RMIM Archive Article "362".
From the RMIM Article Archive maintained by Satish Subramanian
# RMIM Archives..
# Subject: R D Burman Song Sung Blue
# Source: Filmfare, Feb 98
# Author: Subhash k Jha
From the RMIM Article Archive maintained by Satish Subramanian
Song Sung Blue: Rahul Dev Burman.
Subhash K. Jha
Remembering the finger-snappers and the soulful songs sung by
R.D. Burman himself... on the occasion of his fourth death
anniversary which fell on January 4, 1998.
It was an inherited talent. Music was a gift bequeathed to
Rahul Dev Burman, who passed away so suddenly four years ago,
by his father, Sachin Dev Burman. If Burman Dada immortalised
himself with his two manjhi songs -- O re manjhi (Bandini)
and Sun mere bandhu re (Sujata) -- Burman Baba belted out O
manjhi teri naiyya se chhoota kinara in that long-forgotten
river-bank(rupt) bilingual Aar Paar directed by Shakti
This timeless manjhi song proves that Papa and Burman Jr were
sailing in the same boat. Sadly, by the time RD's boat sailed
into the 1980s, it developed a leak. If the song hadn't gone
unnoticed, RD would surely have sung more such reflective
Doubtless, the distinctive voice of R.D. Burman was capable
of conveying the emotional of a lyric as well, if not better
than some male playback singers who sang for him. This is
specially true of RD's tunes for Amit Kumar. In the popular
Bade achhe lagte hain (Balika Badhu), Amit's voice
synchronises so well with RD's that listeners can scarcely
tell when Pancham stealthily slips into the number with the
boatman's clarion call O manjhi re jaiyo piya ke
des... R.D. Burman often contributed key lines to his
compositions without claiming credit. Though the legendary
cabaret number Piya tu ab to aaja in Caravan is credited only
to Asha Bhosle, Pancham's banshee cries of Monica o my
darling have rooted the number in the public's mind.
In the hauntingly bare Kishore Kumar-Lata Mangeshkar love
duet Hum dono do premee duniya chhod chale (Ajnabi), the
composer chips in as the bystander at the railway station to
ask where the fugitive lovers are off to.
In Lata's version of Phoolon ka taron ka sab ka kehna hai
(Hare Rama Hare Krishna), Pancham sings for 'Daddy' Kishore
Sahu -- with Daddy ka mummy ka sabka kehna hai ek hazaron
mein teri behna hai... These incidental vocal appearances
verify Pancham's casual yet unforgettable artistry.
Recalls Gulzar, "Pancham was an excellent singer. He knew the
nuances of classical singing. For my films, he sang only a
couple of songs. But he lent his voice even so often. For
instance, in Jabbar Patel's Musafir, the boatman's
voice-over, is Pancham! As a singer, he would perfect a tune
by singing it repeatedly. In the album that I did with him in
1994, listen to how well he has sang the numbers Raah pe
rahte hain and Koi diya jale kahin (later rendered by Kishore
Kumar and Asha Bhosle, respectively).
Then in Dil Padosi Hai, the original soundtracks by Pancham
before they were dubbed by Asha Bhosle are superb. They show
his range as a singer.
The solos and duets that R.D. Burman sang in the '70s
asserted his growing reputation as a rock-`n'-roll
renegade. Somehow the serious songs sung by Pancham (such as
the manjhi number in Aar Paar) never got their due. The hits
that Pancham sang were almost invariably gimmicky.
With Mohammed Rafi, RD was heard in his element in the yummy
Yamma yamma number in Shaan. RD's most memorable duet of male
bonding was the zany jazz-tinged title song of Gol Maal. Sung
with Sapan Chakravarty, the song's verve is unmatched by any
other song of male bonding in the '80s except perhaps
Jaan-e-Jigar, the groovy Goan gaana that RD `dared' to duet
with his favourite male singer, Kishore Kumar in Pukaar.
Whenever R.D. Burman went solo, he made sure it was a song
that needed his voice, and no one else's. Incredibly, the
all-time favourite Mehbooba oh mehbooba (Sholay), might not
have been sung by Pancham at all. At first, this vibrant sexy
titillator was to be sung by Asha Bhosle. When Jalal Agha was
brought into the picture to lend a vocal drizzle to Helen's
sizzle, R.D. Burman was considered by Javed Akhtar, Anand
Bakshi and Ramesh Sippy as the best bet for this number
inspired by a Demis Roussos chart-topper.
Equally accomplished was Pancham's interpretation of the
locomotive rhythms of Dhanno ki aankhon mein raat ka
surma. Gulzar's words in Kitaab were transported to a
wonderland of images. It became a voyage of self-discovery
for Pancham. Equally devil-may-care was RD's interpretation
of the number Kal kya hoga kisko pataa (Kasme Vaade) and
Samundar mein naha ke (Pukar).
And how elegantly Pancham wore the shirt of hurt into the two
Nasir Hussain musicals Hum Kisise Kam Nahin and Zamane Ko
Dikhana Hai. In the ever-young songs Tum kya jaano mohabbat
kya hai and Dil lena khel hai dildar ka, R.D. walked tall
over a terrain of pain.
The most meditative solo melody that Pancham sang was Yeh
zindagi kuchh bhi sahi in the flop Kumar Gaurav-Poonam
Dhillon starrer, Romance, containing some of RD's best
compositions ever. The emotional grip of the lyrical delivery
rivals Kabhi palkon pe aansoon which Kishore Kumar sang for
R.D. Burman in Harjaee.
With his singing soul companion Asha Bhosle, R.D. created a
dense romantic atmosphere. Though they sang no more than
seven or eight full-fledged duets, the slender repertoire
created a voluminous impression because of their impact.
The first duet that R.D. and Asha sang was O meri jaan main
ne kahaa (The Train). The Rajesh Khanna-R.D. Burman team that
bloomed in the '70s was in its infancy when R.D. composed and
sang with Asha for The Train. The film had two strikingly
original-sounding solos Gulabi aankhen by Mohammed Rafi and
Kis liye maine pyar kiya by Lata. Inadvertently, the RD-Asha
duet was left out, sidetracked.
R.D. Burman and Asha Bhosle had their revenge the very next
year when their uptempo number outpaced all other
chartbusters of Apna Desh. Their heat-and-run number? The
high-pitched ode to raunch -- Duniya mein logon ko dhokha
kabhi ho jaata hai. The number stressed the outlandishness of
Pancham's vocals. Rajesh Khanna and Mumtaz were dressed as a
couple of freakos in this climactic song.
Just when you thought they were the '70s version of Sonny and
Cher, belying all expectations, the RD-Asha pair hit an
all-time high of emotional expression in Sapna mera toot gaya
in Khel Khel Mein. While Kishore Kumar accompanied Asha in
all the frothy fun duets in the film, R.D.Burman stepped in
to create waves in this memorable song of parting and
Peculiar, passionate and palpably Pancham is Na jaa
jaan-e-jaan that largely ignored, scene stealer RD-Asha duet
in Joshilay. Here and in the disco-very-very special of the
'80s, Jaan-e-jaan o meri jaan-e-jaan in Sanam Teri Kasam,
Pancham stepped back into the shadows to let Asha `squeal'
the limelight. But his contribution to the two duets is like
a mistletoe decorating a Christmas tree.
The last duet that R.D. Burman sang with Asha was Yeh din to
aata hai (Mahaan). Sadly by then R.D. Burman's career was
under a cloud
There's an interesting end-game associated with R.D. Burman's
career as a singer. In the selective, reluctant and meagre
repertoire of songs that the chameleon composer chose to
sing, one song is extra-special. Kya bhala hai kya bura in
Gulzar's unreleased Libaas. It's one of the few film songs
that dares to make light of the burden of existence.
The song is special for another reason. It's the only time,
Rahul Dev Burman dared to face at the microphone with the
singer who had seen him as a child fooling around in shorts
at his papa's recordings... and whom the young adult-Pancham
hesitantly approached to sing the first song that he ever
That duet with Lata Mangeshkar was the last song R.D. Burman
ever sang in a film.