Banned for Advertising
Joined: 24 February 2006
Author: Anirudha Bhattacharjee
In the business of music, the ultimate merit in the eyes of peers is success. Everything else is secondary, if at all, relevant. Paradoxically, if Rahul Dev Burman, the best loved music composer of Bollywood ever inspires universal awe, admiration and nostalgia, it has more to do with the longevity of his compositions rather than sheer success. It is also the rediscovery of musical essence of the vast repertoire of melodies that did not do well during their times, mostly due to bad promotion.
Is there a key to the secret of RD's success? There are some obvious, facile answers. Like, he cared a lot for the situation, that he poured every ounce of his inspiration and creative energy into planning the movement of the song, that he knew how to best use the voices of Kishore and Asha, that he knew when exactly he needed the little extra from Lata or Manna Dey. But there was something more. RD could feel the need of the era. The early seventies was troubled times. Hippie Cult, Flower Power, Naxalite, Leftist, etc. were words that were no longer taboo. The common denominator was that the term 'youth' was growing in importance. RD, himself a rebel, understood the pulse of the youth. And that was his most coveted secret in the string of success he had in that period.
As more and more films were being focussed on the youth, RD used this opportunity to compose with the young listener in mind. It was with this force that RD brought to our film music a new look, a new vitality, as a composer who understood Western harmony, Indian melody, recording technology and unexpressed sentiments of the youth. And in the process harped upon the basics of any creative pursuit: innovation. His thorough knowledge of both Indian classical music and Western chord system also came in handy in composing songs that were a mix of multiple ragas and chords. For example, Kuch to log kahenge from the film Amar Prem, uses the ragas Khamaj and Kalavati, while the progression is definitely chord based. Innovation was not restricted to composing the songs only. They extended to use of new instruments, recording technology, beat forms, composing without using the tabla, creation of special instruments to convey a specific effect in mind, capture natural sounds, and a lot many more. Who can forget the memorable banshee wails created specially by an instrument developed by RD for Gabbar's signature tune in Sholay?
Is there a key to RD's longevity? If one considers the fact that RD could compose an exceedingly soulful number like Aja piya tohe pyar doon (Lata in Baharon ke Sapne) where the entire rhythm has been maintained on an electric guitar and not use the tabla at all, way back in 1966, yes. As a composer, he was, in the opinion of many, light years ahead of his peers. Rahul Dev Burman's foremost desire when writing music was to express himself in a simple and unadulterated way. He regularly consulted his panel of assistants and musicians for genesis of ideas that could later be translated into complete songs. He believed in the concept of jamming, a term of common usage in Western music, and many of the tune and rhythm forms were the result of his jamming sessions. But in carving out the final output, he kept his own counsel and ultimately, like his father Sachin Dev, followed his own hunches and judgements.
Like any successful personality, he too plagiarized, but kept his unique stamp of authority over the number. Today, most of the originals may have been wiped off from memory, but the inspired numbers remain. His inspiration was not the commonly understood syndrome, 'copying the tune'. It extended to incorporation of different forms of tunes and rhythm patterns into his music. This stemmed mainly from his deep knowledge of jazz and Broadway/Off-Broadway based musicals. For example, he was the only Bombay composer to use the song as the medium of conversation, the basic technique of Hollywood musicals, for instance, in the song Suno, kaho (Aap Ki Kasam). Here, lyrics needn't be verbose, only basic conversation would be needed to be conveyed in a vibrant and colourful manner. This also reflected the changing attitude of the youth who had lesser time for churning out poetry in praise of a mole on their beloved's ankle. As a supplement to his preference for clarity, Pancham religiously avoided the kind of heavy orchestra, which often used to determine the clout of the composer. When a whole lot of upcoming composers were keen to emulate the number of musicians used by Naushad in Aan or Shankar Jaikishan in so many Raj Kapoor films, RD struck to the staid, modest rule laid by his father who insisted that the number of instruments should never outweigh the singers voice. His brand of listeners, RD knew, loved not only to hum his songs, but also considered them as a way of life. His intention was not to augment the turbulence affecting the listeners. Even his loudest and fastest songs had orchestration that was uncluttered and gave the numbers an unhurried feel.
For all the glory he had earned, RD was an introvert when it came to self-publicity. This resulted in his losing out on many prestigious ventures. Directors who dropped him without any tangible reason included greats like Ramesh Sippy and Shekhar Kapoor. Subhash Ghai had once assured him that they would work together. In reality, he never did. Yash Copra dropped him even after the grand success of Deewar. Manmohan Desai, having used RD for Aa Gale Lag Jaa, his best musical by a mile, never said a word in RD's favour in the future. But these were not isolated incidents. RD was in reality an inarticulate dipsomaniac whose world revolved around his music and his close circuit of friends. Even when he got cheated, he had no real clout in the Bombay film circle to voice his opinion, let alone bloat it.
His last years were rooted in disappointments that were directed at various levels, mainly at the way the music industry promoted non-talents for reasons other than music. Like every superstar, RD needed to be constantly reminded of his greatness, the lack of which forced him into a self-appointed seclusion. Sachin Bhowmick, his chum and confidante, summed it up as, "It was loneliness which killed him. Loneliness which is supposed to be the critical foe of heart patients."
Banned for Advertising
Joined: 24 February 2006
Author: Dr. Mandar
In a world that is fast becoming allergic to things like history and nostalgia, it is remarkable that musical memories of this singer- composer still evoke reverence and affection. Looking at the unending spree of remixes of his tunes, the film album Dil Vil Pyar Vyar even going to the extent of 'dedicating' an entire soundtrack to his songs, this R.D. phenomenon is certainly going from strength to strength.
But after listening to many such R.D. tribute albums, one wonders how much of his musical genius has been understood by these so- called R.D. fans, many of who are yet unaware of the true dimensions of this great composer's amazing musical repertoire. This Top 10 selection according my personal- ('informed and biased'!) opinion should serve as a primer for such fans! As usual, the standard apologies for limiting the selection to 'only 10' albums!
Teesri Manzil (1966)
Years on, the firebrand feisty freshness of R.D.'s scintillating music still lingers through those wonderful Asha- Rafi duets Aaja Aaja Main Hoon Pyar Tera, O Haseena Zulfonwali, O Mere Sona Re and Dekhiye Saahibon. Add to that, the sweetness of Rafi- solos Deewana Mujhsa Nahi and Tumne Mujhe Dekha and it's a total winner. This album first established Pancham as a composer who could really 'rock' the Hindi music. (Pun very much intended!)
This soundtrack brought forth the fun- side of R.D.'s music. How to compose outwardly frivolous comic songs and yet make them captivating in terms of musical nuances is the talent on display here with Kishore's O Meri Pyari Bindu, Manna Dey's Aao Aao Saanwariya and that eternal Kishore- Manna Da classic Ik Chatur Naar. The talent parade doesn't stop there but continues with Kishore's romantic gems like Mere Saamnewali Khidki Mein and Kahena Hai and some delightful Lata- numbers like Bhai Battur, Sharm Aati Hai Magar and Main Chali Main Chali (a duet with Asha).
Kati Patang (1970)
Perhaps the most typical example of R.D.'s musical game-plan. There is Lata crooning the sentimental title track Na Koi Umang Hai, Asha belting a bold and bindaas cabaret number- Mera Naam Hai Shabbo and Kishore at his romantic best in Yeh Shaam Mastaani and Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai. The Lata - Kishore duet Aaj Na Chodenge is notable for its mood swings and as if to show he was not only dependent on his favourite singing troika of Lata- Asha- Kishore, Pancham creates a very touching Mukesh- song Jis Gali Mein Tera Ghar Na Ho Baalama.
For verve, vigour and vitality, this soundtrack ranks second to none. As if Asha's sizzling songs- Piya Tu Ab To Aaja, Ab Jo Mile Hain To and Daiya Main Kahan Aa Phansi are not enough, R.D. comes up with a stunningly sensual Dilbar Dilse Pyare for the normally 'sober' Lata! The duets again show R.D.'s unique Lata - Asha singing image switches with feistier Chadhti Jawani going to Lata and a softer Goriya Kahan Tera Des going to Asha. Although, Rafi takes up microphone in all the duets, Kishore delivers the only solo - a breezy Hum To Hain Raahi Dilke.
Amar Prem (1971)
Just when he was getting branded as a Westernized composer, R.D. came up with this mellow and mature, very much 'Indian' soundtrack that even earned praises from hard- to - please legendary composer Sajjad. If Kishore's- Kuchh To Log Kahenge, Chingaari Koi Bhadke and Yeh Kya Hua and father Sachin Dev Burman's Doli Mein Bithai Ke Kahaar were soulful, then Lata's semi-classical numbers Bada Natkhat Hai Re and Raina Beeti Jaaye were pure magical!
Mere Jeevan Saathi (1972)
Even though R.D.'s own raunchy title song, Asha's electric Aao Na Gale Lagao Na and Lata- Kishore's robust Deewana Karke Chhodoge - all merit attention, this album is a proof of Pancham's special bonding with Kishore. With an array of arresting solos like O Mere Di Ke Chain, Kitane Sapne Kiatne Armaan, Chala Jaata Hoon and Deewana Leke Aaya Hai, Kishore proves to be the trump card that the composer would depend upon, throughout his career.
Hum Kisise Kam Nahi (1977)
Agreed, it is plain frothy music but still it captures the inimitable R.D. - dash and daring. The 15 minutes- long dance-song medley, beginning with Rafi's Chaand Mera Dil, going on to Kishore's Aa Dil Kya Mehfil Hai, then to his own Tum Kya Jaano and finally ending with Asha - Kishore's Mil Gaya is in itself a testimony to Pancham's creativity and versatility and with a plethora of songs in various moods like Rafi's Kya Ha Tera Vaada, Kishore's Bachna Aye Haseeno and Asha-Rafi duets- Yeh Ladka Haye Allah and Hai Agar Dushman Zamana, R.D. simply dazzled through!
Again, the mature melody- maker in R.D. takes the front- seat to compose some outstanding songs. Lata becomes the prime vocalist and delivers haunting solos like Aaj Kal Paon Zameen Par and Tere Bina Jiya Jaaye Na, to go with her exquisite duet Aap Ki Aankhon Mein Kuchh with Kishore. Kishore's Phir Wohi Raat Hai is another gem.
An all- Asha soundtrack that won National awards for both, the singer and the composer. Pancham had mockingly chided Gulzar for writing a newspaper headline- like lyrics in Mera Kuchh Saamaan Tumhare Paas Pada Hai and yet, composed such a superbly pensive tune for the song! The pulsating Katra Katra Milti Hai, the energetic Chhotisi Kahani Mein and a somber Khali Haath Shaam Aayi Hai presented different facets of Asha's versatile voice.
1942 - A Love Story (1994)
This was the fitting swansong from the maestro. Using new voices (at least in his own music!) like Kumar Sanu, Shivaji Chattopadhyay and Kavita Krishamurthy, he created beautiful songs like Ik Ladki Ko Dekha To, Yeh Safar Bahut Hai Kathin Magar, Pyar Hua Chpake Se, Rimjhim Rumjhum and Kuchh Na Kaho. It was a soundtrack that rekindled the hopes for resurrection of melody in Hindi film music- a dream that sadly never realized but still it proved that R.D.'s creativity was in tact right till the end!
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