Sun Mere Bandhu Re
It’s well past midnight. In their warped senses, some intoxicated young revelers come up with another idea to make merry. One of them starts to ‘sing’ in a drunken drawl- Sun mere bandhu re, sun mere mitwa, sun mere saathi re. The others guffaw loudly. It’s fun time for them.
Suddenly lights are turned on in one of the houses on that street. A tall, sprightly man with a long face comes out to stand in front of those youngsters. Hands folded, he pleads – "Please do whatever else you want to do but leave that song alone." Bewildered and angry, one of the guys counter- questions – "And mister, who are you?" The man calmly answers, "I am Sachin Dev Burman – the unfortunate singer and composer of the song you are molesting!"
This tale has become a legend. The song and the man behind that song still evoke memories of a great musical era. Today’s listeners might just know S.D.Burman as R.D.Burman’s father but for a connoisseur it is this father who holds the real key to a musical treasure trove.
Born on 1st October 1906 in Comilla, S.D. Burman belonged to the lineage of Tripura’s royal family. His father- Navdweepchandra Burman was a good singer and a sitar player and from him, S.D. (as he was popularly known!) got his first music lessons. As a composer, his flair for modern music while never losing the traditional touch shone through exceptional soundtracks like Jaal, Munimji, Bandini, Guide, Jewel Thief and Abhimaan. On October 31, 1975, he breathed his last.
As a singer, his gruff, gravelly voice was perfectly suited for pathos- laden North- Eastern Indian folk tunes. Even though he sang very few songs himself, almost every song of his – be it Wahan Kaun Hai Tera, Mere Saajan Hai Us Paar or Safal Hogi Teri Aradhana became memorable but none more so than this Sujata gem – Sun Mere Bandhu Re.
It’s a song portraying fantasies of blooming, unexpressed love. A flute, an Iktaara and Chinese blocks- just three instruments create the enchanting atmosphere of this beautiful Maanjhi –song (song sung by the boatman). S.D.’s uniquely raw and rustic vocal texture provides just the right medium for unfolding the subtle emotional layers of Majrooh Sultanpuri’s folksy lyrics that say:
Jiya kahe tu saagar, main hoti teri nadiyaa
Laher baher karti apne piya se mil jaati re
Sun mere saathi re.
(O my friend, O my love.
How I Wish, you were the sea and myself- a flowing river,
Then wave after wave, I would have kept coming, submerging into you).
How outwardly simplistic, how deeply meaningful, how eminently unforgettable!