My ten favourite songs from Gulzar-Pancham collaboration
Though the pair R.D. Burman – Gulzar is very popular and famous. They might have done at the most a one and half dozen films together as composer-lyricist team. Nevertheless their partnership was very fruitful. Pancham admitted that working with Gulzar brought the best in him though at times the work together was very complicated.
Preparing this list was a pleasant though a very weary process for me. I have lost count how many times I included and rejected the songs. None of the songs here were in the original list except for dhanno ki aankhon me.
So to make matters at least a little bit easy for me, I set up the following rules:
1. The song must be from a film.
2. The film must have had a proper release in the cinema halls.
beeti na bitaayi rainaa – Parichay 
Singers: Lata Mangeshkar & Bhupinder; Lyrics
Lata Mangeshkar won the national award for the best female playback singer for this song. This semi-classical song is allegedly based mainly on Yaman and Khamaj ragas. Koshish released in the same year as Parichay had Sanjeev Kumar and Jaya Bhaduri as lovers, whereas here they play father-daughter roles.
This is a very beautiful song, where Gulzar surprisingly doesn’t play much with his metaphors and rather relying on his similies, though he can’t resist to use ruthi huyi ankhiyon ne lakh manayi raina (offended eyes cajoled the evening to come). Sort of an irony, isn’t it?
din jaa rahe hain raaton ke saaye – Doosri Sita 
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
That Doosri Sita was a major flop at the box-office resulted in disappearance of the good musical score of this film from the collective memory. My favourite from this film is this highly melancholic background song to the travails of a suffering wife and daughter-in-law at the hands of Raza Murad (?) and who else but Lalita Pawar. I would have preferred it to be a melancholic song related to romantic problems, but one can’t have it all!
is mod se jaate hain – Aandhi 
Singers: Lata Mangeshkar & Kishore Kumar; Lyrics
Till the last moment this post was published, I was not sure which of my three favourite songs from this film will I choose for this list. It was indeed a difficult choice. And why did I choose this song? Simply on the basis that a Gulzar song should baffle the listener and this song baffled me for nearly two decades till a kind soul explained it to me. I had no problems with the Lata part, the Kishore part was the one that intrigued me. I thought the verse patthar ki haveli ko sheeshe ke gharondo me tinko ke nasheman tak (to the stone mansion, in glass nests, till nests of grass) meant putting the stone mansion in the glass nests till we meet nests made of grass!
o maajhi re apna kinara – Khushboo 
Singer: Kishore Kumar; Lyrics
The process to choose a song from this film was accompanied by lots of pain and hardship. It nearly gave me nightmares. The reason behind the choice of this song is that it represents the wanderer theme, which recurs in Gulzar’s songs. musafir hoon yaaro from Parichay or raah pe rehte hai from Namkeen  or main thak gaya hoon mujhe sone do (with incredible Pancham in the background; video) from Jabbar Patel’s unreleased Musafir follow this theme.
Gulzar recollects how Pancham brought in crates of beer and experimented on the filled bottles to get the desired effect for the song.
ek hi khwab kai baar dekha hai maine – Kinara 
Singer: Bhupinder; Lyrics
Choosing this song was also not easy, the songs from Kinara came in and out of this list like a jack-in-the-box! This one eventually stayed in just because of its romantic quality. Every time I listen to this song it is not Hema and Dharam, whom I see but rather Rakhee and Gulzar. Just like he wrote his children’s songs for his daughter Bosky, I think he wrote the lyrics of this song during the amourous times with Rakhee.
dhanno ki aankhon me haan raat ka surma – Kitaab 
Singer: R. D. Burman; Lyrics
You must be surprised that of all the songs this one had a fix place in the list! It surprises me too! There are surely better lyrics and deeper verses than this, but Pancham’s rendition makes this song something special! This romantic song is not sung by the hero of the film (who is by the way a child of 10 years) and also not by the romantic lead but by an engine driver, played by character artiste, who mostly appeared as the villain’s side-kick! Keeping true to this character the verses don’t have deep metaphors and the intimacy of the earlier song is truly missing in the composition. If you look deeper in the verses though, they all come to the fore. This amalgam of this throaty declamation and infectious intimacy makes this song something real special!
The music to this song is unlike any of the song I have ever heard! Amazing!
aap ki aankhon me kuch mahake hue se raaz hai – Ghar 
Singers: Kishore Kumar & Lata Mangeshkar; Lyrics
Listening to this song or for that matter the other romantic songs from this film makes me feel like a voyeur. I have a feeling that I am encroaching in the privacy of a passionate couple deeply in love. The fact, that during the filming of this movie the main actors were in love with each other might also have helped. Listen to (if you have not already) to the small giggle by Lata before she sings aap ki badmashiyon key eh naye andaaz hai (these are new facets of your naughty ways). Gulzar recalled in a radio programme, that while he and Pancham were discussing this song, Gulzar said that Lata won’t sing it. When she arrived, Pancham aired this concern with her. She asked in a stern manner if it is a naughty song. Both pleaded innocence and without being asked-to, she added that extra touch precisely where it was needed.
ye saaye hain, ye duniya hai – Sitara 
Singer: Asha Bhosle; Lyrics
A long forgotten movie and the musical score suffered the same fate. The story is about a village girl, who is discovered by the film industry and goes on to become a film star (sitara). Her boy-friend can neither adjust to her newly found success nor to the ‘modern’ ways of the film-industry. Very typical of Gulzar is the line: kai chand uthakar jalaaye bhujaaye bahut hamne chaha zara neend aaye (raised many moons, turned them on and then off, wished hard to get some sleep, here the even the nights are displeased).
tujhse naaraaz nahin zindagi, hairaan hoon main – Masoom 
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar/Anoop Ghoshal; Lyrics
The film, supposed to be based on Man, Woman and Child , ran well and also fetched Pancham his second Filmfare Award. R. D. Burman gave a sublime score to this film. Gulzar recalls, that the opening line of this song was the starting point for the screenplay of the movie. And indeed the song traces the storyline from shock of the situation (for the wife it is the infidelity of her husband, for the husband that the short affair has left him behind with a son) to tears/despair and then finally, acceptance.
mera kuch saaman tumhare paas padaa hai – Ijaazat 
Singer: Asha Bhosle; Lyrics
This was to be the last collaboration of the duo with Asha Bhosle for film music. Asha Bhosle and Gulzar won the National Award for this song.
The legend has it that Pancham was flummoxed by the blank verse and asked Gulzar if some day he is going to ask him to write music to the headlines of a newspaper. Some say that during the sitting, Asha Bhosle just started humming the phrase lauta do…, RDB picked it up from that point and created the whole tune in one sitting. Whatever might be the case, with or without these stories, this song is a fabulous creation of two geniuses, whose creativity egged each other to give their best. Here one and one didn’t give two but two million!
These are my ten favourites (at the moment of publication) of this great artist-duo, which are yours?
Enjoy the play-list!