In the movie industry, they called him the music wizard. They were old-fashioned, but their songs were new-age. He was experimental. From classical music to western style, all kinds of songs and their melodies were made in such a way that people were captivated. The musical talent was so great that at the age of reading and writing, he began to compose the songs for the film. In a 30-year film career, he gave 331 songs, of which 292 were in Hindi, 31 in Bengali, 3 in Telugu, 2 in Tamil-Oriya, and 1 in Marathi. Yes, we are talking about RD Burman, that is, Pancham Da, the most creative musical director in Indian cinema, whose birthday is today. Born on June 27, 1939 in Kolkata, Pancham Da’s magical style has greatly influenced musicians today. Their songs still speak of the language of the people.
Pancham da composed the first song of his life for the movie ‘Funtoosh’ at the age of nine.
1. Childhood: the nickname has interesting stories
Kolkata-born Rahul Dev Burman, the son of musician singer Sachin Dev Burman and lyricist Meera Dev Burman, was not long in reading and writing. Father SD Burman used to stay in Mumbai in connection with his work. Due to the pampering of grandparents at home, there was no discipline over them. Grandma used to call him ‘Tublu’. But in his childhood, his nickname was ‘Pancham’. There are also three interesting stories behind his nickname. First, it is said that he was nicknamed ‘Pancham’ because, as a child, every time he cried, he heard the fifth note (Pa), the G scale, in musical notation. ‘Pancham’ is the name of the fifth grade in Hindustani classical music. Second, as a child, Rahul Dev used to cry with five different voices. That is why it received the name Pancham. The third anecdote is that the veteran actor of that time, Ashok Kumar, once went to his house, he saw that the newborn Rahul repeatedly said the word ‘Pa’, which is why he called him Pancham.
When his father saw that Pancham was not interested in studies, he took him to Mumbai. At that time he was about eight years old. There, he began taking music lessons while staying under his father’s umbrella. He composed the first song of his life for the film Funtoosh at the age of nine. This movie was released in 1956. There are many songs like ‘Sir Jo Tera Chakraye’ from the movie ‘Pyaasa’, ‘Mere Sapno Ki Rani’ and ‘Kora Kagaz Tha Ye Man Mera’ from the movie ‘Aradhana’ which are attributed to SD Burman, but in fact, it was composed by RD Burman. He had been his father’s assistant for a long time.
2. Career: Obtained the status of ‘Third Manzil’
Rahul Dev Burman always tried to do something different. I used to make tunes out of the box. This is the reason why his melodies were very popular. Today’s new musicians also follow the new experiments made by him. The films in which he worked as an assistant were the films ‘Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi’ (1958), ‘Kaagaz Ke Phool’ (1959), ‘Tere Ghar Ke Samne’ (1963), ‘Bandini’ (1963), ‘Ziddi’ ‘(1964),’ Guide ‘(1965) and Teen Devion (1965). He played the mouth organ in his father’s superhit song ‘Hai Apna Dil To Awara’, which was filmed in the movie ‘Solva Saal’.
His career as a music director began with the film ‘Raj’ by Guru Dutt. She signed it in 1959. Although the film was never completed, Burman Sahib had recorded two songs for her. The first song was sung by Geet Dutt and Asha Bhosle, while the second was sung by Shamshad Begum. His first release film was Chhote Nawab, which was released in 1961. His first success as a film music director was ‘Teesri Manzil’, which was released in 1966. Burman sahib credited the lyricist for his success. Majrooh Sultanpuri. The third floor had six songs, all written by Majrooh Sultanpuri. So two songs were sung by Mohammad Rafi and four solo songs with Asha Bhosle. This film had shown the way of progress to the Burmese sahib.
3. Success: Bollywood Superhit Trio
Ten years after the release of his first film, Pancham Da had begun to climb the ladder of success. In the 1970s, the trio of Rajesh Khanna, Kishore Kumar, and RD Burman rocked the film industry. When Kishore Kumar sang to the tune of Panchma Da and Rajesh Khanna performed, there was applause in movie theaters. It started with the famous ‘Aradhana’ director Shakti Samant’s film that ran for a long time. The Pancham Da songs ‘Yeh Sham Mastani’ and ‘Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai’ sung by Kishore Kumar went to people’s lips. After this, Panchma Da also composed many popular songs sung by Mohammad Rafi, Asha Bhosle, and Lata Mangeshkar. As it was experimental. It was in his nature to try new things.
The trend of rapid amplification in Bollywood was first started by Pancham Da. Therefore, all his songs seem to be sung with a different and very open voice. He also introduced the double-pass rhythm in his songs. He began to beat with two instruments. Because of this, people liked his songs more and they seemed more modern. He was the first musical director of his day, who used electronic instruments prominently in his songs. The movie ‘Teesri Manzil’ turned out to be her great musical success. He lived in London for a month before giving music there. Here he learned to experiment with musical instruments such as octopad, electronic guitar, congo, etc. I used them in the movie. He used these instruments wonderfully in the music of many films. RD Burman made most of his musical career with Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle. He composed music for 331 films.
4. Love Story: Saadi Mohabbat, Difficult Marriage
In earlier times, marriage used to come first, love second. Something similar also happened with Pancham da. He was married before his first meeting with Asha Bhosle in 1956. But Pancham da was not happy with his first wife, Rita Patel. He was so upset with them that he left the house and started living in the hotel. Here, Asha Bhosle was also unhappy with her husband Ganpatrao Bhosle. They had two children, but in search of peace, he came to the house of his sister Lata Mangeshkar and began to live. If two lonely and sad hearts meet, then love has fallen. However, the link with this love was music, which brought the two together. In an interview, Asha Tai herself said: ‘I loved western songs. He used to enjoy singing Pancham songs. Anyway, I loved doing new things. They also liked how hard I worked. In general, there was a good mutual understanding. The love for music grew between us, not the love that brought us closer to music.
Pancham Da and Asha Bhosle’s love story is unique. Two married people, who were not happy in their first life, began to like each other. He even decided to get married. But the road to marriage was not so easy either. Pancham da was much older than Asha Tai. That is why her mother was strictly against this relationship. When Pancham da asked her mother for permission to marry, she angrily said: “This marriage cannot happen while I am alive, if you want, you can bring Asha Bhosle to this house from my corpse.” When strange difficulties arose, Pancham thought it best to remain silent. Meanwhile, her mother became very ill. He even stopped recognizing people. Seeing her condition, Pancham married Asha, so that they could both take care of the mother together.
5. Helplessness: the rising sun will slowly set
‘The rising sun slowly sets and will fall, you are a traveler here, this inn is Fani, your life is the guest of four days, if the earth leaves with nothing, I have come empty-handed and I will leave with my hands empty. These Kaiser Ki Qawwali lyrics are the true story of life. Like the sun, after the rise of every human being, one day definitely sets. Something similar happened with Pancham Da. This music director, who ruled Bollywood, never thought that one day he would stop getting a job. For 20 years, from 1960 to 1980, his fame remained high, but in the 80s some new musicians like Bappi Lahiri left him behind. The films made under his musical direction began to fail at the box office, so people stopped giving work. Even Nasir Hussain, who continuously signed all the films since ‘Teesri Manzil’ in 1966, did not sign him on ‘Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak’ in 1988.
Gulzar once said that RD Burman was a very impatient person. When I was composing music, I was very restless. If you were offered hot tea right then, you wouldn’t even wait for it to cool down. They used to drink it by putting it in water. But at the end of his career and his life, he was completely alone. The person who is surrounded by many friends all the time, but who remains completely alone in his last days, then imagine what must have happened to him. Lyricist Javed Akhtar says: “Pancham was a man who proved himself the king of music. Then that crown was taken from him but he proved again in ‘1942’ by giving good music that he is the emperor of music. Sadly, that emperor died before he sat down on the throne again.