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You can make a mark with your own songs, says Banks

DECCAN CHRONICLE | Sanjay Samuel Paul

Published on: April 19, 2022 | Updated on: April 19, 2022

Louis Banks says his life changed due to the electricity crisis in Calcutta.    DC Image

HYDERABAD: Who can forget the signature tune of Doordarshan or the classic ‘mile sur mera tumera – tho sur banne humara’, national television’s theme song that reverberated in every living room in the country not so long ago?  

The man who composed those soothing tunes, and many more, - the legendary musician Louis Banks - clearly remembers the days when he was an inseparable part of Indian cinema. Working along with great musicians of Bollywood like R.D. Burman, Bappi Lahiri and Shankar- Jaikishan, Bank’s contributions to many movies are significant. He was one of the key musicians who introduced jazz music to Indian cinema. The 81-year-old Banks contributed more than 10,000 jingles for television and radio.

Deccan Chronicle caught up with the man, also known as the Father of Indian Jazz.

Louis Banks says his life changed due to the electricity crisis in Calcutta. "In 1977, when R.D. Burman came to our club and heard me, he gave me an offer to play piano for his movie, ‘Mukti’ starring Shashi Kapoor for a song (Suhane Chandini Raaten). The number became a hit and soon after, Burman gave an offer to join his team, but I refused, as in Calcutta my band was doing well. After two years of that, in Calcutta there used to be four hours of electricity shutdown.

At the club, we were not able to perform. No show was offered. So, in 1979, I took a train and landed in Bombay, went straight to R.D. Burman’s office and asked him if that offer was still open. The next day, I joined his team," he recollects. Louis Banks’ actual name is Dambar Bahadur Budaprithi. "When my father Pushkar Bahadur Budaprithi joined a British band in Calcutta, his friends advised him to change his name, as his name was difficult to pronounce. Then he changed his name to George Banks, as well as mine," he explains.

"I am a sixth generation musician. My father used to give me the piano classes, holding a stick in his hand. I practised for hours each day as my father used to sit beside me and demonstrated. At the age of 13, I joined my father and started performing with some great musicians, which gave me a lot of exposure to music," he says.

"My advice to the present day bands is while performing popular numbers, also add your own compositions. You can make your mark only with your own compositions. Nothing can replace your practice with the right fundamentals. Music brings passion into one’s life, it will change one’s approach towards life," Banks advises aspiring musicians. Now, Banks has designed and curated a piano course for all music aspirants across the country to train future music stars.