Sunday, January 4, 2009

My friend RD Burman

Mumbai: Rajesh Khanna talks about Panchamda on his 15th death anniversary

Former superstar Rajesh Khanna, who used to be a close friend of the late versatile genius composer-singer Rahul Dev Burman, went into a nostalgic flashback for Sunday MiD DAY on the occasion of Burman's death anniversary today.

Refusing to lament on the loss, Khanna reacts with an optimistic 'take'. "Who says R D Burman is no more?

According to me, a musical genius like Panchamda can never die because his repertoire of evergreen, futuristic songs keeps him alive and rocking. Whenever I'm listening to his snappy or soulful numbers, I feel I'm 'with him'.

When I heard the recycled version of the hit 'Bachna Ae Haseenon' by Vishal & Shekhar, originally composed by Rahul, I was ecstatic that today's gen-next could instantly connect with an RD song composed over three decades ago! Even the musical title Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na starring Imran Khan, was the mukhda of a popular RD chartbuster way back in 1973. Why even Shah Rukh Khan's Main Hoon Naa had frequent background tunes of vintage RDB scores. Which is why I constantly feel his 'presence' through his timeless music," elaborates Kaka.

Not surprisingly, Khanna admits that Panchamda was 'instrumental' in his take-off to stardom. "With all due respect to his music maestro father Sachin Dev Burman, the legendary number Mere Sapnon Ki Rani in Aradhana was actually composed by his talented son. Because I witnessed the song being 'born' during the sittings and even at the recording. Since Panchamda himself loved to play the harmonica, he has incorporated peppy portions of signature harmonica melodies in the Sapnon Ki Rani song, besides the foot-tapping train-in-motion rhythm something which gave him a creative high," reveals the seasoned actor.

Wasn't it true that Burman Junior composed most of his chartbusting tunes at unearthly hours and in unconventional situations? "That's right. At times he would even 'dream' of a melody and jot down the notations when he woke up. Just about any bizarre sound would inspire him. From a discordant car honking to an ear-splitting aircraft drone could inspire him. Once, Pancham and I were flying together to Delhi for the premiere of Baharon Ke Sapne. When the plane took off and started cruising, he started humming a catchy tune. The moment I heard it, I cajoled him to use it for one of my playback songs.

"Months later, we were at the sitting of Kati Patang and we just could not get the right tune for a particular song which had a waltz metre. That's when, fortunately, I could recall the same tune that RD had sung at 32,000 feet. This melody, which was instantly approved by director Shaktida Samanta, was none other than 'Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai'.

"Yet another instance, we were at a Shivji mandir-darshan somewhere in Kashmir. After listening to the clanging of temple bells during the aarti, we came out and RD instantly hummed a devotional hook line with a folksy flavour. This time, he assured me that he would gift the melody to me. That vibrant duet-song was much later recorded as 'Jai Jai Shiv Shankar' from the movie Aap Ki Kasam. Many a time, he would use the whistle-effect or la-la-la in some of his songs as he felt that the common man could whistle his melodies, even without memorising the lyrics," recalls Khanna.

The former superstar, who remained fast friends with Panchamda, disagrees with the popular notion that RD was a recluse. "Basically, Rahul was a shy, sensitive, reserved person who never grabbed publicity. As a loveable, emotional human being, he was quite jolly and fun-loving. The milestone song 'Ek Chatur Naar' (Padosan), which is a classical-pop freak-fusion, bears testimony to his humorous flip side.

"Besides being a romantic at heart, he romanticised life. Which is how he could create mushy serenading songs like 'Jaane-Jaan' (Jawani Diwani), 'Chura Liya Hai Tumne' (Yaadon Ki Baarat) and 'Hum Dono Do Premi' (Ajnabee)," counters Kaka, who deeply regrets that his close buddy had to go through a luckless, depressing phase post 1991, when the showbiz industry 'disowned' him as his music was "no longer saleable".

"Destiny snatched him away just when he was ready to start his second innings with his brilliant score in Vidhu Vinod Chopra's 1942-A Love Story. Although we have fabulous singer-composers today, none, I feel, can match up to RDB's extraordinary calibre," he sighs.

Finally, 15 years after his untimely demise in 1994, a 'chowk' at Santacruz West, close to Panchamda's residence, is scheduled to be named after him and to be unveiled by Asha Bhonsle today. "We need many more such dedicated memorial junctions and functions, music academies and loyal fan clubs to highlight the 'punch' of Panchamda's repertoire for all times to come," signs off Khanna.

Rajesh Khanna's Top 10 favourites of RD Burman
>>Oh Mere Dil Ke Chain (Mere Jeevan Saathi)
>>Chingari Koi Bhadke (Amar Prem)
>>Zindagi Ke Safar Mein (Aap Ki Kasam)
>>Duniya Mein (Apna Desh)
>>Humein Tumse Pyar Kitna (Kudrat)
>>Ek Chatur Naar (Padosan)
>>Dum Maro Dum (Hare Rama Hare Krishna)
>>Hum Bewafaa Hargiz Na The (Shalimar)
>>Jaane-e-Jaan (Jawani Diwani)
>>Baahon Mein Chali Aa (Anamika)

By: Chaitanya Padukone in Sunday Mid-day 4-1-2009


  1. There are some 32-33 movies in wich they have worked together and most of them have music which is immortal.

  2. A very well written article by C Padukone.

    Very sad that at the end of their terms, all three of Aradhana stardom debut were "disowned" by the modern Bollywood...

  3. The music of the trio Kaka, RD Burman and Kishore Kumar gave such songs which are immortal-

  4. This article shows still Kaka is interested in music line in today's context, when he refers Vishal-Sekhar's remix about Bachna aai hasino...

  5. Rajesh Khanna-Kishore Kumar-R D Burman combination was the GOLDEN ERA OF INDIAN FILM HISTORY