Kishore Kumar
Although he was a comedian the Maverick Kishore Kumar was an out’n’out serious singer. Kishore Kumar and Rahul Dev Burman shared a close relationship. Kishore Kumar has a series of hits especially with S.D.Burman, Kalyanji Anandji and R.D Burman. Although Pancham worked with a lot of singers, Kishore Kumar seemed to be his favorite, as for a versatile musician like Pancham, Versatile voices of Asha and Kishore were the perfect match.

R.D has also worked with Manna Dey a lot, it was due to the Mehmood factor may be, but Manna da’s voice was really very well exploited by Panchamda. Especially when the ‘three Bengalis’ Manna-Kishore-R.D came together they have created mind blowing stuff like the one in ‘Padosan’ – “Ek chatur naar karke singaar”, The most enjoyed comic song of the Industry, this is the only example of its kind. Kishore has some other beautiful tracks in the same album like “Kehna hain kehna hain” and “Mere samne wali khidki mein”.

Kishore had always sung love duets and solos with other musicians but his songs had a mischievous feel but in R.D’s numbers he is exclusively deviant. Pancham da made two versions of the ‘Mehbooba’ number “Mere naina sawan bhado” in raag Shivranjani, one was in Latabai’s voice and the other in Kishore’s. Kishore a non-classical singer excels in this number too. Pancham works out a similar kind of experiment with Kishore’s voice in ‘Kudrat’. The inimitable enchantress Parveen Sultana is great in her thumrie base “Humen tumse pyar kitna” and Kishore sounds no less than she in his version of the song. “Hume aur jeene ki chahat na hoti” in ‘Agar tum na hote’ can be stated as another good example of the ‘male-female version’ classics of Pancham and Kishore.

What was common in ‘Amar prem’ and ‘Kati patang’? Both were Shakti Samanta’s films, Both had a wonderful tuned team of Anand Bakshi- Kishore Kumar- R.D,. Anand Bakshi, Kishore and R.D should be credited the most for its fruition. Anand Bakshi at the best of his lyrics in both the films, penned the soulful Kishore numbers like “Kuchh to log kahenge”, “Yeh kya hua”, “Chingari koi bhadke” for ‘Amar prem, while in ‘Kati patang’ the team was back with romantic tracks like “Yeh shaam mastani”,and “Yeh jo mohabbat hain”.

Kishore sang a lot of Gulzar for R.D. Right from Gulzar-R.D’s first number “Musafir hoon yaaron” in ‘Parichay’ the magic worked. Then Kishore went altitudes with this team with “O manjhi re” in ‘Khushboo’ and all the duets in ‘Aandhi’ like “Tere bine zindagi se” and “Is mode se jaate hain”. Also the team was fab in ‘Ghar’, Kishore had two of his best tracks in the film like “Phir wohi raat hain” and the beautiful duet with Lata Mangeshkar- “Aap ki aankhon mein kuchh”, and who can forget the fabulous three in “Aanewala pal jaanewala hain” in ‘Golmaal’.

Kishore and Pancham came together for almost 550 songs in more than 200 films.

Kishore also had great duets to sing under Pancham’s music. Kishore and Asha always was a hit pair. For decades both competed with each other in their songs and gave hit after hit. R.D always had this group phenomenon working it seems and also he teamed up with the wonderful singers to create wonders in : “Jane Jaan” (Jawani Diwani), “Meri soni”(Yadon Ki Baraat), “Bhali bhali si ek soorat”(Buddha mil gaya),”Mil gaya hum ko sathi”, “humko to yaara teri yaari” (Hum kisise kam nahin), “Maine tujhe maanga tujhe paaya hain”, “Keh doo tumhe ya chup rahoon” (Deewar),”Ek main air ek tu”, “Khullam khulla pyar karenge” (Khel khel mein), “Aya Hoon mein” (Manoranjan)’, “Dil mein jo baatein hain” (Joshila), “Neend churai raaton mein” (Sharif badmaash), “Wallah kya nazara hain” (Ishq ishq ishq) and many others. Besides he has also sung a series of hit duets with Lata mangeshkar under Pancham da.

Kishore and R.D, both were great artists. In the late eighties both did not work together as often as before but in their hay days have given the audiences enough to cherish. R.D always had a liking towards his voice and as Pancham da said the songs in ‘1942 -a love story’ were composed supposing Kishore Kumar to sing them, unfortunately the duo could not create their magic again in the nineties because of Kishore Kumar’s sudden death.

Asha Bhosale
Asha ki awaaz to paani hain” – Asha’s voice is like water that mixes homogeneously with anything. These were Panchamda’s words for his and also our beloved enchantress Asha Bhosale and the whole world cannot deny this fact.

Asha tai sang for his father for years. In the early sixties decade Asha was the only singer who recorded maximum for Sachin Dev Burman. The young Rahul assisted his father and also gave the singers rehearsals. Later he also ghost directed S.D’s films. R.D then established himself as a music director and worked with her in some films when they realised the compatibility between them. He as a versatile musician and she as a versatile singer went all lengths in music. The musical duo later settled as a happy couple after tying a knot in July’1979.

Also other musicians of yesteryears experimented but the common factor in their experiments was Asha. Sachin da recorded the first ever cabaret in her voice for Dev Anand’s ‘Taxi driver’ – “jeene do aur jeeyo”, C. Ramchandra tried so many like in Rock’n’roll and in classical in Navrang. Roshan gave her the best qawwali “Nigahen milane ko jee chahta hain” in ‘Dil hi to hai’, O.P Naiyyar and Asha were again a wonderful team. Also her brother Hridaynath tried most of his difficult to sing songs on Asha tai and succeeded. Similarly Pancham da’s experiments in music were frequent and to see them succeed he needed Asha. Both shared a wonderful chemistry when they sang or composed. Both experimented regardless the consequences. It all started after ‘Teesri manzil’. Asha was a bit skeptical whether to sing to his tunes initially because he had a different style of composing but she took it as a challenge and just listen to the sheer magic in all its songs. “O mere sona re”, “aaja aaja”, “o haseena zulfonwali” are obviously the most famous songs in this film but as ever Asha was always one-up in all her duets be it with any musician or singer one cannot deny her grace in “Dekhiye sahibo woh koi aur thi” where in every verse she sounds just ‘DIFFERENT’. Panchamda and Asha tai sang their first duet in ‘The train’ and then teamed up for many numbers including the beautiful “Sapna mera toot gaya” in ‘Khel khel mein’.

Some of the greatest songs of this phenomenal couple are “mar dalega dard-e-jigar” (Pati-patni), Jaane jaan dhoondta phir raha”(Jawaani deewani), “Kitne bhi tu karle sitam”, “jaane jaan o meri”(Sanam teri kasam), “Kya ghazab karte ho jee”(Love story), “Sharma naa yoon”(Joshila), “Do lafzon ki hain dil ki kahani” (The great gambler), “Hawa ke saath saath”, “Zindagi hain khel”( Seeta aur Geeta), “Piya tu ab to aaja”(Caravan), “Mera naam hain Shabnam” (Kati patang), “Bechara dil kya kare”, “Ghar jayegi” (Khushboo), “Dum maro dum”(Hare Rama Hare Krishna), “Bheega badan jalne laga”(Abdullah),”Choro choro solah singar karoongi”(Manoranjan), “Hai hai thanda paani” (Bombay to Goa), “Mausam mastana”, “Jhuka ke sar” (Satte pe satta), “Yeh ladka hai Allah”(Hum kisise kam nahi), “Aur kya ahd-wafa hote hain”(Sunny), “Piya bawari”, “Sun sun sun didi tere liye”( Khoobsurat), . In all these songs one can find a range of styles and experiments. Also some of their not much famous songs like “oye tauba mujhe toone badnaam kar diya”(Jawaani deewani), “Hey baba hey baba”(Manzil manzil), “Badal jo barse to”(Gardish), “Jashn-e bahara”(Abdullah), “Chotisi kahani se” (Ijazat), “Aaja mere pyaar aaja”(Heeralal Pannalal), “Wallah kya nazara hain”(Ishq Ishq Ishq) are substantial but ignored by the intelligent listeners.

“Baat adhoori kyun hain”(Majboor) and “Meri nazar hain tujhpe”(The Burning Train) are best examples of western and Indian classical fused and presented by this team. “Hain agar dushman” in ‘hum kisise kam nahin’ and the “Pal do pal ka saath hamara”in ‘The burning Train’ (in both Asha excels over Rafi) are the evergreen qawwali’s in film history. They go high altitudes in ‘yaadon ki baaraat’ with “Aap ke kamare mein koi rehta hain”, this is possible only with a team like Asha-Kishore-RD. RD confidently moved when Asha accompanied him and so came up with utter classics. The Gulzar-Asha-Pancham team was always enthusiastic to innovate and always succeeded, but 1987 was a special year for them when they created waves with ‘Dil padosi hain’ in the non-film music world and on the filmi front with ‘Ijazat’ which had beautiful songs like “mera kuchh samaan”, Katra katra milti hain” and “Khali haath shyam aayee hain” Asha Bhosale and Gulzar both won the national award for their work in ‘Ijazat’.

Asha never let down his hopes. Both can be rightly termed as the best musical couple. Neither was he less nor was she a loser, both Titans, both excellent, both equally in love with music and each other. Both married to music, both married to each other.

Asha Rahul Dev Burman, one name that says/sings all.

Lata Mangeshkar
“Mausam aaye jaaye, laage pheeke pheeke lage
tu jo nahin kuch bhi nahin chhaya hain andhera”

These are the lines from Lata Mangeshkar and Pancham’s classic number “O mere pyaar aaja” in ‘Bhoot bangla’, which probably every Pancham fan is singing in fond memory of the fabulous melody maker.

Lata Mangeshkar, the Diva has many more R.D gems to her credit. Infact when Rahul Dev Burman scored independently for the first time in 1962 for ‘Chhote Nawab’, Latabai sang his first song “Ghar aaja ghir aaye” woven in raag Malgunji. Later on though Asha and R.D created waves in the music world, He never ignored Lata and they very often took the music lovers by storm creating a furore. It is really difficult to figure out whether Lata didi sang the best of songs of R.D or Asha tai.

Pancham da and Lata have come together in many fabulous numbers and to talk about some, is like not doing justice to the remaining. But still to quote some including songs like “Kisliye maine pyaar kiya”(The Train) is a superbly romantic solo, which has a very simple, tune but still so substantial and Lata is great in this song which need not be said. The shades of this song are pretty obvious in another Lata-RD song “Bhaibattur ab jayenge kitni dooor’ in ‘Padosan’ which has a totally different feel in music and lyrics and rendition too.

‘Padosan’ is one of RD’s best albums with a number of experiments in it and has a variety of moods in all its songs. Lata is a part of three beautiful songs in this album. Asha has paired with her sister in so many other beautiful songs and they create magic again in padosan’s “main chalee main chalee’. “Sharam aati hain magar” is a very nicely written love song, which talks about the implicit feelings of love and glimpse how charming the nightingale is in this song.

Then again in ‘Baharon ke sapne’ RD and Lata sound just great in the simple Majrooh number “Aaja piya tohe pyaar doon” and the mind blowing “Kya janoon sajan”. R.D not only experimented with Asha but also tried his tricks with other singers and Lata is not an exception. R.D has very stylishly made her sing the sensuous “Do ghoont mujhe bhi pila de sharabi” in ‘Jheel ke us paar’ or the “Ja naa ja ja na” in ‘Mela’ or the very peppy “Jai jai Shiv Shankar” with Kishore Kumar in ‘Aap ki qasam’. In ‘Samadhi’ he tried to interchange Lata’s songs with Asha and Asha’s with Lata it seems and both the Divas are exceptionally brilliant still in “Bangle ke peeche teri beri ke neeche” a very lively dance folk based song by Lata and Asha sings “Jab tak rahe tan mein jiya” the love solo.

The best song made in Shivranjani in ‘Mehbooba’ –“mere naina sawan bhado” is a timeless classic from this duo. Some beautiful solo tracks they delivered are “Bada natkhat hain re” (Amar Prem), “Na koi umang hain”(Kati patang), “Najaa o mere humdum” (Pyaar ka mausam), “Bhuri bhuri aankhon wala ek ladka” (Arjun), “Waadiyan mera daaman” (Abhilasha), “Phir kisi shaankh ne”, “sili hawa chhoo gayee” (Libaas), “Sawan ke jhoole pade”(Jurmana), “Jahan pe savera ho” (Basera), “Agar tum na hote” (Agar tum na hote), “Toone o rangeele”(Kudrat), “Jiya naa laage mora” (Buddha mil gaya) and many more.

Lata sang some of the best duets of her career too under Pancham da’s score that include the songs of Aandhi with Kishore Kumar. With Kishore –RD-Lata came up with songs like “Kajra laga ke” (The train), “ Jogi o jogi” in “Lakhon Mein Ek”, “Pyaar hua hai jabse” (Abhilasha), “Tu pyaar tu preet” (Paraya dhan), “Chand chura ke laya hoon”, “Gulmohar gar tumhara naam hota” (Devta) and with Manna Dey she features in the foot tapping “Chunari sambhal gori” in ‘Baharon ke sapne’ and “Rut hain Milan ki” (Mela), “Ni sultana re “(pyar ka mausam), with Rafi and some more hits with other singers like Bhupendra too.

Lata and RD shared a long-term relationship not only on the professional front but also on the personal as she is the big didi of the younger Asha tai. After his death “Kuchh na kaho” in 1942-A lovestory was recorded in Lata Mangeshkar’s voice so as to mark the association of the titans.

Lata –Asha – Pancham proved to the world that they were and are undoubtedly the unparalleled artists. Much has been talked about the excellent Burman father and son duo and the Mangeshkar sisters. It has to be incredible when the Burmans and Mangeshkars go hand in hand and there can be no contradiction on that account!

Mohammad Rafi
Rafi needs no introduction to film music lovers. He was comfortable with every music director. He sang for Sachin Dev Burman and also for his son Pancham with the same grace. Initially Rafi sang a lot for R.D. ‘Teesri manzil’ is regarded a s a milestone in Pancham’s career and all the songs in this film were sung by Asha together with Rafi.

To judge which song in Teesri manzil was better then the other is very complex but Rafi’s “Deewana mujhsa nahin” is considered to be one of his best songs.

Later Rafi and Pancham worked for many good songs including the “Tum bin jaaoon kahan” in ‘Pyar ka mausam’ where Pancham experimented with Kishore’s and Rafi’s voice, sticking to their respective natural charms, making two similar versions of one song but still different from each other.

Some other hits of this pair include “Kya hua tera vaada”, “Chand mera dil” (Hum kisi se kam nahin), “Maine poochha chand se”(Abdullah), “Yamma yamma”(Shaan), the qawwalis in ‘Hum kisise kam nahin’ and ‘The Burning train’, “Gulabi aankhen” (The train) and so many other melodious songs.

Unfortunately Rafi expired in the eighties and the audiences were deprived of the more magic moments the two hit makers would have come up with.

Manna Dey
Manna Dey’s voice was a perfect match for Mehmood. Pancham got his break through Mehmood in 1962 for ‘Chhote Nawab’ in which he did not use Manna Dey despite Mehmood playing the Hero. But Mehmood’s and R.D’s second venture ‘Bhoot Bangla’ has good dance solos by Manna De. When Manna De was stereo cast as a classical singer Pancham gave him the westernized foot tapper “Aao twist karein” in Bhoot Bangla which drove the youngsters of the seventies crazy.

Later on the two great heads came together in a lot of Mehmood’s productions and the most memorable work of this duo is ‘Padosan’. Can anyone forget the incredible rendition of his in “Ek chatur naar” and “Aao saawariya”?

R.D experimented with Manna’s voice tremendously and he has skillfully used his talent. “Aao jhoome gaaye” in ‘Paraya dhan’ is a beautiful example of R.D’s works where he very gracefully has used Asha, Kishore and Manna. The three titans of film music but in their own individual style sing the song. This is the beauty of this song.
Under Pancham’s score manna da sang also for Rajesh Khanna in ‘mehbooba’ for the implausible “Gori tori paijaniya” and for Dharmendra in ‘Seeta aur Geeta’.

The immensely talented singer Manna De was unfortunately not exploited in a right way by musicians, time ‘n’ again he proved his versatility which upto some extent Pancham da or Salil Chowdhury realized. But no other singer has sung slapstick comedian songs as well as Manna da and his classical songs are certainly out‘n’out gems. Although not many songs to his credit, maximum are classic hits.

Manna De and Pancham was a fantastic combination. Through his work in Hindi and Bengali Prabodhchandra or Manna De also deserves well the title of a ‘Living Legend’.

Bhupendra Singh
Bhupendra Singh is better known as a ghazal singer now but he together with Pancham has created wonders in film music. Basically a superb guitarist, Bhupendra started his career with the late maestro Madanmohan’s troupe.

Bhupendra and R.D mostly came together in Gulzar’s songs. Infact he also won the national award for his duet with Lata Mangeshkar composed in Raag Bhairavi “Meethe bol bole” in Kinara by R.D.

Bhupendra also played the guitar for R.D, remember the beautiful guitar in “Churaliya” (yadon ki baaraat), “Tere bina jeeya jaaye naa” (Ghar) that’s Bhupendra. As far his songs are concerned those are maximum hits. Bhupendra has not sung much but has a very classic collection of songs to his credit that includes a series of hits with Pancham like “Beeti na beetayi raina” (Parichay), “Huzoor is qadar”(Masoom), “Naam gum jaayega”(Kinara) and many more. Both experimented tremendously with music and a song “ek hi khwab kai baar dekha hain maine” which was all prose and no poetry was made with minimum orchestra and yet wonderful.

For a long time he did not sing for movies but it seems he has made a successful comeback with the R.D.Burman award winner Vishal Bharadwaj with his songs in the recent ‘Satya’.

Amit Kumar
Amit Kumar – The son of none other than, the ‘Badshah’ of playback Kishore Kumar; has been successful in moving out from his father’s shadows and has created a niche for himself. Striving thoroughly to creating a place in this mean entertainment industry, he has been able to prove all his detractors wrong. Today his position is quite secure at the top. The journey till here wasn’t so easy but it had a very auspicious start with the trust bestowed in him by our beloved Pancham. Pancham gave him a memorable start through ‘Bade achhe lagate hain in ‘Balika Badhu’ and what a performance it was! Pancham wanted a young voice and he wasn’t disappointed at all.

Actually Amit’s first professionally sung song was ‘Hosh Mein Hum Kahan’ in 1973, for Sapan Jagmohan from ‘Darwaza’ by Ramsay brothers. But the song given by RD bought Amit Kumar into forefront. Pancham entrusted him with the song in the times when maestros like Rafi, Mukesh and Kishore were ruling the roost. Thus after passing this acid test he became a regular member of the Pancham gang!

This started a chain of successful liaisons -‘Love Story,’ ‘Teri Kasam,’ ‘Gurudev,’ “Lovers,’ ‘Romance,’ ‘Jawani,’ ‘Indrajeet’ and lots more. The only Filmfare won by Amit was for the much-appreciated RD venture ‘Love Story’

Amit has also tried to venture into the world of composing with his album ‘O Sweetheart’ in 1987 and a second album ‘Mad’ in 1994, both of which were widely appreciated but failed to click in a big way. His last venture was ‘Dum Duma Dum’ with Plus Music about two years ago, which also went unnoticed maybe because of the sudden surge in the non-film music albums. Amit picked up the knack of composing because of spending hours with Panchamda and by watching him compose. You can watch and learn, but a genius is born – not made, as was our Pancham.

After a long hibernation Amit Kumar is finally making a steady comeback with a more positive attitude, waiting for the right kind of break and a right kind of relationship like the one he shared with Panchamda. Rightly as he says ” The day Pancham died I felt as if half of my being was paralysed.”