Celebrating R.D. Burman's 77th Birthday

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Rahul Dev Burman was an Indian film score composer, who is considered one of the seminal directors of the Indian film industry. Nicknamed “Pancham Da”, he was the only son of the composer Sachin Dev Burman.

From the 1960s to the 1990s, R. D. Burman composed musical scores for 331 films. He was mainly active in the Hindi film industry as a composer, and also provided vocals for a few of compositions.

R. D. Burman did major work with his wife, Asha Bhosle and Kishore Kumar, and scored many of the songs that made these singers famous. He also scored many songs sung by Lata Mangeshkar. He served as an influence to the next generation of Indian music directors, and his songs continue to be popular in India.

R.D. Burman, Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar & Asha Bhosle
R.D. Burman, Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar & Asha Bhosle

Personal Life:

R. D. Burman’s first wife was Rita Patel, whom he had met in Darjeeling. Rita, a fan, had bet her friends that she would be able to get a film-date with Burman. The two married in 1966, and divorced in 1971. The song Musafir Hoon Yaaron from Parichay (1972) was composed by him, when he was at a hotel after the separation.

R. D. Burman married Asha Bhosle in 1980. Together, they recorded many hit songs and also staged many live performances. Although, towards the end of his life, they did not live together.

Burman had financial difficulties, particularly later in his life. His mother Meera died in 2007, thirteen years after his death. She had been suffering from Alzheimer’s even before her son’s death. Just before her death she had been moved to an old age home, and moved back to her son’s residence after the issue became a controversy.


Out of R. D. 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. R. D. also composed for 5 TV Serials in Hindi and Marathi.

Pancham’s non-film 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 R. D. Burman partnered with Jose Flores in San Francisco.


In 1987, R. D. Burman, Gulzar and Asha Bhosle worked on an album titled Dil Padosi Hai, which was released on 8 September 1987, Asha Bhosle’s birthday. R. D. 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 films for which he himself composed the scores.

Initial Success:

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. 


Vijay Anandalso 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 R. D. Burman and lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri for six of his films including Baharon Ke Sapne (1967), Pyar Ka Mausam (1969) andYaadon Ki Baaraat (1973). Burman’s score 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).

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The hit Kishore Kumar song Mere Sapnon ki Raani from Aradhana (1969), though credited to his father, is rumoured to have been R. D. Burman’s composition. Kora Kagaz tha Yeh Man Mera from the same film was also his tune. It is believed that when S. D. Burman fell ill during the recording of the film’s music, R. D. Burman took over and completed the music. He was credited as an associate composer for the film.


On his 77th birthday we list some of our favorite R.D. Burman songs:


Song: Yeh Shaam Mastani | Movie: Kati Patang [1970] | Singer: Kishore Kumar

Song: Dilbar Mere | Movie: Satte Pe Satta [1982] | Singer: Kishore Kumar

Song: Zindagi Ke Safar Mein | Movie: Aap Ki Kasam [1974] | Singer: Kishore Kumar

Song: Meri Bheegi Bheegi Si | Movie: Anamika [1973] | Singer: Kishore Kumar

Song: Teri Bina Zindagi Se | Movie: Aandhi [1975] | Singer: Lata Mangeshkar/Kishore Kumar

Song: Baahon Mein Chale Aao | Movie: Anamika [1973] | Singer: Lata Mangeshkar

Song: Piya Tu Ab Toh Aaja | Movie: Caravan [1971] | Singer: Asha Bhosle & R D Burman


Song: Tujhse Naraz Nahin Zindagi | Movie: Masoom [1983] | Singer: Anup Ghoshal

Song: Kuchh Na Kaho| Movie: 1942: A Love Story [1993] | Singer: Kumar Sanu

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Celebrating R.D. Burman's 77th Birthday

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