10 Best Music Composers of Bollywood All Time

I am a great lover of Bollywood music and music is a part of my life too. Through this column I would like to sort the best 10 music composers of Bollywood all time. This list may not agree with your choice, yet we can agree with most of our choices. There is no comparison between the legends, and one music director can never fill the space of another. I mainly looked into the factors – popularity and contributions while preparing this list. Very soon I shall present with a lengthy article, much more elaborating their contributions.

10. Jatin – Lalit – 10th position goes to Jatin-Lalit who has given musical blockbusters like Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, DDLJ, Pyar to hona hi tha, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gum, Khamoshi, Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha, Yes Boss, Fanaa, Khamoshi, Ghulam and Hum Tum. Though they remained the celebrated duo in the 1990s and most of their albums became extremely popular, they were unfortunate to win an award in Filmfare ever. With 11 nominations at Filmfare, they hold the record of most number of nominations without a win. They enjoyed unparalleled stardom during 90’s and 2000’s till they parted.

9. Nadeem Shravan – The duo remain the top composers of Bollywood who give new direction to Bollywood music in the late 1980s, when it lost its path somewhere in middle 80’s. Through Aashiqui Bollywood music rose as a phoenix and their association with Kumar Sanu, Anuradha Paudwal, Udit Narayan and Alka Yagnik has given quite a few memorable melodies to Bollywood. 1990s era truly belong to them. I choose Raja Hindusthani, Saajan, Pardes, Aashiqui, Deewana, Dhadkan and Kasoor as their finest works.

8. Kalyanji-Anandji – They always tried to remain away from spotlight, yet has given some evergreen classics to Bollywood. Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas from Blackmail, Oh Saathi Re from Muquadar Ka Sikander and Chandan Ka Badam from Saraswati Chandra are evergreen romantic tracks composed by the duo. Kora Kaagaz, Johny Mera Naam, Purab Aur Paschim, Mahal, Safar, Jab Jab Phool Khile, Don, Qurbani and Himalay Ki Gode Mein are timeless classics, composed by the duo. Also read: Top 30 Music Albums of Kalyanji-Anandji.

7. Laxmikanth Pyarelal – This music duo has given maximum songs to Bollywood and their contributions extend from early 50’s to 90’s. It’s not at all easy to list the 5 best of this musical pair. They had a deep knowledge on Indian classical tunes and compositions of Sargam, Dosthi, Satyam Sivam Sundaram, Aap aaye bahar aaye, Daag: A Poem of Love, and Shagird are the best instances of their amazing contributions. They hold the record of maximum nominations at Filmfare in best music composition category. They won a total of 7 awards from 25 nominations.

6. O. P. Nayyar – Old Bollywood is incomplete without Asha Bhosle songs composed by O.P.Nayyar. It’s something like a miracle or magic during 50’s and 60’s to give numerous songs to music lovers without the voice of Lata Mangeshkar. I choose Mere Sanam, Kismat, Kashmir Ki Kali, Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon, Ek Musafir Ek Hasina, Naya Daur, Bahaaren Phir Bhi Aayengi, Howrah Bridge and CID as his best works.

5. A. R. Rahman – The face of modern Bollywood who has given a significant contribution to promote Indian music globally. His works – Slum dog millionaire, Bombay, Roja, Dil Se, Saathiya, Lagaan, Rockstar, Rang De Basanti and Taal are really remarkable. Today he enjoys the position of no.1 music director of Indian cinema and has fans following him all around the world. Also read Top 10 music albums, Top 10 item songs and Top 60 chartbusters composed by Rahman.

4. R. D. Burman – If someone asks to point a single composer’s name who has attempted to westernize Indian classical tunes, it’s none other than R.D. O. P. Nayyar too was accused for his modern tunes earlier, and a few works of Madan Mohan as well. But in the case of Pancham da, he rewrote almost all equations of Bollywood music and his works are still popular among the youth. He was the most celebrated composer of 70’s whose works are still talked about and used as remixes in discos and movies. His best works include Yaadom Ki Baraat, Aap Ki Kasam, Ajnabee, Aandhi, Amar Prem, Jawani Diwani, Teesri Manzil, Padosan, Caravan, Saagar, 1942-A love story, Ghar and Izzazzat. He has experimented with every type of tunes he had, and was a genius. Also read: Top 50 songs of Kishore Kumar.

3. Madan Mohan – He was the unsung hero of Bollywood music composition field, whose work got appreciation only after he passed away. That’s the depth of Madan Mohan’s tunes and we people may take hundreds of years to decode the musical mystery behind his tunes. His hits include Woh haun thi, Haqueeqat, Mera saaya, hasthe zakhm, Anpat, Sanjog and Heer Ranja. Some of his unused tunes were recreated for Shah Rukh film, Veer-Zaara in 2004.

2. S. D. Burman – The emperor of melodies is none other than S.D who has given significant contributions to Bollywood music and has brought great reformations as well. We, Bollywood music fans are lucky to get some of the significant contributions of this legend. Aradhana, Sharmilee, Guide and Abhimaan are best instances of such reformations. Also read: Top 16 albums of Burman da & Kishore Kumar combination.

1. Shankar Jaikishan – Undoubtedly SJ enjoys the top position of the list. They are masters of music compositions and each and every tune they have composed is unique! They have given distinct signature to many leading actors of Bollywood like Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor and Rajendra Kumar. Each and every tune is just amazing and stays alive in music lovers’ hearts even after 50 years of release. SJ is my most favourite composer and I would like to list a few compositions of my favourite. Arzoo, Brahmachari, Junglee, Prince, Anari, Shree 420, Gumnaam, Love in Tokyo, Jhuk Gaya Aasman, Professor, Sangham, Suraj, An Evening in Paris and Amrapali – a selection of SJ hits. They fully dominated the music scene in the 1950s and 1960s – the era regarded as the glorious period of Bollywood music. With the early 1970s, their music slowly started to loss popularity and with the unexpected death of Jaikishan in 1971, a glorious era came to an end. Also read:10 Best Shammi Kapoor songs composed by SJ.

So, I have concluded this column listing the most popular music composers of Bollywood. In the list to include composers of both present times and glorious era, I had to exclude one of the most popular and talented music composers – Salil Chowdhury who gave us the music of Madhumati and Parakh. I also had to exclude great names like Naushad, Roshan, Jaidev and Ravi to keep a balance between present and past days. In fact Naushad’s name should top the list, in terms of talent as well as to introduce many new things to Hindi music. None of the composers of present generation can be compared to his talent. I should have made a list of 15 best, it seems. Among music directors of present times, Anu Malik, Rajesh Roshan (since 1970s) and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy have given some memorable songs to Bollywood of course.

As I am not proficient in songs of 40’s and early 50’s, I have missed many great names who actually deserve a special mention. It’s my limitation and hope readers won’t mind if I have missed their favourites in the list.

Image Source: Wikipedia and Youtube screen shots

Also please go through my gallery of miscellaneous posts of Bollywood music, Here is the page link. Click on the images to read. 
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A freelance writer and blogger by profession since October 2011, interested in writing over a wide range of topics. Hope you enjoy my writings. I belong to one of the beautiful places of the world, Kerala, nicknamed as 'God's own country'.

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12 Responses

  1. Dr anish says:

    I think you should not have included a.r
    Rahman in Bollywood section.he must have got Oscar but raam Laxman of hum Aapke Hain kaun should have given priority.there are many songs in that movie.

    • Sandy says:

      It’s purely personal choice. Rahman has already achieved a status, not easy for others to imitate. He definitely deserves a position in top 10. Hum Apke Hain Kaun is definitely excellent, but my choice could be Meine Pyar Kiya

  2. Dr anish says:

    Did you see those songs of Kishore Kumar solo which I suggested

  3. Dr anish says:

    Most of my malayalee friends liked ddlj more than hahk.the reason I felt because they didn’t know hindi.if you understand each song with lyrics as well as music in that situation totality..your opinion can change.

  4. Dr anish says:

    A.r Rahman is one of best 10 music director of Tamil and Indian cinema.i actually said you should have avoided in Bollywood section with only a small time in the industry

    • Sandy says:

      Not at all, his contribution to Hindi music industry is really commentable. Rangeela, Lagaan, Dil Se, Highway, Zubeida, Taal, Rockstar, Guru, Swades, Delhi 6, Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na and Rang De Basanti are exclusively Hindi albums, not Tamil, received high ratings from topmost music critics too, and he won National award for Lagaan. He is the most celebrated and popular music composer of Bollywood at present. Though in the 1990s, he worked mostly in Tamil cinema, with new millenium, he gave equal preference to both industries, and now he can never be tagged as a Tamil music director any more . You can check my 60 chartbuster hits of Rahman to change ur opinion.

    • Sandy says:

      Also, he received 15 Filmfare awards in Hindi exclusively, much more than any leading stars of the industry including SRK, Dilip Kumar & Amitabh. Only one person who has won more Filmfare awards than Rahman in Hindi film section is Gulzar. So, it’s the most authentication for his significant contribution to Bollywood music for the past two decades since Rangeela was released in 1995, and he can never be tagged as a Tamil music director.

  5. Dr anish says:

    I agree but in my top list of good music he is not in top 10.one of Reason is present era where quality of songs or importance of music has come down.we are comparing people of different generation time. my top 10 directors wouldn’t have done well in this era.

  6. Dr anish says:

    Do write someday about good songs whose music director went unnoticed like songs of jigar,Dil Hain tumhara,deewane,border

    • Sss says:

      What Dr anush us said is correct. Legendary music composers are there like Laksmikant pyarelal. Rajesh Roshan, kalyanji anandji, r d Burman , Khayyam, Ravi . All their songs are last.lobg songs. No body can match them

  7. Please wright something about those forgotten songs of famous music directors like Jigar, Dil Hai Tumhara, dewane, border

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