Remember the song ‘Mile Sur Mera Tumhara’; I am sure every Indian does, but how many of us really know the genius whose creation led to this immortal tune that we Indians hold so close to our heart? Again am sure the number may not be too overwhelming! Team Sholoana Bangaliana was amongst the fortunate few who got to interact with this legendary musician and know about his illustrious musical career.
LOUIZ BANKS who is a Nepalese by birth is very much a Calcutta boy as he was born in the city and has spent the most significant part of his musical career in this very city. Louiz had started off in Kolkata leading a band at the Hindustan Hotel from where he moved on to creating his own band with singer Pam Crain and saxophonist Braz Gonsalvesc which was christened as the The Louiz Banks Brotherhood. This band made its presence felt with its electrifying pop and jazz performances at hotel Blue Fox which eventually paved the way for Louiz’s success in Bollywood as it is here that he was spotted by the legendary R.D. Burman. Interestingly enough, Louiz, who was totally unaware of the world outside his music did not even know who Burman was at that time!
The turning point in his life came in 1979 when Louiz finally decided to take R.D. Burman’s offer and go to Mumbai to work with him but then again this was a temporary arrangement as Louiz had no plans of shifting base as his ‘Band Calling’ in Kolkata was way stronger than the Bollywood dreams. Therefore, after playing all the piano pieces for the Bollywood Film Mukti, Louiz came back to his beloved Kolkata; only to be disappointed with the situation here as at that time random power failures had become a menace in the city which was hurting the hospitality industry and all those associated with it in a big way. This led Louiz to shift to base to Mumbai for good where he joined the R.D. Burman team. It was after this period (1979) that Louiz’s Bollywood career took off as then on, every Bollywood Movie which had RD Burman music invariably had Louiz on the piano.
Though Louiz has played with musicians from all over the world he has not yet tried to experiment with the music of Bengal or precisely that of Tagore as he feels that this is one area that cannot be taken lightly. “If I am working with Rabindra Sangeet I have to be all the more careful and make sure that I enhance the compositions and not distort them by any means”, said Louiz Banks.
Louiz, who specializes in all kinds of acoustic and electronic music is currently experimenting with fusion music as he feels that Jazz in its pure form is not too well received by today’s generation owed to the lack of exposure to this form. Louiz is thus creating contemporary music that has dollops of jazz in it.
Louiz Banks, whose favorite musicians in Kolkata are Amyt Dutt, Bickram Ghosh and such other new age musicians also feels that some musicians today are not serious enough and they are doing music for the sake of all the glamour that comes with it. Louiz himself is feverishly working on recording loads of albums so that he can contribute to the effort of spreading good music which young musicians can listen to and learn from.
Our conversation with this versatile and very talented musician came to an end with a short message that Louiz had for the young musicians of today. “Don’t be satisfied with what you are doing; take up challenging projects so that it can add to your skill. Listen to good music; there is more to Bollywood Music and Pop Music and the end all and be all of all forms of music is Jazz so listen to it as if you happen to master this form you can conquer any genre of music with ease”, Said Louiz.
Louiz Banks who is also an accomplished painter has composed the music for the album Sparks which celebrates the spirit of Park Street and was recently in town to launch the audio songs album which also has the versatile singer Somlata Acharya’s melodious voice.
As Louiz says, “Jazz means freedom”, and his music is indeed so liberating an experience that one is bound to fall in love with it. With a strong Calcutta Connection to trace back Loiuz hopes to re-unite with his city people very soon with music that is close to their hearts and we shall be eagerly waiting !!
Interview: Louiz Banks, R.D. Burman’s Favorite Pianist (You Tube)