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R. D. Burman

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Rahul Dev Burman was born on 27 June 1939. the Bollywood composer/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 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), G scale, of music notation. The word Pancham means five (or fifth) in Bengali, his mother tongue. 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.



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Burman received his early education in West Bengal. His father S. D. Burman was a noted music director in Bollywood, the Mumbai-based Hindi film industry. When he was nine 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).

RD Burman also played the mouth organ as a child in another famous song, Hai apna dil to aawara in the film Solva Saal released in the year 1958 starring actor Dev Anand. Pancham began his music career as assistant to his father. However, he began working independently as music director after the film Chhote Nawaab was made and thereafter, handled 331 films and 4 non-film albums on his own.

Even though, RD Burman composed an impressive amount of songs, yet a number of them are yet to be released. These are songs from unreleased movies and a particular short phase when he had little work in hand. R D Burman also did playback for 18 movies and was famous for unique, grunting bass singing style. He even acted in films like Bhoot Bungla (1965) and Pyar Ka Mausam (1967). At times, his songs used to be inspired by western songs. For instance, song 'Mehbooba Mehbooba' was inspired by Demis Rusos's 'Say You Love Me'.

Infact, RD Burman was India's most popular composer in 1970s. During this time, he teamed up with singers like Asha Bhosle, Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar and others to belt out some of the jazziest hits in the history of Bollywood music. For example, there were musical hits like Amar prem, Buddha mil gaya, Caravan, and Hare Rama Hare Krishna. Amar Prem is remembered for its complex songs based on Indian classical music. RD Burman has also collaborated with Singer Boy George and other international artists.


Personal life

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 ("I'm a Traveller") from Parichay (1972) was composed by him, when he was at a hotel after the separation.

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.


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He died on 4 January 1994.



1983 – Best Music Director – Sanam Teri Kasam

1984 – Best Music Director – Masoom

1995 – Best Music Director – 1942: A Love Story


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