Rajesh Roshan’s five best songs you haven't heard

On music director and composer Rajesh Roshan's 68th birthday, listen to his best oldest songs—before he became exclusive to brother Rakesh Roshan's movies

Veteran music director and composer Rajesh Roshan (Photo: Getty Images)
Veteran music director and composer Rajesh Roshan (Photo: Getty Images)

Subhash K Jha

You know Rajesh Roshan for ‘Dil kaye kare’ and ‘Bhool gaya sab kuch’ (Julie), ‘Pardesia’ and ‘Tauba tauba’ (Mr Natwarlal), ‘Disco 82’ (Khuddar), ‘Chhu kar mere man ko’ (Yarana), ‘Jab koi baat bigad jaaye’ (Jurm), ‘Kaho na pyar hai’ (title song) and ‘Jaati hoon main’ (Karan Arjun). But there is much more to Rajesh than these obvious chartbusters. I truly believe his best tunes came before he became exclusive to his brother Rakesh Roshan’s cinema. Here are the ones you probably haven’t heard but should, right away.

‘Aari aaja nindiya’ (Kunwara Baap)

It was comedian-filmmaker Mehmood who gave Rajesh his first break. Mehmood had a keen ear for music. He had also given RD Burman his first break. In Kunwara Baap Rajesh came up with an all-time great lullaby sung pitch-perfect by Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar. Mehmood was so fond of this song that he would sing it live on stage and cry every time.

‘Sancha naam tera’ (Julie)

Julie is immortalised by the rightly celebrated tracks ‘Dil kya kare’, ‘Bhool gaya sab kuch’ and ‘Yeh raatein nayi purani’. Lata considers ‘Yeh raatein’ among her best. But the one that I recommend from this outstanding album is this bhajan sung with enormous affection by Asha Bhosle and Usha Mangeshkar. Unlike other filmi bhajans this one isn’t overly sweet.

'Yaadon mein woh’ (Swami)

Another stunning soundtrack from the uncompromising Rajesh featured the gems ‘Pal bhar mein yeh kya ho gaya’ by Lata and ‘Ka Karoon Sajani Aaye Na Balam’ by Yesudas. But it was Kishore Kumar’s pain-lashed, nostalgia-crammed ‘Yaadon mein woh’, a composition so undulating in sound and so modern and yet so traditional in tone that you can go back to it any time, anywhere to discover new facets to its overarching artistry.

‘Ae mast hawa yeh toh bata’ (Tumhari Kasam)

This obscure masterpiece was a career-defining moment for Rajesh. It is definitely my very favourite Rajesh Roshan composition. Superbly penned in the ink of pain by Anand Bakshi: “Bedard zamanein ne dil mein yeh dard na chhod diya hota/Uss jyot bujhane wale ne Deepak bhi tod diya hota.” And the singing was to die for. Rajesh wonders why this song didn’t get its due. How about because of bad picturisation? And tacky marketing, which preferred to promote the frisky ‘Hum donon milke kagaz pe dilke’ (Mukesh–Asha Bhosle) rather than this profoundly moving melody?

‘Pehle pyar ka pehla gham’ (Papa Kehte Hain)

Celebrated for Udit Narayan’s ‘Ghar se nikalte hi kuch dur chalte hi’, Papa Kehta Hain features another beautiful melody written by Javed Akhtar and rendered by Kavita Krishamurthy who is able to shed some of her shrillness to get to the tender core of the lyrics about first heartbreak. ‘Pehle pyar ka pehla gham’  is a sheer beauty and a joy forever.

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