Basu Chatterjee made eminently likable cinema. But it is his penchant for timeless music that puts him on a par with all-time great filmmakers of Hindi cinema like Raj Kapoor, Raj Khosla and Manoj Kumar.
His first feature film Sara Akaash had no songs. But from his second film Piya Ka Ghar it was one musical milestone after another for Basuda. Piya Ka Ghar with music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal had Kishore Kumar’s imperishable Yeh jeevan hai in its soundtrack. Many years later the prolific Basuda was to collaborate again with Laxmi-Pyare in Prem Vivah and Chakrvayuha.
Basuda’s third film Rajnigadha saw him collaborating with Salil Chowdhary. They came together for two more films Chotisi Baat and the little-seen Jeena Yahan which has the lata Mangeshkar gem Oh sham ayee rangon bhari. In 1974 Basuda got the rare opportunity to collaborate with Sachin Dev Burman in Uss Paar which contained exquisite songs like Lataji’s Tumne piya diya sab kuch , Yeh jab se hui and Manna Dey’s Piya maine kya kiya. Later in Ratna Deep, Shaukeen and Manzil Basuda partnered with Sachinda’s son RD who came up with gems like Kabhi kabhi sapna lagta hai and Rimjhim gire sawan for Basuda.
Just once Basuda worked with the underrated underused Jaidev in Tumhare Liye(1978) . And what a rewarding collaboration it proved to be with one of Lataji’s gems Tumhe dekhti hoon beautifully composed but badly recorded occupying pride of place.
But it was Rajesh Roshan with whom Basuda did the maximum films. Starting with Swami in 1977, the two went to collaborate for as many as 6 other films : Priyatama, Khatta Meetha,Dillagi , Baaton Baaton Mein, Man Pasand, Hamari Bahu Alka.
Interestingly Man Pasand an unofficial remake of My Fair Lady also ‘borrowed’ the song ‘I Could’ve Danced All Night’ which became Lataji’s Hothon pe geet jaage.
Curiously most of these lovely songs were placed in the background. Basuda hated to see his characters lip-syncing the songs.
He said to me, “Have you seen people singing songs in real life? Somehow I couldn’t come to terms with my characters bursting into songs in my films. No one does that in real life. You don’t see people singing on the roads or even in the parks.Songs are a commercial compromise.I had to invent tricks to fit songs into my film.In Chit Chor I made Amol Palekar’s character a singer. But I never believed that songs could be hits only if they were lip-sync-ed on screen by the lead actors. In my films,songs like Rajnigandha phool tumhare, Yeh din kya aaye and Aaye na balam ka karoon sajni were hits in spite of being in the background.”