Rahul Dev Burman’s immense respect for Mohammad Rafi.
RD Burman started his journey with Chote Nawab in 1962 with the help of the man with the golden voice, Mohammad Rafi. Major songs in the film was sung by Rafi and RD Burman commanded respect in the musical community of that period, who were still mesmerised with the classical compositions of Naushad, folk songs of SD Burman, western effects of Shankar Jaikishan, OP Nayyar, Salil Chowdhury, Ghazals of Roshan, Madanmohan. RD Burman had other skills like playing the mouth organ, tabla and other related instruments and he showed his skill while playing the mouth organ for Laxmikant Pyarellal in the film Dosti, 1964 where Rafi had galvanised the silver screen with his tragic andaz *.
The bigger challenge of RD Burman was to create a gharana which was different from SD Burman, which was very difficult. He created western composition in “Ayo Twist Karen” for Manna Dey in Bhoot Bangla. But he received the maximum appreciation from music lovers with his compositions in the film Teesri Manzil, 1966. All the songs were sung by Mohammad Rafi. All the songs were superhits, including “O haseena zulfonwali”, “Aja aja”, “Dewaana tujhsa nahin”, “ janeman janeja, tumne muhhe dekha hoker meherba”, “O mere sona re sona re sona re.” The rock and roll flavour of Shammi Kapoor, which was started by Shankar Jaikishan in films like Junglee, 1961, songs like “Asman se aya farishta” in An Evening in Paris, 1967, “Aj kal tere mere pyar ke charche har jawan par” in Brahmchari, 1967, was matched by RD Burman in Teesri Manzil, 1966, and he gave the message to the Indian audience that he had arrived in the musical arena and was going to be a leading composer in future.
The relationship of RD Burman with Rafi continued in films like Pyar ka Mausam, 1969, where the songs like “Tum bin jayun kahan”, “Ni sultana re pyar ka mausam aya” were major hits. RD Burman developed a beat of his own which marked his identity in the 1970s. The biggest success came in 1970, with the film Karwa, where the songs “ kitna pyara wada” “are ho goriyan kahan tera desh re” were superhits, and Rafi’s voice balanced the choreographic skills of Jeetender for whom the maximum number of songs were sung by Rafi. For a short period RD Burman composed songs for Kishorekumar in films like Amar prem, Kari Patang, but that was due to the fact it matched with the voice of Rajesh Khanna.
Whenever RD Burman reverted back to Rafi, the songs were successful as ever, like “Yaadon ki Baarat,” “Chura liya hai tumne jo dilko”, in the film Yaadon ki Baarat, 1973, “Yeh ladka hai alla kaisa hai diwana”, in Hum kisi se kum nahi, 1977. In fact Rafi’s outstanding combination with Rishi Kapoor compelled RD Burman to provide the successful qawalli “Hai agar dushman zamana gham nahi ghan nahi”, in Hum Kisi se kum Nahi, which Rafi only could sing. The same film provided Rafi with the National award in 1977 with the song “Kya hua tera wada”. Further the musical competition in the film had Rafi and Kishore singing songs, including “chand mera dil”, etc.
The combination of RD Burman with Rafi continued in Rishi Kapoor’s film, “Zamane ko dikhana hai” where “Sochenge pyar kya hua” with Asha Bhosle, was a major hit. Further in the film Burning Train, 1980, the biggest hit was the qawalli sung by Rafi and Asha, titled “pal do pal ka saath hamaara”. The action of Dharmender and Vinod Khanna was balanced by the excellent choreography of Jeetender in the song “Pal do Pal”, and superlative performance of Rafi.
People have a wrong conception of the fact that RD Burman underestimated Rafi, which is not true. He had tremendous respect for the man with the golden voice. The only lacuna was that RD Burman had a lot of inherent classical skill which he did not get any scope of showing due to the demand of popular music except in the films of Gulzar. In Kinara, 1977, “Naam Gum Jayega”, “Meethe Bol Bole” sung by Bhupinder Singh, shows RD Burman’s gharana. Had Rafi survived for a longer period of time and had RD Burman got more opportunities to blend eastern and western music, the combination could have provided everlasting creations for future generations to cherish. Rafi’s archive should also contain the compositions of RD Burman which are admired by the modern generation and should be restored for music lovers of different ages.
* My father Ex chief Public Prosecutor, Bankshall Court, (Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court, Kolkata) had interviewed Manobendra Mukherjee, a versatile classical singer having immortal records on bhajans, kirtans, nazrulgeeti, modern bengali songs, film songs and asked him to sing his first Bengali Modern Song “Naichondon Lekha, sriradhar chokhe, nai nai shemorai” before the crowd in a function held in Paikpara, Kolkata where Manobendra said it was his beginning of his musical journey and a song which was a blank verse without musical instruments. If that song could be heard minutely it can be realized that modern music is almost bankrupt. Aroti Mukherjee, the famous Bengali singer, also my father’s witness in a case instituted in Bankshall Court, in the anurodher asor, in all in Radio, said that her teenage was shaken up by Manobendra with the song “Naichondon Lekha” in 1953. In the same interview Manobendra Mukherjee told my father, the real starting point of compositions is classical background. He said the more RD Burman tried to move away from SD Burman in composing western tunes, the more he landed back with SD Burman’s classical gharana in Kinara, 1977, Parichay, 1972, Masoom,1982, where he was appreciated the most by musical pandits where the classical songs were sung by Bhupinder Singh and Lata Mangeshkar..
Article By Souvik Chatterji
Master of Law from Warwick University, Coventry, UK.
Master of Law from Case Western Reserve Univerwsity, Cleveland, Ohio,USA.
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