‘Pancham Unmixed’ is a moving tribute to the musical genius.

Singer Asha Bhonsle remembers, “He was fond of original sounds and experimentation.” Writer-director Gulzar says, “He was intense and passionate about Life.” Santoor wizard Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma recalls, “He liked throwing challenges at his musicians and then allowed them complete freedom!” Jazz pianist Louis Banks believes ‘his intuitive knowledge made him a genius.' “There was never a dull moment when he was around,” is singer Shailendra Singh's take.

The man in question is the composer par excellence… R. D. Burman.

What made RBD, better known as Pancham, the genius he was? How did he go about making music come alive? What was he like when he was not in his music mode? How much do we know about the man who was one of the pioneers of fusion in film music?

Filmmaker and self-confessed Pancham fan Brahmanand Singh set out on a music quest to try and unravel the psyche of the genius, and two years later, it resulted in ‘Pancham Unmixed,' a collector's edition comprising two DVDs and a book titled ‘Strings of Eternity'.

Using interviews and archival material, Singh brings alive once again for all Hindi music buffs R.D. Burman… the man, his music and his rather short life.

The first DVD aptly called ‘Mujhe Chalte Jaana Hai…' weaves memories with evergreen musical moments. It is nostalgia time for long-term associates who remember a man, often lonely despite being in a crowd but at his happiest whilst creating a melody. He loved to play pranks, and ensured recording sessions were happy occasions for everyone. He had the ability to put everyone at ease.

The second DVD, ‘The Great R.D. Blast,' is a collection of 30 gems from Pancham's oeuvre – ‘Dum Maro Dum', ‘Jai Jai Shiv Shankar', ‘Rimjhim Gire Saawan' and so on…

Recall mode

Gulzar, whose friendship with Pancham took roots when they were assistants to S.D. Burman and Bimal Roy respectively, recollects, “He would say, ‘You have to nourish a song, nurture it… you have to cook it! I think it is a big lesson for today's composers.”

Manohari Singh, who was with Pancham's orchestra from the beginning till ‘1947: A Love Story' has this to say about his dear friend: “He had a spontaneous and artistic bent of mind in everything… He loved to experiment… For example, he jokingly started playing with water in a bottle and then used the blowing sound in the song ‘Mehbooba Mehbooba' (Sholay). Similarly, he used cups and saucers to create that tinkling effect in ‘Churaliya Hai.' He was a great buddy…”

The thoughts and memories of 40 such personalities make it to the coffee table tome, ‘Strings of Eternity.' Peppered with rare black and white photographs, including one of Burman Sr. holding Baby Rahul and the two working together, the book is a delightful read. Priced at Rs. 999, the pack is marketed by Shemaroo.

Raag or riff, Pancham composed effortlessly. The fact that his songs have stood the test of time and are still popular with the iPod Gen is proof of his genius. Truly, Pancham lives on…