You cannot escape what’s in store for you in Life – you have to bear your cross, no matter what!
Google reminded me that it is R.D.Burman’s 77th birthday today. Panchamda is my absolute, all-time, favorite. He passed away so suddenly 22 years ago with so much music still left in him.
During the last 10 years of his Life, the man who ruled Hindi film music in the late 60s, all through the 70s and in the early 80s, struggled to get work. Bappi Lahiri’s disco music had taken over and nobody wanted to touch Pancham. Not even Nasir Hussain, who had consistently used RD for all his films that included (and followed) Teesri Manzil (1966). Hussain let his son Mansoor Khan have his way and signed up Anand-Milind for his production Qayyamat Se Qayyamat Tak (1988), which famously launched Aamir Khan’s and Juhi Chawla’s careers. Interestingly, Panchamda got no National Award in his entire career and won only 3 Filmfare Awards (out of a total 18 nominations) – Sanam Teri Kasam (1983), Masoom (1984) and posthumously for 1942 – A Love Story (1995). Observers and chroniclers of Hindi cinema say that RD died a beaten and heart-broken man because he felt the industry that he gave so much to, “abandoned him and moved on with the times”.
Anyone who has heard Mera Kuch Samaan from Ijaazat (Gulzar, Asha Bhosle, 1987) or Dhanno Ki Aankhon Mein from Kitaab (Gulzar, RD himself, 1977) will agree with me that RD is sheer genius. In fact, long-time collaborator, lyricist and director Gulzar refers to Pancham’s Life as an “era that began and ended with him”. To be sure, RD, Gulzar and Kishore Kumar together produced magic and the collection of the songs they created together would rate as the finest and most brilliant ever in Indian cinema. Why then should such a genius have had to go hunting for work? Why then should he be spurned by the same film-makers who once queued up at his door? Why then should such a celebrated artiste die a heart-broken man? Well, while there is no straight, logical answer to these questions; the only one I can muster is that “such is Life”!
Indeed. Such is Life. What goes up will come down. And what goes down will come up again. So, RD’s Life teaches us, yet again, to appreciate the impermanence of everything. Name. Fame. Wealth. Success. Glory. And even failure. Because, though he died wanting to be celebrated again, posthumously, RD is now worshipped. Such is Life! What I have learnt is that we must keep going with the flow. Be humble and be happy for all that you have. When you get what you want in Life, be grateful. When you don’t get what you want in Life, or when you get what you don’t want in Life, be accepting. Don’t fight Life. Don’t become bitter. You are born untouched by worldliness. Live untouched. And go away untouched. Success and failure are both worldly labels. Don’t let them get to you. As they seem to have gotten to RD in his last years. To quote my favorite RD number, again written by Gulzar, and sung memorably by Kishore Kumar, be like that ‘musafir’ (wanderer/voyager) from Parichay (1972): Musafir Hoon Yaroon, Na Ghar Hai Na Tikhana, Mujhe Chalte Jaana Hai, Bus, Chalte Jaana…!!!
Your circumstances are no indication of your true nature, your capability or potential.
Last week we had lunch with a prominent industrialist who sought us out after reading my Book Fall Like A Rose Petal (Westland). He confided in us that he was on the verge of bankruptcy. He feared that if he came out and told this to the world, he would lose his reputation and his social stature. But he was not liking hiding the truth either. He felt he was unable to face the world living this dual Life – of putting on a rich-and-famous front while actually borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. He sounded broken and beaten. He wanted to know how he must handle his situation.
We did not offer him business advice. Instead, we asked him to first understand that resisting or hiding from his reality was not going to help him at all. He had to realize that only facing his reality could help him deal with the situation. So, we suggested to him that instead of running away, he must actually be open about his problems, wear his bankruptcy on his sleeve and deal with it one day at a time. His bankruptcy was just a phase of his Life. He has been very successful over the years. And this phase does not mean that he lacks business acumen or that he is a poor human being.
Consider this: if a Mercedes Benz were to be driven through a dirt track, does it mean the Merc has lost its class? Of course not. So it is with you and me. You are who you are. Period. Sometimes the going’s great. Sometimes it’s tough. To imagine that what’s happening to you is a reflection of your capability or potential is not abundance thinking. It is plain, unimaginative thinking and reflects a poor understanding of Life. But if you have been thinking so, like the industrialist we met, let me comfort you by telling you that you alone are not to blame. Your upbringing, our society, all of this has conditioned you to think that you are as good as what you have. And what you have is evaluated by society only by its material value – mainly fame and wealth. Since peace of mind and happiness have no material value, they are worthless in society’s eyes! So, by social standards, if your business is doing great or if you have a paying job, if you have an apartment with no lien on it, if you have enough retirement fund in the bank, you are great! And if your business fails, you lose your job, if you have your apartment taken away, and no money in the bank, well, then what? Well, then, you are a failure! And interestingly you will believe what society thinks of you and will not even want to consider who you really are!
This conditioning has crippled you. Stop that thinking. Know that all the money in the world cannot buy you your peace of mind or a good night’s sleep or even a moment’s happiness. Your circumstances may be bad, sad, ugly, devastating and torturous. But you can remain untouched, unaffected if you know and believe that you are not what you are going through!