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Ek Saal Panchami Panno Se Pachaas Saal Baad...

I love RD Burman’s music. So what’s new one might ask? Especially anyone who knows me. But the fact remains that over 40 years since I’ve be...

I love RD Burman’s music. So what’s new one might ask? Especially anyone who knows me. But the fact remains that over 40 years since I’ve been listening to his music and learning and discovering newer ways to love his work, the freshness and appeal of Pancham don’t seem to diminish. How is it that even today I find new reasons to appreciate and love RD? When it is apparent that I don’t need any reason. None at all!!!

In the perpetual tussle between which decade of Pancham I personally it the experimental and completely out-of-the-box 70s or the mellow mature melodies of the 80s...I am still undecided. When I’m listening to Amar Prem and Jawani Diwani, I’m mad about the 70s, but when I put on Sunny or Libaas, the 80s drive me crazy. So there you go...

However, if there is one thing I am sure of in my mind, it is my “Favourite Pancham Year”. That has never changed over all these years. It was, it is...and shall always remain 1974!!!


1974 was a unique year in the career of Pancham, especially given the infinite wisdom of hindsight. After an explosive breakthrough in 1966 with Teesri Manzil, it wasn’t until Kati Patang in 1970 that Pancham really made his presence felt seriously. From 1970-73 the hits followed in the form of Amar Prem, Jawani Diwani, Yaadon Ki Baaraat, Do Chor, Seeta Aur Geeta, Anamika, Apna Desh, Caravan, Heera Panna, Aa Gale Lag Jaa, Mere Jeevan Saathi and several more. RD was well and truly at the top of his game.

And then came 1974...a year when maybe the juggernaut would slow down or stop completely. Films would begin to flop. Rajesh Khanna, the single biggest superstar who owed a significant part of his superstardom to Pancham’s music would slip from the top. Dev Anand, whose Navketan was studded with Pancham gems would be staring bankruptcy in the face following a serious box office fiasco. The audience would catch up to the fact that apart from the music there wasn’t much to endure Randhir Kapoor. Rishi Kapoor’s big release after Bobby would flatter to deceive. 1974 was to be a difficult year indeed...

...and yet 1974 it was that saw RD at his best. On top of his game. Shutting his eyes and ears to commercial success or the box office (a mistake he would pay for dearly in his later years) Pancham composed from his heart and composed like never before. Be it the racy vocals of Dil Toh Maane Na (Shaitaan) or the mindless joy de vivre of Goyake Chunanche (Manoranjan), the sensuous Teri Meri Yaari (Charitraheen) or the tripped-out Main Ladki Tu Ladka (Dil Diwana) Pancham was in his own world. A world of crazy orchestrations, marvellous melodies, rapturous rhythms and magnificent renditions. He made Lata sing the sombre Din Jaa Rahe Hai (Doosri Sita) and also the utterly romance-drenched Apna Samajh Ke(Shaitaan) while Asha crooned the sensuous Chori Chori Solah Singaar (Manoranjan) alongside the melodic Tu Jahan Mile Mujhe(Doosri Sita). He made Mukesh sing the wistful Kahin Karti Hogi (Phir Kab Milogi) whilst Rafi joined Lata in the delightful Kaahe Ko Bulaaya(Humshakal). Kishore remained his favourite male singer as he explored a gamut of emotions, be it romance (Ek Ajnabi Haseena Se, Ajanabi) or more romance (O Hansini, Zehreela Insaan), philosophical (Zindagi Ke Safar Mein, Aap Ki Kasam), or melancholic (Rasta Dekhe Tera, Humshakal). Kishore was playful in Dil Diwana as he was marvellously versatile in Aap Ki Kasam. And he made his mark in his duets with Lata in Goonj and Asha in Madhosh, two films which had the same trio of actors lipping Pancham’s songs.

And also in the same year, there was...Ishk Ishk Ishk.

How one wishes to remember Ishk is up to the individual. As the film which nearly drowned Navketan in a serious deluge of financial despair or simply one of the finest soundtracks to have been utterly wasted on their onscreen depictions. I choose the latter option. Because, as Pancham made Kishore sing, Bichhad jaate Hain Diya Aur Baati, Na Saath Kabhi Chhode, hai geet aisa Saathi. Sa re ga ma re ni sa...those notes which still have the power to enslave me to their strains!!! The title Ishk Ishk Ishk was perhaps the best thing Dev Anand had contributed to the movie. Love couldn’t be expressed any better than the soundtrack did. The yodel was the perfect call to embark upon a journey that promised love...Chal Saathi Chal. And of course, the title song with its lines Khel Nahi Naadano Ka Darr Toh Hai Toofano Ka was the ultimate challenge of love overcoming the various hurdles one placed in its way. The enquiring tone of Mujhko Agar Ijaazat Ho To juxtaposed with the reassuring Seene Se Laga Loongi Main Teri Pareshaani of Bheegi Bheegi Aankhen, made Ishk Ishk Ishk a gorgeous gem of masterful melodies. Wallah Kya Nazara Hai was the apt way of summarising one hell of a soundtrack. Kahin main dekha nahi...indeed !!!

And to imagine Pancham did all this in one year. That glorious, gorgeous, grand year of 1974 !!!

What Rahul Dev Burman achieved in that one year of 1974 is often beyond the grasp of musicians in their entire careers. Not to belittle any other composer, I like them...most of them for sure...but as Kishore Kumar so aptly sang under Pancham’s baton that year...Kisise Dosti Kar Lo, Karoge Pyar Tum Hum Se...

By Pratik Majumdar

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