Matchless melodies igniting memories
Matchless melodies igniting memories

 25 years is a long time for any celebrity to remain afresh in public domain as a dominant subject of discourse. Of course, not everyone can have the exalted status of being Rahul Dev Burman (1939-1994), one of the iconic music directors of Indian cinema in the last decades of the 20th century.

 Rather notably, January 4 happened to be the 25th death anniversary of the tunesmith who has no peers or competitors to the brand of music and synthesised sounds he could come up with in a career which lasted close to three decades.

From aching nostalgia which envelops Hindi film music lovers when they recount the halcyon days of Rahul Dev Burman (variously called R D Burman, RDB, Pancham etc by his legion of die-hard fans) to a feeling of freshness which permeates his compositions as they continue to get re-mixed by the new gen of music creators, it is a body of work that Burman has come up with which remains unmatched.

A few randomly selected numbers to invite immediate recall among the youth are enough – ‘ Dam Maro Dum’, ‘Bachna Ae Haseeno’… These are songs which captivated the Indian music audience forever. The genres are too varied, the output colossal in all of them.

Overcoming the ‘banyan tree’ syndrome, which means etching out a successful career despite living under the long shadow of a successful music director father (the great Sachin Dev Burman), Pancham ruled Mumbai filmdom and beyond all through the ‘70s. If it was the Swinging Sixties which brought in a whole lot of heroes and heroines and newer talents in virtually all departments of filmmaking, the Svelte Seventies, saw romance and affairs of the heart assume mellifluous dimensions all through.
Teaming up with a relatively under-utilised duo of Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhonsle and selectively using the classical volcano of a talent, Mohammed Rafi, Pancham rose and touched new zeniths lending strong headwinds to the careers of a host of leading men and women, Rajesh Khanna at one end and Zeenat Aman at the other.

 Melodies or high-octane stuff, semi-classical or pure traditional fare, RDB was never found wanting as he had enough talent at this disposal which included young turks like Bhupinder Singh for ghazals and many more who were eager to be associated with his unique compositions. There are far too many to recount, out of his 331 films for which he scored music till he breathed his last.

A colourful life which included a short-married life with the legend Asha Bhonsle, elder to him by a good five years and more was marred by frequent health issues and a sliding career at the fag end, which saw him financially decrepit. Yet, the successors to the Burman legacy, if ever his fans admit to that would swear by his overarching and visible impact in many of the songs that they have composed. This is where memories are made, to stay embedded in hearts forever.

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