One expects the unexpected from a book on a composer who has sprung endless surprises. As an insider, who holds the same family name as the subject of his study, Khagesh Dev Burman has some advantages. So, the reader would imagine he has access to stories that are beyond what is common knowledge about a composer who is still on the songlist of today’s teenagers, all the Bollywood song apps, on every RJ’s gig.
Sadly, this expectation is belied. The unknown in this book about the great musician’s life, very well documented in so many other tomes and in general Bollywood folklore, is few and far between. There are some interesting tracts in this heavy volume—for instance, how RD met and wooed his first wife, Rita Patel, a story that reads like a film scene, and some references to his relationship with his father, the legendary S.D. Burman. But apart from these sporadic stories, there is little that is new. However, the author does make bold to state a much-concealed fact: that S.D. Burman was sometimes subjected to violence at the hands of his wife, Meera Dev Burman, who also insisted on monopolising the right to write lyrics for his Bangla songs.