• Sat. May 18th, 2024

S D Burman

S D Burman

Sachin Dev Burman was born on 1 October 1906in Comilla.  He was one of the nine children of Prince Komilla of Tripura during colonial British India.

Known as “Sachin Karta” to the music experts of Kolkata, “Burman Dada” as he was fondly called by the musicians of Bombay, but for his fans and music lovers, he was affectionately called simply “SD”.

Dada left for Bombay reluctantly in 1944 at the request of Sasadhar Mukherjee of Filmistan, who wanted him to do two films, Shikari and Aath Din. However, surviving and flourishing in Bombay was no cakewalk. Despite the musical success of Shikari and Aath Dinn and later on Do Bhai, Vidya, Shabnam, Dada did not get the acknowledgement that he deserved. A disappointed and frustrated Burman decided to pack up and return to Kolkata.

Learning about it, the great actor Ashok Kumar put his foot down. “Compose the music for Mashaal and then you are free” he pleaded with Burman. Dada picked up the baton again and Mashaal turned out to be a super hit. The song “Upar Gagan Vishal“, became a rage. It also launched Manna Dey in a new spotlight. After that it was just a matter of time before Dev Anand, who had struck a rapport with this kind and progressive soul, launched his own banner Navketan, and signed S. D. Burman for Baazi. This 1951 hit, along with Jaal (1952) and his AVM hits Bahar and Ladki clinched Dada’s success story and his career never flagged till 1974 when he quit signing films because of ill-health.

How successful was he? Dada Burman has the highest average of hit songs among any composer in Hindi films. The success emanated from his unflinching belief in himself.  He was reputed to refuse films where the filmmaker wanted ‘hit’ songs. “I compose only good songs”. In all, S D Burman composed the soundtracks for over 100 movies, including Bengali and Hindi movies. As a versatile composer, he also sang songs in his iconic mystical voice based on light semi-classical and folk style tunes of Bengal.

S. D. Burman won only a few awards, because he never cultivated any PR moves to further his claims. He amended the notion of the so–called indispensability of a singer. When Lata Mangeshkar refused to record with him for, he delivered hit after hit with her sister, Asha Bhosle and Geeta Dutt and only made up with her because his son Pancham wanted her to sing his career first song. He groomed singers like Asha Bhosle, Kishore Kumar and even Hemant Kumar and made Rafi sing in a soft, crooning fashion in Dev Anand’s Guide, when generally others preferred Rafi’s high pitched and weepy vocals like the wonderful Baiju Baawra songs.

There was a time in Bombay when the lyrics were set before a tune was composed by the music directors. Dada turned that practice on its head. It became a sequence of tune first, the lyrics later. It is claimed that now nine out of ten songs are composed in this manner. His creative mind was such that for every song sequence, Dada offered many alternative tunes, giving producers a wider choice. He would often compose a tune instantly, and his music had a strong influence of folk and classical music. That did not mean he was a one track pony. He would innovate when needed with Western dispositions, like in Taxi Driver songs like, “Aaj raat jhoom le, aasmaan to choom le, aae meri zindagi” and “Dil se milaake dil pyar ki jiye”.

He also composed known for Guide (1965), Abhimaan (1973) and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), in which his composition sung by Rafi was played in the background. Dada received the prestigious Sangeet Natak Academy Award and the Padmashree, the fourth-highest civilian Award in India for his contribution to music. He got a National Award for singing in 1969 for “Kahe Ko Roye, Hoye Jo Hoye” in the movie “Aradhana”. Way earlier in 1934 in Calcutta, he was awarded a gold medal in “All Bengal Classical Music Conference.

Then the inevitable arrived. Dada left on 31 October 1975 after a paralytic stroke a year earlier. A very telling example of how times change. From a time when the royal family of Tripura criticized him for making a living out of music and in doing so, bringing down the image of the royalty, today the Tripura royal family is known because of Sachin Dev Burman, even though as a result of the criticism by the royal family in his lifetime, Dada had already snapped his ties with Tripura.

Upar vishan link

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Mana Dey




Hemant Kumar




Geeta Dutt