Which is the most eventful year-end in the musical lexicon of Hindustani cinema? Beyond doubt December 31, 1971. The year-end witnessing the hyphen startlingly knocked out of Shanker-Jaikishan.
Jaikishan's traumatising demise on September 11 - to a Radio Sri Lanka accompaniment of Zindagee ek safar hai suhaanaa saw Shanker under unprecedented pressure to deliver by end-1971. Only SJ's Andaaz and Main Sunder Hoon now made the 100-days run cut.
Major 1971 SJ flops - during Jaikishan's lifetime itself - were Shammi Kapoor's Jane Anjane and Jawaan Mohabbat. Plus RK's Kal Aaj aur Kal. Add to that five damp squibs after Jai's September 11 departure and the 1971 year-end had SJ ceasing to be numero uno. After a grand 13-year reign.
Even as SJ fell, Laxmikant-Pyarelal spectacularly consolidated their gains. With three mega-hits, during 1971, in Haathi Mere Saathi, Dushman and Mera Gaaon Mera Desh.
By contrast, the Kalyanji-Anandji duo, after being second only to LP till end-1970, now lost major ground - with only one 1971 superhit in Johar Mehmood in Goa.
This was the signal for RD Burman, as the neo-pathfinder, to begin his meteoric advance to the No 2 spot - as Amar Prem (with its Chingaree koii bhadke Raag Bhairavi motif) arriving in the wake of Hare Rama Hare Krishna and Dum maaro dum.
In between those two attention-grabbers, Pancham had Carvaan making waves on its own. Thus, from 12 releases in 1971, Pancham had three huge hits. With O P Nayyar losing out even before SJ, the end-1971 field was thus wide open. But Pancham just didn't have it in him to play LP at their Filmfare award-lifting game.
What further inhibited Pancham was the fact that SD Burman's 1971 comeback coincided with RD's breakthrough. While SD's Naya Zamana and Sharmeelee were top 1971 musical hits, Dada Burman's Gambler and Tere Mere Sapne, too, won tuneful acclaim during the year.
Pancham buffs might hate to hear this, but RD never really overtook LP in the box-office stakes. LP with 15 films against SJ's 16 during 1971, snazzily rose to number one by December 31, 1971. Never really to surrender that enviable box-office niche through the 1971-80 decade.
A loner all the way was Pancham, even after Asha Bhosle came into his life. Asha, after nine years with OP Nayyar, began to grasp market trends. While RD rested on his trendsetting oars. RD waited for things to happen. Never venturing to make things happen - a la S D Burman.