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R D Burman's 'signature sounds' unravelled

Monday, January 04, 2016
By Chaitanya Padukone

“Pancham-da was not just a genius composer-singer, he was a benevolent, helpful human being,” recalls percussionist-composer Ranjit Gazmer fondly on the occasion of legendary R D Burman’s 22nd death anniversary today. Continues the 75 plus Gazmer, “Since I hail from Darjeeling and had mastered Nepali rhythm instruments like the ‘maadal’ , RDB inducted me into his music team right from ‘Hare Rama Hare Krishna’ (1971) and he fondly nicknamed me ‘Kaancha’.

My first introduction to Pancham-da was all thanks to his chief assistant Manohari-da Singh, during the ‘song sittings’ of ‘HRHK’.

It was a divine coincidence, that the movie ‘HRHK’ had ‘Kathmandu’ as its backdrop. My active association as a core team musician continued for over two decades with RDB, right up to ‘1942-A Love Story’ (1993),” he recalls wistfully. Wasn’t it true that the innovative composer RDB was fascinated with the sharp yet dulcet taal of the ‘maadal’ ethnic drums and used it in almost every song.

“Absolutely true. That ‘taah-tunng’ was Pancham-da’s mandatory ‘signature sound’. You can distinctly hear my rhythm-beats in hundreds of chartbuster songs like ‘Hai Rey

Ghungroo’  and ‘I Love You’ (both from ‘HRHK’), ‘Hum Dono Do Premi’ (Ajnabee). In this classical number ‘Tere Bina Jiya ’ (Ghar), the maverick RDB made me ‘experiment’ with varying metallic-sound double-beats on multiple maadal drums throughout the song. It was my euphoric experience, when I played for the stereophonic iconic title-music of ‘Sholay’ and for ‘Mehbooba Mehbooba’,” smiles talented sangeetkaar Ranjit who has ‘independently’ scored music for 116 Nepali movies and even coaxed legendary Asha Bhosle to record songs in Nepali lingo.

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