Laxmikant Pyarelal: Bollywood Remembers

Laxmikant Pyarelal
Bollywood Remembers
Times Squre Records

This double disc, originally released by the Indian Saregama label last year, collects together two and a half hours of material by Bollywood composers Laxmikant Shantaram Kudalkar (1937-1998) and Pyarelal Ramprasad Sharma (b. 1940), better known by the collective name Laxmikant Pyarelal, or just plain “LP”. The duo met as musicians at the music academy run by legendary playback singer Lata Mangeshkar — Laxmikant played the mandolin and Pyarelal the violin — and went on to score over 500 movies between 1963 and 1998 (the year of Laxmikant’s death). While they worked with virtually all the major Bollywood directors and singers, they were particularly associated with Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi, and these singers dominate the tracks on offer here, especially on the first disc (Rafi died in 1980).

LP’s work is characterized by a notable openness to a wide variety of musical styles and instruments. Classical ragas mix with jazz horns, wah-wah guitars, funk and disco rhythms, and the insistent beat of the dafli (a circular frame drum). A range of singing styles are used throughout, and while the instantly recognizable Bollywood string style lends a consistency to many of the tracks, there is much quoting from other cinematic traditions, a cheeky highlight being the use Ennio Morricone’s “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” in one track.

Bollywood Remembers is packed full of classic tunes and sonic surprises. If forced to pick standout moments, I would list the yearning “Jaanewalo Zara Mudke Dekho Mujhe”, the Spaghetti Western-referencing “Taaron Mein Sajke”, “Mujhe Teri Mohabbat Ka” (a beautiful duet between Rafi and Mangeshkar), the jazz funk of “Soul of Bobby” (an excerpt from the rare 1974 instrumental album of the same name), the stinging Hawaiian guitar licks of “Arre Haye Haye Yeh Majboori”, the fabulous dafli drumming on “Dafliwale Dafli Bajaa”, and the epic disco funk of “Om Shanti Om”. All the inclusions are fantastic, however, and should appeal to anyone with an interest in Bollywood music, which is to say anyone interested in beautiful singing and inventive arrangements.

RATING 8 / 10