The Story Behind Khoya Khoya Chand – Kala Bazaar

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The story about this particular song is available in R D Burman’s own voice…. R D, Gulzar and Asha Bhosle did a program on Vividh Bharti together!!!

The story
For their ninth film under the Navketan banner, Dev Anand and Vijay Anand decided to try out the S D Burman – Shailendra combination…. The film was titled Kala Bazaar (1960).

S D Burman, known for his bad temper, was under tremendous pressure. Shailendra, probably too busy with his other assignments, was not delivering a song, urgently needed for the film. Dev Anand and Vijay Anand were frantic. They were pestering Burmanda, who in turn was repeatedly asking Shailendra for the words. Shailendra was making all kinds of excuses for not delivering.

Finally, one fine day, the angry old man decided that he had had enough!!
Shailendra was at his place. Burman da called his young son, Pancham ( R D Burman ) and told him – ” You will go with Shailendra and DO NOT come home unless he gives you the lyrics ” !!!

Neither Pancham nor Shailendra could argue with him. Pancham quietly got into Shailendra’s car. Shailendra assured him that he would deliver the song. Pancham smiled as the car drove to Shanker -Jaikishen’s music room. As Shailendra entered, with Pancham in tow, Jaikishenji jokingly asked Pancham if he had come to their music room to steal some tunes. Shailendra explained. Jaikishen laughed and said – “Shailendra ji has a lot of pending work to do for us, you are in the queue…”

It was evening…. Shailendra finished his work with Shanker Jaikishen and with Pancham, got into his car. He instructed the driver to go to National Park. There, Shailendra kept smoking cigarette after cigarette. BUT NO WORDS !!!

Pancham was cursing his luck as they got back into the car, it was almost night. Shailendra told his driver…. “Juhu beach chalo “…..
At the beach, Shailendra was leisurely strolling along with the eager Pancham trying to keep step. The beach was deserted. Shailendra asked Pancham for a matchbox. Another jolt for the youngster! Shailendra knew that he smoked – what if he told Burmanda???

Pancham sheepishly handed over his matchbox to Shailendra. Shailendra was lost in thought, he lit his cigarette, returned the matchbox and asked Pancham to give him the tune Burman da had composed. Pancham, tapping the matchbox in rhythm, hummed the tune.

Shailendra kept looking at the sea and the sky, puffing away on his cigarette, after a while, he told Pancham – “You can go home, tell Dada, I will be at your place in the morning with the full song..”

He hummed the mukhda

Khoya khoya chand, khula aasmaan,
Aankhon mein saari raat jaayegi,
Tum ko bhi kaise neend aayegi

Pancham smiled, he knew that this song was a winner! He ran, hailed a cab and went home.

The next morning, when his father asked him for the song, Pancham handed him a crumpled piece of cigarette pack foil with the words of the mukhda scribbled on it!!!

The situation is an oft-repeated one.
Dev Anand is trying to woo Waheeda. It is a song of pure romance.

See what Shailendra does.

Masti bhari hawaa jo chali,
Khil khil gayi yeh dil ki kali,
Mann ki gali mein hai khalbali,
Ke unko toh bulao

Taarey chaley, nazaare chaley,
Sang sang mere woh saarey chaley,
Charon taraf ishaare chaley,
Kisi ke toh ho jao

Aisi hee raat, bheegi si raat,
Haathon mein haath hotey woh saath,
Keh letey unse dil ki yeh baat,
Ab toh naa satao

Hum mitt chaley jinke liye,
Bin kuchh kahe woh chup chup rahey,
Koyi zaraa yeh unse kahey,
Naa aise aazmao

Shailendra chooses his words very carefully. Beginning with the ambience, he gradually moves on to Dev Anand’s personal feelings, expressing his love for Waeeda Rehman. The words mann ki gali mein hai khalbali, ke unko toh bulaao are noteworthy.
Chaaron taraf ishaarey chaley, kisikey toh ho jaao. Anyone who has really fallen in love will know.

At a certain point, one feels as if the whole Universe, the Cosmos is conspiring to unite the two.

The next two verses are just pure, unadulterated romance! Of course, now almost directly addressing Waheeda.

A little note before we go onto Vijay Anand’s work. Many people will wonder how he is talking about the moon and the stars when it is broad daylight. In Cinema, more so in the past, when we were not so well-equipped, when a Director had to shoot a night scene in the outdoors, he would use a technique called ‘Day for night’ which means exactly the same.

The shooting would be done during the day and then, in the laboratory, the brightness would be reduced to give it a night effect.The song, as we view it here, will look bright, but, in the cinema hall, it will look like night.

Vijay Anand choreographs the song very intelligently. Please watch the song again. Waheeda Rehman seems like the silent moon, sometimes steady, at times just drifting a little. Dev Anand is moving in almost every shot. So is the camera, when he is in frame. The effect is of the vast sky and the unruly clouds moving around the steady, beautiful moon.

What Vijay Anand achieves is a feat which is very rare. Most directors shy away from shooting and showing us more than two verses of a song. Here, his shooting, along with Burmanda’s music and Shailendra’s words, is so perfect that we go through FOUR verses of this song just glued to our seats !!!! That is why Vijay Anand is adored by film-goers and film-makers all over India.

Dev Anand is just amazing, utterly romantic.
Waheeda Rehman is beautiful, little expressions, as she looks, a trifle amused at what Dev is telling her, the way he is wooing her. Almost like a peacock, spreading his beautiful feathers to impress his mate.

Kala Bazaar was the first time that Dev Anand, Vijay Anand, Waheeda Rehman, S D Burman and Shailendra came together, almost as if laying the foundation for the next time, when they would again come together and create history with Guide (1965).

Thank God for S D Burman’s anger and R D Burman’s long day with Shailendra!!

The story in Pancham’s own voice!!


  1. Gauri

    June 7, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    Rafi the great, made this song immortal.

    • Rizwan

      October 29, 2018 at 6:45 am

      Incredible story.
      It’s one of my all time favorite song especially in picturization , at par with chalo dildar chalo.

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