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Sachin Dev Burman: A Biography
(1906-75)
Source: 'Encyclopaedia of Indian Cinema', British Film Institute, 1999
(By Ashish Rajadhyaksha and Paul Willemen)

Music director born in Tripura. Classical training by his father, sitarist and Dhrupad singer Nabadwipchandra Dev Burman; later with ustad Badal Khan and Bhishmadev Chattopadhyay. Early work for radio was based on East bengali and North eastern folk-music.

In early 30s made a reputation in bengal as singer of folk and light classical music, e.g. at the Allahabad Sangeet Sammelan (Music Conference) in 1935. First record was of a Nazrul Islam composition, leading to a long and productive releationship with the writer/composer. Film debut singing for Pankaj Mullick in Atorthy's Yahudi Ki Ladki (1933) but the songs were scrapped and re-sung by Pahadi Sanyal.

First film as singer: Tinkari Chakraborthy's Sanjher Pidim (1935); also acted in Dhiren ganguli's Bidrohi (1935). Music director from 1939 onwards in Calcutta. Moved to Bombay (1944) and worked at Filmistan (Eight Days, Shabnam), Navketan (Afsar, Taxi Driver, Funtoosh, Guide) and for Guru Dutt (Baazi, Jaal, Pyaasa, Kagaz ke Phool). Remained Dev Anand's key composer for several years (Paying Guest, Tere Ghar ke Saamne, Jewel Thief, Prem Pujari). Also worked on films for Bimal Roy (Devdas, Sujata, Bandini).

Film compositions often influenced by his huge repertory of folk-tunes from the Bengali Bhatiali, Sari and Dhamail traditions of the North East. As a singer, his thin but powerful, accented voice was often used as a bardic commentary: e.g. the Wahan kaun hai tera musafir in Guide, Safal hogi teri aradhana in the hit Rajesh Khanna movie Aradhana. Wrote an autobiography: Sargamer Nikhad.



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