Remembering Laxmikant Shantaram Kudalkar from the famous music director duo Laxmikant–Pyarelalon his 19th death anniversary.

4 min readMay 25, 2017

Laxmikant Shantaram Kudalkar, was born on the day of Laxmi Puja (Diwali), on 3 November 1937. Probably, because of the day of his birth, his parents named him as Laxmikant, after the goddess Laxmi and god Vishnu. He spent his childhood amidst dire poverty in the slums of Vile Parle (East) in Mumbai. His father died when he was a child. Because of the poor financial condition of the family, he could not complete his academic education either. Laxmikant’s father’s friend, a musician himself, advised Laxmikant and his elder brother to learn music. Accordingly, Laxmikant learned to play the mandolin and his elder brother learned to play the tabla. He spent two years in the company of the well-known mandolin player Hussain Ali. He began organising and performing in Indian Classical Instrumental Music concerts to earn some money. Later, in the 1940s, he also learned mandolin from Bal Mukund Indorker and violin from Husnalal (of the Husanlal Bhagatram fame). Laxmikant began his film career as a child actor in the Hindi films Bhakt Pundalik (1949 film) and Aankhen (1950 film). He also acted in some Gujarati films.

When Laxmikant was about 10 years old, he once played mandolin in a Lata Mangeshkar concert in Radio Club, Colaba. Lata was so impressed that she talked to him after the concert.

Laxmikant and Pyarelal met at Sureel Kala Kendra, a music academy for children, run by the Mangeshkar family. After she came to know about their financially poor backgrounds, Lata recommended their names to music directors like Naushad, Sachin Dev Burman and C. Ramchandra. Similar financial backgrounds and age made Laxmikant and Pyarelal very good friends. They used to spend long hours at the recording studios, sometimes getting work for each other and even playing together whenever they got the opportunity.

Pyarelal often used to frequent the Bombay Chamber Orchestra and the Paranjoti Academy, where he would perfect his skills in the company of Goody Seervai, Coomi Wadia, Mehli Mehta and his son, Zubin Mehta. Laxmikant–Pyarelal were not content with the payments being made to them for their music, so they decided to go to Madras (now Chennai). But, it was the same story there. So, they returned. Once Pyarelal decided to leave India and go to Vienna to play for symphony orchestras, just like Zubin. However, he stayed back at Laxmikant’s insistence. Some of Laxmikant–Pyarelal’s colleagues at this time included Pandit Shivkumar Sharma (Santoor) and Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia (flute). Later, Shivkumar and Hariprasad also ventured in Hindi Cinema as Shiv-Hari. Laxmikant–Pyarelal worked with almost all reputed music directors (with the exception of O. P. Nayyar and Shankar-Jaikishan) of the 1950s. In 1953, they became assistants to Kalyanji-Anandji and worked with them as assistants till 1963. They worked as music arrangers for many music directors including Sachin Dev Burman (in Ziddi) and also for his son Rahul Dev Burman (in his first film Chhote Nawab). Laxmikant–Pyarelal and R D Burman remained very good friends, even when Laxmikant–Pyarelal started giving music independently. R D Burman played mouth organ for all songs of Dosti. Laxmikant once made a guest appearance playing role of himself as a Composer of Song “Dil Ki Baat” in Teri Kasam (1982), which had music by R D Burman.

Laxmikant–Pyarelal composed Indian classical music as well as Western music. Due to his flaming style of music, he earned the nickname Laxmikant “Pyromaniac” Pyeralal. But they were most popular for their folk tunes and semi-classical music. In Shagird, they created Rock-n-Roll-style foot-tapping melodies. The film Karz is worth specially mentioning here where LP successfully, gave disco-like music, in this film they had experimented with a ghazal “Dard-e-dil Dard-e- jigar” by westernising it. The song is strongly remembered even now, and the duo received the Filmfare Best Music Director Award for the year.

Although not as a rule, Laxmikant mostly looked after vocals and Pyarelal used to take care of orchestration. Both had vast knowledge of various music genres, musical instruments and orchestra management.

LP dominated the Weekly Hindi Film songs Countdown programme Binaca Geet Mala, the most popular musical radio programme of its time. Its first broadcast was in 1953 by Radio Ceylon and its host was the Ameen Sayani. The Binaca Geet Mala ranked the most popular Bollywood film songs according to sales in select shops in select cities.

In the third quarter of 1963, LP’s first ever songs Hasta Hua Nurani Chehara form Parasmani hit the “Binaca Geet Mala”. After that LP’s songs were regularly and prominently aired on “Binaca Geet Mala”. There used to be sixteen songs in each of the weekly “Binaca Geet Mala” programme, more than half the numbers of the songs were of LP. There are certain weekly Binaca Geet Mala programmes in which more than 13 out of 16 songs of LP were broadcast when LP were on right on top of their carrier. BGM used to broadcast annual (Vasrshik ) programme giving the orders of the top 32 songs of every year. In this programme also LP were having upper hand. Not only that, on an average, there used to be at least more than 15 songs used to be of LP, that too about 50 % of the songs in between top to first ten positions. The Binaca Geet Mala records shows that Laxmikant-Pyarelal have completely dominated this musical programme.

In all Laxmikant-Pyarelal have 245 numbers of Binca Geetmala Final Songs…(The songs compiled at the end of every year, to measure the popularity)..The highest numbers of the songs by any music directors appeared in Binaca Geetmala Finals. Apart from Laxmikant-Pyarelal have the highest numbers of the TOP songs for 11 years.

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