Parda Hai Parda
By: H.A.K. Walijah
Mohammed Rafi imprinted his name on the musical firmament with his appealing voice. His songs do not fail to mesmerize us, he is still fondly remembered for his captivating songs in Hindi films. What is it about Rafi that pulls people 31 years after his death? Surely not just his singing – but also something deeper, sublime, spiritual to his melodious and mellifluous voice. That voice which strikes a chord with millions even today, young and old, and is claimed to be divine. Rafi was a life force, a joy that could not be contained in songs. Rafi’s voice is not a thing to be summed up in words. It comes from a place of deep joy and profound pathos. It is a voice you internalize before you can fully appreciate it. Mohammed Rafi was the true embodiment of the Golden Era of music and melodies of Hindi Cinema, at its very unique zenith and he epitomized its finest artistic grandeur, splendor and original creativity. Mohammed Rafi had such a fascinatingly wide musical range, versatility and mastery over music and melodies. His songs ranged from traditional classical melodies to patriotic songs, artistic Ghazals, most pleasant sad melodies to exquisitely romantic melodies, traditional qawwalis to the finest sung ghazals, divinely pleasant bhajans to sad tunes of poignant despair and also modern fast-fun-filled songs. Rafi sahab’s voice conveyed intricate human emotions with such subtle dexterity, care, exquisite pleasantness and unique artistic creativity that it touched and over-powered the hearts and souls of millions of music lovers all over the world. As once Talat Mehmood said, “The voice was a gift from God to Rafi, but what Rafi made of it was a gift to God“.
When we put focus on Rafi Saab’s timeless Qawalis (from Barsaat Ki Raat to Amar Akbar Anthony), Rafi Saab’s songs give us solace, peace of mind, inspire and motivate us in the adverse times of life. When we are talking about the qawwalis of 70s, without the great qawwali of Amar Akbar Anthony “Parda hai Parda” the list is incomplete. Amar Akbar Anthony was released in 1977 & it won several awards. The music was written by Laxmikant-Pyarelal. Kishore Kumar sang for Amitabh & Mohammad Rafi sang for Rishi Kapoor. “Parda Hai Parda” this super hit filmy qawalli has quite a lengthy introductory piece before the main tune is established. Even Rafi’s entrance is part of the introduction. And what an entrance it is!
Shabab pe main zara si sharab phekunga
Kisi haseen ki taraf yeh gulaab phekunga
Parda Hai, Parda Hai
Parda Hai, Parda Hai
Parda Hai Parda, Parde ke pichhay, parda nasheen hai
Parda nasheen ko be-parda na kar doon toh
Akbar mera naam nahin hai
Parda Hai Parda…
Anand Bakshi’s lyrics give a nice rhyming twist on the words “shabab” and “sharab”. Mohammad Rafi was born for this song because it plays to his vocal strengths. Boisterous, fervent, and rebellious… Rafi’s voice depicts all these moods with proclamation. In 70s the era of qawwali was almost over and with this qawwali that empty space was almost filled.
It is shown in the film in a sequence where Rishi Kapoor’s character is performing in a Qawwali show to impress his love interest, played by Neetu Singh. In this song Rishi Kapoor requests Neetu Singh to show her face from the Burkha, but as seen in all the qawwalis the wordings are set so beautifully that he never says ” Parda uthao” he always says there is one parda and behind that parda my beloved is hidden. The words are so emotional that the heroine is tempted to raise her parda. But it covers all the parts of love, sometimes there is emotional blackmail, sometimes request and sometimes anger is also shown like
Na Dar Zalim Zamaane Se, Ada Se Ya Bahane Se
Zara Apani Surat Dikha De, Sama Khoobsurat Bana De
Nahin To Tera Nam Leke, Tujhe Koi Ilzaam Deke
Tujhako Is Mehfil Men Rusva Na Kar Dun To
Akbar Mera Nam Nahin Hai
Parda Hai Parda…
Rafi Sahab has rendered so many melodious qawwalis. He never seemed odd in any type of singing. Singing was his passion, he used to absorb in every unit of song. Such type of dedication is rare now. That is why quality songs have also become rare. There is no singer equal to him now nor expect any such singer in the near future. His range was superb whether in the higher pitches or lower pitches, the voice was mellifluous and constant. This is one of the many aspects of playback singing which only Rafi Sahab excelled in the industry. The natural, inherent greatness of Mohd Rafi in his amazing voice and expression of emotions makes him Number One even for qawwalis.
Qawwali is generally based on lyrics. Lyrics are the most important part of qawwalis. Moreover in the live musharyas the qawwalis have to set lyrics themselves. Sometimes they are the part of the answer to the other qawwals. One can say that qawwali is the competition of lyrics and perfect rhyming. In Hindi films up to some 70s there was a trend of qawwalis in the film. Majority of the qawwalis were a big hit. Mainly the qawwalis were between the hero and heroine fighting for prestige of womanhood or manhood. Some are the qawwalis where the hero’s beloved is beautifully praised.
I personally feel, aside from Manna Dey, Asha Bhonsle, and Mahendra Kapoor, Rafi Saab’s voice was very effective not only to the tune of qawwali but to all other genres of singing. It is fact that Rafi Saab scored over all others. A deeply religious man, Rafi never took his success more seriously than his craft. The only indulgence he allowed himself, or so says film lore, is that he loved playing carom, badminton and flying kites. He has sung umpteen numbers of qawalis. Especially the jodi of Rafi Saab and Manna Dey was great. The filmi qawwalis of Rafi Saab became big hits and remain unsurpassed even to this day in quality singing.
Today my intention is not to talk about the complete list of qawwalis of HFM sung by Mohd. Rafi, but today I just want to focus on only one qawwali which won many hearts of music lovers, the qawwali “Parda Hai Parda“ from the 1977 film, Amar Akbar Anthony. I enjoyed this Qawwali so much that one complete essay has been written in its favor. Parda Hai Parda gained much popularity with South Asian audiences and ranked second in the Binaca Geetmala year-end chart for 1977. Any filmiholic, filmi geek of Hindi Films would not have missed this blockbuster movie of 70’s era, I have some insights into Amar Akbar Anthony and in particular Rishi Kapoor‘s performance in “Parda Hai Parda” as well as the voice of Mohammed Rafi. Parda hai pardah was a great and very famous qawwali from the late seventies. It is not just a musical number but also displays the power of love and the way love has consistently remained the central theme of entertainment in the subcontinent, especially in Hindi films. Another evidence of great talent of Mohammad Rafi. Music composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal and lyrics penned by Anand Bakshi. Laxmikant-Pyarelal was awarded the Filmfare Best Music Director Award for 1977 on the strength of Amar Akbar Anthony’s soundtrack, and particularly this song. Mohammed Rafi was nominated as the best playback singer that year for the same song.
Prior to Parda hai parda there were many great qawwalis of bollywood movies, starting from “Na to carvan ki talash hai”, each movie should have at least one qawwali as that was the trend prevalent in those times and it was continued up to mid 80’s. I specially would like to mention a qawwali from Dharma “Isharon ko agar samjho” just one qawwali taking a movie to silver jubilee. The main charm of the song is that it is in the question answer form with great poetic rhyming. Bindu knows some Raaz (secret) of Pran and threatens to open that secret in the party still Pran says “Isharon ko agar samjho raaz ko raaz rahene do” but Bindu denies. The most charming thing is that their whole conversation is in qawwali form. The great pronunciations skills of Mohd. Rafi and Asha Bhonsle add more charm to the song.
Further the late 70s witnessed two more qawwalis “Hai agar dushman zamana” from Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahin and “Pal do pal ka saath hamara” from the Burning Train, both were superbly sung by Rafi Sahab and Asha Bhosle. The mind blowing sets and the costumes perfectly matched the wordings of qawwali for hai agar dushman.
When we come to Parda Hai Parda and its subtle nuances glowed with minute attention to detail, there are lot many things comes to the mind, for example in one of the musical programmes held lately Rishi Kapoor revealed that people used to call him “Flying Qawwal” as he jumps over stage in the beginning of this qawwali. Famously lauded as “a singer for every season and every reason,” Rafi attained the status of a legend by virtue of his unique style distinguished by inimitable voice delivery, impeccable diction, intricacies of tonal modulation and stunning range that captivated millions and left its stamp on a host of musicians, particularly playback artists. Rafi Saab playback for Rishi Kapoor owed its echo effect in full measure to Rafi’s expertise in voice modulation, as the recording technology of the time did not offer that facility. Same as just a generation earlier Rafi Saab playback for Shammi Kapoor that wowed film goers and had avid fans hanging on to every word, gesture, note and inflexion, created history. The tonal charm of Rafi Saab and his characteristic way of singing deeply rooted in the minds of his fans that will make them cry whenever they listen his songs. Rafi is immortal through his evergreen songs. It was thus not surprising to find a huge audience for his popular songs.
Among innumerable characteristics of Rafi Sahab singing four qualities had been much discussed and debated in musical forums, as those were: quality of voice, ability of expression, voice modulation and mastery of late entry. Now I do not want to go deeper into the nuances of these things. But simply like to put more focus on “Parda hai Parda”. When we listen to this qawwali four points needless to say comes to the mind – Alaap, Breathe control, Taan and Higher pitch. But I would appreciate first alaap of Rafi Saab in the beginning. We need to have admitted on various occasions that Rafi was the best. His diction, hold on classical ragas, effortless ease with which he used to raise and lower his voice, his throw of words, his way of putting feelings and meaning into each and every word was matchless. It appeared that where others just sang songs, Rafi Saab felt and lived those songs. When he goes for live shows or foreign tours a special request always come from the fans to sing this qawwali which was obviously obliged by Rafi Saab.
I may further recall the prelude music initially, before Rafi Saab picks up the Alaap which has nothing less than Rafi Saab’s autograph value. The percussion of dholak was very nicely implemented and the other musical instrument was banjo, I am not sure of it. Those instruments were very effective and attract the listeners much before the qawwali starts. In an interview Pyarelal Ji said, “I tried to bring in the original qawwali flavour by bringing authentic qawwali – musicians. They even have a distinct way of clapping! In ‘Parda Hai Parda’, I had brought an entire qawwali troupe for the recording!”
Even in the first antra when Rafi Saab sings,
Main Dekhta Hoon Jidhar, Log Bhi Udhar Dekhen
Kahan Thaharati Hai Jakar, Meri Nazar Dekhen
It just attracts millions of ears towards his silky voice with serenity and confidence, the throw of words is just impeccable when he sings….
Mere Khwaabon Ki Shahazaadi, Main Hoon Akbar Ilahabaadi
Main Shayar Hun Haseeno Ka, Main Aashiq Mahajabinon Ka
Tera Daaman Na Chhoduunga, Main Har Chilman Ko Todunga,
Especially at tera daaman, the repetition of word brings the beauty in a unique way of this qawwali that it is very lovely and pleasant to ears.
Yet at other place the breathless rendition simply great…..
Zara Apni Surat Dikha De, Sama Khoobsurat Bana De
Nahin To Tera Nam Leke, Tujhe Koi Ilzaam Deke
Tujh ko Is Mehfil Mein Rusva Na Kar Dun
Madan Mohan first used Rafi Saab for Rishi Kapoor in Laila Majnu. where Rafi’s songs “barbad muhobbat ki dua saath liye ja“, “is reshmi pazeeb ki jhankar ke sadpe“, “likhkar tera naam zameen par” were superhits and marked Rafi’s tremendous combination with Rishi Kapoor. Mohammad Rafi increasingly began to render more songs for this actor after the mammoth success of the songs in “Laila Majnu”. The previously skeptical Rishi was now convinced that Rafi could give him hit songs. Given their loyalty to Rafi (who was earlier upset that he was getting less work), Laxmikant-Pyarelal took advantage of this and came up with three solo pieces. The first and best of these is “Parda Hai Parda” that Rafi emerged as a perfect-match for Rishi even under R.D.Burman in Hum Kisise Kum Naheen and Zamaane Ko Dikhaana Hai. L-P also delivered the mega-hit Sargam, and the fabulous numbers from Karz, Naseeb, Badaltey Rishtey and Deedaar – E -Yaar. Rafi Saab last film for Rishi Kapoor was Deedar-e-yaar (1982) where a duet was beautifully sung with Kishore Kumar and lyrics penned by Sahir Ludhianvi (the song .. Mera dildar ka baankpan Allah Allah).
Once at last Neetu Singh raised her veil (parda), Rishi Kapoor, I mean Rafi Saab sings in a way that words flow like a river and Rafi Saab sang these lines with so much passion:
Khuda Ka Shukr Hai, Chehra Nazar To Aaya Hai
Haya Ka Rang Nigaahon Pe, Phir Bhi Chhaya Hai
Kisiki Jaan Jaati Hai, Kisiko Sharm Aati Hai
Koi Aansoo Bahata Hai, To Koi Muskurata Hai
Satakar Is Tarah Aqsar, Maza Lete Hain Ye Dilabar
Yahi Dastur Hai Inaka, Sitam Mashahur Hai Inaka
Khafa Hoke Chehara Chhupa Le, Magar Yaad Rakh Husn-Waale
Jo Hai Aag Teri Jawani, Meraa Pyar Hai Sard Paani
Main Tere Gusse Ko Thanda Na Kar Dun To
Akbar Mera Nam Nahin Hai
Parda Hai Parda…
Rishi Kapoor plays Akbar, a.k.a. King of Qawwali, and lives up to his nickname in not one, not two, but three songs(ok, only two of them are really qawwalis, but Rishi gets the most songs in the entire film mostly to himself and I’m definitely not complaining). Quite the cutie pie, Rishi lights up the screen (literally) in every song picturization he has. The whole thing mesmerizes me, from the song itself to Rishi’s colorful attitude (and outfit), and Neetu’s striking beauty alongside that red rose and black veil.
It is also very lovely how Rishi Kapoor makes entry in the song…too cute. And his get-up is also cute. What a pity we can’t even say such things to anyone:
‘Shabab pay mein zara si sharab phekunga
Kisi hasin ki taraf ye ghulab phekunga.’
After listening so many Qawwalis of Rafi Saab such as Na To Caravan Ki Talash, Hum Kisise Kum Nahin, Raaz Ki Baat Kah Doon, Yeh Hai Ishq Ishq, Main Idhar Jaoon Ya; but Parda hai Parda, is still linger in our psyche proclaiming its popularity even today and of course it remained always popular filmy qawwali number with music lovers.