It is erroneously believed that Asha Bhosle sang Rahul Dev Burman’s best songs. In fact Burman Junior, like his father, was completely besotted by the Nightingale Lata Mangeshkar’s voice and his career’s finest songs were reserved for her only. Don’t believe me? Then checkout these imperishable melodies.
1. ‘Bahon Mein Chale Aao’ (Anamika): The signature tune for R D Burman’s immortal collaboration with Lataji, ‘Bahon Mein Chale Aao’ is to RD’s oeuvre what Mother India is to Nargis. Recalls Lataji, “When I heard the song situation in the film it was very clear to me that the tune had to be sung very softly. The heroine Jaya Bhaduri is singing to Sanjeev Kumar while everyone is fast asleep in the house. If she sings too loudly she will wake up everyone. Her feelings had to be expressed very, very softly. This song is among my personal favourites. I often sang it at my live concerts.”
2. ‘Raina Beeti Jaaye’ (Amar Prem): Goosebumps…RD’s ethereal composition where he used a morning raga for a night song, Lataji’s flawless singing and Sharmila Tagore’s emotive prowess lent an eternal heft to this enchanting melody. Recalls Lataji, “Pancham’s knowledge of Hindustan classical music was very strong. He knew as much about music as his great father. In fact the very first song of his career was the classical based ‘Ghar Aaja Ghir Aaye Badra’ in Chote Nawab, which I sang.”
3. ‘Beeti Na Beetayi Raina’ (Parichay): Lataji won the National award for this classical masterpiece where she excels in articulating the nuances of the composition with the sensitivity that only she possesses. The doyen of Hindustani classical music Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan had once exclaimed, “Kambakht kabhi besura gaati hi nahin (the woman never sings out of tune).” Javed Akhtar verifies the authenticity of the incident. Lataji laughs, “Yeh unka baddappan ttha (this was his greatness). But yes, I always enjoyed singing classical songs; this one is among my favourites.”
4. ‘Dilbar Dil De Pyare’ (Caravan): Now for a fun song. One would think that RD would go to Asha Bhosle for this chulbula playful song. Says Lataji, “I thoroughly enjoyed singing the lighter songs of RD like, ‘Bhai Battoor’ in Padosan, ‘Bangle Ke Peeche’ in Samadhi and ‘Dilbar Dil Se’ in Caravan. In fact these spirited songs were many often far more difficult than the serious numbers. With R D there was always something exciting happening during the recordings.”
5. ‘Tere Bina Zindagi Se Koi Shikwa Toh Nahin’ (Aandhi): Perhaps the single-most popular song of R D Burman’s career ‘Tere Bina Zindagi Se’ was originally a song that RD composed in Bengali for the Durga Puja. He later converted it into this sublime number so suffused with emotions of regret and longing that it is considered by many to be Gulzar’s finest poetry for a film. Recalls Lataji fondly, “In Aandhi I had several beautiful duets with Kishoreda (Kumar) …Tum aa gaye ho noor aa gaya hai, Iss modd se jaate hain and ‘Tere Bina Zindagi’. Each one equally beautiful. Who knows why one out of many equally beautiful compositions becomes more popular than the rest?”