Pancham And His Jalpari – (Mer)Made For Each Other

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Welcome and Happy new year 2018. Ironically, for a music fan, particularly a Pancham lover, this celebration comes with a dark lining.
It’s another year without you, Pancham, twenty-fourth to be precise. These separation years have been pretty hard and only one overwhelming question comes on our lips: “Tumi koto je dure …kotha je hariye gele?” with the hope that you come back soon.
That morning of 4th Jan (1994) has been the most horrific but over the years this anniversary has become a ‘Punya-tithi’ for all of your fans.
So, I am taking the cue of this separation sentiment to embark on a musical journey of your compositions that incorporates the musical notes of ‘kotha je hariye gele’ in varied flavors and outfits but interestingly on the theme sentiment of union-separation-reunion.
Let’s start with the most famous and celebrated version, the Jal-pari from Sagar. Its impact is hard for me to avoid weaving the following write-up around the theme of the Mermaid and how you made her your own. Indeed – Mer-made for each other.

1. Jalpari – instrumental – Saagar (1984)
You have been one of those select few, whose not only film songs but the other works like title music, background music phrases, even the vocal humming have been published on the audio medium and tugged at the filmgoer’s heart.

The setting was grand. The celebrated perfectionist director, Ramesh Sippy decided to work on a plot of a love triangle. He united the blockbuster romantic pair of Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia to reunite the magical pair of a decade old blockbuster ‘Bobby’. If their first meet in Bobby floured Rishi , here it was the Sagar swimming scene that was musically decorated by your ethereal chanting with the superbly detailed and developed orchestration.

You often have made such moments of union/ reunion, as depicted in ‘Aaradhana’, ‘Mere jeevansaathi ‘ and ‘Agar tum na hote’, en-chant-ingly memorable.

You and Ramesh ji put your heart out in ‘Saagar’ but alas, the ship sank and with that your memorable association with him too sank.

2. Tumi koto je dure – Bangla Non film
If the Sagar music was the trailer this bangla make was a full-fledged version featuring you and your vocal mermaid, Asha ji, taking almost any form you wanted with utmost ease and perfection.

Everything in this song imparts a heavenly feel, be it the supreme vibrato in your voice or the range of notes you traversed or the intricately detailed orchestration comprising of the cutely twisting guitar strums/ deadly drum-set punches/ amazing synths. Asha ji’s vocal ride has always reminded me of a maglev train adhering to the track but keeping a smooth frictionless distance.

This song has become anthem of every panchammagic show to pay you tribute and rejuvenate your immortal work. The audience may not stand up to respect but there is lump in everybody’s throat and a common question in mind:

“Tumi koto je dure?”



3. Aaja meri jaan – Aaja meri jaan

The decade of 80s saw the emergence of T-series to give the monopolistic music companies like HMV run for their money. Slowly, they entered into the film production, too. They roped you for ‘Aaja meri jaan’ and one non film album. You recalled the ‘Jalpari’ again to compose this emotional duet and the ‘bloody fellow’ friend SP Balasubramanyam to sing your part. Alas, Asha couldn’t fit in the female slot. For Gulshan kumar, nobody other than Anuradha Paudwal would suit to a T for the slot.

SP Bala did a fantastic singing job, flirting with the melody like anything and coming up with innumerable singing nuances but same cannot be said about Anuradha ji. With due respect to her singing prowess, this difficult and slippery singing progression (as put by SP Bala in his tribute to you on Sony) proved quick sand for her. Asha , in comparison, had done a perfect ‘10’ ride on the same wet beach sand in the bangle version.

The already rich orchestration has a noteworthy addition of tenor sax played by Shaam raj ji in which is amazingly in synch with the ever flirting vocal ‘harkat’s by SP Bala.

Your partnership with the fraudulent T-series owner didn’t go beyond this venture. Eventually, this supposed-to-be-film-title-song was replaced by Annu Malik’s lesser version making one hard to believe and say

‘dil naa mane….jaaneyyyyy…. Too hai kahaan’


4. Aaja mere pyar aaja – Heeralal-Pannalal

King Triton ( Premnath) is busy playing hide and seek with his daughter singing this song helped by the hauntingly voiced Hemant Kumar. The yearn in his voice is simply marvelous and you wonder why this maestro singer did minimal appearances in your compositions, Pancham.

Anyways, to be simple is very difficult when one grows but for you it always just a child’s game to keep this song simple, homely, playful and cheerful and lively paced. Thanks to those breathy accordions, chirping flutes and the fluent violins and of course the childish giggles and yells of Jayshree Shivram.

Simply missing this attractive and simple attitude in today’s scenario
Indeed , “Hai soonee tere bin jeevan ki dagar…thaam le meree baahein mere humsafar”

5. Kis ne (Or Disney?) dekha hai kal – Heeralal Pannalal

Another thing that assisted our childhoods was the plethora of hindi films with the theme of ‘lost and found’ covering the life spans of the characters. The lockets / trident (trishul) tattoos on forearms often helped the separated characters to unite but not before the arrival of the climax.

If those lockets / tattoos were hilariously unbelievable, the songs, on the other side, that helped abridge the generations, were simply enjoyable. You ruled in this category with the king of this formula, Nasir Hussein, being on your side. Pyar ka mausam, Yaadon ki baarat, Hum kisi se kam naheen, Betaab…….the list is seemingly endless.

This tandem song, too, falls in the same category. The little mermaid is grown up now but separated from King Triton. Destiny plays its favorite game again to reunite them but in the unfriendly atmosphere and how!

If you kept this childhood version simple, the adult version was a simply mind-blowing eco-system of diverse species and Disney characters. The mermaid who has just become aware of her real father, her prince and his friend Sebastian helplessly locked up, the disguised King Triton Premnath and Lion (King) Kalicharan( Ajit) , Uncle Scar actually in reality but with polished mannerisms . And then there is a cynical black panther, Bageera ( Gabbar respelled and revamped) Amzad khan.

On the off-screen vocal side, it were you in your gargling/ roaring forties giving playback to the cynical panther , the unperturbed Asha on the other hand and some scenic ( both on and off screen) c(h)oral riffs connecting the two isolated vocal islands.

6. Saathi aisa lagta hai – Naamumkin (1988)

Zeenat Aman is again in the role of Jalpari wandering on the sea shore and surprise surprise , in the role of a mature poetess expressing her yearn for her lover Vinod Mehra through her recital.

The initial and heavenly aalap by Lata completed by the tide-y violins bring the Jalpari refrain to the shore but what is experienced next is like a satin finished y(e)arn woven by the magic weaver in you, as smooth and as stunning as the yellow saree wore by the celebrated heroine.

Lovely 12 string guitars and long violin runs particularly the Shalimar-esque tides at the crossover impart further sheen to this amazing musical fabric.

Interestingly, this song turned out to be your last released song with Zeenat Aman. The sensual icon known more for the iconic vocal support by Asha Bhosle, however started and ended her musical journey with serene vocals by Lata.

The video link misses the much precious prelude refrain so the audio link



But we can’t stay away from the magic of Zeenie baby, do we? So, the video.

With your prolific attitude of “isko kuch bhi / aise bhi kar sakte hai” there are bound to be quite a few compositions where the refrain of ‘kotha je hariye gele’ / ‘kahaa tha tune sanam’ does a cameo.

7. Khilte hai Gul yahaan – Sharmilee (1971)
It’s indeed a surprise that the tune seemingly owned by you appears first in your Dad’s composition but then, the music ran in your family and both of you complemented each other splendidly in many cases.

This Lata version is certainly a sharmilee case of the album confronting against the boldly overpowering Kishore kumar version, the dual sentiment/ orchestral Lata solo or the painful “kaise kahein hum’.

Shashi is in the state of total depression with the tragic loss of his lover and Rakhi (Kanchan) has to enter in the shoes..err…high heels of her twin sister to heal his mental and physical wounds. She gets the help of the magical soothing powers of the Old Monk’s tune and hauntingly serene singing by his faithful ‘Lota ‘

The night is indeed haunting and for Shashi, it’s pleasantly unbelievable to find her alive and the Jalpari refrain rides on the violin tides right in the first interlude when Shashi gathers all the physical strength he can, drags himself to the outdoors to reach her. One could very well read the muted ‘ kotha je hariye gele’ (where were you ?) on his lips.

You and now Shashi, too, are no more with us physically, but your Pyar ka mausam will always be there for us to cherish.

8. Yeh mastani dagar – Hifazat (1973)
Hifazat was one of those many ships that set out to sail from your port that was immensely busy during those early 70s but that ship sank without the trace like many others. The musical treasured that was loaded on such ships too sank unfortunately only to come to surface in the recent decades.

Watching of the film can very well explain why the ship deserved to sink with the senseless story and the acting. The musical treasure didn’t deserve, however. It was loaded with four solos, one by Kishore and three by Asha, all being gems of the compositions neatly placed in the lyrical framework provided by the poetic pen of Majrooh saab.

“yeh mastani dagar’ talks about getting lost in the wonders of nature and has the essential linger and the contrasting impatience along that ‘pam pam’ oomph that aims at Arjun’s heart-beat raising cabaret. The theme refrain rides on the violin in the first interlude (right before the shehnai wail) just like the Sharmilee song.

9. Tu chaand nagar ki shehzaadi – Duniya (1984)
It’s the ‘Saagar’ song setup again. Rishi is all set to woo the cute mermaid, this time Amrita and not Dimple. The lyricist is same and the singer Kishore.

But unlike Saagar, the intentions of the hero are not purely romantic. Rishi is hired by the Villain Ursula, Amrish Puri to reach to the (Tragedy) King Triton, Dilip Kumar through Amrita and the this song serves as a bait for the mermaid only to get caught into their net.

This time, for a change, you made that Jalpari (refrain) wear the Mexican hat which was once upon a time worn by the cute Munim ji, Dev Anand. The result, as usual, is stunningly awesome.

The hats-off humming entry by Kishore ends magically on the ‘La la la’ Jalpari. The mukhada, too, merges equally magically on the notes of ‘milte hai bichhad jaane ko’.

The song is a superb cruise ride with Kishore’s baritone voice captaining the ship that is fuelled by the fluent orchestration ensuring the ride to be cozy. Unlike last two cases, you made Jalpari (refrain) comeback in the interlude just as a cute under-water dolphin making to the surface with an ear-catching somersault. Visuals, too, complement appropriately to time the entry to the moment when Rishi invites her to dance.

Such a delightful song with the union of best musical talents!

Really, thanks to ‘Mere pichhale janam ke bhale karam’ that I came to the life in that magi-musical era where you reigned supreme.

10. Naa sanam mar jaayenge hum – Gunehgaar kaun?
It was as if you didn’t have enough of the Jalapri wearing the Mexican hat that you composed one more. Again that carefree prolific attitude: “Iska kuchh bhi kar sakte hain”.

You reversed the order and the content of ‘jalpari’ and ‘Mexican hat’ here, in this almost exact tandem. Here, the accordions in the prelude beautifully merge on the notes of ‘milte hai bichhad jaane ko’ only to part away, literally and permanently.

Jalpari, however, stays throughout with that ‘waasta hai khuda kaa’ a dead giveaway to ‘kahaa tha tone sanam’. You landscaped this beautifully blue lagoon with lovely water (read violin) slides, cozy accordion and some stunning and mysterious interlude cave passages.

Asha is not in her 70s/80s magical best but still manages to glide along your difficult musical routes with expertise.

Like Lata song of Namumkin the video link misses the hats-off prelude, so the audio link.



Video link for the interested readers:



11. Naa sanam mar jaayenge hum – Gunehgaar Kaun?
After that so called lean patch in your life the start of the 90s began to give your career a northerly movement. ’ 1942 ALS’ is just a celebrated peak while the films like Parinda , Gardish and this one were the ones that supported the peak .

Reena Roy , the heroine of your filmfare award winner movie was the producer. You were back in the old n’ gold poetic company of Majrooh saab. The hero was her Pakistani cricketer husband, Mohaseen Khan and the heroine was the haseen and prospective-Mrs-Azharuddin Sangeeta Bijlani.

The lucky mascot for Rishi, Shailendra Singh infused the necessary romantic energy carrying the Munim ji refrain with his still-sounding-fresh vocals.

The Munimji refrain eventually completed its hat-trick in ‘yeh (jeevan ka) safar bahot hai kathin magar’ from the epic ‘1942 A Love Story’.

The things were finally falling in place for you but little we knew that the lines
‘Itne jalwon ki raat is dil ko ..kahee naa..
banaa de viraan tere bin kal ko’
would become prophetically true in just after a couple of promising years.


12. Raat chup chaap dabe paanv – Dil Padosi Hai.
Time to move from the singing cricketer’s sounds to the natural cricketing sounds. 1987 saw the release of a stunning non-film-song-album ‘Dil padosi hai’ that had awesome union of the best musical talents in the likes of you, Asha and Gulzar saab. Every song was a gem in its own right, ornamented with clearest natural and musical sounds, which was ironically recorded in a makeshift studio.

Many of those songs were haunting but you were literally a killer in ‘Raat chup chaap dabe paanv’. The killing haunt grips you right from the nocturnal sounds in the prelude merging into the musical chords of flute (that plays the ‘khel khel mein’ refrain) till the coda merging again into the natural sounds.

Asha and Gulzar too continued the haunting sentiment through their voice and words to make it a supremely effective emotional ‘sailaab’ that could sweep even a stone-hearted person off his/her feet.

It was again the interlude tides of the violins that brought Jalpari to the fore/ shore. They touch the choral ‘la la la’ of the original saagar song in the first while rendering the ‘kotha je hariye gele’ in the last interlude but doing an underplay rightly confirming to the overall somber sentiment of the song that could best be described through

Chaand kee kiranon mein woh roaz sa resham bhi naheen

You really couldn’t avoid Gulzar and his slave ‘chaand’, could you?



I had always a dream that one day Gulzar would make a video album of these songs which despite being non-film were stunningly visual thanks to your visual insights. But that dream wasn’t destined to be true in your mortal life time.

After your mortal life, however, you became a larger than life composer for everyone including Sa-re-ga-ma (HMV) which had rejected your music in your lean period.

The same Sa-re-ga-ma came out with the song video in your remembrance.

It’s overwhelming to see Gulzar and Asha Bhosle but nothing can be more exciting to see the glimpse of your photograph in the fade out portion ( ‘Hizr ki raaton mein…’) which is as sudden as your tragic exit on that dreadful morning some 24 years ago.


The ‘sannaton ki dhool’ of these separation nights is suffocating all of us here.

Joining Gulzar in the video to invite you along
Kaash ek baar kabhee neend se uthkar tum bhi
Hijr (separation) ki raaton mein yeh dekho to kya hota hai!

Aa jaao ya bula lo!

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