If the composing wizard Rahul Dev Burman had lived he would’ve been 75.
“That is the big ‘If’. If he had lived. I wish he had lived.He died too young and too unhappy,” says the Nightingale Lata Mangeshkar as she recalls her long association with her dear Pancham.
“I had seen him running around in his half-pants when I’d record songs for his father Sachin Dev Burman.
She reveals how unhappy RD was during his final years. “For a composer as talented as Pancham to be almost jobless was a living death.Pancham was very unhappy. He would sometimes share his grief with me. I feel sad even now when I recall how cruel the industry was toPancham just because some of his music didn’t do well.”
Recalling the brutality with which the industry tends to be treat the unsuccessful Lataji says, “Before Pancham there were two other very talented comoposers who died unhappy. Khemchand Prakash
Pancham’s 1942: A Love Story too became a posthumous rage. Lataji gets emotional as she recalls Pancham’s plea that she sing for him in the film. “Didi, I don’t know how much money there is in this,’ he told me. I told him not to worry about money.I’d sing the song for free if the need arises. Twice my recording for Pancham for 1942: A Love Story got postponed. Finally I was in Delhi when I heard he passed away. I recorded the song Kuch na kaho posthumously for Pancham with a heavy heart. I remember Sanjay Leela
Lataji was a special guest at RD’s first marriage with Rita Patel.
Says she, “Pancham asked me for a gift. He wanted me to write a letter counseling his new wife on how to conduct herself with him. ‘Didi, you know me longer and more closely than almost anyone else. Tell my wife what I am like and how to cope with me,’
Pancham requested. That letter was with him until his end. I believe it was found in his bank locker.”
Recalling the years before RD’s untimely death at age 54, Lataji says, “I was in London when Pancham underwent heart surgery. On the day before the surgery he called me to say he wanted to see me. ‘If something happens to me…I’d like to see you.’ I went to meet him in hospital . By God’s grace he recovered. But then unhappiness killed him a few years later. He was very depressed about his career and his mother’s senility.I heard he was fed biryani and liquor by his so-called friends on the night when he had his fatal heart attack. Bhagwanbachaye aise
Fondly recalling her recordings with RD, Lataji says, “Pancham was reverent. He saw me as his father’s artiste, But when we recorded he was a colleague. And if Kishoreda (Kumar) was with us then it was full masti. We had great fun. And his songs have withstood the test of time. Only two music composers from Hindi cinema have attained such enduring fame after death. Pancham and Madan
Lataji selects her favourite R D Burman compositions
O haseena zulfon wali(Teesri
Naam ghum jayega(Kinara)
Baahon mein chale aao(Anamika)
Bada natkhat hai re Krishna kanhaiya(Amar Prem)
O mere dil ka chayan(Mere