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Remembering Panchamda

music Updated: Jun 27, 2009 11:15 IST
Raju Bharatan
Raju Bharatan
Hindustan Times
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Which is the first interlude piece Pancham did for an S D Burman tune? It's the super Pyaasa interlude music you hear on Waheeda via Geeta in Jaane kyaa tuune kahee.

Did Dada Burman himself ever sing playback for Dev Anand? SD did, said RD, in the Thhaa thhaa part of the Asha Bhosle beauty Dil lagaa ke qadar gayee pyaare, on Nalini Jaywant in Kala Pani.

Comparisons galore
Thus far Pancham is forthcoming. But the moment a vintager devalues the music of the '90s, Pancham's up in arms: "What do you mean, nothing worthwhile's being composed today? Even better music than in Dada Burman's time is being composed today!"

Whereupon I place a firm hand on Pancham's lap, urging him to keep his cool. It's never a good idea to ask the son to experience, live, his father's music. At some stage, the composer in the lad must act up.

"Take Dada's Pighla hai sonaa from Jaal you're playing now," noted Pancham, becalmed. "The tune's orientation is totally Goan, yet in one interlude, suddenly, you hear Rabindra sangeet. I pointed this out to Dada and assistant N Dutta - from Goa – but who'd listen to a kid like me in 1952?"

"How," I asked RD, "did Dada Burman take to Guru Dutt's inviting you to score for his Raaz when you were barely 18?"

"Dada didn't like it one bit!" revealed Pancham. "Dada felt Guru Dutt was spoiling me by giving me a break so ear ly in life. But Guru Dutt had been impressed by the extent of my contribution to the musical shaping of his Pyaasa, as scored by Dada with Sar jo teraa chakraaye - my brainwave."

<b1>Those demands
"Raaz came to be abandoned after five reels were shot," went on Pancham. "During its making, Guru Dutt drove me up the wall. A highly whimsical person was Guruji. He'd only roughly sketch the kind of tune he needed for the sequence."

"Guruji himself might have known what precisely he wanted - as his imagination soared. But the idea remained in his mind's eye. It never was clear to me, as the Raaz composer, what exactly Guru Dutt audio-visually wanted. He'd okay my tune one morning, arbitly reject it the next."

"But you were able to readily satisfy the no-less-demanding Raj Kapoor on the theme-song of Dharam Karam," I remarked.

"Raj Kapoor came as a pleasant surprise after Guru Dutt," agreed Pancham. "Dharam Karam came to me through son Randhir Kapoor with whom I generationally vibed. Picture my mental state when told it would be Raj Kapoor okaying the film's theme-song!"

"Nervous as hell I felt as I readied six tunes for Rajji to pick from - for that piano-song situation in Dharam Karam. After the Guru Dutt experience, I mightn't have accepted Dharam Karam at all, had I known it meant facing Raj Kapoor!"

No second takes
"But Rajji had outlined the situation so clearly to me that I was hopeful. Yet fearful. I now played the first of my six tunes, as Rajji sat hoveringly in front. I'd barely started playing my first dhun when Rajji burst out: "Situation ke liye perfect tune hai! Chalo, okay bottle kholo!"

Not only that, Raj Kapoor proposed a toast to me for the way I'd composed what later became, via Majrooh Sultanpuri, Iik din bik jaayega maatee ke mol, jag mein reh jaayenge pyaare tere bol.

"Raj Kapoor added, by way of a highly fulfilling bonus: "Hit gaana hai! Shabash, bete!"

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