BY VEENA RAO
Photos by Vakiti Creations
Atlanta, GA: Fans of R D Burman’s music in Atlanta were fortunate to experience his musical legacy at the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center in Duluth on August 29. Aptly titled ‘Pancham…the immortal note’, the concert was a three-hour musical journey by accomplished singers, live dancers, audio visual tributes by legends of Indian cinema and the narration of his life stories by host and director Milind Oak.
Presented by Niche Entertainment, the concert was brought to Atlanta by Aniruddha and Sunitha Joshi of Ozone Life.
Pancham, as R D Burman was fondly known, was a prism that distributed notes of music, said host Milind Oak. Those notes were captured beautifully by the four singers Jitendra Abhyankar, Rama Kulkarni, Chaitanya Kulkarni and Deepika Datar who were accorded a standing ovation by a mesmerized audience at the end of the concert.
Interspersed with the singing were snippets of interviews (played on a large screen) with Pancham’s contemporaries Asha Bhosle, Manna Dey, Gulzar, Javed Akhtar, Shammi Kapoor Ameen Sayani, Shivkumar Sharma and Rishi Kapoor, and modern day music directors like Shankar Mahadevan and Vishal Bharadwaj and director Vidhu Vinod Chopra.
While the concert opened with the quintessential R D Burman number ‘Duniya Mein Logon Ko’ from Apna Desh, it then traced his life and rise to musical stardom, first as the son of musical great S D Burman, then as an independent music director beginning with Mehmood’s ‘Chote Nawab’. Over the next three hours, the singers sang some of Pancham’s most memorable hits ranging from the classical to the soulful to his path breaking western-inspired music. The songs included hits from Padosan, Aradhana, Amar Prem, Parichay, Aandhi, Kati Patang, Mere Jeevan Saathi, Hare Rama Hare Krishna, Yaadon ki Baraat, Sholay, Love Story, Ijaazat, Masoom, 1942 a Love Story and many more.
A special segment paid tribute to Rajesh Khanna. Pancham’s youthful music was responsible for the emergence of Khanna as the superstar of the 1970s. With Kishore Kumar as the singer, the threesome was unstoppable in the early and mid-70s, charting hit after hit like ‘Kora kaagaz tha’, ‘O mere dil ke chain’, ‘Yeh jo mohabbat hai’, ‘Nadiya se dariya’ etc.
Although Pancham is credited with bringing western elements into Hindi film music (and his stylized singing), some of his immortal songs are classical in nature. The four singers presented some of these hits including ‘Raina beeti jaye’, ‘Piya bawari’ ‘Mere naina sawan bhadon’ amongst others.
The next segment paid ode to Pancham’s seminal western stylistic and rhythmic hits like ‘Piya tu ab to aaja’, ‘Dum maaro dum’ and ‘Mehbooba o mehbooba’. At the other end of the spectrum, his soulful collaborations with lyricist and director Gulzar were also presented.
The last segment of the concert charted Pancham’s final years of decline, failing health and insecurity, when he was overshadowed by other disco composers. The music of ‘1942: A Love Story’, his swan song, was released after his death in 1994. It won him the third and last of his Filmfare Awards (posthumously).
“Even after his death RD refuses to die. He is the most remixed music composer and his music is alive in the minds of the listener even today,” said Oak. After reliving his timeless music, the audience couldn’t agree more.
Dancers/choreographers Kunal Phadke and Aishwarya Kale set the mood on stage- progressing from the romantic to the peppy numbers with aplomb.
Directed by anchor Milind Oak and conceptualized by Madan Kulkarni, the concert toured several cities in the US through August.
Ozone Life has earlier brought two of Niche Entertainment programs, Black and White and Bhairav se Bhairavi to Atlanta, said Aniruddha Joshi.