Ab Ke Burmans Sawan Mein – The Burmonsoon Songs
Ab ke ‘BURMANs’ Saawan mein:
Monsoon is here, yes, it’s finally at the shore-steps of India to drench the subcontinent and to once more induce life into the economy and ecology of India. Water is one of the essentialities on the earth and one of the five powerful elements (Pancha-mahabhoot) that constitute the environment of the earth.
India may be the only country which is blessed with three seasons roughly of four months each. Monsoon stands just at the middle. We have a proverb in Marathi ‘Nemechi yeto mag Paavsaala’ meaning the rain nearly makes it a rule to return to India, and the happenings start around last week of May when it grips Andaman and slowly engulfs the whole country entering thru God’s own country of our country, Kerala. The seeds of monsoon are however sown in the preceding months of summer. The intense heat grips the whole nation with mercury rising over 40 deg in most of the part. The water sources deplete. The whole nation (barring the north eastern/ western Himalayan parts), that includes its earth and all living yearn for the water laden clouds from the Arabian Sea. Earth and the clouds are like the lovers separated by the hot Sun and the monsoon brings their reunion.
In that way, this is the season of romance. It would have been surprising if the poets and artists were not found inspired by this phenomenon to bring many romantic creations. The great poet Kalidas has written Meghdoot actually a poem but cryptically pointing at the progression of the monsoon.
How could the Indian music and moreover Hindi film music stay behind in celebrating this carnival of romance? This article is written just for the purpose and as the title suggests takes into account the monsoon romantic songs composed by the father-son duo. They both were known to put the emotions/ the feel of the song at centre than the pure technicalities of music. May be my heart resonates more with their treatment. It therefore makes me easy to express through their immortal work than that of the other many more competent artists.
So … let’s go –
1. Allah megh de paani de (Guide 1965) – SD Burman
The Indian subcontinent is vast and the monsoon does not get distributed evenly throughout its expanse. Some areas experience draught while some get flooded. A prayer is a must to start the musical proceedings and when it’s chanted by the seasoned Old monk it is sure to tug your heart for its honest intensity.
Sachin da’s Maajhi/ boat songs, although not more than one in his albums, have stood out in the most melodic peers for the distinct singing style of the composer-singer and this song even if not being boat song is no exception. He actually made it a point to not give play-back to any lead character. Most of them were either background or lip-synched by a nondescript artist. His style also suited to that kind of songs.
Basically a folk song originally sung by Abbasuddin, a singer from Bangladesh appeared in many versions including this one, a Jailyatra song by Junior Burman (‘naheen lagta haye dil tere bina) , by Bappi da in Sharabi ( ‘de de pyar de’ ) and by Laxmi- Pyare in palkon ki chhnav mein (‘alla megh de’).
2. Kaali ghata chhaye mora jiya tarsaaye (Sujata-1959) – Asha Bhosale :
Hoon main kitni akeli
Woh yeh jaan ke
Mere berang jeevan ko pehchaan ke
Mere haathon ko thaame , hanse
Aur hansaaye, kisi
Ka kya jaaye
The months of April-May are horrible for the heat and therefore the craving for the monsoon increases. This beauty of a song from ‘Sujata’ and these particular lines depict not only the state of the heroine but also the Earth with the ‘berang’ (discolored) life.
She sees the dark clouds in the sky and expects the rain to pour but it makes her to wait. It’s not only the rain but also ‘that someone’ who would enter her life and fulfill her desire. The movie brought to the fore the social problem of caste difference and the romance between this innocent girl and the learned and upper caste. Sunil Dutt was pivotal in the film story.
The simple, at times languid and at times nimble progression makes this song extremely attractive just like the heroine, Nutan. The SDB-trademark flirting flutes and the breezy sitar play their part in the success.
Asha Bhosale makes most of the opportunity provided by the rift between the composer and his favourite लोता (Lota) and makes it melodically memorable. The video provides a bonus adlib part with a charming aalap that seamlessly segues into the main song with the grace of a swan.
3. Rimjhim ke taraane leke aayi barsaat ( Kaala bazaar 1960)- Rafi- Geeta Dutt
‘ Bheege tan man par ras ki fuhaar
Pyar ka sandesa laayi barkha bahaar
Main na boloon aankhein kare ankhiyon se baat’
And finally it arrives. The wait is over and the fond memories of its first meet of the previous seasons begin to mushroom in the romantic minds. Yes, focus shifts from the waiting indoors to drenching outdoors!
Cometh the monsoon and Mumbai and its rains are frequently in the news for some or other reasons. But in this song, this drizzle is re-igniting the romance between Debonair Dev and beauty-with-the-brain Waheeda reminding them of their first meeting in dissimilar circumstances. We can understand a background solo but a background duet is rarity if not unique. Wonder how many non-lip-synched duets other than this exist!
Melodic voices of Rafi and Geeta Dutt are lingering enough for you to revisit it again and again making you wonder about its first acquaintance. The cute sitars and the staccato piano beats drench you when the vocals are resting.
Such an unhurried melody with the pace quite consistent to the pace of Mumbai life in those times compared to the rat-race of today’s metro.
The genius of Vijay Anand, the camerawork and the lovely use of the visual theme of black umbrellas and the punctuating protection of white newspaper makes the song visually memorable.
Some shots may invariably bring ‘ek akeli chhatri mein jab aadhe aahde bheeg rahe the’ to your thoughts.
4. Ghar aaja ghir aayee ( Chhote Nawaab- 1961) – Lata Mangeshkar
Lata Mangeshkar’s honey dipped voice romanced with the tunes of many legendary music directors that included the disciplined Naushad saab, Innovative SJ, her Madan bhaiyya , the experimental Salil da and of course the celebrity of this article SD Burman. Sachin da wouldn’t do without the chewing of his favorite paan and churning sweet tunes for his favorite लोता (Lota). Due to some misunderstanding between them they parted away temporarily and it was his legendary son and his debut film that ended that draught period.
RD Burman had watched her performing in his Dad’s recordings and had made up his mind to get the first official song recorded only in her voice. He had thought it would prove lucky for him and his career and how right he was! He approached her and she agreed. The shrewd father just pounced on that opportunity to restore the fruitful partnership with his लोता to help the melodies rain again.
‘kasmat jiyara kasak mori duni re
Pyaasi pyaasi ankhiyon ki kaliyaan hai sooni re
Jaane, Mohe laagi kis
Bairan ki nazariyaa
Ghar aaja ghir aayi
Here is that song that happened to be the excuse to bring them together. Composed in the raga Malgunji , this song covers two parallel situations and women characters played by Sheila Waz and Amita. The former is a kotha dancer entertaining Mehmood and his friend while the later is waiting for him at her home. Trust the veteran poet, Shailendra to capture the essence of this dual situation with emotional and poetic perfection. One is lip-synching a casually professional song which would lure her customer and the other is emoting the lyrics (that are really meant for her) in mute way while weeping. Lata is sure to deliver it with equal perfection. That staccato punctuation to the otherwise melodic flow along ‘tap tip sunat main to (bhai re baawariya)’ is the high point of the penning, composing, rendering and filming geniuses at work.
Pancham enters the bollywood scene officially and how!
His peers and arch rivals of the future, Laxmi Pyare, are there to conduct the orchestra. The sameness of the interludes for all the three instances is indeed a rarity here but it seems to be done intentionally. Marutirao’s classically graceful tabla and Pt Jairam Acharya’s sitar is the star performance from the orchestral side. The ghunghroo and the pensive sarangi act as the rhythmic and emotional frills of the composition.
The ‘chamakati bijuria’ in the background and lovely mixing of the dancing energy of Sheila and the anxiety of Ameeta are sure to transfix you visually.
It’s not the first time that a song was composed in raga Malgunji. Lata also was not singing first time. Shailendra, too, wasn’t showing his lyrical brilliance first time then what was that thing that made this song so outstandingly alluring and melodic?
It was that impish chubby cheeked young composer and his unique style which were all set to rock the film industry till his untimely death three decades later.
5. Rama Rama ghazab hui gawa re ( Naya zamana 1971) Lata Mangeshkar
Aai rut yeh suhani
Barsa pehle bhi paani
Aisa na hui jo ab hui ganwa re
Raama Raama ha ho Raama’
The song is semi-background like the previous one. Lata is seen lip-synching an extra dancer in the beginning. Dharam and Hema , the sweet romantic pair, are watching her dancing under the shed. Hema’s thoughts subconsciously get tuned with the lyrical phrases of Lata as she imagines herself at the dancer’s place. The studio rain and the real Sun are simultaneously pouring over her. But the stunningly beautiful visuals of Hema and equally stunning audio of Lata-SD-Bakshi make us ignore this goof-up.
The puddles become rhythmic boards, the paayliya dance to the tune, the folk shehnai and the nimble mandolins, too, can’t resist the temptation of mingling with the beautiful Hema/ Lata.
Pramod Chakravarti , the producer director of this movie, had a rich association with the Burmans that started with Ziddi and they set a rich tradition of presenting Lata sung folk dance songs in nearly every of their films. This one followed that tradition. Although it was a tradition and similar at frequent occasions they never sounded like run-of-the-mill products.
Every song imparted a charming and lingering feel and this solo too didn’t make an exception.
The last but not the least antara
‘kisne jaadoo chalaya
Barson mein jo ho na paaya
Ek pal mein who sab hui gawa re’
Bakshi saab beautifully wears the shoes of Majrooh saab for that Bhojpuri dialect) takes the song and the starting sentiment to the crescendo underlining the power of rain, romance and music by Sachin Devburman.
6. Kajara lagaa ke (Apna Desh 1972)- Kishore kumar- Lata Mangeshkar
Mukhada na dekho darpan mein,
Jhaanko zaraa mere man mein
Aise jiya pe chhayi ho
Jaise ghataein saawan mein’
The Santoor is the perennial instrument used for the rain related songs. Its use here in this song, however, is not just unconventional but exemplary so much so that it’s like the third singer accompanying Kishore and Lata.
Like the quote in the lyrics mentioned above it simply hovers on this rain song like a monsoon cloud when compared with its bountiful and beautiful usage. It however, at the same time, is as nimble as the showering drops.
Lovely violin runs, the punctuating guitars happily playing second fiddle, the breezy flute and the nimble rhythm are all there to amuse but the star performer is santoor and the player, Pt Shivkumar Sharma.
Be it the rhythmic frill of the prelude or the beautiful pickup of the baton from Kishore-Lata’s ‘kajra..ho…kajra..ho’ in the same vein or the near solo runs in the first interlude symbolizing the studio showers and also bringing the coquetry of Mumtaz or catching the wrist of the antara with a deceptively slow strikes, the santoor just sizzles and drizzles throughout the song.
Just like Dharam and Hema, Rajesh Khanna and Mumtaz formed an equally charming romantic pair. We know Kishore’s perfect complement to the nodding and waving of Kaka with charming perfection but Lata is no less performer when it comes to Mumtaz. She brings out some different best from her unfathomable skills that are reserved only for the cute attitude of Mumtaz.
7. Thandi hawaaon ne gori ka ghoonghat utha diya ( Premnagar 1974) –
Kishore kumar-Asha Bhosale- Chrous
How about cross-matching the romantic pairs of previous two songs to come up with Rajesh Khanna and Hema Malini ? A south film production engaged the two in this movie that had charming and graceful music by Sachin da, as charming as the pair and particularly Hema Malini.
After the return of Lata to SDB camp, it was difficult for Asha to sneak in and get the reward of romantic solos for the lead heroine. But if any situation of fun filled light hearted romantic situations came up, she was remembered by Dada, this natkhat song was no exception.
Barkha bahaar , barkha bahaar
Barkha bahaar aayi barkha bahaar
Jane kis birahan ne likhi koi
Chitthi piya ke des re
Aai purwaai leke Burmans ka sandes re”
Devburmans blew some fresh purwaiyya (easterly winds) into the bollywood music when it was dominated mostly by the north westerly winds from Punjab. They infused earthly fragrance and life into the bollywood romance. This song carries it all, the natkhat exchanges of Kishore – Asha, the sometimes melodic sometimes rumbling ( huRRe HHoo) mingle of chorus and the parallel north eastern / nepali folk phrase ‘dumbwa baroo roo..HHeeee aayo re’. The overall result is simply fantastic.
Some shivering passages of Asha (after that shining lightening) beautifully punctuate the overall folk exuberance.
Same can be said about the rhythmic ensemble. They are so well aggregated right from the bassy dhols to the sharp tasha to the dampened nepali madal/ duggi to the sharp slides of nails in a cymbal (typically in the spaces of ‘hurre hoo’).
The result is a well balanced well rounded rain song.
8. Rimjhim rimjhim dekho ( Shehzaada 1972) : Kishore-Lata
‘Aaj yeh barkha itni barase
Saari duniya jal-thal ho jaaye
Dharti aur aakash ke dil mein
Ek nayee see hulchul ho jaaye’
The last line underscoring the thoughts that ‘the monsoon is the romance between the earth and sky with the wind giving air to the agnee (fire) in the romantic hearts that blazes more with the pouring of rains’ with which we started the article.
Rajesh Khanna and Raakhi star in this film and the rain song. Both form an utterly butterly sweet pair drenched in the rain and the love. She actually confesses her love first time along ‘aaj kahee hai jo kehnee thee barason pahle baat, re’ blaming it all on the rainy season.
Pancham is ever innovative for his choices of singers and instruments. With the Punjabi background of characters, Rafi was more than automatic choice for many but not for him. He showed his swag in this Punjabi love sa-ga by choosing Kishore for not one but good three songs.
He also sidelined santoor to give way to the accordion whose breathe like playing pattern resonates with the romantic hearts so well. The violin streaks behind the antara lines give feel of moving the hand/feet in the pond of the water. It could be santoor playing staccato strums in the interlude ends to show as if Raakhi is cutely running over the floating stones.
When you come to know the proximity of the mukhada tune with that of ‘baadal yun garajta hai’ (Betaab) you really understand what you missed or what big setback Shabbir’s debutant immature singing gave to this heavenly melody!!
9. Ab ke saawan mein jee dare ( Jaise ko taisa 1973) : Kishore – Lata
“Aisa mausam pehle kabhi bhi aaya naheen
Aisa baadal ambar pe sajna chhaya naheen”
Very true, the super talented Pancham simply changed the equations of the treatment of a rain song; he would yell ‘atmosphere’ and his equally talented associates would understand what he wanted at just the blink of his eye.
This is another peach of a song that was lost in a B grade movie. It just takes four bars to identify a Pancham song, as Kersi ji says in that documentary. Here too, just a few santoor drops and we are off to a flying start. Another shower of a santoor gives lead to Kersi ji’s accordion that plays cupid to send an arrow in the heart of Reena Roy. The nimble and workaholic violins wrap the show beautifully to lead us to the vocals.
The nimble rhythm is superimposed by the regular ‘chhuk chhuk’ sounds symbolizing the splashing of water by their feet.
Again that mesmerizing partnership of Kishore-Lata !!
Lata’s rendition of ‘paani’ as ‘Paa-a-ni’ gives the feel of the impact of raindrop on the skin. Simply outstanding rain-dition this is!!
Kishore is as usual in his confident self. The whole song has an amazing pace. The antara aaroh scales lovely heights along ‘hosh se kaam lo, Raam ka naam lo..thaam lo’ . Here the progression simply floats momentarily before sliding quickly along the crossover to the normal pace.
Manohari da’s sax in the second interlude flashes across the orchestral skies like a an enthralling lightening.
How about some terrace-trial fun, with the songs at no 10 and 11?
10. Jaane kya pilaya tune badaa mazaa aaya ( Jugnu 1973) – Lata Mangeshkar
‘Paayal naheen ghunghroo naheen
Chham chham kaise yeh hone lagee
Dhoondho mujhe main khone lagee’
There is not always need to detour to the tribal camp to get the enjoyment of rain dance like the Premnagar song, even a terrace party crowd can give way to the des(s)erted fun thanks to the intoxicating rains.
Back to Chakki-da (Pramod Chakbraborty) and his favorite romantic pair and his favorite M.D. but this time it is not an Indian folk treat for which their combo was known, but a purely western extravaganza under the unintentional intoxication.
Lata / Hema are going berserk (as far as she is allowed by her mother Jaya Chakravarti) but for the innovative musical department of Devburmans only sky is the limit. Blessed with the gems of artists like Manohari da (sax) , Kersi ji ( accordion) , George(Trumpet) and Kawas kaka, Maruti Rao handling the rhythmic ensemble.
What a treatment to the tune and rendition!
Sachinda’s music sounded young and trendy even in his last decade thanks to his young heart and these young Turks and never went out of fashion/ popularity charts.
If ‘Aradhana’ gave to the musical world a fantastic pair of Kishore-Rajesh Khanna there was another musical partnership blooming slowly but surely through that provocation of a song called ‘roop tera mastana’, another rain song but have avoided as we are over acquainted with it.
Yes, I am taking about Manohari da and Kersi bawa and their saxoccordion partnership. Kersi ji takes a beautiful account of it in this documentary dedicated to him. Watch it here (from 20.02 to 22.57 min.). https://youtu.be/a9LCmWW857M?t=1202
The pair has done such a mesmerizing work in a partnership that it deserves a separate lengthy tribute.
Why I detoured to Aradhana is that this meandering song, too, has those partnership phrases with enough fire in their bellies (read blows and bellows) which made this Jugnu song dazzle and glow. The trumpets and the deceptive rhythmic beat pattern give air to the fire of a rendition by Lata.
11. Bheegi bheegi raaton mein ( Ajnabi 1974)- Kishorekumar – Lata Mangeshkar :
‘Ambar khele holi, ui maa,
Bheegi mori choli, humjoli
Ho..paani ke is rele mein,
sawan ke is mele mein,
chhat pe akele mein’
You are bound to get the feel as if you are on cloud nine, who wouldn’t when you have got the choicest company of the pairs of Kaka-Zeenat, Kishore-Lata and Pancham-Bakshi ?
Well, you are consumed from the word go when Homi da flutters the tin sheet to create the rumbling sound of the clouds and the lightening and the rhythm emerges from it as smoothly as a figure from a cloud.
The tar shehnai punctuations, the rhythmic flutes and the incessant shower of double notes of Sitar (by Pt Ashok Sharma) makes this sawan ka mela memorably melodious. Guitar strums, just like the Apna Desh song are happy to play second fiddle to demarcate the responses of KK- Lata typically after ‘kaisa lagta hai’
Kishore-Lata contrast is another stunning feature of this song. The bold singing of Kishore da gets Lata’s cute and at times shivering accompaniment typically at ‘aisa lag(a)ta hai’ takes the care that you remain drenched when the instrumentals are not at the fore.
Pay attention to the background violins …such an unsung yet amusing accompaniment work!
12. Ab ke sajan sawan mein ( Chupke Chupke 1974) – Lata Mangeshkar
‘Ghata barasegi magar tarsegi nazar (and ears)
mil na sakenge (Senior) Burman
gaane ke aangan mein’
We conclude the part-1 with one of the last monsoon songs by Sachin da, the mukhada lyrics of which inspired the title of the article.
What a delightful melody this is, so full of life , so full of fun and frolic on screen ! The fluent progression and punctuations at the crossover are simply magical.
The visuals are not of the downpour but of one of the coziest family musical sitting of the films by Hrishi da. Iinterested can go to the compilation article on this aspect of his films here. https://thesongpedia.com/hrishikesh-mukherjee-and-homely-little-musical-concerts-in-his-films/
With the failing health, Sachin da slowly faded out from this musical world leaving a vacuum which was hard to be filled.
Sachin da left but his son Rahul took forward the baton to the next years / decades and the part 2 is dedicated to his songs from 1976 to 1994 under the title
‘phir se baraso Pancham-wa bidesi’
– the Panchamonsoon songs!!