Remembering Pancham Da: The Phoenix of Bollywood Music

It was just after the separation from his first wife that Pancham da was sitting at a hotel. In a few minutes he came up with the tune of a song “Musafir hoon mai yaaron” from the movie Parichay and the entire song was composed that night itself. This was the persona and attitude of one of the greatest composers of Bollywood R D Burman.

R D Burman was born on 27th June, 1939 in the then Calcutta with the genius composer father, S D Burman. There are many tales to the name Pancham, one story says that when he cried during his childhood the sound would come out in the fifth note ‘Pa’ aka G scale. The other story says that it was the actor Ashok Kumar, who was also the friend of his father saw him using ‘Pa’ alphabet repeatedly and gave him the name ‘Pancham’.

Image Credits : https://goo.gl/0R4Gpf

Image Credits : https://goo.gl/0R4Gpf

Rahul Dev Burman was a prodigy and is said to have composed songs at a very early age. It was his tune which S D, his father used for the song ‘Aye meri topi palat ke aa’, for the film ‘Funtoosh’(1956). He started assisting his father at a very young age and played many instruments in the band. He was trained by Ali Akbar Khan(sarod) and Samta Prasad(tabla) during his childhood. He considered Salil Choudhary, one of the finest composers of his era as his guru.

Pancham and his father S D Burman complemented each other, while S D was into classical music, Pancham was influenced by the western forms and brought a modern feel to the songs. It is reportedly said that the song ‘Mere Sapno ki Rani’ from the film Aradhana was composed by him and not by his father S D Burman. S D Burman was on his death bed and only a few songs of Aradhana were recorded by him. Thereafter R D took the project and completed the recording work.

R D Burman was way ahead of his time and used Latin, Middle Eastern, Cabret tunes in his songs. He experimented a lot to get the particular sound and used pots, desks ,bottles, bamboos etc. for the music. Who can forget the growling & yodelling of R D Burman in the film Sholay whose music was received with rave reviews. The 1970’s was the era of R D Burman where he used Kishore Kumar to sing for Rajesh Khanna in the playback. The few movies like Kati Patang(1970) , hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971), Yaadon Ki Baraat (1973), Sholay (1975), Kasme Vade(1978),Golmaal(1979), Khoobsoorat(1980) were the hits of their times. In total Burman scored for 331 movies which got released and a lot more songs were composed by him, which never got a chance to come out in the public domain. R D Burman married for the second time to Asha Bhosle in 1980 and after few years they were living separately.

In the late 1980’s R D Burman faced the toughest part of his life when nobody gave him work and people turned away. He used to sit alone in his room which used to get crowded during his peak years. He was out of money and his close associates also distanced away from him. It was reportedly said that people used to gossip in the industry that R D Burman’s career was finished. It was during that time Vidhu Vinod Chopra came to Pancham da for his film ‘1942,A Love Story’. Vidhu says that he was discouraged by the music company that if he signed R D Burman for his film, he’ll not be paid by the music company.

R D Burman died on January 4th, 1994 due to cardiac arrest at an age of fifty five. The movie ‘1942,A Love Story’ released after his death and mesmerized the entire country with its melody. R D proved that a lot of music was left inside him and he was the greatest music director of all times. R D Burman proved that he was the phoenix of Bollywood who rose from his ashes.

We remember Pancham da on his 76th birth anniversary!

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