Millennium Post

SD Burman: Simplicity in Royalty

Winner of the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian honour, and two National Awards among other achievements, SD Burman had won over millions of hearts through his musical compositions and singing, writes Sharad Dutt.

In pre-independent India royal families were the chief patrons of fine arts, as connoisseurs of music and dance. Among those who excelled at such endeavours was the enterprising Nabadwipchandra Dev Burman, a scion of the royal family of Tripura. An accomplished classical Dhurpad singer and sitarist, he was blessed with a son on October 10, 1906. The child was none other than Kumar Sachin Dev Burman, who had the fortune of getting the initial training in music from his father. After his father's demise SD Burman was trained by Ustad Badal Khan, Bhishmadeb Chatterjee and Ustad Allauddin Khan of Maihar Gharana. But he had to leave Tripura due to palace intrigues and family feuds.

His next destination was Calcutta (Kolkata) where he learned the intricacies of music from the blind singer-actor Krishan Chandra Dey. In 1933, Rai Chand Boral gave him a break in Yahudi Ki Laadki. But the songs recorded in his voice were later replaced by Pahari Sanyal, the singer-actor of New Theatres, since they were wary of a new voice. It was in 1935 that in a music conference in Allahabad he was noticed for the presentation of folk tunes. The same year he acted and sang in two Bangla films, Sanjher Pidin and Bidrohi, and sang his first Hindi song in Debaki Bose's Seeta. During his stay in Calcutta, he recorded some private songs too, in Hindi, which became very popular, and also composed music for several Bangla films.
In 1944, Burman da came to Bombay (Mumbai), but got his first independent break in Filmistan's Shikari in 1946. Its songs, 'Har din hai naya' and 'Dol rahi hai naiya' became quite popular. In his next film, Eight Days, he also sang a song in his own voice, 'Umeed bhara panchhi,' that established him as a singer. Two of his compositions, 'Mera sunder sapna beet gaya' and 'Ek din humko yaad karogey' became great hits. He gave music in Shabnam (1949) and used Mukesh's voice for Dilip Kumar. Two duets of the film, 'Tumhare liye huey badnam,' and 'Tu mehlon ki rani,' and a Shamshad solo, 'Ye duniya roop ki chor,' allured music lovers.
It was the film Mashal that established Burman da in the industry with these songs: 'Ankhon se door door' (Lata) and 'Jab tum thei hamarey' (Arun Kumar). The same year he gave music in Raj Kapoor-Nargis starrer Pyar, wherein Kishore Kumar sang his first romantic song, 'O bewafa ye to bata.' Interestingly, this was the first and last time that Kishore Kumar sang for Raj Kapoor.
In 1950, when Burman da joined hands with Navketan, he composed for its maiden production, 'Afsar,' directed by Chetan Anand, starring Dev Anand-Suraiya, and Suraiya's solo, 'Manmor hua matwala,' hit the charts. His all-time great film was Navketan's Baazi in 1951. Geeta sang such seductive, lilting numbers, 'Tadbeer se bigdi hui taqdir bana ley,' 'Suno gajar kya gaye,' 'Ye kaun aaya' and 'Aaj ki raat piya,' exhilarated the audience. In Taxi Driver, he changed track and composed two dance numbers, 'Dil se milakar dil pyaar ke liye' and 'Aye meri zindagi aaj raat jhoom ley,' besides a soulful melody in Talat's voice, 'Jayein to jayein kahan'. His number in AVM's Bahar, 'Saiyan dil me aana re' (Shamshad) also became a rage. Sazaa and Nau Jawan had Burman da's distinct touch in 'Tum na jaaney kis jahan mein kho gaye' and 'Thandi hawayein lahra ke aayein.' Both of these songs were rendered by Lata and made him a front-ranking music director.
Back to Navketan, his music in House No 44, had these haunting numbers, 'Phaili hui hain sapno ki baahyein' (Lata), 'Dum hai baaki to gham nahin' (Asha), and two soft numbers in Hemant's velvety voice, 'Teri duniya mein jeene se' and 'Chup hai dharti chup hain chaand sitaare,' had marked signature of Burman da. In Funtoosh, he gave a classic number of Kishore Kumar, 'Dukhi man merey,' and other humorous numbers, 'Aye meri topi palat ke aa' and 'Dene wala jab bhi deta poora chhappar phaad ke deta.'
In 1957, when Vijay Anand (Goldie) made his debut as a director with Nau Do Gayarah, he told Burman da, "I need the songs which should run the story and in dialogue form." And this peerless composer created 'Aanchal mein kya ji' (Kishore-Asha), a racy number, 'Kali ke roop mein,' and a melodious, 'Aa ja panchhi akela hai.'
In 1958, he cast a musical spell in the murder mystery, Kala Pani. Again he showed his versatility in numbers, such as 'Nazar laagi raja torey bangley pe' and 'Dil laga ke' in mujra style in which Burman da lent his voice for the bols on tabla, and a number in shayari style, 'Jab naam-e-mohabbat lekey,' and also a romantic duet, 'Achha ji main haari,' besides an unforgettable ghazal, 'Hum bekhudi mein tumko pukarey chaley gaye.' Kala Bazar had eight songs and all were chartbusters. In Tere Ghar Ke Saamne, Burman da experimented with Rafi's voice in low pitch in a popular number, 'Dil ka bhanwar karey pukar,' and other numbers.
Burman da was at his creative best in film Guide. Just after recording one song of Guide he was hospitalised and advised by doctors to have complete bed rest for four weeks. He requested Dev Anand to replace him. Dev said, "You have been advised not to record for four weeks. I will wait for six weeks or just release the film with that number recorded by you." Burman da completed the film after he recuperated and rest is history: Rafi's two numbers, 'Din dhal jaaye hai raat naa jaaye' and 'Kya se kya ho gaya bewafa terey pyar mein;' Lata's 'Mosey chhal kiye jaaye' and 'Piya tosey naina laagey re,' 'Kanton se kheench ke ye aanchal,' and the evergreen duet, 'Gaata rahey mera dil' (Kishore-Lata). He also sang two heart-rending songs, 'Yahan kaun hai tera musafir' and 'Allah megh de.'
In the 60s, Burman da composed a most memorable classic number, 'Poochho na maine kaisey rain bitayi' (Manna Dey), in 'Meri Surat Teri Ankhein,' set in Ahir Bhairav; Rafi's exuberant number, 'Naachey man mora;' and a dulcet duet, 'Ye kisney geet chheda.' In Aradhana, Burman da's magic was again evident with Kishore's romantic numbers, 'Merey sapno ki rani,' 'Roop tera mastana,' and a duet, 'Kora kagaz tha.' His rendition of the title song, 'Safal hogi teri aradhana,' in his own voice remains eternally inspirational. After Guide, once again Burman da scored music for Navketan's mystery film, Jewel Thief, directed by Vijay Anand. It displayed tremendous range of his talent as manifested in these numbers: a carefree 'Ye dil na hota bechara' (Kishore); a seductive number, 'Raat akeli hai' (Asha); a romantic duet, 'Dil pukarey aa re aa re' (Rafi-Lata); a scintillating dance number, 'Hoton pe aisi baat,' and a touching 'Rula ke gaya sapna mera.'
Dev Anand turned a director with Prem Pujari and Neeraj penned the lyrics of this film. Those melodies are hummed even today. After recording 'Rangeela re' Burman da told Neeraj, "Toam ab tak kahan thei Niroj (Where were you all this while Neeraj)?" He was not happy with the picturisation of 'Shokhion mein ghola jaaye phoolon ka shabab' and commented after viewing the song, "Dev ne merey gaaney ke saath kya kar diya (What has Dev done to my song)?"
But the duo of Burman da and Neeraj was back with Navketan's Tere Mere Sapne. It had amazingly captivating numbers: 'Jaisey Radha ne mala japi Shyam ki,' 'Mera antar ek mandir' (Lata), and the romantic title song, 'Ae maine kasam li' (Kishore-Lata). 'Chhupa Rustam' was the last film that he did for Navketan but it couldn't create any ripples with its music, notwithstanding the Vijay Anand and Burman da combo of Guide and Jewel Thief.
Burman da's music contributed a great deal to Dev Anand's image, aiding his swagger, mannerism and style. He composed for Dev Anand for the movies he acted in. Though Fali Mistry's Arman lacked the magic of Baazi, this twosome gave memorable movies that varied from 'Jaal,' 'Ye raat ye chandni phir kahan' (Hemant), to Munim Ji that offered so much variety in its music with folk, traditional and western style. It had twelve terrific songs out of which 'Dil ki umangein hain jawan' had beautiful pieces of Spanish guitar. 'Shivji bihane chaley' was based on traditional folk style.
Paying Guest is also remembered for its catchy numbers: 'Chhod do aanchal' and 'Maana janab ne pukara nahin' (Kishore Kumar). In the latter Burman da used the effect of cycle bell in antaras.
Bombay Ka Babu had the scenic splendour of Himachal and Burman da offered the native folk music in its song 'Dekhne mein bhola hai;' 'Deewana mastana hua dil;' and Mukesh's poignant number, 'Chal ri sajani ab kya sochey,' in which the chorus humming created a very pleasing effect. Rafi's solo, 'Saathi na koi manzil,' was equally moving.
Ek Ke Baad Ek and Manzil didn't leave much impact, but with Baat Ek Raat Ki Burman da was back in the game of melodies.
Bimal Roy's first choice invariably was Salil Choudhary. But he opted for Burman da in Devdas, Sujata and Bandini. In Devdas, he did full justice to the subject. Two mujras, 'Jissey tu qabool kar le' and 'Ab aagey teri marzi,' two low-pitched numbers of Talat Mehmood, 'Kisko khabar thi' and 'Mitwa ye kaisi' would remind one of Saigal's numbers in Devdas. In Sujata, Talat's emotional number, 'Jaltey hain jiskey liye' and Burman da's own song, 'Sun merey bandhu re,' became extremely popular. In 'Bandini', 'Jogi jab se tu aaya morey dwarey,' and 'Mora gora rang lai le' in Dolan's style of Bengal (Lata), 'Morey saajan hain us paar' (Burman da) in Bhatiyali style, 'O jaaney waley,' 'Ab ke baras bhej bhaiya ko babul,' and 'Mat ro mata' were as mesmeric.
Burman da gave music to two classics of Guru Dutt, Pyaasa and Kagaz Ke Phool. Music was an integral part of both the movies. In Pyaasa, 'Ye kuchey ye galiyan' and 'Ye duniya agar' became Rafi's all-time great. 'Jaaney kya tooney kahi,' 'Jaaney wo kaisey log them,' and a baul number, 'Aaj sajan mohey ang laga lo,' were matchless. In Kagaz Ke Phool, Geeta's number, 'Waqt ne kiya' and Rafi's 'Bichhrey sabhi baari baari' attainted cult status.
In Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, Burman da exploited the voice of Kishore in different numbers which became chartbusters. Burman da would often say, "I'm always safe with Lota (Lata)." But they developed differences over a song in Sitaron Se Aage, and didn't work together for four years. Lata sang in Doctor Vidya when she was back under his baton with a classical number, 'Pawan deewani.'
Deteriorating health didn't interfere with his work and he carried on passionately making immortal music: Sharmeeli had Kishore's racy number, 'O meri sharmeeli,' and a romantic duet, 'Aaj madhosh hua jaaye re,' that became super hits. But the song which stood out was Lata's 'Megha chhaye aadhi raat'. In Abhimaan, 'Piya bina piya bina,' 'Meet na mila re man ka,' and duet, 'Tere mere milan ki ye raina' became heart throbs.
In the last phase of his life Burman da composed for Anurag, Phagun, Prem Nagar, Sagina, Zindagi Zindagi and Mili. Much appreciated, his two numbers 'Piya tooney' and 'Zindagi Zindagi', in the film won him a National Award. Other laurels included Filmfare Awards for Taxi Driver and Abhiman; the Asian Film Society Award for Pyaasa; National Award for best singer for 'Safal hogi teri aradhana;' and the penultimate Padam Shri.
Burman da stated time and again that his best tunes came in a flash in strange situations – like he was angling and couldn't catch a fish, which became 'Tum na jaaney kis jahan mein kho gaye;' and once he lost his way, and thus happened, 'Jayein to jayein kahan.' Similarly, 'Khayee hai re humne kasam' and 'Rangeela re' came in a flash, too. The list is endless.
A diehard sports enthusiast, crazy about football and tennis, he was as fond of paan (betel leaf). So simple and straightforward, he never complained to his producers. A failing health eventually brought in its wake a heart attack and paralytic stroke, and he passed away at 69, on October 31, 1975, in a Bombay hospital. Millions of his admirers still listening to his melodies can only sigh and say, "Dada, tum na jaaney kis jahan mein kho gaye..."

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