Theirs was a hit pair. They were friends before they started their professional relationship that is known to have broken new grounds in the Hindi film industry. Gulzar once wrote a song called “Chaabiyan” and after that everytime he entered the music room, R.D. Burman, lovingly called Pancham, would say, “dekho chaabiyan aa gayi.”

There’s an interesting anecdote that Gulzar shares in one of his interviews. Gulzar had written a song called Mera Kuch Samaan Padha Hai and there’s a line in the song that goes, ek sau solah raatein, ek tumhare kaandhe ka til. It talks about the 116 moonlit nights; Gulzar later found out that Pancham had set music to 116 of Gulzar’s songs. Burman used to apparently often be in over his head when he read Gulzar’s poetry. “When I gave him mera kuch saamaan… he threw away the sheet saying, ‘next you’ll give me the headline of Times Of India and tell me to tune it,” laughs Gulzar in an old interview with the Hindustan Times.

There is a lot Gulzar has shared about their relationship in interviews over the years. He called R.D. Burman his “anchor”. They were both starting out on their individual careers in the industry when they met and became friends. Gulzar was assisting Bimal Roy on Bandni and R.D. Burman was assisting his father S.D. Burman. They never imagined that they would forge a lifelong relationship. The two artists were inseparable. R.D. would apparently be driving to a recording session when he’d hear a tune in his head; he would pick up Gulzar on the way and share it with him. This happened often; they were inseparable. Pancham couldn’t rest until he shared it with Gulzar. Their music other than being soulful was mostly raga based. R.D. Burman was also known for infusing Western music elements into Bollywood music. There is an amazing collection of this duo’s work in an album called Music Is Divine.

Their songs were hits just like their relationship was. It’s talked about because this was an industry where friendships were often fickle.


We picked some of the most memorable numbers by this duo:

Tujhse Naaraz Nahi Zindagi: Directed by Shekhar Kapur, Masoom was an adaptation of the novel Man, Woman and Child. A movie focused on the complexity of human relationships, the song completely embodies that sentiment reflecting on the trials and tribulations people have to go through in their lives. The masses completely related to Gulzar’s words and Burman’s musical genius. Gulzar really struck a chord in every woman’s heart through his words; he captured the pain of a woman’s broken heart because of her husband’s betrayal but also took into account the innocence of the illegitimate son who couldn’t be punished for no fault of his.

Beeti Na Bitayee Raina: From the 1973 film Parichay starring Jaya Bhaduri, Sanjeev Kumar and Jaatendra, this was one of the earlier works that brought Gulzar and Burman together. Set to raga ‘Yaman Kalyan’, this song was apparently written by Burman in a hotel room. Both Lata Mangeshkar and Bhupinder won a National award for the song. It’s said that Burman spent an entire night on the balcony recording the sound of raindrops.

Tere Bina Zindagi Se Koi: One of the most popular songs from the film Aandhi, the literal translation of the song goes something like – “I have no grouse against a life without you but a life without you is hardly any life.” It’s heartbreakingly beautiful and haunting. Sung by Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar, it’s interspersed with dialogues. The depth of the song’s meaning, words and melody have been always been memerising to listeners and musicians alike.

Mera Kuch Samaan: This is one of the most talked about songs and the anecdote where R.D. Burman told Gulzar, the words were like a newspaper item, became a popular joke when the song garnered praise from fans and critics. It was sung by Asha Bhosle and it went on to become one of the most revered songs by the trio. From the film Ijaazat, it’s said that Asha Bhosle was sitting in the room when Gulzar handed R.D. Burman the lyric sheet and while Pancham made fun of Gulzar, Asha hummed the line mujhe lauta do and Burman picked up from there to develop the song further.

Piya Baawri: This song from the film Khubsoorat, starring Rekha is a treat for classical music lovers. Again the Gulzar and R.D. Burman combination seemed to produce a beautiful piece of work. A Hrishikesh Mukherjee film, this gem won Rekha the Best Actress Award. The song sees Asha Bhosle, R.D. Burman and Gulzar join forces once again. It’s a combination of the ragas ‘Bihag’ and ‘Khamaj’. The song was praised for attention to detail on all counts – music, lyrics and singing.

Aanewala Pal: From the film Golmaal, this song is such a shining example of pure genius on both the music and the lyrics front. It has philosophical leanings. When Kishore Kumar sings aanewala pal jaanewala hai ho sake toh isme zindagi bitalo pal ye jaanewala hai hoo, it talks about life as it is and the temporary state of everything we encounter in life; be it love, friendship or material objects. Nothing is permanent. The song became a regular radio play.

Naam Goom Jayega: Picturised on Hema Malini and Jeetendra, the lyrics indirectly talk about how there are a few things that will stay for a long time; so it goes naam goom jayega, chehra bhi badal jayega, meri aawaz hi pehchaan… meaning the name won’t matter and the face may become unrecognizable but my voice will stay the same. Beautifully rendered by Lata Mangeshkar and Bhupinder Singh, this song reminds us that quality is always respected and this is the reason why the song became golden and timeless.


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