Here are some brilliant R D Burman songs, that have remained personal favourites from the time I first heard them. These Pancham tracks have clung like limpets to my soul, really. Beautiful melodies, lovely instrumentation, great sweet tunes brilliantly dressed. These may or may not be on the top of the top R D Burman hit lists, but they are brilliant, evergreen songs, all; different, wonderful melodies that always touch a sweet spot.
So here goes.
Raaton Ka Raja Hoon Main:
Perhaps the first and deepest etched, most beautiful and satisfying memory of an R D Burman composition is from Dheeraj Kumar’s debut film from 1969. Raaton Ka Raja. It was the title track sung by Mohd Rafi, with a brilliant lineup of musicians playing three instruments – the Spanish lead electric guitar, the strings section, and for me, the hero of the song, the great musician, the father and leader of the first family of musicians of Hindi film music, Cawas Lord. Mr Lord played the bongos on the song, and my percussive heart leapt at the sounds when I first heard them, and has clung to them like a limpet till today. Every time I hear the song, it gives me the goosebumps. Listen closely and revel in the wonderful tune, the brilliant guitar and strings section and, of course, the bongos.
I remember, once, years ago, Dheeraj Kumar was visiting my workplace, and I happened to have the song on my blackberry. I crept up behind him, and played it. The sheer delight and surprise with which he jumped into the air and whirled around to see who was playing the song, was truly satisfying!
Check out this song. A personal favourite. And you will probably find a lot of my favourite RD Burman songs have latin percussion, about using which, what R D Burman had forgotton, the rest of the Hindi film industry never learnt; hasn’t learnt to this day.
What this song did for me was it made me a lifelong bongos fan. I self-learnt to play them after drawing two circles with the points of my Camlin divider on my wooden study table as a school-going student, and played on the table till I could afford to buy my first bongo. Went on to play professionally with the only English orchestra (yes, that’s what it was called then) in Chandigarh, called The Blue Waves. Then, when I did what was possibly RD’s last interview before he died — waiting for the release of 1942 A Love Story and the return of the success and adulation he had always been used to — I got to play for and with him at his music room, after finishing the interview for The Independent. Will share that too, some time. For now, though, my gratitude and never-ending admiration for the great Cawas Lord who played the bongos like nobody else in India ever could or has.
Nahin Nahin Abhi Nahin, Abhi Karo Intazaar:
The sensuous, sultry song of nervous first love, totally wasted in an age much before the time for such songs, and, doubly sad, totaled by being wasted on Randhir Kapoor and Jaya Bhaduri. Exactly. But this song is a brilliant, sensuous composition. Brilliant for the tight congas, stylish saxophone, sultry lead guitar, and the sexiest – and first – work on electronic bass guitar played with slap-and-carress brilliance by one of India’s greatest and most talented musicians, Channi Singh (father of my friend, music director Raju Singh).
To do justice to the RD’s brilliance of song conception and music arrangements, and, of course, the brilliant musicians, listen to this song on a good sound system, or on good (not in-ear) headphones. You will be amazed. The Wikipedia page for Jawani Deewani says the film is most remembered for its songs by R D Burman, including, “Jaane Jaan Doodta Fir Ruha”, “Saamne Yeh Koun Aaya”, and “Yeh Jawani Hai Diwani”. Sad that Nahin Nahin didn’t get enough airplay. To me, along with Jaane Jaan Dhonndhta Phir Raha, this is the best song from the film.
With immense respect and gratitude to the great Channi Singh ji, sharing the song here. Revel in the music.
Ab Ke Sawan Mein Jee Dare:
A truly amazing romantic, singing-in-the-rain duet featuring chocolatey charmer Jeetendra and Reena Roy from the film Jaise Ko Taisa. What a composition, what brilliant musical arrangement, that lovely intricate but supersmooth beat, and those beautiful interludes and fills. I love this song for the way it evokes the rain, the sensuous-innocent way it rolls out with the santoor, the brilliance of the accordion and the saxophone, and that heartstopping melodic sweetness that sweeps your senses. You beauty, Pancham, you!
Hae Bichchua Das Gayo Re:
Asha Bhosle has perhaps the most amazing repertoire of moods – her songs have traversed from a soul cleansing geet like Meri Baat Rahi Mere Man Mein, to the innocent and alluring Bhanwara Bada Naadaan Re, from the amazing qawwali Nigahein Milane Ko Ji Chahata Hai, to the sultriest of the sultry songs. And this next one is a truly seductive number. Yogita Bali trying her damndest to seduce the handsome Dharmendra to Pancham’s simple, memorable melody with three of my favourite instruments right out there – a sexy bass guitar, a full bodied, sensous elemental congas, with a filled out piano accordion that’s as seductive as Asha Bhosle’s sensuous, come-hither voice with its superstylish throws. Uff, enough said. An inanely prancing Yogita Bali trying to be seductive is a real downer to Asha’s voice, so you can look away when you, well, listen to this video. So you’ve avoided the silly filming. But here’s comes Asha, and R D Burman’s brilliant musicians! Careful now.
Wadiyaan Mera Daman by Lata Mangeshkar:
I think R D somehow reserved his most haunting melodies for female singers, for Lata Mangeshkar. This is one such. I like the Rafi version too, it is brilliant, but somehow, this version, with a slight sadness to it, in the magical way that only Lata Mangeshkar can give life to the lyrics and subtle mood of any song, is a haunting piece of work. Some other music director might have opened the tune simply, but it’s Pancham here. See how the song opens with that super-stylish accordion phrase… and then the composition and Lata Mangeshkar’s brilliance take over. Blissful!
Teri Meri Yaari Badi Puraani:
A not-too-often-played song from the forgotten Sanjeev Kumar-Sharmial Tagore starrer Charitraheen. Somehow, the song has stuck ever since I first heard it. Love the composition, and the Asha Bhosle’s brilliant singing. She hurls her voice like a powerful frisbee at Tu Ne Mujhe Pehchaanaaaahhhh!!!! Lovely. Great tune, stylish beat and oh the stylish trumpets. Here:
Dilbar Mere Kab Tak Mujhe:
Without a doubt, an amazing song, beautifully composed, brilliantly sung, and one that, to my mind, showcased Kishore Kumar’s voice at its handsomest for any Indian film star – remember Amitabh Bachchan, serenading-wooing Hema Malini in Satte Pe Satta.
Here it is:
Main Chali Main Chai:
An amazing duel (yes, as different from ‘duet’) between Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle. I’m saying that in hindsight, and I have absolutely no proof that it was indeed a competition of any kind between the two greatest female playback singers from popular Indian cinema – past, present or future. This was a lively girls-on-a-picnic singing as they rode their bicycles across beautiful terrain. Asha Bhosle and Lata Mangeshkar sang their pieces in the same composition as uniquely, brilliantly and individualistically as only they could. The song was brilliantly composed and rides a brilliant Spanish rhythm guitar with a beautiful accordion body and interludes. Listen to the way Lata, and especially Asha, open the song, and also the excellent percussion with bongos and dholak carring the beat. Through the song, and the excellent trumpet interludes and strings crosses, you see R D Burman’s brilliance shine. And when the two great sisters take the song into its final curve before it ends, starting roughly at 3:55 or so, you see the soul of the sultry siren in Asha Bhosle, and the Ganga-washed pristine-ness of Lata Mangeshkar. Truly amazing finale. To the song.
Enough of me. Here it is. A nice commercial, situational song made memorable by R D Burman, as only he could have done.
Tu Pyar, Tu Preet
Who remembers a young Rakesh Roshan and Hema Malini romancing in Rakesh Roshan’s first film as a hero, Paraya Dhan? Who cares. All I remember and thrill to is this beautiful duet that R D composed, and which Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar sang as only they could. Here’s a song that had maestro musicians playing clean, tight, simple and brilliant pieces evoking beautiful romance. Right from the simmering strings and lilting flutes opening, till the beautiful bongos beat takes over leading the melody across sweet piano accordion pieces and saxophone, guitar and strings interludes and crosses, the song, sung by a sweetly innocent Lata and a gentlemanly Kishore leaves you awash with a fuzzy warm feeling. Enjoy:
Maine Dil Abhi Diya Nahin
Asha Bhosle at her best, hurling her voice across the highs with all the power, elan and beauty at her command. Truly quicksilver-stylish singing on a brilliant tune riding strong strings and brass sections, and a super stylish beat and guitar. Just listen to this song from the 1970 hit, The Train. The film has two other excellent songs – the popular Gulabi Aankhein and O Meri Jaan Main Ne Kaha. But this one’s my top favourite. Here:
Roz Roz Aankhon Tale
Asha Bhosle’s sang this beautiful, simply dressed poem by Gulzar for the forgettable Sanjay Dutt starrer Jeeva. What a beautiful song this, and how innovatively arranged – a soft nazm, with fuzzy electronic tones crossing the intro and the interludes. A haunting melody that’s remained stuck to my soul ever since it I first heard it. One of the better songs sung by Amit Kumar too – far better than his better known songs.
So those were a few of my favourite RD Burman songs. Please share your own, and your views, comments and suggestions. Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed the music.