Film converts Pancham sceptics

Vintage music lovers with a dim view of R D Burman are moved by a documentary on the composer’s life

Pavan says:

I am disappointed, if this can be termed as the Meet report in general. Thanks Mr. Ramakrishna for putting it but missing the best and most important aspect of the Meet, interaction with Sh. V.K. Murthy, omitting that session is simply a big big mistake.. Also Pancham Unmixed screening was not the most significant sessions, as it feels like reading this report.. I would like to define it as a report on Pancham Unmixed screening more than RMIM Meet report..

Pavan Jha

RMIM-ers such as Pavan Jha were disappinted that I had chosen to focus on R D Burman rather than the meet. Reason for not writing about V K Murthy: I wasn't present at that session. Reason for writing about Pancham: The article was meant for MiD DAY, a newspaper read by working professionals between 25 and 40. Pancham is the last outpost of nostalgia for a good chunk of this readership, and hacks like me are always looking for a 'news peg'. 



A documentary on music composer R D Burman, screened in Bangalore on a Saturday in June 2009 left many who never liked his music moist-eyed.

 Director Brahmanand Singh has interviewed 40 friends and colleagues of the composer for the film, and not one of them had a hard word to say about him. Industry luminaries such as Shammi Kapoor, Javed Akhtar, Gulzar, Asha Bhosle and Shankar-Loy-Ehsaan praise the unconventional brilliance of the composer.

The film shows some rare photos of R D Burman at work. He reigned in the ’70s and ’80s and is the most remixed composer today

“Someone said it’s a film without the director’s fingerprints,” said Singh. “And I thought that was a good way of putting it.”

Singh does not use a voiceover anywhere in the two-hour film, titled Pancham Unmixed, Mujhe Chalte Jaana Hai. He took nearly three years to make it.

The audience comprised RMIM-ers who had gathered from all over the world to discuss, sing and listen to vintage music. Being mostly fans of Naushad, Anil Biswas and other masters of the 1950s and ’60s, they were hardly inclined to appreciate R D Burman, whose music sounded lacking in finesse to them.

But by the time the film ended, they had questions about the meteoric rise of Pancham, as R D Burman was called, and his fall. At the peak of his career, he was making music for 20-21 films a year, but by his own admission, towards the end, 27 of his films had flopped in a row, and he was jobless. He was shattered, and Singh’s film captures the poignancy of his lonely last days. Pancham did come back with 1942 A Love Story, but he did not live to savour the success.

Earlier, M A Parthasarathy, who headed Gemini Studios in Chennai and oversaw the production of some of yesteryear’s blockbusters, revealed intimate details about the life and times of the music composer C Ramachandra.

In the afternoon, dancer Dr Maya Rao recalled the non-film work of Anil Biswas, and played some songs he had composed for her ballets. The Bengali composer had even sung Basavanna vachanas for a production on the 12th century Kannada poet and social reformer.

About 30 music lovers attended the meet, with members flying in from places as distant as Toronto and Dubai.

The two-day meet concluded on Sunday with a session of quizzing and singing.

Watch R D Burman playing the harmonica