I remember the time I heard tere bina zindagi se koi, shikwa to nahin… That haunting melody from Aandhi — the 1975 film starring the enigmatic Bengali superstar Suchitra Sen and one of the greatest (and underrated) actors of Hindi cinema, Sanjeev Kumar. The film was rumoured to be loosely based on the life of Indira Gandhi.
I think I was in college, when I heard the song years later. I heard it at a time when I was slowly and surely falling in love. With a quiet and confident guy. Like every other cinema-influenced young Indian girl, I needed a song which would eloquently express what I felt. Gulzar’s lyrics did that for me. And Rahul Dev Burman’s musical composition lifted those lyrics and made it into something, I wouldn’t forget in a hurry. Years later, when I hummed that tune in my kitchen, I found my hubby smiling that smile. You know the one he had on his face, when I sang it to him — legs shaking in nervousness, eyes glued to the ground, years ago.
That’s RD Burman. The man who created tunes which people found hard to forget. Tunes, which served as background scores to their stories. And who forgets music that define their lives. There so many melodious numbers really. I mean, how many do I pick! There’s Mera kuch samaan, tumhare paas pada hain…Written again by Gulzar, sung beautifully by Asha Bhonsle. If ever there was a song written to explain lost, unrequited, or unforgettable love, that was it. The Gulzar-Burman duo nailed it. I must say the song became so much larger than the film, or the actress it was filmed on.
That’s the power of good music. Good writing. And a combination of both. I don’t want to keep picking songs and talking about how great those were. And why. So many others have done that already with aplomb. Let me rather talk about the two songs that I picked. Both make me cry. Both make me lose myself into something undefinable. Both take me to a place, I know I have visited many times before, like Alice in her favourite (rather gloomy) Wonderland.
These songs don’t take me to a happy place. These are not dance numbers. Or pop songs. That will uplift my spirit or motivate. I mean these songs don’t even let me forgive or forget. Instead, it forces me to go deeper into myself. It makes me recede into broken and tricky memories, blurry faces, confusing smells and fuzzy feelings. The only good thing about the whole experience is when I realise — its over. When I slowly and dazedly move from unconsciousness to consciousness. And curve my lips into something akin to a smile.
Songs, like stories do that. Not all. Some. They leave an indelible imprint. They divide our lives into happy, sad, happy-sad chapters. They transform our lives into musical albums.
Thank you, RDB for putting music where it belongs — into people’s lives and hearts. Your music has and will continue to trigger the love and romance in us.
And yes, Happy Birthday!
Fun fact: RD Burman’s father Sachin Dev Burman , the illustrious music composer and singer hails from Tripura. The tiny, quaint and peaceful North Eastern state. The very place where I was born and raised.