S.D.Burman – The “Karta” of Hindi Film Music

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sun mere bandhu re, sun mere mitwa
sun mere saathii re

hota tu peepal, main hoti amar lata terii
tere gale mala ban ke, padi muskati re
sun mere saathi re
sun mere bandhu re …

diyaa kahe tu saagar, main hoti teri nadiya
lahar bahar kar tu apne, piya chaman jaati re
sun mere saathi re
sun mere bandhu re…

Stirring & brilliant. The music & the voice enter straight into your heart. It has the aroma of nourishing North-East Indian soil enveloped by a waft of fresh air over the lush green rice fields. The greenness in his tunes is what makes him hugely popular with his audiences. His music was as unique as his voice. From classical to folk to contemporary his range was unmatched.

Born in Comilla, Tripura, now in Bangladesh, on 1st October 1906, to the royal family of Tripura, S D Burman was trained in classical music under his father Nawadwipchandra Dev Burman who was his first guru. He then learned further music from the like K C Dey, Ustad Kahifa Badal Khan, Ustad Allauddin Khan and Bishmadev Chatterji. In his own words S D Burman says that the education given to him by his father was his backbone. Dada Burman also says that he got the essence of his music from 2 domestic helps from his house – Madhav & Anwar. These were the persons who rooted folk music in his heart.

It is not just the oft cited ability to change with time that set SD Burman apart from his contemporaries. The unpredictability in Dada’s nature translated to a surprise element in his music as well. There are always charmingly whimsical turns in his presentations. More so in the songs he rendered himself. It ensured that there is no dull moment in the songs he composed. Exuberance aside, the basic point is that despite it’s minimalism his orchestra was very evolved and rich in expression. His music endures over the ages because he designed it to! While his music always remained relevant to it’s times it never let the prevalent styles overpower it.
He had the ability to compose from hauntingly poignant………Waqt ne kiya, kya haseen sitam….(Kagaz ke Phool) to unbeatably seductive…………Raat akeli hai, bujh gaye diye…..(Jewel Thief).


S.D. Burman’s compositions have been mainly sung to a large extent by the likes of Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammed Rafi, Geeta Dutt,Manna Dey, Kishore Kumar, Hemant Kumar, Asha Bhosle and Shamshad Begum. Mukesh and Talat Mahmood have also sung songs composed by him. Aristocratic and literally blue-blooded, Dada Burman will always be ranked high among the greatest composers in the history of film music. A genius who worked for creative satisfaction. Words cannot aptly describe the genius of S D Burman. What he had created and left us is a treasure house of exhilarating music that creates goose bumps whenever one gets to hear them.

Some work from the genius….



Avid music lover and Dev Anand fan

1 Comment

  1. Moti Lalwani

    March 15, 2020 at 1:12 pm

    Well written article. It’s almost impossible to write about the maestro and his achievements in any article. Enjoyed.

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