Rafi’s immortal relationship with Khayyam
By Souvik Chatterji
Mohammad Zahur Khayyam Hashmi, better known as Khayyam, was generally an off-beat composer whose level of excellence could be very well compared with Naushad or Shankar Jaikishan or Roshan, inspite of composing music in less number of films.
Born in 1927, Khayyam, learnt music from Baba Chisti, a renowned composer of Pakistan. He learnt music from also Hunslal Bhagatram and Pandit Amar Nath. He assisted composer G.A. Chisti in Lahore for some time. He returned back to Ludhiana in 1943. He went to Bombay to be an actor. He got a role in the Yeh Hai Zindagi in 1947.
After assisting a number of composers, who composed music independently for the first time in Zia Sarhadi’s film Footpath in 1953. His song “sham-e-gham ki kasam” sung by Talat Mehmood in Dilip Kumar’s successful film created a separate identity for Khayyam. His songs in Raj Kapoor’s film Phir Subah Hogi, became equally famous. Mukesh’s songs “wo subah kabhi to ayegi”, “chin-o-arab hamara”, “phir na kije gustaq nigah ka gila”, were very soft romantic numbers , while Rafi’s song “jo bore kare yaar ko” had comedy andaz picturised on Rehman. Rafi sang in Khayyam’s early contribution in the film Tattar Ka Chor in 1955 titled “dekho zara ulfat ka asar”. In the less known film Barood in 1960, Rafi sang a solo “chala chal chala chal ghar hai andhera”.
Rafi’s best songs composed by Khayyam were in the film Shola Aur Shabnam. All the songs were written by Kaifi Azmi, with great philosophy embedded in them. Rafi’s voice was probably at its best in the songs “jane kya dhoonti rehti hai yeh ankhe mujhme”, “jeet hi lenge baazi hum tum”, “pehle to aankh milna” in the film. Dharmender was blessed with the soft romantic songs in the early part of his career which took to a huge distance in his goal of being a successful romantic actor. Khayyam provided his hilly tunes in the film Shagun in 1964, where Rafi’s number “parbaton ke paron par sham ka basera hai” still haunts listeners. Rafi’s other songs in the same film composed by Khayyam titled “tum chali jayogi, parchaiyan reh jayegi” and “yeh raat bahut rangeen sahi” can make any listener intoxicated. The brilliant lyrics were written by Sahir Ludhianvi who probably had written some of his best shayeris for Khayyam. Due to the fact the main actor in that film being Kanwaljeet, having limited box-office presence, the songs did not get the publicity that they deserved.
The magic combination of Rafi with Khayyam continued in the film Muhabbat Is Ko Kehte Hai. Rafi’s songs for Shashi Kapoor namely “meri nigahen” and the duet song with Suman Kalyanpur namely “thehriye hosh me aaloon to chale jaiyega” had ghazal andaz and ended up being big hits.
In Rajesh Khanna’s Akhri Khat in 1966, Khayyam’s composition for Rafi titled “aur thori der theher” mesmerize the audience equally like Lata’s solo song “baharon mera jeevan bhi sawaron”. Khayyam’s songs always had very orthodox urdu poetry attached with them, so the classic words balanced the meaningful orchestration accompanied by the sweet voice of Rafi. Rafi sang a duet song “nain milake pyar jatake” along with Jagjit Kaur in the film Mera Bhai Mera Dushman in 1967.
For the next four five years, Khayyam did not compose music prominently. In the mid-70s, Khayyam got recognition for his touchy numbers in the film Kabhi Kabhi in 1975, and landmark mujras in Umrao Jaan in 1981, for which he received filmfare awards for best composer. Mukesh’s songs “kabhi kabhi mere dil me”, “mai pal do pal ka shayar hoon” and Asha Bhosle’s songs “in ankhon ki masti”, “ dil cheez kya hai” had become musical classics over a period of time. Even Bhupinder Singh’s song “karoge yaad to” can be considered to a legendary ghazal of Khayyam.
The combination of Rafi and Khayyam in film music faded away from mid-70s. But at the same time Khayyam composed landmark bhajans for Rafi which again had great musical value. It is a pity that composers like Khayyam had composed songs in less number of films, otherwise Rafi and Khayyam combination could have featured more. The films, the songs and the non-film albums should be preserved.