RMIM Archive Article "360".
From the RMIM Article Archive maintained by Satish Subramanian
# RMIM Archives..
# Subject: Remembering RD
# Posted by: Raju Bathija
# Source: Sunday Times of India, 1997
# Author: Raju Bharatan
From the RMIM Article Archive maintained by Satish Subramanian
The following article appeared in the Sunday Times of India, January 5,
1997, on the occasion of 3rd death anniversary of R D Burman.
-- Raju Bathija
Remembering RD ...
Sunday Times, Bombay, January 5, 1997
Three years ago, on January 4, at 3:58 a.m., Rahul Dev Burman passed
away, leaving behind him a whole generation of his admirers, shocked
at the sudden loss. Panchamda was no more.
Soon after his death came the Filmfare award for his brilliant score
of Vidhu Vinod Chopra's 1942 -- A Love Story. 1942 ... also won
Kavita Krishnamurthi her maiden Best Singer award for her compelling
rendition of Pyaar hua chupke se.
If there was no argument regarding that posthumous award, there was no
end of argument in the prestigious Sur Singar Samsad council in 1967
when it came to awarding Pancham for the best Classical Song of the
Year. As the convener of the Sur Singar committee set up to pick that
year's Best Classical Song, I can state that Pancham lost that award
in peculiar circumstances.
This was after he had shown his paces in Teesri Manzil (1966). Teesri
Manzil won spot recognition for him as a musicmaker with his own style
--- distinct from that of S.D. Burman --- but the same music typecast
him. His O Ganga maiya, paar laga de meri sapno ki naiya ... set in
Raag Jogiya and sung by Lata Mangeshkar for the film Chandan Ka Palna
was a strong contender for Sur Singar's best Classical Song of the
Year award for 1967. He himself had high hopes for the song. O Ganga
maiya was shortlisted among the four songs in the final context that
year, the other three being Lata Mangeshkar's Maine range li aaj
chunariya composed in Raag Pilu by Madan Mohan for Dulhan Ek Raat Ki,
Asha Bhosle's Saawan ke raat kaari karri in Raag Malkauns by Ravi for
Meherbaan and Lata's Dar laage garje badariya set in Raag Surdasi
Malhar by Vasant Desai for Ram Rajiya.
Brijnarain, who headed the Sur Singar Samsad, called me frantically on
the morning after we had bought R D Burman's O Ganga maiya into the
reckoning. "Are you out to destroy the classical reputation of Sur
Singar?" he asked. "How could you as convener possible permit a song
by R D Burman even to get a look-in at my Sur Singar?". The award
eventually went to Madan Mohan.
The way Pancham came to be jettisoned for that Sur Singar citation
gives me the opportunity to draw attention to `the other side' of
Pancham. If he was beat-based, he was also melody-based. In fact, by
the time Sankarabharanam (from the South) came to make cinematic
waves, Pancham longed to break out of the tight circle of the trendy
music he was acclaimed for composing. His point was that if he had
indeed set a trend in the early '70s, it was for the younger composers
to take over the baton in the mid-'80s. He himself, by 1985, yearned
to compose melody-based music, as he had for Gulzar's Aandhi, Kushboo,
Kinara and Namkeen. "I love doing soft themes," he once confessed.
In Gulzar's Ijazaat, Pancham's Mera saaman mujhe lauta do (a
song-lyric that he had at first refused to touch as a "metreless"
piece of rhyming by Gulzar) went on to win, deservedly for Asha
Bhosle, the National award for Best Song. Yet Pancham always
regretted the fact that a few other beautiful songs that he evoked
from Gulzar's poetry never reached the people in his lifetime. Like
his stunning Lata Mangeshkar solo from Libas --- a film that was never
released --- Sili hawa chhu gai, sila badan chhil gaya or her Kuhu
kuhu koyaliya in Devdas. Then there was Bahut raat hui by Kishore
Kumar in Musafir.
The point here is that Pancham, though tuned in with such melody-based
themes, was stuck with his modern image. His Saare ke saare gama go
lekar gaate chale by Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhosle and chorus in Gulzar's
Parichay is one such a take-off. Yet Saare ke saare ... carries a
whiff of Raag Bilawal, which is the Hindustani parallel of Raag
Indeed Pancham was my recommendation to director K. Vishwanath for sur
Sangam, a classical remake of the film Shankarabharanam. But R D
Burman's name was rejected the moment it was mentioned to
distributors. Sur Sangam was finally scored by Laxmikant-Pyarelal.
It was this tinsel-tag that he was stuck with after having already
composed so much meaningful music, that distressed and disheartened
Pancham. Initially, he has deliberately cultivated that image in an
effort to sound different from his father. Even as he finally broke
away from being S D Burman's assistant, his parents remained
justifiably proud of him. "Tell me," said his mother Meera who
assisted S D, "Is there a composer in our films today who could have
done the classy music of Amar Prem along with the jazzy music of Hare
Rama Hare Krishna?"
S D Burman shared his wife's pride --- he had refused to go along with
Dev Anand's idea of him doing the traditional tunes of Hare Rama ...
and Pancham the Dum Maro dum song in the film. "Never mix our musical
identities," S D Burman had told Dev Anand. "Leave Hare Rama ... to
be wholly scored by Pancham. I have trained my son to do both
traditional and modern music."
Pancham had, in fact, given the very first hit of his career --- Ghar
aaja ghir aaye sung by Lata Mangeshkar for Mahmood's Chhote Nawab ---
which was set in Raag Maalgunji. It has he who gave us classical gems
like Vinati karun Ghanashyam in Raag Jogiya (Lata Mangeshkar in Pati
Patni), Bada natkhat hai re in Raag Khamaj (Lata Mageshkar in Amar
Prem), Aayo kahan se Ghanashyam also in Raag Khamaj (Manna Dey in
Budha Mil Gaya), Karvate badalte rahen in Raag Pahadi (Lata
Mageskhar-Kishore Kumar in Aap Ki Kasam), Mere naina sawan bhado in
Raag Shivranjani (Lata Mageshkar-Kishore Kumar in Mehbooba), Jamuna
kinare aa jaa in Raag Maru Bihag (Lata Mangeshkar in mehbooba), Meri
bheegi bheegi si (Kishore Kumar in Anamika) in Raag Kirvani, Beeti no
betayi raina (Lata Mageshkar-Bhupendra in Parichay) in Raag Bihag,
Huzoor is tarah se no itrate chaliye (Bhupendra-Suresh Wadkar in
Masoom) in Yaman Kalyan. Even Asha Bhosle-Mohammed Rafi qawali Hai
agar dushman dushman in Hum Kisse Kum Naheen has R D imparting a
typical light touch in Raag Kalavati.
And wasn't Pancham merely returning to his Rabindra Sangeet roots with
1942 -- A Love Story when he came to be halted in mid-stride at a time
when he was in the truly creative phase of his career? The end came
too soon; time stood still --- much like his lyrical Samay ka yeh pal
tham sa gaya hai...