S.D. Burman

Born on October 1, 1906 at Komilla, Sachinda took his first musical lessons from his father and later from noted vocalists K.C.Dey and Badal Khan. His tunes from Bengali films caught the ear of the famous producer Chandulal Shah who then invited him to Bombay. Shaking off initial apprehension S.D. entered Bombay's savvy Hindi film world. In 1946, the silver screen introduced Sachin Dev Burman as the music director of Filmistan's'Shikari'. That was the beginning.

Over the next three decades, Sachinda's music stood tall amongst the giants and the pygmies alike - establishing an endearing identity. Sweetness was its main theme and simplicity, the added attraction. Just the right balance of Indian and western music, a soothing orchestration and the ability to compose according to the situation were S.D.'s trademarks.

Add to this the terrific chemistry he shared with gifted lyricists like Majrooh Sultanpuri, Shailendra and Sahir Ludhianvi and one understands the secret of his success. No wonder he outlasted almost all of his contemporaries who couldn't keep pace with times. His exceptional musical sense and malleability ensured that changing musical trends would never render his tunes obsolete. His greatness was that in changing with times he never succumbed to mediocrity.

As a composer he was never dependent on a particular singer and could come good with anyone. That was his strength. Songs like Rafi's crackerjack Sar jo tera chakraye , Kishore's peerless Phoolon ke rang se, Manna Dey's masterly Poochho na kaise and Hemant Kumar's superb Jaane woh kaise demostrated S.D.'s ability to extract what he wanted from any singer. To dispel any lingering doubts just listen to Lata's heavenly Faili hui hain sapnon ki baahein, Asha's emotionally charged Abke baras bhej, Geeta Dutt's enticing Jaane kya tune kahi and Suman Kalyanpur's soulful Na tum humein jaano!

S.D.'s own singing played no mean role in his music. His distinct bass voice with a folkish flavour made all his songs like Wahan kaun hai tera, Mere saajan hai us paar and Prem ke pujari memorable.

His was the guiding spirit for many an artist. For Geeta Dutt he invented the 'sad songstress' image through Mera sundar sapna beet gaya and later on craftily cast her as a seductive singer through Suno gajar kya gaaye. Asha Bhosle regards him as her mentor who taught her the nuances of playback singing. Kishore Kumar credited him for shaping his musical destiny. And who can ever forget his role as a father, philosopher and guide in Rahul Dev Burman's career?

S D Burman composed music for 100 movies (inclusive of Bengali films). Agneepath (1990) had an uncredited song composed by him - Nazar lagi raja tore bangle par from Kalapani (1958). He also sang about 20 film songs (inclusive of Bengali films) for which he composed music though he may not have been the music director of the films. He also sang for one of the songs of Amar Prem (1971), a film whose music was composed by his son, Rahul Dev Burman. S.D. Burman's compositions have been mainly sung to a large extent by the likes of Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammad Rafi, Geeta Dutt (wife of Guru Dutt and a playback singer herself), Manna Dey,Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhonsle and Shamsad Begum. Mukesh and Talat Mahmood have also sung songs composed by him. He has also sung a number of private songs and bhajans, notable ones being "Dheere se jana bagiyan mein" and "Kaun nagariya javun re Bansiwale..".

1930s

He made his film debut singing in Yahudi ki Ladki (1933) but the songs were scrapped and re-sung by Pahari Sanyal. His first film as a singer was finally Sanjher Pidim (1935). He became a music director initially in Calcutta with Rajgee (1937). He moved to Bombay in 1944.

1940s

In Bombay, he began with Filmistan's Shikari (1946) but his first major breakthrough came the following year with the company's Do Bhai (1947). The song Mera Sundar Sapna Beet Gaya sung by Geeta Dutt was her breakthrough song into the film industry.

Shabnam (1949) was his biggest hit with Filmistan with the multi-lingual song Yeh Duniya Roop ki Chor sung by Shamshad Begum becoming the rage of the day.

1950s

Disillusioned with the materialism of Bombay, S D Burman left the Ashok Kumar starrer Mashaal (1950) incomplete and decided to board the first train back to Calcutta. Fortunately, he was dissuaded from doing so.

In 1950s, S D Burman teamed up with Dev Anand's Nav Ketan Productions to create musical hits like Taxi Driver (1954), Munimji (1955), Paying Guest (1957), Nau Do Gyarah (1957) and Kalapani (1958). The songs sung by Mohammad Rafi and Kishore Kumar became popular. Burman da composed the music for Dev Anand's production company Navketan's first film Afsar (1950). With the success of their second film, Baazi (1951) he made it to the top and a long association with Navketan and Dev Anand was on its way. "Baazi"'s jazzy musical score revealed a new facet of singer Geeta Dutt, who was mainly known for weepy, sad songs and bhajans. While every song in the film was a hit, one stood out for special appeal - "Tadbir se Bigdi Hui Taqdeer", a ghazal that was occidentalized into a seductive song.

He also wrote music for the Guru Dutt classics - Pyaasa (1957) and Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959). The soundtrack of Devdas (1955) was also composed by him. House No. 44 (1955), Funtoosh (1956), and Solva Saal (1958) were other S D Burman hits. In 1959 came Sujata, a masterpiece by Bimal Roy, and S D created magic again with "Jalte hai jiske liye" by Talat Mamood. When Guru Dutt made comparatively light-weight films like Baazi and Jaal (1952), Burmanda reflected their mood with compositions like Suno Gajar Kya Gaye or De Bhi Chuke Hum and when Guru Dutt made his somber masterpieces - Pyaasa (1957) and Kaagaz ke Phool (1959), he was right on target with Jinhe Naaz Hai Hind and Waqt ne Kiya Kya Haseen Sitam.

In 1957, S D Burman fell out with Lata Mangeshkar and adopted her younger sister Asha Bhosle as his lead female singer. The team of S D Burman, Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhosle and lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri became popular for their duet songs. Thus, he was responsible along with O.P. Nayyar for shaping Asha Bhosle as a singer of repute.

In 1958, S D Burman gave music for Kishore Kumar's house production Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi.

1960s

Ill health caused a slump in his career in the early 1960s but he gave many hit films in late 1960s. In 1961, S D Burman and Lata Mangeshkar came together during the recording of R D Burman's first song for the movie Chhote Nawab. They reconciled their differences and started working again in 1962.

The Dev Anand-S D Burman partenership continued to churn out musical hits like Bambai Ka Babu (1960), Tere Ghar Ke Samne (1963), Teen Devian (1965), Guide (1965) and Jewel Thief (1967). In 1963, he composed songs for Meri Surat Teri Aankhen and Manna Dey sang "Poocho na kaise Maine". This song is based on a bengali composition by Kazi Nazrul Islam, "Aruno-kaanti ke go jogi bhikaari", based on raga bhairavi (morning raga).

Other S D Burman hits from this period were Bandini (1963) and Ziddi (1964). In Bandini, Sampooran Singh (well known as Gulzar), made his debut as a lyricist with the song "Mora Gora Ang lai le, mohe shaam rang daai de".

Aradhana (1969) is considered a landmark score in the Bollywood history. The music of the movie shaped the careers of singer Kishore Kumar, lyricist Anand Bakshi, filmmaker Shakti Samanta and R D Burman (associate music director). For the song "Mere Sapno ki raani", Sachin Dev made R.D play the mouth organ. It was responsible in Kishore Kumar's second coming and went on to make him the top male playback singer of Hindi Films.

Dev Anand and S D Burman continued their musical partnership in Prem Pujari (1969).

1970s

Tere Mere Sapne (1971), Sharmilee (1971), Abhimaan (1973), Chupke Chupke (1973), Zameer (1974), and Mili (1975) are other classics from this period.

S D Burman went into coma soon after recording the song Badi sooni sooni (sung by Kishore Kumar) for the film Mili. He died on October 31, 1975 in Bombay (now Mumbai).

Singing style

As a singer, his thin but powerful voice was often used as bardic commentary (e.g. Wahaan Kaun hai Tera from "Guide" or Safal Hogi Teri Aradhana from Aradhana). Abhimaan (1973) stands out for his outstanding musical score among his later films.

Awards and Recognitions

* Gold Medal, Bengal All India Music Conference,Kolkata 1934

* The Sangeet Natak Akademi Award - 1958.

* Asia Film Society Award, 1958

* National Award Singer, 1972

* Padmashree 1969

* Filmfare Best Music Director Award, 1954 for Taxi Driver & 1973 for Abhimaan

* International Jury on Folk Music
 
SD Burman proved that age is no impediment for creativity. He was the only great composer who remained in high demand right till the end of his life, unlike his contemporaries who gradually faded away. His greatest gift lay in the fact he could be equally jazzy and trendy in a dhoti. His grip on Indian folklore, his sound classical base, his capacity to absorb from the scene around him made him the greatest all-rounder in Indian Film Music. And to think he never sat down on a harmonium to compose! His tunes would come to him in a flash on a long walk or a drive or even out fishing at sea!

He made his film debut singing in Yahudi ki Ladki (1933) but the songs were scrapped and re-sung by Pahadi Sanyal! His first film as a singer was finally Sanjher Pidim (1935). He became a music director initially in Calcutta in the late 1930s before moving to Bombay in 1944.

In Bombay, he began with Filmistan's Eight Days (1946) but his first major breakthrough came the following year with the company's Do Bhai (1947). The song Mera Sundar Sapna Beet Gaya sung by Geeta Dutt is remembered till today and was her breakthrough song into the film industry!

Shabnam (1949) was his biggest hit with Filmistan with the multi-lingual song Yeh Duniya Roop ki Chor sung by Shamshad Begum becoming the rage of the day. But disillusioned with the materialism of Bombay, he left the Ashok Kumar starrer Mashaal (1950) incomplete and decided to board the first train back to Calcutta. Fortunately he was dissuaded from doing so.

Burmanda composed the music for Dev Anand's production company, Navketan's first film Afsar (1950). With the success of their second film, Baazi (1951) he made it to the top and a long association with Navketan and Dev Anand was on its way.

Baazi's jazzy musical score revealed a new facet to singer Geeta Dutt's singing. Till then she was mainly known for weepy sad songs and bhajans. The sex appeal in her voice and the ease with which she went western was marvellous to behold. While every song in the film was a raging hit, one stood out for special appeal - Tadbir se Bigdi Hui Taqdeer a ghazal that was occidentalized into a seductive song!

Burmanda could at once be a light and a serious in-depth composer. When Guru Dutt made comparatively light-weight films like Baazi and Jaal (1952), Burmanda reflected their mood with compositions like Suno Gajar Kya Gaye or De Bhi Chuke Hum and when Guru Dutt made his somber masterpieces - Pyaasa (1957) and Kaagaz ke Phool (1959), he was right on target with Jinhe Naaz Hai Hind and Waqt ne Kiya Kya Haseen Situm.

Burmanda's zest for life showed through his music. He was right there on the front bench to cheer his favourite football or hockey team. Such was his enthusiasm that he once offered music to go with a hockey match! The very name of his house 'The Jet' signified a composer who was up to date with the times.

Ill health caused a slump in his career in the early 1960s but his compositions for Bandini (1963), Guide (1965), Jewel Thief (1967) and Aradhana (1969) showed that SD Burman could still dictate trends. Aradhana was responsible in Kishore Kumar's second coming and went on to make him the top male playback singer of Hindi Films.

Burmanda was also responsible along with O.P. Nayyar into shaping Asha Bhosle as a singer of repute. A scrap with Lata Mangeshkar in 1958 led him to using Asha as his main singer in the 1958 - 62 period which saw her go from strength to strength.

As a singer, his thin but powerful voice was often used as bardic commentary e.g. Wahaan Kaun hai Tera from Guide or Safal Hogi Teri Aradhana from Aradhana. Abhimaan (1973) stands out for his outstanding musical score among his later films.

Memorable Films

Do Bhai (1947)

Shabnam (1949)

Baazi (1951)

Bahar (1951)

Jaal (1952)

Taxi Driver (1954)

Devdas (1955)

Munimji (1955)

Nau do Gyarah (1957)

Paying Guest (1957)

Pyaasa (1957)

Chalti ka Naam Gaadi (1958)

Kala Pani (1958)

Lajwanti (1958)

Kaagaz ke Phool (1959)

Sujata (1959)

Bombay ka Babu (1960)

Kala Bazar (1960)

Baat ek Raat ki (1962)

Bandini (1963)

Tere Ghar ke Saamne (1963)

Guide (1965)

Jewel Thief (1967)

Aradhana (1969)

Prem Pujari (1970)

Sharmilee (1971)

Tere Mere Sapne (1971)

Abhimaan (1973)