It is a curious thing that R D Burman also goes by the name of Pancham. Story goes that when veteran Ashok Kumar saw Sachin Dev Burman`s newborn uttering the syllable `Pa` repeatedly, he nicknamed him Pancham. And the name stuck. To many, he`s still Pancham Da. The man who added his unique dash of pep and verve in to Hindi film music starting with the 60s.
It was R.D. Burman who really brought the groove into Hindi Film Music, ushering in the era of electronic rock and providing Hindi film Music with a whole new `happening` sound. His hip and energetic youthful compositions proved extremely popular.
Rahul Dev Burman was born on 27 June 1939. To him, music came easy and early. He learnt to play the Sarod from the legendary Ustad Ali Akbar Khan at very young age. He also played the mouth organ. When he was nine years old, he composed his first song, Aye meri topi palat, for the film Funtoosh, 1956 and the very next year, his father borrowed the tune of Sar jo tera chakraye for the Guru Dutt film Pyaasa, 1957.
Comedian Mehmood gave R.D. his first film Chote Nawab in 1961 and the first song in the film was to be recorded was by Lata Mangeshkar. The film marked the reconciliation between S D Burman and Lata Mangeshkar who had stopped recording together six years ago.
Vijay Anand can be credited with bringing about R D Burman`s first big break. He arranged a music session for the youngster before Nasir Hussain commenced the production of Teesri Manzil. Initially Shammi was unhappy over R.D.`s choice and preferred the older tried and tested pair Shankar-Jaikishen who had given music for most of his films. However once Shammi heard R.D.`s jazzy compositions he had no further misgivings. The songs like O Haseena, Aaja Aaja, O Mere Sona Re were unlike anything audiences had heard till then and the music of Teesri Manzil was hummed across the nation. R.D. formed a formidable team with Nasir Hussain scoring music in all his films thereafter.
With popular hits like Padosan, 1968 and Hussain`s Pyar ka Mausam,1969 behind him and informally assisting his father in Aradhana, 1969, R.D. hit his peak in the early 1970s with the Rajesh Khanna starrers Kati Patang, 1970, and Amar Prem, 1971. Even as he stunned audiences with a classical gem like Raina Beeti Jaaye in the latter, that same year also saw his phenomenal seminal rock score in Hare Rama Kare Krishna, 1971 and the Piya Tu Ab to Aajaa from Caravan, 1971.
Even as R.D. became a pop icon with films like Apna Desh, 1972, Jawaani Deewaani, 1972, Yaadon ki Baraat, 1973, Khel Khel Mein, 1975 and Hum Kissi se Kum Nahin, 1977, he teamed up with writer - director Gulzar to give such evocative masterpieces like Beeti Na Beetayi Raina, Parichay, 1972, Is Mod se Jaate Hain Aandhi, 1975, O Manjhi Re Khusboo, 1975 and Naam Gum Jayega, Kinara, 1977.
With Love Story, 1981, R.D. became the first choice for teenage love stories like Betaab, 1983 which owe a great deal of their success to his music.
While making music was his profession, singing always remained R D`s passion. He sang occasionally and when he did, it was never went unnoticed. Though he did as much justice to serious tunes as he did to the light numbers that he sang, the groovier tunes always gained more popularity. Though Asha Bhosle is remembered for the legendary cabaret Piya tu ab to aaja, the wild cry of Monica O my darling belongs to R D Burman.
Towards the mid-1980s however R.D. began going through a rough patch as his films started collapsing at the box-office. Bhappi Lahiri and the Disco age had overtaken him and R.D`s producers just disappeared. Even a fine score like Saagar, 1985 and a brilliant one like Ijaazat, 1987 could not stem the flow of R.D.`s decline.
His last score to stand out was 1942 - A Love Story, 1994, which ironically won him his third and last Filmfare award, released after his untimely death due to a heart attack. He passed away in 1994.
It is a tribute to R.D`s genius and the timelessness of his compositions that most of the soundtracks today being re-mixed in the Indi-Pop scene are compositions of R.D`s.
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