Mohammad Rafi and the songs based on Classical Raagas
By: H.A.K. Walijah
Although Mohammad Rafi could sing any type of song, my choice of his best songs are classical based; and though he has sung more hit classical based songs for a few composers like Naushad, Shankar-Jaikishan, S.D. Burman. He was the favorite of all illustrious MDs of his time such as Naushad, Shankar-Jaikishan, S D Burman, C Ramchandra, Madan Mohan, O P Nayyar, Roshan and later R D Burman, Kalyanji –Anandji and Laxmikant-Pyarelal. In the film ‘Ragini’ O P Nayyar even used Rafi to playback for Kishore Kumar for the song ‘Man mora Bawara’ which was classical based. Naushad used to compose very tough classical based songs which none other than Rafi could sing. If one listens to “O Duniya ke Rakhwale” of Baiju Bawra and “Zindabad, Zindabad aye Mohabbat” of Mughal-e-Azam, one can notice the high pitch where even Rafi’s tone seems to almost breakdown. Can anybody guess what the song was? When Rafi Saab rehearsed for fifteen days for this song and after recording this song his voice was broken. and people started telling he won’t get his voice back. Okay the raag was Darbari and it was Baiju Bawra and the song was “O Duniya ke Rakhwale”. That was how Rafi Saab performed his immortal songs based on classical ragas. Therefore, I personally feel, it is not exaggeration or inappropriate to call Rafi Saab – Baiju of modern times.
There is one better example of Kuhu-kuhu bole koyaliya (Suvarna Sundari). This superb semi-classical duet is based on four Ragas, one each for each stanza, Sohni, Bahar, Juanpuri and Yaman. This movie Suvarna Sundari was dubbed from the 1957 Telugu movie of the same name, made before Hindi – same Music director (Adi Narayan Rao) and same tune. All songs are basically reproductions from the Telugu version. But whereas Ghantasala and Jikki were not awarded for Telugu version for Hayi Hayiga Aamani [Raga Sohini]. The surprising part was that this Hindi song won a National Award in 1958, where as the regional Telugu song was neglected. Well, anyhow, people were happy for Adi Narayana Rao, who got awarded for this excellent composition along with Rafi and Lata. Normally, one sees the lyrics, mood & raaga match to create a perfect effect, here a unique experimentation has been tried… in “Kunj-kunj mein bhanvre dole, gun-gun bole” – mood & lyrics are suited for “raaga bahaar” but this antara is set in raaga Sohini, whereas in “Kaahe ghata mein bijuri chamke” – mood & lyrics are suited for “raaga malhaar” but this antara is set in raaga Bahaar & yet its effect is perfect. One more word about the lyrics penned by Bharat Vyas, assuming that he had to write lyrics keeping in mind the fact that the song was to be dubbed, he has come up with words that fit with the lip movement of the actors. Not just that, he came up with a song that makes perfect sense. In fact, it is as good a song as any that Bharat Vyas wrote in his career. This song is among the most difficult songs that have been sung in HFM. For one, the singers are called upon to sing in a wide range of frequencies, and secondly, it is a semi classical song, where one needed to sing not just one raag, but as many as four raagas.
Likewise in Duniya na bhaaye (Basant Bahar, 1956) like all classical-based songs, it starts out slow with a short alaap and a slow tempo that quickens pretty soon. Rafi starts out pleading for a place at God’s feet, since he does not like the world and soon the voice is soaring in an ecstasy of devotional fervor, with, of course, perfect control on the higher notes. Also in Kahan ja raha hai (Seema, 1955) – A compassionate understanding of human troubles coats Rafi’s voice as it once again effortlessly brings forth the emotions demanded of it.
Madhuban main Radhika naache (Kohinoor, 1960) – This beautiful, semi-classical song in the well-known and popular Raag HAMIR. The song has five antaras. The third and the fifth antaras are taranas and the fourth is in sargam.
Further in Ya meri manzil bata (Rakhi, 1962) Rafi was especially adept at expressing anger, his voice could slip into the high notes and quick enunciation of the angry man, with extraordinary control and with such great effect – like in O duniya ke rakhwaale which is probably the angriest lament in HFM. The song expresses anger in a more subdued form. But it always cools down to a baffled, sad sort of anger with Rafi’s voice-modulation doing a superb job of expressing the emotion, as always.
Classical Music, however, has frequently made a straightforward entry into cinema, directly with great performers, as well as indirectly through the voice of filmi playback singers. The magnificence of classical music came live with Bade Ghulam Ali Khan singing “Premjogan Ban Ja” in Mughal-e-Azam, D. V. Paluskar and Ustad Amir Khan presenting the duet, “Aaj Gawat Man Mero Jhum Ke” in Baiju Bawra, the duets of Ustad Bismillah Khan and Ustad Amir Khan in the movie Goonj Uthi Shehnai, Pt. Bhimsen Joshi’s song in the movie Ankahi. Manna Dey, who of all the composers is best grounded in classical music, has made thrilling presentations, such as “Laga Chunri Mein Daag”, “Chalo Kahe Ko Jhoothi Banao Batiyan” And “Phul Gendwa Na Maro”. K. L. Saigal’s resounding Bhairavi, “”Babul Mora” in the film street singer made in Calcutta in 1939, is one of the immortal creations in Indian film music. K.L. Saigal was trained basically in ghazal singing, but was gifted with purity of voice which is the soul of classical singing. In the movie Tansen made in 1943, he presented Raag Bilawal, “Sapt Suran Teen Gram”, with transparent purity of notes. So did Mohammad Rafi when he sang Raag Malkouns, “Man Tarapat Hari Darashan Ko Aaj”, in Baiju Bawra. In Kohinoor, he was even able to run into impressive taans when he sang “Madhuban mein radhika nache ri”. Classical music is the base of all music compositions.
Besides, the runaway successes of films like Baiju Bawra, Basant Bahar, Tansen, Payal Baje, Abhimaan etc was possible because Classical music was presented to them in the way they loved. Music Directors like Vasant Desai, Naushad, S.D.Burman and many others have helped classical music reach to people in an acceptable form.
I remember some of the classical-based songs which did belong to Rafi’s classical hits category ~
- Man Tarpat Hari Darsan Ko Aaj – Baiju Bawra(1952)
- Madhuban Mein Radhika Nache Re – Kohinoor(1960)
- Duniya na bhaaye – Basant Bahar(1956)
- Aaye Bahar Ban Ke – Rajhat(1956)
- Man Mora Bawara – Raagini(1958)
- Na Kisi Ki Aankh Ka Noor Hoon – Lal Qila(1960)
- Kah Do Koi Na Kare Yahan Pyar – Goonj Uthi Shehnai(1959)
- Nache Man Mora – Meri Surat Teri Ankhen(1963)
- Radhike Tune Bansari Churayee – Beti Bete(1964)
- Subah Na Aayi Sham Na Aayi – Cha Cha Cha(1964)
- Ajhun Na Aye Balamwa – Sanjh Aur Sawera(1964)
- Koi Sagar Dil Ko Bahlata Nahin – Dil Diya Dard Liya(1966)
- Kaise Samjhaoon Badi Nasamjah Ho – Suraj(1966)
- Meri Aawaz Suno – Naunihal(1967)
- Navakalpana – Mrig Trishna(1975)
- Kuhu kuhu bole koyaliya – Suvarna Sundari (1958)
- Man re tu kahe na dheer dhare - Chitralekha (1964)
- Saaz ho tum aawaz hoon main – Saaz aur Awaaz (1966)
- O Duniya ke Rakhwale – Baiju Bawra (1952)
As the “talkies” arrived in the 1930’s, film music charted a separate course, not integrating with classical music, but still yielding a treasure of rich variety, using all available styles. There has been fruitful interaction between the two which further enriched the music in Indian cinema. Our film music patterned itself broadly in three segments. First, we have had compositions which are based on Raag, but not necessarily on Taal. All the music directors in films have had some grounding in classical music and there are any number of compositions by Naushad, Anil Biswas, Lakshmikant- Pyarelal or Kalyanji- Anandji, which scrupulously adhere to the discipline of Raag. S.D. Burman, of course, is the one who delighted in mixing several Raags in one composition with wonderful results.
Is it true that in Indian folklore there are said to be certain Raag’s that could turn stone into water and make it rain? We can say so when someone refers Tansen. Tansen is considered to be one of the greatest musicians that ever lived. He was the court musician of the famous Mogul Emperor Akbar (16th century). He was so highly valued in the court that he was called one of the “Nine Jewels” in his court (Navarathan). It is said that Tansen could work miracles with his singing. He is said to have created Raag Darbari, one of the most famous and powerful Raag. There are many lores associated with Tansen. He is supposed to have caused it to rain by singing Raag Malhar. He made lamps light up by just singing Raag Deepak. According to historical legends – Raag Malkauns is the raag which was sung by Baiju (of the Baiju Bawra fame) in his musical duel with Tansen. He sang this raag so powerfully that a nearby slab of stone began melting. Baiju then proceeded to place his tanpura in the molten stone and stopped singing, upon which the stone solidified with the tanpura embedded within. Needless to say, Tansen accepted defeat.
Next, we have a vast reservoir of music in cinema which includes transmuted forms from numerous sources, ghazal, bhajan, and qawwali, regional, ethnic and village music, and some doses of Latin American, Jazz and Rock. The biggest form of Indian popular music is filmi, or songs from Indian films, it makes up 72% of the music sales in India. The film industry of India supported music by according reverence to classical music while utilizing the western orchestration to support Indian melodies. Music composers like Naushad, C. Ramchandra, Salil Chowdhury, Shankar Jaikishan, Kalyanji Anandji, R. D. Burman.
Though popular film music is not entirely synonymous with Hindi film music, Hindi films are usually seen as adequately constituting the “essence’ of commercial Indian cinema. Since the early 1930s, there have been few Hindi films without songs, and only the so- called art cinema, the advent of which was perhaps marked by Shyam Benegal’s Ankur (“The Seedling”, 1975), has shown a disdain for this most marked feature of the Hindi film. A number of characteristics of Hindi film music and song compel attention. First, Hindi film music has borrowed unabashedly from all known styles and genres of music, and much like Indian culture as a whole, refuses to acknowledge the bankrupt concept of “copyright”. Everything is, to put it colloquially, fair game: thus the borrowings are not only from Indian classical, folk, and devotional music, but also from Japanese music (as in the film “Love in Tokyo”) and Persian music, and from Western music. Hindi film music is often set to large, Western-style orchestras; in many Hindi films until recently, there was a set piece in which the hero played, before a large and distinguished gathering, in which his fiancée as well as the vamp were present, the piano. But the hero in the Hindi film plays the piano no more than he sings: indeed, songs are sung by what are termed playback singers. Thus the hero and heroines (the villains are seldom given that honor) appear to sing, but the long history of Indian cinema has known only a few dozen singing voices. Among the most well-known male playback singers have been K. L. Saigal, Mohammed Rafi, Mukesh, Manna Dey and Kishore Kumar; among the women, the two dominant voices have been of Lata Mangeshkar and her sister Asha Bhosle. Lata, as she is affectionately known throughout India, has been singing for nearly sixty years. Along with her sister Asha she is listed in the Guinness Book of Records for having recorded more songs than anyone else. Some of the songs are sung as duets, with male and female voices alternating.
Yaman is the first raga to be taught to students. Yes, it does have a simple structure – in the sense that it has no komal svaras, but its simplicity is deceptive. Creating beauty in Yaman requires a high level of skill and sensitivity. It sounds bland and pedestrian in the hands of a novice or an artist of average capability. There is, however, no limit to the heights it can attain in the hands of a master. No wonder it is one of the favourite ragas of our film industry’s composers, some of whom – Roshan for example – have given their best in this raga.
Yaman and Kalyan are two different names of the same raga. Yaman Kalyan, interestingly, is slightly different, as it uses shuddha madhyam occasionally along with the teevra madhyam of Yaman. The difference is not much, and in this article I would use Yaman to mean both Yaman and Yaman Kalyan. The predominant mood of Yaman is tranquility – shant rasa. Another great raga Malkauns is also known for evoking shant rasa, but there is an important difference between the two. The tranquility of Malkauns has a Yogic, meditative quality about it. Yaman’s serenity is much closer to everyday life. It evokes the kind of peace one feels when one is happy at home and with family, in the company of friends, watching a beautiful sunset, or doing something one enjoys.
The shant rasa of Yaman combines well with bhakti rasa. It is an ideal raga for devotional compositions. Let me therefore begin with one of the best known works of Roshan, Man re tu kahe na dheer dhare, from the film Chitralekha. A few years back Outlook magazine had polled some leading music personalities to come up with a list of twenty all time great songs from films, and this song topped that list. I wouldn’t quite go that far, but there is no doubt that this is one of the great songs of Hindi films. Mohammad Rafi sings Man re tu kahe na dheer dhare from Chitralekha (1964), lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanvi, music Roshan.
Here are some of Rafi Saab best remembered solos as well as duet songs which are closely based on classical Ragas:
O Duniya Ke Rakhawale ; Madhuban men radhika nache re; Ham bekhudi men tumko pukare chale gaye; Nache man mora magan dhik dha; Baharon phul barsao; Meri muhabbat javan rahegi; Raat bhar ka hai maheman andhera; Rang aur nur ki baraat kise pesh karun; Man re tu kahe na dhir dhare; Tute hue khvabonne; Maine chand aur sitaronki tamanna kit hi; Chaudhavin ka chand ho; Bhari duniya mein akhir dil ko samajhane kahan jaayen; Kabhi khud pe kabhi haalaath pe ronaa aayaa; Jane kya dhundti rahati hain; Hum tum se juda ho ke; Chahunga main tujhe sanjh savere; Keh Do Koi Na Kare Yahan Pyaar; Takdir ka fasaana; Ankhiyana sang ankhiya lagi aaj; Man mora bawra; Duniya na bhaaye; Zindabad aye mohabbat zindabad;
Kuhu kuhu bole koyaliya; Jo vada kiya vo nibhana padega; Tere bina sajna lage na jiya hamar; Ajahun na aye balma; Tere bin soone nayan hamare; Dekh humen awaz na dena o bedard zamane; Do sitaronka Zamin par hai Milan; Yaad mein teri jaag jaag ke hum; Woh jab yaad aye bahut yaad aye; Rimjhimke geet sawan gaye; Apko pyar chupaneki buri adat hai; Jivanmen piya tera sath rahe; Abhi na jao chhodkar ke dil abhi bhara nahin; Aap yun hi agar humse milte rahe dekhiye ek din pyaar ho jaayega; Vrindavanka krishna kanhaiya; Chalo dildar chalo; Parbaton ke pedon par sham ka basera hai; Yeh dil tum bin kahin lagta nahin; Savan aye ya na aye.
Most film music lovers run away from classical music. I think it is only partly true. What the reality is that the word Classical Music is associated with some Ustad so and so, having a Mehfil with only a Tanpura or a Violin,and who goes on repeating a word or a set of words again and again for half an hour each and such songs seem to be endless! Music is in every Indian’s blood. It is what one would call a “Virasat”of Indian culture. Music is in our life throughout right from birth to death .Every Indian grows up listening to his mother’s lories marriage songs, holi songs etc. When classical music is presented to people sans the Ustad’s mehfil and also in a short version with catchy and lilting tunes in a short time, it is always welcome. That is how our film music evolved and since last 80 years, is the delight of all Indians all over the world.
Hindi film music has truly helped take classical music to the masses. Besides, it has played another role too. The famous Historian of Music James McConnachie says” As India marched into an uncertain future in 1947 (after Independence), Film songs offered something unique: they helped create a sense of belonging to one Nation, something that the divisive Right wingers in India chanting “Hindu” and “Muslim” could never achieve! When Hindi Film Singers sang, nobody cared, whether Rafi was a Muslim or Lata was a Hindu Bramhin. Its great music bridged the gap between Hindus and Muslims, better than any Politician (read Gandhi or Nehru) ever could “-World Music- The rough guide, Vol II, pp 106, pub.1990 Harper Collins.
Naushad was a genius and unparalleled music director in the history of Indian film music for giving songs to us wrapped in classical Ragas; and his association with Rafi was amazing and far more divine than others with lots of quality songs. Naushad whom he promoted later became first choice of everyone was not at all coincidence; actually he was the first music composer who brings the freshness to HFM with suhani raat dhal chuki. 1949-1969 known as the most melodious period and actually Naushad based the foundation of this golden era by promoting Mohd. Rafi. Naushad’s genius completely changed the mind set of every genius composer. Rafi Saab definitely has had the special bond with Naushad Saab. The Guru Shishya Parampara (Teacher – Student tradition) which lasted for three decades until death separated the greatest singer of our times. I am talking about the Guru Music Maestro Naushad and the Shishya the immortal singer Rafi Saab! Naushad Saab composed music for only 65 films (Hindi) in a span of 65 years. 25 films of which have been silver, nine golden and two diamond jubilee hits. He based his music upon the “ragas” that formed a basis in Indian classical music, and due to this, his music was complex and with depth. Rafi was introduced by Naushad first as a chorus singer. Although Rafi worked with different music directors, he was always an obedient student with Naushad from beginning till the end. Success never changed his attitude towards his Guru. Naushad at last found a singer who can sing any type of song with full mastery. He found that Rafi could mould his voice according to the mood of the song and according to the style of the character on which the song is to be picturised. Naushad discovered that in an era when low octave singing was the norm, Rafi had a phenomenal range, and yet, he never sounded out of tune.
Here below some more Rafi songs segregated based on various classical ragas ~
Radhike toone bansari choorayee – Beti Bete
Kaise samjhaun bade nasamajh ho – Suraj
Nache man mora magan dhik dha dhigi dhigi – Meri Surat Teri Aankhen
Tu Ganga ki mauj – Baiju Bawra
Chalenge Teer jab dil par – Kohinoor
Maine Chand Aur Sitaaron Ki – Chandrakanta
Hum Bekhudi Mein – Kala Paani
Raga: Darbari Kanada
Basti Basti Parbat Parbat – Railway Platform
Guzre hai aaj ishqmen – Dil Diya Dard Liya
Hum tum se juda ho ke – Ek Sapera Ek Lutera
Main Yeh Soch Kar – Haqeeqat
O Duniya Ke Rakhwaale – Baiju Bawra
Raha gardishonmen haradam – Do Badan
Sarfaroshi ki tammana – Shaheed
Tere Dar Pe Aaya Hoon – Laila Majnu
Toote Huye Khawabon Ne – Madhumati
Yaad mein teri jaag jaag ke hum – Mere Mehboob
Aapko Pyar Chhupaane Ki – Neela Akash
Takdir ka fasaana – Sehra
Madhuban Mein Radhika Naache – Kohinoor
Mere Mehboob Tujhe – Mere Mehboob
Teri ankhoke siva duniyamen – Chirag
Tum mujhe yun bhula na pao ge – Pagla Kahin Ka
Dil ek mandir hai – Dil Ek Mandir
Keh Do Koi Na Kare Yahan Pyaar – Goonj Uthi Shehnaai
Koyi Sagar Dil Ko – Dil Diya Dard Liya
Abhi na jao chhodkar – Hum Dono
Dil diya dard liya – Dil Diya Dard Liya
Dil e betabko sinese – Palki – Rafi and Suman
Dil Jo Na Keh Saka – Bheegi Raat
Ehsaan tera hoga mujhapar – Junglee
Lagta nahin hai dil mera – Laal Quila
Man re tu kahe na dhir dhare – Chitralekha
Meri duniyamen tum aaye - Heer Ranjha – Rafi and Lata
Tere husn ki kya tarif karun – Leader
Woh jab yaad aye bahut yaad aye – Parasmani – Rafi and Lata
Zindagi-bhar nahin bhulegi – Barsaat Ki Raat
Aap yun hi agar humse milte rahe – Ek Musafir Ek Hasina
Yaad na jaye bite dinonki – Dil Ek Mandir
Pukarta chala hun main – Mere Sanam
Mai pyarka rahi hun – Ek Musafir Ek Hasina
Ankhiyana sang ankhiya lagi aaj – Bada Aadami
Mann Tarpat hari darshanko – Baiju Bawra
Aaj ki rat mere dil ki salami – Raam Aur Shyam
Chahunga main tujhe sanjh savere – Dosti
Chal ud ja re panchi – Bhabhi
Chalo dildar chalo – Pakeezah – Rafi and Lata
Chaudavin Ka chand ho – Chaudavika Chand
Dil pukare a re a re – Jewel Thief – Rafi and Lata
Dil Todhne Wale – Son Of India – Rafi and Lata
Do sitaronka jamin par hai milan – Kohinoor – Rafi and Lata
Isharon isharon mein dil lenewale – Kashmir Ki Kali
Jaane kya dhundti rahati hain – Shola aur Shabnam
Janevalo jara mudke dekho mujhe – Dosti
Jo vada kiya vo – Taj Mahal – Rafi and Lata
O durke musaphir hamko bhi sath le le – Udan Khatola
Parbatonke pedon para shamka basera – Shagoon – Rafi and Suman
Salamat raho – Parasmani
Suhani Raat Dhal Chuki – Dulari
Sun More Saajna – Aansoo – Rafi and Lata
Tasvir banata hun teri khuna jigarase – Deewana
Tere bharose he nandalala – Title song – non film Album
Tujhko pukare mera pyar – Neel Kamal
Tum ho jo mere hamsaphar – Rafi and Geeta Dutt
Vrindavanka krishna kanhaiya – Miss Mary – Rafi and Lata
Ye Vaadiyan Yeh Fizaayen – Aaj aur Kal
Zara Sun Haseena – Kaun Apna Kaun Paraya
Ajahun na aye balma – Sanjh Aur Savera
Badi der bhai kab loge khabar – Basant Bahar
Din sara guzara tore angana – Junglee
Jhulemen pavanki ayi bahar – Baiju Bawra
Maine shayad tumhe pahle – Barsaat Ki Raat (old)
Na Jhatako Zulf Se Paani – Sagaai
Tere Bin Soone – Meri Soorat Teri Aankhein – Rafi and Lata
Raga: Puria Dhaneshri
Rang Aur Noor Ki Baraat – Gazal
Savan aye ya na aye – Dil Diya Dard Liya
Raga: Sudh Kalyan
Jahaan daal daal par sone ki cheediyaan – Sikandar-e-Azam
Meri Mohabbat Jawaan rahegi – Jaanvar
Awaaz Deke – professor – Rafi and Lata
Bahaaron phool barsao – Suraj
Dil Ke jharokhemen tujhko bithakar – Bramhachari
Na Kisi Ka Aankh Ka Noor Hoon – Laal Qilla
Rimjhimke geet savan gaye – Anjaana – Rafi and Lata
Itna To Yaad Hai Mujhe – Mehboob Ki Mehndi
Meri kahani bhulnevale – Deedar
Yahi arman lekar aaj apne – Shabab
Duniya na bhaye mohe, ab to bulale – Basant Bahar
Insan bano – Baiju Bawra
Rafi Saab was a total perfectionist, a benchmark that can never be matched. To prove this statement, I would like to cite the anecdote as told by Naushad Saab himself a few years before his death. Naushad Saab recorded the song Suhani Raat Dhal chuki Na Jane Tum Kab Aaoge for the movie DULARI which you can enjoy every night even today. Next day after the original recording Rafi Saab came to Naushad’s home and said that he thought about this song whole night and felt that he did not do full justice to his composition although Naushad was fully satisfied. He wept like a child requesting Naushad to record again and Naushad could not believe the dedication of this singer. Naushad recorded the song again and Rafi was satisfied.
It is ironical to note that Naushad Saab era also came to an end after the departure of Rafi Saab. It does not mean that Naushad Saab’s ability to compose marvelous songs came to an end after 1980. Naushad lost his soul-mate and could not find the replacement to sing his composition in the perfect way as Rafi Saab. Unfortunately and to his distaste the times were changing which demanded more fast-paced, tunes, and Naushad could not adapt towards the end as he belonged to the era where music was pure and classical.