R D Burman : The Prince of Music

In our country, it is widely believed that Bengali people are blessed with the unending knowledge, passion and texture towards music. So are the people like Rabindranath Tagore,Manna Dey, Geeta Dutt, Anup Ghoshal, Alka Yagnik, S D Burman, etc celebrated in their art works, and now are idols for many of the strugglers around in this field.

Rahul Dev Burman also nicknamed as Pancham Da was destined to be the next generation of S D Burman who had already set his place in the industry. The story behind the nickname sounds interesting as ‘Pancham’ is one of the note out of seven and that when baby Rahul cried, it was always in the ‘Pancham’ ie Pa note. His first teacher was his father S D Burman undoubtedly. Later he was trained by Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Samta Prasad and Salil Chowdhury .

After working as an assistant to many of the established music directors and composers, R D Burman stepped in the Bollywood as an independent music director of movie Chhote Nawab in 1961. Inspite of being son of the established legend Sachin Dev Burman, Pancham da played his own battle. And soon began his journey towards success with many super-hit films like Teesri Manzil (1966), Baharo ke Sapane (1967), Pyar ka mausam (1969), Yaadon ki Baraat (1973) and many more. These melodies are the most loved ones even today.

R D Burman during his career life, worked with many of the singers names Lataji, Rafi Saab, Ashaji, Geeta Dutt, etc. All amongst these, R D had special bonding with another legendary person then, Kishore Kumar. The duo were best of buddies and worked together in more than 32 movies. The musical creativity or innovations by Burman and the flavours added to it by Kishore da made the best duo of the decade.

Pancham da was the one to make major transformations in the music industry. He introduced western beats and variety of musical instruments to the music industry, which were openly welcomed and loved by the listeners. ‘Chura liya’, ‘Mehbooba mehbooba (sholay)’, ‘Duniya me logo ko’, ‘Dum maro dum’ are some of the melodies witnessing the western beats. But he din’t forget the roots while transforming the music. He always took help of the ‘Raags’ composed in the Hidustani Classical Music. Eg. ‘Raina beeti jaye’ is out of Raag Todi, ‘Piya Bawari, piya bawari’ is out of Raag Bihag, etc.

An unpredictable music composer who defied the conventions of his time, a trendsetter who introduced a fusion of Western rock and jazz with Indian classical music – R.D. Burman’s life and career make him one of the most important and versatile artists to dominate the Indian film music scene from the 1960s to the ’80s.

(The writer is a trained classical singer)