Today marks the 77th birthday ofRahul Dev Burman (27 June 1939 – 4 January 1994), an influential and iconic Bollywood music director. RD or Pancham as he was known forever changed the musical landscape of Bollywood film music. RD chased new music and introduced it in Indian films, specifically Bollywood films points out Prof Greg Booth. Besides Indian traditional and folk music, the two key influences on RD Burman’s music were American and Latin American music genres.
RD & his tight band of musicians introduced new sounds and Latin rhythms into Bollywood films says Prof. Booth. RD’s influence is so strong that you can hear his influence even today. His songs are regularly remixed and released as new tracks.
Here is a short selection of songs from RD’s extensive repertoire of music.
American music influenced RD Burman quite a bit and you can hear that influence in the 1965 Aao Twist Karein from the film Bhoot Bangla. The song was inspired by Chubby Checker’s Let’s Twist Again. And here is a 2015 remix of Aao Twist Karein.
The musicians came from different background spanning British military brass bands to jazz and traditional Indian music. For example – quite a few of the musicians came from the Indian state of Goa, which had a strong Portuguese influence. Many musicians came from a Catholic background and learnt to read and play music as part of their education. What was the musical influence that the Goan musicians brought with them into the Hindi or Bollywood music? That is one of the strands that Prof. Booth explores and highlight in this book.
In Part-2 of the interview Prof. Booth talks about Chic Choclate, Joe Menezes, Leslie Gudinho and Kersi Lord, whose music you might recognize but not know they were the ones who played that musical refrain because they were always behind the curtain. The people who were in front of the curtain were the music directors like C. Ramachandra,Laxmikant Pyarelal, SD Burman, RD Burman and others.
LISTEN: Prof. Greg Booth on The Making of Bollywood Music Part-2
Coming up is Part-3 of the interview with Greg.
Music credits: Amar Akhar Anthony, Barsaat, Albela, Teesri Manzsil, Aradhana and Bhoot Bangla.
In Part-2 Prof. Booth talks about the process of how songs were created especially in the 20th century. Big orchestras was a key part of the music making process. The situation in the film dictates the nature and style of music. In the book he highlights the music making style of music directors like Naushad, Shankar-Jaikishen, Lakshmikant-Pyarelal, SB Burman and RD Burman.
Cut to 21st century and the process of creating music for Bollywood films has changed with the introduction of digital technology. Oscar winner AR Rahman was one of the early music composers, who used digital technology extensively and pared down on the need for a huge orchestra. With the embrace of digital technology, the process of creating music has completely changed when compared to the 20th c. Another change that has come about is that today the musicians are in front of the screen, and not behind the curtain like their predecessors.
LISTEN: Prof. Greg Booth On Making of Bollywood Music Part-3
In case you missed, you might want to check our previous segments with Prof. Booth on Indian Wedding Brass Bands and The Making of Bollywood Music.
Music credits: Baiju Bawra, Barsaat, Farz, Caravan, Bobby, Roja and Aradhana