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Dungeons of the Forgotten Treasures

This article is written by Mr. A.S.Murty, Rafi Foundation, Hyderabad Chapter.

Mohd Rafi

Mohd Rafi

Hundreds of songs sung by the legendary singers of the golden era of film music in India are on the lips of millions of music lovers who enjoy listening and singing them again and again.  Several decades after they first hit the stands, these songs have given millions of music lovers solace, taught social messages, inculcated in them a fervor for nationalism and patriotism, spread brotherhood and a sense of god-fearing among the masses.  They have enlivened several kinds of rituals, functions, programmes and enriched the thriving industry of music in all forms.

Many a RJs of yore, music companies, artistes, stage singers, musicians etc have all made a successful career playing these immortal hits from the Hindi film industry.  Scores of good playback singers have etched a name for themselves and are household names across the length and breadth of our country.  Undoubtedly several of these playback singers have to their names many immortal songs, crafted to perfection by their singing abilities, the wonderful and meaningful lyrics and the perfect harmony of musical instruments developed by the eminent music directors.

Many consider K L Saigal as the front-runner in playback singing, followed by the other legends like Pankaj Mallick, Talat Mahmood, Mukesh, Manna De, Mohd. Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Surraiyya, Noorjahan, Shamshad Begum, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle, Suman Kalyanpur, to name only a few.  The order of the day in the 1940s was entirely different from what it transformed into in the 1960s and hence the vast difference in the styles of singing emerged.  Innovations and experimentation by the poets (read lyricists), the music directors too paid rich dividends and they exploited the richness of the playback singers, giving rise to the more melodious and highly romantic songs that were absent in the 1940s. 

[audio:http://www.mohdrafi.com/audio/YehDilNahinHai_Aabroo.mp3]
Listen to Yeh Dil Nahin Hai from Aabroo

While individuals may have their choice of the best among these legendary singers, it has to be understood that the songs of K L Saigal, Talat Mahmood, Pankaj Mallick and to a lesser extent Mukesh too, tended to be of more sober and tragically inclined songs. The comic songs or the romantic songs were yet to surface then.  Mohd Rafi too had his share of similar songs in the early part of his career and had little of chance of showcasing his innovating styles or experimenting with the mood of the scene for which the recording was to be done.

That era was still a distant dream maybe.  But it goes to the credit of Rafi Sahab to have put in some extra effort even in his earliest recordings to the extent of immersing in the song picturisation. He put the essence of the lyrics, the mood of the song, the scenery of the song in his vocal chords and carried it throughout the song. So much so that the recordings produced much more impact on the storyline and gave an impetus to the characters enacting the scenes.  A very laborious and painstaking effort was also due to the music directors who gave very apt tunes as the scenes and the story demanded. 

Now let me take you on a different path.  The name of Mohd Rafi spells magic in the minds of music lovers and there is near unanimity that he remains the greatest singer of all times.  The depth, range, the softness of his voice, the ability to adapt to the song and bring out the richness in rendition, the perfect expression and diction of even the most uncommon of words from Hindi/Urdu are the trade marks associated with this one name. The attributes come straight out of fables, never personally experienced by ordinary mortals.  Best of musicians will acknowledge with esteem that these traits were unique to Rafi Sahab. Yesudas had once remarked – “God has been partial towards Rafi Sahab” and there was reverence when he uttered those words.  Nothing can as near a description of this tallest of all legends. 

Mohd Rafi

Mohd Rafi

Rafi Sahab went on to record several thousands of greatest compositions which have been part of our growing up and have remained on top of the pyramid of multitude of Hindi film songs.  Generations after generations have been transported to divine bliss listening to his immortal songs.  Take the name of Rafi Sahab in front of anyone even as remotely understanding Hindi songs and a quick list is instantly prepared. Most popular numbers are one everyone’s lips and these run into several hundreds by themselves.  But there are several hundreds of his songs that have, over the years, been a subject of neglect by the music lovers in general and the musicians (read singers and organizers of musical events) and the countless fans of Rafi Sahab. 

The most popular category songs have been playing into our eardrums for close to five decades, without as much as loosing their sheen. They will continue to charm us for ever, and live through the eternity.  They are time tested and stand out as hand picked creations of the best ever musicians of the Golden Era of the Hindi Film Music (1950s through 1980s).  Here lies the catch.  Several hundreds of equally great songs of Rafi Sahab have not got their due share of interest, propagation and liking by the music industry and musically inclined fans.  Anything that is thrust continuously is bound to make an impact. They say that even the rope made of jute can make an impression on the stone made walls of a well, when continuously rubbed against it for drawing water.  Then why not these superb and precision crafted creations of songs ?  On the other hand the best of machines will not work, when left to idle for a long time.  They could gather dust and rust due total neglect. 

I have often wondered when a “Suhani Raat Dhal Chuki” from ‘Dulari‘ can be among the most popular songs of Rafi Sahab, then why is a gem of a song for instance – “Main Kaun Hun, Main Kahan Hun, Mujhe Yeh Hosh Nahi” from the film ‘Main Chup Rahungi‘ is sadly never played on the radio, never shown in any programme telecast on the telly, never has been sung in any musical show, never perhaps has been sung by the fans of Rafi Sahab in any musical gatherings. The essence of pointing out these two songs was only to reinforce my firm belief that it is we all collectively who have left the latter type of songs to gather dust.  I would like to emphasize here that music lovers must listen to this second named song in its entirety to realize that it is second to none as far as superlative rendition and musical composition is concerned.  Everything about this song is of top order. The perfect lyrics, the synchronized musical beats and the greatness of Rafi Sahab.

Sadly however, I have found on several unfortunate occasions, that these type of songs have been brushed aside by even those professing by the name of Rafi Sahab and by those who would proclaim to under music better than others. Suhani Raat Dhal Chuki remains my favourite too for all the right reasons. But I insist that there are scores of other equally good recordings by Rafi Sahab which need a better deal from all of us. 

Of these several hundreds of songs that have been ‘gathering dust, if you will’ due to our own apathy, I am listing here only some of the gems and hope the music lovers would appreciate my feelings and that this will goad them to list out several more of similarly ill-fated but beautiful gems of songs. One score of songs too many.

  1. Zara Sun Haseen Aye Naznee Mera Dil ….
  2. Aye Mussavir Mere Mehboob Ki Tasvir Bana
  3. Yeh Dil Nahi Hai Ke Jiske Sahare Jeete Hain
  4. Zindagi Ke Mod Pe Jo Koi Raasta Mila
  5. Abhi Na Phero Nazar
  6. Meri Mehboob Kahin Aur Mila Kar Mujhse
  7. Main Kaun Hun Main Kahan Hun
  8. Aye Jaane Tamanna Aa Bhi Jaa
  9. Main Tooti Huyi Ik Naiyya Hun
  10. Tu Hoke Bada Ban Jana Apni Mata Ka Rakhwala
  11. Abhi Kamsin Ho Nadaan Ho Jaane Janan
  12. Mehka Mehka Roop Tumhara Behki Behki Chaal
  13. Zindagi Aaj Mere Naam Se Sharmati Hai
  14. Diwana Keh Ke Aaj Mujhe Phir Pukariye
  15. Dil Ke Aaiyen Mein Tasvir Teri Rehti Hai
  16. Kya Ajab Saaz Hai Yeh Shehnai
  17. Koi Aur Duniya Mein Tumsa Haseen Hai
  18. Tere Pyar Ne Mujhe Gham Diya Tere Gham Ki Umre Daraz Ho
  19. Nanhe Se Farishtey Tujhse Yeh Kaise Naata
  20. Aaj Ki Raat Badi Shokh Badi Natkhat Hai

I have deliberately cut short this list of songs, certain that fans of Rafi Sahab will add to this list. The above list is also not as per any particular order, all of these songs being my all time favourites, among the several hundred more from Rafi Sahab. Each of these songs will throw open a plethora of newer horizons when we put our good ears to them once again. Rafi Sahab excels in these songs too. They have wonderful and meaningful lyrics and are composed with the best of accompanying music. If ever ratings were to be given to some of them listed above, they would take away all the stars on offer. Take for example the sixth song in the above from the film “Ghazal”. These are from a different class altogether and would compare with the best compositions and renditions ever.  

Then there are also several duets and chorus songs of Rafi Sahab that too have not been our favourites  for a very long time. As an example I quote this wonderful duet : Mujhe Pyar Ki Zindagi Dene Wale, Kabhi Gham Na Dena… or a Resham Ki Dori, Resham Ki Dori Kahan Jaiho Nindiya Chura Ke Chori Chori. Confess dear readers if we have heard these songs in recent times.

Reams of paper must have been used describing in the best text the greatest of songs of Rafi Sahab, but songs as are mentioned above have hardly been patronized by the writers, film critics, music lovers. 

I have been told several times by many good friends that songs that have ‘commercial value’ will be popular too. I beg to disagree once again.  I invite organizers of musical shows to train their singers and prepare a list of songs of the ones mentioned above (from the not so famous category if that looks a more apt description) and I am confident that this ‘different’ kind of show too will be the talk of the town.  Only a beginning has to be made and this does not require much gutso too as is feared by the professional singers.  I must admit that there are certainly many Rafi-centric singers who have tried to present the so called “rare” songs every now and then, but have fallen back to the same old time tested songs in shows after shows. 

We all must have spent a good part of our lives living with the ‘most popular’ category of songs and is it not the prudent idea to also enjoy the scores of these beautiful and masterly gems which unfortunately have been shelved by us all these years to languish in the dungeons of the forgotten treasures.

Revival is the need of the hour by all concerned. I am fortunate in the last one year and more to have been able to gather many of such songs which I had heard decades ago and had not had the opportunity to listen to them as they were not available as freely as songs can be had today. These were the songs that remained etched in my body and soul but only shades of these songs were touching my thoughts and mind and occasionally.

I would present a continuation of my thoughts in a second edition, only if I find that I have not treaded in a path where I am walking alone or with a few like minded friends.

[audio:http://www.mohdrafi.com/audio/YehDilNahinHai_Aabroo.mp3]
Listen to Yeh Dil Nahin Hai from Aabroo

I would also like our friends to listen to this song from Aabroo – Yeh Dil Nahin Hai Ke Jiske Sahare Jeete Hain, Lahoo Ka Jaam Hai Yeh Subuho Shaam Peete Hain. Perhaps it will give more meaning to what is narrated above. The adayigi in song rendition is perhaps the understatement. HE lived the character – that is Rafi Sahab.

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52 Blog Comments to “Dungeons of the Forgotten Treasures”

  1. t k nandi says:

    i am really fortunate tolog on dis site.altho lsng rafi saabs song 4 last 50 yrs but came 2 dis site for last 3 yrs.very gud work dun by nair sab,murthy sab n other stalwarts.i like 2 add a few more songs here:
    yaaro mera sath and awara majhi ; pyasi sham
    dilme ek jane tamanna:benajir
    ankhiyan sang ankhiya:bada aadmi
    aabke bahar ayi:aulaad
    allah hi allah:pavitra papi
    baharo ki baraat:yakeen
    dil karne laga hai pyar tume:natija (duet)
    dil ki kali;insaan
    dil tadpe tadpaye:punam ki raat
    shaam dekho dhal:anjaan hai koi (duet)
    title song ndurse tera deewana:raaton ka raja
    panchi re o panchi:hare kanch ki churia (duet)
    jane chaman and jan pehachan ho:gumnam
    hum tumhare liye n jo unki tamanna hai:inteqam
    the list is endless.long live rafi saheb,long live dis site.

  2. Sandeep says:

    I am blessed to have visited this site, and get to know so many songs of the kind I yearn for. Just last week, I listened for the first time, Tere Pyar ne mujhe gham diya, believe me, my mind went into a state of utter bliss. Although I have always been an ardent fan of Rafi Saab, but I admit I had not heard this one before, I am always on the lookout for rare gems like the ones listed on this site. One of my top favourites is “Dil ki tamanna thi masti mein manzil se bhi door nikalte, apna bhi koi sathi hota, hum bhi bahakte chalte chalte” from the movie “Gyarah Hazaar Ladkiyan”, most beautiful rendition as always is the case with the Maestro.

    Since long I have always known that Rafi Saab has been the best singer this world has ever seen, by a long long way. In one of his interviews, Manna Dey said, “If I were to rank myself along with other singers, I would put Rafi Saab from No.1 to No.10, the others come after that, myself included.” What apt description.

    One only has to look thoroughly and one would find such rare gems, such wonderful pieces that one wishes to get immersed in the voice, and remain there forever. Thanks Mr. Murthy, you are doing a great job.

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