Remembering Composer Laxmikant of Laxmikant-Pyarelal

Laxmikant-Pyarelal Laxmikant died two decades back on May 25, the senior half of Hindi cinema’s most prolific, longest-lasting, most versatile and successful music composers Laxmikant-Pyarelal. Their phenomenal records included scoring the maximum songs of Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi, topping the Binaca Geet Mala Annual countdown the maximum number of times in their 36 year career and having the maximum signature tunes (songs that are the first to be thought of for any star, like Dimple Kapadia’s “Hum Tum Ek Kamre Mein Band Ho” from “Bobby”).

It is common knowledge in the industry that of the two perfectly complementary talents, Laxmikant would compose the melody, rehearse the singers and look after the business angles, while Pyarelal would package the song and record it. Quite naturally, these were no watertight compartments. And together they were complete.

Laxmikant-Pyarelal

A lesser-known aspect of their music was their use of actors and actresses, leading as well as supporting artistes, as singers. Of course, in many cases, they only had interpolations made during the rendition, but in many cases, they also sang. In any case, the pitch and key would have to be taught and maintained during the live recording, where, for example, a Mohammed Rafi would be singing with Amitabh Bachchan or a Kishore Kumar with Hema Malini.

Amitabh Bachchan sang “Chal Mere Bhai” (“Naseeb”) with Mohammed Rafi as Rishi Kapoor’s voice. It is said that Rafi was as thrilled as a child at the prospect of recording with Bachchan, for whom he has sung more songs with L-P than under any other composer. And yes, Rishi Kapoor also voiced a portion here.

Bachchan also recited the famous nonsensical English portions “The coefficient of the linear is juxtaposition” in the epic “My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves” in “Amar Akbar Anthony.” The Easter song, a tribute by Pyarelal to his guru Anthony Gonsalves, had Kishore Kumar singing the regular segment.

And in 1992, Bachchan recited the “Khuda Gawah” theme in his home production “Khuda Gawah.”

Dilip Kumar sang the long introductory portion of “Ae Sanam Tere Liye” (“Karma”), which was a sing-song intonation. Mohammed Aziz sang the rest of the portion for him, with Kavita Krishnamurthi Subramaniam as co-singer.

Shashi Kapoor vocalized some passages in three of their songs, “Yashomati Maiyya Se” (with Lata Mangeshkar for Zeenat Aman and the actress herself speaking) in “Satyam Shivam Sundaram,” with Lata again in “Hum Kahaan Kho Gaye” in “Vakil Baboo” (again for Aman) and with Asha Bhosle in “Main To Beghar Hoon” (“Suhaag”).

Shatrughan Sinha rendered the last line of “Aa Bataa De Ke Tujhe Kaise Jeeya Jaata Hai” (“Dost”) with Mohammed Rafi singing for Dharmendra and Lata Mangeshkar for Hema Malini. And Sinha rendered “Aisi Waisi Na Samajh Sajna” (with Asha Bhosle) for “Jaani Dushman.”

Hema Malini herself sang “Hua Kya Agar Tu Zaraa Bewafa Hai” in her home production “Dream Girl” with Kishore Kumar.  Raakhee too sang a portion of another Kishore Kumar duet “Teri Nindiya Ko Lag Jaaye Aag Re” in “Taaqat,” again her home production.

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Mehmood was another favorite as he was involved in several L-P numbers. Heading the popular list was “Yeh Kaisa Aaya Zamana,” from the Jeetendra home production “Humjoli,” the brilliantly variegated song for Mehmood in a triple role, rendered by Mukesh, Kishore Kumar and Mehmood himself, In an uncanny resemblance to real-life, Mehmood droned in a Prithviraj Kapoor-Esque voice for his old avatar, Mukesh sang for the father who spoke and sang like Raj Kapoor, while Kishore Kumar was the voice of the young swinger son.

And the best part was that “Kal Aaj Aur Kal” starring both of them with Raj Kapoor’s son Randhir Kapoor was still 18 months away, with no way of knowing in advance that Kishore would be his near-permanent voice!

Mehmood also sang in other L-P films: “Patthar Ke Sanam” (with Rafi for Manoj Kumar), “Anari” (1975) with Kishore for Shashi Kapoor, “Pyar Mohabbat” (1988) and in the popular “Mehbooba Mehbooba” with Rafi singing most of the song for him. This was in his 1968 home production “Sadhu Aur Shaitan.”

Leena Chandavarkar told this writer that she regretted reaching the recording studio late as a fan of Kishore when L-P wanted her to interpolate a few lines in the hit song “Gham Ka Fasana” in “Manchali” (1974). Of course, she never knew she would marry him one day!

Jackie Shroff voiced a few lines in the Manhar-Sudesh Bhosle duet “Chhat Ke Oopar Do Kabutar” in “Dil Hi To Hai” (1993) with both singers vocalizing for “two” Shroffs. And while Shabbir Kumar sang “Tere Bin Main Nahin” in “Woh 7 Din” for the hero Anil Kapoor, Kapoor, Padmini Kolhapure and child artiste Master Raju also recited a few lines. Jeetendra similarly voiced a few words in his home production “Jyoti Bane Jwala” (with Lata Mangeshkar in “Kisi Din Uth Gaya Jo Mera Haath”).

Of course, beginning with Kishore Kumar (also an actor, who sang for himself in “Mr X In Bombay,” “Hum Sab Ustad Hain,” “Shreeman Funtoosh” and “Pyar Kiye Jaa.”) Laxmikant-Pyarelal also used other actor-singers like Shailendra Singh (never for himself as no film of theirs starred him), Sulakshana Pandit (for herself in “Thief Baghdad,” “Phaansi,’ “Apnapan” and “Amar Shakti”) and Salma Agha (in “Pati Patni Aur Tawaif”). Kishore, of course, had a limitless array of hits for them as a singer, and Pandit, who also sang playback for other artistes, had her own hits “Jab Aati Hogi Yaad Teri” in “Phaansi” and “Somvar Ko Hum Mile” in “Apnapan” as an actress.

L-P also scored Talat Aziz’s home production “Dhun,” in which he was the hero as well. Though the film never released, it was one of their best works in the 1990s and was directed by Mahesh Bhatt. Another Bhatt film was “Naam,” in which Pankaj Udhas sang the cult and compulsory (for every one of his concerts) “Chiithi Aayi Hai” even on screen.

Another such example was of the Sufi number “Beshak Mandir Masjid Todo” sung and filmed on Narendra Chanchal in “Bobby,” while Jani Babu Qawwal enacted his portion of the multi-singer “Mehangai Maar Gayi” from “Roti Kapada Aur Makaan” that topped the 1975 Binaca Geet Mala. Punjabi folk sensation Gurdas Maan also sang and enacted “Jag Mein Kya Tha” in the 1988 “Patthar Dil.”

L-P also had an affinity for supporting actors and comedians as voices—these ranged from veterans to the ‘80s and ‘90s names that were relatively new in their time. Here is the list that rounds off this unique aspect of their career:

I. S. Johar: “Bade Miyan Deewane” and “Duniya Pagal Hai” (“Shagird”)

Birbal: “Raj Kapoor Si Neeli Aankhen” (“Maa Aur Mamta”)

Rajendra Nath: “Babloo Miyan Jao Tum Bade Woh Ho” (“Jeet”)

Mukri: “Tayyab Ali Pyar Ka Dushman” (“Amar Akbar Anthony”)

Johny Lever: “Bhoot Raja” (“Chaalbaaz”)

Amrish Puri: “Aaj Bachna Hai Mushkil” (“Saki Haatimtai”)

Mangal Dhillon: “Suno Suno Ae Gaon Ke” (“Yugandhar”)