Remembering Pancham Da: On RD Burman’s Birth Anniversary, Here Are Some Unknown Details About His Life

On RD Burman’s birth anniversary, read on to know about the highs and lows he faced in his music career.

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Remembering Pancham Da: On RD Burman’s Birth Anniversary, Here Are Some Unknown Details About His Life
If  Rahul Dev Burman was alive today he would be 79. And you can bet your  last rupee he would be hyper-active  as a composer…provided the film industry would have let him  go on doing what he was born to.

In his closing years he was shunned by the same people whose careers he had made through his lilting songs. Filmmakers who swore by his name switched to other more saleable names. Ramesh  Sippy who did a slew  of  film with  RD in the 1970s and 80s from Seeta Aur Geeta to Sagar, suddenly  signed the  more market-friendly  Laxmikant-Pyarelal for Bhrashtachar.

That really hurt. There came a time when RD sat jobless on the verandah of his home. He would place a bedsheet on the side overlooking the street so that people wouldn’t know he was sitting idle.


Hurt and rejection were nothing new to RD. Born under the shadow of the great Sachin Dev Burman, RD was crazy about music and composition from childhood. His father never encouraged him to become a music director.   RD insisted he would follow in his father’s footsteps. The early assignments came his way on his own steam, not on his father’s recommendation.  Chote Nawab, Pati Patni, Baharon Ke Sapne and Chandan Ka Palna had lovely melodies. But  it was only with Nasir Hussain’s Teesri Manzil that  RD discovered  his forte.  There  was  no looking back  as he spun out one  trendy  Westernized music score after another.

With the  vocal  prop of  Asha Bhosle to bolster his  unfettered  musicianship  RD quickly gamboled  from Aaja Aaja main  hoon pyar tera  in Teesri Manzil to  Chura hai tumne in Yaadon Ki Baarat to Yeh ladka hai Allah in  Hum Kissise Kam Nahin as  the cinema of Nasir Hussain carried him to  the  crest  of the charts, and then flung him  down when Nasir Hussian’s son Mansoor Khan  preferred  to work with the younger composers Anand-Milind rather than RD in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak.


It is interesting how  RD  made his way to the top of the charts in spite of his father’s opposition. Dev Anand  who had obtained some  great soundtracks from Sachin Dev Burman wanted the son  RD for Hare Rama Hare Krishna. Apparently, Sachinda discouraged Dev Anand.

The songs of Hare Rama Hare Krishna especially Dum Maro dum are hummed to this day. Incidentally Dum maro dum was to be sung by Lata Mangeshkar,  not Asha  Bhosle. RD always did his best work with the elder Mangeshkar sister, be it in Amar Prem, Kinara, Aandhi or Aap Ki Kasam.


I  believe  RD’s real forte was the raga-based Indian melodies, But he moved towards a  more Westernized  sound to  avoid comparisons with his father.

 It’s  not easy to grow under a  banyan tree. Asha Bhosle who veered away from her illustrious sister’s style would know.




Image Source: Instagram/rdburmanofficial, youtube/broadcast imaging