RT Burman

RD Burman is an Indian composer, composer and singer. He is popularly known as ‘Panchamta’ and is considered as one of the leading composers of the Indian music industry.

Wiki / Biography

RD Burman (full name Rahul Dev Burman) was born on 27 June 1939 (Age 55 at the time of death) In Calcutta, the Presidency of Bengal (now Kolkata), British India. His zodiac sign is cancer.

RD Burman as a child

RD Burman as a child

He completed his schooling from a school in West Bengal. His father first enrolled him in training under Tabla Maestro, Prajan Biswas. He trained Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Ashish Khan in Mumbai for Sarod and Samta Prasad Tabla. Burman considers Salil Chatterjee as his guide.

RD Burman plays Sarot

RD Burman plays Sarot

Family, Caste & Wife

He belongs to a musically rich Bengali family. His father Sachin Dev Burman (SD Burman) was a music director and singer. His mother Mira Dev Burman is a songwriter.

Parents of RD Burman

Parents of RD Burman

Burman met one of his fans, Rita Patel, in Darjeeling. She made a bet with her friends that she was going on a movie date with famine. Rita and Burman were married in 1966 and divorced in 1971.

Rita Burman's first wife Rita Patel

Rita Burman’s first wife Rita Patel

He later married Asha Bhosle in 1979. However, at the end of his life, they did not live together.

RT Burman and Asha Bhosle

RT Burman and Asha Bhosle

RD Burman has three step children; Varsha Bhosle (singer), Anand Bhosle (filmmaker), Hemant Bhosle (film composer).

Asha Bhosle with her daughter Varsha Bhosle

Asha Bhosle with her daughter Varsha Bhosle

Asha Bhosle with her sons, Anand Bhosle and Hemant Bhosle

Asha Bhosle with her sons, Anand Bhosle and Hemant Bhosle

Three children from Asha’s first marriage with Ganapatra Bhosle.


When he was nine, he composed his first song, “A Mary Toby Ballad Ke A”, which his father used in the film “Fondush (1956)”.

He composed another song, “Sir Jo Tera Chakraborty”, which was included in his father’s film “Pyasa (1957)”.


Then he started helping his father SD Burman. He co-starred with his father in films such as Salti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958), Kagas Ke Pool (1959), Tere Kar Ke Samne (1963), Pantini (1963), Jitti (1964), Guide (1965) and Dean Deviyan. (1965). In 1959, he began his career as a music director with the film “Ross”, but for some reason the film was not released. His first release as a composer was in the film “Choud Nawab (1961).”

R.D. as music director.  Burman's first film, Choud Nawab (1961)

His first success as a composer came with the film “Teesree Manjil (1966)”. He made his debut as a composer in Telugu films with “Rocky (1987)”.

RD Burman makes his directorial debut in a Telugu film, Rocky (1987)

RD Burman makes his directorial debut in a Telugu film, Rocky (1987)

He made his debut as a music composer in the Tamil film “Poo Malai Pozhiyuthu (1987)”.

R.D.  Burman's debut in the Tamil film Poo Malai Pozhiyuthu (1987)

As a singer

He sang the famous song “Mehbooba Mehbooba”. The song was listed as No. 24 in 1975 and No. 6 by Pinaka Geetmala in 1976. It was the only song to nominate him for the Filmfare Best Playback Singer Award. He sang the background song and composed their scores on almost 18 films.


Filmfare Awards

  • Best Music Composer for the 1983 film “Sanam Theri Kasam”
  • Best Music Director for the 1984 film “Masoom”
  • Best Music Director for the 1995 film “1942: A Love Story”

Awards / places named after him

  • Filmfare R.D. for New Musical Talent Burman Award
  • Brahman Mumbai Corporation in 2009 R.D. Named for a public square (sock) on Santa Cruz named after Burman.
  • On May 2013, R.D. India Post has launched a special commemorative ‘postage stamp’ featuring Burman’s image RD Burman Stamp
  • On his 77th birthday, Google had Burman’s Doodle on its Indian homepage. Google Doodle by RD Burman


Google Doodle by RD Burman

Favorite things

  • Food: Biryani, Fish Kalia, Mutton Foods, Crab & Shrimp, Cone Stews, Sarabadel


RD Burman died of a heart attack on 4 January 1994 in Mumbai (now Mumbai).


  • He loved cooking and watching games.
  • His maternal grandmother would call him ‘Tuplu’.
  • His nickname Famine is a legend. Some stories say that when he was a child, his cry was similar to the fifth note (pa), G music code. Another says that when he cried, he cried in five different notes; ‘Famine’ means five in Bengal. In one of the other legends, once Ashok Kumar came to see the baby Rahul, he was constantly pronouncing the letter ‘Pa’, hence, he nicknamed the boy ‘Famine’.
  • Once in his childhood, his father, SD Burman, asked him, “What do you want to become?” Famine replied, “I’m good at cycling and playing the mouth organs, so I can create my own songs.”
    R.D.  Burman with his father SD Burman

    R.D. Burman with his father SD Burman

  • He knows how to play the mouth organ. Famine played from his father’s musical “Hi Apna Dil Do Awara”, “Solwa Sal (1958)”.


  • He tried his hand at acting even in the early stages of his career; He appeared in films like Booth Bungalow (1965) and Pyaar Ka Ma Sam (1969).
    RD Burman with Mehmood in a scene at Booth Bungalow

    RD Burman with Mehmood in a scene at Booth Bungalow

  • In 1969, his father SD Burman fell ill during the filming of “Aradhana (1969)”. Famine took charge as the co-composer of the film and completed the music for the film. He composed the famous song “Kora Kagas Da Yeh Man Mera”.


  • Mehmood first approached SD Burman for his film “Choud Nawab (1961)”, but SD Burman rejected the reason he was not available. During his meeting with SD Burman, he noticed Pancham playing the tabla and hired him as the music arranger for the film.
  • He composed the song “Muzaffar Hoon Yaron” in the movie “Parichay (1972)” while he was in a hotel after splitting from his first wife Rita Patel.

  • He wrote the lyrics for the English song “I Falling in Love with a Stranger”. The song is set against the backdrop of a scene where Praveen Bobby and Amitabh Bachchan meet at a bar in the film.
  • He lost his father in 1975. After his death, he composed many hit songs for Sholay (1975), Hum Kisise Kum Naheen (1977), Cosme Wade (1978), Kupsoorat (1980), and many more.
  • In the late 1980s, famine was covered up by Bobby Lahiri and many other composers. Many of his songs failed, and filmmakers stopped choosing him as the composer for his films.
  • In 1986, he composed four songs for the film “Issaad”, written by Kulsar and sung by Asha Bhosle. He was highly praised for his work and both Kulsar and Asha won national awards for the song “Mere Saman”.
  • His Latin American rock album, “Panthera” was released on January 6, 1987. The album was recorded in the United States in 1983/1984.
    RD Burman's Latin America Rock Album, Panthera
  • In 1988, he suffered a heart attack and underwent bypass surgery in London a year later.
  • His last Malayalam film was Thenmavin Kombath (1994), but he was unable to compose music for the film due to his uncertain death.
  • Films such as “Janam Se Behle (1994)”, “1942: A Love Story (1994)” and “Cuttack: Lethal (1996)” were released after his death. He also won the Filmfare Best Music Composer Award for “1942: A Love Story (1994)”.
  • He was very close with Rajesh Khanna and Kishore Kumar and the trio have worked together in more than 32 films.
  • The story of how Pancham met Kishore Kumar is interesting. He was in a studio and saw Kishore sitting on the wall of the studio. Kishore was wearing a muffler, hat and a black stick. Kishore followed everyone who crossed the road like a monkey. When Burman went to the recording room with his associates, Kishore followed them to the recording room. When Famine describes the scene, he says, “Jo Jo Kana Katie The Unna Satyanash Karde Hu Woh Kut Kana Kane Laga (Destroyed the Singers, He Started Singing A Song). When Famine asked him why he was doing this, Kishore said, ‘I am an orphan. No one is paying attention to me. Please give me a chance. ‘Pancham looked at Kishore and smiled.
    R.D. Burman with Kishore Kumar

    R.D. Burman with Kishore Kumar

  • He has composed music for almost 331 films including 392 Hindi, 31 Bengali, 2 Oriya and Tamil and Marathi films. He has also composed music for five TV series in Marathi and Hindi.
  • His singing style was greatly influenced by the American singer, trumpet, Louis Armstrong.
  • He called Kulsar “Safet Kawa (white crow)” because Kulsar always wore red, Kulsar called him “Lal Kawa (red crow)” because famine wanted red.
    RT Burman and Kulsar

    RT Burman and Kulsar

  • He was more interested in music and dreamed of it. Chaitanya Padukone, a journalist who considers famine as her guide, describes the events in which she was interviewed. Suddenly she stood up and went to her organizer, Emperor Pablo, and told him her ideas. Saitanya adds, “He often does this — stop in the middle, then go and talk to Pablo-da and say, ‘Yahan Isa Music Rago, Yahan Silence Rago’ and return to the interview.”
    R.D. with Chaitanya Padukone.  Burman

    R.D. with Chaitanya Padukone. Burman

  • Chaitanya Padukone wrote her autobiography entitled “R.D. Burmania: Panchamemoirza”. The book was published in 2016.
    R. D. Burmania: Panchamemoirza
  • He was always open and honest about his musical sources. The song “Mehbooba Mehbooba” from the movie “Sholay (1975)” was inspired by “Say You Love Me (Demis Rousseau)”.
  • He used various techniques to create his scores, from the movie “Sholay (1975)” to “Mehbooba Mehbooba” where he blew on a music bottle to create his own rhythm. From “Yadon Ki Bharat” (1973) to Surah Lia, he used a saucer and cup to create the sound.
  • He is considered to be the first music director to combine Indian Cem-classical music with guitar strokes. The song “Raina Beaty Jay” from the movie “Amar Prem (1972)” featured guitar with Chandoor.


  • The documentary “Famine-Free”, based on his life, was released in 2008. The documentary is directed by “Brahmanand S. Singh” who also produced the documentary by Jagjit Singh. R.D.  Biography of Burman, famine unmixed

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