Most recently we have celebrated 100 years of Indian cinema. What a great achievement! All of us know it well, Indian film industry is the biggest of the world and India stands first in the number of films released every year. So, at this shining occasion let me try to find those great Hindi music directors who have contributed most to Bollywood. Very often, Indian film industry has faced criticisms for giving importance to dance and music than script and story. After all, we Indians love music a lot! Music and dance are integral parts of our culture and we, Indians can’t imagine a world without music. Obviously those interests are well reflected in movies and songs play a significant role in the success of Indian movies. So, through this article, I would like to name those great 10 geniuses who have contributed wonderful tunes to millions of music lovers all over the world.

I know it well it’s not at all an easy task to take 10 best jewels from a midst of 100 shining stars. While searching those 10, I may leave a few precious gems and a few may go unnoticed. I may pick a few less significant stars too. As I have not learnt music and I am not proficient in Indian classical music, some mistakes may occur from my side. I have a few limitations as well. I have been hearing Bollywood music from my early childhood and old melodies sung by Lata and Rafi are still running through my veins. So, I am preparing this countdown based on the popularity of songs since I started hearing music. Even if I tried a lot, I had to leave a few of my most favourite music composers taking in account, their overall popularity. If I miss some great names in this list, please forgive me, as I know well, it’s not a good job to compare one jewel with the qualities of other. Within my limitations, let me try to give full justification to my task and take account of popularity of music from golden eras of 50’s to fast tracks of new decade - 2010’s. After all, each decade has contributed a lot to the music world and I would like to bind 70 years of Bollywood music within one article.

It took hours and one or two days to prepare this list and I present before you ‘My playlist of 10 best composers who have given great contributions to Bollywood music’. It’s to be noted that I have given preference to over all contribution of music directors than their most noted few works.

10. Shankar Ehsaan Loy 

Shankar Mahadevan – Ehsaan Noorani – Loy Mendonsa – The magical trio that creates wonderful tunes of Bollywood at present times. Let me begin my list with this most successful trio of Bollywood. Though they have given music to only a few films, they have been the most successful music directors in the past Jupiter year after A.R.Rehman. That’s the reason why I have included them in my list, considering new generation music and music lovers among present teens. Another fact is the magical tunes of Kal ho na ho, for which they accumulated numerous awards including National Awards.

Shankar Mahadevan was a familiar face in the music industry during late 90’s with his album ‘Breathless’. Though he has sung for many hit A.R.Rehman Tamil numbers like Thaniye (Rhythm –2000), Hoo lala (Minsara Kanavu – 1996) and Chandana thennale (Kandukondein Kandukondein -2000) for which he got a National award, he was shot to fame once his collaboration with Ehsaan and Loy clicked and their combination gave amazing tunes to Bollywood. Their first project ‘Dus’ never saw the outer world though its music was released. ‘Suno gor se duniyawalom’ is a great patriotic song to increase the flow of blood through our veins; it’s a great dancing number too. After the instant hit of ‘Instant Karma’ – the remix of R.D.Burman tunes and a couple of movies, Mission Kashmir and Aalavandhan, music of ‘Dil Chahta hai’ in 2001 changed the fate of this trio. Farhan Akhtar was the new director of the industry who tried to experiment with new subject and new looks of leading trio – Aamir, Saif and Akhshay Khanna. He tried to experiment with music too, giving opportunity to new music directors of Bollywood.  Shankar Ehsaan Loy did that job pretty well and their work was well noticed. They included all types of songs in a single album – romantic track ‘Jaane kyon log’, friendship tracks ‘Koi Kahe’ and ‘Dil chahta hai’, comedy track ‘Jise doondta’ and parting/sad track ‘Thanhayee’. After that, till now they are among the most wanted music directors of Bollywood.

After the super success of ‘Dil Chahta Hai’, came the masterpiece of Shankar Ehsaan Loy. It’s none other than ‘Kal ho na ho’. I have been closely watching the work of this trio for the past few years. According to me, it’s the best work ever done by this magical trio and no other work can replace the melody and magic of ‘Kal ho na ho’. Title track sung by Sonu Nigam of ‘Kal ho na ho’ is enough to place these directors among the top composers of Bollywood all time! A track that brings tears to our eyes whenever we hear it!

They give equal preference to melody as well as new generation foot tappers and that’s the reason why they are popular among the masses. I have noticed that they have always tried to include both melodious and fast numbers within the same album. For example, the movie with the philosophical song, ‘Kal ho na ho’ has also included ‘It’s the time to disco’ and ‘Mahi ve’. The movie with fast number ‘Jhoom barabar jhoom’ has also given the sweet melodious romantic ‘Bol na halke’ – perhaps one among the best 5 romantic tracks of this trio. ‘Kyon Ho Gaya Na’ with romantic song ‘Aao na’ has also included fast number ‘No no’. The movie with fast number ‘Bunty aur Bubli’ and item number ‘Kajra re’ has also included ‘Chup Chup Ke’, giving opportunity to a new comer Mahalekshmi.

Now, before I go to the next name, let me tell a few words about the best compositions of Shankar Ehsaan Loy after ‘Kal ho na ho’. My name is Khan, Taare Zameen Par, Rock on!, Don, Don 2, Heyy baby, Zindagi na milegaa dobara, Kabhi alvida na kehna, Lakshya, Wake up Sid (All songs except Ikthara), Karthik calling Karthik, Luck by chance and Viswapooram. Let me mention a few more hit songs too - Bumbaro and Socho kya of Mission Kashmir, Aaj ki raat of Don, Tumhe dekho naa, title track and Mitwa of Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, Bol na halke of Jhoom barabar jhoom, Senorita of Zindagi na milegaa dobara, Andere se dartha of Tare Zameen par and Uff tere adaa of Karthik calling Karthik. This trio proved that it’s not numbers that count, but the quality and effort behind each composition to make it so special!

9. Jatin-Lalit

As I have already told I am trying to take contributions of all decades, how can I exclude melodies of 90’s? Actually, it’s a tie between Jatin-Lalit and Nadeem-Shravan. I was also a bit confused to number them. As Jatin-Lalit has never won Filmfare awards and Nadeem-Shravan has won it many times and they initiated the melodious music trend of early 90’s, Jatin-Lalit was dragged just behind them.

jatinLalitDilwale Dulhaniya Le jayenge, Kuch kuch hota hai, Fanaah, Yes Boss, Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gum, Hum Tum, Raju ban gaya gentleman, Sangursh, Mohabbatien, Jab pyar kise se hota hai, Pyar to hona hi tha, Pyar kiya to darna kya, Gulaam, Aakhen, Chalte Chalte, Albela, Phir phi dil hai Histusthani, Sarfarosh, Jo jeeta wohi sikander, Raju Chacha, Vaastav, Khubsoorat, Khamoshi – the musical, Fareb and Dil kya kare – the precious gems of Bollywood of 90’s and a few from 2000’s. It seems the essence of melody was added more than what’s required for Bollywood music and that’s the reason why, Jatin-Lalit compositions still look fresh and young. It can be said that music of block buster hits of great Khans of Bollywood till 2006 were given by Jatin – Lalit, thus contributing a lot to their successful career. 
Though the brothers have given valuable contributions to Bollywood and their movies are still leading the charts with box office records, it’s a bit unlucky that these talented music directors have never won Filmfare awards. Very often, they faced huge contest with A.R.Rehman and they have missed it every time. Their story looks similar to Madan Mohan of yesterdays, another unlucky composer who has never won Filmfare in his life time.

Most recently music of DDLJ has been listed as the top Hindi track all time by BBC Asian Network. DDLJ is the longest running Indian movie, that still runs its 18th successive year in Mumbai and no doubt, Jatin Lalit’s tunes have contributed a lot to the huge success of the movie. If we take the best romantic songs of past 25 years, ‘Tujhe dekha to’ and ‘Ho gaya hai’ will surely enjoy an honourable position in the list. When the name Jatin-Lalit comes to my mind, the first attribute that I associate them with is ‘sweet melodious tunes with less instruments’. Yes, I am not at all confused in adding this music duo to the list of great Bollywood composers who have given preference to melody than anything else. After all, the real beauty of a song is melody! How many times have we heard the remixed versions of his first song, ‘Bin tere sanam’ of Yaara Dildara and ‘Pehla Nasha’ of ‘Jo jeeta wohi sikander!

It was 1998 which brought great success of Jatin-Lalit. Soon after DDLJ, they got a lot of fan followers all over the world. Yet, year 1998 needs special mention. All songs of the movies Ghulam, Kuch kuch hota hai, Pyar kiya to darna kya, Bada din, Jab pyar kise se hota hai and Pyar to hona hi tha were mega hits, thus giving no.1 position to this music pair. People still remember them for the melodious tunes like ‘Aakhom se’ of Ghulam, title track of Kuch kuch hota hai and ‘Jab kise ki taraf’ of Pyar to hona hi tha.

Now let me list a few more memorable melodious songs of Jatin Lalit. All songs of Ghulam, DDLG, Kuch Kuch hota hai, Hum Tum, Yes Boss and Fanaa have been instant hits. Bole Chudiyan of Kabhi khushi kabhi gum, Baahom ki darmiyaa and Yeh dil sun raha hai of Khamoshi, Suno zara of Bada din, Waada raha sanam of Khiladi, Tauba tumhare of Chalte chalte, Oh oh jaane jaana of Pyar kiya to darna kya, Kasam hai of Raju Chacha, Pehla Nasha of Jo jeeta wohi sikander and Hum ko hamein se from Mohabbatein need special mention. Soon after the release of melodious Fanaa in 2006, the brothers announced their separation. That time, they were at the peak of their success. When they separated, their music and melody also parted and they were not able to restore their previous success through solo compositions, though ‘Munni Badnaam Hui’ of Debaang gave a Filmfare to Lalit for the first time! 

8. Nadeem - Shravan

As I have told earlier, it’s because of the hat-trick Film fare awards they won in the early 90’s and numerous nominations they have earned, I find place for this music duo above Jatin Lalit. Nadeem Saifi and Shravan Rathod – together known as Nadeem-Shravan have given new definition to Bollywood music in 90’s. We lost melodious tunes of Bollywood during early 80’s and Bollywood was in the grip of disco dances and music that never passes through our souls during this time. Full credit goes to this pair who brought great reformation to Bollywood music through Ashique in 1990. No doubt, they were the most sought music directors of early 90’s till 1997, till Nadeem got negative publicity for Gulshan Kumar murder case. They never own big blockbuster hits like DDLJ or Kuch kuch hota hai of Jatin-Lalit. Yet, they were able to deliver constant hits from Ashique to Pardes and thereafter, though Nadeem left the country.

Nadeem-Shravan has given valuable contributions to 1990’s to nourish it well. After Ashique, they gave a string of hits including Saajan, Phool aur Kaante, Saath rang ke sapne, Dhadkan, Mere jeevan saathi, Agnisakshi, Jeet, Pardes, Raja, Raja Hindustani, Dilwale, Hum hai rahi pyar ke, Barsaat, Kasoor, Raaz, Sirf tum, Hum ho gaye aapke, Jeena sirf mere liye and Dil hai tumhare. After Nadeem left India in 1997, Shravan continued to compose songs under the name Nadeem-Shravan and has delivered many hits including Dhadkan, Kasoor, Raaz, Sirf tum, Hum ho gaye aapke, Jeena sirf mere liye and Dil hai tumhare.

After a series of B-grade movies, real entry of this pair to Bollywood was through Gulshan Kumar’s Aashique, which brought a new singer also to limelight. It’s none other than Kumar Sanu, with whom Nadeem-Shravan has delivered many magical numbers like Mera dil bhi of Saajan, Meine pyar tumhe se of Phool aur Kaante, Jeeta dha jis ke liye of Dilwale, Tere umeed and Sochenge of Diwana, Do dil and Mehbooba of Pardes, Tum dil ki of Dhadkan and Dekha ho tumko of Kasoor. He has given some wonderful numbers to Udit Narayan as well. Raja Hindustani and Dhadkan can be included in this hit list.

Now let me list a few more hit songs of this lovely pair. All songs of Saajan, Aashique, Dhadkan, Deewana, Raja Hindusthani, Barsaat, Kasoor, Sadak, Dil hai ki manta nahin and Phool aur Kaante have been blockbusters. Apart from those movies, Akhiyan milao and Zara phir se kehna of Raja, Ek dil hai of Ek rishta, Dayya dayya of Dil ka rishta, Tumhe na dekhoo tho of Rang, Jab se tumko of Damini, Aap ke pyar mein of Raaz, Kyom bequidi si of Hum ho gaye aapke, Khubsoorat hai woh of Salaami, Dilbar and title track of Sirf tum, Saasom ka chalna and Yaara o yaara of Jeet, title track of Dil ka kya kasoor, Saat rang ke sapne, Jeena sirf mere liye, Hum tumhare Sanam and Sapne saajan ke need special mention. 

No doubt, through the numerous melodious numbers this pair has given to music lovers, their position in the top 10 music directors in the history of 100 years of Indian cinema is undoubtful. Now let me mention lyricist Sameer’s name too. Sameer – Nadeem Shravan combination has given the maximum hits during 90’s. 

7. Laxmikanth-Pyarelal

Discussion of Bollywood is incomplete without mentioning Laxmikanth-Pyarelal’s name. They have given music to 600+ movies, which itself is a record. Born in financially low background families, passion of music and same age brought these two persons together – Pyarelal Ramprasad Sharma and Laxmikanth Shantharam Kudalkar. Though they worked as assistants and music arrangers of almost all leading music directors of 50’s and 60’s that time except Shankar Jaikishen and O.P.Nayyar, it took years and lot of hard work to get an independent film in the industry. The first released movie of these friends was ‘Parasmany’ in 1963. Following Parasmany, came Dosthi in 1964. The songs ‘Chahoonga mein tujhe’ and ‘Mere dosti mere pyar’ were enough to place this duo in the top list of music composers that time.


According to many music experts and critics, Laxmikanth-Pyarelal is regarded as one among the geniuses of Bollywood who was proficient in ragas and classic music and most important thing to note is that, their music was purely original. The contributions given by these music directors can never be expressed in a word or two and they continued the history till late 90’s when Laxmikanth parted from us in 1998. Still, Pyarelal continued to give music for a few movies under the tag ‘Laxmikanth-Pyarelal’. Their Bollywood career spanned to about 40 years and they have enjoyed the same status, the whole period throughout. They have touched the veins of all generations belonging to different decades and that’s the reason why, we can see the remains of that decade in each and every tune of Laxmikanth-Pyarelal. From Dosthi to Khal Nayak and from Shagird to Tezaab, he has always noticed the pulse of the market and have produced songs that situation actually demands. That’s the reason why his songs always looked trend.

During 1960’s he has given many amazing compositions like Shagird, Dosthi, Milan, Intequam, Pyar kiya jaa, Aayi din bahar ki, Aaya sawan jhoom ke, Pathar ke sanam, Farz, Do Rasthe, Mr.X in Bombay, Lutera, Night in London, Mere Humdum mere dost, Jeena ki raah and Parasmany and during 1970’s, his hit numbers include Upkaar, Roti Kapada aur Makan, Haathi mere saathi, Ek Nazar, Loafer, Bobby, Roti, Charas, Abhinetri, Dushman, Jeevan Mrityu, Khilona, Humjoli,Satyam Sivam Sundaram, Mehbood ki mehandi, Aap aaye bahar aaye, Sargam, Suhaag, Shor, Dream girl, Amar Akbar Antony and Aan milo sajna.  80’s witnessed some rocking numbers like Karz, Kranti, Mr.India, Chaal Baaz, Ram Lakhan, Tezaab and Naseeb. But he has offered some melodious tunes for movies like Hero, Asha, Nagina, Karma, Pyar juktha nahin, Sanjog, Meri jung and Prem Rog. During 90’s their most noted works are Khal Nayak, Prem Diwane, Jeevan ek sangursh, Khuda gawah, Ashiq awara, Deewana Masthana, Saudagar, Bhairavi and Hum.

It can be noted that they have given the most valuable contributions during 1970s and majority of their super hits were born that time. But during middle 80’s, their quality slowly deteriorated and they began to give weak tunes to Hindi films. Their work during 60’s and 70’s are really commendable, but when they give preference to quantity than quality during 1980’s, it well reflected in their music. Though number of movies were numerous, songs with touching tunes were very rare during this period. This combination along with Bappi Lahari gave importance to fast numbers to get attention of youth and now, after 25 years, none of those tracks are live and nobody hears those tunes! The weak tunes that they gave during this era prompted me to put them one place down in my top 10 list. Otherwise, they would have surely found sixth position in my list.

6. Naushad

Sixth position goes to one and only Naushad. He was one among the great composers of golden era of music who shaped and structured present music. I am a very small person to describe about this great person. Yet I would like to add a few remarkable works of Naushad. He was a great musician who gave importance to Indian classical music and used them wisely in movies according to situations. Can anyone forget the melodious numbers of Baiju Bawra or classical tunes of Mughal-E-Azam? Those songs are still alive in millions of hearts after 50 or 60 years of release! His musical journey started in 1940 with Prem Nagar and Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story was his last contribution. It’s quite surprising that after 1990, he has given music to only two movies – SRK and Manisha Koirala starrer ‘Guddu’ in 1995 and Taj Mahal in 2005, the most expensive film of Bollywood till then.

naushadAs I am not proficient in movies of 1940’s, I would like to discuss about Naushad tunes of 50’s and 60’s. He has done a commendable job in Black & White movies of 1940’s and 1950’s and a discussion of golden era of Bollywood music will remain incomplete if we don’t mention his name. Among my favourites of Naushad during 1950’s, Baiju Bawra (1953) comes first. Udan Khatola and Mother India need special mention. During 1960’s, apart from Mughal-E-Azam, he has given his best for movies like Mere Mehbood, Ganga Jamuna, Aadmi, Sangursh and Dil diya dard liya. It can be noticed that Dileep Kumar – Naushad was an amazing combination during 1960’s. In 1971, another lagged project similar to Mughal-E-Azam was released and it repeated the history of the same movie. It was none other than Pakeezah, the movie remembered for ‘Chalte Chalte’ and ‘Chalo deedar’. Slowly his musical career noticed deterioration and only one noted movie during 1980’s in Dwani of Malayalam starring Prem Nazir, Shobhana and Jayaram. Based on Indian classical music, songs like ‘Janaki Jaane’ and ‘Manasanilayil’ were well appreciated and still remain popular after 25 years of release.

5. A.R.Rehman 

A.R.Rehman – the most versatile, popular and gifted composer of present times, who has become an icon since the Oscar awards and BAFTA awards in 2008. Though India is famous for its culture, tradition and music based on 72 ragas, only A.R.Rehman has been able to make it internationally popular. After a couple of super hits of early 1990’s, he earned a lot of criticisms too, for repeating the same style and using too many instruments for Indian tunes. Many critics even claim that Rehman has lost his charm after Roja, Dil se, Indian, Rangeela and Bombay. But through the series of mega blockbusters during late 90’s and new millennium like Taal, Dil se, Lagaan, Alaippayuthey (Saathiya), Jodha Akbar, Rhythm, Rang de basanthi, Slumdog millionaire, Gajani, Jaane tu ya jaane naa, Guru, Rock star, Dilli 6 and Sillunu oru kaadal (Tamil), he proved that music is in his veins and that he follows the tradition of his father R.K.Shekar, the great music composer of Malayalam of yesterdays. No doubt, he is the most celebrated music director of present times whose tracks create new selling records. He has completed 22 years in musical industry. Except a few down flows, his career has been steady throughout these years.

rehmanTill now, A.R.Rehman holds the record of maximum awards for music direction in National Awards as well as Filmfare (Hindi and South). He is the only music composer to won international awards too! He owns the credit of introducing many new talents to music world. Making hit songs from freshers with different voices, he told the whole world that only sweet and melodious voice is not essential to deliver good songs. It’s not at all easy to list the best of A.R.Rehman numbers. A few people love melodious numbers of Roja and Bombay while youngsters are interested in foot tappers like ‘Pappu can’t dance’ or ‘E udi udi’. Yet I would like to list a few all-time Bollywood hits of A.R.Rehman, though majority of them belongs to Tamil too. Tu hi re and Kehna hai kya of Bombay, Roja jaane man and Yeh khula wadiyan of Roja, Radha kaise na jale and Ore chori of Lagaan, Saathiya and Chupke se of Saathiya, In lamho ki of Jodha Akbar, Kabhi kabhi aditi of Jaane tu ya jaane naa, Chalo chalo mitwa of Nayak, Barso re mekha of Guru, Dheeme dheeme of Zubeidaa, Khamoshiyan of 1-2-ka 4, Jiya jale, title track and Chayya of Dil se, Tu meri adoori and Kaise mujhe of Gajani, Saddha Haqq and Nadan parindey of Rockstar, Kismat se tum of Pukar, Rangeela re and Tanha tanha of Rangeela, Jiya re and Ishq shava of Jab tak hai jaan – The list is too long! Before taking a long time to read, let me go forward with next composer of my countdown. But I am concluding with one word – though A.R.Rehman is the composer of present times who has been criticized most for westernizing Indian tunes, no other music director of Indian film industry has become as popular as Rehman. Also, he is credited with wide variety of tunes and instruments used in his work, a role model whom every music composer of present times loves to follow. His romantic tracks as well as fast numbers are equally popular, making everyone praise the amazing blend of instruments used in recording. That’s the reason why songs recorded 15 or 20 years ago resemble songs of 2010’s in voice quality. 

4. Rahul Dev Burman

R.D.Burman – the music composer who connected past with present and who brought westernized style to Indian music, keeping in mind tastes of Indians. I often feel surprised with the tunes and musical instruments used by R.D.Burman 35 years back in a few songs like Oh haseena, Roop tera masthana (completed the work of Aradhana with Kishore Kumar’s voice), Dilbar and Monica of Caravan, Oh mere sonare and Tumne mujhe of Teesri Manzil, Wada karo of Aa gale lag jaa, Aanewaala pal of Golmaal and Chura liya hai of Yadoom ki barat. Though he has worked as an assistant for many hit movies of late 50’s and 60’s like Guide, Kaagaz ke phool and Chalti ka naam gadi.

Teesri Manzil of 1966, starring Shammi Kapoor and Asha Parekh was the first hit of R.D.Burman. During 1960’s he has done a few movies like Bhoot bangle, Padosan, Baharom ke sapne and Pyar ka mausam and they proved successful too. He recorded the song ‘Tum bin jao kaho’ in the voices of Both Rafi and Kishore Kumar, for ‘Pyar ka mausam’. During late 1960’s and early 1970’s, he completed a few unfinished works of his father also. ‘Aradhana’ – the movie with blockbuster music belongs to this category where, R.D. gave full credits to his father for its composition. This movie gave a shining singing star to Bollywood too – Kishore Kumar. There began the magical pair Kishore-R.D too! Though Rafi has sung numerous songs for R.D, including Teesri Manzil, Hum kise se kum nahin and Yadon ki baraat, Kishore-R.D combination was noted most. Rajesh Khanna can also be included in the successful combination. Kishore Kumar and R.D.Burman began to give a succession of hits like Kehna hai and Mere Samne wali of Padosan, Yeh jo Mohabbat hai and Pyar deewana of Katti Patang, Zindagi ke Kasam and Karvaten of Aap ki kasam, Aanewala pal of Golmaal, Dilbar mere of Satte pe satta, Zindagi ek safar of Andaaz, Raat kali of Budda mil gaya, Aap ki aakhom mein and Phir wohi raat of Ghar, Oh meri soni of Yaadom ki baraat and Gum hai kise ke pyar from Rampur ka Laxman. We witnessed R.D. growing as a genius through these songs, capturing millions of music lovers’ hearts. But he lost his way somewhere in the middle 80’s. The disco era couldn’t accept melodious tunes of R.D.Burman and that’s the only reason why he was dragged behind. Yet he didn’t compromised his talent with reckless and mislead music of that time and that’s the reason why I placed him in position 4, for not participating in degradation of Bollywood music during 1980’s. Songs of Rocky, Love story, Parindey, Libaaz, Yeh wada raha, Satte pe satta, Agar tum na hote and Ijaazzat have been exceptionally well made! That’s the reason why such movie songs of 80’s stand now also, as evergreen.

His glory started during early 70’s and it existed till the middle 80’s. He has done many experiments with songs, by using unusual things for producing its background score. He is the only music director of yesterdays’ whose tunes has been used repeatedly for movies as well as remixes and they have been used in discos and celebrations also. That shows the mesmerizing power of R.D.Burman’s music. When he left the world suddenly, he produced his masterpiece ‘1942-A love story’ after a series of flops during late 80’s and early 90’s, the movie that accumulated maximum music awards in 1994 after his death. Before I proceed further, let me name a few more hit movies of R.D.Burman – Amar prem, Sholay, Satte pe satta, Parichay, Sanam teri kasam, Mere jeevan saathi, Ajnabi, Seeta aur Geeta, Kinara, Saagar, Shalimar, Masoom, Betab, Hera Panna, Khubsoorat, Aa gale lag jaa, Padosan, The train, Hare Rama Hare Krishna, Jurmana, Khudrat, Shaan, Yeh wada raha, Kaalia, Apna desh, Anamika, Deewar, Aandhi, Mehbooba, Kasme wade and Khel khel mein.

3. Madan Mohan


Many of you people may feel surprised why I placed this music maestro above R.D, Naushad and Laxmi-Pyare. It’s not for the numerous compositions done, but for a few amazing combinations, we admire an artist most. No doubt, Madan Mohan can be surely included in the list. He is one among the most talented artists of Bollywood who has never received appreciation he deserved, when he was alive. But when he left the world during 1975, the period after that began to understand the inner meanings of compositions he has done till then. He made Indian tunes popular using classical instruments and through folk songs and romantic numbers, he brought the best of many singers’ voice. Lata Mangeshkar is one among the leading singers of the industry whose voice was well used by Madan Mohan. That’s the reason why her most popular songs belong to this music director.

Even after giving significant contributions to music industry through melodies, he has never received Filmfare. Woh Kaun thi, Heer Ranja, Haste Zakhm, Mera Saaya and Haqueequat can be listed in ‘just missed’ tag though the lovely songs sung by Lata Mangeshkar still remain evergreen. He has given wonderful songs to Lata, mostly pictured on Sadhana and Priya Rajvansh. In 2004, his unreleased tunes were used by Yash Chopra for ‘Veer Zaara’ and nominated in Filmfare too, 20 years after his death though he couldn’t win it.

Once Lata Mangeshkar told that it’s very difficult to learn Madan Mohan’s compositions. It’s because, though they appear easy, it’s not an easy task to conquer Madan Mohan tunes purely based on Indian ragas. He was a composer who knew the soul of Indian music. Though his work went unnoticed and he didn’t get big directors’ or actors’ movies, his work still remain extra-ordinary and will remain forever. Aap ki parchayiyam, Mausam and Jahaa Aara are other hit movies of his composition. Aap ke nazarom ne samjha of Anpat, Woh bhooli daasthan of Sanjog, Zara si aahat of Haqueeqat, Mein to tum sang of Man mauji, Lag ja gale and Nayana barse of Woh kaun thi, Mera saaya and Nayanom mein of Mera saya and Tum jo mil gaye, Betaab dil ki tamanna and Aaj socha of Haste Zakhm still fascinate people who are really serious in hearing old melodies.  

2. Sachin Dev Burman

Without any hesitation or second thought, it was an easy task for me to place S.D.Burman at no.2 position. From melodious romantic numbers to folk dances, he was a composer who created magic on Indian screen with his lovely music. His songs have the smell of soil and sweetness of melody and for the numerous songs he contributed to music lovers, he still remains one among the most popular composers all time. He has composed music for about 100 Bollywood movies and each one can be termed as ‘classic!’

SDHe started journey in Bollywood through ‘Do Bhai’ in 1947 and till his death in 1975, he remained the inseparable part of Bollywood and Bollywood music. His name is counted among legends, who has given valuable contributions to Bollywood through folk and classical tunes. Among all singers, Mohd.Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar were his favourites with whom he has recorded songs most. He has played a significant role in the career growth of both these leading singers of Bollywood. But doing late 50’s, he gave opportunities to Asha Bhosle too. The movies of 50’s, termed as classics have used S.D.Burman tunes – Kagaz ka phool, Devdas, Pyaasa and Sujatha. He gave music to some simple movies like Chalti ka naam gaadi, Jaal, Nau do gyarah, Kaalapani, Munimji, Taxi driver and Funtoosh. It continued in 60’s too through the movies – Guide, Aradhana, Meri surat teri aankhen, Jewel thief, Tere ghar ke samne, Prem pujari and Bandhini. Aradhana is still considered a trendsetter that gave new direction to Bollywood music. This movie gave a new perspective to Indian music during 70’s.
He was continuously ill for a few years, yet he continued to give a lot of melodies to Indian music. Sharmilee, Chupke chupke and Abhimaan can be counted among the best movies he has done during the last phase of his life. Before I reach the top of the chart, let me give the list of a few memorable works of S.D.Burman. Mere sapnon ki rani and Roop tera masthana of Aradhana, Chupke chupke and Ab ke sajan of Chupke chupke, Khilthe hain gul and Megha chaye of Sharmilee, Piya bina and Teri bindiya of Abhimaan and Suno meri bandoo re of Bandini, Hoton mein koi baat and Dil pukare of Jewel thief, Kaun ho tum jo of Teen deviyaan, Tere ghar ke samne title song, Gaata rahe and all other songs of Guide, Rangeela re and Phoolon ki rang se of Prem pujari, Choodi nahi of Gambler and Khoya khoya chand of Kaala Baazar are a few among those gems defined by Burman da. It can be noticed that Dev Anand was associated with Burman da most and a lot of beautiful songs have born in this combination.

1. Shankar Jaikishan

Now we have reached the top position of the list. It’s not surprising that Shankar-Jaikishan (Shankar Singh Raghuvanshi and Jaikishan Jayabhai Panchal) decorates the top most position of the list. Perhaps they lead far ahead of all other 9 music directors. Many music directors have come and gone, yet no other music director has been able to replace the music given by this duo. The unparallel composer pair Shankar-Jaikishan has ruled the musical charts for about 20 years till their drift and death of Jaikishan in 1971. By that time, they had already contributed the best songs ever made in Bollywood! 

SJAs in the case of other music directors, it’s not at all easy to list 10 best or 100 best songs of Shankar-Jaikishen. Each and every piece of their lovely music is just extra-ordinary and can’t be explained in words! The major hits of Raj Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor were exclusively given by this magical pair. While Mukesh attributed his voice for Raj Kapoor, Mohd.Rafi became the voice of Shammi Kapoor. Years may come and many new music directors may arise. Yet the magic created by this pair using Indian traditional tunes and limited instruments without the help of electronic equipments and highly advanced recording techniques will remain as wonders till the end of this world! No doubt, I have no hesitation in giving no.1 position to these emperors of Bollywood.

With the beautiful lyrics written by Hasrat Jaipuri, Shailendra and Neeraj, SJ has delivered maximum hits. As this article is too lengthy, I would like to conclude it as early as possible mentioning the names of a few best compositions of SJ. Barsaat, Shree 420, Jis des mein Ganga behthi hai, Awara, Sangam, Junglee, Arzoo, Dil tera diwana, Prince, Seema, Yahudi, Professor, Anari, Teesri kasam, Aah, Amrapali, Chori chori, Boot polish, Hariyali aur raastha, Love marriage, College girl, Sasural, Jab pyar kise se hota hai, An evening in Paris, Nagina, Seema, Yahudi, Gumnaam, Jukh gaya aasman, Dil apna aur preet paraye, Brahmachari, Sasural, Janwar, Love in Tokyo, Suraj, Rajkumar, Pagla Kahi ka and Dil ek mandir – the list is not complete!


Though I have chosen 10 best composers, unfortunately I had to exclude my favourite composers – O.P.Nayyar, Salil Chaudary, Roshan, Khayyam and Kalyanji Anandji who have contributed a lot to Indian music. I need to mention three special names also – Hemant Kumar, Ilayaraja and Raveendra Jain, who couldn’t find space in my list. Among new music directors, Ismail Darbar is most promising. I would also like to mention the name of Usha Khanna - perhaps the only succesful composer of Bollywood, female.

Present music can never be compared with the past. But as I have prepared this list based on the contributions of 100 years of Indian cinema, how can I neglect the valuable contributions of past 25 years or so. That’s the only reason why I had to exclude a few great music maestros like O.P.Nayyar and Salil Chaudary from the list to add new generation music directors who have added nice melodies to present Bollywood. After all, we should take care of all generations and their interests too! Now it’s the time of copy cats and I never prefer to take their names in my columns.

Let me conclude adding one or two facts. Though I gave full marks to these 10 composers and agree that, their contributions are simply the best my favourite Hindi composition is not composed by anyone of these 10 composers or sung by leading stars of Bollywood. The title song of Akhiyom ki Jarokom se is my personal favourite, written and composed by Raveendra Jain and sung by Hema Latha.  
N.B: All images taken from wikipedia

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