Article Hindi

Birth anniversary special: 10 magical partnerships of SD Burman and Majrooh Sultanpuri


On their common birth anniversary (1 October), we look at some compositions that stand testimony to the symbiosis between the composer and the poet.

Shriram Iyengar

SD Burman and Majrooh Sultanpuri worked together for more than 14 years, creating some memorable compositions. While there was a difference of 13 years between the two (Burman was born in 1906, Sultanpuri in 1919), they were inextricably linked by a common birthday.

Incidentally, the coming together of the two owed much to the break in the partnership of SD Burman and Sahir Ludhianvi. After the success of Pyaasa (1957), Burman and Ludhianvi fought bitterly to gain credit for the success of the music of Guru Dutt's iconic film. Faced with what he believed to be the obstinacy of the lyricist, Burman decided he would never work with Ludhianvi again. Thus began a partnership with Sultanpuri that lasted till Burman's final years.

With an innate understanding of rhythm and folk music, the two created songs that have stood the test of time and melody. On the birth anniversary of the two legends, we look at 10 compositions born of their partnership.

'Maana Janaab Ne Pukaara Nahin' — Paying Guest (1957)

One of their early works was the album of Paying Guest. Directed by Subodh Mukerji and starring Dev Anand and Nutan, the film was filled with several gems that have become synonymous with melody. This particular teasing number, featured on the lead cast of the film, captures the mischief and gentle flirting that marked the high point of romance in the 1950s.

'Aankhon Mein Kya Ji' — Nau Do Gyarah (1957)

The film was picturized on real-life couple Dev Anand and Kalpana Kartik. The subtle seduction and confession remains one of the most memorable compositions of the two together.

'Hai Apna Dil To Awara' — Solva Saal (1958)

This composition has earned fame especially for its accompanying orchestra, the mouth organ in particular. It was played by a young Rahul Dev Burman in what was his first known contribution to Hindi cinema music. Sung by Hemant Kumar and picturized on the suave Dev Anand, this is the perfect song for every casanova to sing along to.

'Koi Aaya Dhadkan Kehti Hai' — Lajwanti (1958)

This is one of those rare 'pianoforte' songs that were a regular in early Indian cinema. The piano, a key instrument to express love, sadness, despair, or anger, is used beautifully by SD Burman here to provide context for a very happy couple in love. The song was sung by a very young Asha Bhosle. Nargis and Balraj Sahni played the lead in a film that was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival.

'Accha Ji Main Haari' — Kala Pani (1958)

Raj Khosla's Kala Pani had two of the most charming stars of the time — Madhubala and Dev Anand — paired together. This wonderful, lilting composition captures the 'roothna-manana' to perfection. As Sultanpuri's lyrics help Madhubala woo a sulking Dev Anand out of his funk, it is hard not to bask in the smile of the woman once called the 'Venus of India'.

'Ek Ladki Bheegi Bhaagi Si' — Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958)

Again, Madhubala plays the object of affection while Kishore Kumar tries his wily charms on her. Directed by Satyen Bose, Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi remains one of the most loved Hindi comedies of all time. While the album does not match SD Burman's gold standard of classic music, it has several songs that have become part of the modern lexicon.

'Jalte Hain Jiske Liye' — Sujata (1960)

Sung by the mellifluous Talat Mahmood, the song captures the perfect emotions of a couple newly in love. The composition is also rare for director Bimal Roy's delightful use of the telephone as a prop, with neither the song nor the composition making any use of its sounds.

'Aise To Na Dekho' — Teen Devian (1965)

Another flirtatious classic from Teen Devian, with the stylish Dev Anand wooing his next-door neighbour Nanda. SD Burman's composition stands out for his ability to embellish Sultanpuri's verses in a staccato rhythm that only enhances its overall flow.

'Hothon Pe Aisi Baat' — Jewel Thief (1967)

While the previous song had a staccato rhythm, this one carried within its composition a frenzy. The climactic song is one of the more popular Lata Mangeshkar numbers, with Vyjayanthimala's dancing adding to its allure.

'Palkon Ke Peeche Se Kya Tumne Keh Daala' — Talash (1969)

It was, perhaps, their innate understanding of rhythm that made Sultanpuri and SD Burman come together with such success. This wonderful song from Talaash is another example of their ability to break verses into parts without disrupting their rhythm, thereby creating a new sound in itself.