Mohammed Rafi’s association with composer Usha Khanna
By Mr. Biman Baruah, Sivasgar, Assam
After Saraswati Devi who composed music for Bombay Talkies Film during 1930s & 1940s, Usha Khanna is a lone established female Music Director in the Indian Film Industry who was active for 3 decades from 1960s to 1980s. She was born in Gwalior in 1942 and her father, Manohar Khanna was a lyricist and singer. But she had no formal training in music, often take inspiration from Arabic Music. Popular music director O.P. Nayyar introduced Usha Khanna to Sashadhar Mukherjee initially who assigned her to compose two songs per day for one year. Later on Mukherjee hired her to composed music for his films like DIL DEKE DEKHO (1959) and HUM HINDUSTANI (1961). She started her career as a composer at the age of 17.
Usha Khanna was associated with Mohammed Rafi from very beginning of her career as a composer and association of Usha Khanna, Mohammed Rafi and Asha Bhosle fabricated some innumerable hit songs of HINDI FILM MUSIC during 1960s and 1970s. The following are the some notable films with notable songs of this composer-singer combination.
DIL DEKE DEKHO (1959) was a debut film of composer Usha Khanna, heroine Asha Parekh, comedian Rajendranath and second film of director Nasir Hussain after Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957) which was produced by Shashadhar Mukherjee. The songs of the film in the voice of Rafi Sahab became very popular and the film was a big hit. The title song of the film, “Dil Deke Dekho, Dil Deke Dekho Ji, Dil Lenewaloo Dil Dena Sikho Ji” and “Bolo Bolo Kuch To Bolo, Dil Na Taado” sung by Rafi Sahab for Shammi Kapoor with Rock-N-Roll flavour. The popular duets from the film, “Yaar Chulbula Hai, Haseen Dilruba Hai” and “Bade Hai Dil Ke Kale” sung by Rafi, Asha Bhosle with Chorus beautifully picturised on Shammi Kapoor & Asha Parekh with a group in a legitimate outdoor. After all, the film confer its hero Shammi Kapoor a new image of comic dancing hero with mystical voice of singing God, Rafi Sahab.
SHABNAM (1964) is a great film of this combination, where Rafi Sahab was the voice of comedian Mehmood in two unusual tracks, “Maine Rakkha Hai Mohabbat Apne Afsane Ka Naam, Tum Bhi Kuch Aacha Sa Rakkhloo Apne Diwanee Ke Naam” & “Yeh Teri Saadgi Yeh Tera Bankpan, Jane-e-Bahar Jane-e-Saman, Tauba Sitam, Tauba Sitam” which were picturised on hero Mehmood & Vijayalakshmi. In a fast track from the film, “Teri Nigahon Pe Mar Mar Gaye Hum, Baki Addaon Pe Mar Mar Gaye Hum”, Mukeshji also became voice of hero Mehmood. In a female duet from the film, “Anadi Hai Shikari Dekho Dillagi”, composer Usha Khannaji also lent her voice with Asha Bhosle. The lyrics of the film were penned by Javed Anwar and Majrooh Sultanpuri.
NISHAN (1965) A film by Aspi Irani where Rafi Sahab sung the classic romantic song “Haaye Tabassum Tera” composed by Usha Khanna and the song was picturised on Sanjeev Kumar and Nazima.
LAL BANGLA (1966) A Jugal Kishore film of suspense & social drama starring Prithviraj Kapoor, Shyama, Sheikh Mukhtar, Rachna, Sujit Kumar, Jaya Lalita. The romantic Rafi gem from the film, “Haseen Wadiyon, Fizayon Se Khedo, Nazaroyon Se Khedo, Mere Yaar Mera Pyar Lake Aaya Hai” was superbly picturised on Sujeet Kumar and Jaya Lalita.
EK SAPERA EK LUTERA (1967), the film was written and directed by Naresh Kumar (brother of Rajendra Kumar) with musical score by Usha Khanna and lyrics by Asad Bhopali. It was the one of the best film in which Rafi Saheb lent his voice for stylish actor Feroz Khan in all the songs and the actor played his only double role. Rafi Sahib was matchless in the heart-touching song with full of emotion in depress mood, “Hum Tum Se Judaa Ho Ke, Mar Jaayenge Ro Ro Ke” beautifully picturised on Feroz Khan in a cave . The other Rafi gems from the film: “Tera Bhi Kisi Pe Dil Aaye, Phir Koi Tujhe Bhi Tarpaye Allah Kare”, “Mera Ban Jaye Koi, Yeh Meri Taqdeer Nahin” solos by Rafi and the title song “Ek Sapera Ek Lutera” a duet by Rafi & Suman Kalyanpur.
HAWAS (1974) A Sawaan Kumar film starring Anil Dhawan and Neetu Singh in lead role and Usha Khanna reached the peak of her career by composing music for the film with a emotional song, “Teri Galiyon Mein Na Rakhenge Kadam, Aaj Ke Baad” sung by Mohammed Rafi. Rafi Sahab also refreshed his career with this song from his lean phase and won the FILM WORLD MAGAZINE Best Singer Award for the song. The song was picturised on new actor Anil Dhawan (elder brother of David Dhawan).
GUMRAH (1976) A film by Prem Sethi, directed by Prem Manik starring Subhash Ghai, Reena Roy, Danny Denzengopa. The Music of the film composed by Usha Khanna and lyrics by Asad Bhopali with voices of Rafi, Kishore, Asha, Suman, Danny Denzengopa. The thrilling outdoor party song, “Aao Nile Gagan Ke Badaloon Mein Jhulen, Dilko Dil Se Milake Ish Jahan Ko Bhulee” from the film was sung by Mohammed Rafi, Asha Bhosle, Danny Denzengopa with Chorus. In this song, Rafi Sahab was the voice of showman Subash Ghai and Danny Denzengopa of himself.
SAJAN BINA SUHAGAN (1978) A film by Producer, Director & Lyricist Sawaan Kumar Tak starring Rajendra Kumar & Nutan in which Usha Khanna composed music and Rafi Sahab sung the stunning theme song, “Kaise Jeet Lete Hai Log Dil Kisika, Koyee Tu Sikha De Hume Pyar Ka Salika”. Another popular song from the film, “Madhuban Khushboo Deta Hai” was sung by Rafi disciple singer Yesudass very beautifully for Rajendra Kumar.
BIN PHERE HUM TERE (1979): NP Singh’s film, directed by Rajat Rakshit and music composed by Usha Khanna. The romantic duet from the film, “Dost Banke Aaye Ho Dost Banke Hi Rehna, Aab Bahut Hi Mushkil Hai Bewafa Tumhe Kehna” by Rafi & Usha Khanna picturised on Vinod Mehra & Sarika.
AAP THO AISE NA THE (1980): Mohan Kumar’s film directed by Ambrish Sangal in which Usha Khanna penned music in the lyrics of Indeevar. The Rafi solo from the film, “Tu Is Tarah Se Meri Zindagi Mein Saamil Hai, Jaha Bhi Jao Yeh Lagta Hai Teri Mehfil Hai” is one of the best romantic song of his last days. This song has a specific characteristic with three versions, sung by Mohammed Rafi, Manuhar Udhas and Hemlata. Normally other film songs have two versions of male and female or happy and sad. The fast beat Rafi version of the song was picturised on debut actor Deepak Parashar in a party which became very popular and other two versions picturised on Raj Babbar and Ranjeeta respectively. It was the last song of composer Usha Khanna with Rafi Sahab.
SAJAAN KI SAHELI (1981) A Swaan Kumar film starring Rajendra Kumar, Vinod Mehra and Rekha where Rafi Sahab sung an exceptional rain song, “Boonden Nahin Sitare, Tapke Hai Kehkasa Se, Sadke Uttar Rahi Hai Tum Par Yeh Asman Se” in a very diverse style under composition of Usha Khanna. The song was picturised on second hero Vinod Mehra and Rekha.
Usha Khanna who joined Hindi Film Industry with an aim to become a singer, also sings a few songs as a playback singer. She was always a Mohammed Rafi devotee composer who supported him all the time during his lean phase 1970 to 1974 as well. In the male dominated Film Industry, she had a tough time to establish her, therefore, she often give chance to new singers like: K J Yesudas, Pankaj Udhas, Anupama Deshpande, Hemlata, Mohammed Aziz, Shabbir Kumar, Roop Kumar Rathod and Sonu Nigam. Yesudas received Filmfare Best Male Singer Award for her song, “Dil Ke Tukde Tukde Kharke Mushkura Ke Chal Diyee” from the film DADA (1979) and many of them became notable playback singers in due course. She was nominated for Filmfare Best Music Director for composing the popular songs for the film SOUTEN (1983) like “Zindegi Pyaar Ka Geet Hai, Ise Har Dil Ko Gaana Padega”. She composed music for about 126 films, directed RAMVATI (1991) and acted in MEHENDI (1998). As a composer she was active till mid-nineties and given music for last film DIL PARDESI HO GAYA (2004) produced & directed by her ex-husband Swaan Kumar.
Usha Khanna also composed some innumerable songs for Rafi Sahab’s contemporary singer Mukesh Chand Mathur. For instances, the ultimate patriotic number, “Chodo Kaal Ki Baatein, Kaal Ki Baat Purani, Hum Hindusthani” from HUM HINDUSTANI (1961), the echoing romantic number “Chaand Ko Kya Maaloom Chahta Hai Ise Koi Chakor” from LAL BANGLA (1966) and the romantic rain song “Barkha Raani Zara Jamke Barso Mera Dilbar Jaa Na Paaye Jhoomke Barso” from SABAK(1973) are some masterpieces.
Many of songs sung by Mohammed Rafi under composition of Usha Khanna are still very popular and will be everlasting forever. Though Usha Khanna was a very good composer, it remains a secret why she did not get many chances which would had contributes more for a big treasure of Music for this composer-singer combinations.