R D Burman: An Enigma Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow


Bhubaneswar: Legendary music composer and director Rahul Dev Burman died at the age of 54, this day in 1994. He was known for his quirky, fun and intriguing music.

Several tunes credited to his father, S. D. Burman, were actually composed by R. D. Burman. Songs like, Sar Jo Tera ChakrayeMere Sapnon Ki Rani, Kora Kagaz Tha Yeh Man Mera, were originally composed by Pancham da.

Why Pancham?

There are two popular stories behind him being nicknamed Pancham. One, actor Ashok Kumar gave him the name when he was born because he said the word ‘Pa’ repeatedly. According to the second story, he would cry in five different notes and hence, Pancham, which means five in Bangla.

Gulzar Diaries

Burman and Gulzar shared a special bond beyond their work. Their strong friendship played an important role in bringing out some of the best songs like Tere Bina Zindagi Se orBite Na Bitayi Raina. Gulzar was five years older than Pancham and was under the tutelage of his father, S. D. Burman. The two had made a pact that if Gulzar turns director, he would work with Burman.
Gulzar enlisted the talent of Salil Chowdhury for his directorial debut, whom Pancham da regarded his mentor. For his second film, Parichay, Gulzar picked S.D. Burman.

Gulzar had once said in an interview on Doordarshan, “We had a very offbeat style of working. We would go out for drives and Pancham would come up with tunes simply by drumming up on the car’s steering wheel.”

Latin Music

While Burman had made a mark in Bollywood with his unbeatable work, he also did some non-film work. He had released a little known album, Pantera. Produced by Pete Gavankar, it was a combination of Latin American music with elements of rock, jazz, and funk. It was recorded in the United States in 1983-84 but was released in 1987.
He used the main theme of one of the songs from ‘Pantera’ as the intro to Rang Rangeeli Raat in Priyadarshan’s Gardish (1993).

‘I’m falling in love with a stranger’

A song titled ‘I am falling in love with a stranger’ plays in the background during a scene in Yash Chopra’s ‘Deewar’ when Amitabh Bachchan and Parveen Babi meet at a bar. The lyrics of this song are said to have been written by Pancham da.

Beats, Sounds and More

He was known for creating sounds from trivial and usual things. In the song, Raat Gai Baat Gai from the 1977 movie ‘Darling Darling’, starring Dev Anand and Zeenat Aman, the latter makes a beat by tapping her body. The sound was recorded in a studio. Burman played this Latin American beat by tapping the back of one of his percussionists, Amrutrao Katkar.

In Chura Liyaa Hai Tumne, he used a spoon-on-glass for the first few beats. Likewise, in Dheere Dheere Zara Zara, he created the rhythm from a bunch of keys. In the video, Rekha is seen tapping her jewellery to make that sound.

It is also believed that his love for music was so intense that he even dreamt of the same. The song Kancha Re Kancha from Hare Rama Hare Krishna was entirely composed in his dream.

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