CALLING ALL CLASSICAL MUSIC LOVERS! (MERA FAUJI CALLING – Music Review)

Music Album Details
♪ Music by: Vijay Verma, Sajjad Ali Chandwani & Harpriet Singh Vig
♪ Lyrics by: Rajesh Manthan, Shakeel Azmi, A.M. Turaz & Pooja Saini
♪ Music Label: Zee Music Company
♪ Music Released On: 5th March 2021
♪ Movie Released On: 12th March 2021

MFC
Mera Fauji Calling Album Cover

Listen to the songs: JioSaavn | Gaana

Buy the album: iTunes


Mera Fauji Calling is a Bollywood action drama starring Sharman Joshi, Ranjha Vikram Singh, Bidita Bag, Mahi Soni, Mugdha Godse and Zarina Wahab. The film is directed by Aaryan Saxena and produced by Vikram Singh and Ovez Shaikh. The film, inspired by the Pulwama attacks of 2019, revolves around the family of a soldier who loses his life in the attacks, and how they manage to make ends meet after the incident. The film has a music album put together with the songs by three composers, the lead composer being Vijay Verma, someone who we have heard before in albums like ‘Ishq Ke Parindey’, ’31st October’ and ‘Chakravyuh’. The composer has proved his mettle in classical and folk-based melodies in these albums, and I’m expecting something similar in this album. The other two composers are Sajjad Ali, who also featured with Vijay Verma in ‘Ishq Ke Parindey’, and a newcomer Harpriet Singh Vig. Expecting it to be full of emotion and classical music given the setting and premise of the film, and with this note let’s start the music review of ‘Mera Fauji Calling’!


The album starts off with newcomer Harpriet Singh’s composition, Peer Meri Piya Jaane Na, a beautiful classically-steeped melody with aptly arranged music. The song evokes a feel of Coke Studio, and right from the beginning, the fusion has the listener in awe. The guitars (Sanjoy Das) start off the song magnificently, coupled with the piano and strings. The lead singer, Rabbani Mustafa Khan, who we have heard once long ago as part of an ensemble of singers in Tanishk Bagchi’s ‘Allah Hu Allah’ (Sarbjit), shines as he carries the entire song on his shoulders this time. With a vocal quality that is slightly reminiscent of Shadab Faridi’s, his classically-trained voice forms a perfect fit for the composition, a beautifully flowing one with numerous aalaaps that decorate it. The ‘Aye ri sakhi mangal gao ri…’ refrain is particularly one of the best moments in the song. There is a wonderful female chorus performed by Nihira Joshi and Meenal Jain, and you cannot help but wish that they had an entire stanza to sing, such is the beauty of their harmony, ably supported by an amazing ethnic percussion portion. The female chorus seamlessly joins back to the main melody with a beautiful harmonium-led portion. Naveen Kumar’s flutes are beautiful as always, and the composer tries to accommodate it in numerous places throughout the song, and one can see how the flutes have uplifted the composition and brought out the happiness in the lyrics by Pooja Saini, which beautifully depict the euphoric feeling felt when a loved one (who has been fighting in a war!) returns home. The line ‘Aye ri sakhi kajal laao ri, mohe kaala teeka lagaao ri…’ is especially heart-touching. This song is probably one of the best classical melodies we have heard in recent times, and marks a power-packed debut for Harpriet Singh Vig!

The second guest composer, Sajjad Ali, steps in with Hum Apne Watan Pe Mar Gaye, an intermittently-engaging patriotic soldier anthem from the Anu Malik-J.P. Dutta genre of music, with a heavy dafli rhythm coupled with ennui-inducing strings and an equally tiresome composition. If there is anything remotely interesting about the song, it has to be the interludes, which showcase a beautiful mixture of flutes and classical instruments, much like the type of music Ismail Darbar is known for. The song is tailor-made for Divya Kumar, and the composition steers close to Anurag Saikia’s ‘Khudaara’ (Mulk) in some places, but all in all, the song falls flat. A.M. Turaz writes apt lyrics for the situation, from the point of view of the soldiers fighting in a war.

The part of the album composed by Vijay Verma starts off with a mellow semi-classical number, Bheeni Bheeni Si, which appears in two versions. The Male Version is take care of by the ever-reliable Sonu Nigam, who traverses the intricate nuances of the composition effortlessly, with some really interesting expressions. A tinge of casual singing can be heard in certain parts of the song (The way he sings “Pyaare lamhon…“) which gives an added layer of nonchalance to the song. Verma’s composition is strong, and it is a pleasure to listen to such a classically strong melody in today’s time. The use of flutes is always dominant in Vijay Verma’s songs and here too, Naveen Kumar’s flute assortment has been used exquisitely, along with an amazing showcase of tablas. Rajesh Manthan writes apt lyrics, an emotional romantic song from the soldier’s wife’s point of view. The Female Version is basically the same track, but rendered by Pratibha Singh Baghel, who makes the composition her own. Her classical prowess has already been established, and she consolidates that yet again with this song. Both versions of the song are splendid, and I would not mind listening to them one after the other due to Verma’s strong composition and the wonderful programming by Anamik Chauhan.

Starting off as a racy rock number, Aa Zindagi Tujhe Zara Sa Ji Toh soon digresses into a retro-sounding club number a la ‘Aaj Ki Raat’ (Don). While the song has nice use of piano and rock guitars in its arrangement, and although Hariharan puts his all in rendering the composition with the nice classically trained voice of his, you somehow cannot help but feel a discord between the arrangement and the melody. The rock treatment just did not go well with the song. By way of fusion, we have heard much more seamless fits in recent times, that this one falls flat due to over-production. The result is an awkward and clumsy number that seems confused due to its disparate elements that do not fit well together.

The last song on the album is Mera Aasmaan Hai Papa, a dulcet number from a daughter’s point of view. The song starts off perfectly, with soft humming (probably by Vijay Verma), until it progresses into a lilting number replete with strings and soaring high notes, gracefully rendered by newcomer Shalini Prateek Sinha. The lyrics (Shakeel Azmi) do touch your heart, and it is hard not to get moved by them. The tempo of the song might be a letdown for some, but personally, I found that to be an added advantage that works in favour of the song. The orchestral brilliance set up in the arrangements by Anamik Chauhan is commendable.


Mera Fauji Calling is an album that has its share of ups and downs, but for the most part, it ends up to be a pleasant surprise, with classical-based melodies that are impressive due to their compositions, vocals and arrangements. The quality of production is also top-notch, in keeping with the times. Usually, classical based songs are given dated arrangements but that is not the case with this album. Harpriet Singh Vig makes a very promising composing debut in this album, while Vijay Verma scores in three of his four songs, making the album one that I would definitely revisit in the future.

Total Points Scored by This Album: 9 + 6 + 8 + 8 + 5 + 6.5 = 42.5

Album Percentage: 70.83%

Final Rating for This Album: सा < रे < ग < म <प < < नी < सां

Note: The letter which is underlined is the final rating.

Recommended Listening Order: Peer Meri Piya Jaane Na > Bheeni Bheeni Si (Both Versions) > Mera Aasmaan Hai Papa > Hum Apne Watan Pe Mar Gaye > Aa Zindagi Tujhe Zara Sa Ji Toh

What is your favourite song from Mera Fauji Calling? Please vote for it below! Thanks! 🙂

ROOH-LESS SITUATIONAL ALBUM (ROOHI – Music Review)

Music Album Details
♪ Music by: Sachin-Jigar, Emanuele Marascia & Alessandro Murru
♪ Lyrics by: Amitabh Bhattacharya, Emanuele Marascia & Alessandro Murru
♪ Music Label: Sony Music
♪ Music Released On: 5th March 2021
♪ Movie Released On: 11th March 2021

roohi album art

Roohi Album Cover

Listen to the songs: JioSaavn | Gaana

Buy the album: iTunes


Roohi is a Bollywood horror-comedy, directed by Hardik Mehta, produced by Dinesh Vijan and Mrighdeep Singh Lamba, and starring Janhvi Kapoor, Rajkummar Rao and Varun Sharma in lead roles. The film is the second such horror-comedy produced by Maddock Films, after Amar Kaushik and Raj-DK’s 2018 runaway hit ‘Stree’. The special part about this film is, that it is the first ‘big’ film to release in theatres after the whole disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Coincidentally, it was a Maddock Films production, ‘Angrezi Medium’, too, which was the last film to release in theatres back in March 2020 when the pandemic had started off. ANother similarity between the two films, are the music composers, Sachin-Jigar. While their full album for ‘Angrezi Medium’ never released, they had a very rocky 2020, what with ‘Street Dancer 3D’ being hijacked by other pop artists from the music label, and the other movie ‘Shakuntala Devi’, not really getting promoted the way they would have wanted. Fortunately, the music of the film ‘Roohi’, has been promoted quite excessively, and they must have been satisfied by the promotions. They join up with lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya once again, and one expects quirky outcomes from this trio of Maddock, Sachin-Jigar and Amitabh. So, let’s dive into the music album right away!


‘Roohi’s first song instantly brings back memories of ‘Stree’, with Sachin-Jigar going the familiar way in PanghatThe shehnaai-like loop starts off the song alluringly, but the song soon digresses into a loop of familiar digital beats a la ‘Aao Kabhi Haveli Pe’. The refreshing part of this song though, are the lyrics by Amitabh Bhattacharya, where the former song was highly lacking. Asees, too, infuses the song with a seductive layer, and Sachin-Jigar program her voice well, superimposing two tracks of it, one high-pitched and one lower. Though the antara doesn’t boast of much substance lyrically or musically, Asees renders it with oomph (“Butterflyiaan”, “Haiyya”, “Daiyya”) and it ends up picking up soon enough. The composition of the hookline, one of the most key parts of these Bollywood dance songs, is aptly catchy and so is the vocal programming done by the duo around the “Pan pan pan panghat ki” part. The rap by Mellow D is the only part where I felt like Badshah in ‘Aao Kabhi Haveli Pe’ was much, much better, to say it mildly. The other song which is sure to draw memory of the ‘Stree’ album, is Bhootnia Mika Singh-led quirky number about falling in love with a ghost. Right from the beginning, it sends you back to ‘Milegi Milegi’ from ‘Stree’, which, honestly, was much more better mixed and programmed. The song sounds unusually loud; Sachin-Jigar’s programming is usually sleek, and this was unexpected. Mika drawls out Amitabh’s enjoyable lyrics in his characteristic style, but other than the few and far-apart funny lines in the lyrics and the “zoo zoo zoo” refrain, (again, you can literally feel the ‘Milegi Milegi’ vibe there) this song is purely for comic relief in the movie and has issues surviving as an independent song. Getting another comic relief situational song out of the way, Bhauji sounds like a spoof of Bhojpuri numbers, a wedding number reminding one of Sachin-Jigar’s own ‘Tequila’ (Bala), but not even half as zanily impressive. Divya Kumar is at the top of his game as he usually is in such songs (remember ‘Raita Phail Gaya’ from ‘Shaandaar’ and the aforementioned song from ‘Bala’?), and Sachin-Jigar’s intentionally loud and muffled sound infuses the song with some peppiness. The band baaja is peppy, but again, this song flounders out of the movie.

Moving on to the more impressive part of the album, first off, we have Nadiyon Paar (Let The Music Play Again), a very skilled recreation of Shamur’s ‘Let The Music Play’, a pop song that was all the rage in the latter part of the 2000s. The seemingly gibberish Punjabi loop fits in perfectly with Sachin-Jigar’s reimagined Middle-Eastern soundscape — the drums being one of the main attractions in the song. Rashmeet Kaur, winner of Amazon’s ‘The Remix’, makes her Bollywood debut (?) and sounds a lot like Kanika Kapoor, but her rendition is strong, especially in the antara, where she sings the new verse added by the composers. The song as a whole is very well-produced, but slightly lacking in the bass, as lovers of the original would immediately notice and find disconcerting. IP Singh’s additional lyrics are functional, but his rap is wonderful and doesn’t feel extraneous like the rap in ‘Panghat’. The transition from “Bhej de naiyya” to the “Nadiyon paar sajan da thaana” loop with the “Ohhhh” is really seamless and well-done. Small elements throughout this track make this a really impressive track overall.

The last song, and the song that sounds entirely on a different vein as the rest of the album, is Kistona vaudevillian-esque romantic song that showcases Sachin-Jigar using the flutes and strings heavily, creating a dreamlike symphony, the genre that Ajay-Atul have time and again reserved as their own. This song particularly reminds one highly of ‘Jugraafiya’ (Super 30), but it does have its own merits. The singing by Jubin Nautiyal is one of the best renditions by the man; he almost did not sound like himself the first time I heard the song — he sounds a lot like Abhay Jodhpurkar in this song. The way he hits those high notes, and the 90s touch he brings to his voice, brings a gentle edge to the song, and conveys the timidity of the protagonist very well. The lyrics by Amitabh Bhattacharya in this song, are what we have been waiting for from him throughout the album, and thankfully, he delivers at least now. The entire song is a warning not to fall into love all at once, but to lose yourself in instalments (kishton, pronounced as kiston in this song to fit in with the rural setting). The “pagle” by Jubin is endearing and acts like a cherry on top of such a sweet and mature melody.


Overall, Roohi is one of the weakest albums out of the Maddock-Sachin-Jigar combination, with more than half of the album designated to situational comedic situations arising within the film. Such songs were present even in ‘Bala’ and ‘Made in China’, but they did not feature in the album. They played in the background music of the movie, and hence, we enjoyed them. Here, the makers seem to have included songs in the music album just to increase the quantity. I think the three opening songs Panghat, Nadiyon Paar and Kiston would have been sufficient in this album.

Total Points Scored by This Album: 6 + 4.5 + 5 + 7 + 7.5 = 30

Album Percentage: 60%

Final Rating for This Album: सा < रे < ग < म < < ध < नी < सां

Note: The letter which is underlined is the final rating.

Recommended Listening Order: Kiston > Nadiyon Paar (Let The Music Play Again) > Panghat > Bhauji > Bhootni

Which is your favourite song from Roohi? Please vote for it below! Thanks! 🙂

TEESRA KAUN (Immortal Gems by Pancham #5)

If you’re here for the first time, please read this post.

Teesra Kaun (1965)

Music Album Details
♪ Music by: R.D. Burman
♪ Lyrics by: Anand Bakshi
♪ Music Label: Saregama

Listen to the songs: JioSaavn | Gaana

Buy the album: iTunes

After the Titan album, “Padosan”, Miraya and I felt like going back to an album which we had skipped, a lesser-known album from R.D. Burman’s career, Teesra Kaun. The film itself seems to have been a washout, a B-grade thriller starring Feroz Khan, Kalpana and Shashikala. The album sees many firsts, seeing as to how it is only the third album in Pancham’s career. It is his first collaboration with lyricist Anand Bakshi, and also contains the first collaborations of Pancham with singers like Mukesh and Suman Kalyanpur. But the most fruitful collaboration borne out of this album has to be that of Pancham and Asha. This album consists of two songs by Asha Bhosle, and we are all aware of how significant her role in his career was! So thanks to this album, this partnership started that was to go on for thirty more musical years!


The album’s most popular song, Pyaar Ka Fasaana happens to be a Mukesh-Lata duet, the first song which Mukesh recorded with Pancham da. It starts in a very striking Pancham way, with bongos starting off an upbeat rhythm, and accordion joining in eventually. The vivacious strings help set the chirpy mood for the song, and in comes Pancham’s guitar to work its magic. The melody is light and fluffy as expected, a frothy romantic melody that freshens the mood. The frothy nature of the song is contradicted by Mukesh’s straightforward and flat rendition, which we felt could have been with more efficacy by Rafi. Especially the line “aisa na ho baagon se…” felt like it needed a little more oomph, because when Lata repeats the line after Mukesh, the difference in their levels of expressions, is palpable. Mukesh and Lata prove to be a great combination nevertheless and, their subtle voices complement each other beautifully. Maybe because the movie’s protagonist needed that kind of innocence that Mukesh brought to the table. The feathery voice which Mukesh puts on during those low notes is really beautiful. Pancham ably supports them with a just as exciting musical arrangement. A kind of enticing Caribbean rhythm takes over the interludes, and in the antara, after the singers sing the aforementioned ‘Aisa na ho…‘ line, Pancham plays the same spirited tune on the guitar while the singers pauses with respect to let him pass. It just sounds marvellous and something to experience by listening very carefully. The song somewhat reminds me of ‘Aaj Hua Mera Dil Matwala’ from ‘Chhote Nawab’ which we have already covered in our series, the only difference being that this song is more inspired by Western music. Pancham’s first collaboration with Anand Bakshi also yields some sweet fruits, what with Bakshi sahab writing lines like “Chhoti si hai aaj ki hamari mulaqaat, yeh na ho ki jee mein reh jaaye jee ki baat, jaane phir kab koi dekhe humein saath!”


Coming back to Rafi after a long time in our series, Meri Jaan Tu Khafa Hai Toh Kya Hua is a classic Rafi-Pancham number which falls into the same category as ‘Deewana Mujhsa Nahin’ (Teesri Manzil). The little shararat, nok-jhok and beautiful, melodious antaras. We’ve seen this in earlier albums too, and just for that reason, this did not have much recall value for us, though we have to credit Rafi for making sure it is entertaining to the core. The song starts off with a lovely guitar riff before the very expressive “Ohhhhh…. Meri jaan!” from Rafi saab! The tablas and the dholaks that follow aptly support his voice. And the orchestra is as  grand as an R.D. Burman orchestra can get with a mélange of instruments coming together seamlessly — similar to what we heard in ‘Pyaar Karta Ja’ (Bhoot Bungla). The flutes in particular steal the show in the interludes of this song. The melody beautifully slows down in a very Shammi Kapoor-esque manner in the antaras, and I wonder whether this song would’ve been more popular if it had gotten a Shammi Kapoor film as its vehicle. The softness or the pause before the antara highlighting the beauty of the words is also very beautiful. And Rafi saab’s vocals add sheer beauty to it, with the way he expresses and vocalizes words like “khuda“. The “hai” in the song seems to be the inspiration for the “hai” of Sonu Nigam in ‘Tumse Milke’ (Main Hoon Na). Overall, it’s a number that showcases just how expressive Mohd. Rafi’s singing was. 


The first collaboration between R.D. Burman and Suman Kalyanpur happens in the form of Meri Saheliyan Byahi Gayi Saari, a ladies’ sangeet number with all the typical Bollywood sangeet tropes — dholaks, lyrics by Anand Bakshi that support the theme (while also subtly inserting a message about colour discrimination) and a sweet voice carrying forth Pancham’s light melody. Suman’s voice is so similar to what Lata sounded at that time, it was no wonder she has been mistaken for Lata in many songs! Pancham uses a shehnaai, mandolin and dholak opening to the song, until it gives way to the main melody, a song which seems like a precursor to all those YRF sangeet songs from ‘Silsila’, ‘Chandni’ and the like. The arrangements are mainly propped by the dholaks and flutes, and not much else happens. The song might be the weakest of the album, but a well-done wedding number just the same!  


The song that marks the beginning of the R.D.-Asha collaborations, Achha Sanam Kar Le Sitam is a traditional flamenco number as we know it today, but it was probably one of the first such numbers that the Indian audience were treated with. We have already seen ‘Matwaali Aankhon Wali’ in ‘Chhote Nawab’. One can only imagine how many new avenues were opened after the Indian audience started to get this type of music in their films; the next wave of Western influence was incoming. Pancham sets the rhythm well, with his percussionists and guitarists working well to recreate a Spanish flamenco-ish rhythm. We especially loved the guitar pauses that sort of highlight the underlying rhythm by giving it a wonderful break. The flutes provide upbeat interludes throughout the song, and the strings provide fillers that add to the sinister sound of the song. It is, however, Asha’s show all the way. In a number that would otherwise be tailor-made for Lata all the way, Pancham uses Asha’s versatility to command the listeners’ attention. Also, her husky voice adds to the sinister sound quite well. The songstress uses her low notes to seduce the audience as the actress in the film would be doing on screen. The antaras are especially beautifully, the way Asha sings “Gham bhi sehna hoga...” and the high-pitched line “Par yaad rahe...” is a delight to listen to. Anand Bakshi’s lyrics are apt for such a number, and small touches throughout the lyrics bring out the situation well, where the heroine is talking about how she would’ve been better off without loving the man — “Kaash na tumse pyaar kiya hota“. Also, she gives out a warning in the form of “Par yaad rahe, iss bulbul ko udd jaana bhi aata hai!” 


The second Asha Bhosle song in the album, O Dilruba, starts off with a beautiful cadence of flute and guitars, with the castanets thrown in (signifying another Bollywood flamenco) and Asha’s vocals – “O Dilruba…” The notes are of a sad song, though the tempo of the song and the beats are pretty fast. The wording of Anand Bakshi’s lyrics is impeccable; talk of the longing and sarcasm of the leading lady as she criticizes the hero for not caring enough. But R.D. Burman prevents it from being too mellow as he mixes it up with a very fast upbeat rhythm – the typical cabaret that defined Pancham’s sound. The guitars and brass instruments in the interlude remind us of the same. The most interesting part of the first interlude is the xylophonic sound towards the start of the antara. The phrase – “teri bala se” spoken by Asha adds the right angsty tone. The antaras too, have an overarching emotional touch to them, both in the tune and the lyrics, and the melody of the antara gets stuck in the listener’s head easily! Overall this upbeat spin on a sad song that Pancham gives purely because the heroine in the song is a cabaret dancer is interesting, and it is only Asha’s vocals and the lyrics and the intermittent violin pieces that hint towards this song being a sad/angsty one.


At first glance, Teesra Kaun seems to be a very typical, run-of-the-mill album, and it might still be so. However, the different interesting elements that Pancham da manages to infuse in this album too, are a testament to his creativity and musical prowess. The first collaborations between Pancham and Asha bear good results too, and our intentions to find good music from the yesteryears seems to be getting fulfilled by albums like these!

Miraya’s favourite from the album: Meri Jaan Tu Khafa Hai Toh Kya Hua

Music Mastani’s favourite: O Dilruba

Please let us know which song from Teesra Kaun is your favourite? 😊

PADOSAN (Immortal Gems by Pancham #4)

If you’re here for the first time, please read this post.

Padosan (1968)

Music Album Details
♪ Music by: R.D. Burman
♪ Lyrics by: Rajendra Krishan
♪ Music Label: Saregama

Listen to the songs: JioSaavn | Gaana

Buy the album: iTunes

The next edition in the ‘Immortal Gems by Pancham’ series is one that marks a milestone in Pancham da’s career. This was one of the most popular Bollywood comedy films of the 60s, which has achieved cult status by now. It was the first collaboration of Pancham da with lyricist Rajendra Krishan, and his fourth film starring Mehmood! (We have covered two of the initial three, the third being “Pati Patni”). The S.D. Burman influence was apparent in this album, and R.D. did not do much to Westernise the songs, as became his habit after achieving a strong hold in the industry. While starting off, he seemed to have been going with the flow and trying to make strong Indian melodies, as is apparent in this album. Let us start with our revisit of Padosan!


Padosan was one album which brought out the craziness of Kishore Kumar like no other. It also further consolidated the relationship between Kishore da and Burman saab that has gone down in history as one of the best singer-music director combinations ever. Kehna Hai, the only Kishore track which is soft and romantic from this album gives you a facet of his personality and shows you just how versatile he was. How easily he switched off the craziness to become the quintessential voice of romance in a heartbeat. The song begins with just a solo of his voice before the music starts off slowly with just the characteristic Pancham bongo-congo beats giving it kind of a hummable rhythm. The trumpets and organs follow like all R.D. Burman arrangements we have seen so far, but the grandness of the orchestra is subtle enough that the voice and the lyrics shine through. Here Pancham da too veers off his characteristic oomph, and opts for a more subtle show. The violins that are interspersed throughout the line “Tum hi toh laayi ho jeevan mein mere, pyaar, pyaar, pyaar” really accentuate the romantic feeling in that line. The second interlude sees Pancham returning to familiar territory, what with those frenzied Latin American-style guitar strums, coupled with wind instruments and strings. Burman follows with this subtlety even in his composition — the antara is especially wonderfully composed, and my favourite line happens to be the detour line at the end of the antara, where the song slows down and a slight mellow touch creeps into the tune. The lyricist Rajendra Krishan works for the first time with R.D. Burman in this album and I particularly loved his lyrics in the first antara – “Tumse, kehne wali, aur bhi hain pyaari baatein….” This is probably the most typical Bollywood romantic song in the album, and much of that can be attributed to Krishan’s lyrics. With a flourish of creativity, the man writes “Aaj magar, bas itna hi karna hai iqraar” and reconnects it to the “Tum hi toh laayi ho” refrain is a master touch. It conveys the feelings of a first proposal beautifully and one can’t help but thinking how perfectly the lyricists of the past captured such moments. The simple way in which Kishore da expresses these lyrics hits hard. I feel like this tune is classically simple and sweet, and could have gotten lost in this grand album if not for this simplicity of the way Kishore Kumar expresses the lyrics making this song everlasting and memorable

With Mere Saamne Wali Khidki, we come to the section of the album that, probably every Indian child is introduced to within 5 years of their life. The zany and crazy mood of the film seeps into the music from this song onwards, and one can hear it right from the beginning, with Kishore Da’s humming and Burman saab’s ingenious rubbing of a comb on another surface, creating a very unique and definitely novel kind of sound effect. The throw and heaviness in Kishore da’s voice right from the beginning reels one in effortlessly, and the simplicity in his vocals helps us connect as listeners. This fact is proved yet again in the lack of too many harkats and nuances in the singing – the common population could just as well join in and sing along! As the lilting melody starts off, the composer adds more layers to the arrangements like his characteristic guitar, strings and a rhythm on the dholak. The interlude again veers into familiar Pancham territory, quite similar to the previous song. The two songs kind of go hand-in-hand, with this one depicting the flirtatious courtship period, while that one takes on a more mature appearance. The composition is evergreen; we all are familiar with the wondrous high notes in the antara, rendered with the appropriate gusto by Kishore da. The lyrics by Rajendra Krishan also paint very well that bubbly picture. The way R.D. Burman has sort of muted the arrangements during the line “Afsos yeh hai...” is a nice touch; it reflects the upset nature of the protagonist, and the dismay is audible in Kishore Da’s voice as well! 

The next song, Bhai Battur, is a Lata Mangeshkar solo, and begins with a soft humming by Lata Mangeshkar followed by xylophone and santoor sounds that are interspersed between the bouts of humming. Since this song kind of characterises the heroine’s first foray into romance, the music also begins softly like it’s peeping into a world of unabashed love but cannot shed its inhibitions all at once. One particularly can’t help but marvel at the playful camaraderie shown by the xylophone and santoor in the beginning, until Pancham da cranks up the tempo and sets it on its course. Rajendra Krishan helps make the song enjoyable and entertaining. The lyrics “Dar laage kya hoga, Peeche koi chor hoga, Chhoti umariya, safar bada, Main thak kar hogayi choor..” also complement the central ideology of this song when the heroine is timid or scared but at the same time excited about all these new feelings that are now forming within her mind. This song reminds us of another song sung by Lata Mangeshkar, “Chocolate Lime Juice” (Hum Aapke Hain Koun). The nightingale also croons the song with all the right emotions. The excitement in the voice is tangible, and the amazing nuances employed by the singer are mind-blowing, especially in the antaras. Pancham complements it well with more guitars, comb-on-rough-surface sound effects and sounds of horses trotting, placing the song in very familiar O.P. Nayyar territory by way of its rhythm. Throughout the song, playful xylophones and woodwinds prop the song up and make it a light and frothy melody. All in all, a decent hummable song that adequately conveys the apprehension as well as excitement of first love.

The Western influence that had taken over Pancham da’s musical compositions is very, very obvious in the next song, where he brought together the two most popular female singers together for an ebullient duet, Main Chali Main Chali. Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle were always thought to have exclusive domains that could never overlapped, but Pancham pops the bubble of that myth with this song. As soon as it starts, we know that an upbeat and energetic song is awaiting us. Pancham’s masterful job on the harmonica and guitars makes us ready for the cheer and mirth that is to follow. Both sisters first have a showdown of humming, and the juxtaposition of their so different voice textures sounds amazing, especially the way Lata sounds so calm and adorable, while Asha brings in the bold and mischievous touch to the song. The accordion bridges the gap between the humming and the mukhda, where Lata, Asha and their female chorus “sahelis” sing an enjoyable ballad of warning the heroine not to get distracted by love. Rajendra Krishan’s lyrics for Asha’s portions are particularly fun to listen to, the way the ever-wary best friend tries to warn her friend in different ways. Asha, too, delivers those warnings in such a spunky and “I-told-you-so” way. The “Pyaar ka lootera loote na, meri jaan” refrain especially has a ring to it that is unmistakably adorable. Lata’s repartees also follow with the 60s equivalent of gaslighting — “Tu hai abhi naadaan, zara soch meri jaan“. Pancham’s composition is fluffy and enjoyable, harking back to “O Mere Sona Re” (Teesri Manzil) in the beginning of the antara, but drifting away soon enough. The song again ends with a humming showdown between the two singers, probably hinting that the heroine is never going to mend her ways and is off without taking heed of her friend’s warnings — “Main Chali, main chali!”

The second Lata Mangeshkar solo in the album, and her third track in the album overall is Sharm Aati Hai Magar, a song with a beautiful ghazal-like composition that tugs at your heart. The romance between the two characters at this point has shifted from playful and fluffy, to something more serious and mature. Pancham carries this idea forward through the composition. Even though the ghazal revolution of Bollywood hadn’t yet set in, Pancham da showcased a great example of a ghazal with this song.  Even his choice of instruments brings across this shift magnificently. Throughout this series, this is the first instance we have been able to hear R.D. Burman use instruments like the Sitar, Sarangi, Santoor and Shehnaai so gratuitously in his music, and all in one song! Backed up wonderfully with his trademark guitars and strings, the song makes for a complete package in terms of musical arrangements. The genius of Pancham da did not just lie in the wonderful blend of musical instruments that he created, but also in the fact that he could blend two different emotions effortlessly through his music. Initially as the song starts, the xylophone, flute and Santoor music makes us anticipate a feel-good song, but as soon as the melody starts, the listener realises that it is more of a melancholy and sombre affair going on. Lata’s voice and tone is aptly melancholy too, her voice quavering as she starts off. As she reaches the high notes in the antara, you realise why Pancham must have gone for her to sing this song.  The emotions she conveys through her rendition are enough to convey the contrite and sorry feelings that the heroine is feeling for behaving the way she did with her lover. The mood of the song is properly described by Rajendra Krishan’s lyrics, where the ambivalent feelings of the heroine are captured perfectly.

The next song on this album happens to be Mere Bhole Balam, the song which was given a new lease of life around 4 years ago when ‘Meri Pyaari Bindu’ hit theatres. Another comedy song with a strong classical base, it has Kishore Kumar’s character teaching Sunil Dutt’s Bhola about the intricacies of love. The Baul rhythm on which the song is propped immediately sucks you in as a listener, and if you watch the video along with the song, (as it happens to be one of those situational beauties) you’re in for a fun ride! The camaraderie between Kishore da and Sunil Dutt onscreen translates well into the audio too, and you can imagine their playfulness as you listen to the song. The tips and tricks which Kishore Da’s character gives Sunil Dutt’s character of Bhola, are hilarious: “Bangdu“, “Kehnaaa… Kehnaaa…“, as are Sunil Dutt’s innocent interjections and of course the softness with which Kishore Kumar sings “Meri Pyaari Bindu...” gives an added flavour to the song. Now, legend has it that these lyrics and the composition was conceived by Kishore Kumar on the sets while filming, spontaneously. The Baul rhythm harks back to many S.D. Burman songs, and since Kishore da and S.D. Burman collaborated so many times, it is no surprise that he could have based this song on S.D.’s favourite rhythm. The lyrics too, are situational, but hilarious if you pay attention. the final “Bindu Re…” with the characteristic Kishore Kumar throw of voice is sheer beauty and caps off the song well. 

With the final two songs on the album, we enter the crazy, comedic and absurd part of the album, with Mehmood’s character voiced by Manna Dey. Mehmood and Pancham da’s collaborations have always been great, as we saw in the previous two instalments in this series (‘Chhote Nawab’ and ‘Bhoot Bungla’) and are bound to see in more albums to come (‘Pati Patni’ being the immediate successor). People say it is difficult to make people cry through music, but if that is difficult, then making them laugh would be even more difficult! Moreover, to do it in a mock Carnatic style of singing would have been considered an impossible feat if not for Manna Dey! Long since touted as the best Carnatic singer in the popular music scene, he makes it look very easy in this song Aao Aao Sawariya, and pulls it off effortlessly. The initial blowing of the nose, followed by the “Vaanga“, and “Aiyaiyo“, adds to the humour in the song. Interestingly, the song then takes a detour to a Hindustani classical melody in Raag Hamsadhvani instead of the expected Carnatic classical melody. It reminds one of the tune of Pancham’s later-to-release “Piya Bawari” (Khubsoorat). Manna Dey’s vocal nuances during the antara, in the “Tu kya jaane piya” portions, sound hilarious. Although the song focuses on Mehmood’s character (who is a vocal coach) trying to gain the attention of Saira Banu’s character, R.D. Burman makes it sound endearing with ample support from the classical instruments like tablas, sitar, mridangam and ghunghroos. The sargam portion from 3:35 onwards is a sheer beauty. We keep coming across the run-of-the-mill romantic numbers like ‘Kehna Hai’, to give an example from this album itself, but it is rare gems like this which cleverly infuse the classical with a comic touch, that must be cherished. 

Probably the most popular song from this album, widely referenced in Bollywood pop culture, and overused in every Indian singing reality show, Ek Chatur Naar is the Titan of a song which both of us were very wary of writing about, and hence, left it till the very end out of sheer intimidation. Now, this song was originally sung by Ashok Kumar in the 1940 film “Jhoola” (the YouTube link has been pasted below),and Pancham has reworked it to suit the showdown or singing challenge situation in this film. The harmonium and strings start off the song, along with Manna Dey as Mehmood’s comic antagonist character, producing a mock nasal twang in his rendition. A wonderful sargam follows, until Kishore Kumar enters and showcases his weird but endearing vocal gibberish. The singing actually sounds like he was chewing paan during the recording, and produces quite a genuine effect. Rajendra Krishan writes an amusing sing-off between both characters with Mehmood’s character saying “Ek chatur naar karke singar” to Sunil Dutt saying that “No, the girl is smart enough to understand who is what – ek chatur naar badi hoshiyar”. This jugalbandi of vocal prowess goes on throughout the song, with Manna Dey singing a beautiful sargam and contradictorily Kishore Kumar singing gibberish words in perfect sur trying to confuse the character of Mehmood. And you cannot help but laugh when Mehmood endearingly goes – “Ye sur badal diya… Yeh humko bhatka diya!” R.D. Burman aptly supports it with classical instruments including tablas, harmonium, dafli, and mridangam. The interjections by Mehmood are enjoyable, and though they may not be viewed as funny in today’s times, Pancham da has nevertheless added some comic sound effects like the “Wau wau wau” sound. Towards the end is one of the most legendary rap battles in the history of cinema, and as Manna Dey tries to find level ground among Kishore Da’s out-of-syllabus tune, we end up laughing. Mehmood’s angry rant “Yeh kya re ghoda chatur ghoda chatur? Yek pe reh na?” is the last straw. At this point the song is no longer a musical piece but an audio show, which we can envision in our minds. With this song, the album ends on a hilarious high! And we are once again reminded that even comedy songs can give us a musical high!

As we have seen through this revisit, the Padosan album was one of sheer beauty, with eight songs that are situational, but have still stood the test of time. It was a delight to revisit each and every one of these songs, and it makes us equal parts sad, because, seeing as to how the music albums of rom-coms in Bollywood have evolved (rather, devolved) from something like a ‘Padosan’, to some mediocre albums that pass as rom-com albums, one wishes that the innocence and delight of it all returns. Anyway, R.D. Burman’s second super-hit album after ‘Teesri Manzil’ has been ticked off the checklist, and we are both still recovering from the sway it holds over us with its immensely catchy and hummable melodies.

Miraya’s favourite from the album: Sharm Aati Hai Magar

Music Mastani’s favourite: Sharm Aati Hai Magar

Please let us know which song from Padosan is your favourite? 😊

BHOOT BUNGLA (Immortal Gems by Pancham #3)

If you’re here for the first time, please read this post.

Bhoot Bungla (1965)

Music Album Details
♪ Music by: R.D. Burman
♪ Lyrics by: Hasrat Jaipuri
♪ Music Label: Saregama

Listen to the songs: JioSaavn | Gaana

Buy the album: iTunes

The next edition in the ‘Immortal Gems by Pancham’ series brings us to Bhoot Bungla, an album that is remembered as Pancham’s first ‘hit’ album. Before writing this article, Miraya and I both, only knew about ‘Aao Twist Karein’, so it was interesting to find out what other songs Pancham’s first hit album constituted of. Now, the film was a horror comedy, and as we know, even today, horror comedies have less scope for music. Mehmood, impressed with R.D.’s work in “Chhote Nawab” (we can definitely see why), decided to rope him in even for this film, and what’s more, the film was Pancham’s first (and only) collaboration with lyricist Hasrat Jaipuri, who was known as a lyricist who wrote deep shaayari-esque lyrics! Certainly, an odd combination, but we are stoked to see what Pancham had to offer! Another interesting fact is that Pancham was offered a small acting cameo in the film too!


Aao Twist Karein is undoubtedly the most popular song from ‘Bhoot Bungla’ even today. And rightfully so — it is a very peppy and upbeat number, perfect for onstage performances. The first time the legendary Manna Dey worked with Pancham, and Pancham made him sing a song that was entirely opposite to his usual songs in those days! The song was a party number, not a solemn semiclassical number as Manna Dey was known to sing. The hookline of the song itself has been lifted from Chubby Checker’s “Let’s Twist Again”, but Pancham has given it some proper Bollywoodisations, and has built a lot based on that base. The drums, guitars and brass instruments, as well as the backing chorus, all help make the song sound aptly Western; I’m guessing the composer was trying to bring a bit of a Western touch into the album with this song. The song also features some crazy audience interaction bits where Mehmood talks to the audience and even gets responses from them. (Achieving what ‘Karz’ did much before ‘Karz’ released!) Hasrat Jaipuri too, known to write very meaningful and poetic lyrics, had tried his chance at writing a party anthem — “Parwaano, dilwaalo, aa aao, masti ki saazon pe gaa gaao!” The party becomes more lively towards the end, when Pancham cranks up the beat on the drums, and a nice trumpet+woodwinds combination brings the song to its end. All in all, this is a situational number that is better watched than just heard.

The next song O Mere Pyaar Aaja begins with just Lata ji’s vocals and the majority of the song is dominated with just that along with the sound of Tablas and dholaks. R.D. uses very little instruments in this one, but one is mesmerised by the calming use of the occasional strings, and wind instruments. The melody is a gorgeous one, simple and elegant, and he allows it to remain such with just the tabla, the piano, the strings and the wonderfully sharp vocals by Lata di making up most of it. The way she sings “Paaun na chain haaye” with small nuances every time, perfectly coveys the longing in the song which Tanuja too, aptly enacts. The lyrics are simple and make it very easy to connect, thank Hasrat Jaipuri for moulding his lyrics according to the film’s requirements. The song has two antaras, but still short and crisp. And although this song is a quintessential longing song, still the melody is pleasant and not overly sad or drawn out. Overall, the song is a splendid listen, quintessential Bollywood golden era romance.

Following ‘Aao Twist Karein’, Pyaar Karta Ja happens to be Manna Dey’s second song for R.D. Burman. This song is one of the best songs of the album and one of our personal favourites. This song begins with his deep voice calling out “hey, hey… ho ho…” and then a brass instrument pretty much mimics that tune in a haunting way, followed by the flute and then one instrument after the other keeps getting added till the whole melody explodes in a flourish of orchestral grandeur – in a quintessential R.D. Burman way… This is hands-down the best prelude that we have witnessed thus far in this series! He uses the claps and the vocals to create melody and the classic echo effect is brought about not by machines like today, but by the vocalist singing a few steps away from the mike. The first few lines befit a horror movie more, before the tune becomes peppier and more romantic. The smorgasbord of instruments (there’s the classic dholaks, strings, bongo drums, flutes and guitars but also the more unimaginable instruments such as the glass tinkling, the resso-resso, the accordion and the mandolin-like one in the interludes) used in this song kind of blows your mind away. But, to top that, there’s also the characerstic “uh-huh-uh-huh” of Burman which creates a vocal instrument as if the available weren’t enough, but it all comes together quite fascinatingly and doesn’t sound like a mishmash of odd sounds, in the process creating a melody that is amazing. The use of chorus somewhat anticipates how R.D. Burman is going to use the chorus in ‘Main Inpe Marta Hoon’ a year later in ‘Teesri Manzil’. In the antaras, the song gets philosophical courtesy lyricist Hasrat saab — “Chhota bada, ab jo bhi ho, apne liye sabhi ek hai, yeh kya dharam hai!” The hook lyrics are wonderful — “Pyaar karta jaa, dil kehta hai, kaanton mein bhi gul khila!” Such positivity is highly lacking in today’s music. Manna Dey does an amazing job delivering the upbeat number, and it is a delight to listen to his little variations throughout the song, they are refreshing, but grounded and composed, at the same time.

The Bhoot Bungla theme (Main Bhookha) starts off sounding (intentionally) comical, with a very Bengali accented “Bhoooooot bongola” followed by Pancham creating his sinister tunes with the help of brass instruments, piano, and sound effects of laughing. A kind of mystery ‘Pink Panther’-esque rhythm starts around the middle of the song, where the actual lyrics start (and end right away). The song is the first song R.D. Burman lent his vocals to, and he is supported by Mehmood and Suresh, probably in the backing vocals. Well, one can’t expect much more creativity than this for the theme song of a horror comedy film. 

The first of the Kishore-Pancham era, Jaago Sonewaalo begins with a flamenco prelude followed by Kishore Kumar’s high-pitched voice and his characteristic yodelling. The music is characteristically scary with violins giving you an eerie feel and a simple rhythm on the bongos and resso-resso. Pancham ably supports it with flutes and Spanish guitars in the interludes. The music is very characteristic of many Kishore Kumar songs composed by Pancham, and now we know where it all started! It’s a warning to the people from the protagonist, to learn from what he has gone through and not make the same mistakes as him. The antaras are sung in a lower pitch and the music changes before the antara making it more sinister and ominous, and like most R.D. Burman songs, this is the real medium conveying the darker mood of the song. The entire song is a warning and a plea to the people to really understand what is going on. With words like, “Hansne lage, duniyaa ke log, koi huaa barbaad” and “Yeh unch neech duniyaa ke beech, aakhir yeh kyun bolo koi / jo hai bhala, woh kyun bura, hum toh na samjhe yeh raaz!” we know what Hasrat Jaipuri saab is warning us against. If the social commentary in ‘Pyaar Karta Ja’ motivates you, the social commentary in this song sends chills down your spine, and is probably the only song in this horror movie that actually talks about the horrors in the world, though metaphorically. The thing that really gives the listener the chills though, is the “ta ra re ra ra re ru” which is in contrast to the dark theme, almost like the vocals are mocking him (which is quite a theatrical device to be used here) while he says to wake up and realise what’s most important. The third stanza is more painful with him questioning “insaaniyat kahaan hain?” and really, the music beautifully rises in a crescendo-like manner churning all sorts of emotions in you, like fear and pain and guilt and hope, which is what the aim is, before it drops and only the vocals of Kishore da are audible, softer here, more imploring as they say – “jaago sone walo…” until it reaches the end. The whole song, with the music and lyrics and the voice is pretty much impeccable in nailing the narrative. Yes, it has us convinced – and awakened to it – by the end of the song. 

Another song from ‘Bhoot Bungla’ that hinges on audience interaction, and catering to the young audience, Ek Sawaal Hai is a fun and peppy number that ends the album off as Kishore Kumar sings his second song for the composer. The tune is classic Pancham — you can hear the jazzy groove and rhythms from ‘O Haseena Zulfonwali’ and ‘Aaja Aaja Main Hoon Pyaar Tera’ in this song — and the camaraderie between the guitars and drums most prominent. Kishore da obviously delivers the song with utmost performance skills. The way he modulates his voice to different styles, the way he creates tabla rhythms with his mouth after singing “Tabley ki thaap ho“, the way he laughs musically, the way he talks to the children throughout the song — this song has it all to be played to any child who would have been afraid and not just of ghosts, but the ingenious Jaipuri saab makes sure the song is universal — “Duniya ki raahon mein, darte ho kyun bhala?” The song is not just about driving the fear of ghosts away, but the fear of everything in the whole world! Close on the heels of the previous song with its social commentary, Hasrat saab writes “Roohein hawa ke jhonke, hamare dil ke sunehre dhokhe, insaan se badhkar koi na zaalim!” Pancham’s tune is aptly upbeat, making the song palatable to young ones too, the target audience. I wonder why this song isn’t as popular as ‘Aao Twist Karein’. Maybe that one was the ‘instant hit’. 

All in all, the album that started off quite mildly, and initially had us wondering whether there would be anything to learn from it, actually ended up having quite some enjoyable numbers. With the amazing orchestration Pancham has done in ‘Pyaar Karta Ja’, we now learn how he was able to do the ‘Teesri Manzil’ songs so brilliantly, and with the promise of melody he shows in ‘O Mere Pyaar’ and ‘Jaago Sonewaalo’, we can understand that his melodies were quite strong even in a horror comedy film. The album was his first commercial success, and we can see why. Also, unlike ‘Chhote Nawab’, the album has no hangover from S.D. Burman’s or Shankar-Jaikishan’s works – it sounds like a true-blue Pancham musical – his niche has been carved and we cannot wait to see how he develops it further!

Miraya’s favourite from the album: Pyaar Karta Ja

Music Mastani’s favourite: Pyaar Karta Ja

Please let us know which song from Bhoot Bungla is your favourite? 😊

CHHOTE NAWAB (Immortal Gems by Pancham #2)

If you’re here for the first time, please read this post.

Chhote Nawab (1961)

Music Album Details
♪ Music by: R.D. Burman
♪ Lyrics by: Shailendra
♪ Music Label: Saregama

Listen to the songs: JioSaavn | Gaana

Buy the album: iTunes

For the second issue of “Immortal Gems by Pancham”, Miraya and I are rewinding in time a bit from the first album we visited, and going back to Pancham’s first solo movie album, which was “Chhote Nawab” in 1961, an album for a film produced by and starring Mehmood. The legend behind Pancham’s debut album was quite funny. It was initially offered to S.D. Burman, who, at the time was busy with other work. Remember, he was strongly against Pancham starting off as a solo composer when Guru Dutt offered him ‘Raaz’ which later got shelved. Little did he know that rejecting this Mehmood film would lead Mehmood to his friend Pancham, who constantly dented Mehmood’s car with his incessant hand drumming (haha)! And thus, Pancham landed his first Hindi film album!

Now, this film, was a social drama, quite typical of those times, when Hindi cinema was evolving and trying to be accessible to the common public as well. The film apparently tells the story of a pampered young man called “Chhote Nawab” (Mehmood), who finds his mature self on meeting with Roshan (Ameeta). However, he strays on the path of ill habits after the passing of his father and a chance meet with a cabaret dancer Sophie (Helen). The love of his life played by Ameeta tries to bring him back on the “good path”, so to say, and Pancham’s music supports the script throughout the film. Let us revisit the album where the magic all started!


The first thing that hits you when you listen to Matwaali Aankhon Wale, is the intro piece – which is a good 25 seconds long. The jugalbandi of castanets and the guitars instantly transports you to Spain and you feel like you are in a Zorro movie, but then you hear the high-pitched Arabic style vocals of Mohd Rafi and you know that this is going to be a musical treat from Pancham. With castanets and guitar taking the centre stage again and sound of violins thrown in for good measure, the long one and a half minutes of vocal and instrumental prelude sets up an amazing Flamenco backdrop. Lata Mangeshkar’s vocals just breeze through, gliding smoothly from one note to the other, especially her intro with “Ohhhhh”, like she is a flamenco dancer dancing through this tune. Rafi sounds a little off in comparison, probably because of the pitch or because he is more focused in giving the wonderful performance (obviously we didn’t have voice correction softwares those days), but his delivery of phrases like “dhokha ho gaya”, “Main woh nahin,” still steals the show. The entire melody has European sounds and the vocals match it with Arabic inflexions but the Spanish tune throws you for a loop and keeps you hooked. Probably with contemporary lyrics this song could sit quite well in today’s Bollywood too (hope Tanishk is not reading this). Like most songs of those days, this too has three antaras and both Mohd Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar demonstrate a fun repartee with gusto with Lata trying to seduce Rafi — “Dil tera ho rahega, gar tu ise apnaa le“, and Rafi resisting through Shailendra’s lyrics — “Mujhpe apna jaadoo na chala, kaha mera sunn, kahin aur jaa!” It just shows that even though we don’t give her enough credit for it, Lata too, had the amazing talent for singing such songs, and not only Asha Bhosle. The manually created reverb effects that Pancham has managed with the singers’ voices are amazing. The grand orchestra of clarinets, bongos and strings to go with the Spanish sounds are brilliant, and it is good to know that Pancham had a penchant for Spanish sounds right from his first album, when most people think that he developed it as he progressed as a composer. The song is something that hits you right at Go and stays with you for long, and before you know it, you end up humming it at odd hours. 

With lyrics like these you’d expect Aam Chhum Taam Chhum to be a situational number at best, and at most something that would probably be worth just a listen once, but in the hands of Pancham it becomes something worthy. It was said that Pancham was great at turning mediocre lyrics into amazing tunes, and this song demonstrates that amply. If you’ve heard the lyrics of the song “Mera kuch samaan tumhare paas pada hai” from ‘Ijaazat’, you’d be like “Come on! Mediocre at best” – and yet this song went on to receive a National Award thanks to Asha Bhosle’s amazing vocals and Pancham’s tunes. He turned this into something poignant and philosophical, and he drives home a similar point with this song too. At the start of the song, when the chorus of children sing, it seems like a kids’ nursery rhyme, and that’s exactly what it’s supposed to be – kids having fun and doing what they do best. But then Mohd. Rafi starts his piece and suddenly there’s gravitas and philosophy added – as he says, “haar ho ya jeet ho, khel mein rahein magan” (we should continue to play!). The song alternates between a nursery rhyme and something more worthwhile as the vocals alternate between the kids chorus and the “totla” Mohd Rafi. It’s quite a song, if you wait a while and listen to it carefully, and rather than simply being a better version of a nursery rhyme to be sung in schools, it gives an important message. It’s a good listen and we enjoyed it quite a lot, not the least for the fact that it’s been quite a while that we’ve heard a nursery rhyme presented in such a way, in mainstream cinema. Though, it was a genre in itself in the golden era! 

By now, we know that Pancham had a penchant for long preludes to his songs. And Aaj Hua Mera Dil Matwala also supports our observation, with a prelude full of guitars, strings and Pancham’s staple, the bongos, supported by an amazing saxophone piece. This prelude makes way for a kind of second interlude, where the guitars and strings take centre stage. This is a song showcasing the realisation that strikes the characters who are in love and nothing says it better than Lata Mangeshkar’s high pitched singing. After the long prelude, the way she sings “Gaate  chale hum” and “Tu hi bata humdum mere” is enough to give you goosebumps. The lost-in-love lyrics by Shailendra saab are ably supported by her upbeat rendition, and Pancham supports it with cute and fluffy arrangements. Lines like “Bheegi fizaayein, thandi hawaayein, humko kahaan le chale…” and “Khwaabon mein jiske, khoye huye the, aakhir woh din aa gaya…” ensure that the song is a perfect Bollywood song where everything is unicorns and rainbows. The entry of the dholaks in the antaras further make this song a typical Bollywood love song of the 60s, but trust Pancham to throw the mouth organ in to remind us that this is NOT a Shankar-Jaikishan or S.D. Burman song as the melody would like us to believe. Rafi does not enter until the third antara, which winds up the song in just one minute (nowadays an antara takes way more than one minute to end the song). Rafi and Lata sing the last hook as a duet, and I am definitely not the first person saying that their voices complement each other so well! It’s a pretty and sweet song, a romantic song of the 1960s.

Ilahi Tu Sun Le Hamari Dua indeed starts off like a prayer (dua) with Pancham on his oft-used xylophonic sound coupled with strings. The composition is a dulcet, slow and sweet one, creating a beautiful lullaby. Rafi’s singing is halting and lisped, suggesting the character of Mehmood who was literally a pampered man-child at this point in the film. Sound effects are abundant in the song, such as that of the wind. R.D. Burman uses a peaceful arrangement of violins throughout the song, coupled with flutes. The waltzy rhythm and strings coupled with the Sufi touches in the lyrics remind us that fusion in Hindi film music isn’t something that has cropped up in our generation — experimentation with music has been going on since the earliest days of Hindi film music! The song suggests that Mehmood is pleading to the divine power as his father lies on his deathbed and that’s why the lyics of Shailendra become so poignant. “Naaz uthaye, jisne paala, pyaal hal dam kiya humse, woh na ho juda”, sung by Rafi with the innocence of a child and the vulnerability of an adult, becomes the hallmark of this song because you feel how a man-child who was dependent completely on his parents would suddenly feel if bereft of the canopy of his parents’ love. The music before the second antara changes with the introduction of added beats, violins and the sound of the storm as it continues to increase its tempo to frenzied levels before it completely drops for a few seconds. The silence at this point is beautifully used to create emotions through the music – the father has indeed passed away. And then the vocals take over in sort of an unplugged manner with very little instruments. The rhythm becomes slower and softer and all this obviously suggests that he has lost his father at this point. The lyrics too change and say that the only person left to take care of him is God, and the way he innocently pleads to God – “Humein sirf ek aasra hai tera”, to not leave him like his father has, leaves you feeling sad and vulnerable.  Rafi’s tone likewise becomes huskier and he uses vocal fry quite well to depict that the hero is crying. The way music, lyrics and the vocals all three complement each other is noteworthy, because the change in the song midway is felt at all three levels and that was something pretty remarkable of that time period – aptly known as the “golden era of music”. Overall, it is a song that provides respite among the other upbeat songs and dance numbers in this album.

A philosophical song, Jeenewale Muskuraake Jee begins with minimal instruments and Lata’s adorable vocals (this time, again for Helen) as she tells Rafi (singing for Johny Walker this time) not to bother much with life and live each moment to the fullest as no one knows what life would bring next. This carefree attitude isn’t too well worn by our hero and this repartee is all in good fun as she coaxes him to let go. It’s a fun song, and the music complements the vocals perfectly, with guitars and strings and trumpets all strewn together to give a very peppy feel to the song. We loved the “A… Aa aah!?” employed by Rafi; these expressions give the added oomph to the song and would suit on someone like Ranveer Singh in today’s time. The way Rafi sings some words like “Aapka“, “Arey waah waah!” brings out the mocking nature of his character; he is just not ready to aceept the advice being given to him in a golden platter! The last antara has Rafi leading with “Zindagi kya cheez hain kya jaano tum!” If Rafi’s “aa aa…” gives the added oomph, Lata’s expressions at “Khabarrrr kisko”, and “Do din ki hai zindagi” are positively divine — at the end the way she calls him “Patthar dil” is absolutely endearing. It adds a new dimension to the song and this is the reason why vocalists in those days, weren’t merely voices or instruments as some composers today feel, but rather an essential part of the song. The delivery is so precise, it’s like they tell the story of the song with the way they sing. The song is a cute, short and hummable melody that stays with you for long, but propelled to new stages by the vocalists!

Coming to arguably one of the most popular songs to come out of this album, Ghar Aaja Ghir Aaye Badra was the song that brought Lata Mangeshkar back into the Burman household, after the brief tiff she had with S.D. Burman sahab. Based on the Raag Malgunji, a lesser-used Raag in Hindi film music, this semi-classical song talks of the longing of the heroine for the hero. This song was supposedly initially composed by Pancham da to include in Guru Dutt’s ‘Raaz’ which was supposed to be his first album, but the film got scrapped. The Roopak taal is used wonderfully, and coupled with amazing sounds of the ghunghroos, sets up a traditional Bollywood Mujra. The break in the rhythm employed with the “Dhak Dhak” and the “Tap Tip”, really makes the listener sit up and take notice. Beautifully worded by Shailendra as “Ghar aaja ghir aaye badra saawariya,” the heroine talks of how the rain clouds have arrived (an oft-used metaphor for the arrival of the beloved in Hindustani classical music) and it’s time now for her darling to come home. The picturisation is also beautiful; in one place Mehmood is watching a Mujra dance, while the lyrics talk of Ameeta back home, longing for him to return home. The moment you hear these words, and that tune, you feel the longing and the hope that she so desperately wants to convey. And no wonder, because the raag on which this song is based is a combination of two raags – Rageshri and Bageshri – one describing separation and the other a reunion of sorts. The perfect harkatein that Lata Mangeshkar employs (in words such as “bairang“, “jiya“, “bijuriya“) shows her impeccable command over the classical. The way Lata di sings this with a fluid grace, is simply a cherry on the top. “Soona Soona Ghar more dasne ko aye re…” and many more words like this by the wonderful Shailendra, really brings out the pathos in the melody, which makes it one of our favourite numbers and this beautiful melody makes us miss the semiclassical numbers in the current mainstream Bollywood now, because apart from the occasional number by Shreya Ghoshal, you literally have very few semi-classical songs and none as pure as this. This happens to be the root of Bollywood music, that seems to have gotten lost somewhere. In a sea of raps and rocks that we always get to hear, genres like ghazals and semiclassical songs seem to have gotten lost and this song makes us miss the purity of the raagas and the pure emotions they can evoke. 

Chura Ke Dil Ban Rahe Hain Bhole is the other mujra in the album, again one with a sad undertone to it just like ‘Ghar Aaja’. The song cuts directly to the chase, with Lata Mangeshkar’s sweet vocals supported by Dholaks and Tablas. Pancham wonderfully decorates the song with the sound of ghunghroos and an amazingly catchy beat on the Tabla. An amazing sitar-sarangi-tabla combination follows in one of the interludes. The situation is classic Bollywood — the heroine played by Ameeta, as a last resort to try and bring the hero played by Mehmood back to the path of virtue, visits the kotha disguised as a mujra dancer. As we can see a look of recognition on Mehmood’s face throughout the song, Ameeta portrays the helplessness beautifully, and the same is brought out in Lata’s heartfelt vocals. Shailendra Ji’s lyrics too bring out the pathos — “Abhi chand roz pehle, pehli mulakat mein, kuchh keh rahe the humse, haath leke haath mein” and “Koi batao ki hum kare kya, woh humko pehchaante nahin!” The feelings don’t hit you in full force till the third antara, where lyrics, music and vocals come together — “Woh bhi ek raat pyaari… Aur hi thi baat tab ki, aaj aur baat hai” and especially “jaane woh kahan hai jo yahaan hai aur saath hai” as if she cannot believe the drastic change that he has undergone. The song is a sad song disguised as a casual mujra number, just as the leading lady is disguised — Smart! 

The next song Koi Aane Ko Hai happens to be a Qawwali, rendered splendidly by Rafi saab and Shamshad Begum, and who other than these two stalwarts would have been better for this song? The adlib in the beginning sets up the scene of a Mehfil quite perfectly, and god, if there’s anything that proves Rafi’s singing prowess, it should be this adlib – this speak-singing that he is doing includes soft nuances while he speaks and that extra stress on the “daag”. Until the Dadra taal picks up and the harmonium, bulbultarang, rabaab and backing chorus ably pitches in to support Rafi, he completely dominates this song with the way he sings. The rapid scale change while singing “Iss intezaar ka aalam na puchhiye humse” before he brings it back to the original scale brings out the emotions wonderfully well. The song pauses many times to showcase the lead vocalist’s singing prowess, as is normal in traditional Qawwalis. As the Begum enters in the antara, you realise that you’ve never heard her voice in many Pancham songs, probably because this was the only one! And soon it’s a jugalbandi between the lead vocalists, and we lean more towards Shamshad Begum simply because of the ease with which she seems to sing it, but really, it’s a tough fight. So enjoyable, as a jugalbandi should be! Shailendra’s lyrics aptly describe the situation of the arrival of someone special — “Koi aane ko hai, dil machalne laga“. The chaste Urdu with which the song starts soon dissolves into colloquial Urdu+Hindi, and the upbeat rhythm on the Dholaks helps the song to appear more accessible to the common listener. Since we seem to enjoy qawwalis as a genre on the whole, this song is really amongst our favourites from this album. But let’s not forget, we’ve heard a Hindustani classical number, a Spanish/Arabian dance number, an out and out qawwali and a sweet love song, all in this one album. It speaks of the variety that Pancham offers right in his first album, and the brilliance that is about to come in the albums we will visit in the future. 

The Chhote Nawab Title Music is a nice amalgamation of Hindustani classical sounds produced on the sitar and the tabla, giving a very royal sound to the track, and the Western influences that we heard in ‘Aaj Hua Mera Dil Matwala’ — guitars, strings, percussions, and wind instruments. The track very beautifully sums up the variety that the album showcases and thus, is a perfect instrumental piece for the album, that ends very intriguingly with the sounds of glass tinkling and strings! 

All in all, Chhote Nawab turns out to be a very versatile debut solo album of Pancham da. And although he kind of ‘arrived’ with ‘Teesri Manzil’, we find this album, with its repertoire of Hindustani classical, mujras, jazz, Sufi, Spanish/Arabian and Hindustani blended tracks, dance numbers, romantic songs, Lullabies, Nursery rhymes, named “Chhote Nawab” more of a “Bade Badshah” in the land of music. 

Miraya’s favourite from the album: Ghar Aaja Ghir Aaye Badra

Music Mastani’s favourite: Ghar Aaja Ghir Aaye Badra & Aaj Hua Mera Dil Matwala

Please let us know which song from Chhote Nawab is your favourite? 😊

TEESRI MANZIL (Immortal Gems by Pancham #1)

Welcome to the first actual music analysis post in our Pancham series at Music Mastani. If you’re here for the first time, please read this post.

Teesri Manzil (1966)

Music Album Details
♪ Music by: R.D. Burman
♪ Lyrics by: Majrooh Sultanpuri
♪ Music Label: Saregama

Listen to the songs: JioSaavn | Gaana

Buy the album: iTunes

So, we all know that Pancham started his career as a solo composer in 1961, with the film “Chote Nawab”, produced by Mehmood, and followed it with two more films of Mehmood. However, it was not until 1966, when ‘Teesri Manzil’, his first big break, came to him. We choose to start our series with this album, naturally. It was the album that put him in the list of big composers that superstars could now work with – because if one superstar did, the rest obviously had to follow suit. The film starred Shammi Kapoor and Asha Parekh, who were both huge stars, and Pancham brought a nice mélange of foreign sounds, and made it an authentic Bollywood Broadway musical and created a sound that was here-to-fore unheard of! Hence, it was an obvious start to start our Pancham series with this album. In this album, Pancham collaborated with the legendary Majrooh Sultanpuri saab for the very first time, and the most fascinating part is, only two singers have sung for this film — Mohammed Rafi and Asha Bhosle!

A little tidbit — legend has it that Pancham da almost didn’t get this film. He was working with his father as an assistant when the film was supposed to star Dev Anand and have music by S.D Burman sahab. But because Dev Anand was busy with ‘Guide’, which had gone into overtime because of S.D.’s health issues (it is a known fact that Pancham helped to complete the recording of the songs of “Guide’, too!), it was decided that Shammi Kapoor would be doing the film. Shammi wanted his favourite music directors, O.P. Nayyar or Shankar-Jaikishan to score for the film, but after director Vijay Anand and producer Nasir Hussain convinced him, he decided to give R.D Burman the chance, by conducting an audition of sorts. The moment he heard the duet, “Aaja Aaja” and the variety of innovative sounds Pancham would bring to the table, he signed him on the spot and the rest they say is history.

A new era as well as a new combination was born – that of Nasir Hussain and R.D. Burman, who went on to work in eight more films together. From the dominant sounds of drums and violins to the side sounds of acoustic guitars and trumpets to the lesser heard saxophone in bossa nova style, the sounds created in this album had rarely been heard before but often repeated thereafter. Let us start in our look back at this wonderful and evergreen album!


No Bollywood retro party is complete without the effervescent sound of O Haseena Zulfon Wali. R.D. experimented with the rock guitars and drums all the way back in the 1960s, and how well suited it was to Shammi’s onscreen jolly avatar. The intro pieces are very similar in most songs where they introduce Shammi Kapoor with drums and trumpets. It’s intentional and until the main melody starts, it gives you a sense of grandiosity that was such a part of his character, him being this famous rockstar. This song follows the same, with its 20-second-long prelude on the drums, followed by a mirthful rendition by Mohd. Rafi. Especially in this song, the mischief in Rafi saab’s voice when he says “Aye” or the second “Kahaan” in “Phirti Ho Kahaan” or the inflexions he gives to the words like “Ada”, “Jaan-e-Jahan“, “Wafaa” or “Khoob” and this complements Shammi Kapoor so well, that even without watching the song’s video, you know that the song is picturised on him. The song has all the boisterous spirit that is representative of Bollywood. Asha’s amazing variations of the sinisterly composed “Woh anjaana dhoondhti hoon…”, every single time, have me floored; there is not one time she sings this line in a way she has before! The interludes that R.D. follows this with (not before the amazing beats on the triangle) are so diametrically opposite to the sinister sound of that one line. Kind of a meta-reference to thrillers, where one clue is always yelling out at you in different ways, but gets brushed under the carpet until the protagonists solve it! Asha also gets the best lines of the antaras, which would be the bridge lines from the antara to the mukhda — “Shaam hi se kuch ho jaata hai, mera bhi jaadoo jawaan!” The resonance in her voice perfectly matched the chirpy energy of Helen onscreen, and was probably the first we heard of this sultry side of Asha. As the tune progresses and increases in tempo, the repartee between the two lead singers increases lyrically and to complement that, so do the nuances and the inflexions in their singing. This kind of attention to detail, lyrics, finesse while singing with just the right amount of exaggeration without it going over the top is simply inimitable. Asha and Rafi both have become the characters, Helen and Shammi. R.D. has spectacularly employed the trumpets, saxophones, violins, Spanish guitars, and other innovative sounds such as the clinking of glass (something we are bound to hear many more times during this series). In the era of live recording, managing such a huge orchestration must have been no easily achievable feat! 

O Mere Sona Re became THEepitome of how a girlfriend would cajole her boyfriend in the 60s-70s. And even today, when we hear this song, or hum it, we are brought back to the time when fights were so simple. I’m convinced the magic of these songs were in their magical lyrics as much as the tune or the voice. Contrary to what we hear today, every song of that era mostly had two antaras that allowed the progression of the story. This song has as many as three! The first two with Asha Bhosle as Asha Parekh, cajoling Shammi voiced by Rafi, and the last antara with Mohd Rafi on behalf of Shammi, accepting and forgiving her. Asha’s “Tum chhudaao lakh daamaan…” to Rafi’s “Yeh saza tum bhool na jaana…” they seem to sort out their differences amicably enough by the end of the song. The tune is lilting and melodious but not a sad one. There’s hope and promise, but nothing too dire. She even tells him to stop being pretend-angry at her with “Yeh banaavat ki adaayein”. And when they seem to make up, the tune has a pretty flute piece with an increase in tempo, towards the end, that gives you a sense of happiness and joy. Talking about the flute piece, Pancham da throughout the song makes the rhythms and arrangements fluctuate according to Majrooh saab’s lyrics. The harmonica or mouth organ is probably the instrument that jumps out instantly, right from the beginning, and throughout the song provides some wholesome entertainment. An entire interlude is devoted to the playful camaraderie of the mouth organ and the flutes. The harmonica reminds one of Pancham’s use of the same in ‘Mere Sapnon Ki Rani’ (Aradhana; 1969) wherein he had assisted his father S.D. Burman, and a similar train-like sound is created in the third interlude with the drums, guitars and flutes. The way Asha sings here is quite different from when she sings for Helen in the movie. Her voice is softer and more loving, gently coaxing the listener in places like “Hua qusoor, khafa mat ho na re”, “tum chhudaao lakh daamaan…” or “Main bhi saath rahoongi, rahoge jahaan”. The last stanza of Rafi with “Pachhtaaogi kucch aise”, “Yeh saza tum bhool na jaana” and “Chala jaaunga phir main na jaane kahaan” conveys the warning with so much love that it melts your heart. Rather than sounding righteous and stuck-up, it sounds more like just a loving warning to the heroine that she too wouldn’t be able to stay without him if he were to walk away.

Next up, we have the romantic number Tumne Mujhe Dekha. The intro piece with just the drums followed by trumpet is telling you that something spectacular is about to happen and you are waiting with bated breath for it. No wonder, because Shammi Kapoor, the Rockstar, is being introduced here. And it feels like it should follow with some energetic dance number a la ‘O Haseena Zulfon Waali’, with the kind of big introduction given here, but the relatively somber tune played on the trumpet seems to be the indicator that an out-and-out dance number is not to follow. Instead it is a layered romantic song. And we say layered because, it’s not simply a hero saying that he is lucky that the heroine chose him, but because there are sad undertones that speak of heartbreak too. All of this conveyed through just the music is the sheer brilliance of Pancham da. The way he could layer and convey the varied emotions of the character through his songs. His songs are situational – always – but they last the test of time because these are situations that all of us identify with and go through. Throughout the song, the strings play an important role, especially in the interludes, where it becomes the job of Pancham da to bridge the “Meherbaan” feeling from the mukhda to the “dard ka sehra” of the antara – the music conveniently switches to a more somber tone accordingly. Majrooh Sultanpuri ji’s lyrics here complement the music – and vice versa – so well, that you simply cannot imagine any other words than – “Tumne mujhe dekha, hokar meherbaan / Chhup gayi yeh zameen, thham gaya aasmaan…” – You start feeling euphoric and in love and like there has to be someone somewhere that says these words for you. The way Mohd. Rafi sings here, notice the “dekha” and “meherbaan” like he has surrendered to the divinity of his love, and that pause after “Jaan-E-Mann” is nothing short of sheer brilliance. But the best parts of the song are the two antaras, which really convey the story here. “Ho, kahin dard ke sehra mein…” is sung with sad undertones and the use of violin here conveys that sadness before he pulls you back with “Jaan-e-mann, jaan-e-jaan!” The same goes for the second antara where he reminds her that she too, would be lost without him – “Lekar yeh haseen jalwe / Tum bhi na kahan pahunche…” As Pancham brought the somberness into the antara, he makes it disappear just as easily by bringing back the up-tempo bongo-drum percussions with “Meherbaan hogayi, zulf ki badliyaan / jaan-e-mann, jaan-e-jaan!” Again, cannot stress enough about the spectacular rendition of Rafi saab which really doesn’t need any hero to enact. You already know what’s happening here without seeing the screen. And that is the sign of GENIUS playback singing.

“Deeewaaanaaa” HAAYE!! That word. What madness in Rafi saab’s voice and what fun in R.D. Burman’s tune for the next song, another cute romantic song called Deewana Mujhsa Nahin. Legend has it that the Nepali folk song “Eh Kancha Malai” inspired Pancham for the tune. He played the Nepali folk song to Shammi Kapoor,      who approved of it! The use of DAFLI and trumpets and the cheerful tune all signal the madness of love. A love song that describes the reason of the madness so well with lyrics such as “Aage hai kaatil mera, aur main peeche peeche”. The addition of violins to the gamut of trumpets, daflis, drums and the general grandeur of the instruments in the antaras gives it a softness, reminding us that with all the craziness of love, the seriousness and the importance of his feelings shouldn’t be lost. Again, it feels like Pancham conveys everything consequential in the antaras as we saw in the previous songs of the album till now. The tune is slower here and more lilting in both the antaras before it comes back in full swing to the craziness of “…peeche peeche!” And the second peeche peeche, Rafi sings in a certain way, making his voice softer, like he is gauging her feelings for him, and sure enough it’s followed by him pretending to walk away, only to find her searching for him. Which pretty much points to the fact that she is equally guilty in the madness and craziness. The two antaras are pretty similar where the tune is concerned with only the lyrics changing from one antara to the other. In the first, with “Paaya hai dushman ko jab se pyaar ke kaabil”, the hero confesses his feelings and explains how crazily in love with the heroine he is, whereas in the second antara he seems to give her a free pass with “Humne bhi rakh di hai kal pe kal ki baatein…”. Overall, the song is lovely as it hits you with all the crazy-in-love feelings without going overboard. 

The song Main Inpe Marta Hoon (listed in some places as Dekhiye Saahibon) is another nok-jhok song that is added to this album that is turning out to be quite a musical. The situation is quintessential – as the hero tries to persuade his lady love that he made a genuine mistake. Of course, she wouldn’t be his lady love at all if she didn’t deny it vehemently through Majrooh ji’s lyrics and Pancham’s music now, would she? The entire song has an upbeat feel to it, provided by the guitars and drums that have been used throughout, but the way the music halts when either of the protagonists are trying to prove a point — “Main inpe marta hoon“, adds to the drama. Vibrant guitar riffs and seductive trumpet solos adorn the arrangements. The singers as usual do a great job emoting the lyrics with little inflections and perfect vocal dynamics that bring out the flavour of the song so beautifully. The antara has the reiteration of Rafi’s lines such as “Ekdum galat fasaana hai“, or “Soorat bhali buri kya hai” in two different variations that is quite enjoyable and Asha’s oomph is predominant throughout her portions; the way she starts her antaras coupled with her own solo “La La La” part in the interlude is inimitable! For me, Asha’s rendition trumps Rafi’s in this one, although I’m sure that Rafi saab will return the favour soon enough in this expressive album. In all, this song is full of over-the-top dramatic expression, as is expected from a true-blue Bollywood musical, which like its predecessors serves the storyline rather than being a standalone dramatic addition that is so omnipresent in today’s Bollywood music.

That iconic and electrifying guitar piece coupled with drums, that starts off Aaja Aaja Main Hoon Pyaar Tera, is probably the best musical intro that an upbeat dance number such as this can warrant! Asha Bhosle apparently used to hire guitarists for her tours, based on how satisfactorily they could play this intro! And that makes wonderful sense. The way the intro pulls you into the song, is no little achievement. The song completely changes course after the intro, with the strings ending at a crescendo, and Rafi seems to be signalling the instruments to take it light, by singing the velvety “Aaja aaja…”, while Shammi Kapoor illustrates it so effortlessly onscreen. After this point the song’s rhythm too, completely detours from what the intro made it out to be. The strings play in short and strong staccatos, while the flutes accompany it to make the song sound playful. But it isn’t until what we would in today’s day call the ‘drop’, that the song reveals its highest point – Rafi’s frantic “Aa aa aaja, aa aa aa aaja, aa aa aah!” coupled with the amazing guitar riff provides the song its unmatchable energy. The antaras follow the upbeat rhythm of the rest of the song, until the mukhda repeats with its lilting mellifluousness. It is the interludes that steal the show, especially the second one, where Asha Parekh has a blast swaying to a wonderful concoction of guitars, trumpets, flutes and drums, immediately followed by Asha Bhosle’s ravishing delivery of her antara. The subsequent interlude (the third one) too, is brilliant, with the xylophonic sound starting it off, followed by another amazing display of Pancham’s percussionists, guitarists and flautists. Majrooh saab depicts the craziness of young love perfectly in lines like “Mera khayaal tumhe hai, maine abhi hai yeh jaana, sachha hai pyaar ki jhootha, yeh hai mujhe aazmaana”. While the first antara is sung by Rafi and the second by Asha, the third is a mix, with lines for both of them. Towards the end of the song, the entire party seems to have gone bonkers, if you watch the video, and the saxophone and trumpets follow that by increasing tempo, coupled with soprano opera-like “aah”s from a female choir. This might sound silly, but there used to be a rumour during my childhood, that singing this song invoked spirits – well, looking at the frenetic conclusion musical piece, I can imagine why.

The caboose of the album is brought along with two musical pieces, the first being a Title Music piece that signals the start of a thriller, just as it should. The brass instruments work along with the percussions to create a musical piece that draws the viewers in, later progressing into a quirky and jazzy number, probably to infuse the Shammi Kapoor effect, and to give a foreboding to the quirky dance numbers that are featured in the album — “Aaja Aaja” being the most popular one. It picks up pace towards the end and ends with a trumpet high.

The other instrumental titled Music – Teesri Manzil, sounds like an upbeat instrumental version of ‘Aaja Aaja’, with the strings playing the hookline of that song in 0.5x speed, while the sound of a train plays in the background. At less than a minute, this is one of the shortest instrumental pieces, but sticks to the upbeat nature of the rest of the album.

Teesri Manzil was an album that really got the gears turning for R.D. Burman. He proved his mettle as a composer, who could handle the over-the-top personas of superstars like Shammi Kapoor, and satisfy their images, as well as give variety to the music by adding numerous world music influences that were previously unimagined in Bollywood film music.

Miraya’s favourite from the album: Tumne Mujhe Dekha

Music Mastani’s favourite: O Mere Sona Re

Please let us know which song from Teesri Manzil is your favourite? 😊