Monday, March 8, 2010
Made in India by Biddu
A biography written by Biddu, I was told. Why would anyone want to read it, I wondered politely, and thankfully silently. The ‘Thankfully silently” part comes post my reading of the book. Or I would have been eating crow right now. Titled Made in India, the book talks of his journey from a boy in Bangalore obsessed with all things Western, including Western music, to a best selling music composer in the UK.
The book is written in a droll, languid tone, which when you meet Biddu, you realise is exactly the way he is. With sudden sharp stabs of humour which have you clutching your stomach and rolling on the ground. And it is an interesting story. That of a young Coorgi boy in Bangalore, who was obsessed with Western music and wanted to reach the Mecca of Music, the west aka UK in any which way he could. This resulted in two failed attempts to run away from home, and the third which succeeded saw him go off to perform in Hyderabad and never return. Along the way he formed a band, played in Kolkata, came to Mumbai, played with a band in the Ambassador and then played solo at The Astoria Hotel, under the moniker, The Lone Trojan. And one fine day, he got himself a passport and struck out for the land of the Beatles. Albeit on a cargo ship to Basra. He then hitchhiked his way from Basra to the UK. As fantastic as that sounds, he definitely had luck and youth on his side. “I dont think when one is young one thinks of discomforts or what ifs, one just gets things done.” His entire experience saw him spend no more than five days in the open, he sang his way to food and shelter and was lucky enough to get rides with kindly souls. Of course, that was a much more innocent age than today. “I was so different from everyone in the Middle East that people were curious about me and kind to me. And the thought that I would never make it to London never ever entered my mind.”
He reached London, with the help of kind souls along the way and friends, and got day jobs to keep body and soul together, and Lady Luck helped him by putting him in touch with promising musicians. Tina Charles for one. The music happened. Charles Douglas. Kung Fu Fighting. Aap Jaisa Koi. And of course, Made in India. Details of everything in the book. The name of the book does come from the best selling album he composed for Alisha Chinai, but he wanted to call it The Boy with Gold in his Hair, something an Eastern mystic had told him he had. But Made in India does come through in the last chapter where he talks about how, no matter where in the world he goes, he will always be Indian at heart, because he is, after all, Made in India.
His music making days are behind him now, he states. His passion now is writing. He spends time in Southern Spain where he now lives and writes for six to seven hours every single day. He has one book ready for release, and another that he is currently writing. “I’ve been a professional musician since I was 13. I thought it was high time I tried something else.” But he is here in India to do a series of performances after a long long while. “But,” he shrugs, “writing is where my heart is right now.”
(Reviewed by Kiran Manral. Cross posted at themagmag.wordpress.com)