This week I had been to a Durga Puja pandal at Lokhandwala which is organized in a big way every year. Cultural programmes are part of Durga Puja everywhere. This year was no exception, but what made me teary eyed were the two portraits on the grand stage! One was obvious – Gurudev Rabindra Nath Tagore and the second was of R D Burman! He had the same status. I finally felt that justice had been done to the king of melody.
I was born in 1991 while R D died in 1994,the obvious question is, how do I know so much about him? The answer is very simple – this man is known to my generation equally, if not more, through his music, the way he is talked day in day out in my house, his music always playing in my house and he never goes off from the print and electronic media.
He started way back in the 60s when my father was born. He has worked genius with his dad S D Burman on projects like ‘Guide’ and ‘Aradhana’ to name a few amongst many. Those songs are legend now. In the ‘60s he had already given masterpieces like ‘Teesri Manzil’ and ‘Padosan.’ Can anyone forget ‘Ek chatur naar’ and ‘Mere saamne wali khidki main?’
Came the ‘70s and he gave India masterpieces every year. Starting with ‘Hare Rama Hare Krishna’ that had ‘Dum maro dum’; unforgettable ‘Amar Prems’ – Chingari Koi Bhadke; ‘Kati Patang’ and ‘Yeh jo mohabbat hai; the background music for ‘Sholay’ besides many hit songs. ‘Caravan,’the musical, had each song better than the other; and all new experiments like ‘Piya tu ab to aa ja; Dilbar dil se pyaare,’ were a complete success. Each singer of that time rose with him. Especially Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhonsle. He gave due justice to Lata’s voice. Can anyone beat the songs of 1975 when ‘Aandhi’ was released and Kishore, Lata, Gulzar and RD were at their best with ‘Tum aa gaye ho, noor aa gaya hai; ‘Kis mod se jaate hai’ and many others.
Careers of people like Dev Anand, Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan hit the mark of success with his music! He did 50 films a year while stalwarts like Naushad etc did on an average 75 films in their entire career! That was the acceptability and versatility of this man. Who can forget Asha’s numbers like ‘Chura liya hai tumne jo dil ko’ from ‘Yadoon ki baraat’ and ‘Do lafzo ki hai dil ki kahani’ from ‘The Great Gambler’ or ‘Mera Kuch Samaan” from ‘Izazat.’ He and his incredible work died a lonely death in 1994 just before the release of another successful milestone, ’1942 A Love Story.’
We know that he is a genius and has a beautiful body of work to talk about. What prompts me to write about him is the injustice he suffered in his lifetime from the industry and from powers who decided awards and recognitions. Is it not ironic that Filmfare (most corrupt awards ever constituted) never recognized him as a master music maker but later instituted an award after his death on his name for a budding music director? No other award is named after anyone else by Filmfare. He never got any Filmfare award (it was considered as India’s Oscars at that time), till 1987 when Filmfare finally realized their mistake and gave an award for an inconsequent film like ‘Sanam Teri Kasam.’ He had already given many milestones in the previous two decades which were to grow Mount Everest in next two decades and till immortality. Same was with National Awards. It eluded him till his death. If you can keep awards and recognitions away from the God of music then how would anyone respect such awards? If Aamir Khan can stay away from award functions, we understand why and recollect the fate R D Burman.
Also, with his demise the melody is lost. He experimented with all his creations (for which he was severely criticized that time and lauded now) and gave something new all the time. He made singers vary their voices, found new sounds for music and never lost roots with the classical base. Can anyone forget ‘Mere naina sawwan bhado’ from ‘Mehbooba’ released in 1975 or all his scores with Gulzaar? Now, we don’t see such dedication and devotion for music in the new breed. It, according to my father is ‘The Cut, Copy, Paste Generation.’ Lyrics, as per the situation of the song, were the heroes in the previous generation. Lyric writers, music directors, singers, actors and the director of the movie used to discuss songs for days before recording for putting soul into it. Now lyrics come last. Songs are made in music factories and there is no soul in 99% of the songs. They are forgotten in no time while songs of the R D era continue to play in all FM stations most of the time and specially after nine in the night when people long for melody after a long tiring day. Is that not the right tribute? RIP R D. We all love you.