Ten of SD Burman’s many, many evergreen hits

By Narendra Kusnur

It’s been 43 years today since the great music director S D Burman left us. He’s composed hundreds of tunes which we will still hear and hum. Choosing 10 was obviously difficult but I decided to pick a selection of my many favourites.

All songs here are popular. There will be a tilt towards Dev Anand films – one could actually make a list of 50 in that category. Classic soundtracks like Bandini, Devdas and Sharmilee will be missing here.

But that’s the challenge of Top 10 lists. Everyone who prepares one will have a different story to tell. Enjoy mine.

1 Thandi Hawayein – Naujawan (1951)

The story goes that Burman Da heard a pianist play the tune at a hotel in Juhu, Mumbai. He picked it up, got Sahir Ludhianvi to write and Lata Mangeshkar to sing. The same tune was used in many other songs like ‘Yehi Hai Tamanna’, ‘Rahe Na Rahe Hum’ and ‘Saagar Kinare’.

2 Yeh Raat Yeh Chandni – Jaal (1952)

There are two versions of this evergreen song – a solo by Hemant Kumar, and a duet between him and Mangeshkar. Ludhianvi’s genius again but there’s more to follow.

3 Chand Phir Nikla – Paying Guest (1957)

Besides Ludhianvi, Majrooh Sultanpuri had some great songs with Burman – they share their October 1 birthday too. This is Mangeshkar at her glorious best. The emotion and feeling of longing is so beautifully expressed.

4 Jaane Woh Kaise Log – Pyaasa (1957)

“Hum ne toh jab kaliyan maangi, kaanton ka haar mila”. Ludhianvi and Hemant Kumar again. The film had other gems like ‘Hum Aapki Aankhon Mein’, ‘Jaane Kya Tu Ne Kahi’ and ‘Yeh Duniya Agar Mil Bhi Jaaye’.

5 Jalte Hain Jiske Liye – Sujata (1959)

The entire soundtrack is outstanding, with songs by Geeta Dutt, Asha Bhosle, Mohammed Rafi and Burman himself. But this one by Talat Mahmood, written by Sultanpuri, remains an eternal jewel.

6 Waqt Ne Kiya – Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959)

One of Geeta Dutt’s masterpieces written by Kaifi Azmi. It just haunts. Nothing more to say. “Tum rahe na tum, hum rahe na hum.”

7 Din Dhal Jaaye – Guide (1965)

My personal favourite Rafi song, picturised on Dev Anand. The whole soundtrack is a killer, and considered to be among Burman’s best. Shailendra wrote the lyrics.

8 Safal Hogi Teri Aradhana – Aradhana (1969)

The film had hits like ‘Mere Sapnon Ki Rani, ‘Roop Tera Mastana’, ‘Baaghon Mein Bahaar Hai’, ‘Kora Kaagaz Tha’ and ‘Gunguna Rahe Hain’, some of which were composed by his son R.D. Burman. I chose this as Burman Dada sang it himself. And he had a unique voice. Anand Bakshi wrote the lyrics.

9 Ab To Hai Tumse – Abhimaan (1973)

The entire Abhimaan soundtrack is a beauty and Sultanpuri is at his best here. ‘Tere Mere Milan’ is my favourite but I chose this Mangeshkar gem. The picturisation between Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bhaduri adds to the charm.

10 Badi Sooni Sooni Hai – Mili (1975)

One never likes to end with sadness or melancholy, but this song written by Yogesh just hits you. One of the Kishore Kumar evergreens. The Bachchan expression. “Main khud se hoon yahaan, ajnabee, ajnabee.”

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Narendra Kusnur is one of India’s best known music journalists. Born with a musical spoon (okay, doesn’t fit, but you get the drift), Naren, NK, Kusnur, Narender, Kaansen, Jahanpanna… however else many call him, is a late bloomer in music criticism. He was (is!) an aficionado first, and then strayed into writing on music. But in the last two decades, he has made up for most of what he didn’t do earlier. If ever there is an Ustad given for music writing, NK, would be among the first to receive one. Narendra Kusnur writes weekly on Xyngr. Don’t ask us when.