R D Burman’s Top 5 Songs From the Glorious ’60s

If R D Burman had been alive today – he died on January 4, 1994 — he would have been 75 years old. Dinesh Raheja selects Pancham’s best paanch (5) from films released in the’60s.
Ghar aaja ghir aaye badra’ from Chhote Nawab (1961)
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
For those who thought that RD discovered his classical genius with Amar Prem (1972), think again. Yes, RD created some unforgettable songs with Asha Bhosle, but when one hears his early day classical nugget ‘Ghar aaja’ one is tempted to agree with the lore that Asha felt Pancham saved his best for Lata. Incidentally, Burman ranks this as one of his most memorable compositions.

Mehmood, on whom this song was picturised (along with Ameeta), had tremendous faith in RD and signed him as the composer for Bhoot Bangla too. Burman repaid him for reposing faith in him by giving him two lovely compositions in Bhoot Bangla – the haunting ‘Jaago sonewalon’ and the hit ‘Aao twist karein’.

‘O haseena zulfon wali jaane jahan’ from Teesri Manzil (1966)
Singers: Asha-Rafi
Few numbers can match the sheer energy and ebullience of this rocking R D Burman duet. The song begins with a drummer banging away at drums in a silhouette (writer Salim Khan in a cameo). The spotlight shifts to a frisky and kittenish Helen and an agile and stylish Shammi Kapoor dancing on the sets of a club. The trumpet takes centre stage while the drums play second fiddle in this beautifully crafted, foot-tapping number. ‘O haseena zulfonwali’ is arguably the definitive club number of the 60s.

‘Chunri sambhal gori’ from Baharon Ke Sapne (1967)
Singers: Lata-Manna Dey
R B blended folksy music with an uptempo beat for this gem, which had Manna’s voice interspersed with seductive ‘Ah-haa’s by Lata. Picturised on Asha Parekh and Rajesh Khanna, the song has profound philosophy in the lines ‘Rayena nahee apni par apna hoga kal ka savera … arre rayen kaunsi jo na dhal jaaye’ by Majrooh. And yet it’s also a dance number. The dholak proved irresistible – not only the lissome and lithe Laxmi Chhaya but even the much-older character actor, Anwar Hussain, manage to dance to its beats with elan.

‘Vaadiyan mera damaan’ from Abhilasha (1968)
Singers: Lata-Rafi
Both the male and female versions of this song, sung by Lata and Rafi were much appreciated. If only the situations for the songs were more imaginative. RD Burman’s tune doesn’t compromise on pace to evoke romance . Aided by some excellent imagery in the lyrics, the song creates a picture of young love amidst verdant landscapes and lofty mountains.

‘Mere saamnewali khidki mein’ from Padosan (1969)
Singer:Kishore Kumar
Kishore Kumar reaches the zenith of zaniness in this song as the behind-the-curtains voice of Sunil Dutt (to appease his music-besotted love, Dutt pretends to sing while Kishore does the actual honours). The signing toli comprises Kishore Kumar strumming a silver paan box, Raj Kishore beating a flour container with paint brushes, and Keshto keeping time with a broomstick – wonder what instruments Burman employed but the melody is infectious. Burman’s beat and Kishore’s crazed crooning not only bowled over Sunil Dutt’s onscreen Padosan, the saucySaira Banu, but also inspired a series of imitations and provided fodder for many a mimic and wannabe ‘Indian Idol’.
- Dinesh Raheja, Bollywood News Service

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