Sachin Dev Burman was born on October 1, 1906 to Nabadwipchandra Dev Burman, son of the Maharaja of Tripura, and his wife Nirupama Devi. As the youngest of the five sons of his parents, S. D. Burman was introduced to the world of music by his father, who was a noted sitarist and dhrupad singer.
Before embarking on a long & unsurpassed career in Hindi films, Dada, as he was lovingly called, absorbed the rich folk music tradition of the Northeast & continued to pursue classical music under the guidance of Ustad Badal Khan, Bhishmadev Chattopadhyay, and Ustad Aftabuddin Khan. This firm musical foundation became the fountainhead of the numerous film scores he went on to compose.
Dada first tasted success with Filmistan’s Do Bhai (1947) whose melancholic melody “Mera Sunder Sapna Beet Gaya,” by Geeta Roy was lapped up by music lovers. Then came Shabnam in 1949, which boasts of Shamshad Begum’s raging hit “Yeh Duniya Roop Ki Chor.” However, it was the 1950 Ashok Kumar starrer Mashaal (featuring “Upar Gagan Vishal” by Manna Dey) that finally established him as a force to reckon with.
In the decades that followed, he displayed tremendous versatility, changing his musical idiom with time and churning out stellar soundtracks. Though Dada recorded only a handful of Hindi film songs in his uniquely accentuated voice, the ones he did struck a chord deep with the listeners.
During the course of his lifetime he was honored with many awards, including:
1954 Filmfare Best Music Director Award: Taxi Driver
Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1958)
Padma Shri (1969)
1970 National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer: “Safal Hogi Teri Aradhana” from Aradhana
1973 Filmfare Best Music Director Award: Abhimaan
1974 National Film Award for Best Music Direction: Zindagi Zindagi
Dada was a simple man. At times, when he was very happy with a recording, he would offer a paan to the singer. Often he would coax a colleague to drive him out of the city, just so that he could soak in the openness of the countryside. He was also known to be short-tempered, but a simple gesture was enough to win him over.
Dada undoubtedly wore his heart on his sleeve, and his music reflected his simplicity. That is, perhaps, what makes S. D. Burman a great artiste.