Article Hindi

Devoted fan Ajay Poundarik remembers Laxmikant on his 20th death anniversary

Blogger Poundarik, who has listened to Laxmikant-Pyarelal's music since he was a child, speaks about the magic of the composer duo and why they can never be forgotten.

Sonal Pandya

Laxmikant Shantaram Kudalkar’s death left a void in the world of Hindi film music. He formed one half of the popular duo known as Laxmikant-Pyarelal. Laxmikant died on 25 May 1998. Along with Pyarelal Ramprasad Sharma, the outgoing composer ruled the Hindi film music scene for nearly 35 years after their debut with Parasmani (1963).

Kudalkar met his musical partner when both were students at the Sureel Kala Kendra music academy. They were talented musicians. Laxmikant played the mandolin and Pyarelal, the violin.

Laxmikant worked as a musician for composers like C Ramchandra, SD Burman, and Roshan before branching out with Pyarelal. Their big breakthrough came early with Dosti (1964); previously they had been assistants to Kalyanji-Anandji. They beat all competition and won their first Filmfare Best Music Director award for Rajshri Productions' tearjerker on friendship. They would go on to win 6 more and earn 18 other nominations.

Blogger and long-time Laxmikant-Pyarelal fan Ajay Poundarik spoke to in a telephonic conversation from the US about the finesse of the composer duo and how they consistently delivered quality music throughout their career.

Poundarik runs a blog called Melody and Rhythm about the composers and highlights their work and their films with artistes like Amitabh Bachchan, Helen, Jeetendra and many others. For instance, were you aware that most of Rajesh Khanna’s hits with Laxmikant-Pyarelal featured on the popular Binaca Geetmala countdown programme on radio? Poundarik would tell you all about it.

“It is easy to become number one, but to continue in that position is tougher," Poundarik said of the duo's consistency. "Only artistes like Amitabh Bachchan, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle have enjoyed that kind of success.”

Poundarik spent his childhood in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. When he was about eight, he heard Laxmikant-Pyarelal on the radio. “I didn’t know who they were. [But] in a couple of months, the film Sant Gyaneshwar (1964) came out with the song ‘Jyot Se Jyot Jagate Chalo’ and became famous. Another film was Harishchandra Taramati (1963), which had the song ‘Mein Ek Chhota Sa Nanha Sa Bachcha Hoon’. That was sung by Lata Mangeshkar and picturized on a small child. These two songs particularly stayed in my mind,” he recalled.

Of course, hit songs from Mr X In Bombay (1964) and Dosti (1964) soon made them the talk of the film music world.  

“By the time Lootera (1965) was released, I was aware of Laxmikant-Pyarelal’s magic. I like other music composers too, Madan Mohan, RD Burman, Shankar Jaikishan, but L-P had so many songs coming out that you forget other things. The radio used to play only their songs. I became a fan.”

Others went to see films if they were fans of the hero or heroine, but Poundarik went for the duo’s hit songs. In those days, songs did not become instantaneous hits like today, he explained. The music label HMV would release a song and slowly it would climb up the charts. That is why it was more fun to watch a film.

Laxmikant and Pyarelal

"Their melody is very beautiful. I don’t know much about music, but I get thrilled listening to their songs," he said. "I listen to a Laxmikant-Pyarelal song minutely; their orchestration is done so well. I don’t think anybody in the world can compose such beautiful songs so fast. In a year, they had around 15 releases, that too with hit songs.”

By the late 1960s, Shankar Jaikishan, OP Nayyar, Roshan and Chitragupt were overshadowed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal. Their prices weren’t astronomical and they gave quality music and produced hit numbers, so producers and directors made a beeline for them.

One of Poundarik’s favourites is ‘Payal Ki Jhankar Raste Raste’, a Lata Mangeshkar number from Mere Lal (1966). In particular, he praised the use of the harmonium in the track. The film became a hit because of the song. A dedicated fan, Poundarik kept track of the composers' work until 1987 when he moved away from India and it became hard to keep up with the songs from abroad.

"In 1993, Laxmikant-Pyarelal were at the top of the charts again with ‘Choli Ke Peeche’ from Khal Nayak (1993). They challenged Nadeem-Shravan and Anand-Milind. They knew the pulse of the masses. They even made you forget about the lyrics. In fact, in an interview, Laxmikant reportedly said that even if the words had been ‘jooti ke neeche kya hai’, the song would have been a hit as it had powerful orchestration, rhythm and melody.”

Poundarik said Laxmikant was the more talkative of the two and knew how to deal with people. Pyarelal was more media-shy. When their interviews were aired on radio, Laxmikant would be doing most of the talking.

The blogger rued that few radio channels today play the duo's lesser known numbers. But if you listen to the Vividh Bharati channel of All India Radio, then you will hear their songs numerous times within an hour.

He feels upset that they have never been awarded any recognition by the government of India and hopes they will one day be honoured.

He cited the example of ‘Hum Tum Ek Kamre Mein Bandh Ho’ from Bobby (1973) as an example of Laxmikant-Pyarelal's mastery; the song is orchestrated without any raga. This is not to say they could not compose songs based on Hindustani classical music. But they incorporated Western styles into their music as they weren’t limited to the popular songs only.

“Songs were seen as mini-breaks during a long movie, but Laxmikant-Pyarelal’s songs flowed with the story," he said. "You didn’t think they were forcibly slotted in just like that. Look at the songs from Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1971)! They used to orchestrate [songs] in such a way that the instruments used to overlap. In the background, a symphony or a violin was usually present. When I listen to them, I visualize the composition. Laxmikant-Pyarelal’s music has become part of my life.”

Sadly, Poundarik never got the chance to meet Laxmikant (he was travelling when he heard of his death), but he did get the chance to meet Pyarelal in 2014 and said they happily discussed only songs.

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