Rahul Dev Burman, commonly known as R. D. Burman and nicknamed Panchamda or simply Pancham, was a Indian music composer. Rahul Dev Burman was born in Calcutta. According to stories, he was nicknamed Pancham because, as a child, whenever he cried, it sounded in the fifth note (Pa) of the Indian musical scale. The word Pancham means five (or fifth) in Bengali. Another version is that when the veteran Indian actor Ashok Kumar saw a newborn Rahul Dev Burman uttering the syllable Pa repeatedly, he nicknamed the boy Pancham. After coming to Mumbai, he learnt sarod from Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. He received his early education at Ballygunge Government High School, Kolkata.
When he was nine years old, he composed his first song, "Aye meri topi palat ke aa", which his father used in the film 'Funtoosh' (1956). The tune of the song "Sar jo tera chakraaye" was composed by him as a child. His father loved the tune and included it in the soundtrack of Guru Dutt's 'Pyaasa'. In 2004, the soundtrack for 'Pyaasa' was given an award for "The Best Music in Film" by Sight & Sound, the British Film Institute magazine.
As a child, Pancham also played the harmonica (mouth organ) in the famous song "Hai apna dil to aawara" (from film 'Solva Saal' - 1958, starring Dev Anand). Pancham began his music career as an assistant to his father.
Out of his 331 released movies 292 were in Hindi, 31 in Bangla, 3 in Telugu, 2 each in Tamil & Oriya and 1 in Marathi. RD also composed for 5 TV Serials in Hindi and Marathi. He also scored a large number of non-film songs in Bangla (also known as Pooja songs or modern songs), which are available in different albums.
R.D.Burman started his career as assistant to his father, Sachin Dev Burman. He assisted his father in 'Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi' (1958) and 'Kaagaz Ke Phool' (1959), and his first music interlude, in his father composition, was for the song, "Jaane Kya Tune Kahi", sung by Geeta Dutt, for film 'Pyaasa' (1957). His first film as a music director was Guru Dutt's 'Raaz' (1959).
After his death, in the mid 1990s, the remix versions of R D Burman's hits ruled the Indian music scene. Even today, most of the Indian remix songs are his tunes remixed.
Pancham married Rita Patel in 1966 but they were divorced in 1971. He then married Asha Bhonsle in 1980. Together, they recorded many memorable tunes and also staged many live performances. After his father died in 1975, he took care of his mother. After Pancham's death, his mother eventually ended up in an old-age home but returned to her late son's house to die on 15th October, 2007.
Burman had financial difficulties, particularly later in his life. There have been wide discussions about the disconnect between the success of his music and his financial success.
He also used some of the popular western songs to compose his own tunes. One of his hit songs "Mehbooba Mehbooba" is inspired from the song "Say You Love Me", traditional Cyprus song, arranged and sung by Demis Roussos. His songs were also inspired from musical styles of ABBA, the popular Swedish Band.