Vanraj Bhatia is an Indian music composer, who is best known for providing music for most of Shyam Benegal's films, and for his private albums with Music Today.
During the 70s and 80s he worked with many art film makers in India. In the 90s he composed the music of Vijay Singh's international film Jaya Ganga. He won the National Film Award for Best Music Direction for Tamas in 1988, and was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1989.
Born in 1927 in Bombay, Vanraj Bhatia trained in Western classical music while studying at the Elphinstone College in Mumbai for M.A. (English Honours); after graduating in 1949 he left for the Royal Academy of Music, London, to study music composition, which he passed with a Royal Academy Gold Medal in 1954.
Thereafter he entered the Paris Conservatory where he studied with Nadia Boulanger and Howard Ferguson between 1954 and 1959. During his studies abroad he received various scholarships, including the Sir Michael Costa Scholarship (1951-4), a Rockefeller Fellowship (1954-8), and a French Government Scholarship (1957-8).
In 1960, he started his career as Reader in Musicology in charge of Western Music, at the Faculty of Music Delhi University, where he stayed until 1965.
Meanwhile in 1959 he created his first advertising jingle for Shakti Silk Sarees. From that point on he became one of the pioneering ad jingle makers in India, and also one of the most successful, later moving to Mumbai and working for the advertising industry. In all he has created over 7000 scores for advertising jingles, corporate and business films.
His first film as a music composer was Ankur (1974), and he soon became a regular composer for Shyam Benegal and other art film makers of the time. His most noted works in this period are Manthan (1976), Bhumika(1977), Junoon (1978), 36 Chowringhee Lane (1981), Trikal (1985) and Mandi (1983) and Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983).
He has also created music for Indian theatre productions such as “Tughlak” and “Andha Yug”
In the following decade his work was heard constantly on Indian television with the title scores for TV series like Khandaan, Yatra, Lifeline, Discovery Of India, Wagle Ki Duniya, and the made-for-TV film Tamas (1987), for which he received the National Film Award for Best Music Direction in 1988.
In the 90s he worked in many commercial Hindi films as well as providing background scores for many other films, working on over 40 films during his career. His most noted works were for Shyam Benegal's film Sardari Begum in 1996 and for Vijay Singh's international film Jaya Ganga.