R. D. Burman – Top 10 Bollywood Musical Albums

Rahul Dev Burman, shortly called R. D. Burman and nicknamed Pancham da composed musical scores for 331 films predominantly in Bollywood, in a career spanning to nearly three-and-a-half decade. Many of his songs were way ahead of time and trendsetters best enjoyed by youth. He also influenced future generation of music composers, and most of his songs are still popular and remixed multiple times. Which are the 10 best musical albums of R. D. Burman? Or which are your top 10 favourite albums of Pancham da? Really a difficult question, Right?

r d burman best songs

Yes, R. D. Burman remained a very rare Hindi music composer, who succeeded to give hits in every decade of his career. Except his career lows in the second half of 1980s and first half of 1990s (his last phase in Hindi cinema or last decade),  he minced musical hits like a machine, and it’s not at all possible to tag his songs under one or two genres or styles. That’s where R. D. scores better than other composers. He created beautiful tunes one after another without any break, which are entirely different from others, which make us wonder what this genius’ brain is made of. No doubt, he was a musical genius and of course, the most celebrated music composer of Hindi cinema.

If I try to list to list 10 of his best albums, I may end up with 15 or 20. It’s because there will be at least one or two memorable songs in every album he created till mid-1980s. Also, every person has his own playlist of R. D. Burman songs, which may not match with others. As I am an ardent fan of Bollywood music of 1960s, most of my favourite songs fall into this era. Same is the case of music fans who love music of 1970s or 1980s.

In this list I have given much importance to his songs of 1960s, though the composer enjoyed his career peak in the 1970s. I have also chosen albums from his next two decades too. I have many favourite songs from movies like Golmaal, Baharon Ke Sapne, Ghar, Anamika, Jawani Diwani, Aap Ki Kasam, Hare Rama Hare Krishna, Ajnabee, Parichay, Aa Gale Lag Jaa, Mere Jeevan Saathi, Mehbooba, Khudrat, Libaas, Izzazat etc (I am mentioning only a few here), very close to my heart. But because of the depth of composer’s works, and when taken into consideration an album as whole, I was forced to excluded them all from top 10. Please visit my R. D. Burman Page to read a few topics about the celebrated composer.

1. Teesri Manzil (1966)

When someone asks me to pick the best R. D. Burman album ever, I have no confusions – It’s Teesri Manzil, starring Shammi Kapoor and Asha Parekh, which established R. D. Burman’s career in Bollywood. You can’t point out even a weak track in the entire album, though R. D. was only a young composer then. The movie also marked the successful association of R. D. Burman with Nasir Hussain movies as well as Majrooh Sultanpuri with whom R. D. Burman got associated with every project produced by Hussain. It was the only work of R. D. Burman for any Shammi Kapoor movie, where the actor played the male lead. In those days, songs of Shammi Kapoor’s movies were predominantly composed by Shankar Jaikishen, and songs of Teesri Manzil also belong to the same class.

deewana mujhsa nahin

‘Deewana Mujhsa Nahin’ – Rafi’s soft solo from the album

My top pick of the album is Rafi solo – Tumne Mujhe Dekha, followed by Deewana Mujhsa Nahin, O Mere Sona Re, O Haseena Zulfonwali, Aaja Aaja Mein Hoon Pyar Tera and Dekhiye Saahibo. The movie featured two of the rock numbers with heavy western music instruments and dance steps choreographed by Herman Benjamin, and both became extremely popular dance numbers of the era of 1960s. The movie included 6 tracks – 2 solos sung by Rafi and rest four duets recorded in Asha Bhosle and Rafi’s voice. R. D created its high octave songs with a blend of rock, jazz, Latino and a twist of his own unique traits. It was one of the early influences of heavy western instruments and music in Hindi cinema, though such experiments have been earlier done by his senior composers – Madan Mohan and O. P. Nayyar.

2. Katti Patang (1971)

kishore kumar hits

Yeh Shyam Mastani incorporated Kishore Kumar’s trademark Yodelling

Katti Patang and Amar Prem – R. D. Burman – Anand Bakshi association with two hit Rajesh Khanna movies in a row, directed by Shakti Samanta. Both these films also played a magnificent role in establishing the career of Pancham da, alongside Rajesh Khanna, Kishore Kumar and Anand Bakshi. R. D. Burman booked three romantic solos for Kishore Kumar in this movie – Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai, Yeh Shyam Mastani and Pyar Deewana Hota Hai, sync-lipped by Rajesh Khanna. Lata Mangeshkar’s sad solo – Na Koi Umang Hai filmed on Asha Parekh, Mukesh’s solo – Jis Gali Mein Tera Ghar, Rafi-Lata Holi song – Aaj Na Chodenge and Asha Bhosle’s Mera Naam Hai Shabnam filmed on Bindu are other tracks from the album. All the 7 tracks belonging to different styles of music got noticed.

3. Amar Prem (1971)

amar prem songs

Chingari Koi – The soulful melody rendered by Kishore Kumar

In my opinion, Teesri Manzil, Katti Patang and Amar Prem are the finest three works of R. D. Burman, if we consider an album with a cluster of songs. His compositions for Amar Prem starring Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore gave a quick reply to critics who always criticized the influence of western music in his work. He completely bowled out his critics through his classical song – Raina Beeti Jaayi sung by Lata Mangeshkar. Tunes of Chingari Koi and Kuch To Kahenge both sung by Kishore Kumar are matchless. Yeh Kya Hua, Bada Natkhat Hai Yeh and Doli Mein Bithai Ke also got noticed. It was one of the rare occasions for which S. D. Burman rendered his voice for any tune composed by his son. The album played a magnificent role to end the supremacy of Rafi as the leading male voice of Bollywood.

4. Masoom (1983)

Gulzar received Filmfare award for best lyricist for ‘Tujhse Naraz Nahi Zindagi’

After Sanam Teri Kasam, R. D. Burman bagged his second Filmfare award for this movie. Needless to say, Masoom has been approved by many music critics as one of the finest works of Pancham da. The movie included some of the finest and soft ghazals of the era, penned by Gulzar. Tujhse Naaraz sung by Anup Ghoshal was the most popular song of the album. The song also had a female version in Lata Mangeshkar’s voice. Do Naina Aur Ek Kahani sung by Aarti Mukherjee and kids’ song – Lakdi Ki Kaathi filmed on Urmila and Jugal Hasraj too also became extremely popular. Though the movie had only 4 tracks, I would like to add this album to the top 10 list of R. D. Burman.

5. Yaadon Ki Baarat (1973)

chura liya asha bhosle

R. D. Burman incorporated the sound of glasses at the beginning of the iconic ‘Chura Liya’ song

The movie directed by Nasir Hussain based on lost-and-found formula was a blockbuster. However the film earned only two Filmfare nominations; First one was for best actor award (Dharmendra) and second one for music. The album was a full-package of romantic and westernized tunes, filmed on Dharmendra, Vijay Arora, Zeenat Aman, Tariq Khan and Neetu Singh (in a guest appearance). The movie included one of the top romantic duets of Rafi and Asha – Chura Liya Hai. One version of the title track was recorded in the voices of both Rafi and Kishore Kumar. Thus Yaadon Ki Baarat can be tagged as one of the rare occasions where the composer equally distributed his best songs between the two legends. The movie had three duets of Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle – Lekar Hum Deewana Dil, O Meri Soni Meri Tamanna and Aap Ke Kamre Mein Koi Rehta Hain (R. D provided back vocals for this particular song).

6. Hum Kise Se Kum Nahi (1977)

This movie can be seen as an extension of R. D’s previous outing with Nasir Hussain – Yaadon Ki Baarat, and the music of both these films were well appreciated. Majrooh Sultanpuri wrote lyrics for both these films too. Its title track is a qawwali recorded in the voices of Rafi and Asha, and filmed on Rishi Kapoor and Zeenat Aman. Rafi bagged his single National film award and his last Filmfare award for ‘Kya Hua Tera Wada’. The singer made a strong comeback through the album, which earned a nomination to its composer at Filmfare awards.

Hum Kisise Kum Naheen songs

Kya Hua Tera Wada – bagged Rafi his only national film award and last Filmfare award for best male playback

The movie included a chain of songs – Chand Mera Dil, Tum Kya Jano Mohabbat Kya Hai, Aa Dil Kya Mehfil Hai Tere and Mil Gaya Hum Ko Saathi recorded in the voices of Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhosle and R. D. Burman himself, and also instant chartbusters like Bachna Ae Haseeno, Humko Ko To Yaara Teri Yaari Jaan and Yeh Ladka Haye Allah. After the immense success of Yaadon Ki Baarat, R. D. Burman gave equal preference to Rafi and Kishore to record the songs of this album. Except for ‘Hai Agar Dushman’, he recorded all Rishi Kapoor songs in Kishore Kumar’s voice, while he used the voices of both himself and Rafi to record Tariq Khan’s songs.

7. Aandhi (1975)

aandhi songs

Tum Aa Gaye Ho – A duet of Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar

One of the finest works of Gulzar – R. D. Burman combination, Aandhi was one of their early associations too. The movie included some of the finest duets of Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar filmed on Sanjeev Kumar and Suchitra Sen. Despite tuning the finest tunes like Tere Bina Zindagi Se, Is Mod Pe and Tum Aa Gaye Ho in the voices of Kishore and Lata, the movie was not nominated in best music category at Filmfare awards. As listed by Planet Bollywood, Tere Bina Zindagi Se was listed at position 2 amongst top 10 Bollywood songs of the 1970s. The movie also included a less-familiar Rafi track, Salam Kijiye. Voices of Amit Kumar & Bhupinder were also used for the song.

8. Pyar Ka Mausam (1969)

As I told earlier, as I am an ardent fan of Bollywood music of 1960s, I would prefer to add two more R. D. Burman’s works of 60’s to this list. Needless to say, Tum Bin Jaoon Kahan in two solo versions of Kishore Kumar and Mohammed Rafi is the most popular song of the album. I think no other composer has recorded a single solo in the voices of both these legends for the same film. It was the same year Kishore Kumar’s rocket success through Aradhana gave him a lot of new fans. Obviously comparisons were made and fans got divided into two. In the list of 10 best works of R. D. Burman, it’s the fourth movie of Nasir Hussain to get into this list. Majrooh penned all songs for this album too.

pyar ka mausam songs

Ni Sultana Re – The first duet of Mohammed Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar recorded by Pancham da

The movie included 4 solo tracks of Lata Mangeshkar and all are extremely melodious – Na Jaa Mere Humdum, Main Na Miloongi, Aap Se Miliye and Aap Chahen Mujhko, and unique duet of Rafi & Lata – Ni Sultana Re influenced with folk tunes. A folk song of Rafi filmed on Shashi Kapoor – Che Khush Nazare was also featured in the album. In the 1960s and early 1970s, R. D. Burman predominantly used Rafi’s voice for many albums and Pyar Ka Mausam was one such.

9. Padosan (1968)

r d burman hits

Ek Chatur Naar – A comic jugalbandi featuring all its stars

As I told above, in my opinion, Padosan is one of the finest works of R. D. Burman throughout his career. Was it a precursor to Kishore Kumar’s professional career as a full-fledged singer the following year? In the movie, Kishore played the role of ‘playback singer’ for Sunil Dutt’s character, and also recorded all his songs for the movie. Kehana Hai.. Kehana Hai Tumse is the most romantic track of the album. Mere Samne Wali Khidki, Meri Pyaari Bindu and Ek Chatur Naar are other Kishore tracks, and all these songs are still popular even after 50 years of release. The movie included Lata solo – Bhai Battur, and Lata-Asha duet – Mein Chali, both filmed on Saira Banu. Manna Dey’s voice was used to record the classical based songs – Aao Aao Sanwariya and Ek Chatur Naar, for Mehmood.

10. 1942: A Love Story (1994)

And last, but not the least, this Anil Kapoor-Manisha Koirala starrer had some of the finest and fresh melodious tunes of the decade. It was after a long time we heard some fine tunes from R. D. Burman, and the tunes have influence of strong influence of old music. The composer was virtually on sabbatical after he was offered less work in Bollywood, and he also had some health issues through he was in his mid-1950s. After going through the worst phase of his career for almost 8 years or so, when his work for 1942: A Love Story got noticed, the composer had already left the world. Had he not left the world at that time, he would have received countless Bollywood projects, and the success of the album would have inspired him to create some of the finest tunes in the next years. But it never happened. That was the popularity of romantic songs of the album. It was one of the top selling albums of the year too.

kumar sanu r d burman songs

“Kuch Na Kaho” – Kumar Sanu solo

The movie included two top Kumar Sanu solo tracks – Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To and Kuch Na Kaho. All the main music artists associated with the album earned Filmfare awards (Javed Akhtar, Kumar Sanu, Kavita Krishnamurty and composer himself), and it swept all musical awards too – A unique achievement for any R. D. Burman album. Pyar Hua Chupke Se, Rhim Jhim, Root Na Jaana and Yeh Safar are other songs; not even a single weak track to point out.

Special mention – Ghar

ghar songs

Popular duet of Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar – Tere Bina

I would like to give special mention to one more album for this list of R. D. Burman songs. The movie Ghar includes some of the finest melodies of Burman’s career, penned by Gulzar. Lata solo – Aaj Kal Paon, Lata-Kishore duets – Tere Bina Jiya and Aap Ki Aankhon Mein, and Kishore Kumar solo – Phir Wohi Raat Hai are finest gems of Pancham da. 

I would like to mention a few more extremely popular R. D. Burman hit albums. Aap Ki Kasam, Ajnabee, Anamika, Jawani Diwani, Mere Jeevan Sathi, Baharon Ke Sapne, Parichay, Libaas, Izzazat, Hare Rama Hare Krishna etc. Many of its songs are evergreen and instant chartbusters. But what to do, when I shortlisted 10 of the best works of R. D. Burman, I could only mention these albums. That’s the huge collection of Burman songs. In this list of movies, songs of Hare Rama Hare Krishna, Jawani Diwani and Aap Ki Kasam are extra ordinary, and a couple of Lata solos of Baharon Ke Sapne, Asha Bhosle solos of Ijaazat and Kishore tracks of Ajnabee.

Filmfare award organizers have always ignored R. D. Burman and his contributions when it comes to musical award. When he was alive, though he remained the celebrated composer of Bollywood ever, he was awarded for best music only two times. When he was given the musical award for his final and masterpiece (we can call it swan song), the composer was no more. But the organizers never hesitated to add a new category of award in Filmfare the next year, to recognize new musical talent, a true recognition to the legend after his death. May be their regrets! But when we watch Filmfare awards now and look at best music category, we will definitely think about the extreme talent of R. D and his songs and make a comparison with the composers and singers. That’s the impulse created by R. D. Burman in Bollywood cinema, even after he has gone. A big salute to the genius, and thanks a lot for all the tunes he gifted us.

Please visit my R. D. Burman page to know more about the legend. Here is the page link. You can also read a few posts below.


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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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1 Response

  1. It is true RD sahibs biggest hits were sung by Rafi sahib

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