Mohammad Rafi had remained one of the greatest singers of all times
By: Dr Souvik Chatterji
On his death anniversary on 31st July, 2016, great Mohammed Rafi is remembered all across the world. He is considered one of the greatest singers of all times. Rafi Sahab remained an eternal singer. Even after more than 36 years of death, his songs had remained immortal and relevant even today.
Relationship with Shankar Jaikishan.
Shankar Jaikishan composed music in almost 195 films in that golden age.
One of the great reasons of Shankar Jaikishan’s huge success was due to the great combination with immortal singer Mohammad Rafi Sahab. If Rafi’s stylish andaz relating to westernized compositions are adequately it is Shankar Jaikishan who had used it to perfection. They had used Rafi for singing romantic songs with Japanese orchestration in Love in Tokyo, released in 1966 including songs like “aaja re aa zara aa”, “Japan, Love in Tokyo”, “ o mere shahe khuba”, etc. In Biswajit’s April Fool, released in 1964 SJ’s composition for Rafi including “aa gale lag ja” had westernized background. At the same time Rafi’s song “tumhe chaha” with Suman Kalyanpur was a great rendition in pensive mood.
SJ’s composition for Rafi in Shammi Kapoor’s An Evening in Paris, in 1967, like “akele akele kahan ja rahe ho”, “raat ke humsafar”, had loud French music with echo effect and Rafi’s intonation was also westernized. Shankar Jaikishan gave a completely different style of music to Rafi in Rajender Kumar’s Aarzoo, released in 1965 with songs like “aji rooth kar ab”, “chalke teri aankhon se”, “ai nargise mastana”, etc.
SJ had given songs addressing children to Rafi including “nanhe munne bachche teri mutthi mein kya hai” in Boot Polish which was produced by Raj Kapoor and released in 1954, “hai na bolo bolo”, “re mamma re mamma re” in Shammi Kapoor’s Andaz, released in 1971 and “chakke p chakka” in Brahmchari, in 1969. Rafi pronounced the words with childish accent and SJ used the orchestration to attract children.
There were ghazals also given by SJ for Rafi including “rukh se zara naqab”, “kya kya na kahein” in Jitender’s Mere Huzoor, “unke khayal aye to” in Raj Kumar’s Lal Patthar, “saaze dil ched de” in Pradeep Kumar’s Rajhath, etc. Besides SJ’s creation involving Rafi in somber mood had created great impact including songs like “teri zulfon se judaai to nahin maangi thi” in Dev Anand’s Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai, “ehsaan tera hoga mujh par” in Shammi Kapoor’s Junglee, “yaad na aye” in Rajender Kumar’s Dil Ek Mandir.
Shankar Jaikishan had used Rafi’s classical andaz in the songs “radhike tune bansuri churai”, “ajahu na aye”, etc., and combined the ragas with devotional andaz. SJ has given music in almost 200 films within the span from 1949 to 1971, and at least each year they composed music for approximately 10 films. As Rafi was given predominance over other male singers SJ had use him in regular intervals even without doing injustice to Mukesh, Manna Dey, Kishore Kumar, Talat Mehmood and others. Songs like “kaun hai jo sapno mein aaya” from Jhuk Gaya Aasman, “toh bura maan gaye” from Ayee Milan Ki Bela, “yeh ankhen” from Jab Pyaar Kisise Hota Hai, “tujhe jeevan ki dor se” from Asli Naqli, “dheere dheere chal” from Love Marriage, “badan pe sitare lapete hue” from Prince, “main kahin kavi na ban jaun” from Pyar Hi Pyar, “mai gaaun tum so jao” from Brahmachari, had not lost their flavour even 40 years after their creation due to sheer brilliance of Shankar Jaikishan. It is really tragic neither Shankar Jaikishan had received the accolades that they deserved nor Rafi’s association with them had been glorified but history says that the combination of Rafi with Shankar Jaikishan had produced invaluable creations which had become immortal over the period of time.
Relationship with OP Nayyar.
Whenever the name of OP Nayyar appeared in the minds of the audience, the name of immortal singer Mohammad Rafi had come together, without whom OP Nayyar was incomplete. The relationship between the two greats can be compared as tea and milk. OP Nayyar started his career with the film Kaneez in 1949.
Guru Dutt had created his image in bollywood films in different categories being a thoughtful director and producer, dynamic actor, good choreographer. One of the numerous reasons for which his films became super hit in the 50s and 60s included the brilliant songs sung by Rafi during the golden age.
Rafi’s songs in Guru Dutt’s Aar Paar, released in 1954 and composed by OP Nayyar became super hit. It was followed by Mr and Mrs. 55 released in 1955. Songs picturized on both Guru Dutt and Johnny Walker had melody and sweetness. Rafi’s songs like “dil pe kiya aisa jadoo”, “mohabbat karlo aji karlo”, “sun sun sun sun zaalima”, composed by OP Nayyar, created landmark in the mid-50s and Rafi emerged as the greatest singer of bollywood films during that time. In many of the songs Geeta Dutt did a great job in duets sung along with Mohammad Rafi.
The same combination of Guru Dutt, OP Nayyar and Rafi gave everlasting hit in the film 12 O’Clock with songs like “mai kho gaya”. Also in CID, OP Nayyar and Rafi combination created gold with songs like “aye dil mushkil jeena yahan”, “leke pehla pehla pyar”, “ankhon hi ankhon me”, etc.
The magic combination of Rafi and OP Nayyar mesmerized the audience in Dilip Kumar’s Naya Daur. The super hit songs “saathi haath badhana”, “mang ke saath tumhara”, “mai bombai ka babu”, contributed a lot in the absolute success of the film. OP Nayyar received the filmfare award for the best music director only once in his career. Credit goes to Rafi Sahab for the great rendition of each songs of Naya Daur.
The brilliant combination of OP Nayyar and Rafi continued in Raj Kapoor’s film Do Ustad. All the songs in the film became extremely popular including “tu ladki main ladka”, “ruk ruk ruk, chor na de diwane”, “nazron ke teer mare kas kas kas”, etc. Rafi Sahab was the first choice of OP Nayyar, and in spite of Raj Kapoor’s voice having closeness with Mukesh and Manna Dey. OP Nayyar gave all the songs of Do Ustad released in 1959 to Mohammad Rafi Sahab.
Even in Bharat Bhushan’s Phagun, OP Nayyar composed all the songs for great Rafi Sahab. So of the most super hit songs included “kaun se pardesi mera dil le gaya”, “tum rooth ke mat jana”, “main soya ankhiyan meeche”. Qamar Jalalabadi’s words were as brilliant as Rafi Sahab’s velvety voice.
Joy Mukherjee’s film Ek Musafir Ek Hasina did brilliant business in the early 60s. Raj Khosla’s musical thriller released in 1962 addressed every section of the society with romantic performance of Joy Mukherjee and Sadhna. All the songs of Rafi and Asha picturized on Joy Mukherjee and Sadhna became super hit. It includes songs like “aap yuhin agar humse milte rahe”, “mujhe dekhkar aapka muskurana”, “phir tere shahar mein”, “mai pyar ka rahi hoon”, “bahut shukriya, badi meherbani”, “humko tumhare ishq ne”, to name a few. Rafi was elegant as ever in the songs “phir tere shahar me” and “humko tumhare ishq ne”. OP Nayyar was probably at his best in the film and his blend of eastern and western music created the romantic mood for the film.
Joy Mukherjee, Rafi and OP Nayyar’s magical combination continued in the film Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon. Most part of the film released in 1963 was shot at picturesque locations of Jammu & Kashmir and the landscape was as romantic as the songs sung by Rafi and Asha in the film. The prominent songs included “banda parwar, thaam lo jigar”, “lakhon hai nigahon me”, “nazneen bada rangeen hai wada tera”, “aanchal mein saja lena kaliyan”, “zulf ki chhaaon mein chehre ka ujala lekar”, to name a few. Rafi had shown his excellent classical skills in the songs “zulf ki chhaon me”, and “aanchal mein saja lena kaliyan”. Asha Parekh showed her dancing skills to perfection in the film. Rajender Nath played the role of the relief character in the film. In fact OP Nayyar maintained the same standard of music in Shammi Kapoor’s film Kashmir Ki Kali and Biswajit’s film Mere Sanam which were made after Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon.
Joy Mukherjee’s combination with OP Nayyar continued in the film Humsaya. In that film Sharmila Tagore got the lead role opposite Joy Mukherjee. By that time due to emergence of new actors and actresses in bollywood films, Joy Mukherjee’s popularity declined and the film also did moderate business. In respect of the songs, Rafi’s song “dil ki awaaz bhi sun” became hit. But OP Nayyar gave a number of songs to Mahendra Kapoor was well which did not strike gold in the box –office.
Besides Rafi’s western romantic mood is utilized by OP Nayyar in a very stylish way in the songs “Diwana hua badal, sawan ki ghata chayi” and “Yeh Chand Sa Roshan Chehra” in the film Kashmir Ki Kali, 1964 picturised on Shammi Kapoor and “Humne to dil ko aapke kadmome rakh diya, is dil ka kya karenge yeh ab aap sochiye” in the film Mere Sanam, 1965 and “Phir Miloge Kabhi is baat ka wada karlo, humse ek aur mulakat ka wada karlo” in the film Yeh Raat Phir Na Ayegi, picturised on Biswajeet. In all these songs the sarangi and santoor had played a very pivotal role accompanied by the intoxicating appeal of Rafi’s voice.
In the film Baharen Phir Bhi Aayegi, Rafi’s ghazal “aap ke haseen rukh” composed by OP Nayyar and picturised on Dharmendra was extremely romantic and made the audience spellbound in the early 60s. OP Nayyar composed peppy numbers for Rafi Sahab in Dharmendra’s film Mohabbat Zindagi Hai in 1966. Rafi Sahab’s song “na jaane kyun” was as brilliant as “tumhari mulakat se” and “yeh purnoor chehra yeh dilkash ada”. The list of films where OP Nayyar and Rafi’s magic flabbergasted the listeners just goes on including films like Tumsa Nahi Dekha, Basant, Phagun, Kismat, etc.
One article is too small to explain the domination of OP Nayyar and Mohammad Rafi in bollywood films of the 50s and 60s. But the songs and the films had not become obsolete and listeners can listen to them again and again. The songs and the films should be restored.
Relationship with Naushad Ali.
Naushad Ali is remembered for his brilliant tunes over a period of 50 years down the memory lane. In the 40s, he composed music in many films including Anmol Ghadi, but he stormed bollywood with romantic songs in Dulari, including “suhani raat dhal chuki” sung by Rafi, all the songs of Andaz, where he composed Rafi’s songs for Raj Kapoor and Mukesh’s songs for Dilip Kumar.
In the 50s, Naushad’s composition in Baiju Bawra made the listeners speechless. He won filmfare award for the best composer for his brilliant classical presentation in songs like “o duniya ke rakhwale”, “man tarpat”, “tu ganga ki mauj”, etc., sung by Rafi and Lata. Rafi’s range was used to perfection and from that time the Rafi-Naushad combination provided gems after gems. The different ragas and their timings were explained by Naushad in the film. Bharat Bhushan and Meena Kumari gave able lips in the songs composed by Naushad. Songs of Uran Khatola, like “wo dur ke musafir” sung by Rafi for Dilip Kumar also shook bollywood in the mid-50s.
In the 60s Naushad was unstoppable. His composition in Kohinoor for Rafi titled “madhuban me radhika nachere” and “do sitaron ka zameen” picturised on Dilip Kumar displayed the brilliance of Hindustani ragas. Naushad’s composition in Rajender Kumar’s Mere Mehboob, Naushad displayed the ghazal culture of Lucknow and Aligarh. The songs “mere mehboob tujhe meri mohabbat ki kasam”, “aye husn zara jaag”, etc. sung by Rafi and picturised on Rajendra Kumar was per se excellent. Naushad composed light songs in Mughal-i-azam for Lata including “pyar kiya to darna kya”, “mohe panghat pe nandlal”, and again composed thumri sung by Bade Ghulam Ali Khan in the same film.
Naushad also composed Bhojpuri music for Dilip Kumar in the film Ganga Jumna. The songs “nain lad jaihe” sung by Rafi was one of the examples of Naushad’s control of Bihari folk tune. Naushad was at his best in Dilip Kumar’s Leader. All the songs in the film sung by Rafi and Lata flabbergasted the listeners, including “ek shahenshah ne banwa ke haseen taj mahal”, “tere husn ki kya tareef karun”, “mujhe duniya walo”, etc. Naushad was excellent in Dilip Kumar’s Ram Aur Shyam. All the songs sung by Rafi and Lata in the film including “aye hai baharen dekho”, “yeh raat dulhan ban gayi”, “main hoon saki”, etc.
Critics consider Dil Diya Dard Liya as one of the best creations of Naushad. All the songs in the film became superhit including Rafi’s “dilruba maine tere”, “koi sagar dil ko behlata nahin”. Naushad Rafi and Dilip Kumar continued with their level of excellence in the film Aadmi, with Rafi’s songs like “na aadmi ka koi bharosa”, “aaj purani rahon se”, etc. Besides, Naushad composed excellent music in Rajender Kumar’s Palki, Saathi, Ganwar, etc. Mohammad Rafi’s hit songs in those films included “dil-e-betaab ko seene se lagana hoga” sung with Suman Kalyanpur.
Naushad faded away from film music in the 70s, causing huge loss to the film industry. The classical gharana related to thumris, kajris, ghazals, etc., faded away with Naushad. Music became popular, but lost its class. Naushad received Dadasahab Phalke for his excellent contribution to bollywood music. His songs and the films should be preserved and restored.
Relationship with Roshanlal Nagrath.
Whenever any reference relating to everlasting singer Mohammad Rafi comes, the attention goes to the big budget films and songs for big banners. Rafi is known the most for singing catchy numbers for Shammi Kapoor under the composition of Shankar Jaikishan and classical songs for Dilip Kumar under the composition of Naushad Ali. Although Rafi had sung brilliant songs for all the leading actors of 40s, 50, and 60s, much had been written about the successful films where both the songs and the films did excellent business.
But Rafi had sung excellent songs for Pradeep Kumar under the composition of Roshanlal Nagrath, where even if the mass was not touched, the class was addressed and the royal andaz of singing showed the range of Rafi to suit his voice for any form of playback singing. The magic of Roshanlal Nagrath, Pradeep Kumar and Mohammad Rafi started in Aarti released in 1962. Phani Majumdar directed the film. Four of the songs of Rafi stand out, “aapne yaad dilaya”, “ab kya misaal doon”, “baar baar tohe kya” and “tere bin lage na jiya”. Some of them were solo songs, while others were duet songs sung with Lata Mangeshkar. There were other duet songs of Rafi with Asha Bhosle, but the ones in pathos andaz like “aapne yaad dilaya” mesmerized the audience. The lyrics of Majrooh Sultanpuri, the composition of Roshanlal Nagrath, the voice of Mohammad Rafi and lips of Pradeep Kumar made the viewers spellbound. None of the songs had lost their charm even today.
The magic continued in the film Taj Mahal in 1963. M. Sadiq directed the film. Pradeep Kumar played the role of Shahjahan while Beena Roy played the role of Mumtaz Mahal. Here the combination was different with Sahir Ludhianvi writing the songs for Roshan which were sung by Mohammad Rafi. Four of Rafi’s songs were masterpieces including “jo wada kiya wo nibhana padega”, “paon chhoo lene do phoolon ko inayat hogi”, “chandi ka badan”, and “jo baat tujhme hai”. Roshanlal Nagrath won the filmfare award for the best composer only once in his life, that was for the composition of the music of the film Taj Mahal. He deserved it many more number of times. Sahir Ludhianvi won the best lyricist award for the lyrics of the film. Rafi was as outstanding as Pradeep Kumar in the role of Shahjahan.
The magic continued in the film Chitralekha in 1964. Kidar Sharma directed the film. Pradeep Kumar, Meena Kumari and Ashok kumar played the main roles. Rafi’s song “man re tu kahe na dheer dhare” is still considered one of the 10 best bhajans Rafi had sung. Sahir Ludhianvi wrote the songs of the film. Rafi’s other song “cha gaye badal” was equally impressive.
The Roshan, Rafi, Pradeep Kumar combination continued in the film Bheegi Raat in 1965. It was directed by Kalidas. Rafi’s songs in the film “dil jo na keh saka”, “aise to na dekho”, “jaane wo kaun hai kya naam hai”, “mohabbat se dekha” all were masterpieces. Some were duets with Suman Kalyanpur, while the others were solo songs sung by Mohammad Rafi. Lyrics were written by Majrooh Sultanpuri. The words were excellent. Rafi was unparalleled in all the songs.
The combination continued in the film Bahu Begum in 1967. It was directed by M. Sadiq. Rafi’s songs “hum intezar karenge tera qayamat tak”, “dhoond ke laoon kahan se”, “vakif hoon ishq ke” were all masterpieces. While some had ghazal andaz, the others were stand out qawwalis with Manna Dey. Roshan was as brilliant as Mohammad Rafi as Sahir Ludhianvi. In the same year, the combination was sublime in the film Noor Jahan. Rafi sang the songs “aap jabse kareeb aaye hai” and “woh mohabbat woh wafayen” in style. For a change the lyrics were written by Shakeel Badayuni.
The unfortunate death of Roshanlal Nagrath in 1967, ended the journey of Rafi with Roshan and Pradeep Kumar. Otherwise masterpieces after masterpieces could be created. Rafi’s archive should preserve the songs of Pradeep Kumar and Roshan, which showed the royal andaz of music existing in the courts of Mughals, Pathans and Sultans in India.
Relationship with Madanmohan Kohli.
If any composer had utilised the ghazal andaz of Mohammad Rafi to the best of his potentiality it is Madan Mohan whose name appears in the minds of the lovers of music across the nation. Madan Mohan’s father Rai Bahadur chunnilal send his son to Dehradun to join the army. Instead he left the army and joined All India Radio in Lucknow. He came in contact with Ustad Faiyaz Khan, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and carried on their legacy in the compositions he made for 30 years which can be classified as masterpieces.
As Madan Mohan was not associated with the Big Banners like RK or Navketan, he was not categorised with any star of bollywood during 50s, 60s, 70s. Further he never wanted to balance the popular test of music and excellent class of classical compositions he created. But the compositions were so rich in lyrics and tunes that the musical pandits had no way but to admire them.
The golden age of bollywood music was categorised with the excellence of Mohammad Rafi and as such if any composer neglected Rafi and tried to reach the summit of popularity they have invited their own downfall. Madan Mohan did not make such a mistake. He started his career with the film Ankhen in 1950. He also composed music for Raj Kapoor’s film Ashiana in 1952. His notable songs for Rafi in the film Railway Platform, 1956, include “basti basti parbat parbat”. In Gateway of India, 1957, Madan Mohan used Mohammad Rafi for the song “do ghadi woh jo paas aa baithe” picturised on Bharat Bhushan. It was very successful and strengthened the everlasting bond of Rafi with Madan Mohan. Rafi’s intoxicating appeal in the song “kabhi na kabhi kahin na kahin koi na koi aayega” in the film Sharabi, 1964, composed by Madan Mohan can be classified one of the best songs in sombre mood.
The most majestic ghazals of Rafi composed by Madan Mohan include “kisi ki yaad mein apne ko hain bhulaye huye” and “baad muddat ke ye ghadi aayi” from the film Jahan ara, 1964, picturised on Bharat Bhushan. Talat Mahmood’s song in the same film “phir wohi sham wohi gham wohi tanhai hai” was also based on ghazal andaz. The classic lyrics were written by Rajinder Krishan. The film titled Ghazal, in 1964, was based on ghazals and Rafi was outstanding by every standard in the song “rang aur noor ki baraat kise pesh karun.” In the same year Rafi’s patriotic flavour was bolstered in the song “kar chale hum fida jan-o-tan sathiyon” in the film Haqeeqat, where Rafi’s ghazal titled “hoke majboor usne bulaya hoga” shared with Bhupinder Singh, Manna Dey and Talat Mehmood was sensational. The majestic lyrics were written by Kaifi Azmi. In the film Neela Aakash, 1965, picturised on Dharmendra, Rafi’s song “aakhri geet mohabbat ka sunaun to chalun” showed the tragic note of Madanmohan. In the film Neend Hamari Khwab Tumhare, all the songs were sung by Rafi including “husn ne jab ishq se takraya tha”.
Returning back to ghazals, Rafi’s song “aap ke pehlu mein aakar” in the film Mera Saaya, 1966, was as outstanding as Lata’s title song “tu jahan jahan chalega mera saya saath hoga”. The lyrics were written by Raja Mehendi Ali Khan. Raj Khosla’s crime thriller ended up becoming a musical blockbuster just like Woh Kaun Thi, in 1964, where Madan Mohan’s composition “naina barse,” “lag ja gale”, etc. for Lata Mangeshkar was probably the most immortal creation in the history of film music, with Sadhna giving life time performances in ghostly characters in both these films.
The landmark ghazal “tumhari zulf ke saaye mein shaam kar lunga” in the film Naunihal, in 1967, is probably one of the five best ghazals Rafi did sing in his life. Experts in music realise that ages will pass, but no second singer can provide blood and flesh in the superlative ghazal of Madan Mohan the way Rafi had done in this song. Kaifi Azmi has written sensational lyrics for the above mentioned song. People started thinking that Rafi and Madan Mohan were made for each other. The belief was put to action in the next film Dulhan Ek raat ki, in 1967, picturised on Dharmendra in the song “ek haseen sham ko dil mera kho gaya”. In the film Chirag, 1969, “teri aankhon ke siwa duniya mein rakha kya hai” Madan Mohan combined ghazal with light orchestration to try to inspire the common listeners in understanding these type of songs.
In the film Heer Ranjha, 1971, picturised on Rajkumar, Rafi’s song “yeh duniya yeh mehfil” was well acclaimed by music lovers. Rafi was outstanding by every standard in the song “tum jo mil gaye ho” in the film Hanste Zakhm, 1973, where Madan Mohan synchronised lightning with his own orchestration. Madan Mohan also gave a tremendous break to Bhupinder Singh in the song “dil dhoondta hai, phir wohi, fursat ke raat din” written by Gulzar in Sanjeev Kumar’s Mausam in 1975. Rafi had the song “chadi re chadi kaise gale me padi.”
Madan Mohan’s last performance with Jaidev brought out Rafi’s Himalayan range in the film Laila Majnu in 1977. Rafi’s songs “tere dar pe aaya hoon,” “barbad mohabbat ki dua saath liye ja”, picturised on Rishi Kapoor showed his master spirit of adapting to tunes of middle east which was the geographical location where the story was based. Madan Mohan died in 1975, without even seeing the success of Laila Majnu, it appeared like out of seven sur in every octave one sur had gone, because, the majestic combination of Madan Mohan with Rafi cannot be forgotten through ages. Rafi’s archive should restore Madan Mohan’s combination to let the next generation know about the high esteem with which Madan Mohan addressed Mohammad Rafi during the golden age of film music.
Articles after articles can be written to show the indispensability of Rafi Sahab during the golden age. For listeners the intoxication still continues. Rafi Sahab’s voice sunke lagta hai sunte jay bas sunte hi jay. His admirers pay their respect and homage to the noble soul.
 Bhupinder Singh was a great admirer of Rafi. In his interview in DD India, he said, he got a chance of acting and singing in the film Haqeekat and he was supposed to share the microphone with another singer for the song “hoke majboor usne bulaya hoga.” He chose Mohammad Rafi to share the microphone with and as he was taller than Rafi, Rafi was given a tool to balance the voices. Manna Dey and Talat Mehmood shared the other microphone.
Dr Souvik Chatterji, the author of this article