References: 1. R.D. Burman: The Man, The Music 2. Pancham Unmixed (A documentary by Mr. Brahmanand Singh about RD) 3. Mid Day 4. Screen 5. The Statesman 6. www.KavitaChhibber.comFurther Reads: R.D. Burman: The Man, The Music (A national award winning book about RD and his music)
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Aye Meri Topi Palat Ke Aa. Though a musical genius, RD’s progress in academics was not promising. Knowing this, his father started his training in music. RD was enrolled in Ali Akbar Khan School in Kolkata for learning Sarod. He also took training in Tabla from Pt. Samta Prasad and Brajen Biswas. He was a self-made wizard of harmonica (mouth organ). Hai Apna Dil To Awara from Solva Saal is one such song that features RD on harmonica. RD started his career as an assistant to his father S.D.Burman who was one of the top composers those days. As an assistant, he tasted success for the first time with the famous maalish song Sir Jo Tera Chakraye in Pyaasa. Unfortunately he was not credited for this film. But his tune created waves. Teen Deviyan, Jewel Thief, Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi are some of his major films as an assistant. He got his first break as an independent music composer in Chhote Nawab (1961). The sensual song Matwaali Aankhon Wale was the hint of the forthcoming storm. The Spanish Gypsy music used in this song not just brought the freshness but also indicated that this newcomer has got zeal of doing something different. The word “different” later became synonymous with RD’s music. Another notable song from this film Ghar Aaja Ghir Aaye a classical number demonstrated that he has the roots firm in this soil. Bhoot Bangla (1965) was yet another milestone in his career. This film made RD an actor for the first time. It also brought together two miracles in Bollywood music for the first time – RD and Kishore Kumar. Teesri Manzil (1966) was the first feather in his crown. It was RD’s first hit movie as a composer. As it is mentioned by Mr. Aniruddha Bhattacharjee and Mr. Balaji Vittal in their book R.D.Burman: The Man,The Music, an analytical portrait of RD and his music, Teesri Manzil was an instrumentalist’s dream. It featured never before heard orchestration in Bollywood music. A trendy mix of jazz and Latino customized to suit the Indian ears. O Haseena Zulfonwali, Aaja Aaja Main Hun Pyar Tera, O Mere Sona Re marked the beginning of a revolution. The tracks were challenging for the conservative listeners as well as for the singers too. In one interview to Kavita Chibber Asha Bhosle had mentioned that she was tense about the outcomes of Aaja Aaja and was sweating for 10 days for it. From here there was no looking back for RD. He was like a child playing in the garden of music; dabbling in every available resource; experimenting in every possible way. Globalization hit Indian shores much later but RD had started globalization of Indian Film Music since 60s-70s.Tunes like Aao Na Gale Lagao Na, Duniya Mein Logon Ko, Dum Maro Dum etc. were quite unusual in Bollywood. His intoxicating concoction of Rock, Jazz and Latino was making a generation to swing. He had also collaborated with Jose Flores for a Latino Rock album Pantera (1987). RD’s critics blame him for the westernization of Indian Film Music. Though it is true that RD brought the western rhythm in Bollywood music; it should not be forgotten that he was not a mere copycat. A good recipe needs a good understanding of ingredients and their proportion. RD blended these different music forms with an efficiency of a master chef. He introduced Bollywood music lovers to new instruments like electric bass guitar and a nepali percussion instrument called madal. His song Kanchi Re Kanchi Re brought madal in Bollywood. He brought new techniques like scale change. Main Chali Main Chali from Padosan is a great example of it. In an interview to Mr. Sudipta Chanda for The Statesman, an ace musician and RD’s close aide Mr. Homi Mullan had mentioned that RD made him try a few unconventional musical instruments like African Harp and Vibraslap. RD was unconventional to an extent that he had used very mediocre instruments to create great effects. His use of glass and spoon in Chura Liya Hai Tumne Jo Dilko is well known. The unique sound that we hear at the beginning of Mehbooba O Mehbooba in Sholey is actually produced by blowing into half-filled bottles. Listen to the background music of Satte Pe Satta where Amitabh comes out of jail; the uncanny background sound is nothing but gargling. His brilliant use of guitar in Tere Bina Jiya Jaye Na creates a feel of guitar being used as percussion. With all these innovations and experiments RD’s music never betrayed the music of this land. He had equal command over classical and folk music. Songs like Raina Beeti Jaye, Mere Naina Sawan Bhado, Beeti Na Beetayi Raina show his excellence in classical music. He himself was a good singer too. Apart from songs like Mehbooba O Mehbooba and Dil Lena Khel Hai Dildar Ka, RD also rendered melodious compositions of his own like Mone Pore Ruby Ray (Bangla version of Meri Bheegi Bheegi Si), Phire Esho Anuradha, Jete Jete Pothe Holo Deri (Bangla version of Tere Bina Zindagi se Shikva To Nahi) etc. He sang for around 18 movies with his own composition. As a person, he was down to earth and a great team player. His team of musicians was like a family for him. He used to be open to suggestions. Arrangements were always given equal importance in RD’s creations as the tune itself. That may be the reason why instrumental pieces in his songs sound so crisp and are quite a subject of study. As singers Asha Bhosle and Amit Kumar have mentioned in a documentary on RD titled Pancham Unmixed, RD knew how to extract the best of any singer. He had the skill of making one feel comfortable especially new inexperienced singers. It has been almost 18 years for his sad untimely demise. But his music has cleared the test of time. Its magic is growing day by day. Today RD is the most remixed composer. He is the idol of today’s composers like Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Vishal-Shekhar, Shantanu Moitra, Pritam etc. He is a school of music for current generation and many more to come. As mentioned in Vishaal-Shekhar’s tribute song to RD - Boss Kaun Tha, he was the real boss and still is!!! June 27 is RD’s 73rd birth anniversary. People like RD never die. They always remain in hearts of millions of people through their work. Happy Birthday RD!!! Have a blast in heaven!!
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