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Remembering the musical genius

They say humans die but the soul never does. And Rahul Dev Burman had music in his soul. Today on his 70th birth annniversary, music lovers all over the country still swear by his melodies.
IANS | By HT Correspondent
UPDATED ON JUN 27, 2009 03:07 PM IST

They say humans die but the soul never does. And RD Burman had music in his soul. Today on his 70th birth annniversary, music lovers all over the country still swear by his melodies.

Even 15 years after his demise, the charisma of his music refuses to die down. The overwhelming music of Rahul Dev Burman or Panchamda or RD, as he is popularly referred to, is still alive in the hearts of millions of Indians, old and young alike.

Panchamda, whose birthday was celebrated on June 27, remains the spirit of the Indian music industry. So much so that even the current genre of musicians, be it singers or composers, at least once in their lifetime, have wished they had worked with him.

Regarded as one of the all time greats, he was always far ahead of his contemporaries. He was different. He was gifted. Most importantly, he always thought ahead of the times. Who else could have thought of hippie numbers like Hare Krishna Hare Rama, or Mehbooba mehbooba in the early 1970s?

Panchamda always made music for the youth, as he himself was so youthful. But his songs touched the hearts of the old generation too. Most of his songs were termed revolutionary as they had a Westernised element.

The West at that time was rocking with the likes of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, the Beatles and also jazz music. The rest of the world was slowly waking up to the new music and Panchamda was no exception. He realised the potential of this genre. He cultivated it and infused it into his music though with his own stamp of identity.

He was also one of the few composers who had a thorough knowledge of both Western and Indian music.

Music critics could never typecast RD as, along with compositions with heavy presence of Western instruments, he gave music to soft, soulful songs and left a deep imprint in the sands of time.

Who can forget his poignant numbers like Tere bina zindagi se koi shiqwa, Musafir hoon yaaron, Beeti na beetayi raina and dozens of other songs from his huge oeuvre of more than 330 films in six different languages. His teaming up with Gulzar gave music lovers some of the most beautiful compositions.

Panchamda is also remembered for his unique style of composing music. He was always ready for experimentation. In Chura liya hai tumne, he used the sound of a spoon hitting a glass. In the song O manjhi re, he used bottles with water filled at different levels and created a hollow sound by blowing into them and this sound effect was used with the orchestra.

He was born June 27, 1939, and was the only child of the famous singer-music director, Sachin Dev Burman. His childhood was spent in Kolkata but he shifted to Mumbai after matriculation. He started learning the sarod from Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and began assisting his father in music direction. He struck out as an independent music director with the movie, Bhoot Bangla.

RD married Rita in 1960 but divorced her in 1974. He later got married to singer Asha Bhosle who had lent her voice to many of his compositions. Indeed, the duo delighted audiences the world over with their "live" performances. RD's showmanship and Asha's natural exuberance made them the perfect pair.

In his lifetime, Panchamda bagged two Filmfare Awards for Sanam Teri Kasam in 1982 and Masoom in 1983. This great doyen of Indian music breathed his last on January 4, 1994, leaving all music lovers in void.

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