Okay, the first question that comes to my mind – What ailed Anant Mahadevan that he goes out to make a silly film Dil Vil Pyar Vyar and to add to our woes, completely murders immortal songs of Panchamda in the film? If someone’s got an answer to this question, I’ll gladly eat this piece of paper. Gems of high caliber such as ‘O Hansini’, ‘Tum Bin Jaaon Kahan’, ‘O Haseena Zulfonwali’ among others have been brutally rehashed or in musical terms, re-arranged to give it a modern feel. What for? I am sure Panchamda (God bless his soul) wherever he is, will be squirming in displeasure at this blatantly dissection of his evergreen classics. For someone like me who’s grown up listen to these songs, whose first crush expressed through ‘O Hansini’, who danced like no one’s watching to the eternal beats of ‘Mehbooba Mehbooba’ from the super hit Sholay, whose pain subsidized with the sound of the tinkling of the spoon on the glass as ‘Chura Liya Hai Tumne’ played on, an act of re-arranging or remixing of Panchamda’s songs is a pure criminal act and the accused to be put behind bars on a solitary island and made to listen endless to their own rehashed version of the songs.
R. D. Burman, who was fondly called Panchamda, after the fifth note of the Indian musical scale, started composing music from the age of 9 years. His first composition as a 9-year old was ‘Aye Meri Topi Palat Ke Aa’ which was used by his father S. D. Burman in the film Funtoosh. This was soon followed by the super hit ‘Sar Joh Tera Chakraye’ from the movie Pyaasa just one year later that was once again Panchamda’s composition that was used by his father. Over the years Panchamda composed music for hundreds of Hindi films as well as a few Bangla, Oriya, Tamil, Telugu including one Marathi film. Almost all of his songs have become huge hits and even the current generation identifies his songs albeit for different reasons.
During his heydays, Panchamda was a highly influential music composer and has been credited with revolutionizing the Indian music scene with his indigenous style and techniques in creating a piece of music. Few can forget the sound of the spoon on the glass in the evergreen romantic song ‘Chura Liya Hai Tumne’ from Yaadon Ki Baarat which was picturised on Zeenat Aman and Vijay Arora. That was poetry at its sheer brilliance.
Panchamda was not only a brilliant composer; he was also adept at playing the mouth organ. Its music featured prominently in the song ‘Hai Apna Dil Toh Awara’ from the film Solva Saal, featuring Dev Anand. Panchamda started his career by assisting his father S. D. Burman on various films before he branched out on his own with Guru Dutt’s Raaz in 1959. However, it was Mehmood’s Chhote Nawab in 1961 that hit the theatres first. After starting as an independent music director, Panchamda continued to assist his father S. D. Burman on various films such as Bandini, Teen Deviyaan and Guide.
His next film with Mehmood was Bhoot Bangla in which Panchamda also acted alongside Mehmood. Panchamda’s first mega hit movie was Nasir Hussain’s Teesri Manzil staring Shammi Kapoor and Asha Parekh. The music became instant hit and this film gave the music lovers songs such as ‘Aaja Aaja’, ‘Oh Haseena Zulfonwali’ among others. Nasir Hussain went on to sign Panchamda for 6 more of his films such as Baharon Ke Sapne (1967), Pyar Ka Mausam (1969) and Yaadon Ki Baarat (1973).
Panchamda continued to assist his father and worked on Jewel Thief in 1967 and Talash in 1969. It was in 1968 that Panchamda gave the second box office hit in Padosan as a solo music director with classic compositions like ‘Mere saamne wale khidki’ and ‘Ek chatur naar’. This was followed by Waaris in 1969 and the musical hit, Pyar Ka Mausam. ‘Tum Bin Jaaon Kahan’ from Pyar Ka Mausam became an instant hit. While assisting his father on Aradhana, S. D. Burman fell ill and Panchamda completed the film’s music.
It was in the 1970s, that Panchamda reached its zenith due to sheer brilliance with his peppy music compositions. Along with some of the legendary singers like Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhosle, Lata Mangeshkar and others, he gave the industry and the people some of the biggest hits of Bollywood. Songs such as ‘Yeh Shaam Mastani’, ‘Raat Kali Ek Khwaab’, ‘Dilbar Dilse Pyare’, ‘Piya Tu Ab Toh Aaja’, ‘Dum Maro Dum’ among others were musical chartbusters. Of the above songs, ‘Dum Maro Dum’ received cult status and even today, it’s very popular with the young and the old alike.
70s also saw Panchamda churn out more hits in films such as Seeta Aur Geeta, Rampur Ka Lakshman, Bombay To Goa, Apna Desh, Anamika among others. Some of the best romantic musical songs were composed by Panchamda in this period and includes gems such as ‘Jaane Ja Dhoondtha Phir Raha’, ‘O Mere DIl Ke Chain’, ‘Bahon Mein Chale Aaoo’, ‘Lekar Hum Diwana Dil’ and others.
Mid 70s saw Panchamda composing the hip gypsy gem ‘Mehbooba Mehbooba’ for the cult film Sholay. If its music was sheer brilliance, then Panchamda’s vocals added the magical flavors to the song which became a rage. Other films such as Aandhi, Deewar and Dharam Karam gave the mass additional anthems such as ‘Tere Bina Zindagi Se Koii’, ‘Maine Tujhe Maanga’ and ‘Ek Din Bik Jaayega’.
As much as Panchamda excelled in peppy music with international flavor, he also gave classic compositions such as ‘Naam Gum Jaayega’ from the film Kinara in 1977 and ‘Raine Bit Jaaye’ from the film Amar Prem in the early 70s. ‘Aayo Kahan Se Ghanshyam’ from Buddha Mil Gaya was another note worthy composition centered around Indian classical music.
In the late 70s, Hum Kissi Se Kum Nahin was another instant hit with songs such as ‘Kya Hua Tera Wada’, ‘Chaand Mera Dil’ becaming a huge rage. More hit films followed such as Shalimar, Amol Palekar starrer Golmaal that had the brilliant ‘Aane Wala Pal’ sung by Kishore Kumar, Kasme Vaade among others which again gave Panchamda moments of glory through his brilliant compositions.
Early 80s was icing on the cake for Panchamda with him churning out hits after hits with Kudrat, Shaan, The Burning Train, Khubsoorat, Satte Pe Satta, Abdullah and a lot more films. It was in 1981 that Panchamda won his first Filmfare Award for music composition for the film Sanam Teri Kasam after being nominated a countless times over the years. This was followed by another Filmfare Award for best music direction in 1983 for Masoom. But post mid 80s, the quality of his musical compositions went on a decline and he started having less films on hand. Of the few films he did, the only surviving grace was the melodious ‘Mera Kuch Saaman’ from the film Ijaazat in the year 1987 that somehow failed to slow his downfall.
As a singer, Panchamda has sung a plethora of songs right from ‘Mehbooba Mehbooba’ in Sholay to ‘Yamma Yamma’ in Shaan to ‘Aa Dekhe Zara’ from the film ‘Rocky’. In Hare Rama Hare Krishna, he sang for Zeenat Aman’s father’s character for the song ‘Phoolon Ka Taaron Ka’. It was only when he was absolutely assured that his voice suited the character that he would sing for his musical compositions. His first duet with Asha Bhosle was ‘O meri jaan main ne kahaa’ from the film The Train in 1970 while the last duet was ‘Yeh din to aata hai’ from the film Mahaan in 1983.
It was also in 1987 that Panchamda collaborated with Gulzarji and Asha Bhosleji to bring out a double album titled ‘Dil Padosi Hai’. Panchamda went on to produce quite a few private albums and also composed music for an international album titled ‘Pantera’ in collaboration with Latin American composer Jose Flores.
Late 80s and early 90s saw a gradual decline in film offers for Panchamda. It was only in 1994 when Vidhu Vinod Chopra trusted him with his magnum opus 1942: A Love Story. Once again Panchamda’s brilliance was visible again through the wonderful compositions he created for this film. Alas, Panchamda didn’t live to enjoy the glory. He died just before the release of the film. This film also fetched him his third and last Filmfare Award for music direction.
As a composer, Panchamda’s compositions were totally different from other contemporary music directors of his time. Each and every piece of instrument that featured in his composition could be distinctively heard. He experimented a lot and was also instrumental in popularizing unorthodox instruments like Madal and Duggi. He even tried unique ways to implement the effects he wanted in his compositions. In Abdullah, he used the sound of a bamboo whistle with a balloon tied to it for one of the songs. It’s said that he once spent a whole rainy night in his house’s balcony recording the raindrop sound that he wanted. For the song, ‘O Manjhi Re’ from the movie Khushboo, he used bottles with water filled at different levels and created a hollow sound by blowing into them and this sound effect was later used in the recording.
However of late, his musical work has been rehashed and mismashed. Youngsters today associate Panchamda more with the remixes that is being churned out by the music companies then for his original compositions thus loosing out on knowing the genius behind the music. For the music companies, the legacy left behind Panchamda is just a source of income with little respect for the man himself.
If Anant Mahadevan was instrumental in making a joke of some of Panchamda’s big hits by rehashing it in ‘Dil Vil Pyar Vyar’, there are others who too went in this direction. Songs such as ‘Bangle Ke Peeche’, ‘Main Chali Main Chali’, ‘Dilbar Dilse Pyare’ was dissected and mismashed by copycat singers. The film ‘Road, Movie’ had a firang girl singing in a slurring voice, ‘Sar Joh Tera Chakraye’. Even the film ‘Jhankar Beats’ cut a sorry figure with the rendition of the Panchamda songs.From the news floating around, even the musical master that he is, Pritam too has been bitten by the rehash bug and is rumoured to be reworking on a cabaret song from the film ‘Apna Desh’. Is this creativity at its best or worse?
And if rehashing Panchamda’s songs were not enough, we have films borrowing its title from various Panchamda’s hit songs hoping to cash in on the songs popularity and wishing that some of the songs’ charms rub off on the films. So we had ‘Chura Liya Hai Tumne’, ‘Aa Dekhe Zara’, ‘Bachna Ae Haseeno’, ‘Ek Main Aur Ek Tu’, ‘Khullam Khulla Pyar Karen’ and the forthcoming ‘Dum Maro Dum’ and god knows how many more. Is there a dearth of titles in Bollywood or lack of creativity? You decide… But for now, Panchamda is immortal.
(To listen to your favorite R. D. Burman songs, please log on to http://www.raaga.com / smashits.com)