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10 passionate Bharat Bhushan songs — birth anniversary special

Known for his sensitive portrayal of poets and artists, Bharat Bhushan was as graceful in life as he was on screen. On his 97th birth anniversary (he was born on 14 June 1920), we rewind 10 songs that capture his passionate expression of music on screen.

Shriram Iyengar

Few artistes have walked on screen as gracefully, or portrayed characters with as much passion, as Bharat Bhushan. A poet himself, Bharat Bhushan was never too keen on acting. But his looks and regal behaviour were too good to be ignored.

Making his debut in the fantasy Chitralekha (1941), Bharat Bhushan went on to carve a niche for himself in an industry besotted with the charm of Dev Anand, the sincerity of Raj Kapoor, and the pathos of Dilip Kumar.

Over the years, the actor has been remembered for his apt portrayal of tragic figures. In some ways, it is almost a representation of his own life. His penchant for playing tragic heroes and handsome poets often put him at the centre of some wonderfully passionate musical compositions.

On the actor's 97th birth anniversary, we look at 10 compositions that highlight the passion and angst that Bharat Bhushan brought to his roles.

1. 'Aaj Gawat Man Mero' (Baiju Bawra, 1952)

In a list of memorable films starring Bharat Bhushan, Vijay Bhatt's evergreen classic Baiju Bawra is the crown jewel. Playing the passionate Baiju Bawra who challenges the immortal Tansen to a musical duel, the actor delivered pathos, angst and aesthetics with equanimity. Behind the screen, there was another duel conducted by the maestro Naushad who had got two stalwarts of Hindustani classical music, DV Paluskar and Ustad Amir Khan, for this song. The legendary ustad sang for Tansen while Paluskar, son of the great Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar and a prodigy who died young, sang for the challenger.

2. 'O Duniya Ke Rakhwale' (Baiju Bawra, 1952)

In an album that is considered one of Naushad's finest works and was a favourite with even followers of Hindustani classical music, it is hard to pick just one song. This Mohammed Rafi number stands out for the actor's perfect lip-syncing to the singer's passionate call to the divine.

Also read: The masterful Vijay Bhatt – Birth anniversary special

3. 'Yahi Armaan Lekar Aaj' (Shabab, 1954)

Perhaps it was his face, or his sensitive nature, that led directors to cast him as the artist in most of his films. In M Sadiq's 1954 romance, Bharat Bhushan played the poor musician who helps an insomniac princess find sleep and happiness at the cost of his own life. With Mohammed Rafi supplying the voice, it is easy to see why fans were clamouring for the star.

4. 'Ishq Mujhko Nahin' (Mirza Ghalib, 1954)

A reader, and amateur poet himself, Bharat Bhushan idolized Ghalib like any proud Lucknowi would. To play the great poet on screen was one of his accomplishments, and he played the role to the tee. This particular ghazal stands out for being among the earliest compositions based on Mirza Ghalib's work.

5. 'Duniya Na Bhaye Mohe' (Basant Bahar, 1956)

Again, in Basant Bahar, Bharat Bhushan played an astrologer's son who is naturally gifted in music. The film, which saw him star opposite Nimmi, went on to win the National award for Best Film in 1956. If an actor ever wanted to learn how to express a song, this would be the tutorial. At no point does Bharat Bhushan miss a beat, or misspell a verse, through a complicated song.

6. 'Ek Pardesi Mera Dil Le Gaya' (Phagun, 1958)

While it is easy to imagine the actor as a very serious man, he also played a variety of roles. This song sees him play a gypsy trying to woo the irrepressible Madhubala in a wonderful romance, Phagun. The song has since been remixed to suit a newer generation. Yet, the original has a class of its own.

7. 'Zindagi Bhar Nahi Bhoolegi' (Barsat Ki Raat, 1960)

Sahir Ludhianvi's ghazal describes the romance of a first glimpse as perfectly as possible. Dressed in the perfect Lucknowi garb, the actor delivered the song, in Mohammad Rafi's voice, to perfection. Madhubala was not the only one swooning at the screen.

8. 'Sudh Bisar Gayi Aaj' (Sangeet Samrat Tansen, 1962)

In another jugalbandi, Mohammad Rafi and Manna Dey sang for this largely forgotten film by writer-composer SN Tripathi. This time, Bharat Bhushan played Tansen. This song stands out for bringing two of the most talented singers of the generation together.

9. 'Mehfil Se Uth Janewalon' (Dooj Ka Chand, 1964)

There was something about pathos-filled poetry that attracted the actor. For this underrated film starring Bharat Bhushan and Southern star Saroja Devi, Sahir Ludhianvi composed a beautiful ghazal that taps into nuanced despair. The actor's expressions did the rest.

10. 'Phir Wohi Shaam Wohi Gham' (Jahan Ara, 1964)

This Madan Mohan composition stands out for the synchronization of Talat Mahmood's sensitive voice with the aesthetic expressions of Bharat Bhushan. The song embodies the artist that was Bharat Bhushan and his loneliness, even at the height of his fame. Few songs came as close to expressing reality.