R.D. Burman’s Musical Magic

You definitely know his tunes, but do you know him?

rd burman
R.D. Burman (Kelsea Peterson for The Juggernaut)

Isha Banerjee


June 27, 2024


12 min

“Sweetheart, tara, tara, tara…” is how singer and composer R.D. Burman opens the song “Duniya Mein Logon Ko” (1972) in his characteristically guttural voice. Enter a guitar riff, a Rajesh Khanna in a red suit, and a blonde Mumtaz, and you can witness Panchamda’s magic. Over 35 years later, you hear it again in Timbaland’s “I Love Them Girls” (2007). You’ll also hear another one of his songs, “Dum Maro Dum” (1971), in Apple’s iPhone 13 ad. 

Even though you’ve heard his music, you probably don’t know what makes it so enduring. During his short 33-year career composing Indian music, he delivered some of the biggest hits and christened film stars, from Zeenat Aman to Shammi Kapoor to Helen. From beer bottles to his breath, everything was an instrument for the musician who wasn’t afraid to bend the rules and the son who sought to escape the shadow of his very talented father.

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