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…!!!