Rafi Sahab – The Voice of Shammi Kapoor
This article is written by Mr. Bhargav P Vasavada.
‘Usi ne ha lootaa, mazaa zindagi ka, mohabbat me jo ho gaya ho kisika‘. When it comes to the ‘lootaa…‘ part, an engrossed listener would feel as if there is a sudden spurt of intoxication after all the intensely peaceful imbibing that has been going on till then. We know the shift in gears that Rafi Sahib was uniquely capable of doing, yet we wonder how come there is still that bit extra every time he paired up with Shamsher Singh Kapoor, better known as Shammi Kapoor, the icon almost singularly responsible for changing the image of the lead actor to a rebellious lover brimming with confidence and charisma. It’s that era that we are going to focus on today.
Of course there are some other very important pieces to this jigsaw, namely O P Nayyar, Shankar Jaikishan, Majrooh, Shailendra and so on. The very fact that when we close our eyes and think of the Shammi era, the term ‘music’ brings up the name ‘OP’, goes on to show the heights achieved by the master in the good old days of Kapoor’s kinly association with Shankar Jaikishan.
With due lack of respect to the storylines and directions, it would be an understatement to remark that some of the flicks around then were made worth remembering purely because of the genius of Rafi-Shammi Siamese duo. It almost seemed they had the music ready to go, but somehow they had to knit a story and some side cast around it for packaging purpose. Whether it was the royally inglorious ‘Prince’ or the princely mediocre ‘Rajkumar’ or the equally average ‘Kashmir ki Kali’ – all of them were fortunate enough to carve a place in the annals of Hindi music, purely because of individual brilliances of SK, RS, OP and SJ.
Mohd Rafi with Shammi Kapoor, Shankar, Datta Ram, Hasrat Jaipuri and others
Which lesser mortal, if not already aware of it, would be able to claim its a dubbing when Shammi approaches Sadhana crawling on all fours acting out ‘vo dekho mujhse rooth kar meri jaan ja rahi hai‘. Rafi sahib is the best mimic of all time, having mimicked with finesse to give voice to a galaxy of actors. Though somehow, perhaps just by design, it seems even the mimic didn’t have to be anything but at his natural most, when it came to singing for Shammi. Of course great credit to the actor as well, else who would believe the way he fools the audience in ‘hai duniya usiki…’ into believing for a moment that a second Rafi was born – or was it that Rafi tried this number in a spiritually uplifted state as well? It never happened with Shammi-Manna combo somehow, although the music was melodious as ever. You never feel the same onscreen chemistry in ‘jhoomta mausam mast mahina..’ although Manna da is bright as ever in the foot tapping classic.
It is not surprising thus, that SK himself was quite good at appreciating music. He played an active role in the selection, creation, recording and concept of his music and the final filming of his songs. In fact few know that it was Shammi-Rafi who had decided in consultation with OP that every ‘taarif’ in ‘taarif karun mai kya uski‘ would be rendered differently by RS and would be differently enacted each time by SK. Such were the days of versatile artistry and teamwork. SK once recalled that when OP was zeroed on for Kashmir ki kali, he was ready with 52 tunes, from which the bosses RS and SK selected 9 of the best!
Mohd Rafi with Shammi Kapoor
Talent can sometimes be a quality for lifetime! After Geeta Bali’s death, ironically associated so much now with the real life like acting in ‘Tumne mujhe dekha..’ by SK, he was to lose interest and cut down on his work. However flashes of SK-RS brilliance did keep coming as in the pahadi based ‘dil ke jharokhe me…’ I sometimes try to sing this number out of sheer disregard to greatness, only to realize my lesser mortal stature very soon.
From the chocolate like, almost childlike ‘hum aur tum aur ye saman…’ to one of the best lullabies in ‘mai gaon tum so jao…’ over the years, this pair has given us a reason – reason to smile, reason to be ourselves, reason to just forget our self importance in presence of something supremely sublime.