Rafi Sahab and Pancham, the combination that was adored by all alike classes to masses
This article is written by: Zaheen Danish
When we talk about the combination of Rafi Sahab and R.D. Burman and about their partnership, some of the finest songs that were composed by RDB trying to resurface on the thin layer of memory instantly such as – “Tum bin jaoun kahan”, “Ni sultana re pyar ka mausam aya” “ kitna pyara wada” , “Arrey ho goriyan kahan tera desh re”, “Chura liya hai tumne jo dilko”, “Yeh ladka hai alla kaisa hai diwana”, “Hai agar dushman zamana gham nahi”, “Kya hua tera wada”, “Chand mera dil”, “Pal do pal ka saath hamaara” and Maine poocha chand se. 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, Madan mohan. 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.
RDB created western composition in “Ao 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 mujhsa nahin”, “ janeman janeja, tumne muhhe dekha hoker meherban”, “O mere sona re sona re sona re.” However, let us not forget that RDB used Rafi extensively during late sixties as his main playback singer right from the first movie. He gave hit music with Rafi in Teesri Manzil, Chhote Nawaab, Caravan, Pyaar ka Mausam, Chandan ka Palna, The Train, Abhilasha, Adhikar, etc. Later during late seventies he returned to Rafi and gave hits like Shaan, Hum Kisise Kum Nahin, Abdullah, Zamane ko Dikhana Hai, etc.
Today when people remember RDB, they remember him as a great musician and a greater human being. It is a curious thing that R D Burman also goes by the name of Pancham. Story goes that when veteran Ashok Kumar saw Sachin Dev Burman’s newborn uttering the syllable ‘Pa‘ repeatedly, he nicknamed him Pancham. And the name stuck. To many, he’s still Pancham Da. The man who added his unique dash of pep and verve into Hindi film music starting with the 60s. The first music director who added a pinch of Rock ‘n’ Roll to lilting Hindi tunes. And created a brand of music so distinctly his own, that even his father, the older Burman came to be proud of his son’s unconventional music. Tublu!! That’s what RDB was called when he was born. If you see his early pictures, he quite did justice to this name.
Mehmood Saab had gone to sign Sachinda for his first production but it is said that Sachinda was not convinced about working with a new production house and Mehmood Saab signed RDB for his aptly titled debut, Chhote Nawab! When Chhote Nawab was released, 1961, Sachinda was one of the biggest names in the industry. Already a legend, with a huge fan following and a queue of producers waiting to sign him for their next venture. Amidst all this, Rahul Dev Burman made his quiet entry into films. Not many would have noticed this film and its music and those who did, may not have realized that this album and this man, will be discussed for ages to come.
Starting independent music composing in 1961 with Chhote Nawaab, he did 331 Films and 4 Non-Film Albums. Before coming onto his own, he assisted his father S.D. Burman for long. Out of his 331 released movies 292 were in Hindi, 31 in Bangla, 3 in Telugu, 2 each in Tamil & Oriya and 1 in Marathi. RD also composed for 5 TV Serials in Hindi and Marathi. He also scored a large number of non-film songs in Bangla ((also known as Pooja songs or modern songs), which are available in different albums. He did a song for a small documentary film called Maa Ki Pukaar too, in 1975. R.D. Burman made his acting debut in Mehmood’s ‘Bhoot Bangla‘. Later in ‘Pyar Ka Mausam‘ too he gave a hilarious performance as Mr. Popat Lal. RDB was appreciated, loved, respected & adored by all alike Classes to Masses.
- Pancham introduced the twin track effect in ‘Baharon Ke Sapne‘. which he later used to create the mesmerizing ‘qatra qatra miltee hai‘ (Ijaazat) and a few more songs.
- He also pioneered the use of electronic organ in Indian Films with the song ‘O mere Sona re‘ (Teesri Manzil).
- RD was, as Gulzar says, as good a craftsman as he was a musician. He picked the sounds for his songs from very indigenous sources.
- In ‘Chura liya‘ he used the sound of a spoon hitting a glass.
- For the Kitaab song ‘Master jee kee aa gayee chitthee‘ he brought some desks from a classroom in the studio while recording and used them as percussion.
- In Abdullah he used the sound of a bamboo whistle with a balloon tied to it for a song.
- Once to get the sound of raindrops, he spent a whole rainy night in his house’s balcony recording the sound he wanted.
- In the song ‘O Manjhi Re‘ from the movie ‘Khushboo‘, R.D. Burman used bottles with water filled at different levels and created a hollow sound by blowing into them and this sound effect was used with the orchestra.
- During the recording of ‘Hum donon do premee‘ (Ajnabee) the musicians were on strike. So he improvised the song with emptied-out musical interludes and just listen the song!
- The mouth organ played in the song ‘Hai Apna Dil To Awara‘ sung by Hemant Kumar in the film ‘Solva Saal‘ is played by R.D. Burman himself.
- R.D. Burman played the mouth organ for his friends Laxmikant-Pyarelal in a song in ‘Dosti‘ and also in a movie for Kalyanji-Anandji.
- Dada Burman used Pancham’s tune ‘ai meree topee palat ke aa‘ in ‘Fantoosh‘. Pancham was only 9 when he composed the tune.
- Again next year, for Pyaasa, SD used his son’s ‘Sar Jo Tera Chakraaye‘, which became a big hit.
- Both Lata and Bhupinder won a National award for the song ‘Beeti Na Bitaayee Raina‘ from ‘Parichay‘, and this song was composed in a hotel room in no time.
- Aarti Mukherjee won a National award for the song ‘Do Naina Ek Kahaani‘ from ‘Masoom‘.
- Gulzar (best lyricist), Asha Bhosle (best female singer) won National awards for the song ‘Mera Kuchh Samaan‘ from Ijaazat.
- RDB was the first to introduce the Brazilian bossa nova rhythm in Hindi film music – the song was “Maar dalega dard-e-jigar“, sung by Asha, in “Pati Patni“. That rhythm has since been endlessly used for film music.
- R.D. Burman won the Filmfare Award only 3 times (Sanam Teri Kasam, Masoom, 1942-A Love Story) while being nominated 16 times for the award.
- Amit Kumar, Abhijeet & Shabbir Kumar were given their first breaks by Pancham.
- Jatin of Jatin-Lalit used to be in Pancham’s children’s choir.
- Nasir Hussain, for the first time after Teesri Manzil, did not sign R.D. Burman, in ‘Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak‘.
R.D.B did give Rafi Sahab best numbers that are still fondly remembered. One song which basically can be philosophy to many people is Pal do Pal ka saath hamara. I’ve noticed, be it any program that is a tribute to Rafi Sahab, it either ends with Tum Mujeh Yun Bhula Na Paavoge or Pal Do Pal Ka Saath Hamaara.
Some unforgettable Solos of Rafi with RDB:
- Tumne Mujhe Dekha, Hokar Meherbaan – Teesri Manzil (1966)
- Zamane ne Mare Jawaa Kaise-Kaise – Baharon ke Sapne ( 1967)
- Tumhe Dekha hai Maine Gulsitaoon Mein – Chandan ka Palna (1967)
- Wadiyaan Mera Daman – Abilasha (1968)
- Tum Bin Jaoon Kahan – Pyar ka Mausam (1969)
- CheKhush Nazare,chekhush Nazare – Pyar ka Mausam (1969)
- Mere Liye Aati Hai sham – Raton ka Raja (1970)
- Gulabi Aakheen Jo Teri dekhi – The Train (1970)
- Rekha O Rekha, Jab se tumhe Dekha – Adhikar (1971)
- Koi Aur Duniya Mein tumsa hasin hai – Pyar ki Kahani (1971)
- Ae Jaanewafa Aisa bhi kya tum to khaafa – Chhalia (1973)
- Jab ek kaaja se gujro to ek aur kaaja mil jaati hai – Devta (1978)
- Jaag devta, naag devta – Shalimar (1978)
- Aa gaye yaaro Jeene Ke din – Phir Wohi Raat (1980)
- Aate Jaate hue main sab pe nazar – Shaan (1980)
- Maine Poocha Chand Se – Abdullah (1980)
- Kaun Kisi ko Bandh saaka – Kaalia (1981)
- Dukh Sukh ki har ek Mala Kudrat hi piroti ha – Kudrat (1981)
Some unforgettable duets of Rafi and Lata with RDB:
- Matwaalee aankhon waale – Chhote Nawaab (1961)
- Nagma Hamara Gaayegaa Ye Zamana – Bundalbaaz (1976)
- Kitnaa Pyaaraa Waadaa Hai – Caravan (1971)
- Kahe Ko Bulaya – Humshakal (1974)
- Gori Ke Haath Mei Jaise Ye Chhallaa – Mela (1974)
- Rut Hai Milan Ki Saathi Mere Aa Re – Mela (1974)
- Mohabbat Mein Ajii Kyaa Apnaa Imtihaan Denge – Phandebaaz (1978)
- Ni Sultana Re Pyar Ka Mausam Aayaa – Pyar Ka Mausam (1969)
- Mujhse Bhalaa Ye Kaajal Teraa Nain Base Din Rain – The Train (1970)
- Lehra Ke Aayaa Hai Jhonka Bahaar Ka – Waris (1969)
- Kabhi Kabhi Aisa Bhi To Hota Hai – Waris (1969)
Some unforgettable duets of Rafi and Asha with RDB:
- Aaja Aaja Main Hu – Teesri Manzil (1966)
- Haseena Zulfon Wali – Teesri Manzil
- Mere Sona Re – Teesri Manzil
- Chura Liya Hain Tumne – Yadon ki Barat (1974)
- Hai Allah yek ladka – Hum Kisise Kum Nahin (1978)
- Hai Agar Dushman Zamana – Hum Kisise Kum Nahin
- Pal do Pal ka Saath – The Burning Train (1979)
- Aa raat jaati hai chupke se mil jaaye dono – Benaam (1974)
- Rakkassa Mera Naam,Ae Sahib sabko salaam – The Great Gambler (1978)
- Pucho na yaar kya hua – Zamane ko Dikha Hai (1981)
The only duet RDB sang with Rafi Sahab was “Yamma Yamma” from Shaan.
Mohammed Rafi received the National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer for the song Kya Hua Tera Wada from Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahin (1977), composed by RD Burman.
For all the glory he had earned, RDB was an introvert when it came to self-publicity. This resulted in his losing out on many prestigious ventures. Directors who dropped him without any tangible reason included greats like Ramesh Sippy and Shekhar Kapoor. Subhash Ghai had once assured him that they would work together. In reality, he never did. Yash Copra dropped him even after the grand success of Deewar. Manmohan Desai, having used RD for Aa Gale Lag Jaa, his best musical by a mile, never said a word in RD’s favour in the future. But these were not isolated incidents. RD was in reality an inarticulate dipsomaniac whose world revolved around his music and his close circuit of friends. Even when he got cheated, he had no real clout in the Bombay film circle to voice his opinion, let alone bloat it. His last years were rooted in disappointments that were directed at various levels, mainly at the way the music industry promoted non-talents for reasons other than music. Like every superstar, RDB needed to be constantly reminded of his greatness, the lack of which forced him into a self-appointed seclusion. Sachin Bhowmick, his chum and confidante, summed it up as, “It was loneliness which killed him. Loneliness which is supposed to be the critical foe of heart patients.”
1994 had finally arrived. The New Year had begun with a big bang. High hopes, high spirits and great expectations for happiness, peace and prosperity. There was no place left for sadness or gloom. And yet, it found its insidious way into our hearts on that unfortunate winter morning. January 4,1994, 3:45 am R.D.Burman, one of the greatest music directors of all times passed away after suffering two heart attacks, one after the other. Indian cinema had lost another genius.