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After his best years in the 70s, Pancham was overlooked by the Indian film industry in the late 80s and early 90s. Arguably, he was ahead of his time. His music assistant and saxophone player, Manohari Singh said, “Pancham knew we were back in the game when he had finished composing the music for Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s 1942: A Love Story. Pancham told us be ready for good times again.” Unfortunately, Pancham passed away on 4th Jan 1994, just weeks before the release of the film.

Vishwas Nerurkar writes in his book on Pancham, “My assessment of a great composer is that he should fulfill three criteria: 1) timeless compositions, offering the same freshness of melody years after their period or lifetime; 2) originality; and 3) trend-setter in the industry. On each of these three vital conditions, Pancham emerges in bright colors and honours.”

During his peak in the 70s, Pancham claimed he was composing 4-5 songs/day. A couple songs from lyricist Gulshan Bawra’s tribute to Pancham. In a heavy Punjabi accent, Bawra introduces these songs with anecdotes on how they were composed.

Pancham has collaborated with many western musicians, but his work with Jose Flores to produce ‘Pantera’ is commonly known. Though the Pantera songs are not among Pancham’s best compositions, they’re very rare.


RD Burman
"...the day after Pancham landed in San Francisco was carnival day, May 15. The atmosphere inspired him; he composed the 'carnival' number on the album then and there. Later that evening they visited a disco where R.D. and Jose's joint number In Every City was played.

An excited R.D. related what passed: 'The number began with a bang, New York city, Chicago, LA, San Francisco and Bombay. All the people there started dancing. At the climax all were clapping. I was so moved I almost cried.'"

- 'My God, That's My Tune': Filmfare, June 1984

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