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‘Pancham-da always experimented with his voice’: Jolly Mukherjee

Friday, January 04, 2019
By Chaitanya Padukone

Today on the 25th death anniversary of legendary R D Burman, here’s a cruise into an incredible flashback.

In October 1990, while RD Burman was singing on the stage, at an outstation event, he was only doing a ‘lip-sync’ and not actually singing. Instead, noted singer Jolly Mukherjee was actually giving RDB the live ‘playback’ from the backstage-wings. Leave alone singing, Panchamda (as RD was fondly called) could hardly speak because of a sudden throat ailment.

"He tried everything, warm water gargles, inhaling clove-smoke, but it was all futile," remembers playback singer-composer Jolly who was then summoned by RD. “Initially I presumed, he wanted me to fetch sore-throat lozenges. But then he instructed me to sing from backstage so he could lip-sync. Though I knew all his songs, I was apprehensive of my being unable to match his lofty levels. RDB generally never took a ‘no’ from any of his team. So when he gave me a cold stare, I melted and began belting out the tracks. Imagine giving ‘playback to a legend like RDB. I get goose-bumps every time I remember how the genius kept this exceptional show going," recalls Jolly who used to otherwise sing with and also conduct RDB’s group of chorus singers.

“Besides being a genius versatile composer, iconic (Pancham-Da) had a wide range of vocals and he would always play and experiment with his voice variations. Actually he would create a ‘character’ out of his voice in each song. Now when I sing RDB songs on stage, I never try to mimic or clone his voice, but try to adapt his signature-style and emotions,” insists Jolly, who feels that spontaneous RDB was a lovable ‘Boss’ who always inspired the best out of his talented team.

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