Throughout the annals of history, the art of music has woven a resplendent tapestry that spans millennia and has kept humankind enthralled. Man has been creating and listening to music for thousands of years.
One of the greatest music wizard of all times, Beethoven, describes Music as the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual world.
Kahlil Gibran, a poet ,writer and philosopher agrees with Beethoven. He reverently refers to music as the ethereal language of the spirit, a celestial key unlocking the enigmatic secrets of life and extinguishing the flames of strife.
Bollywood, recognizing the significance of music, believes a movie without music is like a body without a soul. In India, a film's success often hinges on the quality of its music.
During the golden era of Bollywood music in the 1950s and 1960s, it witnessed the reign of melody, with a remarkable music maestro and a Prince named Sachin Dev Burman.
Sachin Dev Burman or SD Burman belonged to the royal family of Tripura. He established a music school called 'Sur Mandir' in 1930, and had a gifted student named Meera Dasgupta. He defied royalty to marry Meera, a common girl, in 1938 proving to be a true rebel. And when royal family refused to accept the girl, he severed relations with them. He was a rebel in real sense of the world.
Their union blessed them with a son named Rahul Dev Burman, who became a top-class music director himself. Trained by his father, Rahul, flourished in music.
Besides his musical pursuits, SD Burman was a popular football referee and centre forward player. He also played cricket for the YMCA club. He loved playing Tennis, but his guru asked him to choose between Tennis and singing.
So he selected singing over his favourite game. Later, he took formal training in singing from K.C. Dey, and learned to play various musical instruments from the experts. He started his professional career in 1932, as a singer with Calcutta radio station. He released almost 131 songs in Bengali in the next few years. Burman Da came to Mumbai in 1950 to try his luck in Bollywood. But soon, he was disillusioned with its ethics and working. He wanted to quit and go back to Calcutta. But Ashok Kumar persuaded him to stay back and compose music for his movie, Mashaal. This picture and its music were a big hit. And then came Dev Anand’s movie, Baazi, which catapulted Burman Da to the top bracket. From then on, he became an unstoppable force, delivering one hit after another.
His collaboration with Dev Anand's production house, Nav Ketan, resulted in several memorable movies with outstanding music in movies such as Taxi Driver (1954), Munimji (1955), Paying Guest (1957), Nau Do Gyarah (1957), and Kalapani (1958).
He also composed the iconic soundtrack of the movie "Devdas" and left an indelible mark with his music for Guru Dutt's masterpieces, "Pyaasa" and "Kaagaz Ke Phool."
While RD Burman was SD Burman’s real son, he considered Kishore Kumar his second son. Their partnership produced numerous chart-topping songs. Even on his deathbed, he wanted Kishore Kumar to record a song for the movie "Mili," which he had composed.
Apart from being a musical genius, Sachin Da was a passionate football fan who wholeheartedly supported the East Bengal team. His emotions for the sport were so intense that he would cry and stop eating if his favourite team lost. On one occasion, even in a coma, he regained consciousness upon hearing that East Bengal had won.
His exceptional contributions to music earned him the prestigious 'Sangeet Natak Akademi Award' in 1958, making him the only music director to receive such an honour. The list of his movies, where he gave soul touching music is endless. The list of his soul-stirring compositions is extensive, featuring timeless classics like "Sujata," "Bandini," "Devdas," "Aradhana," and "Guide," to name just a few.
SD Burman, a musical legend, had a profound admiration for two music directors, Madan Mohan and Khayyam. His favourite singers were Kishore Kumar and Manna Day.
His style was simple yet impactful, much like the white kurta pyjama he preferred to wear, and he relished the taste of fish and paan.
Tragically, after suffering a stroke, he fell into a coma and eventually departed from this world on the 31st of October, 1975, in Mumbai.
Interestingly, the renowned cricketer Sachin Tendulkar got his name due to his grandfather's deep affection for SD Burman.
Impressed by the musical maestro, Sachin's grandfather decided to honour him by naming his grandson Sachin. This name would go on to become synonymous with cricketing greatness in the years to come.
Sachin Dev Burman's legacy lives on, and his melodies continue to enchant and inspire generations of music lovers even today.
In the world of music, there were some legendary figures who left an indelible mark with their extraordinary talent and creations. One such person was Roshan, a music maestro known for his unique fusion of folk and classical melodies. He started his musical journey with All India Radio in the early forties and composed tunes for various programs.
He came to Mumbai in 1948 to try his luck in Bollywood.
Roshan gained recognition with Kedar Sharma movie, Baware Nain in 1950. Songs like, ‘Khayalon Mein Kisike', 'Sun Bairi Balam' and others from the movie became smashing hits, catapulting him to fame.
In the 60’s, Roshan gave hits like, Barsaat Ki Raat, which featured hits like 'Na To Karavan Ki Talaash Hai..' Aarti ('Ab Kya Misaal Doon..'), Devar ('Baharon Ne Mera Chaman Lootkar..'), Bheegi Raat ('Kahin To Milegi..', 'Dil Jo Na Kehsaka..'), Chitralekha ('Sansaar Se Bhaagte Phirte Ho..', 'Man Re Tu Kahe Na..'), Taj Mahal ('Jo Wada Kiya Who Nibhana Padega.', 'Paon Choo Lene Do..'), Bahu Begum ('Hum Intezaar Karenge..' and 'Pad Gaye Jhoole..'), Nai Umar Ki Nai Fasal ('Carvan Guzar Gaya..' ), Dil Hi To Hai ('Nigahen Milane Ko Ji Chahata Hai..' and 'Laaga Chunri Me Daag..' ) and finally his swan song from Anokhi Raat ('Oh Re Taal Mile..').
However, despite his musical triumphs, Roshan had been battling a chronic heart problem for more than two decades. Sadly, on 16th November 1967, he passed away due to a heart attack, leaving a void in the music industry.
Now meet Vasant Desai, a music maestro cherished for his enchanting melodies woven around classical ragas in the movies of V. Shanta Ram. His tunes effortlessly captured the essence of life's diverse moments with simplicity and elegance, showcasing his profound musical acumen. Who can ever forget his masterpiece, 'Aei Maalik Tere Bande Ham...'
Born in 1914, Vasant Desai began his artistic journey as an actor in silent films, debuting in Prabhat's Khooni Khanjar (1930). He even lent his melodious voice to songs in movies. However, his true passion lay in music, and in 1939, he embarked on formal training under the guidance of Ustaad Aalam Khan and Ustaad Inaayat Khan. Soon, he joined hands with music director Govind Rao Tembe as an assistant.
In 1943, fate smiled upon him when he received his first independent opportunity to compose for V. Shantaram's Shakuntala, which turned out to be a colossal success, running for an astounding 104 weeks. This marked the beginning of his association with V. Shantaram's Rajkamal Studio, where he gained immense popularity, orchestrating music for 14 films during the 1940s.
The years 1955, 1956, and 1957 saw the release of Rajkamal Studio's gems: Jhanak Jhanak Paayal Baaje, Toofan Aur Diya, and Do Aankhen Baarah Haath. Vasant Desai adeptly incorporated pure classical, folk, and thematic music into these films.
For Jhanak Jhanak Paayal Baaje, a movie centred around dance, he composed mesmerizing classical dance tunes, even featuring the remarkable voice of Ustaad Amir Khan in the title song.
In the 1960s, though he worked on fewer films, Vasant Desai stayed true to his signature style, infusing his compositions with melodious charm and the richness of classical music. Notably, his film Aashirwaad (1968) showcased the legendary Ashok Kumar's vocals in the ever-popular song "Rai Gaadi, Rai Gadi."
Another gem was Goonj Uthi Shehnai, where he skillfully harnessed the strains of Shehnai by Ustad Bismillah Khan.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Vasant continued to impress with films like "Jhanak Jhanak Paayal Baaje," "Toofan Aur Diya," and "Do Aankhen Baarah Haath." He skillfully blended pure classical, folk, and thematic music, adding depth to these cinematic masterpieces.
Despite working on fewer films in the 1960s, Vasant maintained his unique style and melodic tunes, often incorporating classical music elements.
In 1970, Vasant Desai introduced the talented singer Vani Jayaraman in Harshikesh Mukherjee's movie "Guddi," where her song "Bol Re Papihara" became an instant hit.
Vasant Desai believed in crafting timeless music over quantity, and his illustrious career comprised a total of only 46 films. In 1974, he bid farewell to the world, leaving behind a legacy that echoes in the hearts of all music lovers - his 'Yaadein' forever etched in our souls.
These music legends may have left us physically, but their musical creations continue to resonate and inspire generations, keeping their memories alive in the hearts of music enthusiasts forever.
Two musical geniuses who graced the golden era of Bollywood were Hemant Kumar and Ravi Shankar Sharma, fondly known as Ravi.
Hemant Kumar began his journey in the Bangla film industry before shining in Bollywood during the 1950s. His melodious voice, akin to velvet, captivated listeners, especially with his smashing hit "Ye Raat Ye Chandni Phir Kahan" from the movie "Baazi," thanks to SD Burman's break.
Hemant Kumar's talents extended to music direction, and his mesmerizing compositions in "Nagin" struck a chord with the audience, earning him the prestigious Filmfare Award. He also ventured into film production, and his movies "Bees Sal Baad" and "Kohra" achieved great success.
However, in the 1970s, his style of music gradually lost its previous appeal, and he faded from the limelight.
Another music composer, who made a humble beginning in Bollywood was Ravi Shankar Sharma, known as Ravi.
Ravi's journey to success was laden with hardships. Originally an electrician, he arrived in Mumbai with dreams in his eyes. He struggled immensely, sleeping on railway platforms and in front of shops, and even earned a meager two rupees for cleaning fans. His humble beginnings led him to work as a chorus boy in SD Burman’s movie, "Naujwan" and Hemant kumar's movie, "Anand Math."
Hemant Kumar recognized Ravi's musical talent and Urdu knowledge, taking him as his assistant.
The 1960s marked Ravi's glorious era, propelled by the success of the blockbuster movie "Chaudhvin Ka Chand," directed by Guru Dutt, which established him as one of the top music directors. The iconic song "Aye Meri Johar Jabin" from BR Chopra's film "Waqt" became an all-time hit and is still cherished by music lovers. Ravi's music was distinct in its simplicity and smoothness, never overpowering the singers or the lyrics. He embraced classical Indian instruments like santoor, sitar, and shehnai, avoiding Western musical instruments. Ravi gave music in more than hundred movies. What distinguished Ravi's music from others was how it could be simple, smooth yet simultaneous.
In the 1970s, Ravi's work became sporadic, but he made a remarkable comeback with "Nikaah" in 1982. Later, at the insistence of singer Hariharan, he ventured into composing music for Malayalam films and tasted success with several super hits.
Ravi spent his final years in contented retirement until he passed away a few days after celebrating his 86th birthday in 2012. However, his music continues to reside in the hearts of millions, reminding us of the timeless melody: "Beete huye lamhon ki kasak saath to hogi."
Now, let me introduce the two musical legends who left an indelible mark on India's music scene.
C. Ram Chandra, fondly known as Chitalkar, was a true maestro of music. He effortlessly blended Indian and Western musical styles, creating mesmerizing compositions that still resonate with us today.
In the '50s, he astounded audiences with his innovative use of Western instruments in songs like "Shehnai," "Ana meri jaan Sunday ke Sunday," and "Albela." At the same time, he delivered timeless melodies like "Zindagi pyar ki do char," "Dua kar gham dil," and "Jag darde Ishq jag" for the movie "Anarkali."
As a singer, his duet with the legendary Lata Mangeshkar, "Kitna haseen hai mausam," from the movie Azad, became an instant hit.
One of his most heartfelt contributions was a non-film song, a tribute to the brave soldiers of the 1962 Indo-China war, which moved even the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to tears when Lata sang it at the national stadium in Delhi. C Ramchandra also gave music for Tamil and Marathi films. He breathed his last in 1982 at the age of 64.
Rahul Dev Burman, affectionately called Pancham, was a trailblazer in the Hindi music industry. He composed music for an astounding 331 films from the '60s to the '90s.
Collaborating with the iconic Lata Mangeshkar, the versatile Asha Bhosle, his wife, along with the charismatic Kishore Kumar, Pancham created unforgettable melodies that continue to captivate audiences worldwide.
He was a true artist who believed in simplicity and a harmonious balance between the music, lyrics, and the singer's voice. He also worked extensively with lyricist Gulzar with whom he has some of the most memorable numbers in his career.
With a rich musical lineage, being the son of renowned composer Sachin Dev Burman and Bengali singer-lyricist Meera Dev Burman, Pancham had an innate flair for innovation.
These two exceptional musical virtuosos have undoubtedly left an everlasting legacy, reminding us of the timeless power of music.