Top 10 Bollywood Music Directors of All Time



Mortal men, Immortal melodies!! True words, because you would consent that while flame or dust may consume the body of a music director his music continues to live eternally mesmerizing generations to generations. Hindi cinema has seen many musical stalwarts some masters in classical music, some in Indian folk, Carnatic music or others good at western beats. However a few exceptional music directors had a unique amalgamation of both classical and popular choice.  Here’s a list of ‘Top 10 Music Directors’ on the barometer from critic’s choice and popular choice.

10. R.D.Burman(Period 60-90)

RD Burman remains a ‘rare’ breed of music director whose popularity rose when he bid adieu from the world.  Today, he is looked upon as the country’s most talented music director. In his memory awards are being instituted but the fact is when he was alive, he was ignored and discarded ‘off’ as a plagiarized!!!  Yes, that’s the bitter truth about R.D.Burman aka ‘Pancham’, the nickname given to him by Ashok Kumar when he found him singing pa… from the sur-taal of sa re ga ma !!!.R.D. was a revolutionist. He pioneered the use of electronic organ in his song ‘O mere Sona re…’ (Teesri Manzil). He also introduced many foreign rhythms in Hindi film music like – Do lauzon ki hai dil ki kahani … ( The Great Gambler) and his mastery at classical music was inimitable Beeti na betaye…(Parichay), Tum aa gaye ho…(Andhi). Towards his climaxing career Pancham stunned the nation by pulling the ‘ace’ of his career in the movie – ‘1942 A love story’.If you have not heard the songs of ‘1942 A love story’ than surely you have missed a valuable treasure… Just go for it right away!

R.D.Burman(Period 60-90)

9. Kalyanji Anandji: (Period 50-90)

Kalyanji-Anandji ruled Hindi film music industry for more than four decades. The ‘tune’ responsible to shot them into stardom was the famous — ‘bean tune’ used in the movie ‘Nagin’. But do you know the Instrument with which Kalyanji produced that intoxicating ‘bean tune’ was not the customary snake chambers’s bean but it was an electronic instrument called ‘Clavioline’. In those days it was not available in India and Kalyanji had imported it paying a huge amount! Later with Saraswatichandra’s hit song Chandan sa badan… which fetched them a National Award, Kalyanji Anandji consolidated their position in Bollywood. Further with the super hit musical blockbuster ‘Jab Jab Phool Khele’, remember the hit songs like  Pardesiyon se na ankhiya milana…, Na na karte pyar thum hise kar bathe…  Kalayanji Anandji never looked back and the duo dominated 70’s and 80’s with hits like Johny Mera Naam, , Safar, Dharmatma, Muqaddar Ka Sikander etc. If you have taste for some fun and frolic music than Kalyanji-Anandji’s Khaike Paan Banaraswala (Don) … or aap jaisa koi…( Qurbani) can be an ideal choice.

Kalyanji Anandji (Period 50-90)

8. Khayyam(Period 50-90)

Music director Khayyam’s name in this list may startle some of you because as regards versatility is concerned there is no doubt about his potentiality but on popular choice he may perhaps lack behind, nevertheless with his popular hits like Kabhi Kabhi, Trishul and Noori, he tight lipped his competitors.  Rising to fame with the super hit song ‘Shyam-e-Gham ki Kasam.. .’ (Footpath) in the 50’s, Khayyam like most of the talented music directors of the 50’ and 60’ remained a neglected lot but unlike them he never went into oblivion. He always made an outstanding comeback with his surprise hits like ‘Jaane kya dhhonti rehti hein ye aanken mujhmen… (Shola aur Shabnam ), ‘Baharon mera jeevan bhi Sawaron…’ (Aakhri Khat) and of course ‘Mein Pal do pal ka Sahayar Hoon…’ (Khabhi Khabhi).Later, with ‘Umrao Jaan -’ Dil cheez kya hai…Khayyam got his due that he rightly deserved. If you are looking for sweet and soothing music that can relax your minds than put on the magical hits of Khayyam that will leave you mesmerized.

KHAYYAM (Period 50-90)

7. Madan Mohan (Period 50-70)

Emperor of a debonair personality and renowned as the ‘King of Ghazals’, Madan Mohan is one of the brightest jewels studded in the crown of Hindi cinema. Beginning his career with All India Radio with kid’s shows at the age of 11 and later his posting as Programme Assistant in All India Radio, Lucknow, brought him closer to musical stalwarts like Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Ustad Faiyyaz Khan, Begum Akhtar , Roshan Ara Begum, Siddheshwari Devi etc. These interactions fortified his classical base and are amply visible in his compositions like Rang aur noor ki barat kise pesh karoon (Ghazal), Bainyaa na dharo, o balamaa…( Dastaak)Later his association with Lata Mangeshkar yielded film industry many peerless numbers – Remember Aap ki nazroone samjha…(Anpadh), Unko yeh sikayat hai ke… (Adalat). Besides, mastery in Ghazals he also had a strong sense for other kind of music- his other hits include movies like Haqeeqat, Heer-Ranjha, Mausam , Laila Majnu, etc..If Ghazals are your passion than Madan Mohan’s ghazals can give you the kind of solace which will take you into another world.

MADAN MOHAN (Period 50-70)

6. O.P.Nayyar: (Period 50-90)

Words fail to praise this genius for he remains the ‘Only’ music director who withstood his entire career (five decades and more) in the Hindi Film Industry – ‘without the service of the melody queen, Lata Mangeshkar’! And what’s more… this ‘Master of Melody’ did not took formal training from any renowned ‘Sangeet Ustaads’.Initially, O.P.Nayyar was written off as a plagiarist by media critics but Nayyar proved his worth with B.R.Chopra’s – ‘Naya Daur’– Udey Jab Jab julfey teri… and later with musical blockbuster ‘Tumsa Nahi Dekha’ he became a major threat to other musical stalwarts of the 60’s. His super hit Babuji dheere chalna… from ‘Aar Paar’ won the third position in the prestigious Binaca Geet Mala countdown show beating Naushad and Ghulam Mohammad for their movies Amar and Mirza Ghalib respectively.If you love rhythm than O.P. Nayyar’s songs will take you to dizzy heights. Just listen to his songs like pukarta chala hoon main… Jaiye Aap Kahan Jayenge…. and you shall become a diehard O.P. Nayyar fan.

O.P.Nayyar (Period 50-90)

5. S.D.Burman: (Period 50-75)

Tall, lanky and typical Bengali both in accent and attire, Sachin Dev Burman affectionately called as Burmanda in film fraternity had music in his genes. His father, N C Dev Burman, was an extraordinary music maestro who taught him the basics of music and later under the guidance of music Ustads like Badal Khan and Bhishmadev Chattopadhyay he mastered the craft of classical music. Beginning with the hit-Thandi Hawayeen Lehera ke ayee… (Naujawan) Burmanda gave a series of hits Jaye to jayee kahaan…(Taxi Driver), Mana janab ne pukara nahin…(Paying Guest) and the unforgettable Aaj phir jeene ki tamanaha hai….(Guide). The music of ‘Guide’ topped music charts and elevated Burmanda’s rank among top notch music directors during the 60’s.If you are lovers of folk music, then Burmanda’s folk songs like Sun mere bandhu re…are a real delight.

S.D.Burman (Period 50-75)

4. Laxmikant-Pyarelal  (Period 60-90)

Laxmikant-Pyarelal aka Laxmikant Shantaram Kudaikar and Pyarelal Ramprasad Sharma come forth in the rank. Like S.J., this duo, too, holds the same distinction of being the ‘most successful music directors’ , with the only difference this duo ruled from the early 70’s till the late 90’sThe duo came together for the first time when they became assistants under music wizard Naushad and later, under music composer C.Ramchandra and Kalyanji Anandji the duo amassed tons of musical wealth, resulting in their rich musical sense. That’s the reason in their very first film-‘Parasmani’ , their ‘music set the box-office ringing ! The movie’s all-time hit Hansta hua noorani Chehra…topped the ranks uninterrupted for record weeks! But what consolidated their position in Bollywood was Rajshree’s ‘Dosti’ (64) which took the Music Monarch of the 60’s Shanker-Jaikishen by ‘Surprise’ when this duo snatched that year’s Filmfare’s Best Music trophy for their movie ‘Dosti’ overtaking Shanker-Jaikishen’s ‘Sangam’ in the race!You can still cannot forget ‘Sawaan ka Mahina…’(Milan) that took  the nation by storm in the 70’s or Ek Do Teen… that became a national anthem in the 80’s.


3. A.R.Rehman (Period from 80’s …till date)

It won’t be an exaggeration to say that what Lata Mangeshkar is to Indian playback singing, A.R.Rehman is to Indian Music Industry. In his career spanning more than three decades, this young music director has exhibited the kind of versatility which even great maestros of music fail to display in their entire lifetime. From a ‘mere’ regional cinema music composer to a music maestro of International fame …An enviable achievement. And last but not the least the ‘First Indian in Music industry to be bestowed with the elusive ‘Oscar!’Call it destiny or his ‘authority’ over the medium, today, when the music industry is recycling old Hindi film music’s mix and remixes and originality now a thing of the past, A.R.Rehman, remains an exclusive music composer who holds his head high, with his ability to score ‘Original’ tunes.If you have a penchant for folk music, then he has Rukmani… Rukmani… or in contrast if disco numbers are your choice then you go in for Muqabla..Muqabla… And for classical buffs Taal se Taal mila…thus A.R.Rehman’s bag contains innumerable tunes to suit everybody’s taste and you shall surely not be disappointed!


2. Shankar -Jaikishen (Period 40-75)

Second in the list include Shankar Jaikishen aka –Shankar Singh Raghuwanshi and Jaikishen Dayabhai Panchal, the only music director’s duo who could match Naushad’s caliber. The duo had a ‘Magical touch’ turning virtually anything they touched into gold!!!They began their respective careers in Prithviraj Kapoor’s Prithvi Theatre as orchestra musicians and worked together as a successful team. Soon, they met Raj Kapoor, who offered them ‘Barsaat’. The duo gave the kind of music that gave a ‘spin’ to even top-notch music maestro Naushad whose song-‘Tu Kahe agar…(Andaaz) was thrown out from the top position in that year’s count-down list by these two young music director’s super-hit number Hawa mein udta jayee… from Barsaat!What followed next was a row of hits like Awara, Shree 420, Chori Chori, Anari, Sangam, Mera Naam Joker etc…Besides excelling in commercial music Shanker Jaikishen also exert venerability in Indian Classical music Duniyaa na bhayee mohe… (Basant Bahar) and Tu pyar ka sagar hai…(Seema). The duo ruled the 60’s changing trends to suit the styles of different ‘Stars’. For Shammi Kapoor they introduced the rock music with the high pitched ‘Yahoo’… For the Romantic Rajendra Kumar, provided the passionate numbers ‘Chasme Badoor…’If you wish to relive into your good old unforgettable romantic days, just put on the romantic numbers of Shanker Jaikishen at night with dim lights and enjoy the music.

SHANKAR - JAI KISHEN (Period 40-75)

1. Naushad (Period: 30- 2005)

The music director who would top the list is unarguably Naushad, one of India’s most spectacular music directors who gave a new dimension to Bollywood music. Bringing amazing revolution in music technology, the Indian Music Industry will ever remain indebted to Naushad for popularizing the Indian ‘Classical’ music. Naushad holds the ‘rare’ feat of introducing many eminent classical genius in Hindi film music like the great khayal singer – Ustad Amir Khan along with D.V.Paluskar in the climax Jugalbandi in the movie ‘Baiju Bawra’ or the ‘giant’ of Indian classical music – Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, in the super duper hit film – Mughal-e-Azam.He holds the distinction of giving ‘India’s ‘First’ Musical blockbuster, ‘Ratan’. Further his association with Mehboob Khan resulted in many hits like – Anmol Ghadi, Dard, Aan, Aandaaz, Mother India etc… In ‘Baiju Bawra’ Naushad achieved the challenging task of taking the complex classical music to the lips of the layman! Mohd. Rafi’s Bhajan- ‘Man tarapat hari darshan…’ is still top chartbuster.If you have not the fortune of listening to Naushad’s classical songs till this date go for it at the earliest. Truly you would be hypnotized by its magic.

NAUSHAD (Period 30- 2005)


Hope the selection of music directors and the information must have adored you. The Bollywood music is so vast that any information is just like a drop in the ocean. Chow! Till then …keep reading and listening Bollywood music.




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