It has been 16 years since he left the world but R D Burman continues to live in the hearts of people through his unforgettable compositions in Indian cinema.
As music lovers celebrate Pancham’s 71st birth anniversary on Sunday,some of the closest people to the maverick musician,including his wife and legendary singer Asha Bhonsle,have come together to recall their memories of Burman with a coffee table book and documentary.
Bhonsle,in her piece in the book says that the composer entered her life when she was already an established playback singer but he took her career to newer heights with memorable songs like ‘O Mere Sona Re’,’Chura Liya Hai Tumne’,’Piya Tu Ab To Aaja’.
Their first hit collaboration was with the film ‘Teesri Manzil’ in 1966 and thereafter she went on to record a variety of songs with him – cabarets,rock,disco,ghazals,Indian classical music and many more.
“He had heard all the good musicians from around the world. After work,he used to shower at 9 pm and then sit in kurta and lungi and put on 7-8 records which he would listen till 4-5 am,” Bhonsle recalls in the book ‘Pancham of Eternity’ produced by Shemaroo.
The 76-year-old singer adds that Burman brought fusion and retro in Indian music. He was very fond of original sounds and experimented a lot. Once he spent one whole night recording sound of rainfall in a Khandala hotel.
A go-getter who believed in living in the present,Bhonsle says Pancham did not like to discuss sorrows and problems of life. Hailing from the princely state of Tripura,the composer truly lived like royalty. “Towards the end as he would give everything to others and a lot of people misused his trust. He was fond of good food (Bengali,Punjabi,anything),would treat everyone to party time at work and never pass the bill to the producers,” Bhonsle says.
Noted lyricist Gulzar,who gave soulful numbers like ‘Mera Kuch Saaman’ and ‘Qatra Qatra’ with Pancham,says he spend some of the best years of his life with the musician. “He was a big anchor in my life. We had many things in common,like we were both fond of sports. But I think he was always ahead of me in everything. He was more happy-go-lucky,free spirited,effervescent and always so full of life,” Gulzar says.
The Oscar-winning lyricist,who is also a filmmaker,marvels at Pancham’s grasp over the medium of cinema.
“He used to understand the film medium very well and contributed to the visualisation. Suddenly while singing he would ask,’Do you have a river at the location of filming this? I want to put Majhi’s (boatman’s) voice in the interlude music’. I feel in his music,there are always visuals behind the vocals and music,” he adds.
Yesteryear’s heartthrob Rishi Kapoor too remembers Pancham in the book with whom he gave some of the biggest chartbusters of their careers in films like ‘Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahi and ‘Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai’.
Kapoor describes him as a multi-talented artist who was a great comedian and actor as well. “He used to perform and tell us how to do the songs. I did a song in Jhootha Kahin Ka,which had a lot of adlibbing to do,with dialogues in the song. He made it all very carefree just adapting to my style,” Kapoor says.
The Hum Kisise Kum Nahin star feels that Burman’s music has a timeless quality and this why youngsters identify with his songs even today. “The music of ‘1942-A Love Story’ was a national event. Today most of the remixes or radio songs are of RD’s. There are so many Pancham tributes. Today with all technical facilities available,it’s all easy but he was doing it way back in those days,” Kapoor said.
Compiled by documentary maker Brahmanand Singh and music enthusiast Gaurav Sharma,the book also has inputs from,singer Manna Dey,lyricist Javed Akhtar,santoor player Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma,composer trio Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy among others.