Quite a few years back, my good friend Sundeep Palwa, a Hindi film music enthusiast beyond measure from Delhi, put into my head the possibility of a second edition of Incomparable Sachin Dev Burman, so as to reach out to readers at large in India and across the world. Years went by until one fine afternoon in Delhi, Sundeep raised the subject again. I thought over it seriously and came to the conclusion that this could be an opportunity to fine tune the information and also plug those 'holes and leaks' that were there in the first edition.
But the big question remained as to who would go through the manuscript to make it suitable for readers of such a big and culturally diverse country like India? This required the expertise of someone who is equally proficient in English, Bengali, Hindi and Urdu. It was at this point that Antara Nanda Mondal, a wonderful and compulsive writer on films and music came on to the scene. She is the Chief Editor of Learning and Creativity ezine, Consulting Editor of Silhouette Magazine and Founder-Editor of Blue Pencil. I knew Antara much before Antara came to know me and that was through her writings on the net. Sundeep once again made things happen and I passed on the material to her.
Sachin Dev Burman in his lifetime was addressed as "Sachin Karta", "Kumar Sachin Dev Burman", "Sachin Dev Burman", "Burman Dada" and "SD". For the last 43 years since his transition, Dada has been a subject of intense discussion both in the print and electronic media just like any other great singer or composer. This also has resulted in many myths, cooked up stories and unconfirmed information. Keeping this in mind, in this edition too, whatever has been added about Dada's life were sourced from matter that was in print during Burman Dada's lifetime and from Dada's colleagues who were either professionally active or medically fit to speak about Dada.
Legendary music composer of Hindi films SD Burman was trained in Indian Classical Music by the great maestros of that era. He had great knowledge of raagas and besides that he had a treasure of Bangla and Assamese folk songs, which he had imbibed from his childhood.
I met Burman Dada around 1960-61 and developed a very close rapport with him. His son, Rahul Dev Burman, an extraordinary musician was a great friend of mine. As a person Burman Dada was a very a warm, simple and humble human being. There was a kind of innocence in his personality. He was deeply engrossed in his thoughts always thinking about the music, the compositions and the situations in the films. We would see him sometimes lost in his thoughts and this process would start once he had his favourite paan in his mouth.
Many a time when he was doing his rehearsal sessions at his bungalow called "The Jet' located in Khar, Mumbai, I along with Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia and other musicians would be present. He would share his musical ideas with us and take our reactions and feedback about a particular song or interlude music. I played the Santoor in many of his films like Guide, Tere Ghar Ke Samne to name a few. Particularly in the film Guide, the song sung by Lataji, Mose chhal keeye jaaye, Pancham persuaded me to play the Tabla which I had stopped playing long back. This is the genius of the Musical Maestro.
Burman Dada was a very versatile composer who had the ability to compose music according to the requirements of the story and the situations. Films like Taxi Driver, Paying Guest, Devdas and Guide are a few examples of his musical genius. He also, had a rare quality of appreciating the work of other music directors. I remember on one occasion, in one of the recordings, there was an improvised music interlude of Santoor played by me. Next day I had a huge surprise. There was somebody honking below my residence. On coming to the balcony I saw Burman Dada standing in front of his Fiat car and waving at me saying he is coming upstairs to meet me. I told him I will come down as there was no lift in my building. He persisted and asked me to wait in my flat and climbed the two floors and sat inside my house. I was a bit surprised by his sudden visit. On relaxing the first compliment he gave me was, "Shiv, kal tum bahut achha bajaya Santoor" and immediately presented me with a note of Rs 100 and left. .
That was Burman Dada an artiste who was touched by other artiste's music. There are many such incidents and anecdotes about this Great Maestro SD Burman who was one of his kind, a rare Gem in the world of Indian music whose music will always remain fresh in the mind of listeners.
I have many things in common with my friend HQ Chowdhury. Both of us are writers, both of us love travelling and both of us love music, especially that of Nat King Cole and The Shadows. But it amused me to learn, a few years ago, that he, like me, was first zapped by an SD Burman composition.
Not just that, the songs that hit both of us belonged to films which had Dev Anand as the hero. In his case, it was Rula ke gaya sapna mera, delivered amazingly by Lata Mangeshkar for Shailendra's lyrics in Jewel Thief. For me, it was Geeta Roy's rendition of Sahir's poetry in Baazi: Suno gajar kya gaaye. At the time I was too small to understand the nuances of what went into the making of these songs, and, in a sense, I am too small to completely grasp them even now. But now we know what it is about the two songs, at least at an academic level. Rula ke gaya sapna mera has Vyjayanthimala in a boat, but so low is she feeling that she could well be plumbing the depths of despair as represented symbolically by the waters she is rowing the boat through. This song has a charming beat maintained by a rhythm guitar, cabasa, reso-reso and snare drums, while the latter song has some incredible use of violins, a fascination that has me enthralled to this day. Much of the music that Dada Burman created had greatness showing up, and it showed up usually in more than one representation, sometimes with the vocals, at other times with the perfect use of musical instruments.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
North Indian Music (289)
Original Texts (60)
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