Forty years ago, we lost one of the most iconic music directors India has ever seen. Sachin Dev Burman was one of the few musicians who we can truly call the architects of the golden era of Hindi film music.

Born to royalty (his father was from the royal family of Tripura and his mother was from the Manipur royal family), SD Burman was a prince like none other. His collaborations with Guru Dutt and Dev Anand, with Lata Mangeshkar, Talat Mehmood and later Kishore Kumar have resulted in some of the best songs the Hindi film industry has ever produced.

I know this is not an easy task, but I’ve tried to make a list of 15 must-listen-to SD Burman songs that define the illustrative career of the legend.

Check it out.

1. Jaane Woh Kaise Log Thhe Jin Ke – Pyaasa

When you combine the music of SD Burman, the words of Sahir Ludhianvi and the voice of Hemanta Mukherjee, this is what you get.

2. Chhod Do Aanchal – Paying Guest

Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhonsle creating magic with the tunes of SD Burman and the words of Majrooh Sultanpuri.

3. Mana Janaab Ne Pukara Nahin – Paying Guest

Yes, ‘Paying Guest’ had more than one good song.

4. Tadbeer Se Bigdi Hui – Baazi

Some might say this is an unusual song on this list. Well, that’s because it is. SD Burman used a ghazal written by Sahir Ludhianvi and turned it into a sensual club song. Ludhianvi wasn’t too happy about it, but the gamble paid off. The song was a hit.

5. Sar Jo Tera Chakraye – Pyaasa

The melancholy of this Guru Dutt film desperately needed a light song the audience could hum along to even after the film. Once again, SD Burman delivered.

6. Ek Ladki Bheegi Bhaagi Si – Chalti ka Naam Gaadi

This was inspired by Tennesse Ernie Ford’s ‘Sixteen Tonnes’, but SD Burman managed to add his own touch to it.

7. Hai Apna Dil Toh Awara – Solva Saal

Hemanta Mukherjee collaborated again with SD Burman, this time vastly different from anything you’d hear in Pyaasa.

8. Puchho Na Kaise Maine Rain Bitai – Meri Surat Teri Aankhen

One of Manna Dey’s best songs ever was composed by SD Burman.

9. Gaata Rahe Mera Dil – Guide

I could write an entire article on the music in ‘Guide’. So yes, picking one song from it wasn’t easy.

10. Yeh Dil Na Hota Bechara – Jewel Thief

It is said that SD Burman had to work really hard to master the art of composing tunes that could be easily hum by the ordinary man, but clearly, it paid off.

11. Safal Hogi Teri Aradhana – Aradhana

Burman was against having actors lip-sync songs he himself sung. He had a unique singing voice and who knows what could have happened had he jumped in fully into the playback singing role.

12. Mere Sapno Ki Rani – Aradhana

Aradhana also proved to be massive boost for Kishore Kumar.

13. Tere Mere Milan Ki Yeh Raina – Abhimaan

Another musical masterpiece, ‘Abhimaan’ was one of the early films in Amitabh Bachchan’s career that helped him soon become India’s biggest film star.

14. Chupke Chupke Chal Ri Purvaiya – Chupke Chupke

Even comedy classic need great songs, and again, SD Burman was the answer.

15. Badi Suni Suni Hai Zindagi – Mili

Right after the rehearsal for this song, SD Burman suffered a stroke. Kishore Kumar visited him in the hospital and said – Dada, Please don’t worry, your recording is after three days, you just see how well it goes. It turned out to be one of Kishore Kumar’s most critically acclaimed songs.

Thank you, Sachin Da.