S D Burman completed his matriculation at the age of 14 from Comilla Zilla School in 1920, then pursued higher studies from Comilla Victoria College. From there, he went to Kolkata, where he received musical lessons from 1925 to 1930, under the tutelage of K C Dey. He also received lessons of classical music from Ustad Khalifa Badal Khan, the Sarengi maestro and from Sarodist Ustad Alauddin Khan.
In the late twenties, he started singing Bengali and Hindustani folk tunes on All India Radio. His first 78 rmp gramophone record came out in 1932. In 1937, he first composed music for the film Rajgee. His second film as a music composer, Rajkumar Nirbasane (1940) was a hit. He later composed music for Bengali films such as, Protishodh (1941), Abhoyer Biye (1942) and Chaddobeshi (1944).
S D Burman moved to Bombay in 1944. His first hit song was from the film, Do Bhai (1947), where Geeta Dutt sang the melancholic ghazal, Mera Sundar Sapna Beet Gaya. He later teamed up with Dev Anand’s production company, Navketan, where Geeta Dutt sang his compositions like Tadbir Se Bigri Hui Taqdir Baanale, later followed by the iconic love song, Ye Raat Ye Chandni Phir Kahan Sunja Dil Ki Dastan for the film Jaal (1952).
S D Burman later teamed up with Guru Dutt for films like Pyaasa (1957) and Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959). Hemanta Kumar’s Jaane Woh Kaise Log They Jinko Pyar Se Pyar Mila and Geeta Dutt’s Waqt Ne Kiya Kya Haseen Sitam, were amongst the long list of memorable songs during that period. In 1958, S D Burman composed a song for Solva Saal (1958), voiced by Hemanta Kumar titled, Hai Apna Dil To Awara. Later, Talat Mehmood also lent his voice for S D Burman’s Jalte Hai Jiske Liye, in the film Sujata (1959).
S D Burman’s voice served as bardic commentary for several films, including Bandini (1963), with songs like O Mere Majhi Sajan Hai Us Paar and many more. During the time when his health began to deteriorate, he composed music for the film Guide (1965), with evergreen songs voiced by Muhammad Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar.
His career came to an end with the film Aradhana (1969). His son, R D Burman also assisted him in multiple films, and went on to become one of the most iconic figures in the musical industry.
S D Burman died of cardiac arrest on October 31, 1975.