Incomparable Sachin Dev Burman by H Q Chowdhury: Review

Book: Incomparable Sachin Dev Burman

Author: H Q Chowdhury

Publisher: Blue Pencil

Pages: 470;

Price: Rs 599

This is the life and times of composer-singer Sachin Karta by an ardent fan HQ Chowdhury, whose scientific inclination (he is the founder of an advanced lab in Dhaka) is apparent in the clinical dissection of the musical genius.

By addressing Sachin Dev Burman as karta, the author reveals his closeness and love for the composer. The author, who took six years to research and write his book, journeyed across Tripura and West Bengal to chronicle the formative years of SD and also what went into making him the musical genius that we all came to know and love. We are introduced to the family servant Anwar, who taught him Bhatiali songs. We learn that he used to skip classes and travel in the company of Bhatiali and Baul singers. We journey to Calcutta when SDB first arrived there and are given a guided musical tour of the city with detailed profiles of the stalwarts of those times, including celebrated singer-composer KC Dey, who became Sachinda’s first guru.

The author brings to life how Burman dada’s initial foray in Bollywood wasn’t a success, but luckily Ashok Kumar and Sasadhar Mukherjee intervened and the rest is history. The author also shares interviews with legends who worked with Sachinda like Dev Anand, Manna Dey, Shakti Samanta and others.

He chronicles numerous known and unknown episodes of SD Burman and infuses all of them with an intimacy that makes the readers feel as if they were present at the scene. But it is not a mere chronicling of a life. A few of his own opinions and insights intersperse the book providing valuable peekaboo into SDB’s mind, his musical whims, his contemporaries and the era he lived in.

The book asks an interesting question: “Was Dada a singer-composer or composer-singer?” The answer though isn’t easy to provide since he was the former for the Bengali audience and the latter for Bollywood.

The book thus offers a comprehensive overview of the musical maestro’s successes, failures, idiosyncrasies and also what his peers thought of him. This biography also has unique listings of the songs sung by Dada, the films he scored music that makes it is a must buy for old Bollywood music aficionados.

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