10 years of PanchamMagical Effect

Panchammagic Group was created quite informally. In the year 2000 some of the Pancham’s music enthusiasts had been to an orchestra performance. The intention was to appreciate Pancham’s music and share their passion for his music with like-minded people. But they were really disappointed to see how Pancham’s music/songs were distorted and presented on stage by various artists. At that moment only the concept of presenting Pancham’s work in original form was born.

Raj Nagul and Mahesh Ketkar, associate together, used to share the same passion about R.D. Burman’s music. Sudheer Kulkarni who was another knowledgeable RD fan used to share his findings time to time with Raj and Mahesh. One fine day Raj and Mahesh received a MP3 which was including all Pancham songs. MP3 format in those days was really new and very few people were having awareness about that. That’s how another Pancham fan, Ashutosh Soman got associated with Raj and Mahesh. Ashutosh, while exploring on MP3 format, put together all songs of his all time favorite composer and put it in once CD. Somehow that CD reached to Raj to bring Raj, Mahesh and Ashutosh together. After many discussions they decided to form an informal group ‘PanchamMagic’. The idea was to hold a show based on Pancham’s original soundtracks and explain the beauty and thought process behind his work. Ankush Chinchankar who used to write about Pancham on various forums also joined them. PanchamMagic’s first show was great success because the concept was unique. The information shared by PanchamMagic was of some quality which was never done before. Audience was thrilled to hear some unheard songs and information shared along with them. Another remarkable thing was noticed about Raj’s efforts to collect each and every record of Pancham.

PanchamMagic’s journey started and during the very next show they invited artists who had been Pancham’s assistants and musicians or associates. All the key musicians were on stage and they were interviewed by PanchamMagic to share their divine moments they had with the great maestro. All the musicians were really thrilled and they had tears in their eyes to see affection and love, people still have for Pancham. Mainly they were surprised to see that audience was enjoying the ‘talk’ about the Pancham along with original sound tracks. People went mad when these musicians nostalgically explain various experiments or talk about their personal interaction with Panchamda along with live demos on their musical instruments. Needless to say the get-together of ‘Panchamminded’ people was a huge success. Another aspect of this show was to give due credit to all the musicians who are otherwise away from the limelight and provide them with a platform to be appreciated for the tremendous work they had done so far.

Original idea of PanchamMagic was to conduct only one program with Pancham’s musicians. But the response was tremendous and many more other Pancham associates/colleagues came forward and wished to participate in PanchamMagic programs. They found PanchamMagic concept really unique and a great opportunity to express their sentiments about Pancham. That’s how the journey to explore Pancham through his associates and some unique themes conceived by PanchamMagic started in full swing.

Till today there is no live orchestra, but PanchamMagic play original sound track bound together with a new theme every time and try to unfold finer nuances of compositions and their treatment. Sometimes Manoharida played saxophone to demonstrate the unique progressions in Pancham’s songs and the rhythm patterns being explained by Nitin Shankar with an entire range of rhythm instruments. Very first time Amrutrao explained how Pancham derived the sound he wanted by playing on the ‘back’ of him. Like these all Pancham musicians shared some really precious moments with Pancham during last 10 years.

The guests that have graced these occasions till today during these last 10 years include Gulzar, Bhupinder Singh, Mitali Singh, Raj Sippy, Pt.Ulhas Bapat, Amit Kumar, Usha Uthup, Gulshan Bawara, Sachin, Poet Yogesh, Ashim Samanta, Manohari Singh, Marutirao Keer, Niteen Shankar, Kersi Lord, Bhanu Gupta, Babloo Chakraborty, Bharat Ashar, Ramesh Ayer, Ranjit Gazmer, Amritrao Katkar, Deepak Naik, Homi Mulla, Chandrakant Satnak, Arvind Mayekar, Deepan Chatterjee, Neelu Gavankar, Shailendra Singh, Ravi Sundaram, Jolly Mukharjee, Ravindra Sathe, Bhawani Shankar, Ronu Muzumdar, Pt.kartik Kumar, Suraj Sathe, Franco Vaz, Pt. Zarin Daruwala, Pt. Ashok Sharma, Pramod Sane, Jayram Acharya, Recordist Sampat  and many more.

Some of the memories are really unforgettable like Gulshan Bawra was in tears recollecting the past and the bond he shared with Panchamda. Bhupendra spoke at lengths about what Pancham was to him, as a composer and as a very close friend. The true essence of exploring Panchamda’s music was unfolded during the discussion with all his musicians and associates. Be it Franco playing drum pieces or Raj Sippy unfolding some great stories behind the Padosan and Satte pe Satta songs or Nilu Gavankar and Sachin sharing some nice family moments on personal front the moments are just unforgettable. Pancham Moments shared by all the guests cannot be explained in few words. PanchamMagic is alive because of these moments and that says all.

PanchamMagic’s program started off a totally new form of tribute to the most versatile composer on his birth and death anniversaries on June 27 and January 4 respectively had expanded into a gathering of ‘Panchammagic family’. More than thousands strong repeat audience for the last ten years starts approaching the group members at least a couple of months before the show enquiring about passes, theme and guests. Along with these 2 programs every year, PanchamMagic also presented unique program in form of Instrumental Show about Pancham and Dada Burman. Again the concept was unique and never presented before. Since most of the musicians were from Pancham’s own troop, the dignity and quality and soul of the original music was preserved very carefully. For the first time PanchamMagic brought around 52 musicians on stage which included mainly Pancham’s take musicians. The show was huge success as well.

All these 10 years the audience response has been overwhelming and invariably stuns the guest speakers who can’t believe that so many people gather enthusiastically to listen to their ‘talk’. It is truly a magical experience which explains why the group’s name is Panchammagic. The total atmosphere is of focused efforts by charged people. And what they have kept aside is any kind of formalities, including membership norms. All the members who have joined at some point or the other have come forward with their wish to be a part of this wonderful process. They have so much fun whenever they find time to get together. At one of these get together three unknown faces turned up at their office and gave the group an envelope which contained a receipt of payment they had done at Tilak Smarak Mandir for the next show, on their own initiative. Some write letters conveying their desire to be a part of these shows as volunteers.

For the members of PanchamMagic it is always a joyful experience of finding and contacting active or forgotten musicians, meeting them wherever they are, persuading them to be present, making necessary arrangements and letting them relieve their musical past. In this process many times there are awkward moments but such moments are kept aside remembering that the program is for Pancham. All such moments are kept aside and Pancham’s work is enjoyed all the times.

And among the group’s well cherished memories is what Gulzar once said: “It was like being in Pancham’s sitting room.” What better compliment could one ask for?

Sagar Kopardekar


What is Pancham?
Forgiving the grammatical lapses, if any, what is Pancham is more apt than who is Pancham? Because who is Pancham is very easy to answer. Besides the trivia like started composing :27th June 1939 changed the scale : 4 Jan 1994. Son of legendary parents Sachin Dev Burman & Meera Burman, scion of the Royal family of Tripura, there is much more, that is R. D. Burman.
Is he a mere mortal who passed through this world giving abundant & eternal joy to scores of people? Abundant & eternal joy, he did give, to enrich lives of many, but to term him a mere mortal will be blasphemy.
It is in this context that Panchammagic comes into the discussion. Is Panchammagic a fan club? Yes & then perhaps No. Was Panchammagic formed due to love, affection, liking or maybe fanaticism of R. D.? Yes or No… maybe No. Why does this duality crop up whenever R. D. is discussed? That is maybe, because R. D. is like that. Simple & complex at the same time. He is a brilliant composer is a simple fact. What makes him tick? What are his sources of inspiration? What makes him explore the unchartered paths? These are very complex questions. He is undoubtedly a very nice human being, a gem of a person. But why did he behave peculiarly, at times? Why didn’t he get the recognition due to him? What is the reason that he is the most cherished & acclaimed composer now? These & many more such questions are difficult to answer. Panchammagic since its inception is trying to find out the answer to many such questions.
How Panchammagic came into existence is again an interesting story. What was it, ‘luck, fate, destiny, providence’? Don’t know. One Mr. Raj Nagul (an RD fan, who has 100%of RD’s released compositions & a lot of unreleased compositions.) was working in an office in mid nineties. (Definitely after 4th Jan 1994.) In another office on the same floor, another R. D. lover Mr. Mahesh ketkar was working. Both of them were oblivious of each other’s existence & off course the love they had for RD. One day a trip was planned in Mr. Raj Nagul’s office & one of the colleagues and a friend of Mr. Mahesh Ketkar, asked him to join them & Mahesh conceded. During the trip both of them came to know about the common love they shared & instantly became good friends. As luck would have it when they resigned from their respective offices they started sharing same office . One day both of them while visiting a friend’s office listened to an mp3 CD being played & were astonished that all the songs were of none other than RD. At that time getting mp3 CD compiled was not as easy as it is today. So on enquiring who had done the compilation they came to know about Mr. Ashutosh Soman. Curious about the song selection, they contacted him & met another RD. lover.
One thing worthy of mention is, unlike now, RD fans were bit in a minority then. As mentioned earlier, RD rarely got recognition for his works, before 1994. He used to be in news for all the wrong reasons. Hence to find someone who is a fan of RD like you, used to evolve instant friendships then. (Even now it does , more so.) So the three hit off, very well. And then came the fateful day, rather night.
On that night three of them attended a musical show on R. D. Burman. They were so revolted by the pathetic orchestration & rendering by the singers that they couldn’t sit through the whole show. They left the show midway. Then & there they decided that we will arrange a show based on original sound tracks. This was a very defining & far reaching decision. None of them had any musical back ground & had no idea about how to arrange a show. It was defining as it was responsible for birth of a movement called panchammagic & far reaching because it left a deep impact not only on minds of members of panchammagic but also the guests who attended the show. To cite an example, Manohari Singh, assistant of RD & legendary saxophone player says, ‘It is due to panchammagic that second innings of our career started’. Many known & unknown names of RD’s troupe got name & fame. It was never an intended move, but a fall out of a good thing that panchammagic did. The show being unique & perhaps only one of its kind, has a huge fan following. Entry passes of the show are booked a month in advance without any advertisement. Rather an ad has to be printed to request, to not to asks for entry passes. This was not something which the founder members had imagined at the time of inception.
So now coming back to the moment when the decision to organize a show was taken the only thing that was decided was the show should be based on original soundtracks. Next was the search for a compere & guests. About guests it was decided that, let us invite all those who of are active in the field of music & fans of RD & let them elaborate the nuances of RD’s music. During the period in which the show was being conceptualized, Mr. Raj Nagul came across Mr. Ankush Chinchankar who actively participated in discussions on Pancham online group. Like many things about RD that astonish you, this Pancham online group is one such novelty. Even today the group is very active & you wonder about the tremendous awe inspiring capacity of this phenomenon called RD.
So when Raj discussed this idea, Ankush readily agreed. And on 27th June 2000 a show was held at an auditorium near Mr. Nagul’s office. The founder members were amazed to see the response elicited by the show. The show was a success & a very gratifying experience. Here again the seeds of next show were sown.
During one discussion, a thought came up. Why not invite all those who are associated with RD. & base a show on a bigger scale. But it was easier said than done. How to find associates of RD. Except Basu, Manohari, & Maruti Rao whose names appeared in title of RD’s movies no other person or even the name of any other person was known. As said earlier whether it was luck, fate, destiny or providence, we don’t know but Mr. Vishwas Nerurkar’s book on RD was published & Panchammagic as if got a treasure trove. For the first time they came across names & photos of the some persons who actually had worked with R D Burman. In the meanwhile, they came to know that noted music director Mr. Prabhakar Jog had worked with R. D. Burman for some time. So they immediately went to meet him. Mr. Jog proved to be of immense help. He gave phone number of Mr.Bhanu Gupta. This was a major breakthrough because, perhaps due to this information, a chain of events started, culminating in hosting of nearly 20 programmes in last 10 years. When contacted, Mr. Gupta was gracious enough to accept the invitation to attend the programme &gave contact numbers of many other musicians.
So, on 4th Jan 2001, the second programme was organized and was attended by RD’s associates. Mr.Manohari singh, Mr. Homi Mullan, Mr. Ranjit Gazmer, Mr. Ramesh Iyer, Mr. Deepan ChatterJee, Mr. Amrut Katkar, Mr.Chandrakant Satnak, Mr. Kersi Lord, Mr. Bhanu Gupta & Ms. Neelu Gavankar attended the show. The programme touched the chords of not only the audience but of the artiste’s as well. Neelu Gavankar shared her grief & sorrow of loss of love of her elder brother &brought tears to the eyes of one & all.
This programme led to a realization that by bringing together so many personalities at one time on stage, justice can’t be done either to the guest or RD, so let us arrange the next programme with two or three artists.
By this time panchammagic had also grown in numbers significantly. Founder members came to know about a fan club in Mumbai. By the time they went to meet them the club had folded up. But they came across Mr. sandeep kulkarni, Mr. kaustubh Ghaisas & Mr. Girish Aurangabadkar who till date look after all the activities in Bombay like meeting the guests before the show & bring them to pune for the same. There are scores of persons who work hard to make this show a huge success. How they all came to associate with panchammagic will be matter of some other discussion but some instances must be cited to tell how panchammagic grew. Mr. Anand Makasare wanted entry passes for one of the shows but couldn’t get them. He got restless by imagining the opportunity to go by, of seeing R. D.’s associates in flesh & blood & sharing of their memories. So he came up with an ingenious plan. He purchased tickets for the show which was to be held in the previous time slot of Panchammagic show. After the show he hid himself in the bathroom of auditorium & when panchammagic show started quietly entered the auditorium. This instance reflected his passion and led his entry into panchammagic. In another case after fourth or fifth programme founder members had decided to stop organizing shows. Arrangement of finance was becoming a stumbling block. For all the previous shows expenses were met from the pocket of Mr. Raj Nagul. And though passion was still there the movement started losing steam due to lack of funds. Once again destiny, luck, fate sent Mr. Ram Madchetti, Mr. Nitin Chabukswar & Mr. Mahesh Shinde. One day, these three came to office of Mr. Nagul & handed over to him the receipt of cash against the booking of auditorium for next show. These are just two instances. A story of sorts is associated with practically every member’s start of association with panchammagic. And not only members but such is the charisma of Pancham that we have got so many patrons in the course of time that it will be impossible to continue hosting the shows without their patronage. Most notable amongst them are Mr. Raj Sippy, Mr. Umesh Mehra Mr. Bhupindar Singh, Mr. Homi Mullan, Mr. Ashim Samanta. All these people help to reach known & unknown persons associated with Pancham. Of course with passing of time, along with bouquets panchammagic had to face its share of brickbats. Many unjust & unfounded criticism has come in panchammagic’s way. One of them is, Panchammagic’s commercialization. First & foremost, these shows are not held for any kind of commercial gain. All the donations received by patrons are accounted for & at the end, one can see though, for meager amounts the balance is in red only. And anyone interested can have a look at them anytime.Also though it is not known to everyone, the process of hosting these shows is going all round the year in Pune & Mumbai. A lot of time, money & efforts go into making the shows what they are. One notable incidence must be narrated here. For a long time panchammagic is trying to invite Mr. Manna Dey to this show. For one reason or the other, were unable to meet him. One biggest hurdle is that Manna Dey stays in Bangalore & unlike in the case of Mumbai, it was difficult to arrange a meeting with him. But then by chance Manna da gave an appointment, but that too for the very next day, & that too in Bangalore. So the next day at 2:00 a.m. in the morning 7 members of panchammahgic started out for Bangalore in a car. Reached there by about 7:00 p.m., spent 2 hours searching for the address. Manna da was gracious enough to entertain them at his residence at 9:30 p.m. And then they started back for pune at 11:00 p.m., slept in the car itself & reached pune next day at 6:00 p.m. It was sheer passion that made the members bear the ordeal of travelling nearly 1600 km in a day & half. And the interesting part is that till date Manna da hasn’t yet come to pune for the show. The point is, such activities are going on all round the year, taking a heavy toll on time, money, & labour of members, & all this is not related with whatever happens on the day of the show. The efforts that go into making this show beautiful are enormous & all the members of panchammagic deserve kudos for it. Another controversy that was doing the rounds was panchammagic sells the rare tunes or recordings given by artists for the show. On this panchammagic’s stand is very simple. Cite even one instance (or transaction) where it is proved that any such thing has taken place. All the recordings, photos, clippings are stored with Mr. Raj Nagul & even members of panchammagic are not given any copies of those, the material is sort of private ownership of Mr. Raj Nagul & is rarely given to someone at his discretion sans any consideration ( cash or kind ). Else the material is strictly used in the show only.
Lastly, panchammagic is fully aware that the response the show elicits is due to Pancham’s magic. What a deep impact he has left on minds & life of all those who come to show can be gauged by watching the show.
This is not a chronological tale but an attempt to compile thoughts, gushing out on mere mention of panchammagic, in logical order. A precise account is impossible, as it is closely related with an enigma, an eternal poser, that is PANCHAM………………………………………………………..

Hemant Karambelkar