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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.