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Mohd Rafi sings Mirza Ghalib

By: H.A.K. Walijah

Mohd Rafi

Mohd Rafi

If Mirza Ghalib is the foremost classic poet in Urdu, then Mohd. Rafi is the foremost classic playback singer India has ever produced. There is nothing wrong if someone ask what India has given to the world – I would say: Taj Mahal, Urdu, Ghalib and Rafi. It is our pride & honour to call Mohd. Rafi Bharat ki Shaan whom the music fraternity & Rafi lovers love and adore this great singer all over the world irrespective of caste, creed, religion, poor or rich, young or old, men or women, so on and so forth.  When these two great legends shake hands with one another, what will be the result, just imagine… Mirza  Ghalib was the genius poet where the best of ghazals begin and end with him, who “inspired” an entire generation of poets to craft words astoundingly and his contribution of poetry is the greatest favour on Urdu language itself. Mohammed Rafi doesn’t sing Ghalib. He breathes life into every composition that he is called upon to deliver. Ghalib would have been proud.

Ghazal “Gayaki“, the art of performing the Classical Ghazal in singing, was first introduced by Begum Akhtar and later on, Ustad Mehdi Hassan. These two artists have brought the sensuality of the ghazal and the complexity of Indian ragas to the masses. Classical ghazals are difficult to render because of the varying moods of the “shers” or couplets in the ghazal. Ustad Amanat Ali Khan, Begum Akhtar, Mehdi Hassan, Farida Khanum, and Ustad Ghulam Ali are popular classical ghazal singers.  It was with Begum Akhtar, and later on Ustad Mehdi Hassan, that classical rendering of ghazals became popular amongst the masses.  The traditional classical r?gas in which the lyrics were rendered were also difficult to understand.  However, these forms of the ghazal are looked down on by purists of the Indian Classical tradition. In Pakistan Noor Jehan, Iqbal Bano, Farida Khanum, Ghulam Ali, Ahmed Rushdi, Ustad Amanat Ali Khan and Mehdi Hassan are known for Ghazal rendetions . In India Singers like K.L.Saigal, Talat Mahmood, Lata Mangeshkar, Surayya, Mohd. Rafi, Jagjit Singh, Ahmed and Mohammed Hussain, Hariharan, Pankaj Udhas and many others have been able to give a new shape to the ghazal singing.

When we focus Ghazal singing in Hindi Film Industry where artistes like Naushad, Madan Mohan, C. Ramachandra, Ghulam Mohammed, Khayyam, Talat Mahmood, Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi provided the ghazal with a dignity and popularity.  Most of the people considered Naushad, Ghulam Mohammed, C. Ramachandra, Madan Mohan and Khayyam as the pillars of ghazals in the industry. Then Talat Mahmood and Mohd. Rafi were the only two ghazal singers who gave a new strength to the medium. Talat, Rafi and Lata made the ghazal accessible to the common man. “Talat Mahmood was made for ghazals. Lata Mangeshkar considered him the best as far as ghazal singing is considered. Before Rafi came on the scene, Talat gave us ‘Sham-e-gham ki qasam’ with Khayyam in ‘Footpath’. With Ghulam Mohammed, he gave some of the best ghazals ever.

One can find Mirza Ghalib’s ghazals rendered by various artistes. But rendition from one artiste to another is so different for instance Begum Akhtar’s rendition of ’’yeh na thi’’ is so different from Chitra Singh’s (from the album Mirza Ghalib). Ghalib have been heard  in so many voices and all of them seem to have their own way of interpreting, but the best voice suited for Ghalib’s ghazals is our great Rafi Saab, whose brilliance as a ghazal artiste is out and out.  As far as the diction of ghazal singing is concerned,   I want to quote the words of Mallika-e-Ghazal Begum Akhtar – “Ghazal sahii Dhang se gaa_ii jaaye to us kaa nashaa sar cha.Dh ke bolataa hai” (“If a ghazal is sung in the proper way, it can be very intoxicating”). However, Rafi Saab diction of Ghalib poetry is so perfect that no one even doubt a man of Punjabi origin had sung so beautifully the toughest poetry of Ghalib with so much ease and perfection that even Mirza Ghalib would have alive today certainly had he not admired Rafi Saab for his brilliant renditions, for us it is nothing less than a wonder & amazement.

Mohd Rafi

Mohd Rafi

Rafi Saab had three non-filmi ghazal albums to his credit, which are:

1. Ghazals – Mohammed Rafi
2. Rare Moments – Mohammed Rafi
3. Unforgettable Ghazals of Mohammed Rafi

When we focus on overall Rafi Saab ghazal singing, instantly one can recollect the above three best  non-filmi ghazal albums available in the market brought out by EMI India, the details are mentioned below –

Album title:  Ghazals  – Mohd. Rafi

Ghazal Poet
1. aramaa.N machal rahe hai.n Hakeem Yusuf Jhunjhunvi
2. dard minnat kash-e-davaa na huaa Mirza Ghalib
3. dil kii baat kahii nahii.n jaatii Meer Taqi Meer
4. diyaa hai dil agar us ko bashar hai kyaa kahiye Mirza Ghalib
5. ek hii baat zamaane kii kitaabo.n me.n nahii.n Sudarshan Faakir
6. Gazab kiyaa tere vaade pe aitabaar kiye Daag Dehlvi
7. jiine kaa raaz Muzaffar Shahjahanpuri
8. kaash Khvaabo.n me.n hii aa jaao Nyay Sharma
9. mai.n ne sochaa thaa agar Nyay Sharma
10. merii muhabbat qubuul kar lo Khwaar Zaman
11. puuchh na mujh se dil ke fasaane Jan Nissar Akhtar
12. shauq har rang raqiib-e-sar-o-saamaa.N nikalaa Mirza Ghalib
13. terii to chaa.Nd sitaaro.n me.n baat hotii hai Muzaffar Shahjahanpuri
14. ye na thii hamaarii qismat Mirza Ghalib
15. yuu.N beKhudii se kaam liyaa hai Saba Afghani

Album  title: Urforgettable Ghazals  of Mohd. Rafi

Ghazal Poet
1. baaziichaa-e-atfaal hai duniyaa mere aage Mirza Ghalib
2. bas ke dushvaar hai har kaam kaa aasaa.N honaa Mirza Ghalib
3. dard minnat kash-e-davaa na huaa Mirza Ghalib
4. dil kii baat kahii nahii.n jaatii Meer Taqi Meer
5. diyaa hai dil agar us ko bashar hai kyaa kahiye Mirza Ghalib
6. falsafe ishq me.n pesh aaye hai.n Sudarshan Faakir
7. Gazab kiyaa tere vaade pe aitabaar kiye Daag Dehlvi
8. kitanii raahat hai dil TuuT jaane ke baad Shamim Jaipuri
9. merii muhabbat qubuul kar lo Khwaar Zaman
10. muddat hu_ii hai yaar ko mahamaa.N kiye hue Mirza Ghalib
11. na shauq-e-vasl Ameer Minai
12. nuktaachii.n hai Gam-e-dil Mirza Ghalib
13. puuchh na mujh se dil ke fasaane Jan Nissar Akhtar
14. saaqii kii har nigaah pe balkhaa ke pii gayaa Jigar Moradabadi
15. shauq har rang raqiib-e-sar-o-saamaa.N nikalaa Mirza Ghalib
16. talKhii-e-may me.n zaraa talKhii-e-dil bhii ghole.n Krishan Adeeb
17. ye na thii hamaarii qismat Mirza Ghalib
18. zikr us pariivash kaa aur phir bayaa.N apanaa Mirza Ghalib

Album title : Rare Moments – Mohd. Rafi

Ghazal Poet
1. aaj is Khat me.n na_ii baat Unknown
2. aaj mere qariib Unknown
3. baiThe hai.n Unknown
4. chale aa rahe hai.n vo zulfe.n bikhere Unknown
5. ek hii baat zamaane kii kitaabo.n me.n nahii.n Sudarshan Faakir
6. GhaTaa hai baaG hai Unknown
7. ha.Nsaa gagan biij roye Unknown
8. haaye mahamaa.N kahaa.N ye Gam-e-jaanaa.N hogaa Unknown
9. ham ko miTaa sake ye zamaane me.n dam nahii.n Jigar Moradabadi
10. jab tere pyaar kaa afsaanaa Unknown
11. jalaao vaqt Unknown
12. kah ke bhii na aaye Unknown
13. Khudaa hii jaane yaar na jaane Unknown
14. kisii kii yaad me.n paa_ii hai Unknown
15. mai.n diip jalaaye baiThaa huu.N Unknown
16. mai.n ne jab se tujhe ai jaan-e-Gazal dekhaa hai Unknown
17. to.D do ahad-e-muhabbat Unknown
18. uThaa suraahii yaa shiishaa Unknown

Further when we sort out and separates among the three non-filmi albums mentioned above and taken out the Ghalib ghazals alone, one can easily find the below 13 ghazals of Ghalib rendered by our great maestro, Rafi Saab in his soulful voice and in inimitable style –

1. dard minnat kash-e-davaa na huaa
2. diyaa hai dil agar us ko bashar hai kyaa kahiye
3. shauq har rang raqiib-e-sar-o-saamaa.N nikalaa
4. ye na thii hamaarii qismat
5. baaziichaa-e-atfaal hai duniyaa mere aage
6. bas ke dushvaar hai har kaam kaa aasaa.N honaa
7. dard minnat kash-e-davaa na huaa
8. diyaa hai dil agar us ko bashar hai kyaa kahiye
9. muddat hu_ii hai yaar ko mahamaa.N kiye hue
10. nuktaachii.n hai Gam-e-dil
11. shauq har rang raqiib-e-sar-o-saamaa.N nikalaa
12. ye na thii hamaarii qismat
13. zikr us pariivash kaa aur phir bayaa.N apanaa

Indian Cinema has paid a rich tribute to the legendary poet through a film (black and white) named Mirza Ghalib (1954) in which Bharat Bhushan plays Ghalib and Suraiya plays his courtesan lover, Chaudvin. The musical score of the film was composed by Ghulam Mohammed and his compositions of Ghalib’s famous ghazals are likely to remain everlasting favorites.  It also won the President’s Gold Medal for Best Feature Film of 1954. The film also saw some of Surayya’s finest singing Ghalib’s ghazals – “Aah ko Chaihiye Ek Umar,” “Nuktacheen Hai Gham-e-Dil,” “Dil-e-Nadaan Tujhe Hua Kya Hai,” “Yeh Na Thi Humari Kismet,” etc. Her singing is to date regarded as the definitive portrayal of Ghalib. In fact India’s then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru paid her the ultimate compliment by telling her she had brought Mirza Ghalib to life. (“Tumne Mirza Ghalib ki Rooh ko Zinda Kar Diya“).

The second tribube from veteran film-maker Gulzar, a TV serial, Mirza Ghalib (1988), telecast on DD National. Naseeruddin Shah played the role of Ghalib in the serial. Ghalib’s ghazals sung and composed by Jagjit Singh and Chitra Singh.

If I am not exaggerating, I would say that the best tribute paid so far to Mirza Ghalib is none other than Rafi Saab by rendering his immortal ghazals in his musical & magical voice.  If anyone would like to listen the Ghalib’s ghazals sung by Rafi Saab, it is freely available on youtube.  Once after listening those masterpiece gems, one would definitely say “ wah Rafi Saab aap ne to kamal hi kar diya.”. Such is the magic and charm of this great soul even after passing into eternity, his name and voice still echoes all over the world which is one of miracles of this great singer whom we (rafi fans) love and will love until the last day of this world.

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24 Blog Comments to “Mohd Rafi sings Mirza Ghalib”

  1. Suhana Safar says:

    Khyaam once told me that if Rafisaab was a Gazal singer only, all other Gazal singers would have found it hard to compete.

    Gulam sabri once said if Rafisaab was a only a qawali singer, all other qawali singers would find it hard to compete.

    Rafisaab is indeed the only complete singer.

  2. Ahmad Misbaah says:

    What an amazing piece of writing on Rafi singing of Ghalib’s ghazals. A really wonderful article of its own kind.

    Thanks Walijah Saab, a true rafi fan indeed.


    Ahmad Misbaah

  3. Hashmat Alvi says:

    Many critics and admirers had considered Mirza Ghalib, the greatest urdu classical poet whose poetry remains till today the complex emotional philosophy of human conscience. Yagana Chenghezi’s charge that Ghalib is a deliberately difficult poet, who pushes the reader into a puzzling maze of image and allusion, is not without substance. In fact, Ghalib wanted to be a poet with a distinction, different from the poets of the popular brand. Ghalib’s poetry requires for its comprehension a fair measure of intellectural alacrity, linguistic proficiency, and a reasonably good grounding in the poetic tradition.

    Rafi Sahab sung all those ghazals mentioned in the article are superb and attibuting the command that Rafi Saab had on urdu pronounciation of difficult words.

    Great article and the yet another aspect of Rafi Sahab singing.

  4. ANEES says:

    A very exhaustive and complete article on Rafi Sahab singinng ghazals of Mirza Ghalib. The article almost covers the minute details of the subject. In deed a very comprehensive write up on two legendary personalities in two different fields. Janab Walijah Sahab, bahoot khoob! Mashallah!.

    As someone says you wrote ten articles with varied subjects praising rafi sahab singing and talent. I wish to collect all your articles and print in separate book if you allows me to do so.

    Thanks again…


  5. Syed Zameer says:

    I am passionate about Ghalib and his ghazals. However, I do believe that Mirza Ghalib was a very deep thinker; his choice of thought process being the sad aspects of life & lost love! Not many can express such pain in such beautiful words he was a brilliant writer, a genius with words & emotions. I love Ghalib in the voice of Mohd. Rafi but I continue to hear his poetry rendered by different artistes. Till I heard I did not realize the brilliance of Mohd. Rafi as a ghazal artiste.

  6. nafisa says:

    of course!
    yeh na thi hamari kismet ke visaal – e – yaar hota
    agar aur jeete rehte yehi intezaar hota….. (Suraiya)

    i remember more of surraiya than any body else, after rafi.

  7. nafisa says:

    1. aah ko chahiye ek umr asar hone tak
    kaun jeeta hai teri zulf ke sar hone tak (suraiya)
    2. nuktacheen hai gham -e – dil usko sunaye na bane
    kya bane baat jahan baat banaye na bane (suraiyya)
    3. rahiye ab aisi jagah chal kar jahan koi na ho
    meherban koi na ho or passbaan koi na ho (solos – suraiyya & T.Mehmood)
    4. dil-e nadaan tuzhe hua kya hai (Duet – t. mahmood)
    5. hai bas ke har ek unke ishare mine nishan aur (rafi)

    gulam mohammed, rafi, talat & suraiya, with mirza ghalib mian. does it get better than these ghazals.

  8. Bushan wali says:

    What ever u have sen in this mail regarding Ghazals sung by Mohd. Rafi is
    is unparalleled and no one can match mohd rafiS singing.
    You will do me a great favour if u r able to mail me if the cassetes of these
    It shall be a highest favour to me
    thank you
    Bushan wali

  9. Man Mouji says:

    If there is one reason to watch Mirza Ghalib, it’s the songs—written (of course!) by Ghalib (the ghazals are taken from the Dewan-e-Ghalib), and partly by Shakeel Badayuni, with music by Ghulam Mohammad. My favourites are Dil-e-naadaan tujhe hua kya hai and Aah ko chaahiye ek umr asar hone tak, but there are others too (Nuktacheen hai gham-e-dil, for example) that are hauntingly beautiful, both in terms of lyrics and music. And yes, Talat Mehmood and Suraiya sound absolutely sublime.

    And the evergreen ghazal sung by Rafi Saab “Hai bas ke har ek un ke ishare mein nishan aur”.

  10. A. Almas says:

    I am very fond of Ghalib’s poetry. I have also heard many singers sing Ghalib, including KL Saigal’s matchless renditions (Ghalib was his favourite poet). But I have to admit that Surraiya brought a curious rawness into the profound stanzas when she sang them. Listen to – Rahiye ab aisi jagah chalkar. No one, in my opinion, has been able to sing Ghalib with such straightforward, such moving emotion. Her Ghalib renditions are a national treasure.

  11. Anwar-ul-Haque says:

    Dear Walijah Sahab,

    Thanks for such a beautiful and well-written article. You brilliantly expressed the Ghazal singing and provide listing of Ghalib’s ghazals sung by Rafi Sahab.

    I want to add few more ghazals of Ghalib which sang by Rafi Sahab and not included in the article:

    1. Ae taza wardan-e-bisat-e-hawa-e-dil, Non filmi ghazal composed by Khayyam
    2. Qad-o-gaisu mein Qais-o-kohkan ki aazmaish hai, Non filmi ghazal composed by Khayyam
    3. Hai bas ke har ek un ke ishare mein nishan aur, Film: Mirza Ghalib composed by Ghulam Muhammad
    4. Dard minnat kash-e-dawa na hua (only the first sher), Film: Dholak composed by Shyam Sundar and picturised on Ajit

    Anyway, many thanks for sharing this beautiful article.

    Thanks and best regards.


  12. krishnan says:

    wah wah walid saheb,
    what an analysis. Personally I like “Aaj is khat mein nayi baat tumhe likhta hoon”
    and ” Ek hi baat zamaane ki kitaabhon mein nahi” out of the non filmi ghazals,
    of course whatever Rafi sab sings is a ghazal to us.

  13. dr.J.Ketwaru says:

    But donn’t forget all the sweet filmy gazals of Badsha Rafi.Very many to count,jai ketwaru (

  14. nafisa says:

    talat mehmood was no doubt the king of gazals (filmi) of his time.

    one interesting fact i wish to share here.

    i personally consider, shaam e gham ki kasam & jalte hain jiske liye teri aankhon ke diye (Sujaata) to be among my all time favourites. columnist raju bharat has written in one column that S D. burman, the composer of ‘jalte hain jiske liye’ was of the opinion that mohd rafi would have sung the song better than talat mehmood. even after the song became so popular and won awards, the opinion of SDB did not change it seems. such high regard a composer like SdB had for rafi. hats off to the such ” aala zauk ” (Rich tastes in a person of knowledge)

  15. nafisa says:

    asa walijah sahab,

    a very beautiful & infomative write up. my congratulations.

    one gazhal from 1954 ‘Mirza Ghalib’, i wish to mention here was sung by the inimitable rafi, picturised on a fakir, i seem to rememeber watching a longtime back.
    hai bas ke har ek unke ishare mien nishaan aur
    karte hain mohabbat to guzarta hai gumaan aur
    hain aur bhi duniya mien sukhanwar bahut acche
    kehte hain ke galib ka hai andaaz-e-bayaan aur

    Vividh bharat (AIR) is playing those gazals infrequently.

    Talat mehmood & Suraaiya’s reditions of those gazhals is there in the memory since i heard them on the audio cassette.

    i have no exposure to begum akhtar. which i must search on you tube .

  16. Khaja Aliuddin,MD says:

    ASA, Walijah Sahab,
    Bahut khoob, superb narration about the two legends Aapke khalam me “Carishma” hai. Baar baar padhne ke liye dil chahta hai.
    “hazaron saal nargis apni be noori pe roti hai
    badi mushkil se hota hai chaman me deedawar paida”
    Like Rafi sahab as a singer and Ghalib sahab as a poet.
    With best regards,
    Dr. Khaja Aliuddin

  17. dr.j.ketwaru says:

    Sir,very nice of you for this writing.Rafi Saab was realy a singing miracle.Every song ,doesn’t matter in wich language you ask him to sing,he presented this with so much sweetness and feeling.When he was in Holland in 1973,and he asked me to write on the melody of “baharo phool barsawo”, a Dutch text,and when he sang this song on the stage,with so much feelings, he maked the public realy crazy.Because I had translated this song for him .The meaning was :even when I will be in India I cann’t forget you.Many regards, jai.ketwaru

  18. Man Mouji says:

    Post 4: You can hear some of the ghazals mentioned in the write up on the below website, just online.

    Long live rafi saab

  19. Y. Sharif says:

    Muhtram Walijah Sahab,


    Very nice write up on two legendary figures – Ghalib & Rafi, a very sensitive subject with adroit skills of writing, a person of literary taste could only write such things. I truly appreciate your efforts for bringing out the unexplored facet of rafi singing i.e. ghalib’s ghazals. It is really a feast to the ears to listen those melodious and sweet ghazals of ghalib in the voice of rafi saab.

    My complimentary laurels for your untiring efforts.

    Best regards

    Y. Sharif

  20. Kabeer Aman says:

    Respected Walijah Sahab,

    I do not have appropriate words to praise your write up as well as the two greatest legends in their respective fields – poetry and singing. I listened most of the ghazals you mentioned in your write up and I am sure those are real gems of rafi saab sang with perfect diction and feelings. Rafi saab not only sang mirza ghalib, but most of the classic poets of urdu like, meer, daag, jigar, ameer and many others. If the world says rafi saab, the versatile singer then it is with the perfect title they are addressing rafi saab.

    Many thanks for sharing this interesting write up on ghazal singing of rafi saab.


    Kabeer Aman

  21. Girish Masand says:

    If you have his Mirza Galib Gazals, can you make a CD and send it to me. I would love to hear them.

    Your article is an eye opener. Superb is all i can say.


  22. Man Mouji says:

    Janab walijah sahab,

    Bahut khub, badhiya aur umada write up.

    Ghalib aur rafi saab ko behtareen khiraj pesh kiya hai aap ne..

    long live rafi saab

  23. walijaah sahab,

    ek ajeebogareeb peshkash aap ke taraf sey – doh naam zikrr kiyaa hai aapney – mirza ghaalib aur rafi sahab – aisaa lagtaaa hai – kee yah dono ek hee sikkey key doh pehloo hai.

    ghazal ek aisee naayaab cheez hai – kee – likhney waalaa aur pesh karney waalaa dono hee – iskee nazaakat – aur baareekiyonkee – pehloo apney andhar pirohkar – iskee roop rachtey hain.

    rafi sahab – inn khobbiyonko aur inn baareekiyonkee khoob izzat kartey huey ghazlein gaayee hai.

    waaliaj sahab – mai ghazlein sunney key aadee hoon – unpar tikaa tipaanee karneykey liye naa toh merey paas auzaar hai – naakee – utnee jaankaaree.

    issliye – aapko – hrudaipurvak – badhaayee detey huey – atee prashansaaa key kaabil – lekh ko padhkar – apney aapko khush naseeb samajhkar – vidhaa chahtaa hoon.

    aiseyhee likhtey rahiye – waakai ghazal aur ghazal gaikee pey behtereen lekh.

    ramesh narain kurpad.

  24. A. Almas says:

    Dear Walijah Sahab, ASA

    After reading this article I became your fan now because the way you love Rafi Saab and writes your tributes to the greatest singer is unique and different from other write ups. You been searching the untouched subjects and contents on Rafi saab which is one of rarest things invisible on this website.

    Your write up is superb and magnificent, you have done full justice to the subject you have selected.

    My salams and appreciation for your efforts.

    A. Almas

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