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Immortal Ghazals sung by Mohammad Rafi

This article is by Mr. Souvik Chatterji, Master of Law from Warwick University, Coventry, UK. Master of Law from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.

Mohammad Rafi is a name which has galvanised the Indian firmament during golden age of Indian film music. As his dimension was as wide as the horizon of creative arts, various categories of his songs has been remembered by generations for the last 50 years, including ghazals, Hindustani classical songs, bhajans, folk songs, songs on the freedom movement of India, qawallis, najrul geeti and many more types of geet. Among them ghazal is one category where Rafi’s sweet voice has brought life into the sensational lyrics and outstanding music compositions of the Golden era.


The ghazal is a common song form in India and Pakistan today. There are different definitions of it, but simply it is a musical form, but having a poetic recitation. Today, however, it is commonly conceived of as an Urdu song, with prime importance given to the lyrics. In some modernized ghazals the poet’s name is hidden somewhere in the last verse, usually between the front and end of a word.

Mohd Rafi with fans during the 60s
Mohd Rafi with fans during the 60s

In the 1950s and 60s, the song picturised on the different films were based on different moods of the characters depicted in the stories. As the lyrics of the ghazals were quite rich, having immense literary and poetic value they generally captured the pensive moods of the major characters of the stories. Most of the films had ghazal in one form or the other composed by the musical giants of the golden age.

Madan Mohan with RafiMadanmohan used to be considered as the king of ghazals. His most outstanding creations were composed for Mohammad Rafi , including “Tumhari Zulfke sayeme sham karlunga, safar is umraka palme tamam karlunga” from the film Naunihal, 1967, “ Baad muddat ke yeh ghari aayi, aap aye to zindagi ayee”, from the film Zahanara, 1964, “kisiki yaad mai apna ko hai bhulaye hue”, from the film Zahanara, 1964, “ Rang aur noor ki barat tujhe pesh karu, in muradonki hassen raat tujhe pesh karoon,” from the film Ghazal, 1965, “Barbad muhobaat ka dua saath liye ja” from the film Laila Majnu, 1977, picturised on Rishi Kapoor.1

RoshanThere were very dignified ghazals composed by Roshan during that era. Some of them include “ jane who kaun hai kya naam hai in aankhoka” from the film Bheegi Raat, 1965, picturised on Pradeep kumar, “ Hum intezar karenge, tera kayamat tak, khuda kareki kayamat ho, aur tu aye,” from the film Bahu Begum, 1967, “ Aab kya misal doon mai tumhare shabab ki,” and “aapne yaad dilaya tha to mujhe yaad aya” from the film Aarti, 1963, picturised on Pradeep Kumar. Roshan composed one of the most evergreen hit titled “ Zindagi bhar nahin bhulenge woh barsaat ki raat,” from the film Barsaat ki raat, 1960, picturised on Bharat Bhushan. The legendary lyrics were written by Sahir Ludhiyanvi.2

S. N. Tripathi composed few immortal ghazals based on the life of the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar. The songs included “ Na kisisi ki aankh ka noor hoon” and “lagta nahin yeh dil mera” from the film Lal Quila. Jaidev composed one of his master pieces, “ kabhi khud pe kabhi halaat pe rona aya, baat nikli to har ek baat pe rona aya” from the film Humdono, 1961.


Shankar Jaikishan is known to create songs of diverse range of subjects. Even amongst his stylish western compositions the best ghazals were composed for Mohammad Rafi. Some of them include “unke khayal aaye to ate chale gaye” from the film Lal patthar,1971, picturised on Raajkumar, “ Chalke teri aankhose sharab aur ziaada” from the film Aarzoo,1965, picturised on Rajenderkumar, “O Mere Shahe Khuba, o meri Jan- e- jajana” from the film Love In Tokyo, 1965, written by Hasrat Jaipuri and picturised on Joy Mukherjee.

Ravi has composed few unforgettable tunes like “chaudavi ka chand ho yah aaftab ho, jobhi ho tum khuda ki kasam, lajawab ho” from the film Chaudavi ka chand, 1960, picturised on Gurudutt, also “Chulene do nazuk hoton ko, kuch aur nahin hai jaam hai yeh” and “yeh zulf agar khulke bikhar jaye to accha ho” from the film Kaajal, 1965, picturised on Raaj Kumar.

NaushadNaushad had done proper justice to each and every raaga he has used to compose his songs. His notable ghazals include “Mere mehboob tujhe meri mohabbat ki kasam” and “tumse ishar – e –haal kar baithe” from the film Mere Meheboob, 1963 picturised on Jubileekumar Rajender Kumar” written by Shakeel Badayani, “koi sagar dil ko behlata nahin” from the film Dil Diya Dard liya,1966, and “aajki shaam mere dilki salaami lele, dilki salaami lele, kal tere bazm se diwana chala jayega, shamma rah jayegi, parwana chala jayega”, from the film Ram Aur Shyam, 1967, picturised on Tragedy king Dilip Kumar.3


O.P.NayyarO.P.Nayyar had made a very unique use of the santoor with the sarangi, and he too while making his western blend thought about ghazals for Rafi. His best creations include “ aapke hasin rukh pe aaj naya nur hai, mera dil machal gaya to mera kya kusur hai” from the film Baharen phir bhi ayegi, 1966, picturised on Dharmender, and “Aanchal me saja lena kaliyan, zulfo me sitaren bhar lena” and “Zulf ke chayon me chehere ka ujaala lekar” from the film Phir Wohi dil Laya Hoon, 1963, written by Majrooh Sultanpuri and picturised on Joy Mukherjee.

There were ghazalas from other Classical composers also like “Kahin bekhayal hoker yuhin chuliya unhiko,” and “Aise to na dekho, ki humko nasha ho jaye” by SD Burman in the film Teen deviya, 1965, “Theheriye hosh me aaloon to chalejayiega” by Khayyam. As these songs are soft in nature, they create an everlasting impact on the souls of numerous music lovers of the country who find themselves associated with Rafi. It is very difficult to mention the notable ghazals sung by the maestro who has around 26000 songs in a span of 35 years. An archive should be created where Rafi’s creations are restored, categorised and preserved for future generations to know the noble hertitage of ghazals India had during the golden age.

Souvik Chatterji (author), Rumi Chatterji (wife), Supriya Chatterji (mother), Chitta Ranjan Chatterji (father) and Sathvik Chatterji (son)
Souvik Chatterji (author), Rumi Chatterji (wife), Supriya Chatterji (mother), Chitta Ranjan Chatterji (father) and Sathvik Chatterji (son)


1 Noted and renouned Ghazal Singer, Ghulam Ali had said that Rafi’s songs had reflected the truth that the man possessed and the sweetness of the songs depict his generousness and kindness of heart.
2 My father Ex Chief Public Prosecutor of Bankshall court, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court interviewed Monobendra Mukherjee, the Bengali Classical Singer composing Music for Bengali films Mayamrigo 1960, Joyjayanti,1970, Badhu,1962, and singing more than 1000 nazrul geeti, who said that he used to do the riyaaz everyday for several hours to do justice to his thumris, tappas and he is amazed about only one singer in India, Mohammad Rafi, whose voice floats like a river and the harkats in the songs are so accurate and effortlessly sung like the way clouds flow in the sky.
3 Jagjit Singh, one of the most legendary ghazal singers of the present century, said some of the very melodious Ghazals were sung by Rafi during the Golden age, listeners heard them and appreciated them even sometimes not knowing that they are categorized as ghazals. Jagjit Singh composed music for noted film Saath Saath and TV serial Mirza Ghalib starring Nasir uddin Shah and directed by Gulzar.

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27 Blog Comments to “Immortal Ghazals sung by Mohammad Rafi”

  1. sunil kumar says:

    Sauvik sir, Thank u vary much for such an informative article. You have rightly pointed out are we preserving these jewels for future generations. Our music and heritage is dying very fast I don,t know what will happen say after 10 years.
    This heritage of ours is dying today.What can we do we have to think about it . I think we had great Gazal singers like Rafi saheb , Talat mehmud, Lata ji & Ashaji all of then have sung great gazals . But today Music directors say they are making what people want. Jo Bikta hai wohi banta hai. Yeh log toh ek mandi mein baithe hai aur apna apna maal bech rahe hain , They don’t care for heritage .In fact Himesh reshamiya said openly in the presence of Asha Bhonsle who objected for a singing style of a parrticipant who was singing like Atif Aslam style . When Asha ji said why can’t you judges tell these new boys to sing like Raf saheb , Lata ji , Kishore da style himesh reply was Asha Ji mein inke ghar mein Roti dekhna chahta hun. Atif aslam bik raha hai toh ye log bhi wohi gaayeinge jisse inko kaam mile. lekin aise gaayak joh traditional style se gaate hain unko bhi roti mile dekhna hamara farz hai . Yahin pe role aa jaata hai Rafi foundation ka ki agar is heritage ko bachana then we need to promote it and protect it . Rafi foundation is doing a fabulous job in this regard more and more people need to join in to do this and achieve it. Thanx

  2. Muhammad Ghulam Nabi says:

    Two greatest singers Lataji and Rafi Sahab are unique in their respective field.
    They are second to none.

  3. I love listening good songs from various singers since my school life in 1964. I love them all.
    My experience says that such as there is no comparative figure to Nightingale Lata Mungeshkar (Lataji) in female group, similarly there is comparative figure to Muhammad Rafi sahab in the male group. They ae UNIQUE. This is nothing but gift from Bhagwan.

  4. Muzammil Ahemad says:

    I am big fan of Rafi saheb kindly give me the website from i can download the ghazals and non filmi songs and qawwallis of Rafi saheb

  5. Binu Nair says:

    Well and rightly said souvik ji…

    i am lucky that i am born in the Rafi and Talat sahibs era.

    am lucky that i could hear all the singers live except talat sahib and saigal sahib.

    am lucky that i have heard mohd rafi live on couple of occassions.

    and, on one occassion the great fakir singer gave me a big “ek nazar” which i carry in my heart each day.

    we are doing a gazal eveing on 10th nov of greats : Mohd rafi/Talat Mehmood and Jagjit Singh – at Mysore hall, Matunga, Mumbai.

    It will be a dream come true for me at a Personal level.

  6. Thank God, I had my adolescence when Rafi Saab was in his prime!

  7. Sam de Silva says:

    I am a Sri Lankan, used to listen to Vividh Bharathi on short waves in my teenage years in the early 1960s. My favourite singer still is Rafi. I listen to him every w’end on my collection of DVDs and old cassets. Just reading your list of Rafi ghazals brought me to such an ecstacy, even…??.. ‘Kuch aur nahi hai jaam hai yeh’ cannot describe it….the confluence of that melodious voice, the lyrics, the music, and especially the daadara thaal brings tears into my eyes if I do not get goose bumps first. Listening to that incomparable voice brings me to a mood which no other singer’s voice could. I am no singer, but I try his patterns of notes in the bathroom. For me, a close comparison to Rafi is the Sri Lankan singer HR Jothipala who had a husky voice like Rafi, and he also died of a heart attack like Rafi did, totally reigned the kingdom of SLankan film songs until he died at 51y. A comment of Rafi on Jothi is found by typing ‘jothipala rafi’ on Google. Thanks for putting together this piece of history…reminds me of Veer saying to Saamiya ‘Your mother packed my whole childhood…. in this box’ in ‘Veer-Zaara’.

    Sam de Silva.

    PS. That song in Ram aur Shyam is ‘Aajki raat mere’ not ‘Aajki shaam mere’.

  8. Nauman Rauf says:

    Thanx Frnds ,,,,,,,,,, Rafi Fan Here. Truely Young Gen Shuld B Introduced To Rafi. I M 24 ,, But Rafi Fan Frm Age Of 15. I Heard A Lot Of Songs Of Various Singers ,, But No One Is Comparable Wid Rafi Sa’ab. The Songs Yeh Duniya Agar Mil Jaaye – From Movie Pyaasa Is My Life. I M Proud To B Rafian. Thanks
    Anyone Need Any Help For Rafi Sa’ab Songs .. Mail Me On sen_nomaan@hotmail.com

  9. Javed MANSURI says:

    I am a big fan of Mohammed Rafi sahad

    Please tell me how to down load the Ghazal on DVD and Pen Drive and from which website

  10. Abhishek says:

    A great great article on Rafi saab’s ghazals

  11. Moiz says:

    I would love to download all ghazals sung by the beloved Rafi Saab! How do I go about it ?( In MP3 format please!)

  12. jaysu says:

    Hi i am jaysu from Calicut,Kerala…..Now i am working as a mobile technician in a company at Al-Taif in KSA.
    How can i download Rafi’s GHAZALS?. please inform me as early as possible….

    jaysu.

  13. Samof says:

    What a great hypocrite you are Imran! Muisc cuts across all the boundaries and spreads the message of love, but on even such a universal forum, you did not control your venom of hatred. You are a disgrace to humanity!

    I am a Muslim and proud to be an Indian. Look where India has reached by following secularism and where Pakistan is! You can continue to sulk in hatred and go spirally down or embrace the message Mohd Rafi saab gave in his song – tu Hindu banega na Musalmaan banega – insaan ki aulad hai insaan banega!

  14. Imran says:

    Although i am Pakistani who considers India and Indians to be enemies of my country i have total respect for great artists like the late,great Muhammad Rafi sahib.One can never get bored listening to his melodies be they religious,romantic,pop or ghazal’s as this man was born to sing and entertain.Rightfully Indian people are proud of this jewel in the crown who was a once in a lifetime performer.He is certainly missed by his adoring fans but the good die young for even Allah subhana wa ta’ala needs them!!

  15. Narayanan says:

    Post 10 Parwana
    I agree the present generation should be exposed to Rafi saab’s era.
    How? thru this excellent website, the newly founded Rafi Foundtn, Radio and very important all of us should come one umbrella to persuade Music tv channel to devote the glorious era of Rafi saab n other legends of the 50s n 60s.
    Pl be in touch with binus2000@hotmail.com

  16. Adil says:

    I am big fan of Rafi sahab I hear everyday Rafi Sahab’s song.
    He is ideal Verstile Singer. he has sang every type of song.
    Kya khoob Song he-Dukh dard ka he sansar ye sansar, zamana sach kehta he.
    Hum tume yoon na bhula painge Rafi sahab.

  17. Dear Souvik,

    A marvellous gazal of rafi is from “RAJHATH”a sohraab modi film with MD Shankar Jaikishan penned by shailendra a real gitkaar never produced by hindi film.The song is “AAye bahar banke….”
    After years LP made 1 gazal in film Dostana..”Mere dost kissa ye kya hogaya”
    This are my most favourite.

  18. parvana says:

    rafi fans need to introduce rafi to the present generation coz most of the youngsters dont know the legend of the legends

  19. Narayanan says:

    Post 7 Gautamda,
    What a lovely miracle thanks to Rafi saabs rendering n melody ………
    post 8 Prakashbhai
    True ur list of Ghazals are fabulous.
    Rafi saab aap ham sab ke liye AMAR hai…….

  20. Dear Souvik,

    congrates for providing us list of best gazal by rafiji.I personally appriciate your knowledge and intimition you got for rafi ji and his different moods and range of ragaas and raagini.
    Suggestion;There are many gazal is to be added in your list
    1.Roop tera mastana-by md LP-”Bade bewafa hey ye hushnawale”
    2.Chambal ki kasam-by md Khayyam-”simati hui aahen….”(duet with lata)
    3.Jab yaad kisiki aati hai-by md Dattaram-”Hum aap ki mehfil me bhoolese chale aaye”
    4.Bhai Bhai-by md SJ-”Ek tera sundar mukhada ek tera pyaar bhara dil mil na mushkil”
    etc.etc…….

  21. Gautam Kumar Chatterjee says:

    It is indeed a good article with some of the best sung ghazals cited by the author. His songs always give me a peace in my mind whenever I am saddened and whenever I am happy I find humming his songs give the expression of my joy.

    One amazing thing I like to share with the admirers of Rafi Saab that happened during my college days in the 60s & 70s.

    I was working out mathematics exercises and the radio receiver was airing Jaimala of Akashvani. The song happened to be “Rangg aur Noor……kise pesh karu”- unmindful I looked beyond the window I found it was raining. Therafter by a strange coincidence, I always heard the same song when it was raining! And one day, a dry one, at Kolkata in front of a pan shop very near to the Nizams near S.N.Banerjee Road at Kolkata- after I bought a pack of ciggerette, the radio was playing “Ranga aur noor”. When it ended, I looked to my utter surprise a sudden mild drizle just a few drops and gone!

  22. A S MURTY says:

    Another great article by Mr. Chatterjee. A great compilation of the ghazals rendered by Mohd. Rafi. Like the author argued, some of the songs may not be in the original ghazal category, but the Hindi filmword had adapted many good urdu poetry into ghazals. Some readers would not agree that all the above songs are ghazals. Sure a Ghazal is a composition of various SHERS, but by no means could a sher be restricted to a two liner, atleast as far as the need of the bollywood songsters was concerned. Once again, a good compilation of the songs termed ghazals and what a fine rendition by the greatest singer of all times – MOHD RAFI.

  23. Narayanan says:

    Well done kudos to Shoumik da
    U have brought a fascinating dimension to Rafi saabs ghazals along with Murty Sir of Hyd.
    No wonder he is the most versatile bollywood legend in the playback field.
    Rafi Saab hamare jaise karodon sangeeth premiyon ke liye AMAR HAI.

  24. maheshmehta says:

    I am a fan of all time great singer Rafi saheb.I remmember Rafiji every day by listening song like Man tarpat hari darshan ko aaz and o duniya ke rakhwale sun dard bhare mere nale and so many other song.I pay my tribute to Rafi saheb. maheshmehta

  25. Vikas Shukla says:

    Dear Shauvik,
    Good work. Congrats. Only a slight mistake. Words of the song from film ‘Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hun’ – “Aachal se sajane lena dilko” are incorrect. They should be ‘Aachal me saja lena kaliyan, julphon me sitare bhar lena, Aise hi kahi jab sham dhale, tab yaad hame bhi kar lena’
    Vikas Shukla

  26. I am great fan of Rafi. Every year on this day I celebrate his death anniversory by keeping a plate muttan biryani in front of his photo with a garland.

  27. H.V.GURU MURTHY says:

    How true, without actually knowingwhether the song is a gazal or no, we appreacited Rafi’s Gazals. For us what mattered was the song was from Rafi. Rafiji, “Tere Bina Soone, Sare Din Hamare” and the day just not passes without listening to Rafi even after 27 years of his separation.

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