Review: Music by Laxmikant Pyarelal by Rajiv Vijayakar

Entertainment journalist Rajiv Vijayakar looks at the work of musical duo Laxmikant Pyarelal who composed 2,900 songs for 750 films in a career that spanned three decades until 1993
Lata Mangeshkar with music directors Laxmikant and Pyarelal. (HT Photo)
Lata Mangeshkar with music directors Laxmikant and Pyarelal. (HT Photo)
Updated on Apr 28, 2022 02:25 PM IST
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BySudhirendar Sharma

Long after their era, the music composed by the incredible duo of Laxmikant Pyarelal continues to resonate. Nicknamed LP, an obvious contraction of their initials combined with a pun on the then-prevalent Long Playing (LP) vinyl format, and an allusion to the musicians’ status as the longest reigning monarchs of film music, Laxmikant Pyarelal composed 2,900 songs for 750 films in a career that spanned three decades until 1993. In Music by Laxmikant Pyarelal, entertainment journalist Rajiv Vijayakar draws biographical sketches of both the personalities and reveals how they came together and created music that is still hugely popular.

Laxmikant Pyarelal’s friendship and an excellent combined understanding of melody and rhythm led them to create a distinctive sound. Such was their musical appeal that audiences often expressed their appreciation by throwing coins at the screen. Their score for Dafliwale dafli baja from the film Sargam was so popular that an unbelievable one crore rupees in coins was collected from movie halls in 1979.

312pp, Rs. 599; Rupa
312pp, Rs. 599; Rupa

As young men, both assisted legendary film musicians like C Ramachandra, Shankar-Jaikishan and Kalyanji-Anandji. Later, as a duo working in the highly competitive world of film music, they experimented with musical notes and singers to create a niche for themselves among both film professionals and listeners. Their success owes much to their mastery of the creation of music for specific cinematic situations and screen characters. Still, it is because their music also transcends those factors that soundtrack after soundtrack has stood the test of time. This is quite incredible given that there has been a shift in audience sensibility when it comes to poetry, diction and music.

Author Rajiv Vijayakar, somewhat in awe of his subject, recounts the stories behind many musical creations that have enriched the lives of generations. Among the several stories in this book is the one about LP travelling to London in the mid-1960s to get a feel of the city before they composed Nazar Na Lag Jaye for Night in London.

The two created many chartbusters during a period of great vitality in Hindi film music. The scene was rich with stalwarts like Shankar-Jaikishan, SD Burman, OP Nayyar, Madan Mohan, Usha Khanna, Rajesh Roshan and RD Burman creating their greatest work. LP revealed that they learnt much from their seniors and contemporaries including what not to do as musicians.

Author Rajiv Vijayakar (Courtesy Rupa Publishing Co)
Author Rajiv Vijayakar (Courtesy Rupa Publishing Co)

Music by Laxmikant Pyarelal offers glowing tributes to the duo with contributions from singers, lyricists, actors, filmmakers and musicians. While Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar were Laxmikant Pyarelal’s favourites, some 105 male and 72 female voices got their career breaks as singers at their recording studios.

Vijayakar captures almost everything a lover of Hindi film music would like to know about LP’s incomparable contribution. However, a separate section on exactly how some more of their hits were composed would have added value to the book. This reviewer is particularly intrigued by how they created so many original and appealing sounds. Laxmikant has long departed by Pyarelal is still devoted to music. The only Indian composer to have a symphony, Om Shivam in A-Minor, registered in his name, Pyarelal has ensured that LP’s musical legacy lives on.

Sudhirendar Sharma is an independent writer, researcher and academic.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2022