Roshan Lal Nagrath, commonly known as Roshan, was born on 14 July 1917, Gujranwala, in Punjab. He began learning music at a young age from his first Guru Manhar Barve., and later attended Morris College (Bhatkhande College of Music in Lucknow) under the training of Pt.S.N.Ratanjankar (Principal of the University). He took music lessons from Ustaad Allauddin Khan and later he joined the 'Sarangi King' Bundu Khan, to learn Sarangi. In the early 1940s, Roshan joined All India Radio and worked for them as a composer.
In 1948, Roshan came to Mumbai to enter Bollywood as a music director. He met Kidar Sharma, who gave him the job of composing for his film Neki aur Badi (1949). While this film was a flop, Roshan emerged as a player with the film Baawre Nain in 1950. ‘Teri duniya mein dil lagta nahin…’ was his first popular track, which was sung by Mukesh.
In the 1950s, Roshan worked repeatedly with singers Mukesh and Talat Mehmood. Malhar (1951), Shisham (1952), Sanskar (1952), Anhonee (1952), Barati (1954), Chaandni Chowk (1955), Jashan (1955), Do Roti (1957), Aangan (1959) and Madhu (1959) were some of the films he composed music for. But still he wasn’t as successful as he’d wanted to be. He also gave Indeevar and Anand Bakshi their first breaks in the industry as lyricists. The 1960s brought Roshan good fortune as he composed few of the all-time best tracks. His tracks ‘Na to karavan ki talaash hai…’ and ‘Yeh ishq ishq hai…’ from Barsaat Ki Raat (1960), and ‘Ab Kya Misaal Doon…’ from Aarti (1962) became very popular tracks. His biggest hit till date was ‘Jo wada kiya who nibhana padega…’ from the film Taj Mahal (1963), sung by the legends Lata Mangeshkar and Mohd. Rafi. Another track from the film ‘Paon choo lene do…’ is also very popular. Roshan’s career was on an absolute high. ‘Laaga chunari mein daag chupaun kaise…’ and ‘Nigaahen milane ko jee chahta hai…’ from the film Dil Hi To Hai (1963) became huge hits. ‘Sansaar se bhaage phirte ho…’ and ‘Mann re tu kaahe…’ from Chitralekha (1964) were also quite popular. Roshan then composed music for films like Dooj Ka Chand (1964), Bheegi Raat (1965), Bedaag (1965), Mamta (1966), Devar (1966), Dadi Maa (1966) and Bahu Begum (1967), with very few tracks from these films becoming big hits. “Hum intezaar karenge tera qayamat tak…’, ‘Dil jo na keh saka…’, both sung by Mohd.Rafi, are the most popular ones. However, the tracks ‘Oh re taal mile…’ and ‘Meri beri ke ber…’ from Anokhi Raat (1968) his last film, are still remembered.
Roshan is the father of Rakesh Roshan and Rajesh Roshan, and grandfather of Hrithik Roshan. He is the father-in-law of Pinky Roshan. Roshan had been suffering from chronic heart trouble for over 20 years. He expired on 16 November 1967 caused by a heart attack, leaving behind a wife, three sons and a daughter.