Some of R.D. Burman’s most soulful compositions were sung by Lata Mangeshkar. From romantic songs and sad tunes to rain songs and classically-inspired numbers, the variety was wide.
To mark Burman’s 83rd birth anniversary on June 27, and to also pay tribute to Lata Ji, we choose 10 solo hits sung by the Nightingale. There were also many duets that ‘Pancham Da’ composed for her and Kishore Kumar, but we’ll leave them for another column.
Fans always admired the way Burman used the voice of Lata as effectively as that of Asha Bhosle. This list is evidence of that. The order is chronological.
1 Kya Janoon Sajan – Baharon Ke Sapne (1967)
Filmed on the beautiful Asha Parekh and a very young Rajesh Khanna, this was one of Burman’s early hits after Teesri Manzil the previous year. Lata sounded glorious and the song made smart use of overdubs. Majrooh Sultanpuri wrote, “Kya janoon sajan, hoti hai kya gham ki shaam, jal utthey sau diye, jab liya tera naam”.
2 Na Koi Umang Hai – Kati Patang (1971)
While Burman composed three big Kishore Kumar hits in Kati Patang, this song by Lata had its own melancholic charm. Anand Bakshi wrote, “Na koi umang hai, na koi tarang hai, meri zindagi hai kya, ek kati patang hai”. It was picturised on Asha Parekh, in a white saree, with Rajesh Khanna appearing intermittently.
3 Raina Beeti Jaaye – Amar Prem (1972)
Pancham Da composed this in raag Todi, using santoor and bansuri effectively. Lata sang for Sharmila Tagore, who appeared with Rajesh Khanna. Bakshi wrote the simple yet meaningful opening lines, “Raina beeti jaaye, shaam na aaye, nindiya na aaye, nindiya na aaye, raina beeti jaaye”.
4 Baahon Mein Chale Aao – Anamika (1973)
Majrooh excelled on the lines, “Baahon mein chale aao, humse sanam kya parda, yeh aaj ka nahin milan, yeh sang hai umar bhar ka”. The song had brilliant performances by Jaya Bhaduri and Sanjeev Kumar. The film also had the Kishore hit ‘Meri Bheegi Bheegi Si’.
5 Din Ja Rahe Hain – Doosri Sita (1974)
An underrated gem by Burman and Gulzar, this was sung magnificently by Lata. The song had a subtle lilt. The words were, “Din ja rahe hain ke raaton ke saaye, apni saliben aap hi uthaye”. Jaya Bhaduri, Romesh Sharma and A.K. Hangal appeared on screen.
6 Abke Na Saawan Barse – Kinara (1977)
Some RD-Gulzar hits featured actress Hema Malini. If Khushboo had the Lata solo ‘Do Nainon Mein’, Kinara had the unforgettable ‘Naam Gum Jaayega’ with Bhupinder Singh. Kinara also had the Lata favourite ‘Ab Ke Na Saawan Barse’. The tune was inspired by the S.D. Burman Bengali classic ‘Kandi Bo Na Phagun Gele’.
7 Saawan Ke Jhoole Padey – Jurmana (1979)
A beautiful number penned by Anand Bakshi, its opening lines were, “Saawan ke jhoole padey, tum chale aao, tum chale aao”. Raakhee and Amitabh Bachchan appeared on screen. The song had a beautiful melody line, based on raag Pahadi, with Lata hitting the high notes perfectly.
8 Rimjhim Gire Saawan – Manzil (1979)
This rain song was filmed on Amitabh and Moushumi Chatterjee across locales in Mumbai. Lata sang the female version, though Kishore’s version was perhaps more popular. Lyricist Yogesh wrote, “Rimjhim gire saawan, sulagh sulagh jaaye man, bheege aaj is mausam mein, lagi kaisi yeh agan”.
9 Jahaan Pe Savera Ho – Baseraa (1981)
This was another example of Lata’s control on the higher register. Burman created a melodious tune, and Gulzar used a unique style ending each five-line verse with, “Jahaan pe savera ho, baseraa wahin hai”. The song featured Raakhee and Shashi Kapoor.
10 Tujhse Naraaz Nahin – Masoom (1983)
The magical combination of R.D. Burman, Gulzar and Lata was at work once again in this song filmed on Shabana Azmi and child star Jugal Hansraj. The main lines were, “Tujhse naraaz nahin zindagi hairaan hoon main, o hairaan hoon main, tere masoom sawaalon se pareshaan hoon main, ho pareshaan hoon main”. The male version was sung by Anup Ghoshal and filmed on Naseeruddin Shah and Jugal.
While this list culminates in 1983, R.D. and Lata had some hits after that too, though the frequency decreased. Prominent were ‘Jaane Kya Baat Hai’ from Sunny, and the sad versions of ‘Saagar Kinare’ from Saagar and ‘Kuch Na Kaho’ in 1942: A Love Story. So many great tunes by the two.