In an interview with me in 2016 poet-lyricist Gulzar has pointed to a strange coincidence that ties his poetry to his much-missed pal Rahul Dev Burman's compositions.
Sayss the poet-lyricist: "In one of Pancham's (as the composer was known) most beloved songs, Mera kuch saamaan tumhare paas pada hai in the movie Ijaazat, I had written ek sau solah chaand ki raatein, ek tumhaare kaandhe ka til. Those 116 moonlit nights that I wrote about proved prophetic.
"When these two anthologists Vishwas Nerurkar and Biswanath Chatterjee got together to prepare this anthology Qatrah Qatrah for Sangeet Kala Kendra, they realised that exactly 116 of my songs were set to music by Pancham. I unconsciously wrote about it in the song," the lyricist recalled.
Indian classical literature incidentally lists 116 phases of the moon.
Gulzar is full of memories and anecdotes about Pancham. "He used to be at his wit's over my lyrics. Ek to bechare ki Hindi weak thi aur oopar se meri poetry (the poor man's Hindi was weak and to top it, he had to grapple with my poetry.)," the poet said.
"When I gave him mera kuch saamaan... he threw away the sheet saying, 'next you'll give me the headline of Times Of India and tell me to tune it," laughed Gulzar.
For Iss mod se jaate hain, he wanted to know where this city called, Nash-e-man, could be found. I'd sometimes hear him humming a Bengali song and ask him to give it to me. That's what happened with Tere bina zindagi se (Aandhi) and Do nainon mein aansoon bhare hain (Khushboo). For a song in Ghar, he was petrified to tell Lataji to sing the word badmaashiyon. I had to do the needful while Pancham hid behind a pillar. Pancham lived only for his music. Everything else was a distraction for him. Of course I miss him. This anthology reminded me of him," Gulzar said.
Image source: SpotboyE archives, Wikipedia