Tuesday, April 29, 2008

the heart was a neighbour but it was the robe after all

A little less than two years ago, I happened to catch a recording of this TV programme from the day that R. D. Burman (aka Pancham) passed away. A point came when Gulzar spoke about his late friend. The feature cut to a rehearsal with Pancham on the harmonium, Asha to his right with a lyrics sheet, and Gulzar to his left. Pancham was guiding Asha along the tune for a couple of lines. I could make out a few fragments (jab bhii aa.Nkhon, aa.Nsuu bhar, log kuchh). A Google search yielded a song from Visaal, the 2001 collaboration between Gulzar and Ghulam Ali, jab bhii aa.Nkho.n me.n. For the Pancham version, the first two lines seemed to have been:

jab bhii aa.Nkho.n me.n aa.Nsuu bhar aaye
log kuchh Duubate nazar aaye

Reuse of lyrics isn't uncommon: Javed Akhtar reused a song (mai.n aur merii aawaaragii) from Duniya (1984) in Sangam, his 1996 collaboration with the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan; Gulzar himself visited shaam se aa.Nkh me.n) several times (something that deserves a post of its own) including the famous collaboration with Pancham and Asha, Dil Padosi Hai.

Dil Padosi Hai was my first guess as I wondered what album the three might have been working on. Or perhaps (and the eyes of the Pancham fan within widened) it was another collaboration that never came to fruition. An email went out soliciting more insight. The timing was bad and there were no responses.

A year later, another email went out to more perceived fonts of information. The well of luck was dry on arrival.

In February 2008, the video fragment showed up on Youtube and a post went out on the Pancham Yahoo! Group. Hopes were rekindled and this time around luck didn't strike out. Pavan Jha, who owns and maintains the Gulzar portal, managed to dig up more: it turns out that the song was meant for Libaas. This interesting note comes shortly after rumours of that film finally making it out of the cans. Would the Lata-dominated soundtrack (with space for a duet each with Suresh Wadkar and the late music director himself) have featured just this sole Asha song or, perhaps, was the soundtrack destined, at some early stage in the development of the project, to be, as Ijaazat was, another solo Asha vehicle? The wordsmith must know more. One awaits more insight. Meanwhile, it's time to discover the sa.ngiit of the sultan of song yet again. ta ra ta ra ta ra ta ra ...

update [May 23, 2008]: The smoke clears further. A recent post on the Pancham Yahoo! Group offers more chocolate flakes on this cake, courtesy Gulzar himself. Apparently, during a recording session for Libaas, the "camera people" had arrived to shoot RDB composing a song. To humour them, the late great man asked the big G for a line and he obliged. A composition was born and he began guiding Asha along the melody. This means that the tune was never really for this film or for any another planned non-film collaboration. Now, who's got the rest of that footage?

No comments:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.