top of page

Rahul Dev Burman

Rahul Dev Burman was an Indian music director and actor, who is considered the greatest and most successful music director of the Hindi Film Music Industry. He served as an influence to the next generation of Indian music directors, and his songs continue to be popular in India and overseas.

  • google
  • wikipedia

Burman (27 June 1939 – 4 January 1994) was born to the Hindi film composer and singer, Sachin Dev Burman, and his lyricist wife Meera Dev Burman (née Dasgupta), in Calcutta. Initially, he was nicknamed Tublu by his maternal grandmother, although he later became known by the nickname Pancham.


Burman received his early education in West Bengal from Tirthapati Institution in Kolkata. His father S. D. Burman was a noted music director in Hindi language films, the Mumbai-based Hindi film industry. When he was seventeen years old, R. D. Burman composed his first song, Aye meri topi palat ke aa, which his father used in the film Funtoosh (1956). The tune of the song Sar jo tera chakraaye was also composed by him as a child; his father included it in the soundtrack of Guru Dutt's Pyaasa (1957).

In Mumbai, Burman was trained by Ustad Ali Akbar Khan (sarod) and Samta Prasad (tabla). He also considered Salil Chowdhury his guru. He served as an assistant to his father and often played harmonica in his orchestras.


Some of the notable films in which Burman is credited as the music assistant include Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958), Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959), Tere Ghar Ke Samne (1963), Bandini (1963), Ziddi (1964), Guide (1965) and Teen Devian (1965). Burman also played mouth organ for his father's hit composition "Hai Apna Dil To Aawara", which was featured in the film Solva Saal, and sung by Hemanta Mukhopadhyay.

Burman's first released film as an independent music director was Chhote Nawab (1961) produced by Hindi film comedian Mehmood. Burman later developed a close association with Mehmood, and made a cameo in Mehmood's Bhoot Bangla (1965).

Burman's first hit film as a film music director was Teesri Manzil (1966). Burman gave credit to lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri for recommending him to Nasir Hussain, the producer and writer of the film.


Burman's first wife was Rita Patel, whom he had met in Darjeeling. The two married in 1966, and divorced in 1971. The song Musafir Hoon Yaaron ("I'm a Traveller") from Parichay (1972) was composed while he was at a hotel after the separation.

Burman married Asha Bhosle in 1980. Together, they recorded many hit songs and staged many live performances.


In the 1970s, Burman became highly popular with the Kishore Kumar songs in Rajesh Khanna-starrer films. Kati Patang (1970), a musical hit, was the beginning of a series of the 1970s films directed by Shakti Samanta of Aradhana fame. Its songs "Yeh Shaam Mastani" and "Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai", sung by Kishore Kumar, became instant hits. Apart from Kishore Kumar, Burman also composed several of the popular songs sung by Lata MangeshkarMohammed Rafi and Asha Bhosle.


In 1970, Burman composed the music for Dev Anand's Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971). The Asha Bhosle song "Dum Maro Dum" from this film proved to be a seminal rock number in Hindi film music. In the same year, Burman composed the music for Amar Prem. The Lata Mangeshkar song "Raina Beeti Jaye" from this soundtrack is regarded as a classical music gem in Hindi film music. Burman's other hits in 1971 included the romantic song "Raat kali ek khwab mein" from Buddha Mil Gaya and the Helen-starrer cabaret song "Piya Tu Ab To Aaja" from Caravan. He received his first Filmfare Award nomination for Caravan.


In 1972, Burman composed music for several films, including Seeta Aur GeetaRampur Ka LakshmanMere Jeevan SaathiBombay To GoaApna Desh and Parichay. His success continued with hits such as Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973), Aap Ki Kasam (1974), Sholay (1975) and Aandhi (1975). He also composed a song for a small documentary film called Maa Ki Pukaar, in 1975.


Mohammed Rafi received the National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer for the song "Kya Hua Tera Wada" from Hum Kisise Kum Naheen (1977), composed by Burman. He continued to compose several popular songs for films such as Kasme Vaade (1978), Ghar (1978), Gol Maal (1979) and Khubsoorat (1980). He received his first Filmfare Best Music Director Award for Sanam Teri Kasam (1981). In 1981, he also composed hit music for RockySatte Pe Satta and Love Story.


Abhijeet was given his major break by Burman in Anand Aur Anand (1984). Although he made his debut a long time ago, Hariharan was first noticed in a duet with Kavita Krishnamurthy in Hai Mubarak Aaj ka Din from Boxer (1984), which was composed by Burman. In 1985, Mohammed Aziz made his debut with Shiva Ka Insaaf (1985) under Burman.


The trio Kishore Kumar-Rajesh Khanna-R.D.Burman have worked together in 32 films, and these films and songs continue to be popular till date. The trio were close friends. R.D.Burman composed for 40 films for Rajesh Khanna.


In 1986, Burman composed songs for Ijaazat; the score is regarded as one of his best. However, the film belonged to the Parallel Cinema genre of (art films). Burman was greatly appreciated by the critics for setting the non-rhyming lyrics of the song "Mera Kuchh Saamaan" to music.


Thenmavin Kombath, a Malayalam film by Priyadarshan was the last film he signed, but he died before he could score for the film. The music of 1942: A Love Story (1994), which was released after his death, was highly successful. It posthumously won him the third and last of his Filmfare Awards.


R. D. Burman was a prolific contributor to the Bengali tradition of composing songs for the Durga Puja festival, many of which he later adapted for Hindi films. This includes hit songs such as "Meri Bheegi Bheegi Si" from the film Anamika (Bengali version: Mone Pore Rubi Roy), "Pyar Diwana Hota Hai" from Kati Patang (Bengali version: Aaj Gun Gun Gun Kunje Amar) and "Tere Bina Zindagi Se Koi" from Aandhi (Bengali version: Jete Jete Pathe Holo).


Burman has been credited with revolutionizing Hindi film music. He incorporated a wide range of influences from several genres in his scores though his primary inspiration was Bengali folk. Burman's career coincided with the rise of Rajesh Khanna-starrer youth love stories. He made electronic rock popular in these popular love stories. He often mixed disco and rock elements with Bengali folk music. He also used jazz elements.


Burman was influenced by Western, Latin, Oriental and Arabic music, and incorporated elements from these in his own music. He also experimented with different musical sounds produced from methods such as rubbing sandpaper and knocking bamboo sticks together. He blew into beer bottles to produce the opening beats of "Mehbooba, Mehbooba". Similarly, he used cups and saucers to create the tinkling sound for the song "Chura Liya Hai" from the film Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973). For Satte Pe Satta (1982), he made the singer Annette Pinto gargle to produce a background sound. He also rubbed a comb on a rough surface to produce a whooshing sound in the song "Meri Samne Wali Khidki Main" from the film Padosan (1968).


Burman inspired many later Hindi film music composers, such as Vishal–ShekharJatin–Lalit are considered to have carried on Burman's legacy through the 1990s. His instrumentalists included Hari Prasad ChaurasiaShiv Kumar SharmaLouis BanksBhupinder Singh and Kersi Lord. He is also noted for his partnership with the lyricist Gulzar, who wrote the words for several of his finest compositions.


From the 1960s to the 1990s, Burman composed musical scores for 331 films, bringing a new level of music ensemble with his compositions. Burman did his major work with legendary singers Lata MangeshkarAsha Bhosle, and Kishore Kumar. He also worked extensively with lyricist Gulzar, with whom he has some of the most memorable numbers in his career. Nicknamed Pancham, he was the only son of the composer Sachin Dev Burman and Bengali singer-lyricist Meera Dev Burman.


He was mainly active in the Hindi film industry as a composer, and provided vocals for a few compositions.


Pancham Unmixed, a winner of 2 National Awards, is a 113-minute biopic on Burman, directed by Brahmanand Singh.


Out of Burman's 331 released film scores, 292 were in Hindi, 31 in Bengali, 3 in Telugu, 2 each in Tamil and Oriya, and 1 in Marathi. Burman also composed for 5 TV Serials in Hindi and Marathi.


Pancham's non-film music comprises a few albums, including Pantera (1987), a Latin Rock album. In 1987, Burman, Gulzar and Asha Bhosle worked on an album titled Dil Padosi Hai, which was released on 8 September 1987, Asha Bhosle's birthday. Burman and Asha Bhosle also recorded the song "Bow Down Mister". Burman also did playback singing in eighteen films for which he himself composed the scores.



Burman laid the foundation for numerous Hindi film music directors to pave the path for the future of music in Hindi language cinema.

Filmfare Awards:




In 1995, Filmfare Awards constituted the Filmfare RD Burman Award for New Music Talent in his memory. The award is given to upcoming music talent in Hindi cinema. In 2009, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation named a public square in Santa Cruz after Burman.

images (3).jfif
images (1).jfif
images (2).jfif
bottom of page