As Pancham was the only child of S.D.Burman, his father gave Pancham a solid grounding in music by first making him learn various musical instruments. Thus he mastered tabla under Ustad Samta Prasad, sarod under Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and learned the nuance of film music while assisting his father S.D.Burman during the making of many hit movies like CHALTI KA NAAM GAADI (1958), KAAGAZ KE PHOOL (1959), TERE GHAR KE SAMNE (1963), BANDINI (1963), GUIDE (1965) AND TEEN DEVIAN (1965).
He had mastery in playing the mouth organ. If readers can recall the super hit song Hai Apna Dil to Aawara … (SOLVA SAAL), filmed on the superstar of the 50’s Dev Anand in a moving train, they will surely recollect the mouth organ which is the highlight of the song. The mouth organ was played by none other but Pancham.
In fact it may come as a stunner to readers that in Rajshri Productions’s super hit movie DOSTI which had two protagonists, a blind boy who has a melodious voice and the other a handicap boy who plays an excellent mouth organ. The backbone of the movie was its magical music composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal.
The other vital thing in the movie was the use of spellbinding play of mouth organ. If readers may recall the super hit song Jaanewaalon Zara, Mudke Dekho Mujhe…. (Dosti) music director Laxmikant Pyarelal, were in a fix to select a musician who could play the mouth organ splendidly. After lot of pondering the duo zeroed upon their dear friend Pancham to play the mouth organ. After the recording of the song Laxmikant Pyarelal were so impressed that they requested Pancham to play mouth organ in the entire movie.
While R.D.Burman is fondly called Pancham, few know how he derived his nickname. As Pancham’s father was a distinguished music director, few are aware that Pancham’s mother too was an avid music buff and used to assist her husband. Thus Pancham had imbibed music in his genes. A glimpse of his musical inheritance was visible at his birth. According to family sources when Pancham was born, unlike other children, he cried in melody (sur) with stress on ‘Pa, the fifth notes of Sargam. Hence he was nicknamed Pancham i.e. the fifth note of Sargam.
Pancham is known for his inclination for Western music. But Pancham’s father Burmanda always motivated him to use Indian classical music but Pancham paid no heed. In an interview eminent lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri once said, “Burmanda was against Western music while Pancham had a passion for western music. Hence once Burmanda told me, Majrooh, kindly advice my son Pancham to concentrate on Indian classical music, why is he running after worthless Western music?
When Majrooh tried to persuade R.D.Burman, he politely said, “Majrooh Sahab I do not want to get labeled as a replica of my father but I have to establish my own identity. I know today my music may be criticized and condemned but the future generation will go gaga over my music.”
True words!!! Because today even after 75 years the younger generation and the bygone alike are going gaga over his exceptional music.
NOTE: In the next issue read how R.D.Burman silenced his critics about his lack of Indian Classical music.