Article Hindi

Book excerpt: How Laxmikant-Pyarelal went all out to establish themselves when starting out


The new Rupa Publications release, written by Rajiv Vijayakar, looks at the duo who honed their skills as musicians, assistants and arrangers and rose to become one of the top composer pairs in the Hindi film music scene. This portion from the book Music by Laxmikant Pyarelal highlights their early struggles in booking films.

Book cover: Courtesy Rupa Publications / Photo: Courtesy Jaya Laxmikant

Rajiv Vijayakar

The saga of Laxmikant-Pyarelal was a classic case of the tortoise struggling in the initial race. Their team was already formed in spirit — they just needed a break. They got it when K Parvez offered them a Chandrashekhar-Vijaya Choudhary film called Tumse Pyar Ho Gaya. They recorded four songs for the film before it got shelved.

"We approached K Parvez, one of the directors we knew well and asked him for a film," recollects Pyarelal. Even their first release, Parasmani, happened because they had approached producer-cinematographer Babubhai Mistry themselves. Laxmikant said that Mistry had been lucky for so many, talents (Aruna Irani also made her debut in Parasmani) he had introduced, including Kalyanji-Anandji. Mistry too was aware of their work.

Having worked with Shankar-Jaikishan, Laxmikant, already enamoured with Jaikishan’s flamboyant and larger-than-life manner and dressing style, wanted Jaikishan’s favourite Hasrat Jaipuri to be the songwriter. The first recording of their career was thus a Hasrat Jaipuri-written song rendered by Lata Mangeshkar and Subir Sen. Incidentally, Sen was to never record a song with them again. After this, Mangeshkar and Mukesh sang the second song. Word spread and Laxmikant stated in his Junior G interview, "Hasrat saab requested us to set him free, as S-J were against his working for us. Our next two songs, both solos, and sung respectively by Mohammed Rafi and Asha Bhosle, were written by Qamar Jalalabadi saab, who was close to Kalyanji-Anandji."

It is here that Pyarelal revealed his penchant for recording at the right studio and sticking to one venue. They always had what they called ‘one temple of work’. For decades, it was Famous Studio in downtown Tardeo. Many years later, for certain personal reasons, they shifted to Mehboob Studios in Bandra, and till the end, they rarely recorded elsewhere. In the case that they did, it was only for practical reasons such as urgency.

The fledgling duo took up three more films after Tumse Pyar Ho Gaya — Chhaila Babu (which was interminably delayed and got released only in 1967, and was also directed by K. Parvez), Hum Tum Aur Woh, Piya Log Kya Kahenge and one more untitled film whose details the duo does not remember. The last three films never got completed either! The title song of Piya Log Kya Kahenge was set to the tune that was used by them later in Dosti — the line ‘Awaaz main na doonga’ in the mukhda of ‘Chahoonga Main Tujhe’ in Dosti.

All these trials and tribulations taught the young duo valuable and valid lessons. By the time cinematographer-director and special effects wizard Babubhai Mistry signed them for Parasmani, starring Mahipal and Geetanjali, the Laxmikant-Pyarelal list of dos and don’ts were clear, and put into practice immediately to shape their exceptional careers. Parasmani, produced under the Movieland banner, was released in 1963. The duo would go on to work in over 500 released films until 2004, which saw their last release, the Akshay Kumar-Sridevi movie Mere Biwi Ka Jawaab Nahin. The film came out six years after Laxmikant passed away. They ruled the music scene as undisputed leaders from 1969 to 1993 — a full 25 years!

In 1963, setting a blueprint later followed by early Bappi Lahiri (by default), Nadeem-Shravan (never acknowledged) and Himesh Reshammiya (who acknowledges it openly), Laxmikant-Pyarelal decided that the music should be the biggest star of all their films. Lata Mangeshkar made that happen for them and has always remained special for them. Said Laxmikant emotionally, "In those days, we would never conceive a song without her. And though she was expensive and we were nobodies, we never compromised. Often our small producers would allot us only Rs5,000 per song, and her fees alone would be Rs3,000! So what about the musicians and us? As we were making enough as musicians, Pyare and I would fork out Rs1,500 each just to be able to afford her fees." The musicians were all friends and we would persuade them to work free for us or at least take lesser rates. The shoestring budgets could thus be amazingly stretched.’

Mohammed Rafi and Mukesh were well-known for being completely flexible in price or would even write off remunerations for the composer duo in their early films.

The other lesson that L-P had imbibed from Kalyanji-Anandji and Shankar-Jaikishan was the value of a large orchestra when a song warranted it. There too, the duo often spent from their own pockets, but saw to it that the composition did not suffer. The aim was simple: their music had to stand out.

And it did!

Excerpted from Music By Laxmikant Pyarelal : The Incredible Melodious Journey by Rajiv Vijayakar with permission from Rupa Publications. Click here to buy your copy.

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Indian cinema