This is the last post in the series about Burman da’s musical journey. It was a wonderful experience, he was such a great legend! He was a spontaneous composer. He used to set a tune in no time. He was also inspired by various sounds of nature. He spent his childhood at a picturesque place, Komilla. He was very close to nature. He used to sit by the lake for hours together, listening to the fishermen’s songs, he never forgot those melodies. They were engraved on his brain, which he used, from time to time. He was a keen listener and always remembered all the performances by his teachers, his friends. Even if he listened to a western song, he Indianised it, before presenting the tune as his song. So his inspired songs also show his own impressions, embedded in the melody.
I also think from what I’ve read, Burman da, as a person, was fond of Football, tennis & Hockey. He used to attend the football matches in Mumbai, where he was an enthusiastic fan. He was also famous for his Paan. He always carried a box full of Paans. He was very possessive about it and never shared a paan with anyone! His behaviour was at times like an innocent child. His arrangers and assistants have remarked so!
Let’s now move to his career in 1970s. It was a pride moment for him that, in 1971, he was still active at the age of 65+ and was able to prove himself as a tough opponent, to other younger composers and his own son! The other composers had already lost their charm & magical touch. But this veteran composer was still composing fresh contemporary songs. He was in demand till his last days. No other composer from the Golden era had this kind of career. Many of them faded away in 1960s itself. And those who survived, could not prove themselves and deliver popular songs.
He composed for around twenty films during the period of 1971 to 1975. In 1971, four films were released, Sharmili was a musical hit. The other two films, Tere Mere Sapne & Gambler also had excellent songs. But again the films were not commercially successful. In the opening part of the decade, R D Burman was busy with his own films, Burman da was assisted by Meera Burman. She helped him with all the recordings, and his dates and financial aspects as well.
The film, Sharmili had very good, melodious songs, Khilte hai Gul Yahan & Megha Chhaye Aadhi Raat were huge hits, but the duet, Aaj Madhosh Hua Jaye Re was equally popular. The film Had only one song by Asha Bhosle. In general Asha Bhosle didn’t play a major role in his songs from 70s.
Tere Mere Sapne will always be remembered for its wonderful songs by Neeraj. ‘Hai Maine Kasam Lee’ & ‘Jaise Radha Ne Mala Japi’ are my favourites. Gambler also had a few good songs. Burman da also offered a solo to Rafi, again his choice was perfect! Rafi sang it with a touchy soft voice. But a soulful song was also offered to Kishore Kumar, who proved himself perfect for it. After the success of Prem Pujari, Neeraj was his favourite lyricist and wrote for the three movies. The fourth movie was ‘Naya Zamana’ for which Anand Bakshi penned the songs. ‘Rama Rama Gazab Hui Gawa’ & ‘Duniya O Duniya’ were popular. In short majority of the songs were popular and he was still a challenger to the young generation of composers. He was in full form during the year. He also thought of other assistants to help him and went for a fresh team. That resulted in a refreshing change in orchestration.
Meanwhile, R D Burman was also in full form, and the songs of Amar Prem were supremely popular and had a touch of Burman da’s magic. Rumours again spread about the origin of the tunes, but Burman da never considered such things as significant & ignored.
In 1972, again three films released. As contrast to the previous year, the songs for all the films were penned by Anand Bakshi. Shakti Samanta’s Anurag was a success at the box office and ‘Tere Nainon Ke Main Deep’, a duet by Lata & Rafi, was popular along with Lata’s solos. The songs of ‘Yeh Gulistan Hamara’ were also popular to some extent, but it wasn’t a good time for Dev Anand, so the film couldn’t create magic at the box office. A special mention of a trio, ‘Raina Soyi Soyi’ which was sung by Lata Mangeshkar, S D Burman & R D Burman. But for me it’s a disappointing song. The other songs are also not my favourites. The same is the case with ‘Zindagi Zindagi’, the songs were not as great as his earlier work. I like the songs by Kishore Kumar (Tune Humein Kya Diya) & Manna Dey (Mera Sab Kuchh). The latter was completely wasted as a background song to an irritating scene & and was fully injustice to the singer. Burman da sang two songs for the movie, and he got National Award for Best Music for the movie.
In 1973, he worked for the first time with Hrishikesh Mukherjee, for Abhiman. No need to say anything more about the film! It’s a classic. All the songs from the movie were popular and still are. This time, Majrooh worked for him after a long time. My favourites are included in the song list, but the other songs, ‘Teri Bindiya Re’, ‘Meet Na Mila Re Man Ka’ & ‘Ab to Hai Tumse’ with ‘Piya Bina’ are also worth mentioning. Burman da got Filmfare Award for Best Composer, for the film, after a gap of 19 years. He surely deserved it! He was also awarded by सूर सिंगार संसद for the best use of classical music in Hindi films. The other films, ‘Jugnu’, Chhupa Rustam’ & ‘Phagun’ had no popular songs. Still, ‘Dheere Se Jana Khatiyan Mein’ by Neeraj from Chhupa Rustam & ‘Piya Sang Khelo Holi‘ from Phagun were good.
He also recorded & released Bengali songs from 1971 to 1973, a couple of songs each year. All the songs were written by Meera Burman & sung and composed by Burman da. Those were his last recorded songs in Bengali.
The year 1974 was not a healthy year for Burman da, he suffered ill health, but his passion for work made him record the songs for four films. Three of them released in 1974 itself. ‘Prem Nagar’ was a musical hit and the songs from the movie were hit in Binaca Geetmala. I am not very fond of the songs. Similarly, ‘Sala Main To Saab Ban Gaya’ from Sagina was famous. Both the films were Silver Jubilee hits. But are not my favourites. On the other hand, the songs from ‘Us Paar’ may not be that popular, but in my opinion, were good. The two solos by Lata Mangeshkar, ‘Tumne Piya Diya Sab Kuchh‘ & ‘Yeh Jab Se Hui‘ are typical Burman da melodies. I heard them for the first time, but I liked the songs a lot, due to typical Burman da flavour. The fourth film, got its songs recorded in 1974, but was released later.
Late that year, in November, he suffered left sided paralysis and was bedridden. But the songs of the forthcoming films were already set to tune. The songs were recorded in his absence, by R D Burman under Meera Burman’s assistance. The films (both directed by Hrishikesh Mukherji) were released in 1975, ‘Chupke Chupke’ & ‘Mili’ were musical hits. Chupke Chupke is all time classic comedy movie, with all good songs. I’m especially fond of Ab ke Sajan, but ‘Chupke Chupke Chal Ri Purvaiyya’ and ‘Sa Re Ga Ma’ along with ‘Baagon Mein Kaise Yeh’ are also worth mentioning. The same is the case with Mili.
Arjun Pandit & Barud were released in 1976, and Tyaag in 1977. Except a few songs, they could not create much impact. The songs from Tyaag were recorded much earlier, but the film was released very late and the songs could not get much attention. Still ‘Hum Tum Tum Hum’ & ‘Kore Kagaz Pe Likhwa Le‘ were comparatively good.
But in general, he retained his place in the industry even at the age of 65+ and was active and the tunes set by him were popular among the young generation of that era. This was his major success. When his contemporaries were out of the industry, or fading rapidly from the people’s memory, he was still firmly composing popular tunes.
Let’s now have a look at his career as a whole, considering various aspects of film music.
Burman da’s style of composing songs –
He was the composer, who with the director of the movie, used to understand the situation in the song. He also took the picturisation into consideration, for the music pieces and to create the exact atmosphere. Sometimes, he himself suggested the picturisation to the director. The telephone song from Sujata, and ‘Mora Gora Ang Laile’ from Bandini are very good examples of this. Then he used to think of a suitable tune. He used to explain the entire scenario to the lyricist, who was then supposed to pen the song in that tune in perfect meter. This method of composing songs was later accepted widely in Hindi films, though many lyricists were not at ease with it. He then used to think about the most suitable voice for it. He would say “ये गाना लोता (लता) गाएगा” or “किशोर की बुलाओ”. He was a good singer himself and could tell the singers what he wants exactly! He accordingly used to finalize the singers. He at times, has cancelled the final recording, because after rehearsal, he found the singer not suitable for that particular song. Vijay Anand called him ‘only visual music composer’, which means he had insight of the final picturisation of the song and composed suitably. Though many of the songs have his typical touch, he never allowed a certain style to dominate him. He kept on changing the style. He also never overemphasized on a grand orchestra, there always would be only a small group of musicians. There are stories about sending the extra musicians back home, after paying them for the day. Exceptionally he employed a grand orchestra for the climax song in Jewel Thief. He wanted a great impact with it, and he insisted on such things only if situations demand. A word about his assistants and arrangers. Right from Madan Mohan to Manohari Singh, and Arun Paudwal assisted him. His famous assistants include, N Datta, Jaidev, R D Burman himself and Meera Burman. Some of the tunes were thought to be set by the assistants, but there also he used to modify or polish it sufficiently to suit his own satisfaction. Still some tunes could have been ‘lifted’. A famous example for the lifted tune is ‘Ae Meri Topi’ from Funtoosh, which was originally thought of, by R D Burman. And it’s said that, he was disappointed with Burman da, for not crediting it to him. But for Burman da, it was a modified tune.
Burman da and the lyricists –
To start with, he was in alliance with Gopal Singh Nepali and a few others like Anjum Pilibhiti and Yashoda Nandan Joshi. Except, G S Nepali, none of the others survived in popular Hindi Cinema in 1950s, though Burman da didn’t work with him in 1950s. For the movie Shabnam, he worked for the first and the last time, with Qamar Jalalabadi. Why their alliance didn’t continue, remains a mystery! He also introduced Raja Mehdi Ali Khan withq the film, Do Bhai in 1947. Though they hadn’t have a long association, he penned for a few films in late 40s. Similarly he had a short but successful association with Rajendra Krishna. He also worked with Pandit Narendra Sharma, for Afsar and Kavi Pradeep for Mashal. But he didn’t have a long association with them.
But once he met Sahir, he forgot all other lyricists. It was of course Sahir’s magical touch that had the effect. He shared such a bond with Burman da that till their separation due to ego problems, he remained his favourite. Meanwhile, he also worked with Shailendra for Buzdil in 1951. He used to call Shailendra, a spontaneous lyricist, and he was supposedly Burman da’s most favourite lyricist. Still, after separation with Sahir, he called for Majrooh. Their successful and prolonged alliance started with Nau Do Gyarah. They worked together for a long period, a little less in early 60s, only to resume with Jewel Thief and continued to work till end. Burman da also had a short association with Kaifi Azmi for Kagaz Ke Phool, though they worked together for Buzdil in 1951 itself. Meanwhile, for Tere Ghar Ke Samne and Ziddi, he had a very popular and successful alliance with Hasrat Jaipuri. It is also said that, Guide was offered first to Hasrat, who declined the offer, as he didn’t like the heroine’s character. Later Burman da never worked with him. In 1964, for Muslim social, Benazir and for Kaise Kahoon, Shakeel Badayuni worked with him. Though the songs were excellent and popular too, he couldn’t become Burman da’s favourite. Anand Bakshi entered in 1969 with Aradhana and was there till Burman da’s last released film, Tyaag in 1977. Neeraj worked with Burman da in 1971-72, and had most successful association with him. It is, said that Neeraj thought himself unlucky for Hindi film industry, after the sudden demise of Jaikishan and Burman da. And he left Mumbai to join his college in Aligarh. Burman da also reintroduced lyricist Yogesh, who worked with him for a couple of films. If he would have survived, Yogesh would have got more opportunity to work with him. In short, he worked with a wide spectrum of lyricists, a few of them were his favourites, but as with the singers, he didn’t depend on anyone.
Burman da and male playback singers –
For the first few films, Ashok Kumar himself sang, so also did Raj Kapoor in Dil Ki Rani in 1947. The same film also has Shyam Sunder (who wasn’t of course the well known composer) as a singer and actor. I haven’t come across him later in popular Hindi songs.
— In Do Bhai, in the same year, Rafi sang for him for the first time. Mukesh was introduced for the first time in Vidya in 1948, and was also given a chance in Shabnam, the following year. Despite the popularity of the songs from both the films, Burman da called for his voice very rarely. Nearly after a decade, he called him again for a bidai song, ‘Chal Ri Sajni’ in Bombai Ka Babu. After that, only a few songs, a solo in Dr Vidya (1962), Bandini (1963) each and a duet in Meri Surat Teri Aankhen (1964).
— Manna Dey was his close assistant from his early days, but he never gave him a fair chance. He was his choice only for a few classical songs and the songs picturised on supporting characters. Burman da first gave him chance for playback in 1950 with Mashal, where he had two solos, and ‘Upar Gagan Vishal’ made him popular overnight. It was a big break for him. Later, for Dev Anand he sang a couple of songs, in Kala Bazaar (Saanjh Dhali Dil Ki Lagi – A duet with Asha Bhosle) & in Bombai Ka Babu (Tak Dhoom Tak Dhoom Baje – A solo). But that’s all. Again he made him sing the other songs or songs picturised as a background. He must have got hurt, he mentioned in his biography too, about it. ‘Puchho Na Kaise Maine’ was the peak of their association, which was again one of the most popular songs of Hindi Cinema.
— Burman da considered Kishore Kumar, his second son and he was always his favourite throughout his career. He made him sing for Eight Days in 1946, a few lines, which were played in the background in the movie. In 1950, he sang his first solo and duet for Burman da, for the movie, Pyar. Again, it was his only playback for Raj Kapoor. The songs were not popular, nor the movie. So his first hit song with Burman da is believed to be from, Bahar in 1951 (Qusoor Aapka Huzoor Aapka). Songs from Baazi & Naujawan followed the same year and he became one of the playback singer of his team. For Jaal (1952) & Taxi Driver (1954), he was again offered a song each. He was struggling then, for getting roles as an actor and was in dilemma to choose between singing and acting as a full time career. Still, he always sang for Burman da, whenever he was called for. I think, after the success of Jeevan Ke Safar Mein Rahi from Munimji, he got himself fixed as voice of Dev Anand. He sang for Dev Anand for a few films in late 50s and late 60s. When he chose to act preferably, Burman da let him go and again, his career got a supreme boost with Aradhana in 1969, and he never looked back. Burman da offered him songs till the end. He sang all types of songs for him and proved his versatility.
— Talat was never Burman da’s favourite, still he offered him songs in early 1950s. It supports my assumption that, Talat was the first choice for the majority of composers in early 1950s. His first song was for Bahar (Ae Zindagi Ke Rahi) in 1951. The same year saw him sing for Burman da for three more films, Sazaa & Buzdil (a duet with Lata in each) and a solo in Ek Nazar (Yeh Aansoo Khushi Ke). In 1953, again he sang for three films, a song or two in each. Major breakthrough was ‘Jaye To Jaye Kahan’ from Taxi driver in 1954 and the two solos from Devdas in 1955. But still Burman da never considered him as a first choice. After a long interval in 1959, for Sujata, he again sang a timeless melody. But he was never called for any song later.
— Rafi was his real favourite, in my opinion. He started with him a little late, after the first song in Do Bhai in 1947. Till 1957, he was offered a duet or a solo here and there. But Pyaasa and Nau do Gyarah, started a prolonged and successful association. I think, Kishore Kumar was now concentrating on acting more, and playback singing
was a bit neglected and Rafi was chosen by Burman da. For 7-8 years Rafi was his main singer, till Guide, where Kishore Kumar again sang for Dev Anand. And in Teen Deviyan, he made a comeback in full force. After this point, Rafi started sharing songs with Kishore Kumar for majority of the movies. When Burman da’s career was at a peak and he was delivering variety of songs, Rafi was there to sing any type of song, in any scale and tempo. In 1970s however, Rafi was a second choice and just a song here and there, was all offered to him.
He never thought of any other singer, except Mahendra Kapoor, who got a couple of songs, in his entire career.
Burman da & female playback singers –
This is again a difficult thing to summarise. He chose Amirbai & Shamshad for his initial films. Paro Devi was singing for herself. He introduced Meena Kapoor with ‘Eight Days’, but later never gave her a chance. Once he discovered the magical voice of Geeta Roy, his search came to a halt and he offered her songs of Do Bhai & Dil Ki Rani in 1947, Kamal in 1949 & Pyar in 1950. Suraiya was singer actress, so we may not think of her alliance with him. But he hadn’t forgot Shamshad Begum, whom he offered majority of the songs in Shabnam & Bahar. After Baazi, Geeta Dutt was his lead singer. He chose Lata Mangeshkar, for Mashal in 1950 & it was their first film together. In early 50s, he used to share the songs between the two of them. But now, he was more inclined to Lata Mangeshkar. Geeta Dutt’s family problems started soon and her singing career suffered a lot! After his conflict with Lata Mangeshkar, he chose Asha Bhosle & offered her all lead songs for five years. He never faced failure after separating from Lata. He composed with full vigour and experimented with different tunes. But after his reunion with Lata, Asha Bhosle was again moved to a secondary place. He hardly ever offered songs to any other female playback singer, except Suman Kalyanpur, who sang for a few films. Also Lalita Deulkar sang for him in early days of his career. His first choice always was Lata Mangeshkar and she was well aware of the fact. In 60s and 70s, Asha Bhosle got to sing a few duets for the main lead. But in all, there wasn’t much competition as far as Burman da was concerned.
Before you start skipping the paragraphs, let me present the song list. This time, I have restricted myself to fifteen songs. So here we move in chronological order………..
1. Mera Man Tera Pyasa – Gambler (1971) Rafi / Lyrics – Neeraj
Unmistakably Burman da composition. Full of sweetness and melody. He correctly chose Rafi for the song and the rest is history. A bit funny picturisation, makes it more enjoyable. And don’t miss the lyrics by Neeraj, a great poet.
2. Dil Aaj Shayar Hai – Gambler (1971) Kishore Kumar / Lyrics – Neeraj
It’s such a great poem, the mukhda is not repeated after any antara, making it sound different. The heart touching rendition by Kishore Kumar, makes it memorable. But here again, that funny mustache, (never would anyone believe it to be real), distracts me from absorbing the real pain, woven in the melody.
3. Khilte Hai Gul Yahan – Sharmilee (1971) Kishore Kumar / Lyrics – Neeraj
One of my most favourites by Kishore Kumar. The cute pair, the energetic interludes, the snow fall, the meaningful lyrics, all full of romance. You can just feel the romance exuding from the tune. Feel and Enjoy it.
4. Megha Chhaye Aadhi Raat – Sharmilee (1971) Lata Mangeshkar / Lyrics – Neeraj
A well composed song with Raag Patdeep. It’s undoubtedly one of their greatest songs together. The songs has featured in a couple of posts on my blog. The dismay, the loneliness, the broken dreams, all told in a beautiful song. It also combines two different moods together in a single song. The opening music hardly allows us to imagine the forthcoming emotion.
5. Jeevan Ki Bagiya Mehkegi – Tere Mere Sapne (1971) Lata Mangeshkar & Kishore Kumar / Lyrics – Neeraj
Fifth song in a row, by Neeraj. What a great poet he was! And what a melody the poem got woven into! While all the songs from the movie are good, this one’s depicts the dreams woven around a forthcoming baby. A simple, soft song, sung with a soothing voice.
6. Ta Thai Tat Thai – Tere Mere Sapne (1971) Asha Bhosle / Lyrics – Neeraj
Another gem from the same movie. Asha Bhosle got to sing three solos, but the most challenging was this one. The rhythm is somewhat different, yet very catchy. The variations in the tonal quality of Asha’s voice are commendable. Of course a perfect choice for this dance number. The lonely actress gets attracted to her doctor, and expresses it through her dance.
7. Sun Ri Pawan – Anurag (1972) Lata Mangeshkar / Lyrics – Anand Bakshi
Again a song with Burman da’s magical touch. A blind girl, is convincing the breeze to be her mate. The film had a few more good songs, ‘Daka Dale Teri Bansi’ is equally good.
8. Mera Sab Kuchh Mere Geet Re – Zindagi Zindagi (1972) Manna Dey / Lyrics – Anand Bakshi
Burman da received National Award for best music for this movie. The film also had two solos sung by him. This song was Manna Dey’s favourite too. But the entire song is wasted by picturising in a pathetic way. Only the initial few lines are audible, the rest is background. I’m of course not sharing the video. Here’s the full audio.
9. Tere Mere Milan Ki Yeh Raina – Abhimaan (1973) Lata Mangeshkar & Kishore Kumar / Lyrics – Majrooh
A heart touching song, the couple sings together on stage. The wife, gets back her lost voice, provoked emotionally by her husband. She is sobbing and the first few lines sung by Lata Mangeshkar also appear a bit shaky and out of breath. Was it purposely done to suit the situation? Very likely! Burman da was always keen about the picturisation and situation in the song. He took these things into account, before thinking of a tune.
10. Nadiya Kinare – Abhimaan (1973) Lata Mangeshkar / Lyrics – Majrooh
A song, the heroine sings, and the hero gets attracted to her voice. Burman da used Tabla very effectively and prominently. He even used a Sarangi, otherwise famous for Mujra songs. But that doesn’t disturb the mood of the song.
11. Yeh Laal Rang Kab Mujhe – Prem Nagar (1974) Kishore Kumar / Lyrics – Anand Bakshi
The song topped Binaca Geetmala for a number of weeks. A good song, though I’m not particularly fond of it. The film celebrated silver jubilee and the songs definitely played a significant part for the success.
12. Piya Maine Kya Kiya – Us Paar (1974) Manna Dey / Lyrics – Yogesh
A song that I heard for the first time during researching for this post. I was shocked about my negligent ignorance. The songs from the movie are good enough to be prominently mentioned. But unfortunately, are never mentioned. I found this song, very appealing and touching. We can see the usual scenario reversed, the hero following the heroine, who’s getting away from him. Though it’s a background song, it does create an impact. Vinod mehra’s expressive face does full justice to it.
13. Ab Ke Sajan Sawan Mein – Chupke Chupke (1975) Lata Mangeshkar / Lyrics – Anand Bakshi
One of his last films. Even during the last years of his life, he was still offering such wonderful tunes. He already had the tunes set for the songs, but were recorded by Meera Burman and R D Burman, keeping in mind his style of composing. The hide and seek, picturised in the song, along with Om Prakash’s obvious discomfort, make it a visual treat too.
14. Badi Suni Suni Hai – Mili (1975) Kishore Kumar / Lyrics – Yogesh
It is said that, Kishore Kumar was deeply touched by the pathos in the song, and had tears in his eyes. The song was appreciated all over India and is considered one of his bests.
15. Bolo Preetam Kya Boli Thi Main – Arjun Pandit (1976) Lata Mangeshkar / Lyrics – Majrooh
The film was released posthumously. This song is as melodious as his songs of 50s. The songs were recorded in 1974 itself, but the film was released later. A purely romantic song, again with Vinod Mehra as main lead.
And a bonus track
§§ Bedardi Ban Gaye Koi -Phagun (1973) Shobha Gurtu / Lyrics – Majrooh §§
I could not resist this one. A wonderfully impressive Thumri by Shobha Gurtu. Her unconventional raw voice was most suitable. As the picturisation is again not so good, here’s the audio link. The full version of the audio.
Mehfil Mein Meri, claims no credit for any image posted on this site. Images on this blog are posted to make the text interesting. The images and screenshots are the copyright of their original owners. The song links are from YouTube and have been used here only for the music lovers. The copyright of these songs rests with the respective owners.