Rahul Dev Burman, RD to 1970s and 1980s music lovers, scored music for over 280 Hindi films. But more than the awesome quantity of his numbers, their timeless quality gave him an edge.
RD could deftly don both hats --- the Westernised voice of the youth in Dum maro dum (Hare Ram Hare Krishna), or any number of exquisite melodies.
The magic of RD Burman's music is endorsed by the fact that every successive generation relates to his music. Take the many remixes of his old songs --- Chura liya (Yaadon Ki Baaraat) and Tu tu hai wahin (Yeh Wada Raha) --- to name just two. They have become a small scale industry for the music biz.
RD was born with music in his genes. Father Sachin Dev Burman, a descendant of the royal family of Tripura, the Easten Indian state, was one of the foremost music directors in the Mumbai film industry. RD's mother was steeped in music and used to assist his father. Little Rahul cried in all five notes and was nicknamed Pancham.
|Famous songs of RD Burman|
| Oh haseena zulfhonwali
|| Teesri Manzil
|| Mohammed Rafi, Asha Bhosle
| Mere saamne
wali khidki mein
|| Kishore Kumar
| Yeh shaam mastaani
|| Kati Patang
|| Kishore Kumar
| Piya tu ab
toh aa jaa
|| Asha Bhosle
| Dum maro dum
|| Hare Rama Hare Krishna
|| Asha Bhosle
| Raina beeti jaaye
|| Amar Prem
|| Lata Mangeshkar
| Jaane jaan dhoondta phir raha
|| Jawani Diwani
|| Asha Bhosle, Kishore Kumar, Usha Uthup
| O mere
dil ke chain
| Mere Jeevan Saathi
|| Kishore Kumar
| Chura liya hai tumne jo dil ko
|| Yaadon Ki Baaraat
|| Mohammed Rafi,
| Tere bina zindagi se koi
|| Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar
| Kya hua
| Hum Kisise Kam Nahin
|| Mohammed Rafi
| Dekha maine
| Love Story
|| Lata Mangeshkar, Amit Kumar
| Mera kuch saaman
|| Asha Bhosle
| Ek ladki ko dekha toh aisa laga
|| 1942 --
A Love Story
| Kumar Sanu
Pancham was initiated into the world of film music in his teens --- he was fond of playing the mouth organ and assisted his father in films like Pyaasa (1957). RD's buddy Mehmood gave Pancham a break as an independent music composer with his production Chhote Nawab (1961), a Mehmood-Ameeta starrer.
Rahul drove Mehmood up the wall by denting his car with his persistent drumming of tunes. Lata Mangeshkar sang two scintillating solos for the film: Ghar aaja ghir aayee, and the teasing Chura ke dil ban rahe hai bhole.
Pancham had to wait four long years before his next assignment --- Mehmood's Bhoot Bangla (1965). The bespectacled Pancham even performed a comic role in the film, but his heart was set on music. Later, when Mehmood offered RD a role in Padosan (1968), RD declined and invested his humour in whacky compositions like Ek chatur naar.
By then, RD had already achieved his breakthrough with Nasir Hussain's Teesri Manzil (1966). Hero Shammi Kapoor was more attuned to Shanker-Jaikishan, and had to be persuaded to let RD score the music. Thankfully, Shammi was won over. Burman repaid Kapoor with as many as five nuggets, ranging from the rollicking O haseena zulfonwali to the ritzy rock-n-roll invitation Aaja aaja to the soulful Tumne mujhe dekha.
RD's association with Nasir Hussain continued right up till the filmmaker's last directed film, Zabardast (1985), with superhits like Caravan, Yaadon Ki Baaraat and Hum Kisise Kam Nahin.
Back in the Sixties, even after Teesri Manzil, RD's career was slow to catch fire. However, the early Seventies saw RD riding the crest of the Rajesh Khanna wave with a chain of hits The Train, Kati Patang, Amar Prem, Apna Desh, Namak Haram and Aap Ki Kasam.
The year 1972 was a terrific one for RD. His diverse scores for Hare Rama Hare Krishna and Amar Prem revealed his virtuosity. Just consider the range in the former's Dum maro dum and the latter's Bada natkhat hai.
Within a year, RD followed with a string of hits like Apna Desh, Jawani Deewani, Rampur Ka Laxman and Seeta Aur Geeta. Mere Jeevan Saathi and Parichay were not box office biggies but their songs are popular till today.
RD was now part of the 1970s trinity of Laxmikant-Pyarelal and Kalyanji-Anandji. RD was not circumscribed by images --- in 1975, a youth anthem like Khullam khulla pyar karenge (Khel Khel Mein) or Sholay's Mehbooba (which he also sang), was balanced by a soulful melody like Tere bina zindagi se (Aandhi).
No wonder, RD had box office banners like Ramesh Sippy (Sholay), Nasir Hussain, Dev Anand and Shakti Samanta regularly backing him.
He also spun some gossamer melodies for the middle-of-the-road cinema of Hrishikesh Mukherjee (Namak Haram, Jurmana, Bemisaal, Khoobsurat), and particularly Gulzar (Parichay, Aandhi, Khushboo, Kinara, Angoor, Namkeen, Ijazzat). Though the prevailing trend was to compose tunes first and then have lyrics written, Gulzar made RD compose tunes for his lyrics.
RD lived up to the challenge even when the number was as difficult as Mera kuch saaman tumhare paas pada hai.
A sizeable portion of RD's work was embellished by his second wife, Asha Bhosle. Together, they produced beauties like the cheerful Chura liya hai, and the melancholic Sapna mera toot gaya (Khel Khel Mein).
His work with Asha's elder sister Lata was no less remarkable. Take the pathos-laden Raina beeti jaaye (Amar Prem), or the high-pitched Jahan pe savera ho (Basera), or the gentle Sawan ke jhoole pade (Jurmaana).
Though he did a lot of work with Kishore Kumar, when RD did make Mukesh sing for him, he emerged with a sparkling gem like Jis gali mein tera ghar na ho (Kati Patang). His association with Rafi produced winners in Teesri Manzil, Caravan and Hum Kisise Kam Nahin's Kya hua tera vaada which won Rafi an award; and which was heard on almost every street corner in 1977.
In the early 1980s, RD's trendy yet melodious music made him the first choice of star fathers who launched their sons in teenage love stories like Love Story (Kumar Gaurav), Rocky (Sanjay Dutt) and Betaab (Sunny Deol).
In the mid 1980s, Bhappi Lahiri invaded the scene and RD was relegated to the sidelines. RD was still composing lilting numbers for the occasional Saagar (1985), Ijazzat (1988) and Sunny (1984), which had the popular Aur kya aehde wafaa hote hai.
Unfortunately, his amazing score for 1942 -- A Love Story, which showed that RD was still capable of great creations like Ek ladki ko dekha, came after his demise in 1994.
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