Yaad hai Pancham, jab bhi koi dhun bana kar bhejte they to saath keh diya karte they, “The ball is in your court.” …..ye kaun sa ball mere court mein chhod gaye ho tum, Pancham. Zindagi ka khel akele nahin khela jaata. Hamaari toh team hai. Aa jao ya bula lo – Gulzar remembers Pancham.
Hasn’t Gulzar just voiced the sentiments of all the Pancham fans? Don’t we all still yearn for his music? Don’t we all think, if Pancham was alive now, the music scenario would have been totally different!!
Pancham, his name itself has music. The eternal 5th note in music and our hearts. Born and brought up in a family which was submerged in music. Pancham had music running through his veins and arteries. For me, he holds a special place because I’ve grown up listening to his songs. Or rather I should say Pancham’s music was with me from before I was born. So many of his major films including Sholay (1975) happened before I was born. But my mother being an ardent Asha Parekh, Shammi Kapoor and Rajesh Khanna fan, heard Pancham very often. Her favourites being Teesri Manzil (1966), Kati Patang (1970) and Amar Prem (1972). Thus the Panchmisation had begun its never ending effect.
The ecstasy of his music began making way through my bloodstreams straight to the heart.
Radio and LP records became my constant companion the day I started understanding the effects of music on me. The wait for that 8pm Binaca Geetmala seemed eternal, more so, waiting for Pancham’s songs to be in the top 5 list. It would be a feast if his song was in the top 3!! Introspecting further I feel my parents together played a big role in introducing Pancham to my ears (thank God they did). For every tune that soothed my ears I thought it was a Pancham creation and it happened that way majority of times. But still there were so many albums which remained in the closet until I grew up and started searching for Pancham numbers. Padosan (1968) happens to be one of them. For so many years I wasn’t aware about Pancham being its music director. A movie theatre in our city had hosted a few old Kishore Kumar hits and I remember my father taking me there to watch Padosan. I must be in the 5th or 6th grade then.The Padosan impact on me was such huge, till date it remains my top favourite movie and album both. The next generation (my children) too got connected with Pancham through Padosan songs. My younger one doesn’t sleep without hearing this particular number.
As my Pancham love grew deeper, I remember buying my own first cassette tape from my pocket money, Ijazat (1987). And it was on the loop for so many days. So fascinated was I with these songs that it would be sheer joy if one of them featured in Chitrahaar. This particular album was my top favourite while I solved my Maths problems. Listening to Asha Bhonsle’s voice and the instrumentation on my Walkman was pure happiness.
Time and again, Pancham has been associated with pop music. True, his music was influenced by Western music and albums. But on the other hand he has also given so many good refined songs connected to this soil. Can anyone beat Amar Prem? Or Aandhi, Khushboo, Ijaazat or even Masoom and Angoor? I became a keen observer of music because of his songs, his music patterns. One of my best friends, also a Pancham fan and a movie freak discuss Pancham and his music so very often. We have dedicated our weekend mornings to talk about movies and music and often end up discussing Pancham. The other day we were talking about Angoor (1982) and got hooked on to Honthon pe beeti baat aayi hai. That adaa in Asha’s voice, the mischief in her words, the way song twists when she sings –
Yaad toh hogi kuch bhooli bisri
Aise barsi thi chand se misri
Chand ko chabane ki
Chand ko chabane ki raat aayi hai
Hotho pe beeti baat aayi hai
All this because we are hypnotised by this wizard of music. From his signature of Ghar Aaja Ghir Aaye Badra to his sign off Kuch Na Kaho, his musical graph was as unsteady as his life. They touched all the highs and lows. Yet Pancham’s large share in HFM cannot be overlooked. His songs were that of an untamed melody. They have a timeless quality. He juggled both the genres, Indian and Western, successfully. Pancham came in the era when authentic Indian music was fast disappearing from the films and was slowly being taken over by the Western music. It must have been a real tight rope walk for Pancham to keep a balance between these two. And he did that so gracefully and effectively. His gossamer melodies always lure me.
Constant innovation in music was Pancham’s forte. Getting his early lessons in music, he blossomed under the banyan tree called S.D.Burman. It must have been so gruelling and demanding for Pancham to be constantly being compared with his father. Yet he, like a genuine student, took in all the intricacies of music which was taught to him by S.D.Burman. Not only that, he experimented it with music and gave a polished product to his fans. The diversity of the use of instruments made him stand out from other composers. He never followed a pattern. He learnt to get the feel of music and its relation with the lyrics from his father. Thus the penetration of majority of his songs is audio-visual. That is the reason why we have maximum number of his songs remixed, every new generation relates to Pancham through his music. There is no better example, of his place in music field, than his father singing under his baton. What a triumph day it would have been for both father and son.
His paradox music makes Pancham evergreen. Sometimes while writing about his songs I feel I should just enjoy the music instead of observing it. While at times I feel like asking him – Pancham, tumi kothai? Pancham was and is all about music. He is found in his music, he lives there. And through his music he lives in the hearts of his innumerable fans. The intensity, the expression, the exuberance and the perpetual, everlasting effect of his music is there to stay. For me this effect is called Panchamisation and it is indeed so very lovable.