Pancham: The Urban Timbre (Part 4)

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About Satyabrata

Satyabrata Ghosh is primarily a cineaste, who loves to pen his thoughts on movies, actors and directors who matter to him. Since his adolescence to his youth and further, with a mind to make films and write about films, one thing that keeps him grounded is listening to the loop of Hindi songs and Bengali as well. Incidentally, quite a large number of songs in this loop are composed by Rahul Dev Burman. The euphoria of listening to these songs – poignant and grandiose, with their imagery-rich lyrics by stalwart song-writers Gulzar, Anand Bakshi et all, stimulate him to probe more into his social and cultural milieu that borne such creative restlessness. This is the very first piece of his daring out of undying love for a man he feels very close to, albeit, with no personal encounter.

Pancham: The Urban Timbre
Part 4

Yeh Saam Mastani 

Pancham’s career took a new turn in 1965 when Jatin Khanna made headway in the India Talent Contest organized by United Producers (a joint venture of Producers-Directors like Bimal Roy, Subodh Mukherjee, B R Chopra, G P Sippy, Nasir Hussain, H S Rawail, J. Om Prakash, Mohan Saigal and Shakti Samanta) and Filmfare magazine. Jatin became Rajesh Khanna beating 10,000 contestants.

 Overnight he was not only signing as Rajesh Khanna but also shooting one film after another. Nasir Hussain’s Baharon Ke Sapney (1967) was one of them. 

Pancham, by then, was focused on showcasing his songs. Nasir Hussain was one Producer-Director, whose prime motives in making films essentially had been to mount song and dance numbers with all possible grandeur. He narrated his story outline while elaborating on each of the song sequences he conceived. (Unlike Nasir Hussain, many Directors who worked with Pancham, failed to execute their vision to celluloid as they cared less about the story, script and the overall making of the film they intended to venture upon. This partly explains why so many songs of R D Burman remain ever etched in public memory while such films did not work.) 

In Baharon Ke Sapne, the technical prowess of Pancham was revealed. In a time when songs are not mixed in multi-tracks, but a single track, Pancham interwove Lata Mangeshkar’s alaap in her rendering of Majrooh Sultanpuri’s Kya Janoo Sajan, by moving the faders in and out real-time of a mono-track sound mixing device: 

Pancham loved to accomplish this and craved to do more such things. He found Katra katra milta hain, the right song much later. In this song of his Gulzar’s Ijaazat (1987) where he fidgeted with heart’s content the vocal track sang by Asha Bhosle, albeit in a more sophisticated multi track sound mixing device:

Pancham’s choice to go away from his Baba’s way further made clear in Baharon Ke Sapney. Though he knew the harkat and mudkis of traditional classical songs, he had not dealt with the folk song genre so long.

Factoring his city-breeding, he could have asked his father to help (which, in at least one occasion he admittedly did for of Bada Natkhat Hai in Amar Prem (1972) – ‘to bring the naughtiness of a Bhajan’ – and reworked the tune:

But his urge then was to establish independence. It must be his mother who implanted such a drive in him. Meera Dev Burman had to contain herself as an Assistant to the senior Burman as credited on screen. (She suffered a mental breakdown when Pancham passed away prematurely and never recovered, till she breathed her last on 15 October, 2007, at the age of 84) 

Pancham asserted his choice. He sourced Salil Chowdhury’s elaborate musical arrangement of Chad Gaya Papi Bichua of Madhumati (1958):

And then improvised it with his rhythm and melody to incorporate the rustic flavour of Chunri Sambhal Gori into his musical phrase:

Much later, Pancham admitted in an interview with Doordarshan about how he also based the theme song of Saagar (1985) from Rahe na rahe hum composed byRoshan for Asit Sen’s Mamta (1966).

He even redecorated Rabindra Sangeet earlier.বসন্তে ফুল গাঁথল, was his springboard for Choti Si Ek Kali, the climactic song of Jurmana (1979): 

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