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Do You Know whose bizarre rough-rasp voice inspired legendary RD Burman to sing chartbuster song ‘Duniya Mein Logon Ko’?

On January 4th, 1994, iconic legendary composer-singer Rahul Dev Burman passed away.



RD Burman and Rajesh Khanna

By Chaitanya Padukone

Exactly 30 years ago, on January 4th, 1994, iconic legendary composer-singer Rahul Dev Burman passed away. Rather Pancham-da (as RDB was fondly called) exited into immortality. Which was a tragic shock for his legion of loyal fans.  During his lifetime, while exclusively conversing with me, during media interviews. the maverick honest composer-singer had shared with me that he was “actually inspired by the rough, raspy, gravelly voice of legendary American jazz trumpeter-singer Louis Daniel Armstrong”.


Louis Armstrong–legendary American trumpeter-singer

Revealed versatile R D Burman, “Initially I experimented with the rough texture Louis Armstrong-scale voice in the cabaret song ‘O Meri Jaan Maine Kahaa’. (The Train–1970) which became a hit. Three years later, in ‘Apna Desh’ (1972)   when the song-situation required an unconventional voice, I daringly used the same bass rasp-grunt voice in ‘Duniya Mein’. That too as ‘playback’ for superstar Rajesh Khanna! Actually, Kaka-ji was fascinated with that rough, grating voice in ‘Meri Jaan Maine Kahaa’ which then was picturized on an unknown chorus-dancer while Helen performed the cabaret dance on that duet-song,” disclosed Pancham-da.


Rajesh Khanna with Mumtaz in Duniya Mein song

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Continued futuristic genius Pancham-da who was well-versed in world music, “During the recording of ‘Duniya Mein’ Rajesh Khanna-saab was a bit skeptical whether his ardent fans and cine-goers would accept the unusual grating, rough-rasp playback-voice. But then the response of the audience was so overwhelming that Khanna-saab was pleasantly shocked. It was so delightful that the duet song ‘Duniya Mein’ became an evergreen top-chartbuster. Although I had undergone a tonsils operation during my childhood, I feel I was blessed that I could frequently experiment with my voice and also sing in different high and low pitches and scales as in Mehbooba Mehbooba (Sholay),  Dil Lena Khel Hai Dildaar Ka  (Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai), ‘Sapna Mera Toot Gaya (Khel Khel Mein) and even Samundar Mein Nahaake (Pukar) sung by me which was very well-picturised on superstar Amitabh Bachchan against the beach and sea-water locations. Most of my normal high-pitched unconventional voice songs became timeless chartbusters, “Pancham-da who loved fast-driving and cooking spicy food, had directly shared with me.


R D Burman with sr. film journalist Chaitanya Padukone at ‘Pantera’ album release party

‘Married’ to his music, phenomenal, rebel composer-singer Rahul Dev Burman will always ‘live’ forever, through the legacy of his timeless chartbuster songs—who he felt were “like his children”.

(The writer Chaitanya Padukone is a Phalke Academy award-recipient eminent senior entertainment journalist and author of best-seller memoirs book R D BurMania)