He was born in an atmosphere of music with an illustrious father . His nickname related to music. Had he been alive , he would have completed 77 years of age today . His death in 1994 at the age of 55 snatched him away from our midst , almost unnoticed . He died unheralded . But as time passed , the legend of R D Burman refused to die down. It just grew on and snowballed into a much larger than life image for him as people realised how much ahead of his times he has been , during his life and how much contemporary his music remains , till now. Generations of music lovers hum on his music and a legion of singers , DJs , musicians and even music directors earn their living and in many instances , fame too , by reproducing his music. The remix versions of his songs are still big hits and sometimes more popular in dance-bars , clubs and discotheques across the country. The classical and lyrical compositions that he created are still the most repeated songs on the late night shows on FM channels .
Often we do not realise the true value of something as long as it remains with us and make the mistake of not recognising a genius during his lifetime . R D Burman falls in that category . Throughout his career he had to bear the stigma of being too much influenced by western music . But the classical based songs that he composed are the most remembered. He brought in different sounds in his music and broke the grammar of orchestration as such by his out of the box ideas and tunes. Change of scale and tenor and then mixing them effortlessly in the song was his hallmark . So one could experience the shift from a humming tune to a high pitched tone without any jarring experience . Till now very few modern music directors dare to use this style even with such a great advancement in sound quality and musical instruments.
It is not as if he was the master of all he surveyed. Because the period in which his body of work lied was perhaps the best era of Indian film music . He had to compete against great music directors including his own father . But charting his own path , he created a new genre of music which got identified with him and maybe his personality too . A bit of madness, a bit of talent , a slice of restlessness , a dose of playfulness , a dollop of romanticism , a pool of sadness and a stream of joy . All tuned in the unforgettable compositions .
Like many talented and creative geniuses , RD Burman or Puncham as many of his fans call him , by his nickname had a disturbed personal life . In spite of having everything right from his childhood , he spent his later years before death , alone and unsung . Lurking behind his childlike and enthusiastic personality was perhaps a deep shadow of unfulfilled dreams and expectations . His best years were the two full decades of 60s and 70s and by the mid 80s the dynamics of the film and music industry changed. Coupled with the onslaught of disco beats , electronic music and the explosion of tape recorders and video players , there was a change of audience preference too . RDB was shunned by many producers after a lukewarm response to many films and their music , composed by him . Then a heart attack in 88 followed by an open heart surgery in 89 limited his flow of work . He came back to provide music in a number of films and like the proverbial phoenix scored the beautiful music of 1942 – A love story which brought back the charm of film music for the listeners.
Whenever one will think of R D Burman , one will be filled with joyful nostalgia tinged with a sense of remorse . Because he is still so much relevant today .