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Remembering Pancham ( Rahul Dev Burman) Unplugged!

 If   Rahul Dev Burman  was alive  today you can bet your  last rupee he would be hyper-active  as a composer…provided  the  film industry would have let him  go on doing what he  was  born to.

In his closing  years he was shunned by  the same people whose careers he had  made through his lilting songs. Filmmakers who swore by his name switched  to other more saleable  names . Ramesh  Sippy who did a slew  of  film with  RD in the 1970s and  80s from   Seeta Aur Geeta to Sagar, suddenly  signed   the  more market-friendly  Laxmikant-Pyarelal for Bhrashtachar.

 That  really hurt. There came  a time when  RD sat jobless  on the  verandah  of  his home. He would place a   bedsheet  on  side overlooking the street  so that  people wouldn’t know he was  sitting idle .

Hurt and rejection were nothing new  to RD. Born  under the shadow of  the  great Sachin Dev Burman , RD was  crazy about  music and composition  from childhood. His father never encouraged  him  to  become  a music  director.   RD insisted he  would  follow in his father’s  footsteps. The early assignments came his way  on his  own steam, not on his father’s recommendation.  Chote Nawab, Pati Patni , Baharon Ke Sapne and  Chandan Ka Palna  had  lovely  melodies.  But  it was only with Nasir Hussain’s Teesri Manzil that  RD discovered  his forte.  There  was  no looking back  as he spun out one  trendy  Westernized   music  score after another.

With the  vocal  prop of  Asha Bhosle  to  bolster his  unfettered  musicianship  RD quickly gamboled  from Aaja aaja main  hoon pyar tera  in Teesri Manzil to  Chura hai tumne in Yaadon Ki Baarat to Yeh ladka hai Allah in  Hum  Kissise Kam Nahin as  the cinema   of  Nasir Hussain carried him to  the  crest  of the charts, and then flung him  down when Nasir Hussian’s son Mansoor Khan  preferred  to work with the younger composers Anand-Milind rather than RD in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak.

It is interesting how  RD  made his way  to the  top of the charts  in spite of his father’s opposition.Dev Anand  who had obtained some  great soundtracks from Sachin Dev Burman wanted the son  RD for Hare Rama Hare Krishna.  Apparently Sachinda discouraged Dev Anand.

The  songs of Hare Rama Hare Krishna  specially Dum maro dum are  hummed to this  day. Incidentally Dum maro dum  was  to be sung by Lata Mangeshar,  not Asha  Bhosle. RD always did his best work with the elder Mangeshkar sister,  be  it in Amar Prem, Kinara, Aandhi  or  Aap Ki Kasam.

 I  believe  RD’s real forte was the raga-based Indian melodies, But he moved towards a  more Westernized  sound to  avoid comparisons with his father.

 It’s  not easy to grow  under a  banyan tree. Asha Bhosle  who veered  away from her illustrious sister’s style, would know.

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