How a top civilian honour seeks to break the inseparable musical bond of Laxmikant-Pyarelal

This year, Pyarelal was honoured with Padmabhushan, the country’s top civilian honour, ignoring Laxmikant. Photo | website (

Laxmikant and Pyarelal were considered inseparable twins in the realm of Hindi cinema music. Though not blood relatives, Laxmikant Kudalkar and Pyarelal Sharma came to be known by the acronym Laxmkant-Pyarelal, underscoring their inseparability as the musical duo who churned out a huge volume of songs that mesmerised many generations of Hindi cinema music buffs.

From the 60s, the duo lorded over Bollywood for 35 years in the voices of Latha Mangeshkar, Mukesh Kumar and Asha Bhonsle churning out hits with stunning regularity. They composed music for 5,000 songs thus stamping their acronym in the world of Hindi filmdom and earning an aura of inseparable twins in the Hindi film music world. The attempt now is to perforate this inseparability of the legendary musical duo with an honour. How can the country honour Pyarelal with Padmabhushan, the country’s top civilian honour, ignoring Laxmikant? Their works speak for their efforts as a duo and not as a single composer, which is why this argument is gaining traction.

“They were inseparable in music as well as personal lives. And Hindi cinema celebrated them as LP. However, somehow the legendary association has been broken by this year’s Padmabhooshan awards,” Laxmikant’s wife Jaya Kudalkar reminded Union Home Minister Amit Shah in a letter. Though they are glad that Pyarelal has been conferred the Padmabhooshan, their grouse is that the inseparable association between Laxmikant and the former has been broken by an inadvertent act which overlooked the latter.

They have urged the authorities to make amendments by conferring Padmabhooshan posthumously to Laxmikant. They also cite precedence– the famous musical duo of Shankar-Jaikishen was given Padmasree jointly in 1968. There are thousands of fans who still think Laxmikant-Pyarelal is one person and the award for Pyarelal just seeks to break the immortality of the musical duo, Laxmikant’s kith and kin point out.

Latha Mangeshkar who noticed the immense talent of the duo introduced them to many directors. Photo | website (

A divine bonding

Laxmikant and Pyarelal struck the right chords as friends in their childhood. Born in 1937 in what was then Bombay, Laxmikant grew up in penury. But sensing his musical inclination, Laxmikant was sent to learn mandolin by a friend of his father. Hussian Ali and Bal Mukund Indurkar were his initial masters.

Born in 1940 as the son of musician Pandit Ram Prasad Sharma, musical chords ran in Pyarelal’s blood. Pyarelal also had the good fortune to learn violin from Goa’s maestro Antony Gonsalves. But slowly, as his family’s fortunes dipped, Pyarelal started playing the violin in nearby studios.

Laxmikant on the other hand had to do odd roles in films also to eke out a living while playing the mandolin in various forums. He also happened to get a chance to play mandolin in the orchestra of noted film music director Husnal Bhagatram. Noticing young Laxmikant’s mastery of the mandolin at a young age, Bhagatram also taught him violin. As his fame as a violin performer spread, he began to get offers to play violin from many orchestras. To put up with his lack of height he was given higher chairs to be able to perform along with senior artists.

He began to perform for noted composers, C Ramachandra, O P Naayyar, Shankar-Jaikishen and Hemant Kumar. During a break during a recording assignment in Mumbai’s Famous Studios, Laxmikant ventured out to play cricket with some folks out there. Pyarelal was also among them. That chance meeting scripted an unbreakable musical association which floored Indians with more than three decades of musical odyssey, which is the stuff of legend now to millions of fans. Laxmikant was 12 and Pyarelal was a nine-year-old then. Later their bonding took them to another platform– the Suril Kala Kendra run by Latha Mangeshkar’s family.

String of hits
Latha Mangeshkar who noticed the immense talent of the duo introduced them to many directors. But opportunities were hard to come by at that time. And some opportunities which they thought they would get just slipped away. They even went to Madras then in search of opportunities, but came back to Mumbai again. In between, Pyarelal got a golden opportunity to go to Symphony Orchestra in Vienna.

Pyarelal did not want to get separated from Laxmikant and hence declined the chance. At last, in 1963, the duo got their first chance to independently compose music for the film Parasmani. Their debut song was ‘Hastha hua nurani chehra’.Laxmikant was 26 then and Pyarelal 23. That musical bonding continued unhindered till Laxmikant’s demise in 1998.

Pyarelal was shattered by his pal’s death. Though he did do some musical composing years later, it was more in the role of a musical coordinator. All the songs he composed bore the name Laxmikant-Pyarelal, a fact which vouches for his unflinching and immortal friendship with Laxmikant, who had gone to his heavenly abode from the fascinating world of film music, leaving his dear friend Pyarelal alone.

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