Birthday Jukebox: The Funk, Style & Soul Of Laxmikant-Pyarelal
Singing along with our favourite Laxmikant-Pyarelal’s melodies on Pyarelal’s birthday.
Laxmikant-Pyarelal ruled the Binaca Geet Mala for about two whole decades, which makes it almost impossible to pick just a handful of their best melodies for this tribute playlist. Even though I belong to the Kala Chasma and Babydoll era, I often find myself humming their easy tunes.
And to celebrate Pyarelal’s birth anniversary, here’s our list of their favourites sprinkled with stories about the composer duo that music lovers of my generation probably haven’t heard before.
Pyarelal Ramprasad Sharma (born 3 September 1940) is the son of renowned trumpeter Pandit Ramprasad Sharma (popularly known as Babaji), who taught him the basics of music. He started learning violin at the age of eight. He learnt to play violin from a Goan musician named Anthony Gonzalves. The song My Name is Anthony Gonzalves from the movie Amar Akbar Anthony is considered to be a tribute to Mr. Gonsalves (the movie had music by Laxmikant–Pyarelal). By the age of 12, his family's financial condition had deteriorated, which in turn forced him to earn money by playing in studios. Pyarelal then used to frequent and play the violin in studios such as Ranjit Studios, to earn money for his family.
Laxmikant Shantaram Kudalkar was born on November 3, 1937. He grew up in dire poverty in the slums of Vile Parle in Mumbai. His father passed away when he was a child, which led to an end of his education. Guided by a friend of his father’s, Laxmikant took up music and learnt to play the mandolin from well-known mandolin players Hussain Ali and Bal Mukund Indorker and violin from Husnalal Bhagatram. Laxmikant began his film career as a child actor in the Hindi films Bhakt Pundalik (1949 film) and Aankhen (1950 film), as well as a few Gujarati films.
When Laxmikant was 10, he once played mandolin in a Lata Mangeshkar concert in the Colaba Radio Club. Lata was impressed enough to talk to him after the concert and encouraged him to pursue a career in music.
Interestingly, Laxmikant met at his future partner Pyarelal at Sureel Kala Kendra, a music academy for children, run by the Mangeshkar family. And it was Lata, who after learning how poor both Laxmikant and Pyarelal were, recommended their names to music directors like Naushad, Sachin Dev Burman and C. Ramchandra. The duo became very good friends and played together whenever they could.
The duo started out by assisting Kalyanji-Anandji and arranging music for other composers including RD and SD Burman. In 1963, their talent took the industry by storm. Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammad Rafi, who were their mentors, sang for them despite low budgets, for which the composer duo remained indebted till the very end.
Until they won their first Filmfare ‘Best Music Director Award’ for Dosti in 1964, music lovers and fans thought that Laxmikant Pyarelal was a single person.
Together with lyricist Anand Bakshi, Laxmikant–Pyarelal churned out the most successful hits of their career. They were also Hindi cinema’s best. So much so that he happened to have penned songs for every film that the duo won a Filmfare for, barring their very first win in 1963.
Laxmikant-Pyarelal’s best tunes were their disco numbers and folk songs. They loved experimenting and their ghazal-western number Dard-E-Dil (Karz) still stands out as the classic that it is. While Laxmikant looked after a song’s vocals mostly, Pyarelal’s forte was its orchestration.
Laxmikant-Pyarelal’s compositions are still popular for their style, funk, energy and soul. Ever since Laxmikant’s demise in 1998, Pyarelal has done little work independently. With this jukebox we thank the birthday boy and the hit musical jodi for the songs we’ll forever keep singing.
(This story is from The Quint’s archives. It is being republished to mark Pyarelal’s birthday.)
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