The most underrated songs of R. D. Burman (Part 1)

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Discovering good music is a favorite hobby of mine. It gives me a high, a sense of achievement of being able to unearth rare songs of my taste, and certainly helps improve my music vocabulary. As someone who likes melody in music and has been a fan of Jatin–Lalit’s music of the ‘90s, I was always enamored by the music of Rahul Dev Burman (R. D. Burman). The fact that Jatin–Lalit’s music had a close uncanny resemblance to R. D. Burman was just the opening I needed, to explore into the world of music that exists in Pancham’s dictionary.

The music range of R. D. Burman spans over 30+ years, 230+ Hindi movies, genres which blends seamlessly from core Hindi/Indian classical to Western influences like jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, from heart breaking soulful ‘zindagi’ (life) songs to heart melting melodies.

This series of three articles is an attempt to unearth some of his rare melodies, which never made it big, due to the fate of the film, or poor promotional reasons back in that era.

“Takra Gaye Do”‘Mazaaq’ (1974)
Singers: Asha Bhonsle and Vinod Mehra
Lyrics: Yogesh

R. D. Burman was at his peak between 1971 to 1975. In these five years, he put together scores for as many as 70 movies! These include hits like ‘Caravan’ (1971), ‘Hare Rama Hare Krishna’ (1971), ‘Seeta Aur Geeta’ (1972), ‘Amar Prem’ (1972), ‘Bombay to Goa’ (1972), ‘Parichay’ (1972), ‘Yaadon Ki Baarat’ (1973), ‘Aandhi’ (1975), ‘Sholay’ (1975) and many more. This song is from a Vinod Mehra – Maushmi Chatterjee starrer, ‘Mazaaq’ (1974). Enjoy this one, especially when it is drizzling outside.

“Kaisi Lag Rahi Hoon Main”‘Jhuta Sach’ (1984)
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
Singers: Amit Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar

The highlight of this song is the prelude score – a sitar piece which tells you something nice is in store. Lata Mangeshkar dutifully takes the song forward but it is Amit Kumar who elevates this number to another level with his energy. R. D. Burman infuses his magic with the sitar and the tabla mixing with the guitar smoothly in the background.

Any list of R. D. Burman is incomplete without bringing Gulzar into the picture. They worked together on 25 movies – ‘Parichay’ (1972), ‘Aandhi’ (1975), ‘Ghar’ (1978), ‘Gol Maal’ (1979), ‘Masoom’ (1983), ‘Ijaazat’ (1987) and ‘Dil Padosi Hai’ (1987) to name a few. In fact, any article on R. D. Burman, which does not mention his private album – ‘Dil Padosi Hai’ (1987) with Gulzar and Asha Bhonsle is a crime. Their songs were always above melody. It had a purpose behind it – to probably look beyond the current, educate the masses of the world beyond us.

A different thread is required to document the work done by this duo. Amongst the songs which can be bracketed under melody, my pick is from a relatively unknown movie named ‘Naram Garam’ (1981).

“Humein Raasto Ki”‘Naram Garam’ (1981)
Lyrics: Gulzaar
Singers: Asha Bhonsle

After the success of ‘Gol Maal’ (1979), the same team collaborated together on ‘Naram Garam’. The moment you hear this song – you will find it strikingly similar to “Saagar Kinaare” from ‘Saagar’ (1985). This song is a mellow version and nicely rendered by Asha Bhonsle.

(To be continued…)

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