Dattaram Wadkar, born in Goa in 1929, moved to Bombay in 1942 and learnt playing the tabla and the dholak there. He got his big break when he met Shankar and joined Shankar – Jaikishan’s team as arranger and percussionist.
While another Goan musician, Sebastian D’Souza, conducted their orchestra, Dattaram managed Shankar – Jaikishan’s rhythm section. His friendship with Shankar – Jaikishan led to opportunities to compose music for films independently. He was one of the few composers who made a successful move from being an assistant to a full-fledged music director. Despite initial successes as a music director, he continued assisting Shankar – Jaikishan, and never really broke out on his own like Ravi (who assisted Hemant Kumar) and Laxmikant – Pyarelal (who assisted Kalyanji – Anandji) did. Even his music as an independent music director had strong imprints of Shankar – Jaikishan’s style on it.
The song ‘Masti Bhara Hai Sama’ highlighted the famous ‘Dattu Theka’ which later became his identity. But he used it too often, to maintain it’s fame. His music was melodious, sweet, and easy to hum. He shares this quality with his mentors SJ. Many a times his songs bear a close resemblance with their songs. Their styles were matching and at times confuse us, as to credit a song to either of them.