Art & Entertainment

The Musical Geniuses Who Have Ruled Hindi Film Industry Since Independence

From Naushad to Arijit Singh, here’s a list of 75 melody makers who have ruled the roost in Bollywood since 1947

The Musical Geniuses Who Have Ruled Hindi Film Industry Since Independence

Naushad (1919–2006)

The undisputed master of classical music tunes in Hindi cinema in the post-Independence era. Made debut in Prem Nagar but got recognition after Ratan. He reached the pinnacle with Mughal-e-Azam. Mother India, Kohinoor, Ganga Jamna, and Baiju Bawra.

O P Nayyar (1926–2007)

Introduced orchestral music Geeta Dutt and Asha Bhosle sang some of their best songs for him. Aar Paar, Naya Daur, CID, Kashmir Ki Kali, Howrah Bridge, and Tum Sa Nahi Dekha were the highlights of his career.


Rahul Dev Burman (1939-1994)

Popularly known as Pancham. He used Western styles, folk music, and Hindustani classical music with equal proficiency. His songs still make the listeners swoon.

Salil Chowdhury (1925–1995)

Apart from Hindi cinema, he gave music in Bengali, Marathi, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Odia, and Gujarati films. Madhumati, Anand, Parakh, Chhoti Si Baat, Do Bigha Zamin, and Rajnigandha underlined his penchant for melody.

Sachin Dev Burman (1906–1975)

He was not only a great composer but also a good singer. Aradhana, Pyaasa, Guide, Prem Pujari, Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, and Bandini are hallmarks of his career.

Madan Mohan (1924–1975)

Madan Mohan-Lata Mangeshkar gave numerous timeless songs. Lag ja gale is considered by many to be an all-time classic. Bawarchi, Mera Saaya, Haqeeqat, Mausam, and Laila Majnu were his popular movies.

Shankar (1922 –1987)/Jaikishan (1929–1971)

They composed the tunes of most of Raj Kapoor's films on great lyrics by Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri. 'Awara Hoon' became the first Hindi film song to be popular abroad.

Kalyanji (1928-2000)/Anandji (1933)

In the sixties, seventies, and eighties, they ruled the roost as composers of films such as Don, Qurbani, Tridev, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Unclaimed, Safar, and Kora Kaagaz.

Khayyam (1927–2019)

Khayyam, who preferred Urdu poetry for his tunes, did limited but distinctive work. Umrao Jaan, Bazaar, Kabhi Kabhie. Razia Sultan and Noori underscored his genius. The ghazals of Umrao Jaan proved to be timeless classics.

Roshan (1917–1967)

He learned Sarod from Alauddin Khan Saheb. Dil Hi To Hai, Taj Mahal, Barsaat Ki Raat, Chitralekha, Aarti, Mamta, and Anokhi Raat established him as a composer par excellence. He teamed up with Indeevar and Anand Bakshi to deliver great songs.

Bappi Lahiri (1952–2022)

He stormed the musical scene with disco music in the early 1980s. After composing the music for his first film at the age of 19, he gave popular music in Disco Dancer, Zakhki, Chalte Chalte, Sharabi, Aaj Ka Arjun, and Namak Halal.

Jaidev (1918–1987)

Known for traditional and folk music. He was one of the few musicians who received the National Award thrice. Hum Dono, Gaman, Gharaunda, and  Reshma Aur Sheraare his important movies.


Laxmikant (1937-1998)/Pyarelal (1940)

Known for super musical arrangements, they gave great music in Shor, Dosti, Prem Rog, Dharamveer, Pyaasa Sawan, Mr. India, Karz, etc. The pair dominated the seventies and eighties.

Chitragupta (1917–1991)

Apart from Hindi, he also gave popular and melodious music in Bhojpuri films. He did his most successful films with the Majrooh Sultanpuri. Main Chup Rahungi, Bhabhi, Patang and Sansar were important films in his career.

Ravi (1926– 2012)

He gave music in Hindi and Malayalam films. The credit for bringing him to Hindi cinema goes to music composer Hemant Kumar. Kajal, Ek Phool Do Mali, Chaudvin Ka Chand and Nikaah were his important films.


One of the most successful musicians of the 1990s, they made a mark with melodious music in films like Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, Khiladi, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Mohabbatein.

Nadeem (1954)/Shravan (1954–2021)

They gave hits after hits with singer Kumar Sanu, Udit Narayan as well as lyricist Sameer. Saajan, Aashiqui, Damini, Sirf Tum, Dhadkan, Sadak and Deewana proved to be important movies in his career.


A R. Rahman (1967)

His music achieved new heights in the modern era of Hindi cinema. He burst on the scene with Roja and went on to win the Academy Award for Slumdog Millionaire. Six times National Award and twice Grammy Award winner.

Anu Malik (1960)

Enjoyed great popularity in the nineties. Father Sardar Malik was an important music director of early Hindi films. His successful films were Border, Baazigar, Judwaa, Refugee, Main Hoon Na, and Ishq.

Ravindra Jain (1944–2015)

He composed music for many hit films in the seventies and eighties. Got special recognition from the TV serial Ramayana. Chor Machaye Shor, Geet Gaata Chal, Saudagar, Chitchor, and Ankhiyon Ke Jharokhon had great music.


Usha Khanna (1941)

O.P. Nayyar introduced her to Sashadhar Mukherjee of Filmistaan studio, which opened the world of music for her. She carved her niche in the music industry dominated by of men. Sautan, Hawas, Dil Deke Dekho, and Shabnam were successful movies in her career.



Pritam (1971)

He started his Bollywood career with Tere Liye. Dhoom that followed turned out to be a huge success. In the years to come, he created a special place among the audience. Jannat, Gangster, Singh is King, Jab We Met, Bajrangi Bhaijaan are all popular movies.



Shailendra (1923–1966)

In an era when Hindi film songs were influenced by Urdu, he gave expressions to the philosophy of life with Hindi words. His lyrics gave the voice to the exploited, deprived, and working-class people.

Indeevar (1924–1997)

Known for realistic songs. He preferred Hindi words. Songs like Neele neele ambar par, Koi tumhara hriday tod de and Jab koi baat bigad jaaye underlined versatility.


Kavi Pradip (1915–1998)

Wrote the most popular patriotic song, Ae Mere Watan, Door hato ae duniya walon, Insaaf ki dagar pe, Hum laye hain toofan se kashti nikal were other timeless songs that immotalised him..

Shakeel Badayuni (1916–1970)

Wrote the songs of superhit Afsana for Naushad. He won the hearts of people by writing wonderful songs in films like Mughal-e-Azam, Baiju Bawra, Mere Mehboob, Dulari, Mother India, and Ganga Jamuna.


Gopaldas Neeraj (1925–2018)

Dev Anand brought out the best in him. Likhe jo khat tujhe, Phoolon ke rang se, Rangeela Re, Ae bhai zara dekh ke chalo, Khilte hai gul yahan are among his most notable songs .


Hasrat Jaipuri (1922–1999)

Remembered for romantic songs. Barsaat, Teesri Kasam, Sangam, Ram Teri Ganga Maili, Andaz, Geet Gaaya Patharon were important films. He made a mark in Raj Kapoor's films and rose to become one of the top lyricists.

Sahir Ludhianvi (1921–1980)

The lyricist whose life inspired Pyaasa and Kabhi Kabhie. Pyaasa, Taj Mahal, Baazi, Hum Dono, and Humraj give glimpses of his extraordinary talent.

Majrooh Sultanpuri (1919–2000)

Majrooh once had to go to jail for his socialist leaning. He had one of the longest careers in Hindi cinema with hits like Aar Paar, Sujata, Yaadon Ki Baaraat, Teesri Manzil, Dosti, Patthar Ke Sanam, and Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak.


Gulzar (1934)

Language and imagery are the strength of his songs. Along with songwriting, he also achieved excellence in direction. He excelled in movies like Aandhi, Mausam, Parichay,  Anand, Golmaal, Dil Se and, of course, the Academy Award winner, Slumdog Millionaire.

Anand Bakshi (1930–2002)

He aspired to become a singer but became a lyricist. Got early recognition with Himalay Ki God Mein and Jab Jab Phool Khile. Bobby, Sholay, Amar Prem, Aradhana, Seeta and Geeta, Dharamveer, Mohra, Taal, and Mohabbatein made him the highest-paid lyricist of his time

Javed Akhtar (1945)

Five times National Film Award winner for songwriting. Along with Salim Khan, he wrote the scripts of the most successful films of Hindi cinema. He established himself as a lyricist with Silsila, Saath Saath, Tezaab, 1942 A Love Story, Border, and Kal Ho Na Ho.


Rajendra Krishan (1919–1987)

His ability to use different imagery and similes for the same sentiment made him stand out. Naagin, Bluff Master, Padosan, Brahmachari, Reshma Aur Shera, Bombay to Goa, and Tumse Achcha Kaun Hai were important films of his film journey.

Kaifi Azmi (1919-2002)

He started writing film songs with Bujadil. He wrote the dialogues of Heer-Ranjha in verse. Kaagaz Ke Phool, Bawarchi, Arth, Pakeezah, Razia Sultan are among his popular movies.

Raja Mehndi Ali Khan (1915–1966)

He reserved his best for music composer Madan Mohan. Lag ja gale is an immortal song. Woh Kaun Thi, Mera Saaya, Neela Akash, Aap Ki Paarchaiyan, Anita were his popular movies.


Gulshan Bawra (1937– 2009)

Gulshan Bawra wrote around 240 songs in his film career spanning four decades with composers like Shankar Jaikishan, Rahul Dev Burman, and Kalyanji Anandji and delivered big hits.

Prem Dhawan (1923–2001)

Prem Dhawan was a successful lyricist of the golden era of Hindi films. He is remembered for his patriotic songs in Hindi films. He got recognition for his songs in Manoj Kumar's Shaheed.

S H Bihari (1922–1987)

S H Bihari wrote the most successful songs of his career for O. P. Nayyar who gave the title of "Shayar-e-Azam" to him.

Gopal Singh Nepali (1911–1963)

Gopal Singh was a great poet of the Chhayavadi tradition of Hindi literature. Nag Panchami, Maya Bazaar, Nai Rahein, Jai Bhavani, and Tulsidas were notable films in his career of two decades.


Naksh Lyallpuri (1928–2017)

Naksh Lyallpuri, who came to Bombay from Lahore, struggled in the early days but went on to write songs in many films for composers like Madan Mohan, Khayyam, Jaydev, Naushad, and Ravindra Jain.

Anjaan (1930–1997)

Anjaan was one of the few lyricists of Hindi films who made a special identity in his limited career. His successful films were Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Disco Dancer, Don, and Hera Pheri.

Yogesh (1943–2020)

Yogesh is known as one of the few lyricists of Hindi cinema whose songs explored the serious meaning of life in simple and easy language. He got special recognition for Kahin Dhar Jab Din Dhal Jaaye his classic from Anand.


Sameer (1958)

Sameer has written about 5,000 film songs. Aashiqui was Sameer's most successful film. He wrote hit songs in Saajan, Saajan Chale Sasural, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Dulhe Raja, Hungama, Damini, Shool, Raja Hindustani and many more.

Prasoon Joshi (1971)

Prasoon Joshi, a well-known personality in the field of advertising, has written emotional songs on mothers in films. Rang De Basanti, Taare Zameen Par, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Fanaah, and Delhi 6 are Prasoon's notable films.

Irshad Kamil (1971)

Irshad Kamil is considered to be the most successful lyricist of contemporary Hindi cinema. He wrote the biggest hits of his career in director Imtiaz Ali's films.



Male Singers


Kishore Kumar (1929-1987)

Kishore Kumar made his debut as a chorus singer in Bombay Talkies films but  Khemchand Prakash recognied Kishore Kumar's talent and gave him the opportunity to sing in Ziddi. The rest, as they say, is history.


Hemant Kumar (1920-1989)

He started off with Bengali films. An accomplished composer and singer, he delivered cult hits such as Hai apna dil to awara and Jaane woh kaise log the jinke pyaar ko pyaar mila. Pyaasa, Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam, Anand Math, Bees Saal Baad and  Naaginare his timeless films.

Mohammad Rafi (1924–1980)

A classical singer excelled as a popular singer in Hindi films with his unfathomable talent. He is considered to be the most accomplished playback singer of all time by many.


Mukesh (1923–1976)

Mukesh was the voice of many actors, most notably  Raj Kapoor and Manoj Kumar in Hindi films. Taking inspiration from Kundan Lal Sehgal, he got attracted towards film music and made a mark with his melodious numbers.

Mahendra Kapoor (1934–2008)

Mahendra Kapoor was greatly influenced by Mohammad Rafi and considered him as his mentor. He sang his most successful songs with Manoj Kumar. Purab and Paschim, Upkar, Humraj, Gumrah and Kranti are important films in his career.

Talat Mahmood (1924–1998)

Talat Mahmood is remembered for his velvety voice. He started as a ghazal singer. He initially wanted to become an actor but his wish was not fulfilled. Sujata, Haqeeqat, Madhosh, Chhaya, and Babul were his notable films.


Manna Dey (1919–2013)

Manna Dey was recognized as a classical singer of repute. Upkar, Awara, Padosan, Chori Chori, Safar, Satyam Shivam Sundaram, and Ek Phool Do Mali gave glimpses of his wide range as a singer.

Bhupinder Singh (1940– 2022)

Bhupinder got to work in Hindi films due to his very special voice and distinctive style. After coming to Mumbai, he got a chance to sing in Chetan Anand's Hakeeqat. He was adept at playing the guitar but found recognition more as a ghazal singer.

Jagjit Singh (1941–2011)

The King of ghazal Jagjit Singh not only sang some great numbers but composed music for many Hindi films. He  is credited with having embellished Hindi cinema with his beautiful ghazals.


Shailendra Singh (1952)

Shailendra Singh studied and went to an acting school but it was written in his destiny to become a singer. Raj Kapoor’s search for a voice for Rishi Kapoor in Bobby ended when he found him. He emerged as the voice of Rishi Kapoor in several films of the seventies and eighties.

Suresh Wadekar (1955)

Suresh Wadekar made his debut in Hindi films under the guidance of music composer Ravindra Jain but got recognition from Raj Kapoor's films. He became popular with the songs of Prem Rog, Parinda, and Ram Teri Ganga Maili.

S P Balasubramaniam (1946–2020)


SP Balasubrahmanyam got recognition in Hindi films from Ek Duje Ke Liye. He sang many superhit songs for Salman Khan. Balasubramaniam was a big fan of Mohammed Rafi.

Mohammad Aziz (1954–2018)

Mohammad Aziz was a big fan of Mohammad Rafi. His singing was also similar. He got recognition from Manmohan Desai's Mard.

Kumar Sanu (1957)

Kumar Sanu ruled the music world in the nineties. He got into films taking inspiration from Kishore Kumar. Sanu became an overnight star from Aashiqui. He holds a record for recording the most number of songs in a day.

Udit Narayan (1955)

Music composer Rajesh Roshan gave him the first break in Hindi cinema. Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak earned him fame. His notable films include Dil, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Darr, Mohabbatein, Tere Naam, Raja Hindustani, Lagaan and Gadar.


Sonu Nigam (1973)

Sonu Nigam started doing stage shows at an early age. He made his debut with Aaja Meri Jaan in 1993 and went on to become the most successful singer. He also excelled as a reality show host.

Arijit Singh (1987)

Most popular singer of the Gen X generation. His song Tum Hi Ho from Aashiqui 2 made him a star overnight. His best films include Humari Adhuri Kahani, Kalank, Kabir Singh, Tamasha, and Kedarnath.

KK (1968–2022)

K.K. made his debut in Hindi cinema with Maachis. But his song, Tadap tadap ke is dil se from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam made him an overnight star. His distinct singing style earned him a large number of fans.



Female Singers

Shamshad Begum (1919–2013)

Shamshad Begum had a distinct voice and style. She sang more than 6000 songs in his career. Deedar, Mother India, Anmol Ghadi, and Mughal-e-Azam were her successful films.


Geeta Dutt (1930–1972)

Guru Dutt's wife Geeta Dutt made a mark in her limited career by singing some of spectacular songs. Aarpaar, CID, Pyaasa, Kaagaz Ke Phool, Baazi, Sahib, Biwi and Ghulam were her memorable films.


Lata Mangeshkar (1929–2022)

Lata Mangeshkar's father Deenanath Mangeshkar gave her first training in singing. After the death of her father, at the age of 13, Lata took over her family and started working in films, which  earned him the moniker of the Nightingale of India.


Asha Bhosle (1933)

Asha Bhosle, younger sister of legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar, had inherited singing from her family. Music director O.P. Nayyar gave a big opportunity in Hindi films with CID. She sang her best numbers with R.D. Burman.

Hemlata (1954)

Hemlata was a fan of Lata Mangeshkar since childhood. She made her mark by singing very beautiful songs in Ravindra Jain's composition.

Suman Kalyanpur (1937)

Worked with great musicians like Shankar Jaikishan, Naushad, S D Burman, Roshan, Hemant Kumar, and Chitragupta. Geet, Jab Jab Phool Khile, Sooraj, Naseeb, Andaz were her successful films.

Alka Yagnik (1966)

In the nineties, Alka Yagnik gave a flurry of superhit songs. She hit the peak with Tezaab's song Ek Do Teen. She has so far sung songs in 25 languages.


Sadhana Sargam (1969)

In the nineties, she sang one great song after another in Hindi films. She started her career with Subhash Ghai's Vidhata. Apart from Hindi films, she also sang brilliant songs in Tamil and Bengali films.

Anuradha Paudwal (1954)

A popular bhajan singer who sang superhit fiolm songs also. Aashiqui was the most successful film of her career. Dil, Sadak, Beta, Saajan, and Ram Lakhan were her prominent films.

Shreya Ghoshal (1984)

Shreya, who became popular with the TV reality show Saregama, was given her first opportunity by Sanjay Leela Bhansali in Devdas. She became an overnight star. She has received four National Awards and seven Filmfare Awards for outstanding singing.



Sunidhi Chauhan (1983)

Sunidhi Chauhan started singing at the age of four in music competitions and live shows. Actress Tabassum introduced her to musician Kalyajji, who helped Sunidhi Chauhan a lot.