Miffed Music Maestro Pyarelal Scolds Govt for ‘Obsoleting’ Legendary Laxmikant from Padma Awards List

Interviewer: SHRI RAM SHAW

New Delhi: “Pyare is the only complete composer in this industry! He can read and write both Indian and Western notations, compose, arrange, conduct and record music. With minor tweaks, he could convert my 25-paise tune to a one-rupee song!” – The very uniquely respectful take on Pyarelal was from none other than Laxmikant, the senior half of the Laxmikant-Pyarelal duo, considered the king of melodies in Bollywood who have more than 650 Hindi film albums to their credit in their illustrious and variegated career spanning almost five decades.

Pyarelal, who was in a state of confusion regarding his reaction to the Padma Awards, said, “Ours is a match divinely ordained. One is incomplete without the other. Pyare is nothing without Laxmi. (Jahan Laxmi hai, wahan Pyare hai.) They (government) should understand this. Agar koi nahin samajhta hai, toh bhala kya kar sakte hain! We have worked in this industry for 40-50 years. It is good if you get an award. Even if you don’t get it, it doesn’t matter. For us artists, people’s love, encouragement and good wishes give more satisfaction.”

“The government should understand this and make much-needed corrections in the list of names. If no one understands then what can we do? Saying something may cause unnecessary controversy. Laxmi can never be separated from Pyare,” a peeved Pyarelal said. It is pertinent to mention here that in the list of this year’s Padma Awards (arts field), only Pyarelal Sharma’s name is mentioned, while there is no mention of Laxmikant’s name. Pyarelal adds, “I don’t grieve Laxmiji’s absence because, even today, I feel he is right here with me. Music is the only way that heals us and brings us together, especially in the tough times.”

Laxmikant Shantaram Kudalkar was, perhaps, even more remarkable as a man than as a composer. Iconic music director duo has enthralled music lovers for decades, be it films or their live performances. While Laxmikant passed away way back in 1998, Pyarelal Ramprasad Sharma still continues to create magic with his soulful music. The legendary composer has continuously been casting a spell with his hypnotic melodies.

The country’s highest civilian honours Padma Awards have been announced. Pyarelal has been honoured with the prestigious Padma Bhushan, not only as a celebration of his musical prowess, but also in acknowledgment of his valuable contributions to art and pivotal role in defining the golden era of Hindi film music.

Padma Awards – one of the highest civilian Awards of the country, are conferred in three categories, namely, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. The Awards are given in various disciplines / fields of activities, viz.- art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc. ‘Padma Vibhushan’ is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service; ‘Padma Bhushan’ for distinguished service of high order and ‘Padma Shri’ for distinguished service in any field. The awards are announced on the occasion of Republic Day every year.

These Awards are conferred by the President of India at ceremonial functions which are held at Rashtrapati Bhawan usually around March / April every year. For the year 2024, the President has approved conferment of 132 Padma Awards including 2 duo cases (in a duo case, the Award is counted as one). The list comprises 5 Padma Vibhushan, 17 Padma Bhushan and 110 Padma Shri Awards. 30 of the awardees are women and the list also includes 8 persons from the category of Foreigners / NRI / PIO / OCI and 9 Posthumous awardees.

Pyarelal (born on 3rd September, 1940) is the son of a renowned trumpeter Pandit Ramprasad Sharma (popularly known as Babaji), who taught him the basics of music. He then aced the violin under the guidance of the Goan musician Anthony Gonsalves, whom he went on to immortalise in the song ‘My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves’, which was picturised on Amitabh Bachchan (who also contributed to the vocals) in the 1977 film ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’. He was also expert in western form of music. He even thought to try his fortune in the West and wanted to become a regular orchestra player with a renowned group. Lakshmikant dissuaded him and then they started the amazing journey of music for Indian cinema.

In an exclusive interview with this journalist (Shri Ram Shaw), the octogenarian shared his feelings, fond memories of working with Bharat Ratna Lata Mangeshkar, Mohd Rafi and noted lyricist Anand Bakshi.


Kindly share your feelings and legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar’s role in your iconic career…

Lata ji was a part of every important moment of my life. She was like a mother to me. I feel she is still around. Lata ji se humara rishta bahut gehra raha. Woh humare liye Saraswati maa hain. Hum Laxmikant-Pyarelal jo bhi bane, Lata ji ki wajah se bane. We were quite young when we were first introduced to Lata ji. Laxmikant ji ko unhone Shankar-Jaikishan (late composer duo) se milwaya aur kaam dilwaya. When she saw that I was good at playing the violin, unhone humara ek music group bana diya. Lata ji always supported us. We went on to create history by recording 712 songs together. She was jovial and fun-loving, but would also scold us at times.

When we reached out to her for our debut project, Parasmani, we requested her to sing our first song, she was surprised and said, ‘Tum itne chote ho, tum music director ban gaye?’ She happily recorded the songs of Parasmani and we gave her a cheque of Rs101. She would sing our compositions in her own style, be it Bindiya Chamkegi (Do Raaste; 1969), Ek Duje Ke Liye (1981) songs or Satyam Shivam Sundaram title track. Woh jo bhi gaati thi, us gaane ko amar kar deti thi.

Please share your memories with the golden voice of the silver screen, Mohd Rafi, the legend lives on through his magical voice…

Rafi Saab was an amazing human being. He was a topnotch singer, but so down to earth. Whenever Rafi Saab stepped into the studio, Kishore Kumar would stand up and offer his respect. Agar woh log achche insaan nahin hote, toh woh gaane itne khoobsoorat nahin ban paate…My father had once taken me to Rafi Saab’s house to ask for money during our bad times. When I became a composer, I worked with Rafi Saab and Lataji on the song ‘Yeh dil tum bin kahin lagta nahi, hum kya kare’. I remembered that I had to give Rs. 500 to both of them. Rafi Saab didn’t recall giving me money, Lata ji did. But they told me to keep the money as their blessing for me.

Listening to Vividh Bharati throughout the eighties, the sentence one heard most frequently from the announcer was, “Geet likha hai Anand Bakshi ne, aur sangeet se swarbaddh kiya hai Laxmikant-Pyarelal ne” or some variation of this. Tell us something about your partnership with noted lyricist Anand Bakshi…

We worked with Anand Bakshi Ji in 303 films, creating 1,680 songs in the process. Working together for the first time in Mr. X in Bombay, we went on to form a never-before, never-after kind of partnership over the next three decades. The credo of ‘the song is in the story’, a keen ear to the ground and an easy camaraderie were the key elements of our vibrant partnership.