R.D. Burman the guy who revolutionised music

Anagha Telang

Rahul Dev Burman or popularly known as Pancham Da would have celebrated his 79th birthday today.  A pioneer of the bollywood music industry, who brought in a revolution in the music taste of many people. A born music genius, Burman introduced influences from around the world in his works, giving us so many musical masterpieces.

Burman was born to the Bollywood composer & singer Sachin Dev Burman and his lyricist wife Meera Dev Burman on 27 June,1939 at Calcutta. Burman received his early education in West Bengal.
His father S. D. Burman was a noted music director in Bollywood. When Rahul was only nine years old he  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, Rahul got his music lessons from 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."
Burman's first released film as an independent music director was Chhote Nawab (1961).

How Rahul became Pancham...?
According to some stories, he was nicknamed Pancham because, as a child, whenever he cried, it sounded in the fifth note (Pa), G scale, of music notation. The word Pancham means five or fifth in Bengali.

Burman's first hit film as a film music director was Teesri Manzil (1966). Burman gave credit to director Nasir Hussain went on to sign 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 music for Padosan (1968) was well received. Meanwhile, he continued to work as his father's assistant for films including Jewel Thief (1967) and Prem Pujari (1970).
In the 1970s, Burman became highly popular with the Kishore Kumar songs in Rajesh Khanna-starrer films. The trio Rajesh Khanna-Kishore-R.D.Burman has worked together in 32 films together, and these films and songs continue to be popular.The trio were close friends. R.D.Burman composed for 40 films for Rajesh Khanna.

Burman has been credited with revolutionizing 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  Lord.
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, he used cups and saucers to create the tinkling sound for the songs. 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 songs. On multiple occasions; Burman experimented with recording the same song with different singers. Burman sometimes used Western dance music as a source of inspiration for his compositions.

Popular Works...
R.D. composed music for so many films which are all not popular to mention so here is a list of his popular works:-

  • 1970: Puraskar
  • 1970: Kati Patang
  • 1970: The Train
  • 1971: Hulchul
  • 1971: Buddha Mil Gaya
  • 1971: Adhikar
  • 1971: Hare Rama Hare Krishna
  • 1972: Seeta Aur Geeta
  • 1972: Mere Jeevan Saathi
  • 1972: Amar Prem
  • 1972: Bombay To Goa
  • 1972: Jawani Diwani
  • 1973: Yaadon Ki Baaraat
  • 1974: Aap Ki Kasam
  • 1974: Doosri Sita
  • 1975: Deewaar
  • 1975: Sholay
  • 1975: Dharam Karam
  • 1976: Nehle Pe Dehla
  • 1976: Balika Badhu
  • 1977: Hum Kisise Kum Naheen
  • 1979: Gol Maal
  • 1979: Jurmana
  • 1979: Dhongee
  • 1979: The Burning Train
  • 1979: The Great Gambler


  • 1980: Khubsoorat
  • 1980: Shaan
  • 1981: Rocky
  • 1982: Satte Pe Satta
  • 1982: Bemisal
  • 1982: Yeh Vaada Raha
  • 1982: Teri Kasam
  • 1982: Aamne Samne
  • 1982: Sanam Teri Kasam
  • 1982: Ashanti
  • 1982: Shakti
  • 1983: Pukar
  • 1983: Masoom

  • 1990: Jeene Do
  • 1990: Jai Shiv Shankar
  • 1990: Dushman
  • 1990: Antham (Telugu cinema)
  • 1990: Ulagam Pirandhadhu Enakkaga (Tamil cinema)
  • 1991: Indrajeet
  • 1991: Jhoothi Shaan
  • 1992: Siyasat
  • 1992: Purushottam
  • 1992: Sarphira
  • 1992: Khule-Aam
  • 1992: Drohi
  • 1993: Anupama
  • 1993: Gurudev
  • 1993: Gardish
  • 1993: Deyshat
  • 1993: Libaas
  • 1993: Professor Ki Padosan
  • 1993: Tum Karo Vaada

Posthumous releases: 1994-present
  • 1994: Janam Se Pehle
  • 1994: 1942: A Love Story
  • 1996: Ghatak: Lethal
  • 1997: Anyay Hi Anyay
  • 2000: "gang"
Tracks for which RD is Remembered...

  • Yeh Shaam Mastani
  • Dilbar Mere Kab Tak Mujhe
  • Zindagi Ke Safar Mein Guzar Jaate Hai
  • Meri Bheegi Bheegi si
  • Tera Bina Zindagi
  • Jai Jai Shiv Shankar
  • Samundar Mein naha Ke
  • Dum Maaro Dum
  • Baahon mein Chale Aao
  • Raat Kali Ek Khwab
  • Chadhti Jawani
  • Piya Tu Ab Toh Aa Ja
  • Golmaal Hai Bhai
  • Tujhse Naraz Nahi
  • Mehbooba Mehbooba
  • Pyaar Hume Kis 
  • Gulabi Aankhein
  • Chura Liya Hain Tumne jo
  • O Haseen Zulfo Wali
  • Tumne Mujhe Dekha
  • Saagar Kinare
  • Kuch Na Kaho
  • Rimjhim Gire Sawan
  • Mere Saamne Wali Khidki Mein, and many more...

Awards & Laurels...
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:
  • 1983 – Best Music Director – Sanam Teri Kasam
  • 1984 – Best Music Director – Masoom
  • 1995 – Best Music Director – 1942: A Love Story (posthomus)


  • 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 Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation named a public square in Santa Cruz after Burman.
  • On the anniversary of his 77th birthday on 27 June 2016, Google had a Doodle of R.D Burman on its Indian Home Page.
  • Burman inspired many later Bollywood music composers, such as Vishal-Shekhar. Jatin-Lalit are considered to have carried on Burman's legacy through the 1990s. Notable musical assistants to 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.
  • Pancham Unmixed, a winner of 2 National Awards, is a 113-minute biopic on Burman, directed by Brahmanand Singh. A postage stamp, bearing Burman's likeness was released by India Post to honour him on 3 May 2013.

Personal Life & Death...
Burman's first wife was Rita Patel, whom he had met in Darjeeling. The two married in 1966, and divorced in 1971. Burman married Asha Bhosle in 1980. Together, they recorded many hit songs and also staged many live performances.
He died on 4 January, 1994 at the age of 54 due to heart attack.

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.
His music is still considered a mile stone in the Indian Film Industry and is an inpiration for many of the budding composers.

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