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R. D.


R. D. Burman
Rahul Dev Burman

RD Burman (left) with Asha Bhosle

Background information
Native name

Also known as



27 June 1939
Calcutta, India


4 January 1994 (aged54)

Mumbai, India


Film score


Music director

Years active


Rahul Dev Burman (27 June 1939 4 January 1994) was an Indian film score composer, who is considered one of
the seminal music directors of the Indian film industry. Nicknamed Pancham da, he was the only son of the
illustrious composer Sachin Dev Burman.
From the 1960s to the 1990s, RD Burman composed musical scores for 331 movies. He was mainly active in the
Hindi film industry as a composer, and also provided vocals for a few of compositions. RD Burman did major work
with Asha Bhosle (his wife) and Kishore Kumar, and scored many of the songs that made these singers famous. He
served as an influence to the next generation of Indian music directors, and his songs continue to be popular in India
even after his death.

Early life
RD Burman was born to the Bollywood composer-singer Sachin Dev Burman and his lyricist wife Meera Dev
Burman (ne Dasgupta), in Calcutta. Initially, he was nicknamed Tublu by his maternal grandmother although he
later became known by the nickname of Pancham. According to some stories, he was nicknamed as Pancham
because, as a child, whenever he cried, it sounded in the fifth note (Pa) of the Indian musical scale. The word
Pancham means five (or fifth) in Bengali, his mother's native language, as well as the language of court of the royal
family to which his father belongs. Another theory says that the baby was nicknamed Pancham because he could cry
in five different notes. Yet another version is that when the veteran Indian actor Ashok Kumar saw a newborn Rahul
uttering the syllable Pa repeatedly, he nicknamed the boy Pancham.

R. D. Burman
RD Burman received his early education at the St Xavier's School in Kolkata. His father SD Burman was a noted
music director in Bollywood, the Mumbai-based Hindi film industry. When he was nine years old, RD 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, RD Burman was trained by Ustad Ali Akbar Khan (sarod) and Samta Prasad (tabla). He also considered
Salil Chowdhury as his guru. He served as an assistant to his father, and often played harmonica in his orchestras.
Some of the notable films in which RD Burman is credited as the music assistant include Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi
(1958), Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959), Tere Ghar Ke Samne (1963), Bandini (1963), Guide (1965) and Teen Devian
(1965). RD Burman also played mouth organ for his father's hit composition Hai Apna Dil to Aawara which was
featured in the movie Solva Saal (1958).
In 1959, RD Burman signed up as a music director for the film Raaz, directed by Guru Dutt's assistant Niranjan.
However, the film was never completed. The lyrics of this Guru Dutt and Waheeda Rehman-starrer film were written
by Shailendra. R D Burman recorded two songs for the film, before it was shelved. The first song was sung by Geeta
Dutt and Asha Bhosle, and the second one had vocals by Shamshad Begum.
RD Burman's first released film as an independent music director was Chhote Nawab (1961). When the noted
Bollywood comedian Mehmood decided to produce Chhote Nawab, he first approached RD Burman's father Sachin
Dev Burman for the music. However, SD Burman turned down the offer, saying that he did not have any free dates.
At this meeting, Mehmood noticed Rahul playing tabla, and signed him up as the music director for Chhote Nawab.
RD Burman later developed a close association with Mehmood, and did a cameo (apart from composing the music)
in Mehmood's Bhoot Bangla (1965).

Initial successes
Burman's first hit movie 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.[1] Vijay Anand also said that
he had arranged a music session for Burman before Nasir Hussain. Teesri Manzil had six songs, all of which were
written by Majrooh Sultanpuri, and sung by Mohammed Rafi. Four of these were duets with Asha Bhosle, whom
Burman later married. Nasir Hussain went on to sign RD Burman and lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri for six of his films
including Baharon Ke Sapne (1967), Pyar Ka Mausam (1969) and Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973). Burman's score for
Padosan (1968) was well received. Meanwhile, he continued to work as his father's assistant for movies like Jewel
Thief (1967) and Prem Pujari (1970).
The superhit Kishore Kumar song Mere Sapnon ki Raani from Aradhana (1969), though credited to his father, is
rumoured to have been RD Burman's composition. Kora Kagaz tha Yeh Man Mera from the same film was also his
tune. It is believed that when SD Burman fell ill during the recording of the film's music, RD Burman took over and
completed the music. He was credited as an associate composer for the film.

Rise to popularity
In the 1970s, RD Burman became highly popular with the Kishore Kumar songs in Rajesh Khanna-starrer movies.
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, RD Burman also composed several of the popular songs sung by Mohammed Rafi,
Asha Bhosle and Lata Mangeshkar.
In 1970, RD 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 the Hindi film music. The filmmaker Dev
Anand did not include the complete version of Dum Maro Dum in the movie, because he was worried that the song
would overshadow the film. In the same year, RD Burman composed the music for Amar Prem. The Lata

R. D. Burman
Mangeshkar song Raina Beeti Jaaye from this soundtrack is regarded as a classical music gem in Hindi film music.
RD 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
In 1972, R D Burman composed hit music for several films including Seeta aur Geeta, Rampur ka Lakshman, Mere
jeevan saathi, Bombay to Goa, Apna 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. After his father SD Burman went into coma, R D Burman also completed the
music of Mili (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 RD Burman. RD Burman continued to compose several
popular songs for films such as Kasme Vaade (1978), Ghar (1978), Gol Maal (1979), Khubsoorat (1980). He
received his first Filmfare Best Music Director Award for Sanam Teri Kasam (1981). In 1981, he also composed hit
music for Rocky, Satte Pe Satta and Love Story.
The playback singer Kumar Sanu was given his first break by R D Burman in Yeh Desh (1984) as voice of Kamal
Haasan. Abhijeet was given his major break by R D 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 R D Burman. In 1985, Mohammed Aziz, made his debut with Shiva Ka
Insaaf (1985) under R D Burman.

During the 1980s, RD Burman was overshadowed by Bappi Lahiri and other disco music composers. Many
filmmakers stopped patronizing him, as films featuring his compositions flopped at the box office one after the other.
Nasir Hussain, who had signed him up for every single of his productions since Teesri Manzil (1966), did not sign
him up for Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988). Hussain defended RD Burman in press, saying that the latter did not
give weak music in Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai (1982) and Manzil Manzil (1984). He also said that the composer was
going through a lean phase during the recording of Zabardast (1985).[2] But after these three films flopped, Hussain
stepped down as a director, and his son and successor Mansoor Khan switched to other composers. The filmmaker
Subhash Ghai promised RD Burman Ram Lakhan (1989), but gave it instead to Laxmikant-Pyarelal, who had earlier
played in Burman's orchestra.
In the year 1986, RD Burman composed the songs of Ijaazat: this score is regarded as one of his best scores.
However, the film belong to the Parallel Cinema (art film) category, so it did not stop the decline of RD Burman's
commercial film career. All the four songs in Ijaazat were sung by Asha Bhosle and written by Gulzar. RD Burman
was greatly appreciated by the critics for setting the non-rhyming lyrics of the song Mera Kuchh Saamaan to the
music. While both Asha Bhosle (Best Female Playback) and Gulzar (Best Lyrics) received National Awards for the
score, RD Burman received none.[3]
RD Burman suffered from a heart attack in 1988, and in 1989, Burman underwent a heart bypass surgery at Princess
Grace Hospital in London. During this period, he composed many tunes, which were never released. He composed
music for Vidhu Vinod Chopra's movie Parinda in 1989. He composed one song called Chhod Ke Na Jaana which
was sung by Asha Bhosle for the movie Gang. But since the movie took too long to release and due to his untimely
death, director Mazhar Khan signed in the then little known Anu Malik for the music of the movie. 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) was released after his death, and was highly successful. It
posthumously won him the third and last of his Filmfare Awards.

R. D. Burman

RD Burman has been credited with revolutionizing the Bollywood music. He incorporated a wide range of
influences from several genres in his scores. 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, which had been introduced to him by the studio pianist Kersi
According to Douglas Wolk, RD Burman "wrapped sugary string swoops around as many ideas as he could squeeze
in at once". Biswarup Sen describes his popular music as one featuring multicultural influences, and characterized by
"frenetic pacing, youthful exuberance and upbeat rhythms".
RD 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 sand
paper 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 Churaliya 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.
On multiple occasions, RD Burman experimented with recording the same song with different singers. For Kudrat
(1981), he recorded the light version of the song Hume tumse pyar kitna in the voice of Kishore Kumar, while the
classical version was recorded in the voice of Parveen Sultana. In Pyar Ka Mausam (1969), he recorded the song
Tum bin jaun kahan in the voices of Kishore Kumar and Mohammed Rafi separately.
RD Burman sometimes used the Western dance music as a source of inspiration for his compositions. As was
common in Bollywood, some of his songs featured the tunes of popular foreign songs. Often, the filmmakers forced
him to copy these tunes for the soundtracks, resulting in allegations of plagiarism. For example, Ramesh Sippy
insisted that the tune of the traditional Cyprus song Say You Love Me (arranged and sung by Demis Roussos) be used
for Mehbooba Mehbooba (Sholay, 1975), and Nasir Hussain wanted to use ABBA's Mamma Mia for Mil gaya hum
ko sathi. Other examples of RD Burman songs inspired by foreign numbers include Aao twist karein from Bhoot
Bangla (Chubby Checker's "Let's Twist"), Tumse milke (Leo Sayer's When I Need You), and Zindagi milke
bitaayenge (Paul Anka's The Longest Day) and Jahan teri yeh nazar hai (Persian artist Zia Atabi's Heleh maali) and
Dilbar mere (Alexandra's Zigeunerjunge).

Several Hindi movies made after RD Burman's death contain his original songs or their remixed versions. Dil Vil
Pyar Vyar (2002), which contains several re-arranged hit songs of Burman, was made as a tribute to him. Jhankaar
Beats (2003), which catapulted the music director duo Vishal-Shekhar into the limelight, is also a tribute to him. In
Khwahish (2003), Mallika Sherawat's character is an RD Burman fan; the movie features repeated references to RD
Burman. In 2010, Brahmanand Singh released a 113-minute documentary titled Pancham Unmixed: Mujhe Chalte
Jaana Hai, which received critical acclaim. The music of Lootera (2013) is a tribute to RD Burman. Other films
which credit RD Burman include Gang (2000) and Monsoon Wedding (2001, for Chura liya hai).
A number of Indian remix albums feature RD Burman's songs, which are also popular in the country's pubs and
discos. Several of his compositions were re-mixed by the South Asian DJs in the United Kingdom and North
America, and feature in popular albums such as Bally Sagoo's Bollywood Flashback. Kronos Quartet's You've Stolen
My Heart (2005) contains RD Burman's compositions sung by his wife Asha Bhosle. In the 2012 film Khiladi 786,
the Himesh Reshammiya-composed song Balma is also a tribute to R.D. Burman.
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 chowk (public square) in Santa Cruz after RD Burman.

R. D. Burman
RD Burman inspired many later Bollywood music composers, such as Vishal-Shekhar. Notable musical assistants to
RD Burman include Manohari Singh and Sapan Chakraborty. His instrumentalists included Hari Prasad Chaurasia,
Shiv Kumar Sharma, Louis Banks, Bhupinder and Kersy Lord. He is also noted for his partnership with the lyricist
Gulzar, who wrote the words for several of his finest compositions.

Personal life
RD Burman's first wife was Rita Patel, whom he had met in Darjeeling. Rita, a fan, had laid a bet with her friends
that she would be able to get a movie-date with Burman. The two married in 1966, and got divorced in 1971. The
song Musafir Hoon Yaaron ("I'm a Traveller") from Parichay (1972) was composed by him, when he was at a hotel
after the separation.
RD Burman married Asha Bhosle in 1980. Together, they recorded many hit songs and also staged many live
performances. Burman had financial difficulties, particularly later in his life. His mother Meera died in 2007, thirteen
years after his death.

Out of RD Burman's 331 released movie scores, 292 were in Hindi, 31 in Bengali, 3 in Telugu, 2 each in Tamil and
Oriya, and 1 in Marathi. RD also composed for 5 TV Serials in Hindi and Marathi.
Pancham's non-filmi music comprises few albums, including Pantera (1987), a Latin Rock album produced by Pete
Gavankar (father of Janina Gavankar). The album was an international collaboration, for which RD Burman
partnered with Jose Flores in San Francisco. In 1987, RD Burman, Gulzar and Asha Bhosle worked on an album
titled Dil Padosi Hai, which was released on 8 September 1987, Asha Bhosle's birthday. RD Burman and Asha
Bhosle also recorded a song with Boy George. In addition, he scored a large number of non-film songs in Bengali,
which are available in different albums, and from which many numbers were later adapted in Hindi films. Burman
also did playback singing in eighteen movies for which he himself composed the scores.

Awards and recognitions

Though Burman laid the foundation for numerous Bollywood music directors to pave the path for the future of music
in Bollywood cinema, he was awarded a total of only three Filmfare Awards, one of which was awarded
posthumously (for 1942: A Love Story).
Filmfare AwardsWins
1983 - Best Music Director - Sanam Teri Kasam
1984 - Best Music Director - Masoom
1995 - Best Music Director - 1942: A Love Story

1972 - Best Music Director - Caravan

1974 - Best Music Director - Yaadon Ki Baaraat
1975 - Best Music Director - Aap Ki Kasam
1976 - Best Music Director - Khel Khel Mein
1976 - Best Music Director - Sholay
1976 - Best Male Playback Singer - "Mehbooba Mehbooba" from Sholay
1977 - Best Music Director - Mehbooba
1978 - Best Music Director - Hum Kisise Kum Naheen

1978 - Best Music Director - Kinara

1979 - Best Music Director - Shalimar

R. D. Burman

1981 - Best Music Director - Shaan

1982 - Best Music Director - Love Story
1984 - Best Music Director - Betaab
1985 - Best Music Director - Jawani
1986 - Best Music Director - Saagar

A postage stamp, bearing RD Burman's face, was released by India Post to honour him on 3 May 2013.

[1] R D Burman - My God, That's My Tune (http:/ / www. panchamonline. com/ articles/ thatsmytune. pdf). Retrieved on 2012-02-12.
[2] Screen The Business Of Entertainment-Films-Tribute (http:/ / www. screenindia. com/ 20020322/ ftribute. html).
(2002-03-22). Retrieved on 2012-02-12.
[3] Asha Bhosle wins the Padma Vibhushan (http:/ / ibnlive. in. com/ news/ asha-bhosle-speaks-on-winning-the-padma-vibhushan/ 64722-8.

Further reading
Anirudha Bhattacharjee; Balaji Vittal (2011). R.D. Burman: the man, the music. Harper Collins India.

External links
Rahul Dev Burman ( at the Internet Movie Database

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