Book Review: Made In India
One of the defining things about growing up in a small town in early 90s was Superhit Muqabla. Those in the metros had access to DD-Metro. Those growing in smaller towns, waited for DD-Metro to reach their cities. Or, they waited for the cable TV revolution and channels like Zee TV, Prime Sports, and so on. Tara with her Ta, Tara Tarara, Tarara scandalized an entire nation. Banegi Apni Baat gave voice to teenagers and college students. Around that same time, an alternate wave of music took pole position for the Indian youth – and right at the centre of it was an Alisha Chinai crooning … The song almost became an anthem for cricket matches, public events, and what not’s. A whole generation of teenagers fell in love with this new era of India-pop music. And a few developed appreciation for the producer – Biddu. Biddu’s , Biddu’s , Biddu’s ! Aficionados knew him as the man behind , and the producer-composer that launched many popular indi-pop voices of the subcontinent – Nazia Hassan, , Alisha, Shwetha Shetty, Sharon Prabhakar and many more. But how many of you remember that Biddu has won a grammy for (You can even see a young Biddu doing the backing vocals in the video)
This was not the age of internet, and not much information was available about who this Biddu was, his background, whether Biddu was his real name or not. As the wave of non-film albums subsided, we stopped hearing much about Biddu. Yet, the truth remains – he is one of the pioneering Indian Music producers. Made In India, Biddu’s autobiography, is as much about getting to know Biddu, as it is to understand the music scene he traversed. Also, it is a throwback to those 80s and 90s, in small ways. Because Biddu’s journey, well of course, started before that.
Made In India has three things going for it – candour, flair, and pace. Starting off with a lovely preface, somewhat farcical but entertaining nevertheless, Biddu sets the tone of the book early on. He is reasonably honest, not preachy, and not someone who wastes a lot of ink on details he does not care about. You get to witness his interesting growing up years and later life, his two year journey to get to London and his struggles thereafter, his honesty that does not for a moment underplay his naiveté or follies, nor does it overplay his bravado and spirit of adventure. It is a nicely told chronicle of his juvenile adventures, single minded pursuit of his dream, his struggles, leading up to that inspired moment of “Made in India”, though he himself identifies “Disco Deewane” as his truly inspired creation. We heard a version of that timeless song in
The sections that document his journey from Ballard Pier to Basra to Kuwait, Damascus, Beirut, Paris, Dover, and finally, London are extremely enjoyable, funny, inspiring and very Alchemisty in that stars do conspire to help him fulfil his dream. It has a somewhat dry sense of humor. The book also gives us, without explicitly trying to, an inside peek into growing up in the 50s and 60s in the urban centres of a post-independence India. The rebellious teens of that era, the thinner boundaries of the world, fewer religious conflicts, a different flavour of post-modernism, and more importantly, the indefatigable goodness of people in all ages. With a little help of his friends, Biddu gets by. And that does make for an interesting reading.
I have two gripes with the book – there are a few typos and mistakes in the book, but none as glaring as the one on the back cover of the book. That one is unpardonable. (But of course I received an ARC so these errors; I am told these have been taken care of in the final copy.) AND, the book somewhat abruptly stops at the success of “Made In India”, and does not cover the next 20-odd years of Biddu’s life, which I am sure a lot of us would be curious about. In fact, I would be very curious to know that Biddu did not stop composing after that era of mainstream pop-music faded away, that he did not decide to live off his royalties for the rest of his life, and that he did not stop entertaining.
I finished off the book on a single Saturday afternoon sitting. Extremely entertaining, especially if you are into reading simple autobiographies.
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