Pyarelal remembers late partner Laxmikant

At 71, Pyarelal Sharma has the enthusiasm of a musical newbie. He remembers his late partner without any false melodrama. "We were like one, closer than brothers, so no one can even begin to understand our bond,'' he says. Not many are aware that till Laxmikant suggested that they team up as a duo in films, Pyarelal's ambition was to become a famous musician from India in Western music abroad, like his close friend Zubin Mehta.

After Laxmikant passed away in 1998, the maestro (described by Laxmikant as "the only complete music director in Hindi cinema'' who could read and write Indian and Western notations, compose, arrange, conduct and record songs and knew all instruments like the back of his hand) fought back against bad times. "Even today, I would not mind doing films if they are from A-list setups. Yash Chopra, Subhash Ghai and Mahesh Bhatt keep talking about working together again, and I am waiting!'' he says with a twinkle in his eye. In those hard times, Pyarelal recorded over 40 songs for albums that never came out.

The composer, who is considered India's finest violinist, made his first unique experiment when he recorded three songs (with only basic rhythm and percussion) with popular playback singers singing the chorus and instrumental sections, while the chorus sang the solo portions! His eyes lit up with the pure joy of an innovative creator, he adds, ''For Ek pyar ka naghma hai from Shor I have also used choir voices as the strings section. I want to make an album of eight such numbers. Lata (Mangeshkar)bai and Amitji (Amitabh Bachchan have heard these songs and they asked me how I could conceive what has never been done before anywhere, but I am always thinking of how to come up with something new!''

In 2003, a British violinist named Candida visited Pyarelal and persuaded him to visit England's Trinity College of Music. ''From 2004 to 2007, my wife and I would live there for four weeks every year, and I would teach the professors there,'' recalls Pyarelal. ''It gave me a great sense of pride when David Welton, managing director of the London Philharmonic, told me, 'Your music is like pure gold!'''

Pyarelal taught the British musicians to play his music. ''The London Philharmonic Orchestra got used to playing Western classical with an Indian folk touch and pan-Asian influences. I introduced new drums and wrote to a 2-4 beat when they are used to play on the 5-4. I also taught them to stop moving from side to side while playing!'' smiles the composer, who adds that when musicians there came to know that he had composed songs and background music for 500 films, one of them exclaimed, ''Then you must be at least 300 years old!''

''I was invited also to compose a quartet for four teenage musicians who were interested in Indian music, and I admit that I made their score slightly difficult, but they rose to the challenge,'' he says proudly.

Pyarelal simultaneously composed two symphonies (the most difficult of all Western music creations) and his work was published there in the book called Indian Summer by Schotts, a London-based publishing company. The symphony, called Om Shivam In A-Minor, was later registered in 2009 (after it went through the due but lengthy protocol of vetting the composition) at New York and the registration certificate is among his proud possessions. ''One more symphony is ready and I am composing two more,'' says the legendary composer, who has even incorporated elements of dadra and keherwa in Om Shivam… and has two simultaneous beats playing in it!

The legendary composer is also into more musical explorations. Apart from the Laxmikant-Pyarelal concerts that he keeps doing and the song Dhoom tana that he arranged for Shah Rukh Khan's Om Shanti Om, he will hold – later this year – a World Music concert in Germany, another World Music show with vocals-something never done before-in Austria and also present his symphony in a concert in America.

In France some years back, Pyarelal had composed and arranged an album of Indian film hits for leading artiste Pascal, called Pascal In Bollywood. ''The songs were neither restricted to Laxmikant-Pyarelal songs nor Hindi films alone,'' he said. More recently, Shaad Ali recorded a 10-minute song penned by Gulzar and sung by Sonu Niigaam and Shreya Ghoshal for a Paris Festival. The song was staged live by Ranveer Band Baaja Baaraat Singh and a French actress in a performance directed by Ali there.

On March 15, 2012 in Dubai, Pyarelal again conceived a unique experiment in front of a 5000-strong live audience including world musicians-''They were dancing to the music!'' smiles Pyarelal. A group of 20 Indian and 20 Western musicians joined forces for a World Music performance called Absolute India composed and arranged by Pyarelal and conducted by Kristjan Jarvi, Permanent Guest Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. It was set in a 12-tone scale of original music that can eventually form the language of a new harmonious amalgam of Indian and Western music. ''I thought of the idea of Indian as well as Western musicians playing together on what is composed, written and conducted. I also devised solo pieces for Dr L.Subramaniam and his son Amby. And alongside, Kavita Krishnamurthi-Subramaniam, Amit Kumar, Sonu Niigaam and others sang our hit songs as well.''

For Pyarelal, the sky is obviously not the limit. ''From my father Pandit Ramprasad Sharma and my guru Anthony Gonsalves to the master composers we assisted, I have absorbed so much of music. But the more I learn, the more I realise that there is no end to musical knowledge,'' says the composer.

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