Thursday, 5 July 2012

Burmans- Exchanging each other's shoes...

When it comes to music, Sachin Dev Burman and Rahul Dev Burman have been the ultimate for me. In fact, both the Burmans- the father and the son, have been amazing me for the last 25 odd years of my Hindi Film Music following.  As rightly put by one of my acquaintances, their appeal lies in their contradiction. The way both of them had taken their schools of music separately but with equal élan is learning! Traditionally, the senior Burman has always been regarded as the one belonging to the conservative school- inspirations from Indian classical, folk, Tagore songs; whereas the Junior Genius is considered from a rebel group of Westernization, bringing in concepts like Jazz, Bossa Nova, Samba and Hard Rock into Indian music. Well, ahem, this generalization can be nothing but FALSE.



It is so unfortunate, that almost always, even by luminary Film critics, this generalization between the Burmans always occurs. And slowly but steadily, this has given rise to a discretely different type of fan followings for both the father and the son. I have seen many people who consider SD to be the greatest MD in Hindi films (and rightly so) and junking out RD saying “loud” and “cacophonic” (wrongly so). Vice versa, RD group has also hailed RD as the biggest genius in the industry (and rightly so) and ignoring SD saying his songs were slow and old schooled (wrongly so).
The entire idea of this article is to “put things straight”. The idea of SD being “old schooled” is as bizarre as the idea of RD being “cacophonic”.
I discuss six albums here, yes, that’s all- three each from each of the Burmans- just to show the believed notion a twist. RD could be as conventional as the best goes and SD could be as modern, as effervescent as you can think of.

S D Burman- the Modern Man:
Come out of flute, sitar and violin and listen to one of my all-time favourite SD album- Jewel Thief.  Yes, he took necessary influences from David Lean’s Bridge on the River Kwai and some arrangement supports from his son, but JT is so SD-ish to the core!! The beautiful Raag Pahadi based duet of Lata-Rafi or the melancholic “Rulake gaya sapna” or the sizzling dance extravaganza “Hothon pe aesi baat”,the sensual “Raat akeli hai” and the signature Dev Anand from the colour era “Yeh dil na hota bechara”- you could never miss SD!! And he used plethora of instruments to give the cult album a treat- you have trumpets  and sax blowing, Guitars giving lead, along with his favourite flute and violins retaining their identities. JT was a cult album in the late 60s, and I must say, a proper response from the grand old man(he was 61, when JT released) to tose who had signed him off due to his poor health then.
Much before JT, had come Paying Guest. The old man (yes, even then, in 1957) created a new trend of conversational duets with the evergreen “Chhod do aanchal”. Melody with rhythm, sweetness with mischief and romance with fun- SD created a garland of melodies in that movie. The Kishore-Asha duet of “O nigahein mastana” had Kishore deliberately hushing up his voice in the third stanza for one line only to raise up his baritone once again in the following- a concept SD repeatedly used with KK in many songs later on ( Pyar ke is khel mein, Sa re gama, Meet na mila re man ka etc) and giving a beautiful contradiction with the Genius’ voice.
Has anyone heard the new year theme music of the album Gambler? Trust me; it would give Goosebumps to even the strongest RD fan… So modern, so well ahead of time and yet so less discussed.  I paste here the link of the whole album, so that, everyone can understand that SD was equally inheriting the sense of arrangement and sound as his son.
Gambler also saw SD using Kishore Kumar in a super-contrasting mood song “Kaisa hai mera dil tu khiladi”- one of the most underrated song from the combo. Just like, no one else could have sung the song with so much justice other than Kishore, the compositional brilliance of SD is unmatched here as well. The mood switching happens throughout. And he gets traditional with Rafi with equal swiftness in “Mera man tera pyasa”- a soft romantic genre where Rafi was definitely the best. And the improvisation with “Dil aaj shayar hai” is exemplary. A ghazalish song, treated with so much of modernism, it simply changed the way sad songs were being sung in Hindi films. No over emotion, no sobbing, no melodrama- pathos expressed with dignity and yet conveyed meaningfully and passionately!
R D Burman- the Traditional:
He changed the entire gambit of Hindi Film Music in the early 70s. The foundation he had created with Teesri Manzil (1966) was enhanced further and further in the early 70s. RD happened to be the musician Modern India had been waiting for- a person who could mix melody with rhythm. A sad thing is that the next generation took inspiration only from RD’s rhythmic experimentation and very little from the amazing melodies he had given to us to spend our lifetimes.
RD was very much captivated in his experimentation till Amar Prem(1971) happened. Ironically, getting traditional was the ultimate experiment for Pancham. If Shakti Samanta- the maker of the film is to be believed, Pancham had to plead to get the assignment. Amar Prem successfully completed the trilogy of Woman centred movies by Samanta, preceded by Aradhana (1969) and Kati Patang (1970)- both musically chartbusters.
Pancham showed his grasp on Indian classical to the audience. Even if we leave out “Doli mein bithaike kahar” and “Bada natkhat hai re”- songs composed unaccredited by SD in that movie, the balance 4 were mesmerizing. RD exploited the vocal genius of Kishore like never before- a true Bhairavi (Chingari koi bhadke) with another Kalavati-Khamaj mix (Kuchh to log kahenge) and a timeless pathos (Yeh kya hua), RD, as mentioned by Ganesh Anantharaman in his book “Bollywood Melodies”,  singlehandedly ended all the doubts on whether Kishore Kumar cold be a complete singer or not. And not an end yet, even if today we get a lifetime album of Lata Mangeshkar, “Raina Beeti Jaaye” can hardly be missed out. A supreme Khamaj composition with Guitar rhythm instead of  traditional Tabla thekas, RD showed his mastery over rhythm and Indian classical simultaneously.



The following year-1972- saw a whole new partnership of RD-Gulzar in Hindi films. With Gulzar, Pancham delivered what he could not otherwise do in the then –on-going commercial masala flicks. And with excellent outputs in Parichay, Aandhi, Khushboo and Kinara, happened Ghar (1978).  A masterpiece, to say the least, Pancham did wonders with the voices of Lata and Kishore, just like Amar Prem. Both the Lata solos-  Aaj kal paaon zameen par and Tere bina jiya jaye na(a portion at the end sung by Kishore, retained in the movie but removed in the records), had Pancham utilizing the sweetness of Lata to the extreme. Both the compositions reminded us of Karta- his father, who had left for heavenly aboard three years back that time. Coming right after his Western chartbuster Hum kisise kum nahi(1977) a year before, Ghar had shocked the musical society with a Pancham punch of traditional Indian music. The duet of Kishore-Lata (Aap ki aankhon mein kuchh) and the Kishore solo(Phir wohi raat hai), excelled brilliantly in terms of singing, poetry and compositional achievement.
It seems Satyajit Ray had asked Kishore Kumar to do something about the former’s protégée Anup Ghoshal (information source: RD- the man, the music by Anirudha Bhattacharjee and Balaji Vithal) in Hindi film music. The request was transferred from the Big K to the Big P. The result was Masoom(1982)- in my opinion, the best experimental album of Pancham in the 80s. Yes, Lata was there for a solo but that’s all!! The whole album was done by RD with unorthodox singers like Anup Ghoshal, Aarti Mukherjee (winning a National award for a song in the movie), Suresh Wadekar, Bhupinder and children. No Kishore, no Asha, no instrumental extravaganza. RD created simple soothing melodies with maximum effect.  Masoom is a underrated album of RD filled with his musical genius. Each and every song was tenderly created with utmost melodic achievement.
Not that, these are the only albums showing deviations from the Burmans’ perceived images. There have been many more modern albums from the Papa Burman(Chalti ka naam Gaadi, Aradhana, Prem Pujari, Teen Deviyan) which had absolute modern treatment, modern arrangement and orchestral genius. So did Pancham show his orthodox calibre in all the Gulzar movies and many Rajesh Khanna, Hrishikesh Mukherjee or Basu Chatterjee movies.
Both the Burmans, for me, were a boon to the music industry and carry forward a legacy which made many more people’s lives. To constrain them by labelling is not only uncalled for, but also unethical!

28 comments:

  1. Hi,

    Good to see your blog- first time today.

    SD off course was SD and no parallels. RD was talented but was carried away by the rat race of his later days forgetting that his music of earlier years had a different fan following and later on had a different one but the previous one was dienchanted and gone away.

    Western and Loud were not really the problem. SD was always FRESH and NEW in every film..RD in later years became PREDICTABLE...thus reducing his value as a creative MD.

    My views off course.
    Cheers

    Vinayak Vaidya

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  2. Thanks Vinayakji for your comments and wishes. Keep visiting. :)

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  3. The major problem with most of the average listeners is that, they only listen to the melody but never go through the inherent composition, the experimentation, the approach, the construction of the lyrics of a song that goes with the musical arrangement.

    I did not get you Mr Vinayak V, what you meant by RD into rate race or being predictable. They way you said about RD Burman as if you are comparing RDB with now-a-day's Sufi styled loud screamy songs.

    May I remind you VV, that RDB's compositions itself had many a subsets within the bigger pie of Hindi FM. Usage of flute recitals (Indian classical), sharp santoor/sitar/ and usage other Indian string instruments in combo with Latin etc. of stringed variations , 360 degree usage of percussion instruments, amazing soft-hard combination of brass instruments, vocal crossovers, and what not - Till date, RD Burman's versatility is much beyond comprehension . And, you VV summed his oceanic array in just two words...That's unfair... Listen...imbibe and then comment dear friend...

    PARTHA PRATIM GHOSH :: KOLKATA

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    1. Thanks so much Partha ji for taking out your time and visiting my blog. Please keep on sharing your views and visit. :)

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  4. There is no doubt about the versatility of both the burmans, lovely observations Arghya.

    Ofc I do not comply with Vinayakji's comment about rat race, if that would have been the case, then he would have composed disco songs only in 80's and we would never have seen Izaazat, DPH, Parinda etc.

    Ritesh Gadhvi

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    1. Thanks so much Ritesh! So nice of you to visit here and put your justified comments... Burmans were really trendsetters.

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  5. Very nice article Arghya. Someone wrote RD in rat race - far from it. RD has created many timeless tunes with producers who either paid little or nothing [RD paid his musicians from his pocket in such cases] ... the depth of RD's music is yet unfathomable and lets remember SD for his creations [timeless] and RD for his [equally timeless] for their work is still fresh and crisp.

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  6. One more point that you make Karta experimenting with KK in Gambler "Kaisa hai mera dil tu" is similar to "Kaise kahe hum" in Sharmilee.

    Karta was not only much ahead of his time in Gambler but showed his ability to adapt to changing times... or how else can a man in his 60s create music for the teens!

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    1. Thanks so muc, Arup!! Comments from you is so cherishable!! Please keep visiting and give your nice thoughts here... Both the father and the son were really so contemporary even today!

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  7. It is a very well written post. Love both the Burmans equally, the junior genius a shade more, for obvious reasons. Both these magicians of music cannot be generalized or categorized as conservative or modern or westernized. They have given all kinds of music. This point has been well conveyed by you with excellent examples.

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    1. Raju ji, thanks so very much!! Your comments value a lot to me.

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  8. Arghya,really a wonderful blog and nice post...herewith reposting my 2 year-old comment on R D Burman in Orkut...though simple but sentimental...

    R.D.Burman -The king of music

    King of Beats.King of Rhythms.A perfect blending of eternal tunes and immortal music in his compositions.That's the great R.D.Burman,the wizard of music.He was well ahead of his time due to his superb combination of music and tune which emerged out from his wonderful musical experiments with Indian Classical and Western Jazz and Pops.This heavenly music maestro dedicated his whole life to music and entertained all of us through his sweet and enchanting music compositions for the last 5o years.The taste of listening to RDB will be never-ending.
    We are lucky to live in his time.
    Now,God is also lucky listening to him regularly at Heaven.
    Oh,Pancham da,you still live in our hearts.When will you come again?

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    1. Kaushik Da, firstly Thanks for visiting. And then, what lovely thoughts dada. You are such a passionate fan of the Great RD, we stand nowhere near you. Keep posting Dada, always a pleasure to read from you.

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    2. Thanks a lot,Arghya...surely I will.

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  9. Hi Arghya,
    You write well, but at a number of places I disagree with you. I am not elaborating as it is a time consuming effort, and I am short of time as my research on SDB continues. But I'll describe SDB and RDB in words of one of our living legends, whose name I shall disclose at the right time:
    "Log kehte hain ki RD Burman nein bahut kaam kiya. Main kehta hoon, theek hai, no doubt about it. But, aap Ganga ko dekh rahen hain, Gangotri ko to dekhiye, ki Ganga nikli kahaan se hai. Sachin Dada ke gaanon ka poora ka poora impact aapko RD Burman ke gaanon pe dikhaayi deta hai. Jaise, woh ek gaana tha na, …(Hums)".

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    1. Thanks Moti ji. You have always encouraged me and praised my writing. For me, both of them are like angels who had been sent by the God to distribute happiness amongst people via music.

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  10. Very nice and balanced article. In my opinion, SD & RD are the two sides of the same coin. Mr. Vinayak in his comment has mentioned that "SD was always FRESH and NEW in every film". Of course he was.. but here one should not forget RD's contribution in SD's music as his assistant especially in later years of SD's career. And how on earth RD can be labeled as loud? Only a person who has not listened RD properly can say this. Mr. Vinayak ji please don't forget that RD came up with a gem like 1942: A Love Story in his later years only. Who knows the scene in Hindi Film Music would have been different had he got some more years.....

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  11. Arghya , your blog is very well written . However your taxonomy has not served its intent as can be made out by three comments (2 in favour of the Baap including a highly pejorative view on RD and 1 in favour of the Beta ). So write freely my friend and don't attach any Aims !!! . I have heard the best of both and can unassumingly say that these two have contributed immensely towards my happiness alongside my prophet (you know who) . And this is what their marque is all about . However Arghya you have forgot "Dil Aaaj Shayar hai "- A one of its kind song where there are no mukhdas and Antaras . Nothing is repeated . I have not heard anything like this before. Do these songs have a special name and can you name one more ? Just a query.

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  12. Ha ha . Google asks for username and then treats the posts as unknown Regards Parthiv

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    1. Parthiv da, Dil aaj shayar hai is a one of its kind song. I also never found anything more experimental than this. Isn't it amazing that at the age of 65, when all his contemporaries were happily retired, this old man never stopped experimenting? From where did he get so much of passion and energy for music?? We Indians don't wear hats, and we Bongs don't wear its Indian counterpart-a Turban, otherwise both I would have kept in front of Sachin Dev Burman- a truly one of his kind music director.

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  13. Ashwini ji, Thank you for your visit and valuable comments. 1942 was like a fresh air in a stale enviornment that time.

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  14. Excellent write-up Arghya. I agree to your basic moot-point. My (or few :-)) cents below :

    - Father left the stage and son took it forward in a way, in line with the changing times
    - Beta owes a large portion of his traditional base to father, father owes the modern orchestration sound in his post 65-music to son (both with due regards to the individuals)
    - Melody-wise I rate papa Burman ahead; when it is orchestration and innovation, beta takes a large piece of the cake.
    - Papa knew better who to take when it came to singers, beta sometimes stuck to his pet singers :-) (though quality of output rarely suffered)
    - Dada as a singer,IMO, had great voice and depth as compared to beta as a singer
    - Overall, I would apply the same equation beta applied to Lata and Asha i.e Dada Burman was the Bradman of composing, Pancham the Sobers !
    - And finally, I see father in son many times and son in father many times. After all, they were two sides of the same coin !

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    1. * My two (or few :-)) cents below :

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    2. Wow Shankar ji!!! What valid points. I agree with all the point of yours and especially liked your Bradman and Sobers comparison. On a similar note,during a discussion, I had once termed Manna De as Gavaskar and Kishore Kumar as Richards. The cricket followers seem to carry similar mind, no?

      Thanks so much for your visit and your comments! Keep visiting...:)

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  15. I liked the article. You have grip over your subject that is nice. I would like more from you.I would suggest you to listen more and more from the old era and write on them too.

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  16. hi... thanks for sharing the post.i love music,without music life would be a mistake.sankar is one of the best singers in bangalore and my favorite too.if you people want to enjoy music apart of your problems just go to his shows,damn sure you will like it ...

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  17. र पे भंवरा आये गुनगुनाये
    मुझे वह किसका बात जाए सुनाये||घर पे||
    प्रकाश में किस गगन में,माधवी जगी है वन में
    आये वह फूलों के जगने की सन्देश लाये
    सारादिन वही बात वह जाये सुनाये||घर पे||
    कैसे रहूँ घर पे, मन जो कैसा करे
    कैसे बीतते हैं दिन दिन गिनाये|
    क्या माया दे बुलाये,दिया सब काम भुलाये
    दिन जाए गानो के सुरों के जाल बुनाये
    मुझे वह किसका बात जाए सुनाये||घर पे||

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