How Tripura lost an icon - Book throws light on SD Burman?s severed royal links

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By SEKHAR DATTA in Agartala
  • Published 23.02.05

Agartala, Feb. 23: Edward VIII had sacrificed his royal inheritance to marry outside the British royal family. Closer home, music composer Sachin Dev Burman (1006-1975) dissociated himself from Tripura?s princely family for the same reason, or so a new book claims.

It has so far been an unresolved mystery as to why Burman turned his back on Tripura despite being a scion of the royal family and personifying the state in the national mainstream. More intriguing is how Bengal embraced him as its own ? celebrated singer Manna De even wrote an article in a Bengali daily, describing the doyen of Indian music as a Bengali.

Author and researcher Pannalal Roy says Burman became disillusioned with royalty in the wake of the uproar over his marriage to Meera Dasgupta in 1938. Meera Devi, the granddaughter of Justice Raibahadur Kamalnath Dasgupta, belonged to the upper echelons of society in Dhaka and fell in love with the maestro when she was studying music. They married in Calcutta on February 10, 1938.

Roy?s book, Sachin Karta, gives hitherto unknown details of the couple?s courtship, their marriage and its aftermath.

Though members of the royal family, including Prince Kirit Bikram Kishhore Manikya, Purnendu Kishore Debbarman and Maharani Bibhu Kumari Devi, have always maintained a discreet silence on Burman?s personal life, Roy?s book, which is set to hit the stands tomorrow, claims caustic remarks by his relatives hurt Burman very much.

The famous composer visited Tripura?s Ujjayanta palace for the last time in 1945 at the invitation of King Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya. The occasion was Prince Kirit Bikram?s coronation .

?Despite being received warmly, he had to stomach snide remarks and innuendos,? writes Roy.

SD was not invited to the wedding of Kirit Bikram, held in Mumbai in 1960. ?I had written all the addresses on the invitation cards and I do not think Sachin Karta was invited, though he was in Mumbai,? Kumar Sahadeb Bikram, a scion of the royal family, has been quoted as saying in Roy?s book.

How SD subsequently made it big in the Indian film industry is a part of music history, but most probably do not know that he had once made a futile bid to become a cotton trader. Another interesting anecdote in the book is that music powerhouse HMV refused to record SD?s first song, which was then released by Hindusthan Company.