Rajesh Khanna, the first 'super star' of Hindi films, passed away recently. He was responsible for the pleasant memories of a whole generation. As expected, his passing away made people sad. At the same time it made them nostalgic for those innocent days, when the music was melodious, the singers were titans and then there was the charm and charisma of Rajesh Khanna.
There have always been Director-Music Director, Actor-Music Director combinations which have given great music. RajKapoor-Shankar Jaikishan, Vijay Anand - S D Burman, Hrishikesh Mukherjee - R D Burman in the Dir-MD combo and Dev Anand-S D Burman, Shammi Kapoor - Shankar Jaikishan in the Actor - MD combo come to mind immediately. Similarly Rajesh Khanna - R D Burman - Kishore is what comes to mind immediately when one thinks of Rajesh Khanna. While this trio gave us some extraordinary music, I feel Rajesh Khanna inspired other music directors as well to give him the best. Unlike Raj Kapoor or Dev Anand, Rajesh Khanna doesn't seem to have much say in the music of the film. Atleast going by the later record, I am sure the music which happened during Rajesh Khanna's peak period did not have much input from him. Yet, his charisma was such that it led music directors to create some outstanding melodies for him. It was just as if his presence in a movie was enough to bring the best out of the music directors.
To give evidence to this theory of mine, I am going to point to songs which were not composed by R D Burman or S D Burman. For Rajesh Khanna has always been tied to R D Burman and I want to show how even other music directors gave their best for him. Rajesh Khanna's stardom lasted from 1969, when 'Aradhana' was released to till around 1975. Not a long period and yet the songs of that period are indelible in our minds.
Let us start with the film which everyone quoted from, sometimes wrongly calling him 'babu moshai'. (That's not what Rajesh Khanna is called in the film. That's what he calls Amitabh!!). 'Anand' was a huge hit. Music by Salil Chaudary. 'maine tere liye hi'. Here it is not Kishore but Mukesh who is the voice of Rajesh Khanna.
Now let us check how he inspired Kalyanji Anandji. To aid Rajesh Khanna's charisma they came up 'jeevan se bhari tere aankhe', almost matching the greatest song they had composed for 'Saraswati Chandra', "chandan sa badan". Kishore's deep vocals and lovely lyrics by Indivar, make this an everlasting melody. Safar also had that 'zindagi ka safar'. Another unforgettable song.
It is Kishore again, this time under the baton of Hemant Kumar singing the lyrics of Gulzar and creating magic. This Kalyani / Yaman laced melody is a personal favorite of mine. A melancholic song which benefits a lot from the vocals of Kishore Da
Madan Mohan isn't a music director whom you would instinctive associate with Rajesh Khanna. Yet, he came up with some lovely melodies in the movie, 'Bawarchi'. Here is Manna Dey becoming the voice of Rajesh Khanna. As is Madan Mohan's wont, he takes up a relatively rare Kaushik Dhani raga (aka Bhinna Shadaj) and tunes the pallavi in it. The charanam is in Ahir Bhairav (Chakravagam). Not a 'typical' Rajesh Khanna song I would say but an excellent melody nevertheless. This movie also has 'bhor aayi gaya andhiyaara', where Madan Mohan does fusion of sorts
And here are Rajesh and Kishore urging Laxmikanth Pyarelal to give out their best. From the movie 'Mehboob Ki Mehndi', many a times I feel it has a RD Burman touch, especially the pace of the song. (During those times R D Burman was exerting a lot of musical influence, especially in songs meant for Rajesh Khanna.) Lyrics by Anand Bakshi. I love the 'jaane kya maine sun liya, tune kuch kaha nahin'. A fetching Leena Chandravarkar is an added bonus if you watch the song.
A couple of more Laxmikanth Pyarelal songs, which sound very typically like Rajesh-RDB-Kishore songs. Here is this sad song from 'mere naseeb main hai dost' from "Do Raaste". The pace and orchestration are very similar to R D Burman. And if you are an old timer and I tell you the video features Mumtaz, you will obviously watch it immediately.
The next LP song comes from the film 'Daag' and again you will be excused if you thought it was R D Burman melody. Another super hit song from Rajesh Khanna's peak period. Shair's lyrics and Sharmila Tagore with him
Let me close this tribute with a very atypical Rajesh Khanna song. From the movie, 'Aavishkar', lyrics of Kapil Kumar and music by Kanu Roy. It is a very typical soft Bengali melody. Sung by Manna Dey.
All the songs above give a glimpse of what it was musically in the late 60s and early 70s. That was the peak period of R D Burman, Kishore and Rajesh Khanna. They inspired other music directors as well, who came up with some amazing melodies. By late 70s Rajesh Khanna's super stardom was fading. A lanky lad called Amitabh Bachan was taking over. Amitabh could never inspire the music directors like Rajesh Khanna did and the melodies started fading. And Hindi film music went downhill from thereon.