In this part of the series, I propose to throw light on his career during the 50s. As I already highlighted in last part, after the success of Mashal, Burman da abandoned the thought of leaving Mumbai instead started enjoying Mumbai. But Bengali folk songs always remained his favourite inspiration along with a strong knowledge of Indian classical music.
A fresh new decade started with 1951, so did the successful journey for Burman da. He made 3 to 4 films a year on an average and majority were musical hits. The songs were a rage then, and are still popular. The decade also saw Burman da’s conflict with two legendary artists of Hindi Cinema. I’ll elaborate later of course!
Navketan’s second film, Baazi was directed by Guru Dutt, with Dev Anand, Geeta Bali & Kalpana Kartik as the main cast. Burman da offered a totally different song to Geeta Roy, who was on the verge of being typecast for Bhajans and sad songs. The result was phenomenal! Geeta Roy was immensely talented singer & it was proven once and for all, that she has the ability to sing songs of any genre. Yes, you guessed it right! I’m talking about ‘Tadbeer Se Bigadi Hui’. It was actually a Ghazal written by Sahir, and was incorporated in the movie. But Burman da treated it in such a manner that everyone was surprised! It was sung with a tune on Guitar and had a sensuous touch. All the songs were hit and Burman da was delighted. Their were some undercurrents going on during the making of Baazi. Guru dutt proposed Geeta Roy and they got married soon. Another love story started budding, this time between Dev Anand & Kalpana Kartik.
Burman da celebrated success with Sazaa and Bahar in the same year, both of which had songs penned by Rajendra Krishna. Sazaa’s most popular song ‘Tum Na Jane Kis Jahan Mein’ was however written by Sahir and was his only song for the movie. Sahir also created wonders when, his song ‘Thandi Hawayein Lehra Ke Aaye’ was sung by Lata Mangeshkar & proved a major hit of the year. Kaifi Azmi penned songs for the first time for a Hindi film Buzdil, along with Shailendra, both of them working for the first time with Burman da. Buzdil had a song ‘Jhan Jhan Jhan Payal Baaje’. It was based on a popular classical song, and Burman da fused Bengali Folk tune. Lata’s heavenly rendition made the song immortal. The song ‘Rote Rote Guzar Gayi Raat’ achieved the same popularity. Shailendra was associated with him for a number of films in 60s, though Kaifi Azmi had only a brief association with him.
Bengali singer Sandhya Mukherji also sang a solo & a duet (with Hemant Kumar) for the film, Sazaa. The songs ‘Yeh Baat Koi Samjhaye Re‘ and ‘Aa Gupchup Gupchup Pyar Karen‘ are my personal favourites too. The year 1951 was very successful for Burman da. His confidence was at a peak.
He became more comfortable with various methods of composing. He used to get a tune ready for a certain song and the lyricist was to write in that meter according to the situation. Many lyricists were not at ease with it. Even Sahir used to say, “So coffin is ready, we have a get a fitting body now!”
The year 1952, wasn’t a great year, he had only two releases, Jaal was a musical hit while, Laal Kunwar, featuring Suraiya and Usha Kiran, wasn’t a success.
Jaal again had Geeta Bali & Dev Anand in lead role. Though Guru Dutt was insisting on Rafi as a lead singer, Burman da was the one, who had faith in his own choice, Hemant Kumar.
Hemant Kumar was a newcomer in Hindi films but they knew each other in Kolkata. His Bengali songs were popular those days. But his Hindi pronunciations were a bit off, he wasn’t fluent at all. But Burman da made him work hard on Hindi and recorded the songs later. Both the versions of the song ‘Yeh Raat Yeh Chandni’ were hugely popular. The female songs were split between Geeta Dutt & Lata Mangeshkar. The song ‘Chori Chori Meri Gali‘ had a distinctly Goan Flavour & the tune was set by Burman da’s assistant N Datta. N Datta had a deep knowledge & zeal for Goan music and used it aptly for Jaal, which was set on the backdrop of Goa.
The year 1953, didn’t bring much commercial success. Just a couple of songs from some of the films were popular and helped those films to some extent. But by now, his name was among popular composers and the films used to attract audience by his name. This year, he introduced, Asha Bhosle to his team of playback singers. For the film, Armaan, starring Dev Anand & Madhubala, Asha Bhosle was the lead singer. No one including Burman da himself, had an idea that, she would be his lead singer for a period of five years in future. He used to offer her solos as well as duets as per need.
In 1954, he won his first Filmfare Award Best Music Director, for the film, Taxi Driver. Barring this film, the other releases that year were not commercially successful. The film had a number of club songs, and instead of going for Asha Bhosle or Geeta Dutt, he offered the songs to Lata Mangeshkar. She sang the songs with confidence. The songs, ‘Dil Se Milake Dil‘, ‘Dil Jale to Jale‘ and ‘Ae Meri Zindagi’ were popular and acclaimed all over the country. The only soulful song, ‘Jaye To Jaye Kahan’ was offered to Talat and it won the Award.
Burman da used to be very particular about the choice of singers. Once he determined a suitable name, no one could change his mind. But of course, his choice never failed.
The year 1955 was most remembered for the films, ‘Devdas’ & ‘Munimaji’. House No 44 was also acclaimed for good songs. In comparison, ‘Madbhare Nain’ & ‘Society’ were average. These films had only a couple of popular songs, those songs now fit in ‘Rare songs’ category.
Devdas required a Bengali composer, who had a deep knowledge of Bengali culture and folk songs, and Burman da was an obvious first choice for Bimal Roy. But It was a challenge as, it was gonna get compared with K L Saigal’s Devdas. But Burman da very geniously composed songs. He offered the songs to various singers and in all he used eight leading playback singers. It was a bit odd that Paro (Suchitra Sen) had no song to lip sync to. The soulful songs were again offered to Talat, who sung with usual dedication. Mubarak Begum was given a chance for a full song, ‘Woh Na Aayenge Palat Ke‘
(It is said that though she was a newcomer, she insisted for a full song & proved herself in doing so) Though it was a background song, it was equally popular.
Geeta Dutt sang two duets with Manna Dey, where ‘Aan Milo Aan Milo Shyam Sanware‘ was the hindi remake of his own Bengali song ‘Rangila Rangila Re’ (रोंगीला रोंगीला रे)
Munimji was of completely different mood. The songs mainly, ‘Jeevan Ke Safar Mein Rahi’ & ‘Dil Ki Umange Hai Jawan’ were hugely popular. Hemant Kumar once again sang for Dev Anand. Lata sang for the main lead, while Geeta Dutt got other songs. Slowly, Lata was making a place in Burman da’s camp. Now he was more inclined to offer the lead role songs to Lata mangeshkar and other songs to either Geeta Dutt or Asha Bhosle. Shamshad had no place now in his team. The songs of House No 44 were also popular, again Burman da opted for Hemant Kumar. Lata’s solo, ‘Phaili Hui Hai’ was also a hit! Burman da never depended on a particular singer. He always chose them as the situation demanded and the one he felt better suited the song.
In 1956, a single film ‘Funtoosh’ was released.
It was the first film, where all the songs of Dev Anand were sung by Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle sang all the female songs. No other playback singer was offered a song. Kishore Kumar was typecast for happy, peppy songs, songs where he could yodle! But Burman da very confidently offered him a song with pathos, ‘Dukhi Man Mere’ and KK made it look so easy. I was surprised with the fact that Burman da composed for only one film in 1956, where as other composers had 4 to 5 films to go with! It is said that Burman da decided to chose the movies with care and didn’t want to overtire himself. Also he had no time for the last 3-4 years to concentrate on his Bengali songs. In 1956 he recorded two Durga Puja songs, after a gap of five years!
The year 1957 will always be remembered for the conflict of two legends with Burman da. At least for me, mention of the year 1957, highlights the two facts mainly!
The first one, Sahir, after a long & successful association with Burman da, separated. And second, Lata and Burman da had some misunderstandings that resulted in end of relations with Lata for five years. The former is believed to be ego problems on both the sides. The latter, had many baseless rumours and alleged stories! The reason for conflict was never officially declared.
Coming to his films, Paying Guest, Pyaasa & Nau Do Gyarah were super hit musicals, whereas Miss India wasn’t much talked about!
Nau Do Gyarah started the successful alliance between Majrooh & Burman da, and it had no songs by Lata Mangeshkar. Pyaasa is a subject for a full post and I don’t consider myself eligible to do so! All the masterpieces, that the film had, were out of this world. Rafi & Geeta Dutt were the main singers with a share by Hemant Kumar for ‘Jane Woh Kaise Log The’. Paying Guest had a bunch of wonderful songs. It is most remembered for ‘Chand Phir Nikla’ & ‘Mana Janab Ne Pukara Nahin’.
The year 1958 opened with, Asha Bhosle as the main female playback singer for Burman da. Geeta Dutt was now busy with her personal problems with Guru Dutt, who allegedly banned her from singing for other banners. He wanted her to be a typical housewife and so it wasn’t possible for her to rehearse properly for the songs. Finally Burman da went for Asha Bhosle, who was now one of his regular singers. He made her work very hard for his songs and Asha had family problems too, but had no option. She had to sing for financial reasons. That period was her peak in my opinion as she was the lead singer now, for C Ramchandra & O P Nayyar too. During that period, Madan Mohan also gave her fair opportunity to project her talent and offered songs of diverse genre. For Kala Pani & Chalti Ka Naam Gadi, Asha would have been Burman da’s first choice, even if Lata was available. This is my personal opinion, as the songs anyway suited her voice the most! She did wonders in songs like ‘Nazar Lagi Raja’, ‘Dil Lagake Kadar Gayi’ and the duets from Kala Pani. Rafi also contributed a great deal for Kala Pani, where his solo and duets were a rage.
Asha Bhosle was neck and neck with Kishore Kumar in ‘Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi’. The comedy film for the first time had songs full of comedy! ‘Babu Samjho Ishare’ & ‘Hum The Woh Thi’ are perfect examples to support my statement.
But songs from Lajwanti demanded a different style of singing, and Asha handled the responsibility perfectly well. Of course, Burman da must have changed his style a bit too!
Asha sang the songs ‘Koi Aaya Dhadkan Kehti Hai’, ‘Ga Mere Man Ga’ & ‘Ek Hans Ka Joda’ with perfect emotions. The latter two songs are difficult to sing, if you carefully note the compositions closely. For the film, Solva Saal, he again offered Hemant Kumar a happy peppy song. Everyone was pleasantly surprised at his flawless rendition. He was not considered a suitable option for such songs. But once Burman da decided a thing, he never took rest till he completed it. Solva Saal also had songs by Asha Bhosle and Rafi, but the highlight was ‘Hai Apna Dil To Aawara’.
Sitaron Se Aage was the film, that started the conflict between Burman da and Lata and would always be remembered for it, than for the songs!
The composers always suffered in quality after separating with Lata Mangeshkar. Burman da was a solid exception! He never used to depend on one singer and this time he had equally talented & dedicated, versatile Asha Bhosle. His compositions never suffered and had no effects on his creativity.
He never used to compose for a particular singer, but used to decide the singer after composing the tune.
Now the audience had more expectations from Burman da. He had so far proven himself, in songs of different genre. Pyaasa still had an impact as one of his most memorable work.
In 1959, he had only three releases, but all had wonderful songs. Bimal Roy again called him for next venture, Sujata. It was a heart touching story, and along with Asha Bhosle and Geeta Dutt, he himself sang a wonderful song. It was a part of my introductory post, this month. The most appreciated song was Talat’s romantic telephone song, ‘Jalte Hai Jiske Liye’. It was very well picturised too. Second film, Insaan Jaag Utha, also had some popular songs. Though, Majrooh was his most favourite lyricist, he called for Shailendra. His meaningful and well written songs captured Burman da’s attention. In future he was going to be his first choice. ‘Chand Sa Mukhda Kyun Sharmaya’ was a part of my post on Shailendra. Burman da had stopped working with Sahir, but Guru Datt wanted a competent lyricist. Burman da had worked with Kaifi Azmi in the past and was aware of his abilities. So he was finalized as lyricist for Kagaz Ke Phool. The story demanded a different kind of songs and ‘Waqt Ne Kiya Kya Haseen Sitam’ had some concepts never thought before. The song also reflected Geeta Dutt’s own emotional state at that time perfectly. Her relationship with Guru Dutt was at stake and unfortunately the lyrics suited it. Other songs are never much talked about, except, ‘Bichhade Sabhi Bari Bari’.
The year 1960 was a mixed one, with a few successful films along with some disappointing films.
The dark cloud of failure of films like Bewakoof, Apna Haath Jagannath, Ek Ke Baad Ek, had a silver lining of success of Kala Bazaar, Manzil & Bombai Ka Babu. The combination of Burman da and Shailendra shone brightly in Kala Bazaar, with some of the all time hits by Rafi. By the end of that decade, Kishore Kumar started to concentrate more on his acting career than playback singing. That could be one of the reasons, why Burman da was inclined more to Rafi in late 50s, and it continued till 60s. Rafi’s solos from Kala Bazaar are considered one of his best solos. In this film again, Burman da experimented with Manna Dey. He offered him an energetic, chhed chhad type duet with Asha Bhosle, ‘Saanjh Dhali Dil Ki Lagi’. Till now, he always kept Manna Dey for supporting characters. This year, Burman da again called him to sing for Dev Anand for Bombai Ka Babu. The song was ‘Tak Dhoom Tak Dhoom Baje’. The bidai song, ‘Chal Ri Sajni’ was offered to Mukesh and again it’s one of his bests. His songs with Burman da are few, but all of them are masterpieces. He sang for Burman da after a decade, the last being Shabnam in 1949.
For Manzil again, Hemant Kumar sang ‘Yaad Aa Gayi Woh Nashili Nigahen’ which is still considered one of his best songs. I’m very fond of ‘Chupke Se Mile Pyase Pyase’ too. I think after this song, Geeta Dutt nearly disappeared from Burman da’s music, only to sing her final song with him for Ziddi in 60s.
Burman da very cleverly offered Dev Anand’s songs to various singers, and all of the songs were hugely popular. Though Kishore Kumar and Rafi were considered most suitable, his music had power to make the songs with other singers popular too! He similarly boosted Asha Bhosle’s career too! He proved himself without Lata’s playback. Not for a film or two, but for five years.
It was difficult for me to select songs from these movies, because for me when a song list exceeds fifteen, people tend to just scroll down without giving much attention. Today I had to cross my own limit for songs, it was impossible to limit Burman da’s musical journey of ten years in 15 songs. May be later, I would plan a separate list for a singer under his baton.
I think, I should begin the songs now. So here we go in chronological order, my favourites from Burman da’s mobies in 50s……..
1. Saiyan Dil Mein Aana Re – Bahar (1951) Shamshad Begum / Lyrics – Rajendra Krishna
Vaijayanti Mala singing a romantic song to Karan Dewan’s photo in hand. Burman da celebrated her debut film in Hindi with Shamshad Begum. All of the songs were hits. It is said that N Datta contributed a lot to Bahar. But soon Burman da started offering her only dance numbers and songs picturised on supporting characters.
2. Tadbeer Se Bigdi Hui – Baazi (1951) Geeta Dutt / Lyrics – Sahir
It’s a well known fact that, this song is actually a ghazal. But Burman da gave it a different treatment as per its situation in the film and it was presented as a sensuous club song. Geeta Bali’s expressions added charm and Geeta Dutt got it exactly right in a different genre. Her versatility became obvious and she started receiving songs of every genre.
3. Yeh Raat Yeh Chandni Phir Kahan – Jaal (1952) Hemant Kumar / Lyrics – Sahir
As I said earlier, Burman da was very confident about the newcomer Hemant Kumar and he didn’t disappoint! The song also has a lining of subdued seductive elements. The picturisation is certainly additive to the overall effect. Hemant Kumar excels, he supposedly had Hindi with heavy Bengali accent, which he improved a lot before he sang this song. The song boosted his career in a significant way.
4. Chandani Ki Palki Mein – Jeevan Jyoti (1953) Asha Bhosle & Shammi Kapoor / Lyrics – Sahir
It may not be a well known song, but I included it for two reasons. Asha Bhosle sang for Burman da for the first time in 1953. I don’t mean this was their first song together, but it’s from the same year. Secondly it had the preliminary tune of Dil Pukare Aare Are. If you listen carefully the antara, the closing lines, it matches with the similar closing lines of Dil Pukare.
5. Jaye To Jaye Kahan – Taxi Driver (1954) Talat / Lyrics – Sahir
I always believe that Talat was the first choice for all the composers in early 50s. His slightly shaky but expressive silky voice best suited such soulful songs. Burman da called him for a few songs only. He clearly wasn’t his favourite. And though Burman da won his first Filmfare best composer award for this song, he didn’t call him consistently thereafter.
6. Ab Aage Teri Marzi – Devdas (1955) Lata Mangeshkar / Lyrics – Sahir
Lata sang for him for the first time in 1950 for Mashal. Though Geeta Dutt was thought to be his favourite, slowly Lata took her place in a few years. In the song, Burman da presented a lovely Mujra, with classical base. A visual pleasure too, thanks to Vaijayanti Mala for excellent dance.
7. Phaili Hui Hai Sapnon Ki Bahen – House No 44 (1955) Lata Mangeshkar / Lyrics – Sahir
One of my friends introduced this song to me, when we were at school. I wasn’t very fond of it, in the beginning. Later it grew on me, I neglected my Hemant Kumar’s favourites and chose it for the list. It’s picturisation of a lovely morning is an additional attraction.
8. Saajan Bin Neend Na Aaye – Munimji (1955) Lata Mangeshkar / Lyrics – Sahir
For this position too, Dil Ki Umangen or Jeevan Ke Safar Mein Rahi were my choices. But later I chose this one, for its perfect rendition and classical base. It was a difficult task to choose only a song from any film.
9. Dukhi Man Mere – Funtoosh (1956) Kishore Kumar / Lyrics – Sahir
Burman da offered Kishore Kumar the song, when no other composer considered him suitable for such songs with pathos. (Perhaps the composers were unaware of ‘Husna Bhi Hai Udas’ from Fareb – 1952) But as usual Burman da was confident and everyone was surprised with Kishore’s flawless and expressive performance. He was now all set to sing, romantic, peppy songs, masti bhare geet with yodelling and sad songs too!
10. Chhod Do Aanchal – Paying Guest (1957) Asha Bhosle & Kishore Kumar / Lyrics – Majrooh
I was sure about the song for this position. This is my favourite song, it was played a lot in my school days. Asha’s beginning ‘Ahhan’ (it is out of this world, I am speechless, it’s something to feel) is so cute and perfectly in sync with the mood of the song. Listen and enjoy.
11. Jane Kya Tune Kahi – Pyaasa (1957) Geeta Dutt / Lyrics – Sahir
A song perfectly sung by Geeta Dutt. Gulabo (waheeda rehman) is trying to attract a potential client (At least she thinks so). But no vulgar expressions, her eyes say it all. Vijay (Guru Dutt) follows her, as the song, she’s singing is his own. Again a great picturisation!
12. Aaja Panchhi Akela Hai – Nau Do Gyarah (1957) Asha Bhosle & Rafi / Lyrics – Majrooh
This song might be during the borderline phase, when Kishore Kumar decided to concentrate more on his acting career and Burman da called Rafi. He gets only two duets, had Burman da already recorded other songs? May be! Again a song with a subtle hint of seduction. The couple’s pretend marriage forces them to share a room. But she obviously keeps him in the bathroom to spend a night in a bathtub! Now while you know the situation, see how Burman da aptly fits the song in a conversational style.
13. Main Sitaron Ka Tarana – Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958) Asha Bhosle & Kishore Kumar / Lyrics – Majrooh
An outrageously funny movie, that had songs that sound perfectly full of fun. Just think how perfectly Burman da composed the song, ‘Babu Samjho Ishare’ that goes well with its picturisation. But my pick from the album is this one. Asha’s innocently sweet voice suits so perfectly to Madhubala. Kishore’s singing ‘Teri Gathri Mein Laga Chor’ and “Dheere Se Jana Bagiyan Mein Re Bhanwra’ adds more fun.
14. Hum Bekhudi Mein Tum Ko – Kala Pani (1958) Rafi / Lyrics – Majrooh
Burman da used Tabla in a slightly different way. Rafi sings this poignant song with deep emotional touch. Dev Anand is in search of his father and has come to Nalini Jaywant to find a clue to his innocence. One of Majrooh’s best songs. The tears in Dev Anand’s eyes are for his father, Nalini Jaywant is spell bound by his rendition.
15. Koi Aaya Dhadkan Kehti Hai – Lajwanti (1958) Asha Bhosle / Lyrics – Majrooh
A delightful piano song. Burman da supported Asha not as a replacement to Lata, but as an original singer. So we don’t hear her singing in Lata’s style, but in her familiar style with more polished perfection. She proved her versatility in this movie.
16. Janu Janu Ri Kahe Khanake – Insaan Jaag Utha (1959) Asha Bhosle & Geeta Dutt / Lyrics – Shailendra
Two friends, Madhubala and Meenu Mumtaz are teasing each other. Both are in love and are pulling each other’s legs in a sweet and adorable way. Picturation is also memorable. The laughter of both the singers is so spontaneous and natural, we could almost enjoy with those two friends.
17. Ek Do Teen Char Aur Paanch (1959) Geeta Dutt & Chorus / Lyrics – Kaifi Azmi
Don’t be surprised for the choice. It’s not the best song from the movie. But the movie is full of tension and sad songs. Even Johnny Walker miserably fails to add a comic flavour, but he successfully irritates you. This song is one of the lighter moments, and it’s not mentioned very often. It was a bit popular that time, for a while. Otherwise, Waqt Ne Kiya is the golden feather.
18. Jalte Hai Jiske Liye – Sujata (1959) Talat / Lyrics – Majrooh
What should I say about this evergreen song? It was said to be Burman da’s idea to picturise the song on a telephone. It proved the most soft romantic song of Indian Cinema. Burman da wasn’t ready for Talat, but everyone, including his assistant Jaidev and director Bimal Roy was insisting for Talat. Burman da was ready but wasn’t sure of the final result till the end. After hearing the recorded song however, he was most satisfied and praised Talat. But he never called Talat again.
19. Sathi Na Koi Manzil – Bombai Ka Babu (1960) Rafi / Lyrics – Majrooh
By the end of the decade, Burman da was fully taking advantage of Rafi’s versatility. All dev anand songs were sung by him. The loneliness, the emptiness in his life, is highlighted by a slow paced yet a peacefully rhythmic song.
20. Apni To Har Aah Ek Toofan – Kala Bazaar (1960) Rafi / Lyrics – Shailendra
A song very effectively picturised on a train. Dev Anand singing it as if he is referring to the God, and asking him to forgive for his mistakes. For a listener, it may sound like a deep philosophical song. But in a funny way, he is referring to Waheeda Rehman, sleeping on a berth above him. She too at times gets confused. Burman da has used flute to mimic the train whistle. A thoroughly enjoyable song.
Would you add a song?
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