'If you look at its melody, it's nothing.'
The life of a composer is unpredictable, says Pyarelal of the legendary music director duo Laxmikant-Pyarelal, recalling how some of their most complex creations quietly faded away while a simple melody like Ek Do Teen went on to become a chartbuster for generations.
The composers -- Laxmikant Kudalkar and Pyarelal Sharma -- began their film career in 1963 and emerged as one of the most successful and popular composer duos who collaborated with film-makers like Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, B R Chopra, Shakti Samanta, Manmohan Desai, Yash Chopra, Boney Kapoor.
Also referred to as 'LP' by ardent fans, the discography of the duo ranged from the sentimental Ek Pyaar Ka Nagma Hai, Sheesha Ho Ya Dil Ho, the playful Hum Tum Ek Kamre Mein Band Ho to the foot-tapping hits, Jumma Chumma De De and Ek Haseena Thi.
In 1998, Laxmikant passed away and that was the end of their glorious 35-year-old partnership. Their last film was Deewana Mastana, the 1997 rom-com directed by David Dhawan.
"A music composer's life is so unpredictable. Our good songs, which we thought would work, have not and it has happened a lot. You do feel sad," Pyarelalji tells Justin Rao/PTI.
"I can think of the beautiful Akela Hu Mein Humsafar Dhundta Hu sung by Mohammed Rafi from Jaal (1967). But Sunday doesn't come everyday and not all songs will be a hit is what I tell myself," adds Pyarelalji.
Recalling the story behind Ek Do Teen from the 1988 film Tezaab, the 79-year-old composer says they didn't expect the song, penned by Javed Akhtar, to become a chartbuster.
"There also those songs which we wondered why did we even record, but they have become hits! Like Ek Do Teen. If you look at its melody, it's nothing. It's so simple," he says.
"I've always felt it's Javed sahab who did wonders to it with his poetry."
The track, sung by Alka Yagnik and choreographed by Saroj Khan, catapulted Madhuri Dixit into an overnight dancer-star and left a massive pop culture footprint.
Pyarelalji credits Javed sahab Akhtar for using numbers -- in days, weeks, months and years -- to describe a lover's longing, which made the song "immortal".
"The way he came up with 'din-hafta-mahina-saal', it completely transformed the song," Pyarelalji points out. Otherwise the melody is nothing really if you look at it musically."
"Also the way it was shot, choreographed, danced, mattered," he adds. "Now look how it turned out. I didn't think Ek Do Teen would become so popular."
Laxmikant-Pyarelal have several celebrated film soundtracks, including Bobby, Karz, Milan, Satyam Shivam Sundaram, to their credit.
The duo also had longstanding partnerships -- from lyricist Anand Bakshi penning for more than 300 songs for their films to superstar Rajesh Khanna for whom they composed music in over 25 movies.
The longevity of their songs is a result of the combined efforts of these artistes who gave their best, Pyarelalji notes.
"The way the lyricist wrote the poetry, singers who gave their all for the tracks, the way it was picturised, are also factors in making a song evergreen. If you have a great, simple melody with good poetry, the song will find a place."
The composer is currently seen on MX Player's latest show Times of Music, which features 20 composers reinventing each other's iconic tunes.
Hosted by music director Vishal Dadlani, each episode sees two composers of different eras interpret each other's celebrated songs in their own style.
The show features Pyarelalji re-imagining composer duo Salim-Sulaiman's romantic ballad Shukran Allah from the 2009 film Kurbaan.
Salim-Sulaiman have, in turn, given their own twist to the popular Laxmikant-Pyarelal composition, Mere Mehboob Qayamat Hogi, sung by Kishore Kumar for the 1964 movie Mr X in Bombay, in which the iconic singer also starred.
"What I loved about this concept was how we could re-imagine songs which we have loved. Salim-Sulaiman are such fantastic composers. Whenever we meet we endlessly talk about music. Their taste, their idea is unique and so fresh," Pyarelalji, who guest composed Dhoom Tana in the 2007 film Om Shanti Om, says.
"I've tried as hard as I could to do justice to their compositions. There was a challenge, to present it differently, change the sound, re-arrange it, give it a new colour. Now it's up to the audience to decide if they like it," he adds.
Laxmikant-Pyarelal's compositions have been recreated, including Ek Do Teen for Baaghi 2 and Hungama Ho Gaya, originally from the 1973 film Anhonee, for Queen. The Bollywood legend disapproves of the remix trend, saying it is not a good practice.
"You should not remix songs. This is not a good trend. Even if the producers insist, you should not do it," he says. "I am not at all happy with this. You are just repackaging the same song where the melody is disturbed, its rhythm, pattern, all is over."