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Dadasaheb Phalke award-winner Kersi Lord passes away at 81

The famous pianist, who was suffering from age-related illnesses, passed away on Sunday morning.

Shriram Iyengar

The Hindi film industry has lost another legendary musician. Kersi Lord, 81, passed away this morning of age-related illnesses. The famous pianist, and one of RD Burman's closest associates, was admitted to Mumbai's Lilavati Hospital on Saturday when he complained of difficulty in breathing.

Kersi Lord belonged to the legendary Lord family which was among the pioneers of club and jazz music in Mumbai. His father, Cawas Lord, was a well-known drummer and was introduced to Hindi cinema by C Ramchandra.

Following in his footsteps, Kersi began playing music at the tender age of 14. It was music composer Naushad who noticed the prodigious talent and offered him a chance to play with his troupe in the studio. As a drummer, Kersi Lord would often incorporate western rhythms and techniques into Indian folk tunes. It was this unique style that separated him from his peers.

As a musician, Kersi Lord possessed the ability to play multiple instruments, including the bongo, piano, drums, and the accordion. His accordion piece to 'Roop Tera Mastana' under SD Burman's baton for Aradhana (1969) is considered an iconic moment in Indian cinema music.

Apart from being an accomplished Western musician, Lord learnt and incorporated Indian classical music into his work. He underwent training in classical music under P Madhurkar and Inam Ali Khan (tabla).

One of Kersi Lord's greatest contributions was to introduce multiple instruments to Indian film music. He was among the first to incorporate the Glockenspiel in Indian films, particularly in the Dev Anand-starrer Hum Dono (1961). He would also introduce the MOOG synthesiser to Indian cinema. It would go on to become one of RD Burman's most used instruments in films.

It also led to one of the most productive and successful partnerships in Indian film music between Burman and Lord. Kersi Lord went on to become one of the famed members of RD Burman's troupe which included Manohari Singh, Basudev Chakraborti, and Marutirao Keer.

In 2010, Lord was awarded the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke award by the government of India. For the last decade, Lord had retired from active music composition.