SD creates South Asian symphony
Fans From Across Three Nations Get Together To Salute The Maestro
Avijit Ghosh | TNN
New Delhi: Maajid Maqbool is a computer professional in Rawalpindi. H Q Chowdhury runs a private science and technology laboratory in Dhaka.
And Ritu Chandra is a software engineer located in Philadelphia. But a common passion binds this unlikely trio from Pakistan, Bangladesh and India: the music of Sachin Dev Burman.
Maqbool, 52, possesses 650 of the 670-odd songs composed by Dada Burman for Hindi films — a collection built assiduously over four decades rummaging through shops in Karachi, Lahore, London and New York. Along with Chowdhury and Chandra, he has spent considerable time and money to set up a Burman website (sdburman.net) that includes snatches of his early classics. ‘‘We are upgrading the website and hopefully the job would be complete by October 1, the day he was born 100 years ago,’’ says Chandra, 33, the youngest among the three.
All three are in the Capital to celebrate the birth centenary of the masterclass singer and music director.
It’s a tuneful act of South Asian regional cooperation. The three, who chanced upon each other on the Internet, don’t discuss Kashmir or Teesta river-water sharing. ‘‘We have no political agenda.
“It’s just our shared love for Dada’s music that brings three individuals from three different countries together,’’ says Chowdhury, 56, who grew up listening to SD Burman’s Bangla songs in his childhood home in Barisal, before discovering his Hindi film repertoire.
Of the three, Chowdhury is the researcher whose old film magazines carrying rare photographs and articles of the music maestro now find a place in the website. ‘‘Now many fans have also sent photographs to us,’’ says Chandra.
She is the buoyant spirit behind the group who helped organise a musical evening of Burman’s songs here on Friday. Maqbool and Chowdhury also flew in from their countries.
‘‘We have known each other for so long. But we saw each other for the first time on Thursday,’’ says Maqbool.
The Pakistani is the collector. Only one film’s songs are fully missing from Maqbool’s treasure trove: Chittor Vijay (1947). ‘‘It is like a hole in my heart,’’ he says. His collection also includes Burman’s songs in Bangla, a language Maqbool doesn’t know.
He even knows that Burman’s shortest composition is Allah megh de (Guide, one minute) and the longest track is Bichre sabhi bari bari (Kagaz Ke Phool, nine minutes).
Over the decades, Hindi film industry has been home to some great music directors. But Chowdhury feels Burman senior was a rare musician who kept evolving and improving throughout his career.
‘‘He had unbelievable range and depth,’’ he says.
Adds Maqbool, who became a Burman fan after listening to the songs in Aradhana (1969), ‘‘Unlike several other great musicians, he was still at the top and extremely successful when he died in 1975.’’
His love for Burman was spurred by the popular Radio Ceylon programme Binaca Geet Mala. Even Chowdhury was a keen listener of the weekly programme.
Chandra came to like Burman through old Navketan films of Dev Anand. When Chandra went to USA in 1999, she came across RMIM (rec.music.indian.misc), a motley web-based network of Hindi film music-lovers abroad.
‘‘They opened up the world of Burman’s older songs to me,’’ says Chandra, who also does not understand Bangla.
Maqbool and Chowdhury became Internet friends in 2002 after the former chanced upon a comment made by the Bangladeshi on Burman. It led to a debate.
Chowdhury said that singer Kishore Kumar first gave his voice to a Burman composition in Dev Anand’s Baazi.
‘‘I corrected him. The film was Pyaar, also the first film where Kishore gave playback for Raj Kapoor,’’ says Maqbool.
The two became a threesome when Chowdhury came across an Internet article written by Chandra on the musician. Impressed by her scholarship, he roped her in for the Internet project.
Over the years, the association has grown deeper and more meaningful. Just like the music of Kumar Sachin Dev Burman.