SD Burman descended from royalty. His grandfather, Ishanchandra Deb Burman, was the raja of Tripura while mother Rajkumari Nirmala Devi was the princess of Manipur. When he wed Meera Dasgupta, a music student, it caused quite a stir in his family for the prince had married a commoner.
SD Burman started his musical education from 1925 to 1930 under the tutelage of KC Dey, the legendary actor-singer-music composer who also happened to be blind. KC Dey's nephew PC 'Manna' Dey went to work with Burman later on in his career as a singer.
SD Burman's start as a singer was on the Calcutta station of All India Radio in 1932 crooning Bengali folk songs. He also released his first 78 rpm record that year with Hindustan Musical Product which featured folk songs like 'Dakle Kokil Roj Bihane'.
Pankaj Mullick gave SD Burman his first singing assignment for a film in Yahudi Ki Ladki (1933). Unfortunately, his song was never heard as he was replaced with Pahari Sanyal in the film.
The first song sung by SD Burman and heard by the public was in the Bengali film Sanjher Pidim (1935) in which he also acted. The first film for which he composed the music was the Bengali movie Rajgee (1937) directed by Sukumar Dasgupta.
Sashadhar Mukherjee gave SD Burman his breakthrough in composing for a Hindi film with Filmistan's Shikari (1946) starring Ashok Kumar, Veena and Paro. Ashok Kumar's younger brother, Kishore Kumar, made his first appearance on film with Shikari.
Another collaboration with Filmistan resulted in Eight Days (1946) which was primarily directed by Ashok Kumar though DN Pai was credited. Meena Kapoor, who would later go on to marry composer Anil Biswas, recorded her first playback song.
Raja Mehdi Ali Khan made his debut as a lyricist in Do Bhai (1947) which featured SD Burman's first hit, 'Mera Sundar Sapna Beet Gaya', sung by Geeta Dutt (then Geeta Roy), making her a sought-after playback singer in the industry.
Lata Mangeshkar first sang for SD Burman in Mashaal (1950) while Manna Dey also got his first hit song with 'Upar Gagaan Vishaal' in the same film. Incidentally, Burman was thinking of packing up and moving back to Calcutta before S Mukherjee and Ashok Kumar persuaded him to stay.
Guru Dutt's directorial debut Baazi (1951) was the first time SD Burman used Kishore Kumar's voice for Dev Anand. The film was also the first time that Sahir Ludhianvi worked with Burman.