RD or AR

Over the past few years I've had this debate ,within myself as to who is India's greatest ever music composer. After filtering many potential candidates I can arrive at 2 possible icons of India ,who with their music ....have made India dance to their tunes..at different era's .

Contestant no 1 : RAHUL DEV BURMAN ....who brought some westernity into hindi music and made some mellifluos numbers of yesteryears which took India by storm.

contestant no 2 :A.R REHMAN who , taught Indian's to reggae and rock at the same time.some of his compositions are mind blowing.every time you think he has produced a masterpiece , he musically suggests that his best is yet to come...and still keeps captivating us with his music.

It's a tough ask comparing these 2,as both span 2 generations of music lovers ,whom they have enthralled ,but still If ever I was to pick one......I somehow get the cold feeling that Rehman is getting better. RDB is like the Gavaskar of Indian music industry ,while Rehman is the sachin of music composing. Rehman has more compositions in his favour than the maestro RDB himself,and looks in fine fettle to raise above his current iconic level ,by making his music talk.

Whatever it is , For music afficianados like me ....it's a win win situation , treating my eardrums to the beat of these lovely musicians. There are other musicians who have rendered s0me lovely compositions ,but when it comes to sheer consistency in delivering captivating music ....I guess only Rehman and R.D.Burman stand out ..

one may ask why this comparison so suddenly- Last night I happened to watch the DIV X version of the movie SWADES at home , in which the panchayat of the village screens "yaadon ki baarat" where the title song and the ever green "chura liya hain " happen to be played ...soon after which ,the song "yeh taara woh tara,har tara" pops up...within minutes one can just get to see both the genuis's works side by side ... so that explains the post ....


Dileepan said...

Check out Rahman's 'Bose -- The Forgotten Hero'.

Anbu said...

As you yourself said its tuf to compare the two as they are frm diff generations...Still i rate ARR higher for his range,knowledge and command over music...But RD too had good knowlege and command...

Narayanan Venkitu said...

IMHO, The Two Greats are

1. R.D. Burman.
2. Ilayaraja.

Unfortunately, Ilayaraja couldn't do well in Hindi, though I feel that 'Sadma' was a class act.

I feel that of late, A.R. Rahman is losing it out a little bit. Looks like he concentrating more outside India.

sophie said...

so u r the Karthik with whoom i spoke yesterday...??

Sriks said...

[ps:RDB, Raja or Rahman, which is a separate technical debate that is not worth a penny to me]

Apart from his musical talents Rahman was a trend setter to break the language barrier. He broke the wall that separated north and south Indian music.

Today there are singers from North who would like to sing in Tamil, this was not the case 10 years ago. And all the credit goes to A.R.Rahman for this drastic change.

Cross over music: no body has done this better than Rahman; even the greats like RDB or Raja could not satisfy ears from different cultures,

Secondly from a musician perspective, Rahman gave hopes to many, today there is no one man show, Tamil and Telugu has many new young music directors.

And like in the 80s there is no one man or women singing every song we hear. There are tons of new singers, who are given opportunities by these new generation of music directors,

Flood gates were opened by Rahman, he dared to use news singers even in his first album.

Today Rahman is considered as music ambassador from Indian among westerners, this is an achievement that needs to be praised.

Westerner’s views are based on the CD sold and his popularity, Westerners idea is if his music is sold for that many copies, hey it has to be appealing and technically sound.

Without any bias Rahman has taken Indian music to new horizons which most of his predecessors did not have time will or time make it happen.

Music is subjective hence we cannot say RBD or MSV or Raja is better, however there are other aspects of Rahman which we can clearly see that he has super seeded his predecessors

Anonymous said...


This site has Burman's inspirations. They are much higher than Rehmans. So You decide who is better.

Sriks said...

From that website, we can only decide who is lower!

At times I feel such websites kills spirit of good music. Spotting a copied song is perfectly fine and can be reported, however you never know if it was a composer's call or the director’s call, in the midst of today competitive film music world, there are situations faced by every composer, who are forced to make compromises. The rule is “If you don’t someone will”, for a composer who desperately wants a break - why miss the opportunity, may be after the composer establishes he can have more freedom. We need to consider the industry and the environment they are working in. I really don’t know where to draw the line.

This site says chitukuruvi vekapadu by raja being lifted, this is absurd. If you know the music concept called “quoting” you would never brand this as copying.
What is Quoting? - In an article in English or Tamil, writers often quote words from other authors like “Kamban sonan..etc” like wise in music a composer is allowed to quote musical phrases, Raja did preciously a quote, which the website did not know about, they termed it as copying.
Yes I know what deva does not Quote, but Deva & co comes under the first point I mentioned.

Secondly saying song JO is inspired from song KE, is nothing but a joke. I don’t think even a “musically” “technically” "qualified" person can decided where the inspiration of a composer comes from. Th above webitesite seems to go over board with inspirations, which is ridiculous in my opinion.

Musical coincidences! Or “second guessing” as Billy Joel calls; second guessing is a mere waste of time, Kutram kandu pidithu peyar vangaum pulavargal.

Anonymous said...

To me the concept of copying and inspiration is simple. The tune is reproduced left, right and center like Deva, or you take bits and pieces and enhance it with your original work. In latter case, input from the composer should be evident. Say Veetu Veetuku Vasapadi, we know where the original is and we also can find the composers enhancements. List of creative composers in Tamil is Null after Raja and Rehman. Even Raja and Rehman are found guilty of some copying but we need not brand them as copycats after all their contribution to music is very significant though at different levels. By the way, I don't think site goes ballistic on composers, anybody can compare the tunes if they have a real player installed.

Kartik Kannan said...

srik's ,u probably are right,each one has their own space and its a purely subjective call.ARR has certainly changed the landscape of Indian music.

But still I had put up RD and AR simply bcoz they shine like the jewels in the Indian music who have lifted it to different levels. Agreed there were greats like illayaraja ,but when is looking at a composer who has left an indelible mark ,I would stick with my choices as AR and RD.

Anonymous said...

Have you any idea that musical knowledgeables called RDB as Chor DB, since he used to shamelessly copy left, right and center from hindustani classical??

Vijay said...


Rahman's impact on tne North is substantially higher than the dent Burman made in south. Rahman has also taken his music across the frontierw of India. Its ironical ytou should mention "Chura Liya" from Swades, because its a lifted song. So was "Mehbooba Mehbooba" another song by which Burman fans swear. Burman's tunes were catchy, had a lot of western influence and combined with the Rajesh Khanna wave along with the emerging pop/western scene in the 70s, a few of the songs made it to the South. But between Rahman and Burman the former gets a definite edge. With a lot more predecessors before him Rahman has still managed to create a new style for himself which is very difficult and has successfully broken the North-South barrier.And his inspirations are minimal too. He has also managed to work with arty directors on serious subjects. With the advent of sat TV and other factors not present in 70s, Rahman's every album is scrutinized thoroughly by trigger-happy critics and under immense pressure he has managed to deliver consistently so far.

But in terms of sheer creativity and technical excellence there are/were better composers both in Tamil and Hindi film music apart from these two. I consider Madan Mohan, Salil etc. to be greater than RDB. Listen to them if you get a chance. In Tamil, MSV and Ilayaraja have left indelible marks. They did not care to go beyond the Vindhyas seeking recognition but that doesnt mean their music was creatively inferior to Rahman's. They were the foundation stones of modern day Tamil film music.Listen to them once in a while. The present day generation sometimes seem to remember only RDB and Rahman, and thats sad.

Anonymous said...

the coffee did the trick of keepin me awake.......
dis late!!
i chanced by dis blog...cudnt resist pennin few cents of my notions/views......

I agree with thos who had opined -we cannot forget The maestro Raja..
i am no authority over music ,but i know some of raja's melodies are timeless......
even Hey ram ..was xceptional...
of course at present ARR holds the sway ,........he takes challengin movies......

even in non traditional musicals like swades n Legend of bhagat singh ,he showd his class!!
he has shades of the great pancham da...ahead of his times!

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