RD Burman’s influence on the music industry is undeniable. A look at some of the lesser known facts about this musical genius.
Rahul Dev Burman was born on 27th June, 1939 to renown music composer Sachin Dev Burman and his wife, Meera. At the tender age of 9, RD Burman composed his very first song ‘Aye meri topi palat ke aa.’ This was only the beginning for RD.
Pancham Da, as he was fondly called, went on to revolutionise Bollywood with his inimitable style of music. From electronic rock to jazz, his music had multicultural influences and his compositions often included a mix of Western, Latin, Oriental, Arabic & Bengali Folk music.
RD Burman ruled the music industry from the 1960s to the 1990s, composing the musical score for 331 films.
Here are a few interesting facts about the music personality:
There are many stories about how RD Burman got the nickname ‘Pancham.’ Some say that as a child, whenever he cried, he did so in the fifth note (Pa) of music notation. Other stories claim that when he sang for the very first time, it was in the fifth note.
Yet another version of the story claims that when veteran actor, Ashok Kumar, saw the new born Rahul uttering the syllable Pa repeatedly, he decided to name him Pancham.
The birth of a distinctive musical style
Burman was truly innovative. His ingenuity in creating the right sound effects could make the best of foley artists envious.
He experimented with different natural musical sounds like the sounds produced by rubbing sand paper and knocking bamboo sticks together.
The opening beats of the song ‘Mehbooba – Mehbooba’ came from blowing into beer bottles, while cups and saucers were used to create the tinkling sound for the song ‘Churaliya Hai’ from the film Yaadon Ki Baaraat. For Satte Pe Satta, it is said that he made the singer Annette Pinto gargle to produce a background sound. The whooshing sound in the song ‘Meri Samne Wali Khidki Main’ came from rubbing a comb on a rough surface!
It is said that in order to record the sound of raindrops, R. D. Burman spent a whole rainy night on the balcony of his house, recording!
It is said that RD Burman often dreamt of tunes.
When he revealed this to his father S.D. Burman, his father asked him to hum the tune he dreamt into a tape recorder or jot down the notations immediately after getting up and to improvise on the tunes later. It is believed that the tunes of songs ‘Kanchi re kanchi re’ (Hare Rama Hare Krishna), ‘Tum bin jaoon kahan’ (Pyar Ka Mausam) and ‘Duniya mein logon ko’ (Apna Desh), amongt others, all sprang from his dreams!
Pancham Da’s precocious musical talent was on display when he composed his first song at the age of 9.
The song was ‘Aye meri topi palat ke aa’ which was used by his father S.D. Burman in the film Funtoosh. The song ‘Sar jo tera chakraye’ was also composed by him at a very young age.
RD Burman’s first release as an independent music director was the film Chhote Nawab in 1961. Burman’s first hit movie as a film music director was Teesri Manzil which was released in 1966.
The 70s – the Decade of Pancham
The 70s were Pancham’s decade. He became highly popular with his compositions for movies like Kati Patang, Hare Ram Hare Krishna, Seeta aur Geeta, Rampur ka Lakshman, Mere Jeevan Saathi, Bombay to Goa, Apna Desh, Parichay, Yaadon Ki Baaraat, Aap ki Kasam, Sholay, Aandhi, Kasme Vaade, Ghar, Gol Maal, Khubsoorat & more.
Movies starring Rajesh Khanna brought him a lot of fame. The songs ‘Yeh Shaam Mastani’ and ‘Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai’ sung by Kishore Kumar, became instant hits.
R.D. Burman won the Filmfare Award for 3 films: Sanam Teri Kasam, Masoom & 1942-A Love Story.
He Gave Gems To The Industry
Some of the leading singers of Bollywood were brought to the industry by R.D Burman. The playback singer Kumar Sanu was given his first break by R D Burman in Yeh Desh as the voice of Kamal Haasan. Abhijeet cut his teeth in Anand aur Anand, courtesy of Pancham Da. Hariharan came into the limelight in a duet with Kavita Krishnamurthy in ‘Hai Mubarak Aaj ka Din’ from Boxer, which was composed by R D Burman.
In 1985, Mohammed Aziz, made his debut with Shiva Ka Insaaf under the guidance of R D Burman.
A Partner on the Musical Journey of Life
RD Burman married Asha Bhosle in 1980. Their close association started in 1966 with ‘Teesri Manzil‘ and culminated in their marriage in 1980.
In an interview, Asha Bhonsle said that they shared a passion for music and cooking.
Today, decades after his untimely death, Pancham Da continues to inspire music directors and singers alike. In an illustrious career spanning about 4 decades, he worked with the crème de la crème of singers, lyricists and super stars.