Article Hindi

Laxmikant birth anniversary: 10 Laxmikant-Pyarelal songs that will get you up and moving

With seven Filmfare awards for Best Music Director, Laxmikant-Pyarelal remains a landmark pairing in Hindi film music. With their telepathic understanding of rhythm, melody, tempo and style, they created a new template that set them apart from peers like Shankar-Jaikishan, Naushad, and OP Nayyar.

Laxmikant Shantaram Kudalkar and Pyarelal Ramprasad Sharma

Shriram Iyengar

Synergy was one of the key elements of the Laxmikant-Pyarelal partnership. Over 600 films and 40 years, the two composers created a new template for Hindi film music by importing novel sounds inspired by the latest musical movements across the globe. It was their frequent adaptation of popular tracks to Indian tastes that made them a popular choice for many fans.

Of the two, Laxmikant Shantaram Kudalkar (better known by only his first name, Laxmikant) was born on the day of Laxmi puja on 3 November 1937. However, his childhood was anything but blessed by the goddess of wealth. Growing up in Vile Parle, then a distant suburb of Mumbai, he learnt to play the mandolin as a mean for living. Accompanying Hussain Ali, he organized and performed at classical music concerts around the city and also learnt from composer Bhagatram of Husnlal-Bhagatram fame.

It was after one such concert that Lata Mangeshkar approached him to talk about his music. It was during a visit to the Sureel Kala Kendra, a music academy run by the Mangeshkar family, that he met Pyarelal Sharma. The two formed a team that would outclass their peers, and ring in a new age in Hindi film music. From Dosti (1964) to Karz (1980) and Mr. India (1987), the two created soundtracks that have become sonic signatures of the age.

On Laxmikant's 80th birth anniversary, we revisit 10 tracks that capture the zing and pep in the compositions of Laxmikant-Pyarelal.

1. 'Chal Chal Chal Mere Saathi' — Haathi Mere Saathi (1971)

A man and an elephant stand at the centre of the story that legendary writers Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar built their reputations on. While the story itself is unique, and a testament to Hindi cinema's penchant for emotional tales, the soundtrack stands out for its eclectic combination of rhythms and an orchestra that includes trumpets and sounds to mimic the elephants. Needless to say, this became the most popular song of the film and remains the perfect track to sing along to when pushing a broken-down car.

2. 'Main Shayar To Nahin' — Bobby (1973)

Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia's emergence as the teen idols of the 1970s had the backing of Laxmikant-Pyarelal's wonderfully upgraded soundtrack. While there are several songs that stand out ('Hum Tum Ek Kamre Me Bandh Ho' being one), this ode to love is a masterpiece. It is easy to forget that the song is actually a slow waltz backed by a wonderful orchestra of guitars and keyboard rhythms. Therein lies the innovation of the masters that were Laxmikant-Pyarelal.

3. 'My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves' — Amar Akbar Anthony (1977)

This song is a tribute to the man who taught Pyarelal's father, Ramprasad Sharma, the magic of the guitar. Anthony Gonsalves was one of Hindi cinema's genius violinist, who was a key multi-instrumentalist in the early years of the two composers. It was they who suggested the name to filmmaker Manmohan Desai and thus immortalized it forever in Hindi cinema. As for the song, it stands out for the composers' ability to combine gibberish and pop to create a foot-tapping song. The film won them the Filmfare award for Best Music Direction that year.

4. 'Om Shanti Om' — Karz (1980)

Right from the opening second with the jazzy trumpet score, the song was on its way to becoming iconic. The composition is a stunning medley of orchestra and the powerful vocals of Kishore Kumar that make for a delirious track. As if that were not enough, there is the infectious charm of Rishi Kapoor on screen that has made this song a classic. The composers won the Filmfare award for Best Music Direction for their work on Karz.

5. 'Lambi Judaai' — Hero (1983)

If you thought orchestration was Laxmikant-Pyarelel's greatest strength, this minimalist folk tune from the Subhash Ghai cult hit, Hero, should change your opinion. Sung by Pakistani folk singer Reshma, the song is proof of the composers' rooted traditional musical education. But the composition's magic lies in the swaying flute theme that continues to be a popular cellphone ringtone to this day. The film went on to become a blockbuster, and led to the rise of a new rebellious hero, Jackie Shroff.

6. 'Hawa Hawai' — Mr. India (1987)

Sridevi's performance as the spunky reporter is one of the highlights of the much-loved film, Mr.India. While the film is more noted for its plotline and action, its soundtrack has become a particular favourite with fans. This song stands out for the magical way in which Laxmikant-Pyarelal use Kavita Krishnamurthy's vocals and back it up with a Caribbean rhythm. The song combines flashy choreography with an upbeat tune. The song has had many remixed versions, but remains the gold standard in club-style music in Hindi cinema.

7. 'Ek Do Teen' — Tezaab (1988)

In the second half of the 1980s, another footloose heroine rose to the top — Madhuri Dixit. Though she went on to perform some amazing dance numbers, this rocking number by Laxmikant-Pyarelal remains the signature of the actress. With a simple disco beat, the composers transformed basic counting lyrics into the song of the decade. Till date, the song is a mandatory addition on every Dixit montage. And why not? It was the song that made her a star.

8. 'Na Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hai' — Chaal Baaz (1989)

The Sridevi and Kavita Krishnamurthy combine wove its magical spell again in this modernized retelling of the twin-sisters saga popularized by the 1972 hit Seeta Aur Geeta. The film remains memorable for Sridevi's iconic performance as the twins, Anju/Manju and this song remains popular with listeners till date. Whether it is the melody, the rhythm or the choreography, the song has enthralled generation after generation of listeners.

9. 'Jumma Chumma De De' — Hum (1991)

By the 1990s, Laxmikant-Pyarelal's magic powers were fading, but they could still pull off a chartbuster when they tried. This one almost started a war between the senior composer duo and Bappi Lahiri. It was only the delayed release of Hum that averted the clash with the Sanjay Dutt-starrer Thanedaar (1990), which also featured a song based on the then popular African singer Mory Kante's hit number 'Tama'. Despite being released almost a year later, with Amitabh Bachchan and Kimi Katkar on the screen, the song was headed the chartbuster way.

10. 'Nayak Nahi Khal Nayak Hoon Mai' — Khal Nayak (1993)

One of Laxmikant-Pyarelal's last works together was this controversial film with Sanjay Dutt playing the eponymous Khal Nayak. With his links with the underworld erupting in the news, Dutt's film found itself being publicised for the wrong reasons. Despite the circumstances, the veterans at the helm of Khal Nayak's music delivered with aplomb. The songs, including 'Choli Ke Peeche', went on to become a rage. The title track is now a part of newsreels every time Dutt's jail time comes up for discussion. But the masters behind the signature tune were Laxmikant-Pyarelal.