When Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan were out in the west educating Indian music and creating works of fusion, Pancham was educating contemporary rock music to the Indian audience.
Of course western music influences can be seen in bollywood songs right from the beginning, but Pancham put a different twist to it by creating his own flavor of fusion: adding chords to classical based songs like in Aandhi, adding phaser effect in hume tumse pyar kitna, adding bass guitar and chords along with something as Indian as tabla, suddenly going back and forth from indian to western mode like in rocky – these are just handful of examples of what Pancham did to traditional music. In a way all of his songs are fusion. Undoubtebly, his music was trendsetting. Audiences used to classical based songs of SD, Naushad, MM etc. Or Ina Mina Diga type adaptations or Salil’s western classical adaptations, were suddenly introduced to deep soulful fusion experiments.
Although most of his songs were gems, his collaborations with Gulzar were monumental – these are songs even my grandchildren will appreciate.
RD brought Bossa Nova, Latin, Flamenco, African, Egyptian, Rock n Roll, Jazz and much more to us and his legacy lives on. He sampled sounds for his songs like chura liya and o majhi re. He used computerized arpeggios in Shaan and romance. He put his voice through Vocoder in Meri Jaan; Used flanger effect in a unusual song like Dhanno Ki Aaanko. He really set up a trend that is carried on by today’s talented composers like SEL, VS and VB.