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7 highlights from the music and career of Pyarelal Sharma

For the music composer’s 76th birthday on 3 September, we take a look at the unknown facts about one half of Laxmikant-Pyarelal.

Sonal Pandya

1. Pyarelal Sharma met his musical partner and composer, Laxmikant Kundalkar as a teenager. The two aspiring musicians played in the band, Bal Sureel Kala Kendra. Pyarelal played the violin, while Laxmikant played the mandolin. Also part of the troupe were the Mangeshkar siblings — Hridyanath, Meena and Usha. Pyarelal took music lessons from his father Pandit Ramprasad and violin lessons from Goan musician Anthony Gonsalves.

2. The duo worked as arrangers for Kalyanji-Anandji before getting their first hit as composers with Dosti (1964). They won their first Filmfare Award for Best Music Director beating Madan Mohan for Woh Kaun Thi? (1964) and Shankar-Jaikishan for Sangam (1964).

3. Incidentally, RD Burman played the mouth organ in all the songs of Dosti for them. On Burman’s first film as a composer Chhote Nawab (1961), Laxmikant-Pyarelal had worked as his arrangers.

4. The song ‘Hansta Hua Noorani Chehra’ from their first film Parasmani (1963) was the first time that Lata Mangeshkar recorded for Laxmikant-Pyarelal. She sang the song with Kamal Barot. The newly-minted composers added a special touch to the recording — they used 36 violins in their live orchestra. Pyarelal recalled in an interview that Naushad used 20 in his, while Shankar-Jaikishan used 30, but the newcomers used 36 for their first recording with great enthusiasm.

5. Originally Amitabh Bachchan’s character in Amar Akbar Anthony (1977) was named Anthony Fernandes. It was Pyarelal who suggested his violin teacher, Anthony Gonsalves’s name. The rest, as they say, is history. Gonsalves was immortalised in the song ‘My name is Anthony Gonsalves’ which went on to become a big hit.

6. Pyarelal’s brother Gorakh, himself an accomplished musician, was roped in to play the guitar on ‘Hum Tum Ek Kamre’ in Bobby (1973) and ‘Dafli Waale’ in Sargam (1979).

7. After Laxmikant’s death in 1998, Pyarelal slowed down on scoring for films and concentrated instead on conducting live shows with orchestras around the world. But in 2007, he conducted an orchestra for Farah Khan’s ode to 1970s Hindi films with Om Shanti Om. The song ‘Dhoom Tana’ which had over 100 musicians was recreated in their old style of music making. But not many are aware that Pyarelal had a large role in shaping the song.