Long long ago, Rahul Dev Burman’s composition in Hare Rama Hare Krishna upset his father and musician Sachin Dev Burman who stomped out of the studio when he heard the recording of the song Dum Maro Dum. Sachin Dev Burman is perhaps the great-grandfather of Bollywood music.
This is one of the several other interesting facts about the legend that are mentioned in the book ‘S D Burman: The World of His Music’ by writer Khagesh Dev Burman. Published by Rupa and translated to English by the author and S K Ray Chaudhuri, the book also has a detailed list of Mr Burman’s songs and analysis of his unique style and music.
Quoting extensively from the musician’s memoir, ‘Sargamer Nikhad’, the author writes about S D Burman’s childhood, things that shaped his character and musical talent, the days of struggle – and the rise of the maestro.
Even though his son R D Burman’s music had a style that was distinctly different from his father’s music, he was nevertheless influenced by his father. “Sachin groomed him as a composer and encouraged him to learn to play different instruments”, says the author.
He was not hurt with the music of Dum Maro Dum not because he had to pave the way for his son when Dev Anand, in spite of their long association, ignored him and appointed RD Burman as music director Hare Rama Hare Krishna but because he thought his son had forsaken him.
“He was dismayed when he heard the recording of the song Dum Maro Dum in the studio. He was upset; he thought his son who carried his flag, whom he had taught music from childhood, had forsaken him.
The maestro’s other interests included football and tennis; games that he played quite well too. “Nothing could keep him away from the football ground if there was a match between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. A diehard supporter of East Bengal, he would stop eating if the team lost a match, weep copious tears in anger and sorrow, and it would take days for him to get back to his jovial mood,” the author says.
He narrates an incident regarding Mr Burman’s attachment to football during the time he suffered from a paralytic attack during the recording of the songs for Mili, which was completed by RD Burman.
“Sachin was in deep coma and efforts to revive him were of no avail. It was only once that he is reported to have opened his eyes. The day East Bengal defeated Mohun Bagan 5-0 in a league match; Rahul shouted the news to his father who opened his eyes for one last time and never thereafter,” he writes.
The book also describes how SD Burman’s struggle during his initial years and his rise to the top.
“Forty-five long years of disappointments, humiliations and rejection, of continuous hard work, incessant practice and constant experimentation with his art led to victory, the sweet smell of success and international fame.”
When Mr Burman approached His Master’s Voice (HMV) in the 1930s, the recording company asked him to undergo an audition test. He, however, failed in the test. “Sachin was informed that his nasal voice was not fit for recording and that the market would not accept it… He was shattered,” the author says.
But despite HMV’s refusal, SD Burman would not be denied his rightful glory. He cultivated folk music and established it in the highest throne of the durbar of world’s music.