Melody Lane: A musical evening dedicated to RD Burman

0

Musicians who were part of RD Burman’s orchestral team recreate the composer’s timeless numbers

Musicians who were part of RD Burman’s orchestral team recreate the composer’s timeless numbers

The studio full of a hundred musicians, composer, arranger and recorder belongs to the past. Today, when the electronic keyboard and electronic drums have replaced all other instruments, watching a live orchestra with all its different sections seems dreamy. It’s not just the congregation of musicians, but what’s also missing is the camaraderie between them. ‘Melody Lane’, a concert recently held in Bengaluru to pay tribute to the iconic RD Burman, organized by Rotary Bangalore Aagneya, gave a glimpse of times gone by.

Rotary Bangalore Aagneya's 'Melody Lane', at the Chowdaiah Memorial Hall in Bangalore.

Rotary Bangalore Aagneya’s ‘Melody Lane’, at the Chowdaiah Memorial Hall in Bangalore. | Photo credit: SUDHAKARA JAIN

The memorable evening brought together seven musicians from Pancham’s original team, who recreated the magic of his music for a room full of exuberant audiences. Few of us have had the chance to see the popular composer at work, friendship and joyful banter in the studios, who went to his house in the evening for a generous helping of good food and laughter. We heard stories of how he celebrated these extraordinary musicians by giving them great creative freedom. He said, “My musicians don’t work for me, they work with me.

That evening, we felt infinitely grateful to these musicians for bringing us not only music, but stories of dedication, humility and affection. On stage, next to these performers, we felt the presence of Gulzar, Asha Bhosle, Lata Mangeshkar and Bhupinder Singh.

Melody Lane, dedicated to RD Burman, took place at Chowdiah Memorial Hall, Bangalore.

Melody Lane, dedicated to RD Burman, took place at Chowdiah Memorial Hall, Bangalore. | Photo credit: SUDHAKARA JAIN

RD fast numbers

It was an exhaustive selection of around 30 songs, mostly RD fast numbers. The brass section composed of the inimitable Raj and Kishore Sodha (saxophone and trumpet), Ivan Mums (trombone) and Shyamraj (tenor sax) supported the concert. RD was known for his innovative approach to rhythm and his percussionists were known in the film industry as “RD Burman’s Rhythm Section“. The extraordinary Franco Vaz (drums) and Nitin Shankar (percussion) highlighted the polyrhythmic and global textures of his beats. RD’s greatest success was the integration of Western rhythm into the Indian musical framework; it is in the same sense that he used the brass section.

Kishore and Raj Sodha opened the evening with two tracks from the films, Sagar and Shaan. The mastery demonstrated by the two was reminiscent of musicians such as Manohari Singh, Maruti Rao, Kersi Lord and others, who were creative collaborators of RD, not just musicians playing his tracks.

Melody Lane, in memory of RD Burman, was held at Chowdiah Memorial Hall in Bengaluru.

Melody Lane, in memory of RD Burman, was held at Chowdiah Memorial Hall in Bengaluru. | Photo credit: Sudhakara Jain

Using this energy generated by the Sodhas, Narasimhan Kannan and Shruti Bhide happily sang “Khullam khulla pyaar karenge”. Sunil Kaushik, who worked closely with RD (and Lakshmikant Pyarelal), took over the stage with his wonderful guitar parts for ‘Tujhse naraz nahin zindagi’ (Neil Kalghatgi) and ‘Aanewala pal’ (Narasimhan). “Ek chatur naar” was a riot: beautifully sung by Aditya Vittal and Narsimhan, with Sri Ganesh at the mridangam.

Perfect song choice

The song selection was rightly dominated by RD’s adventurous numbers. For example, ‘Bachna ye haseeno’, ‘Aaja aaja’, ‘One two chachacha’, ‘Gulabi aankhen’, ‘Ye jawani ye diwani’, ‘Dum maro dum’ and many others.

'Melody Lane', a musical evening organized by Rotary Bangalore Aagneya, was held at Chowdiah Memorial Hall, Bangalore.

‘Melody Lane’, a musical evening organized by Rotary Bangalore Aagneya, was held at Chowdiah Memorial Hall, Bangalore. | Photo credit: SUDHAKARA JAIN

The songs reminded the audience of the true musical spirit of the composer. They reflected his creative engagement with Western arranging and rhythmic styles, his unique approach to musical time, as well as the sound patterns and use of harmony, which were then popular with young people. RD could pick up the pulse of the changing choreography of cinema and also of the youth, who wanted to hear something new and different. The sophistication and class he brought to his musical narrative was unique to film music. Instrumental solos by the Sodha Brothers (‘Mehbooba mehbooba’, ‘Jaane jaa’), Ivan Mum (‘Jeevan ke har mod par’), Shyamraj (‘Yamma yamma’) and Franco Vaz with his son, Joshua Vaz took listeners another kingdom. Musicologists have often observed how RD’s music not only captivates the mind, but also makes listeners dance. That night in the auditorium, people of all ages were swaying to the tunes.

Melody Lane organized by Rotary Bangakire Aagneya in memory of RD Burman was held at Chowdiah Memorial hall, Bengaluru.

Melody Lane organized by Rotary Bangakire Aagneya in memory of RD Burman was held at Chowdiah Memorial hall, Bengaluru. | Photo credit: SUDHAKARA JAIN

Another highlight of the concert was the remarkable singing of Narsimhan and Shruti. They recreated the songs to perfection. Whether it’s Kishore Kumar’s scat phrases or Usha Uthup’s wide vocals, they stole the show. The talented Aditya Vittal captured RD’s energy with his lively performances. Soumya Pallapothu sang soulful numbers, Neil also added his power to the show. Renowned flautist Ashwini Koushik poignantly performed “Raina beeti jaye” and provided skillful accompaniment to several songs.

The genius of a musician grows with time, we understand and recognize better the master strokes. You like the song more with each passing day. We have lost that era, but it lives on in the hearts of connoisseurs.

The Bengaluru-based author writes about art and culture.

Share.

About Author

Comments are closed.