At 58, the composer will score for television
After staying away from the recording studios for almost five years, music director Pyarelal returns to his first love.
For 45 years, first as musician, then as assistant and arranger to composers Kalyanji-Anandji and others, and finally as film music world's greatest success story as the second half of the Laxmikant-Pyarelal for over three decades, films have been the composer's world.
From 1963's Parasmani, the L-P duo notched up a phenomenal 478 films including king-size triumphs like Dosti, Milan, Do Raaste, Haathi Mere Saathi, Mera Gaon Mera Desh, Bobby, Roti Kapda Aur Makaan, Amar Akbar Anthony, Satyam Shivam Sundaram, Sargam, Karz, Ek Duuje Ke Liye, Hero, Utsav, Tezaab, Ram Lakhan, Hum, Saudagar and Khalnayak.
Laxmikant's death on May 25, 1998 saw Pyarelal quit the scene and seemingly go into a shell. But four years later, Pyarelal Sharma, Hindi cinema's only complete composer (he was and is the only composer who can compose, arrange and record songs, conduct the orchestra, and read and write both Indian and Western notation), is back.
At 58, he is full of beans. His health problems a thing of the past as he takes on the A R Rahman generation of composers after eclipsing every stalwart in the LP heyday. He has already recorded the title song of Aryamaan -- Brahmand Ka Yodha, Mukesh Khanna's new serial on the scale of Star Wars, is doing at least two albums and will shortly be scoring for films as well.
Excerpts from an interview with Dr Rajiv Vijayakar:
Why did you choose a television serial for a comeback?
It is not as if I was away from music after Laxmi left us. I was always working on ideas at home, though I stayed away from the studios and film music. I set the groundwork for a tremendous musical project that needs the right backing.
As for Aryamaan, Mukeshji is an old friend. In the 1980s, we scored music for his brother's film Insaan and would have done two more films that never took off. When he came to me, I was inspired by his concept.
I do not look at television as infradig. Music has been an integral part of several big serials. Laxmi and I were to do some serials even in the 1990s, one of which was on Amrapali. The other was to be produced by Nitish Bharadwaj.
Aryamaan is being made on a huge budget and the kind of money being spent on the songs is akin to film song budgets. Mukeshji wanted me because the songs require a balanced fusion between Indian melody and Western music. The title song will not be my only contribution.
Will you be working under the name Laxmikant-Pyarelal?
No, the body of work that LP as a name have done still stands at the top and I want it untouched. I will start like a newcomer, as Pyarelal. Laxmi is with me in spirit, I do not need to tag on his name just to show sentiment.
What differences do you see in music now, as opposed to your time?
What do you mean by 'your time'? This is my time, too! A qualified music director is not upset by trends. If he has the musical base he can change, adapt, even be a trendsetter. It is the ignoramuses who lose their bearings when a new trend that they cannot understand arrives. We have stayed on course for 30 years through various major changes.
I do not also subscribe to the idea that every change is for the worse. Change is usually for the better. The only major change today is in the pace of work and the pace of the song, which cause some compromise in originality.
I admire today's music directors who are giving results despite the constraints on their creativity.
Still, in these few years, even the way a song is recorded has changed. From a live recording with a 100-piece orchestra, we have the piecemeal recordings at smaller studios.
All that is part of the technological progress. Budgets have spiralled and the old way of working had to be abandoned. With the multi-track system there is a reduction in the involvement in a song. But there is also perfection. In the old way, we had to overlook minor flaws in the vocals and music to prevent a retake.
What do you think of remixes?
If done imaginatively, there is nothing wrong with them. They can help give new life to great old songs. One of the albums that I am doing is an experiment in that direction. I have chosen eight of our hits, like Hum tum ek kamre mein band ho [Bobby], Ek pyar ka naghma hai [Shor] and Jyot se jyot jagaate chalo [Sant Gyaneshwar] and treated them uniquely.
The vocal portions have been recorded by a 50, 70 or 80-member chorus, while the orchestral parts will be 'vocalised' by singers like Anuradha Paudwal, Hema Sardesai, Shailendra Singh, Vinod Rathod and others. There is only rhythm, the click beats are completely absent. The experiment may or may not work.
What other projects are you working on?
There is an album planned with a major singing star, and a few film announcements follow. It will not be proper for me to talk about them before they are officially announced by the producers. Within a month, you will know all about it!
As Laxmikant Pyarelal, we worked with the cream of filmmakers from V Shantaram, Raj Kapoor, Manoj Kumar, Raj Khosla, L V Prasad and K Vishwanath. When S Mukerji scoffed and turned us away then as Number 26 in the mid-1960s when we asked him for a film, we told him that we would reach the Number One position in three years. We kept our promise.
Four decades later, God willing, I will reach the same heights again!