The Indian side to the ‘western’ composer RD Burman

The legendary RD Burman is more famously known as a ‘western’ composer. However, the versatile composer has created many melodies based on classical ragas. We present some of his evergreen raga-based melodies:

1. Ghar aaja ghir aaye (Chhote Nawab/1961)

Picturised on renowned dancer Sheila Vaz, who appears in a cameo, this song is one of Pancham’s finest compositions. Based on Raga Malgunji and sung exquisitely by Lata Mangeshkar, it is widely regarded as RD’s first independent composition. Composed for a film that was shelved, RD Burman instead used the tune for Mehmood’s Chhote Nawab, which became his debut film.

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2. Mere naina saawan bhadon (Mehbooba/1976)

RD Burman was a genius at creating the mood of the movie through his compositions. Mere naina saawan bhadon, which is based on Raga Sivaranjini, perfectly does that. In a story of reincarnation and love transcending death, this haunting melody reflects the protagonist’s mood.

 

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3. Raina Beeti Jaaye (Amar Prem/1971)

RD often complained that while his father was alive (and sometimes even after), his classical compositions were attributed to his father. In Raina beeti jaaye, he combined two ragas, Todi and Khamaj, to create an exquisite melody.

 

 

 

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4. Beeti na bitaayi raina (Parichay/1972)

Classical ragas are often performed during specific times. Yaman Kalyan (and other ragas in the Kalyan thaat) is considered an evening raga. This song is picturised on Sanjeev Kumar, accompanied by Jaya Bhaduri, who plays his daughter in the film. It won Lata Mangeshkar and Bhupinder National Awards for playback, as well as the Best Lyricist award for Gulzar. Unfortunately, the composer who tuned this delicate melody didn’t get an award.

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Sridevi Kapoor
5. Aap ki aankhon mein kuch (Ghar/1978)

An intensely romantic song tempered by teasing affection is not something you associate with classical ragas. However, this lovely interlude between an ordinary middle-class couple sharing a romantic moment was based on Raga Kedar.

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6. Meri bheegi bheegi si (Anamika/1973)

This song soared up to No.4 on the famous Binaca Geetmala and is still popular among music lovers today. Based on Raga Kirwani, RD Burman’s music complemented Majrooh Sultanpuri’s lyrics.

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7. Zindagi ke safar mein (Aap ki Kasam/1974) Based on Raga Bihag

RD shared a close friendship with Kishore Kumar, whom he used extensively as his preferred male voice. Picturised on Rajesh Khanna, the song, based on Raga Bihag, is both philosophical and regretful. RD’s composition, Anand Bakshi’s lyrics and Kishoreda’s voice combined to make this a timeless classic.

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