Joined: 12 January 2006
The LP record plays on
Five years ago, on May 25, the longest chapter in film music ended with the death of Laxmikant, leaving Pyarelal and his monumental talent unexploited even today.
But it is impossible to consider one minus the other in this perfectly integrated duo. So what made the L-P record special? It would be absurdly simplistic to attribute their long innings to mere 'helping hand factors' like their undercutting and visiting top names to corner big films ('We began the practice of undercutting as we wanted the best banners. So we would offer to work for Rs 2 when S-J were charging Rs 10, but to provide the same Rs 10 quality!' said Laxmikant in 1992), the early awards they admitted to have lobbied for, the support of Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi (if Lata booked the lion's share of dates with them in the '60s, it was only because she astutely realised their potential) or the fact that from 1980, they had little serious competition. Like most composers of their time, they are also alleged to have manipulated the airwaves, but could they possibly manipulate the sales all over the country and the all-pervading popularity of their compositions at public functions and musical mehfils?
Time marches on, and unlike good friend and contemporary R.D.Burman, who is remembered much more than his work is, in LP's case, it is the reverse. Their songs play on, in every nook of the country and every cranny of the globe wherever Indian film music is heard, with or without the association of their name. Says Sonu Nigam, 'Mentioning the fabulous Pancham has become a kind of fashion statement today, while Pyarelal, as the surviving half of L-P, is so preoccupied with music that publicity means zilch for him. Pancham has been kept alive by the backing of Asha-ji and others, but to someone who has grown up on film music, Laxmikant-Pyarelal were no less, and in fact, had a decisive edge over RD all through. RD was always second to L-P – from Raj Kapoor and V.Shantaram to Manoj Kumar and Subhash Ghai, the best names always went to them.'
Even today, re-issues of L-P scores sell tremendously, and their compositions are heard incessantly across radio and television in their original formats or via the antaksharis, orchestras and talent-hunt shows. Cover versions of their songs abound in the albums of that genre, and of late (though one must concede that old songs are best left untouched) L-P have begun to increasingly acquire the teen status symbol of being remix fodder. Finally their compositional and orchestral patterns, when not being copied in toto by the brat-pack composers, provide the blueprint for so many music directors' so-called 'styles'. Says Sanjay Tandon, Director-General, Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS), 'Among the older composers, Laxmikant-Pyarelal get the maximum intellectual rights royalties from us, and they are the only senior composers who consistently figure among our topmost earners, the rest of whom are contemporary composers like Anu Malik and Nadeem-Shravan.' IPRS royalties, for those who are unaware, are given to the creators and rights holders of recorded music when it is played in original format or reproduced vocally or instrumentally at all public places, workplaces, and live or televised events and shows.
A Mumbai music emporium salesman prefers anonymity when he reveals that 'LP not only sell the most albums even now but also have the highest number of complete scores that are picked up, like Dosti, Milan, Bobby and many others. Many other music directors sell only in compilations, as they lack more than one or two hit songs per film.' Nutan Fernandes, Manager (Operations) in Mumbai's premiere music shop Rhythm House, is much more forthcoming. 'Even in 2003, we have tremendous demand for their music from the '60s like Dosti and from the '70s and '80s when they dominated the scene.'
BALANCING SUBSTANCE AND MASS APPEAL:
What was so special about Laxmikant and Pyarelal and LP as a duo?Says A.N.Tagore, chief recording engineer at Mehboob Recording Studios, where LP did the major chunk of their post-'76 recordings, 'In the thousands of songs that have been recorded here, I have never seen Laxmikant ever lose his cool, no matter what. There was never any tension, no tempers, only work. The USP of their music was that unhonein Indian music ko kaayam rakhte hue sabse accept karwaaya. So though there was exceptional melody, it was liked by all classes of listeners.'
He goes on, 'In 30 years, there are three changes of generations and major changes in lifestyles, trends and tastes. And L-P bridged the generation gap by bringing the preferences of three generations of Indians to one common point. This immortal khazana is so large that generations to come will enjoy from it, as originals or as remixes.'Intimately connected with the duo from the time that he assisted recording wizard Robin Chaterjee, Tagore has worked extensively with many other stalwarts too. 'Others had used rhythm before, but the direction and dimension R.D.Burman gave rhythm was something new altogether. Similarly, others had used Western orchestration all down the years, but the symphonic canvas that Pyarebhai gave a purely Indian tune by way of arrangements was something that carried his unique stamp. And Laxmikant and Pyarelal had an uncannily perfect system of working in harmony.'
Seconds singer Sonali Rathod, 'I was not well acquainted personally with Laxmi-ji, but was very familiar with L-P's music. Probably because of their classical training, Laxmikant and Pyarelal's songs tended to have solid substance in them, aur unke lagbhag sabhi gaanon mein aap ko hamare raagon ke ang milte the. And yet the songs were so catchy and simple that they appealed to everyone and became massive hits. But again, their nuances needed trained singers to do justice: the songs only seemed simple, but were very challenging vocally, especially the songs they made for Lata-ji and Rafi-saab, like the title-track of Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki and "Patta patta boota boota" from Ek Nazar, which were just two of their mind-blowing creations.'
Says Mukesh Desai of Supercassettes, the company that took off with the 1985 L-P hit Pyar Jhukta Nahin, ' There is not a day or hour when an L-P song is not heard anywhere. I hardly knew Laxmi-ji, though they had a long relationship with T-Series, and with Gulshan (Kumar)-ji in particular. But to me, L-P represented melody at its musical best, updated to the needs of current times yet worked to the needs of the situations. Laxmikant and Pyarelal will go down in the annals of history as master magicians and the perfect blend of sur and taal.'
THE EXTRA EDGE THAT DID THE TRICK:
TWENTY STARS WHOSE SIGNATURE TUNES WERE COMPOSED BY L-P
Roopkumar Rathod, whom L-P 'reluctantly' introduced to films with Angaar but later developed a great rapport with, gets emotional about L-P. 'One incident eerily describes the depth of our bond,' he recounts. 'There was this watch I loved at first sight in a shop at Switzerland. Because it was too long, my wife Sonali told the shopkeeper to shorten the strap. But I said that I would wear it loose, just the way Laxmi-ji did. The next day, I was wearing this watch at a party in London when I got the news that he was no more. I cried like a child.'
Says Roop, 'Yeh saadhak log hai, jinhonein sangeet ki sadhana ki hai. We people tend to need a break after just a gruelling week at work, but L-P's energy never sagged for over three decades! It was work, work and only work. They looked for something new in music all the time. The punch that was present in a Pyarelal treatment of a song was almost magical. I have worked as a tabla player for other composers too, and the amazing part was it was the same studio, the same engineer, the same musicians and instruments, the same placing and acoustics – and yet the punch would be missing! On the other hand, whenever a music arranger guided us, it was usually by giving us some L-P song as a misaal (example) and telling us to play our instruments in that wy!
Adds the singer-composer, 'Laxmi-ji would always call me "Panditji", and he knew the art of taking out a quality that a singer never knew lay hidden within him! It was with "Main tera aashiq hoon" (Gumrah) that I, a ghazal singer till then, realized that I could sing in a loud youthful tenor! He simply told me, "Panditji, main jis tarah gaata hoon, ussi tarah gaiyye". There was something in his voice that seemed to fill the room when he was teaching a song. That's why the primary or best song one associates with many a singer and artiste is theirs! (see Box). Another peculiarity of Laxmi-ji was the way he scanned and often 'broke'the meter of a song, as in Lata-ji's "Mere pee ko pavan kis gali lechali" (Ghulami). Just before his death, he was planning an album with his daughter Rajeshwari and me. Sadly, it was not to be.'
Sonu Nigam, today's topmost singer, recalls Usha Khanna (who gave him his first break) and her arranger (and independent composer) Amar Haldipur coaxing him to meet L-P. ' "If you get to record for them, it will be like the ISI mark and other music directors will accept you," they told me,' says the singer. Sonu finally did make it big without them, but cherishes his few singing experiences with L-P, beginning with "Hungama ho gaya" (Deewana Mastana). 'Laxmikant's unique style of teaching a song stemmed from his classical orientation. Each antara would be differently structured and the various subtle harkatein and murkiyaan were tough to handle. As for Pyarelal, the freelance musicians were in awe of him. He would watch a movie and just write down its background score on a paper pad!
Himesh Reshammiya, one of today's frontline young music –makers, goes into passionate mode about L-P. 'Shanker Jaikishan and L-P are unequalled in music,' he says. 'There are music directors whose work is liked by rural people and those whose work has urban appeal. L-P transcended all such barriers. They never got typecast as music directors who could do only a specific kind of film. It is my prediction that though L-P have been sidelined for the last few years, they are going to make a comeback even in the remix era. The process has begun for the world to realize that L-P's music is as fresh and young as today!'
Rajesh Roshan, who was groomed by the duo, calls them a 'complete and thorough school at which I learnt everything that I know today for five years. How many would so wonderfully groom a potential competitor? It was only when they told me, "Now you are ready!" that I decided to take up my first film. My training even included understanding lesser but vital elements like handling different kinds of producers. As compoers, what stood out about them was their constant reinvention every five years.
Certifies Manna Dey, inarguably musicdom's highest-trained singer, 'Every senior composer has done great work, but no one quite matched Shanker-Jaikishan and Laxmikant Pyarelal. You had to often sit back in awe and think, "Kya kamaal kiya hai iss gaane mein!" And they kept doing it hundreds of times!'
But it was Mohan Segal who paid them the ultimate compliment, 'All the great music directors had a distinct and immediately-identifiable style,' he said. 'But these people were chameleons, changing completely according to the needs of the subject!'
And it is only fitting that we understand this most vital quality of L-P finally through the words of Laxmikant himself:
'When we composed "Main shaayar to nahn" for Bobby, ' said Laxmikant, 'Pyare and I kept in mind the fact that the hero had spent most of his life in an English boarding school and had just turned adult. And here he was, looking at a beautiful girl and falling in love with her instantly. The lyrics and tune, therefore, had to be completely in character and thus very simple. We could not have given a heavy-duty ghazal-like tenor or intricate words here just to show off what Anand Bakshi and we could do! But I am sorry to say that that is precisely what some of our senior composers would have done! As film composers, we are not here to show off at the expense of the film, but to do our best for it and for the vision of the filmmaker. This is why we have the highest respect for those composers who thought along the same way, like Shanker Jaikishan, C.Ramachandra and the two Burmans.
I know that the article is very long, but still thought of sharing.
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omg they gave the music for mere mehboob qayamat hogi??
my utmost respect to them
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