Name : R D Burman
Full / Real Name : Rahul Dev Burman "Pancham"
Born :
Died :Jan-1994
Notable Films : 1942 - A Love Story, Aandhi, Betaab, Caravan, Teesri Manzil, Ham Kisi Se Kam Nahin, Hare Rama Hare Krishna, Jawani Deewani, Ijaazat, Kati Patang, Kinara, Masoom, Mere Jeevan Saathi, Parichay, Saagar, Yaadon Ki Baraat
Contributed by : K Vijay Kumar
Born to the noted composer S D Burman and Meera Burman, "pancham" Rahul Dev Burman was steeped in the musical idiom. Rumored to have composed two songs for his father while still in his teens - ae meri Topi palat ke aa (Funtoosh, 1956) and sar jo teraa chakaraye (Pyasa, 1957), he assisted his father for a few years as he awaited his turn. His first chance came with Guru Dutt's Raaz - a project that was shelved without ever seeing the light of day. Then, Mehmood stepped in, offering him Chhote Nawab in 1961. The score was impressive, particularly Lata's "ghar aa ja ghir aaye badarawa". A long wait followed before Mehmood offered him another film - Bhoot Bungla. This time, too, the score was impressive. Pancham even acted in the film.

Major success was just around the corner. In 1966, Nassir Hussain offered him the film Teesri Manzil. Shammi Kapoor, riding on a wave of Shankar-Jaikishan backed success, was reluctant to have an unknown newcomer compose the score for the film, but when he heard the compositions, he was enthusiastic in his support for the young composer. Every song from the film - from the coquettish "o meraa sona re" to the oomphy "o haseena zulfo vali", from the rock-and-roll of "aa ja aa ja main hoon pyaar teraa" to the skittish "dekhiye saahibo" and the soulful "tum ne mujhe dekhaa ho kar meharaban" was a hit and remains a popular favourite to this day. R D Burman became a fixture in the Nassir Hussain camp.

A string of successful films in the next few years cemented his reputation as the new name to contend with in Hindi film music - Padosan, Pyar Ka Mausam, Caravan, Buddha Mil Gaya. The success of the music of films like Kati Patang, Mere Jeevan Sathi, Amar Prem and Aap Ki Qasam contributed significantly to the meteoric rise of Rajesh Khanna as a leading hero, and to the resurrection of Kishore Kumar's singing career. One by one film makers started turning to him to have their film's success guaranteed by R D Burman's vibrant, upbeat music. The pinnacle was Dev Anand's Hare Rama Hare Krishna in 1971 which became something of a cult anthem with its song "dum maaro dum." R D Burman's music was much more than mere electronic razzmatazz, though. His soulful compositions for Amar Prem, topped by "baDa naTakhaT hai ye" and "rainaa beeti jaaye", and his melodious compositions for Aandhi highlight the other face of his music.

R D Burman's lasting contribution to Hindi cinema is to have championed a new western style, with rich percussion and electronic instrumentation. Although C Ramchandra and others had introduced the western idiom to Hind film enthusiasts, it was R D Burman who made it a staple of his music, and redefined the musical tastes of an entire generation. His baton was taken up by others like Bappi Lahari to whom he began to lose ground in the 80s, despite some breathtaking music for films like Ijazat and Sagar. He had a right to be bitter when the songs of Ijazat were lauded all over, Asha & Gulzar heaped with awards, and his own contribution went unrecognized.

R D Burman sang a few of his own songs, and his contribution, however slight, always left a memorable impact on the song - like the haunting "Monica~" call in "piya tu ab to aa ja" or the panting in "duniya me logon ko". He often stooped to a high-pitched falsetto when singing his compositions, but on the few occasions that he used his natural singing voice - "ye zindagi kuchh bhi sahi" or the "daddy ka mummy ka" segment in "phoolon ka taaron ka", he comes across with a believable warmth and sincerity.

R D Burman married the chanteuse Asha Bhosle, a relationship that was the subject of much tongue-wagging, but which bore fruit in the form of several lusturous musical collaborations. His major musical collaborations with Anand Bakshi, Majrooh Sultanpuri and Gulzar have yielded several memorable compositions. He had one last hurrah with "1942 - A Love Story" which was released in 1994, a few weeks after his untimely death following a heart attack.