The most underrated songs of R. D. Burman (Part 3)

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

The lilting melodies with Rishi Kapoor

Rishi Kapoor and R. D. Burman shared a special relationship. The actor–musician jodi worked in 17 movies together. Some of the hits of this jodi are the classics – “Oh Hansini” from ‘Zehreela Insaan’ (1974), “Poocha Na Yaar Kya Hua” from ‘Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai’ (1981), “Tu Tu Hai Wohi” from ‘Yeh Vaada Raha’ (1982), “Kahin Na Jaa Aaj Kahin Na Jaa” from ‘Bade Dil Wala’ (1983) and “Chehra Hai Ya Chand Khila Hai” from ‘Saagar’ (1985). But if you simply skim the surface, one is bound to hit a gold mine. I am amazed by the consistency with which R. D. Burman used his singer-actor jodis. Just as how, Amit Kumar’s voice was synonymous to Kumar Gaurav’s face on screen, then Kishore was the same to Rishi-barring the occasional usage of Shailendra Singh.

I am picking these four hidden gems, which are my personal favorites.

“Mausam Pyar Ka” – ‘Sitamgar’ (1985)
Lyrics: Anand Bakshi
Singers: Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle

If you are an avid fan of both Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar, and are struggling to pick one – I believe this song, will swing it Kishore’s way. The song starts with Asha Bhosle humming the ‘mukhda’ – and then enters Kishore Kumar – in one of his lowest notes – the start is so low – that one actually wonders if it is actually Kishore who has sung this. R. D. Burman has used the Indian classical music meets western fusion in this song – which blends so well with the zingy track. The highlight of this song is the ‘harkatein’ Asha has given (at around 2m 48s), when she sings “Tere mere pyar ka” and it definitely gives me goosebumps.

“Aisa Kabhi Hua Nahi” – ‘Yeh Vaada Raha’ (1982)
Lyrics: Gulshan Bawra
Singers: Kishore Kumar

Kishore is in top form in this solo. Everything is just right in this song.

“Kaho Kaise Rasta Bhool Gaye” – ‘Bade Dil Wala’ (1984)
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
Singers: Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar

This one is another of the infectious melodies of R. D. Burman which stays with you long after the song. Set in a banjara setting – this song is similar to “Dilbar Dil Se Pyare” from ‘Caravan’ (1971). The manner in which the ‘mukhda’ and the ‘antara’ keep flowing into each other inspite of the jarring “He he he he” is the highlight of this track.

“Shikwa Koi Tumse” – ‘Dhan Daulat’ (1980)
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
Singers: Asha Bhosle

This Rishi–Neetu starrer has some good songs. You will recall “Jeena Kya Aji Pyar Bina” which is a nice melodious song. My pick is this sad genre female solo “Shikwa Koi Tumse”. The tune has a slight similarity to the Amitabh Bachchan-Hema Malini hit “Dilbar Mere” fron ‘Satte Pe Satta’ (1982). Normally, sad songs used to be crooned by the male singer – this one is different in its own way – as it renders a tale of a broken heart of a woman.

If you can see through some of these songs – it is evident that in the ’80s, R. D. Burman continued to belt good songs – film after film. However, most of these movies did not work well at the box office. Furthermore, the failure of ‘Saagar’ (1985) negatively impacted R. D. Burman and from there, it led to his decline in Bollywood, even though the real reasons remain unknown – his health or his favourite directors leaving him.

“Shakti Theme Song” – ‘Shakti’ (1982)

R. D. Burman was always known for his background scores, and this piece below, tells you why. This theme song is from the Amitabh Bachchan–Dilip Kumar starrer ‘Shakti’ (1982). Check out the rendition of “Jaane Kaise Kab Kahan” in this instrumental starting 2m 20s onwards. It is mesmerizing.

Post ‘Saagar’, R. D. Burman did create some good music – other than the notable ones like ‘Parinda’ (1989), ‘Gardish’ (1993) and ‘1942 – A Love Story’ (1994). However, there was clearly something missing in those movies, possibly the loss of Kishore Kumar in 1987, or his disinterest in the kind of movies he was getting, or something else. He passed away on 4 January 1994, leaving behind a void, which is missed even today.

But for fans who appreciate good music, above anything else, Pancham will continue to be a superstar, and his songs will continue to be in our hearts. This list is an attempt to revive some really good work which has not received cult classic status as yet. Having said that, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Disclaimer: The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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