A tribute on his death anniversary August 27
For someone who is a great fan of both Mukesh and SD Burman, the most intriguing question is why did SD Burman use him so sparingly. Whenever he did use him the results were stunning. The best example is O janewale ho sake to laut ke ana from Bandini. This film had superlative songs by Lata Mangeshkar (Mora gora ang laike, Jogi jabse tu aya mere dware), Asha Bhosle (Ab ke baras bhej bhaiya ko babul, O panchhi pyare), Manna Dey (Mat ro mata laal tere bahutere) and SD Burman himself (O re manjhi mere sajan hain us paar). That Mukesh’s O janewale stands equally tall among these gems is a testimony to the greatness of both SD Burman and Mukesh. Earlier a similar phenomenon happened in Bambai Ka Babu with Mukesh song Chal ri sajni ab kya soche towering over outstanding songs by Mohmmad Rafi and Asha Bhosle. There was something special in Mukesh’s voice which made his few songs leave an impact far deeper than more numerous songs of other singers.
SD Burman’s association with Mukesh started as early as 1948 with Vidya and continued till the very end of Mukesh’s life in 1976 with Barood. But with all that their combination would not have given more than fifteen songs including solos and duets. But Mukesh, generally and especially with SD Burman, had a very high rate of success. Most of these songs are truly outstanding. Therefore, though SD Burman-Mukesh is a very uncommon combination, continuing my series on SD Burman’s best songs with great singers, let me present their songs as my tribute to Mukesh on his 37th death anniversary (passed away on 27 August 1976 of severe heart attack in Detroit where he had gone for a concert).
1. Bahe na kabhi nain se neer from Vidya (1948), lyrics Yashodanandan Joshi
So SD Burman’s first song for Dev Anand is neither by Mohammad Rafi or Kishore Kumar, but by Mukesh? Though somewhat forgotten, Bahe na kabhi nain se neer has all the famed sweetness of Mukesh and should rank among his best.
2. Layi khushi ki duniya with Suraiya from Vidya (1948), lyrics Anjum Philibhiti
Now a duet from the same film with one of the greatest female actor-singers, Suraiya whose love in real life with the co-star Dev Anand had become the stuff of legend. This lovely romantic duet also reflects their deep romance in real life.
3. Tumhare liye hue badnaam with Shamshad Begum from Shabnam (1949), lyrics Qamar Jalabadi
This Dilip Kumar-Kamini Kaushal starrer had four Mukesh songs, all duets though – three with Shamshad Begum and one with Geeta Dutt, but all outstanding. This outstanding duet is picturised on a fabulous dance presented before (princess?) Kamini Kaushal seated somewhat reluctantly with Jeevan. The lead male dancer lip synching Mukesh is under heavy makeup, but one can figure out he is Dilip Kumar serenading to her beloved, making her restless.
4. Tu mahlon mein rahnewali main kutiyon mein rahnewala with Shamshad Begum from Shabnam (1949)
This one seems to be a repeat of the previous duet with identical scene and similar theme. Dilip Kumar in the same makeup sings another sarcastic song to her wealthy beloved, You living in a mansion and I in a hut, how can there be love between us? Was it picturised back to back in the film?
5. Kismat mein bichhadna tha hui kyon unse mulaqaat re with Geeta Dutt from Shabnam (1949)
Now a duet with Geeta Dutt which is equally good. Picturised on Dilip Kumar and Kamini Kaushal, it is what I call long-distance duet of separation.
6. Chal ri sajni ab kya soche from Bambai Ka Babu (1960), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri
There does not seem to be any Mukesh-SD Burman song for over a decade until we come to Chal ri sajni, one of the greatest bidai songs, and a milestone song for Mukesh, easily ranking among his very best.
7. Ae dil-e-awara chal from Dr Vidya (1962), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri
After a poignant bidai song, SD Burman shows his virtuosity by creating this peppy number, and Mukesh, who is typecast as a singer of sad songs, does full justice to it.
8. O janewale ho sakey to laut ke ana from Bandini (1963), lyrics Shailendra
Bandini is my most favourite Bimal Roy movie. There is a visual beauty of Bengal countryside and river, outstanding script, sensitive acting – probably the best of her career by Nutan – and heavenly music, encompassing in one film myriad colours of SD Burman from manjhi song to a Vaishnav song to a folk sad song to a patriotic song. In this galaxy you have this immortal song by Mukesh, the pathos in his voice matched by the pain in Nutan’s sad eyes.
9. Ye kisne geet chheda with Suman Kalyanpur from Meri Soorat Teri Ankhen (1963), lyric Shailendra
This film was another example of SD Burman’s virtuosity – Poochho na kaise main rain bitaayi by Manna Dey, Nache mera man tigna dhig dhigi by Rafi, Tere bine soone nain hamaare by Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar – each a gem of its type. And you have equally towering this Mukesh-Suman Kalyanpur duet, one of their best.
10. Bagon mein ye kaise phool khilte hain with Lata Mangeshkar from Chupke Chupke (1975), lyrics Anand Bakshi
Is there again a gap of over ten years until we get a Mukesh song by SD Burman? I invite the knowledgeable readers to hunt Mukesh-SD Burman songs in these periods of long gaps. But as I said, whatever and whenever they did together was a masterpiece. I end with this duet which came towards the last years of Mukesh’s career.