SD, or Sachin Dev Burman, the man who gave Hindi film music its grammar is in all probability the most enigmatic figure in Indian cine history. As the young scion of the Tripura royal circle of relatives, SD struck out into the world of cinema and popular music. The early years were difficult, professionally and in my opinion. His unconventional choice of profession and marriage to a ‘commoner’ caused his circle of relatives to ostracise him, and his formal training was once not enough to stave off rejections.
This well researched biography—by the authors of the most productive-selling R.D. Burman: The Man, The Music—is both a tribute to a great artist, and a deep inquiry into what made his music great. Going well beyond merely listing his greatest songs, it explores hitherto unknown stories about the creation of each and every gem: Mera sundar sapna beet gaya (Do Bhai, 1948); Thandi hawaein (Naujawan, 1951); Yeh raat yeh chandni (Jaal, 1952); Babu samjho ishaare (Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, 1958); Meet na mila re mann ka (Abhiman, 1973), and more.
The book is packed with insights into SD’s life, work and his astute understanding of Hindi cinema. Even if he was once an outsider who spoke little Hindi or Urdu, SD was once the man who introduced Sahir Ludhianvi to the world, and the person who gave Kishore Kumar’s musical brilliance its due. His readiness to adapt to modern sounds and techniques, his unwavering faith in Lata Mangeshkar’s virtuosity, his closeness to Dev Anand that was once seen as nepotism, charges of plagiarism—S.D. Burman: The Prince-Musician provides unmatched insight into both the genius of one of India’s most significant composers and a an important aspect of its glorious cinematic history. An essential addition to each and every film music aficionado’s library.