‘Pamela was the force behind Yash Chopra’s empire’

‘When Ghar Aaja Pardesi was recorded, we made Lataji hear the song.’
‘Lataji praised Pamji‘s singing and said, ‘Aapko aur gaana chahiye, kitna achchha gaaya hai aapne.’

IMAGE: Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol in DDLJ.

Lalit Pandit, one-half of the Jatin-Lalit music composers, worked closely with the Chopras, including Yash, Pamela and Aditya, during the making of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. Pamela Chopra sang the song Ghar Aaja Pardesi Tera Des Bulaye Re in the film.

Speaking on his association with the matriarch of the Chopra family, Lalit tells Subhash K Jha, “It is hard to believe Pamela Chopraji is no more. During the musical sessions of DDLJ, I remember how the whole Chopra family would participate in the making and fine-tuning of the songs that went on to make history.”

Lalit recalls Mrs Chopra as a student of music: “Pamji had learnt music and would regularly do riyaz with a music teacher. So when Adi suggested that he wanted the song Ghar Aaja Pardesi to be sung by Pamji, I understood the connection and the sentimental reason behind his suggestion.”

“It was Adi’s first film as a director and it was just right that he would want his mother to be a part of the music album.”


IMAGE: Lalit Pandit with Lata Mangeshkar. Photograph: Kind courtesy Lalit Pandit/ Instagram

Ghar Aaja Pardesi was, and had to be a Punjabi folk song since it was to be shot showing Punjab and its culture. Pamji‘s voice suited the song and needless to say, she added a lot of nuances to it. She practised and worked on the song as it had to be perfect.”

“This was a time when there was no tuning or technical help to correct the voice and sur. She had to sing live and to perfection which she did. DDLJ had ;egendary female singers, like the great Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle. The formidable Anand Bakshisaab was writing the lyrics.”

“Pamji had a wonderful musical mind and positive suggestions for the tunes, the musical arrangements and lyric writings. Everyone in the DDLJ music team was a legend, we were the only young ones,” Lalit recalls.

“Pamji would encourage us and make sure the team was comfortable to throw in ideas. This helped to put the pressure away and deliver the songs.”

Pam Chopra’s singing, Lalit reveals, was endorsed by none other than Lataji herself.

“When Ghar Aaja Pardesi was recorded, we made Lataji hear the song at the Western recording studio. Lataji praised Pamji‘s singing and said, ‘Aapko aur gaana chahiye, kitna achchha gaaya hai aapne.’ She loved the simplicity of the song and how it was perfect for the different situations the song would come in.”

IMAGE: Aishwarya Rai and Shah Rukh Khan in Mohabbatein.

As for her legendary hospitality, Lalit elaborates, “She was a wonderful host. There were always snacks and beverages during and after a long music session. Everything was offered with a lot of love and affection, personally by Pamji. She had an affectionate heart.”

“I have many memories of Pamji. Once I requested Pamji to come to our music room. I told her, ‘Hamesha hum aate hain ek bar aap aur Yashji hamare music room aiye aur aashirwad dijiye.’

“So both Yashji and Pamji came to our music room for one of the music sessions of Mohabbatein. Adi would usually come to the music room to work, but Pamji and Yashji came only once. It was such a great feeling to have them.”

“I told Adi once that I have met only two families from the film industry who knew how to love and respect composers and artists: Nasir Hussain’s family and the Chopra family. It was an honour to work with them and learn so many things in the process.”

It was Pamela who had selected the singers for Mohabbatein.

“The Mohabbatein album is perhaps the most difficult album I have done,” Lalit says.

IMAGE: Kareena Kapoor in K3G.

Lalit recalls Pamela helping out with a song for Karan Johar’s Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham.

“Once we were stuck on a song for K3G and Pamji called. She said she had an idea how to work on that particular situation for Karan. It was her idea that we worked on and made me realise how close she was to Karan and kept abreast of his music progress.”

“When the song got recorded, Pamji again called me and said, ‘Lalit, Karan bahut khush hai. Tumne jadoo kar diya!!’ I cannot express my happiness hearing those words from her. The song was Bole Chudiyan. I will never forget her words.

“She was indeed a great lady and I am blessed to have known her a little. She was the force behind Yash Chopra’s empire.”

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