In his over six decade career, Dev Anand did around 120 films and almost all of them, save the very early and final few, stand out for their music.
One prime reason could be the staggering variety of the composers and singers they featured in comparison to his peers Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor.
While Kapoor primarily had Mukesh as his voice and Shankar Jaikishan for music, Dilip Kumar banked on Talat Mehmood briefly, and then Mohd Rafi, backed by composer Naushad and lyricist Shakeel Badayuni.
On the other hand, Dev Anand began with the irrepressible Kishore Kumar – who was still finding his feet then, but was also served by Mukesh’s sonorous tones, Talat’s velvet quaver, the soothing melody of Hemant Kumar, and the versatility of Rafi, before throwing in his lot with Kishore for good in the 1970s.
And then, apart from S.D. Burman, he could draw on the musical capabilities of Shankar-Jaikishan, O.P. Nayyar, Kalyanji-Anandji, Laxmikant Pyarelal, Rajesh Roshan as well as Rahul Dev Burman, and lyricists Hasrat Jaipuri, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Gopaldas Neeraj, Shailendra, and Anand Bakshi.
Whether it was Talat’s existential “Jaayen to jaayen kahan” shot in twilight on a deserted Bombay beach (“Taxi Driver”, 1954), Hemant Kumar’s mouth organ-driven “Hai apna dil to awara” (“Solva Saal”, 1958) in a suburban train, Kishore’s sombre “Dukhi man mere” (“Funtoosh”, 1956) or the peppy “Aasman ke neeche, ham aaj apne peeche..” (“Jewel Thief”, 1967), Rafi’s pensive “Din dhal jaaye” (“Guide”, 1965) or audacious “Ik ghar banaunga, tere ghar ke saamne” (“Tere Ghar ke Saamne”, 1963) and hundreds more, the songs still have the power to sway.
Let’s go through a small representative selection, known and lesser known, down the years.
“Layi khushi ki duniya”: One of the few songs where Mukesh was Dev Anand’s voice, this sparkling duet with Suraiya from family drama “Vidya” (1948) shows the duo’s natural chemistry, which alas, could not be replicated in their real life despite their best wishes, and the birth of Dev Anand’s dapper image. S.D. Burman provided the music and Anjum Pilibhiti the lyrics.
“Jeevan ke safar mein raahi”: A rollicking melody, with philosophical underpinnings, sung by Dev Anand while playing chauffeur to the petite Nalini Jaywant, this song from “Munimji” (1955) had Kishore Kumar’s voice, the elder Burman’s music and Sahir Ludhianvi’s deep thought.
“Hum bekhudi mein tumko pukare chale”: One of the few songs to depict Dev Anand in non-western garb, this despondency-filled song from “Kala Pani” (1958) showed him in a particularly vulnerable mood. Who else could Rafi enunciate the pathos-ladden words crafted by Majrooh Sultanpuri and set to music by the elder Burman.
“Khoya khoya chand”: This song from “Kala Bazaar” (1960) in typically Dev Anand – dressed stylishly in a black sweater and shirt buttoned till the collar – as he frisks and gambols while serenading lady love Waheeda Rehman. Rafi provided the spirited rendition, Burman Dada the music, and Shailendra the words.
“Deewana mastana hua dil”: This classical-tinged rhapsody from “Bambai Ka Babu” (1960) had an unprecedented pairing of Dev Anand with doe-eyed Suchitra Sen and a story verging on a taboo issue. However, this song by Rafi and Asha Bhosle, scored by S.D. Burman and worded by Majrooh does not reveal it.
“Main zindagi ka saath nibhata chala gaya”: From “Hum Dono” (1961), this is the trademark Dev Anand song, with its lyrics representing the mindset of not only the role he plays but his own life philosophy too. And his portrayal with the nonchalant ebullience he could easily adopt – remember that flick of the cigarette – complements the magical voice of Rafi, Jaidev’s music, and Sahir Ludhianvi’s words.
“Na tum hame jaano”: Rather unconventional as it starts with soft humming and the words from midway through the ‘antra’, this song from “Baat ek raat ki” (1962) sounds like a gentle caress as Dev Anand begins crooning over a sleeping Waheeda Rehman. It was vintage Hemant Kumar all over, including the music and Majrooh Sultanpuri was the lyricist.
“Tu kahan ye bata is nashili raat mein”: This song of plaintive longing, with a distinctive syntax, from “Tere Ghar Ke Samne” (1963), evokes all tropes of an urban love quest in spades – a windy night, deserted streets, unhelpful people, as Dev Anand tries to locate his lady love, Nutan. Rafi was the voice, Burman senior the composer and Hasrat Jaipuri the lyricist.
“Khwab ho tum ya koi haqiqat”: This song from “Teen Deviyan” (1965) also seems custom-made for the dapper Dev Anand, as dressed to the nines in an upper-class social gathering, he displays his legendary charm with a melodious ode to the (yet unidentified) love of his life. The rendition was by Kishore at his exuberant best to S.D. Burman’s rousing mujsic and Majrooh’s evocative lyrics.
“Gaata rahe mera dil”: From the stellar soundtrack of “Guide” (1965) where every song is a gem, this is an another apt vehicle for Dev Anand to show his sprightly romantic side with the exquisite Waheeda Rehman with Kishore and Lata, the ever reliable S.D. Burman and the gifted Shailendra responsible for the voices, music, and words.
But, another reason why Dev Anand films’ songs endures is the reason that his mere presence, even without even singing, imbued them with immortality.
Take vivacious Geeta Bali singing “Tadbeer se bigdi taqdeer” (“Baazi”, 1951, where Geeta Dutt transitioned from the bhajans and weepy songs she was known for), Waheeda Rehman’s veiled warning in “Kahin pe nigahen, kahin pe nishana..” (C.I.D., 1957) as a suspicious Bir Sakhuja walks around the mansion, her feisty declaration of independence with “Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna hai” and the reproach in “Mose chal kiye jaa..” (“Guide”, Pandit Shivkumar Sharma was convinced to play the tabla in the latter), and finally, the spunky Zeenat Aman’s youth anthem “Dum maaro dum..” (“Hare Rama Hare Krishna”, 1973 as he glares from the sidelines).
(Vikas Datta can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org)