Year 1985 - the last hectic chapter of Pancham's golden 80s; the final year when Pancham would score for Hindi movies in 2 digits; the beginning of the era which would bring more heartaches than happiness for him.
Commercially for Pancham, three (3) trends were visible - the old brigade desperately trying for new ideas, shelved and production delays and deaths. Almost every venture had a dark cloud hovering above it.
- Aar Paar, Palay Khan and finally Dushman leads to the end of the glorious Pancham days at Shakti Films.
- Rajesh Khanna would never recover from the shock of Alag Alag to complete Jai Shiv Shankar and Police Ke Peeche Police.
- The melodious banner RM Films bids adieu with Rahi Badal Gaye (how prophetic!),
- Ramesh Sippy ends his association with Pancham after Saagar.
- Navketan and Pancham part with Devina Films Hum Naujawan.
- Nasir Hussain loses faith and his touch with a whimpering finale in ZABARDAST.
- Dadoo Sippy and Romu Sippy end their association with Pancham after Sitamgar and Jeeva to search vainly for renewed success with Bhappi Lahiri, Rajesh Roshan and Illayaraaja.
- RK Soral and Bhartiraaja end their musical association with Panchamafter Saveray Waali Gaadi.
- Promod Chakkida ends with a decent hit SHATRU - only to make two more failed comebacks with godson Akshay Kumar.
- Rose Movies ends its run with Ramesh Behl's untimely demise - APNE APNE, INDRAJEET and CHOR PE MOR (financed) bring down the curtains.
- Parth Productions and producer/directors Harish and Vinod Shah end their Shilpkar association with a delayed and patchy ZALZALA.
- Kumar Gaurav and his Aryan banner makes its final attempt with an expensive ambitious remake of THE UNTOUCHABLES in JURRAT.
- Barkha Roy's banner makes a decent small budget attempt at a comeback with GUNHEGAAR KAUN? The audience responded Mohsin Khan ;-)
But all had not gone wrong in the Pancham world. Pancham continued to attract talented and ambitious artists with his untapped genius and vibrant personality. Despite a couple of heart strokes, innumerable desertations and betrayals, Pancham's music and attitude remained full of potential - a force to be respected. To name a few:
- This era began Pancham's associations with some of the most talented directors of the 90s: Shekhar Kapur (Joshilay), Rahul Rawail (Arjun, Samundar, Dacait), Priyadarshan (Gardish), Ram Gopal Verma (Drohi), Vidhu Vinod Chopra (Parinda, 1942 ALS), etc.
- Even the veterans, keen on making a change and a comeback, preferred Pancham to launch and provide his reputed midas touch to their ventures. Sohanlal Kanwar decided to entrust Pancham the S-J mantle for AWAARA BAAP and later TADAP. (he had also announced a venture to be directed by Nana Patekar).
-- Ravi Tandon decided to launch son Raj Tandon with his most popular song namesake movie EK MAIN AUR EK TU.
-- Brij Sadanah, a staunch KA loyalist, switched to Pancham for the WUTHERING HEIGHTS remake OONCHE LOG and the SHOLAY pale-make MARDON WAALI BAAT.
-- Veteran shock-director BR Ishaara joined hands with Rajesh Khanna camp to stage a triple comeback with JANAM SE PEHLE (formerly known as MERE NAAM TUMHAARI MAUT), SAUTELA BHAI (formerly known as DHARTI KI GOD MEIN) and POLICE KE PEECHE POLICE (shelved).
-- The controversial Malayalam director IV Sasi attempted a low-key remake with ANOKHA RISHTA although failing on the controversy part this time.
- New aspirants still decided to continue or launch their directorial and production ventures with Pancham. For instance 23 year old Robin Khosla decided to use only the best for his first directorial, production and writing experience TUM KARO VAADA (formerly known as Kalyug Ka Krishan). Yash Chopra campie Rajesh Sethi launched his version of MOTHER INDIA as a producer/director with JEENE DO. Talented director-sons Jyotin Goel (son of Devendra DUS LAKH Goel) and Tarun/Arun Dutt (sons of Guru Dutt) leaped into tinseldoom with creative INAAM DUS HAZAAR and damp KHULE-AAM.
- Artists like Vinod Mehra, Prasanjit and Shashi Ranjan saw big dreams of glory with GURUDEV, PURSHOTTAM and SIYASAT respectively. Even business houses like Sandhu Travels (BE-LAGAAM), Khaitaan Industries (SARPHIRA) and Chetna Supaari (MIL GAYEE MANZIL MUJHE) don't lag behind.
Alas these bright attempts at movie-making were overshadowed by a bigger phenomenon than ageing/failing moviemakers - PRODUCTION DELAYS. In Pancham's entire career, the period between 1985 and 1994 contains the largest amount of average production years for movies than any other decade.
A few samples:
- GHAATAK, BAHURANI, GURUDEV, JOSHILAAY, ZALZALA, NAMUMKIN, MIL GAYEE MANZIL MUJHE, ZINDAGANI, ZABARDAST - a record 5+ years
- PROFESSOR KI PADOSAN, FAISLA, KHARIDAR, JALIANWALA BAGH, ITHIHAAS, BOND 303, RUSVAI - circa The Lost Ages
- SAUTELA BHAI and JANAM SE PEHLE - 4 and 6 years in the cans lying unsold.
- ANYAY HI ANYAY, JEENE DO, AAG SE KHELENGE, APNE APNE, CHOR PE MOR - over 3 years
- LIBAAS, JAI SHIV SHANKER - never released
(That is easily over 200 years of talent, finance and effort gone delayed)
And the music suffered too.
Pancham's career got its biggest dose of misrepresentation by the untimely and unpreventable release of his movies and thus their music. On rare occasion where the projects were completed within schedule and released on time, the results were far better - for instance, DROHI, GARDISH, 1942, PARINDA, SAAGAR, ARJUN, LAVA, ALAG ALAG and to a certain extent HIFAZAT, RAMA O RAMA and GURUDEV.
Pancham's style of composition would on a stray occasion show his lack of confidence and inspiration. But then according to himself, he produced good music only when he felt good. And this was one period that gave him few reasons to feel like that. As if every other thing in the world was not already against him, one of his long time friends and voice for his numerous gems - Kishore left him too. Little good was happening on his professional, physical and emotional fronts.
He experimented with a number of voices during this period. Right from Kavita K, Alka Y, Abhijeet and Kumar Sanu, he was very forthcoming to try and encourage the new talents like Jolly Mukerjee, Sudesh Bhosle, Jayshree Shivram, Sadhna Sargam, Ranjana Joglekar, Babla Mehta, Gautam Roy, Shaan and Sagarika, Mukesh Agarwal (Jackie Shroff's secretary), Shivaji Chattopadhyay, Andrew Kishore, etc.
One very striking departure from the old style to the new emerging attitude of the 90s was the lack of emphasis on matching the playback voice with the performer - especially the male. Till the 80s, the audience were used to identify an actor with a certain playback voice. Kishore Kumar, Rafi, Manna De, Mukesh were the perfect conduits of their songs' on-screen performers' expressions.
Pancham, despite giving more opportunities to the newcomers than ever before, fought for the old style, but with little success. Alas! the replacements that he had for Rafi and Kishore were too pale in comparison. However, he consistently tried with some. Amongst the Top-trio of 80s, he chose Suresh Wadkar for Anil Kapoor, Shailendra/Wadkar for Sunny Deol and Shailendra/SPB for Jackie. Among others, Amit Kumar was slated for Kumar Gaurav and all others where he would have 'by choice' used a Kishore, like Rajesh Khanna. But he definitely struggled with his choices as far as commercial successes were concerned. It would have been difficult for a person who had the perfect sense of matching voices with actors and did so successfully all his career. And it seemed that it really was. To sum up this trend..
- He attempted to recreate the magic of Kishore Kumar-Lata for Rajesh Khanna, using Amit Kumar-Jayshree Shivraam instead, in Jai Shiv Shankar.
- His repeated attempt at finding the Rafi replacement with Munna Aziz paled many of his brilliant numbers including 'Main Diwana' (Ek Main Aur Ek Tu), 'Ankhon Hi Ankohn Mein' (Shiva Ka Insaaf), 'Logon Mera Naam Kabeera' (Jurrat) and 'Seene Mein Sholay' (Jeene Do).
- His matching of thicker voice for Jackie Shroff with SPB, Shailendra were less successful than LP's matching with Manhar.
- He made a better match for Sunny Deol with Suresh Wadkar and Shailendra and of Anil Kapoor with Suresh Wadkar - but the results were largely ignored.
- Pancham's seeds of investment was reaped in bountiful by the next generation - which found a well tuned Kavita, a dulcet confidence in Alka, Jolly Mukerjee, Kumar Sanu, etc.
And so continued his suffering and commercial failure in Hindi film music. But HFM's loss was to an extent regional music's gain. In this very era, he explored and enriched other avenues - South Indian movies (with SPB), Bangla movies and finally non-film albums. And at all these places, he produced some classics. It was difficult to keep his creativity down.
This was a bad phase for him in so many ways, but one thing which never ever got lost, was the spark of his genius. It kept showing up with brilliance, time and again. And even in his worse days, he was still ahead of the league. DIL PADOSI HAI, IJAAZAT, SITAMGAR, LIBAAS, GARDISH, DROHI, GUNEHGAR KAUN, CHATRAN and numerous excellent Bengali scores kept coming out of whatever few brighter and inspiring moments he had.
We could just be thankful to the man, who did not let his creativity go to dust. He kept composing, recording and then archiving, amidst all this. It is now a well-known fact that there are about over 2000 tunes that he composed during this period of professional inactivity, which were never used and are still lying unreleased. And the people who have seen those archived spools, simply marvel at the quality of the samples they have listened to. If there is one wish his fans would like to make on his 63rd birth anniversary, it will be to see those compositions released and listen to them.
Well, that's mostly it about that depressing but very nostalgic period, when, in fact, many of us *started* r(d)ealising the genius. And it was his songs of those very 80s and 90s which lead a lot of his fans into discovering more of him.
The second part of this post, which contains the actual quiz will be posted soon (in a day or two). Till then... well, why not listen to some of his songs from this highly ignored era and celebrate the man who gave us thousands of absolutely magical musical moments, no matter what the times were.
Thanks for reading.