Saturday, June 2, 2012

Once Again : Piya Tose Naina Laage Re


We had started www.SDBurman.Net as a great labour of love. It was a journey that three kindred souls, diverse in age, background, nationality and geography undertook together. More than anything else SDBurman.Net was a triumph of human bonding and universality of music. I an Indian, Maajid Saab (Maajid Maqbool) a Pakistani and Chowdhury Saab(HQ Chowdhury) a Bangladeshi all met on the internet, bonded over the music of a composer who was well before all our times and created this website in his honour. Later in 2006 we also organized a centenary function in his honour. That evening, to date, remains one of the most exhilarating moments of my life.

While the appreciation and love for SDB's music continues to remain close to all our hearts, the website has somehow fallen to disuse, neglected due to a shift in the phases of our lives. For me, work has grown more and more demanding and these vital pleasures have somehow taken a backseat. SDBurman.Net still stands, but like an old ancestral home, it is decaying due to neglect. There still are areas of SDB.Net that are fully intact, but others have become preys to the vagaries of internet time. One such crumbling 'room' was what we used to called 'Burmanda Ka Pitara'. A section where we regularly picked up a gem from Dada's dazzling array of musical jewels, turned it over, held it high, admired it and then put it on a pedestal. This section has now disappeared. Today as I went looking for an old article I wrote on 'Piya Tose Naina Laage Re', I was dismayed to have found it to be gone. Dismayed, not because of the intrinsic worth of that writing, but more so because it was a loss of a thought at a point in time.

However, the internet is a great preserver, someone, somewhere at sometime had reproduced the article (a fact that used to irk me to no end in the past!) and lo behold! the article stood in front of me like a memory excavated from under a ruin.

Now, when I read the article, I do think it is too dry and academic (I was trying very hard to be taken seriously those days :)), I would have written it very differently today. But I guess we need to stand up for our past actions and so here we are, the charming, the dulcet and the oh! so vulnerable - Piya Tose Naina Laage Re!

Piya Tose Naina Laage Re

'Piya tose naina laage re' stands out for the intrinsic beauty of its 'roopak taal' based tune. This 4 stanza/8 minute piece is a marathon song that traces the rise of Rosy (the film's female protagonist played by Waheeda) from a small time artist to the sensational dancing star Nalini. Today in Burmanda ka Pitara we will re-visit the beauty of this song.

The song starts off suddenly without any prelude (a habit that was quite common with Dada) and then moves ahead with rich orchestral interludes. The composition itself has two meters running simultaneously in the antaras. One with a long drawn out alaap as in Aayi holi aayi and the other with a fast 'raat ko jab chaand chamke' both blend back into the mukhda seamlessly with extremely catchy bols, set to the rhythm of 'Dhi na k dhi n dhi n'. These bols have been woven into the overall lyrical theme of the song beautifully by the lyricist Shailendra.The orchestral interludes in this song are rich and varied. Though these music pieces are tailor-made for a dance choreography, unlike most dance pieces they do not remain limited to a frenzy of ghungroos, tabla and sarangi/harmonium. 

The orchestral interludes, here, in typical SD Burman style, are uncluttered and spontaneous. However they still use a wide variety of instruments and are richly layered. Violins, Sitars, ghungroos, tabla, drums (note the lovely use of a north eastern drum in the portion before 'bhor ki bela suhani') and the flute all fit into the overall composition like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. Strings, as with most of Dada's songs, are used with great felicity. Note the extremely catchy short string pieces strewn all over the song. In particular, the part where the song returns to the mukhda as in.

.Piya tose ..~~~~little string pieces
~~~~Piya tose naina tabla starts laage re ..

The tabla is heard distinctly throughout major portions of the song and there is a gentle swaying rhythm to the tabla tempo. A trait that is faintly reminiscent of Sachinda'a favourite 'bhatiyali' rhythms. There are portions where the tabla takes a backseat and the drums or some other percussion takes over, however it always makes a high profile and arresting entry back into the forefront particularly when the song returns to the mukhda.

The lyrics by Shailendra are sweet and heartfelt in his trademark style. This is one of those songs where Shailendra excels in 'Shringar Ras', which otherwise is considered by many to be a bastion of the likes of Majrooh Sultanpuri. Just like the composition. the lyrics also follow twin tracks. The long meter depicts the Holi and Diwali (major festivals of India) and the fast tracks depict day and night. Shailendra's mastery is apparent in the manner he makes a crisp return to the mukhda.

Lata Mangeshkar's rendition, finally, is the icing on the cake. She gives the song a delicacy and innocence that is very heart-warming. Note the way she stresses on naina each time she sings the mukhda. Very dulcet. Any discussion about 'Piya Tose Naina laage re' would be incomplete without mentioning its unforgettable picturisation. While Waheeda is elegance and grace personified, the choreographer Hiralal like the rest of this team thinks out of the box. The end result is one of the most scintillating dance sequences in the history of Indian Cinema.

Some trivia

  •  The extremely catchy 'Dhinak dhin dhin' that seems to flow so spontaneously was actually put there by design!. Maruti Rao Keer, (a percussionist in SD's team), recalled how Dada worked to include this bit knowing his audience would love it.
  • Special mention must be made of Rahul Dev Burman who along with Basu and Manohari assisted Dada in this film. The orchestra in more ways than one was Pancham's triumph as well.- Santoor maestro Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma who assisted Dada during this period played the tabla in this song.
  • Waheeda Rehman worked very hard on the dances of this film. She would get up at 4:00 in the morning to rehearse. She also drank lots of milk to get the strength to execute those rigorous steps!. After all this hard work when the songs were canned and the film went on the editing table, Waheeda had just one fear... that the long dance sequences could be edited out. Finally she made a request to Dev Anand.Cut my scenes if you like but please don't edit out my dances. Dev Anand promised her he wouldn't and the dances stayed. And thus what we have today a set of dances that have become textbook material for dances in popular cinema.
  • This one is for the collectors. There are stories of the existence of one version of this song in the voice of the master himself. Now wouldn't that be a treat for all connoisseurs of Dada's singing?
Post Script: As per Ritesh Gadhvi, the tabla in this song was not by Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma. He played in Mose Chhal Kiye Jaaye. There is a possibility then, that the tabla is by Pt Samta Prasad.


  1. I love old Hindi songs but not partial to any particular artist except maybe a wee bit to Lata. Was a joy to discover this post

  2. What a description of a classic song! Have listened to this song many times,but seems to have missed the nuances mentioned by you. One of the best composition of Dada Burman.

  3. The tabla in 'Guide' is by Maruti Rao Keer who joined Dada Burman when he was still in his shorts. He acquired expertise in tabla while working with Dada who, as I understand, was himself an ace tabla player. Whether Maruti Rao acquired this expertise from Dada Burman, from other tabla players with Dada or on his own - this I am not able to conclude as yet.

    While composing a fresh tune at his bungalow, Dada had only one tabla player with him, whom he used to guide as to which theka to follow for each song. Rest of the gang was with RDB in 'Maryland', which included the great three i.e. Manohari Singh, Basu Chakravorty and Maruti Rao Keer along with the other musicians.

    After the tune was satisfactorily created, Dada would send word for Maruti Rao to come and listen to the tune and take care of the detailed rhythm, while SDB would get busy in composing another tune. Subsequently, the three main assistants along with RDB would come to The Jet for filling the prelude and interlude music etc, under Dada's supervision, after which they would go for recording.

    This is true for all the songs including Aradhana song (1969), sometime from mid sixties till in 1970. As we know now, RDB wasn't present during the recording of 'Roop tera mastana', which I presume is due to the number of the musicians that the son wanted to engage and the father declined. This too I have not been able to establish as yet.

    During 'Tere mere sapne' when one song was still to be created, RDB took the entire team to Madras for the background score of 'Lakhon mein ek', when SDB got angry and removed the entire team including RDB, and created that one song without any assistants and arrangers. Meera ji has been created as an assistant, but that is another story.

    I have voice and video recorded proofs of above from those who were there during above.

    As regards tabla in 'Piya tose', after Dada's death there was a TV program where Maruti Rao was one of those interviewed. With tears in his eyes he said that it was Dada Burman who had suggested what to play on tabla after the third time 'Piya tose' is sung by Lata. The first two times after 'Piya tose' Dada had given music pick-up, while the third time after 'Piya tose' Dada asked Maruti to prepare 2-3 tabla pick-ups from which he selected the one to be used. Added Maruti Rao while crying, "The credit for this goes to Dada, I only carried out his instruction".

    I am in touch with the gentleman who heard the TV program on SDB's death, and has gone on record.