Bollywood Hungama
Last Updated 14.12.2018 | 2:01 PM IST



Book and DVD Review: Pancham Unmixed

Now this is one Collectors Edition that deserved to be much better marketed, promoted and released. When an effort like ‘Pancham Unmixed’ arrives on stands unannounced, it is not just a letdown for the man (Brahmanand S Singh) who has made an effort to put it all together but also the subject himself, the legendary R.D. Burman a.k.a. Pancham, on whose life it is based.

This collection is a delight, as evidenced in this brilliantly packaged affair that comprises of a coffee table book (Pancham – Strings of Eternity), a DVD (Pancham Unmixed) which is basically a two hour feature length film made on his life and an additional DVD (Pancham Magic) which comprises of 30 original videos of some of the best tracks created by Pancham.

This is why the release of a DVD and a book on his life makes for an important event. And yes, Brahmanand actually makes it authentic enough by reaching out to people who were closest to the man who, needless to say, redefined the entire manner in which music was looked at in Bollywood flicks. Dozens of people are interviewed and quite a few anecdotes are shared as people like Asha Bhonsle, Gulzar, Shammi Kapoor, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Manna Dey, Pt. Ronu Majumdar and many others (including a bunch of fans, musicians, arrangers etc.) come together the describe the phenomenon called Pancham.

The film DVD is an engaging affair. The tone is set in the very first 5 minutes itself with Asha Bhonsle and others describing the man he was, both from professional and personal standpoint. In fact one has to give it to Brahmanand here as he intelligently brings in quotes from different people and comes up with a seamless feature that is alternatively emotional and entertaining. What works most in this feature is the way Pancham songs are interspersed as a part of the narrative. Most of the times it is in direct relevance to what it is being spoken by Pancham’s friends and professional acquaintances and the placement of songs only enhance the overall effect.

The film is also special because it is not just about the music that we all have been hearing for over three decades now. There are finer points around his composition style explained as well that would certainly make the students of music a lot more interested. Musicians who have worked closely with him during his decades of music making share their experiences from the recordings and describe what transpired within the walls of a studio. In course of such happenings, it may have been possible that the talks become a little too technical for the taste of ‘aam junta’ but the director ensures that he mixes it up all well to make it a seamless exercise that doesn’t get talk heavy.

The coffee table book is a good read as well, especially after one has watched the DVD. In fact the book and the DVD compliment each other as they come up with different factoids though the people interviewed are the same. The layout is well done too which gives a classy feel to the entire product. Comprising of dozens of quotes from people close to Pancham, the book brings to fore a lot about his personal life with friends recollecting his naughty antics that were a part of his personality right from his younger days till the time he was actively composing. Of course, as the world is aware, he was quite sad during his last days, especially due to the state of music Bollywood had found for itself (from the mid-80s to the mid-90s). Pancham too was pretty much down and out before some fabulous tunes for Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Parinda followed by 1942 A Love Story revived him to an extent. It was a pity though that he never lived to see either the success of his music nor the hundreds of remixes that continue to sell on his name till date.

Majority of biographies are known for falling pray to being too talk heavy and also being primarily descriptive around the subject’s life journey, while being presented in a chronological order. However, to the credit of Brahmanand, he doesn’t fall into this trap. He steers clear of making his book seem like a chapter by chapter account of how R.D. Burman emerged from the shadows of his father (S.D. Burman) and turned into Pancham as we know him today. Instead, he just picks up certain episodes of his life and brings them (in no particular order) in front of audiences to give them a good enough insight of what the man actually was.

Any blemishes? Yes, there is one for sure. It is obvious that Brahmanand, along with dozens of other people who have spoken for the DVD and the book, have been followers and fans of Pancham. Due to this, all one gets to hear and read is the good work that the man did in his entire lifetime. However, the fact remains (as detailed in the filmography of Pancham) that he had made music for 300 odd movies and not all are known to the general audiences. Even he must have had his off days with an uninspired piece of work, as obvious from the fact that there are dozens of films (Kaun? Kaise?, Shubh Kaamna, Rusvai, Bada Kabutar, Doosri Sita etc.) That one has never even heard about. A brief take on such work would have lent further weight to ‘Pancham Unmixed’ which eventually comes across as a tribute more than a complete take on the man. Also, 30 songs which appear in the DVD are good (‘Jaan-E-Jaan’, ‘Pyaar Mein Dil Pe Maar De Goli’, ‘O Maanjhi Re’, ‘Do Lafzon Ki Hai‘ and many more) but again only from those films for which the DVD company (Shemaroo) holds rights. An extra effort to procure songs from other companies would have taken this compilation to the next level.

Nevertheless, leaving such blemishes aside, the fact is that it isn’t everyday when a compilation like this is made available to audiences and hence it is pretty much a surprise when it arrives sans any fanfare. Now that’s a disappointment because just a few weeks back, there was this entire global phenomenon over ‘This Is It’, the film released on Michael Jackson. While the movie went on to earn millions for itself from its theatrical release (and also saw some decent moolah coming from India), it is certainly sad when a movie around country’s own icon doesn’t even get a proper release.

Price: Rs. 999/=


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