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Pancham: The Urban Timbre (Part 8)

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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.

Music director RD Burman. Express archive photo
Pancham: The Urban Timbre
Part 8

Badi Sooni Sooni Hai

On October 31, 1975, Sachin Dev Burman passed away. He suffered a stroke while rehearsing a song with Kishore Kumar for Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s movie, Mili (1975). At the hospital, Sachin Dev Burman was only concerned about the song’s fate. Pancham, and Kishore Kumar reassured him.

Eventually, Badi Sooni Sooni Hain was recorded under Pancham’s supervision. Once the final mixing was done, the magnetic spool was brought to the hospital. Senior Burman listened to the song and approved of the way his son had arranged its accompanying music. He then went into a coma and passed away a few days later.

By the mid-1970s, Pancham had proved to the world that he was at ease to defy the ‘grammar’ of conventional music compositions because he was aware of them in and out. He could catch up a single note of the song’s antara, and go backward to compose its mukhra in no time. 

Much later, in the Foreword of the book, RD Burman: The Man, The Music, written by Aniruddha Bhattacharjee and Balaji Vittal, the lyricist Javed Akhtar pointed out, “Most of his tunes that you appreciate… were created in five to six minutes. That was the level of creativity, the energy he had.”  

He was then absorbing and synthesizing almost anything he found ‘interesting’. 

A glowing instance of this spontaneous innovation was to use of the strumming of guitar, substituting the rhythm and percussions for the song O majhi re in Gulzar’s Khushboo (1975):    

Yeh zindagi kuch bhi sahi

Pancham was the most unlikely person to grumble against crude betrayals and unjust criticisms. Nevertheless, he struggled during the last years of his life. It was difficult for him to work amid back-biting and cut-throat competition by music companies. 

“Tears are no tears,” Mirza (Beg Asadullah Khan) Ghalib (27 December, 1797 -15 February, 1869) claimed, “unless they are shed from the eyes.” Pancham had suffered ailment in his loneliness that he had to live with and yet craved to share the gift of his Muse, asMirza Ghalib did a century away, amid all odds. 

Uncannily, the fates of both Mirza Ghalib not just matched on the birth date 27. They were left alone by friends while the world tried hard to forget that that even existed. 

Nevertheless, Mirza Ghalib redefined himself through Khutoot-e-Ghalib on paper. Almost two centuries later, the jobless Pancham conjured his listeners, sceptics and fans alike and then succumbed. 

Kuch na kaho

Vidhu Vinod Chopra helped Pancham to regain his lost self-esteem. Or was it senior Burman? 

With Chopra’s encouragement, Pancham quested into his memories. Through the deep shadows of a scarred past, he found the notes his Baba was playing in harmonium at Jet, his home luminated. His mother was also there. She too must have lent her voice as her husband sang the song, which made him a household name in Calcutta eons ago. Tublu, their son, witnessed how the couple caressed the roots they both belonged to.

Pancham projected the warmth of his best days when he began to sing Rangila Rangila Re, Rangila, emulating his Baba. Chopra stopped him abruptly. Pancham came back to reality and shivered in its coldness. He looked askingly at the Director of 1942: A Love Story. Chopra only said, “If the beginning is so sweet Dada, let me imagine how sweet the rest of the song would be”:

“A true champion never gives up. Even when he is about to drop down, he lands a lethal punch to his opponent,” Javed Akhtar said, sometime after Pancham went away to cuddle peacefully with his Baba, somewhere up there.


Acknowledgement: Brahmanand Singh and all R D Burman’s fans.

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2 responses to “Pancham: The Urban Timbre (Part 8)”

  1. […] Rahul Dev Burman (L to R) Pancham (Rahul) with Kishore Kumar (L to R) Father Sachin Dev and son Rahul Dev A very young Pancham (Rahul Dev) Pancham, a young man Pancham (Rahul) with Gulzar Rahul Dev Burman paying tribute to father Sachin Dev Burman (L to R) Asha Bhonsle, film director and lyricist Gulzar and Rahul Dev Rahul Dev Burman marries Rita Patel (courtesy Navbharat Times) (L to R) Father Sachin Dev and son Rahul Dev Lata Mangeskar at a recording session of Rahul’s (L to R) Asha Bhonsle, Kishore Kumar and Rahul Dev Burman The Burman Family Rahul Dev Burman (L to R) Lata Mangeskar with Rahul Dev (L to R) Father Sachin Dev Burman, Lata Mangeshkar and son Rahul Dev Burman Rahul with wife Asha Bhonsle Part 8 […]

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