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RD Burman: About Pancham
 We salute the man, India's most versatile composer...

Rahul Dev Burman, one of the greatest music composers of all times, passed away on January 4, 1994. But he lives on in the hearts of the innumerable fans of his creativity. We thank god for sending RD Burman among us... where would film music be without his numerous unforgettable compositions? His death came just weeks before he was about to return to reckoning with his score for 1942: A Love Story. He left behind a legacy of rich, melodious, lively music that transcended the barriers of time and age.

Innovative and experimented a lot and hence tantalising and unpredictable -- that's our BOSS. He was studded with ideas that translated into outstanding compositions. To state that Pancham was different from the rest was, really, superfluous. He was effortlessly different from his father. Spontaneity and the ability of his music to connect with people, added his unique dash of pep and verve into Hindi film music starting with the 60s. RD was the first music director who brought Rock 'n' Roll to Hindi tunes, creating a brand of music so distinctly his own. He was capable of conveying the emotions of any lyric and situation.

We still feel his loss. We miss his music. If Asha ji is nominated for the Grammy today, you can imagine how far ahead Panchamda was in his work and his music.

He scored music for over 290 Hindi films. But more than the awesome quantity of his numbers, their timeless quality gave him an edge. The magic of RD Burman's music is endorsed by the fact that every successive generation relates to his music. He always showered us with a vast range of melodies and rhythms.

RD was born with music in his genes. Father Sachin Dev Burman, a descendant of the royal family of Tripura, the Eastern Indian state, was one of the foremost music directors in the Mumbai film industry. RD's mother was steeped in music and used to assist his father. Little Rahul cried in all five notes and was nicknamed Pancham. Pancham was initiated into the world of film music in his teens -- he was fond of playing the mouth organ and assisted his father.

RD had box office banners like Ramesh Sippy (Sholay), Nasir Hussain, Dev Anand,  Shakti Samanta, Ramesh Behl and Gulzar regularly backing him.

His diverse scores for Hare Rama Hare Krishna and Amar Prem revealed his virtuosity. Just consider the range in the former's "Dum maro dum" and the latter's "Bada natkhat hai"... his rhythmic, hip-shaking chart-busters from Teesri Manzil, Yaadon Ki Baaraat, Hum Kisise Kum Nahin or Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai, etc. With Mukesh he emerged with a sparkling gem like "Jis gali mein tera ghar na ho" and Lata's "Lalla lalla lori" (Mukti) was the nation's lori (lullaby). "Kya hua tera vaada" won Rafi an award and was heard on almost every street corner in 1977.

RD's trendy yet melodious music made him the first choice of star fathers who launched their sons in teenage love stories like Love Story (Kumar Gaurav), Rocky (Sanjay Dutt) and Betaab (Sunny Deol).

RD's most innovative and imaginative musical feats got lost in myriad worthless films, like Kishore-Asha's brilliant "Aao, aao jaan-e-jahaan" ( Gomti Ke Kinare), Kishore-Lata's "Ab ke saawan mein jee dare" ( Jaise Ko Taisa), Kishore-Lata's "Jana hai hamein to jahaan" ( Daulat Ke Dushmun) and, above all, the Kishore classic "O hansini kahaan udd chali" ( Zehreela Insaan).

Some of his great songs in a film were often dwarfed into obscurity by its one or more chartbusters. For example, Lata-Asha-Usha's "Dulhan maike chali" and Asha's "Chori chori solah singaar" ( Manoranjan), Asha's "Jaaoon to kahaan jaaoon" ( Anamika), Lata's "Oye buddho lambo lambo" and Manna Dey's "Aayo kahaan se Ghanashyam" from Buddha Mil Gaya, Kishore-Lata's "Bheegi bheegi raaton mein" ( Ajanabee), Lata's "Chalo ri" and Lata-Kishore's "Parbat ke peeche" ( Mehbooba) and Asha's "Ab jo mile hai" ( Caravan). This phenomenon of course went well into the 1990s with Shivaji Chattopadhyaya's "Yeh safar bahut hai kathin" (1942 - A Love Story).

RD composed soft and lingering melodies, often inspired by the classical tradition -- "Aayo kahaan se Ghanashyam" in Buddha Mil Gaya by Manna Dey. He found plenty of stimulation in Indian folk and traditional music. His scores for Chandan Ka Palna, Baharon Ke Sapne, Ghar, Kinara and Ijazzat.

Dil Padosi Hain has some of his most acquisitive compositions. He produced independent albums in which he included the samba beat and a rare collaboration with British pop star Boy George.

RD directed music for some regional films, including Bangla, Oriya, Tamil, Telugu and Marathi.

RD Burman did playback in eighteen movies composed by him. He was famous for unique, grunting bass singing style. He also acted in the film Bhoot Bungla in 1965 and Pyar Ka Mausam in 1967... provide ample proof of his versatility and genius. He also acted in one of the Bengali film named Gayak (starring Amit Kumar and Debashree Roy), where RD plays himself and 'discovers' Amit singing on a beach.

Pancham's non-film music comprises of few albums, including Pantera - the international album for which he shares credit with Latin American composer, Jose Flores.

January 4, 1994, all the strings and frets sung only the notes of grief on this day... even nature was singing a silent tune of lamentation. It was on this day the most loved and adored musician RD Burman bid goodbye to this world. It was not just the end of the life of a musician but was the end of a music civilisation. It is only the person of Burman has departed from this world, not the eternal music he composed, and never the sensation his music renders to hearers. Burman continues to live today in our minds through the music he left behind. Let all music lovers bow down before the memories of RD Burman and pay homage to him.

Music was an inherited talent and a gift bequeathed to Rahul Dev Burman, the only son of famous music composer Sachin Dev Burman. Starting independent music composing in 1961, he did 331 Films and 4 Non-Film Albums. Out of his 331 released movies 292 were in Hindi, 31 in Bangla, 3 in Telugu, 2 each in Tamil & Oriya and 1 in Marathi. RD also composed for 5 TV Serials in Hindi and Marathi. He also scored a large number of non-film songs.

He was inspired by all the music traditions from around the globe. His music featured flavours from Indian classical and regional traditions, jazz, rock, swing, circus music, Mexican mariachi, and Brazilian bossanova, among other styles. Burman also counted the leading contemporary classical string quartet in the United States, the Kronos Quartet, among his admirers.

Personal Life

Rahul Dev Burman, known as R.D. Burman, the son of Sachin Dev Burman was born in Calcutta on June 27, 1939. For most of his life he was commonly referred to by the nickname Pancham, which he acquired as a baby. S.D. Burman took a greater interest in his son's musical education. At first, Burman was given a grounding in the basics of India's complex classical music system. His father groomed him as a composer and encouraged him to learn different instruments so that he would become familiar with their capabilities. Beginning in his pre-teen years and starting on the tabla drum, he then studied the sarod, a difficult Indian stringed instrument, with Ali Akbar Khan and Ashish Khan, two of India's greatest classical musicians.

Burman finally began working in films as an assistant to his father, earning his first credit on the 1955 film Pyaasa. His father began schooling him in the finer points of film composition and assigning him to work with different singers and directors. More and more actual composition work was handed off to Burman, who was often credited as assistant music director on films scored by his father in the late 1950s, and the two developed a spirit of friendly competition that honed Burman's skills. Burman was signed as music director for a 1959 film called Raaz, His first official credit as music director was Chhote Nawab (1961). From then he never had to look back in his career.

Rahul Dev married Rita in 1960 but they were divorced in 1971. He then married the singing sensation Asha Bhonsle, for whom he had composed many a memorable song in 1980. Indeed, the RD-Asha duo delighted audiences the world over with their "live" performances, with RD's showmanship and Asha's natural exuberance making them the perfect pair. They created an immense romantic atmosphere and were considered a hot musical pair for shaping romantic songs.

Career

RD Burman's independent career coincided with the wave of early 70's Rajesh Khanna love stories. His first released movie as a music director was Mehmood's Chhote Nawab (1961) and his first hit movie was Teesri Manzil (1966). RD Burman was India's most popular composer in 1970s, famous for his peppy tunes. The combinations with Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhonsle, Gulshan Bawra and Lata Mangeshkar made him the maker of ever-biggest hits in the Bollywood music history. Burman scored music for a number of films in the 80s and 90s, among which most of them landed as musical hits.

Some of his best music is associated with Gulzar's lyrics, like Parichay and Aandhi. Burman brought Hindi film music into the era of electronic rock with a series of enormously popular youth movies like Narendra Bedi's Jawani Diwani. He worked mostly with singers Asha Bhonsle and Kishore Kumar, providing much of the music that defines their reputations. He also produced independent albums, including one based on the samba and one with British pop star Boy George.

After a 1988 heart-attack, he claimed to have composed 2,000 new tunes in his head while recuperating. He remained active in the early 1990s, composing music for several little-known films and bouncing back with one widely acclaimed masterpiece, the film 1942: A Love Story (1993). The movie won Burman's third Filmfare award, but sadly was not released until after his death on January 4, 1994.

Burman witnessed many ups and downs in his career. Some of his films flopped at the box office. But he was composing until his death. Even after his death his songs are popular among the music lovers. Even today, most of the Indian remix songs are his tunes remixed.

Burman had composed music for 331 films -- 292 were in Hindi, 31 in Bengali, three in Telugu, two each in Tamil and Oriya, and one in Marathi. One film, a 1980 Indo-Russian co-production of Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, contained Russian-language songs. Burman also released five albums unconnected with films and wrote non-cinematic songs for other artists, mostly in the Bengali language. Indian-American director Mira Nair included Burman's "Chura liya hai" in her 2000 film Monsoon Wedding, an affectionate tribute to Indian cinema.

Undoubtedly enough, the melodious compositions and the distinctive voice of R. D. Burman were adept at expressing the sentiments of any situation, mood and/or occasion. His continuous endeavor to shatter musical stereotypes and explore innovative potentials are evidently reflected in the music he created. The intense magic of RD is such that he remains alive even today in the hearts of billions of Indians (and non Indians) all over the world.

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