Janamdin Mubaarak Panchamda!

This is a repost of a post I did a long time back. I completely forgot to post it on the right day, i.e. June the 27th, the birthday of one of the greatest composers of India – Rahul Dev Burman.

Happy Birthday BOSS. Janamdin Mubaarak ho Panchamda!

Panchamda - R D Burman

Each and every word or phrase written in his praise falls short..because he is THE PAPA of all Music Directors on the face of the Indian Music Industry…because he is the reason why today’s “music directors” wanted to be it,.. because the entire Remix industry exists because of his yesteryear’s hits..because it is for his albums that DJs and retro nights exist..because he can make Asha Bhonsle sound the best – whether it is a ghazal, hindustani classical song, cabaret, or simply bollywood. Because he is Pancham, RDX, Rahul Dev Burman..because he is THE BOSS.

To the Baap of Bollywood Music..this is my heartfelt “paay-laagu” or “pairi-pona” of sorts. Because I am so small to talk of his genius. But that is not going to make me stop writing this blog about him. Because I have grown up on his music, totally breathed it, have literally lived on it till today, and I am sure will, till I die. This is not a chronicling of the body of work of Panchamda, but is more of a celebration of his melodies which have left an indelible impression on our minds, bodies and soul.

Rahul Dev Burman was born on 27 June 1939. Story goes that when veteran Ashok Kumar saw Sachin Dev Burman’s newborn uttering the syllable ‘Pa’ repeatedly, he nicknamed him Pancham. And the name stuck. To many, he’s still Pancham Da.To me he is Boss (yeah U can say Jhankaar Beats influences.) To him, music came easy and early. He learnt to play the Sarod from the legendary Ustad Ali Akbar Khan at very young age, one of his many instruments in which he mastered. At 9 years, came his first composition, ‘Aye Meri Topi Palat Ke Aa..’, which was later used for the film Funtoosh and the very next year, his father borrowed the tune of  ‘Sar Jo Tera Chakraye..’ for the Guru Dutt film Pyaasa. The first film for which R.D.Burman scored music for was Mehmoood’s “Chote Nawab” in 1961 and the first song in the film was to be recorded was by Lata Mangeshkar. The film marked the recollaboration between S. D. Burman and Lata Mangeshkar who had stopped recording together six years ago.

R.D. Burman had scored music for many a films, including “Bhoot Bangla” in whch he co-starred with Mehmood.The film also featured the song “Aao twist karein” which reflected the Elvis revolution that was taking the world by storm then.

Teesri Manzil

But, the title of R.D. Burman’s first ‘Hit’  score would definitely go to “Teesri Manzil”(1966), featuring the evergreen , repeatedly remixed hits “O Haseena Zulfowali”, “O mere Sona re”, and unforgettable intoxicating “Aaja Aaja..main hu pyaar tera “. Vijay Anand can be credited with bringing about R D Burman’s first big break. He arranged a music session for the youngster before Nasir Hussain commenced the production of Tesri Manzil. Shammi Kapoor, who heard RD’s tunes, is said to have screamed ‘Yahoo’ in sheer appreciation while Nasir Hussain signed R.D. Burman for six of his forthcoming films. After Teesri Manzil, it wasn’t looking back anymore. Followed hits like Padosan, Kati Patang, Pyar ka Mausam, Amar Prem , Caravan, Hare Rama Hare Krishna, Parichay, Jawaani Deewani, Namak Haraam, Yaadon Ki Baarat, Aandhi..the list is endless and the music ..Immortal.

R D Burman’s constant efforts to break musical stereotypes and explore new possibilities came through in the music that he made. Be it the poignant tunes of Kati Patang, the love songs of Pyar Ka Mausam, the fun and naughty numbers from Padosan or the soulful melodies of Amar Prem, Pancham had done them all. While making music was his profession, singing always remained R D’s passion. He sang occasionally and when he did, it never went unnoticed. Though he did as much justice to serious tunes as he did to the light numbers that he sang, the groovier tunes always gained more popularity. Though Asha Bhosle is remembered for the legendary cabaret ‘Piya Tu Ab To Aaja..’, the wild cry of  ‘Monica O My Darling‘ belongs to R D Burman. He also sang the sizzling ‘Mehbooba Mehbooba..‘ for Sholay picturised on Helen and Jalal Agha. He however, did not record too many duets with Asha Bhosle who was by then the love interest of his life too. The high-pitched, outlandish ‘Duniya Mein Logon Ko Dhoka Kabhi Ho Jaata Hai..‘, is one of their best remembered duets. No one can doubt the vibe that oozed out with his musical ventures Asha and Kishore.

Ghar - Tere Bina Jiya Jaaye Na
And yes, who doesn’t remember the experiments that he did with his compositions,..be it the clinging of glasses in “Churaliya hai tumne jo dil ko ” (Yaadon Ki Baarat), or the only-bass rythmn in “Tere Bina jeeyajaaye naa” (Ghar) .Take his classical based compositions, Piya Bawari(Khubsoorat), Beeti Na Beetaiyee (Parichay) and we find ourselves immersed in his music and feel so amazed whether it is the same man who brought us the Qawwalis of Hum Kisi Se Kam Nahi,or the truly Bollywood isshtyle Romantic numbers of Love Story.

Towards the mid-80s though, Panchamda was going through a rough phase as his films were bombing at the Box-Office. Bappi Lahiri and the Disco age had overtaken him and R.D’s producers just disappeared. It was very unfortunate for us that during the nineties, when Indian Music was going throught the stupid Pop-Disco Wave and MTV had just entered our lives, R.D.Burman had not many compositions then.He was last heard in Ijaazat (1987), after huge hits like Saagar, Betaab and Masoom in the 1980’s. And Parinda in 1989 also provided the everlasting hit..Tumse Milke.

1942 A Love Story - Anil Kapoor and Manisha kiss
Fortunately for us, Vidhu Vinod Chopra approached Panchamda for his ambitious 1942-A Love Story. And rest as they say, is history.The music today is considered as his “Swan Song”, as Panchamda left for his heavenly abode on Jan 4, 1994. He posthumously recieved the Filmfare award for the film’s music.

From his expertise in Hindustani Classical and Indian Ragas to a keen interest and influence, at times,  of American Jazz and Rock n’ Roll, Panchamda’s musical interests stretched from ‘ear’ to eternity. It was R.D. Burman who really brought the groove into Hindi Film Music, ushering in the era of electronic rock and providing Hindi film music with a whole new ‘happening’ sound. His hip and energetic youthful compositions proved extremely popular from the late 1960s till the early to mid-1980s providing much of the music that defines today’s Bollywood. And his music refuses to die.

Stand up and Salute to the Master, the Baap, the Boss…Rahul Dev Burman!!

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One thought to “Janamdin Mubaarak Panchamda!”

  1. So agree with Pancham has been the pinnacle of great music in Indian films. His ventures in Such varied genres was nothing less than genius. Personally feel many of his gems were in those unnoticed films……. My personal favorite soundtrack will always be GHAR……. can listen to aapki aankhon mein kuch millions of times

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