It all began as a casual chat. I was talking over the phone with Deepinder Kapany- the divisional head of Vanilla Music. We were discussing about their compilations of old songs and I asked him, "Why is it so that the music companies which have so many good songs from the past in their archives - just keep on dishing out the same songs under different album- labels?" I was just expressing my grouse as a reviewer because I have always sincerely felt that just in the name of commercial viability, the music companies keep on recycling same old hits ad nauseum.
What I had expected from Mr. Kapany was just another lame excuse but he surprised me by saying, "So doctor-saab, why don’t you do some special compilations for us?" For a moment I was taken aback and I asked him, "Are you sure?" Yes, it is true when they say- ‘To criticize from side-lines is very easy but to perform in the field is the real test.’ But the gauntlet was thrown and I accepted the challenge. Vanilla Music team whole-heartedly backed the idea and thus began ‘Never Before’ – a series of albums that will be presenting the old music with a new perspective.
As a compiler of these albums, my vision is clear and simple. I want to choose songs that would appeal to modern audiences’ sensitivities but at the same time, I want to make people aware of the real wealth of Hindi film music. By and large, the casual listeners prefer tried and trusted hit songs from the past, so these compilations have to have some such hit songs. But at the same time, I feel that including some songs that are appealing yet not too well- known is going to expand the horizons of common musical sensitivity in the long run. It’s my firm belief that ‘Good Music Does Sell’ and one has to make an effort to change the decaying scenario of present day music. I am happy that a UAE-based company like Vanilla Music is taking the initiative in this regard.
The first album in this series almost chose itself. Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammed Rafi and Pancham (R.D.Burman) – they don’t make artists like them any more. If Lata and Rafi are the perennial, traditional favourites then Pancham is the icon of trendy modernism. Surprisingly the combined output of these three legends has never ever received its due acclaim. Amongst Lata- Rafi’s three hundred-odd duets, Pancham’s tunes stand out for their vivacity and vibrancy.
So listening to this album is to feel the infectious energy of Chadhti Jawani (Caravan) or Lehrake Aaya Hai (Waaris) and also to experiences the innovative rhythm and melodic patterns of Aaj Hua Mera Dil Matwala (Chhote Nawab) and Nisultana Re (Pyar Ka Mausam). Here, one can also trace the O.P.Nayyar- influence on early Pancham in Jeenewale Muskurake Jee (Chhote Nawab) and see how R.D.’s tunes like Gori Ke Haath Mein (Mela) provided guide-lines for latter composers like Bhappi Lahiri. The final bonus track Pyar Ka Samay (Rampur Ka Laxman) where Kishore takes over from Rafi to complete the triad is significant as Pancham’s changed preference as far as the lead male singer was concerned.
It’s an enjoyable album and it’s just the beginning!