singh, S P Balasubramanian, Yesudas, Chitra, Udit Narayan, Kumar Sanu, Alka Yagnik, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Anuradha Paudwal, Kunal Ganjawala, Shaan, Sunidhi Chauhan, Shankar Mahadevan, and more.
The Raam Laxman brand of music was essentially based on the basics of orchestra. It took forward the legacy of Laxmikant-Pyarelal. Melody was a key aspect and feature of their music, and it was present even in foot-tapping numbers. The popularity of their songs was further boosted by the use of traditional Indian instruments along with the typical orchestra set-up.
In 2018, Raam Laxman was bestowed the Lata Mangeshkar Puraskar. Vijay Patil, who remains memorable as Laxman of Raam Laxman, passed away after in Nagpur on 22 May, 2021.