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Relationship between Mohammed Rafi saab and Mahendra Kapoor

By Rajiv Nair

Mohd Rafi and Mahendra Kapoor

Mohd Rafi and Mahendra Kapoor

His Guru Rafi Sahab
Mahendra was around 13 when he heard the Mohammed Rafi number Yahan badla wafa ka (Jugnu, 1947) and was totally mesmerized by the singer. “Dad somehow found out Rafi saab’s house in Bhendi Bazaar and reached there even though it was a riot-affected area post-Partition,” recalls Ruhan.

Winning the Metro Murphy All-India singing competition (1957) made it easier for Mahendra to make inroads in Bollywood. “Rafi saab helped him perfect the nuances. He sang the non-film song Ilaihi koi tamanna nahin composed by Rafi saab for the competition.”

The singer’s association with Rafi only grew deeper. In fact, the first time Mahendra travelled by a plane, it was with Rafi for his show in Kolkata where the youngster was a part of the chorus. Ruhan recalls, “They were put up at The Grand Hotel. Rafi saab was to perform after two and was asked to rest till then. Unable to relax, he went to the verandah and called out to dad. He said, ‘Mahendra, look at the stars and the moon. It’s such a beautiful night. The creator of so much beauty has no ghamand (pride). Then how can we, who’ve just sung a few songs, pride on ourselves? I’ll perform namaz, you do pooja and let’s thank the Lord’. And the two lost themselves in prayer.”

Mahendra would never let go of any opportunity to show his gratitude towards Rafi. In 1979, a Mahendra Kapoor night was held at the Royal Albert Hall in London where Rafi’s sons, Khalid and Sayyed, happened to be present. “When dad came to know of it, he asked the organisers to get him two garlands, something impossible at that hour. They were, however, bought from a temple in the vicinity. Then, he called the boys on stage, garlanded them, touched their feet and said, ‘I am not touching your feet, I am touching the feet of my guru who’s sitting in Mumbai!’ The audience was moved. Every singer has been influenced by another but no one acknowledges it. My father did.

Surprisingly, Rafi and Mahendra never sang together (except in Aadmi, 1968). “Rafi would say, ‘Log hum mein kushti ladayenge (people will pitch us against each other). We are brothers, not rivals’.”

The ’70s saw a paradigm shift in film music with the combination of Kishore Kumar and RD Burman taking over. “It was a highly insecure phase for all singers, not only dad. The Indian and earthy style of singing popularised by singers like Talat saab, Rafi saab, Mukeshji and dad gave way to a western style. The instruments changed completely. That era troubled dad. Left, right and centre it was only Kishore Kumar.”

Ruhan recalls the day when an upset Rafi called Mahendra home. “When dad reached Rafi saab’s house, he found him sitting on the lawn, sad and alone. Rafi saab said, ‘The producers who went out of their way to greet me, turn away their faces today. It hurts me’. Dad replied, ‘It’s the way of the world’. Rafi saab then asked dad to listen to a new song he had just recorded. It was Tum jo mil gaye ho (Hanste Zakhm, 1973) by composer Madan Mohan. Dad cried and so did Rafi saab, such was the melody and the mood.”

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16 Blog Comments to “Relationship between Mohammed Rafi saab and Mahendra Kapoor”

  1. r l arora says:

    Dear Nair ji

    bundle of thanks for adding knowledge to Rafi fans. it is established fact that no singer whether male or female had any comparison with our beloved Rafi Saab. besides being the best of the lot he was an angel, thorough gentleman,helpful and god-fearing persaon. He not only deseved Bharat Ratna but he richly deserved Universal Ratna. I hear his beautiful songs daily without fail. I had once the opportunity of listening his unmatchable voice in Delhi during a charity show. It was my one of the happiest days.

    thanks once again for the article. I offer my best regards and thanks.. bye

  2. A. Reza says:

    Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib said, ” Live in a manner that people long for you and cry over you when you are dead.”

    Someone like Mohammad Rafi.

  3. joydev gupta jd da says:

    sundar

  4. yasmin banu says:

    Rafi Sahab and Mahendra Kapoor Ji always had a very friendly relationship and that was so obvious. Fame and fortune comes when your career graph shows an upward curve but individuals who are having a downward curve does not implies that their talent fades away. Their talent remains standstill despite the viccititudes of life. This is what happened with our Rafi Sahab.

    Why RD did not use Rafi sahab when his father SD Burman Da used him immensely was sheer RD Burman perference and not based on anything else.

    Now speaking about movies teesri Manzil, Pyar ka mausam, Caravan, Yadon hi barat, Hum kissi Se kam Nahin where RD Burman used Rafi Sahab voice. All these movies are Nasir Hussain Ji’s movies and he will never replace Mohammed Rafi Sahab and Majrooh Sultanpuri Sahab. He started his career in Tumsa Nahin Dekha with these duo and even his son Mansoor Khan used Majrooh Sultanpuri in QAQT, Jo jeeta Wohi Sikandar. Otherwise, RD would never had used Rafi Sahab even in these films.

    These are personnel opinions based on individual analytical ability and nothing else.

  5. salim k says:

    Money is the god of this world, sadly and this was witnessed in 70’s. The only reason why Rafi sahab had fewer recordings was commercial.
    Hungry producers wanted to capitalise on the popularity of Kishore Kumar.
    RD Burman was also very popular and inmy view over -hyped and he used to give just about every song to Kishore.

    Many MD”s who became famous on the back of Rafi Sahab songs, faded away. The standard of music had collapsed and everything was political and Rafi Sahab was a man of class, grace and dignity and would not become a party of the corruption that existed then.

    Sadly RD Burman met a time when no producers wanted to touch him and when Rafi Sahab left us in 1980 , he had more songs on the top of the charts than any other singer , male or female.

    Rafi Sahab was and is is and will remain the greatest benchmark of singing and dignity. He is a legend of legends, someone who is beyond compare and the only one in his elite class.
    Today he is more popular than any other singer and his songs still attracts millions all over the world.

  6. shammi says:

    There is definitely no doubt that Mohd Rafi saheb was and will remain the best singer of all time. It is also really nice to read about Mahendra Kapoor who always acknowleged Mohd Rafi saheb’s contribution to his singing career and never forgot it to the day he sadly passed away. I’m so glad that the media and the film industry were unable to create a wedge between the friendship and good relationship between Mohd Rafi and Mahendra Kapoor, and I think that is because both artists were lovely caring and sincere human beings and didn’t let gossip and idle rumours come in the way. May they both be remembered for decades to come.

  7. Santhanakrishnan says:

    Dear Bashirahmed H. Jamadar ji,

    Bharat Ratna is given by politicians based on political considerations.

    We are the people of Bharat who hold in Rafi ji in highest of pedestals. I do not know if any other singer of yesteryears or today enjoys the same position in the hearts of the people. Even people of current generation, when they sit and listen to Rafi, they get mesmerized. This for us is a greater honour for Rafi ji.

    Rafi ji, for me, is great because he was humble in spite of possessing a divine voice and attributed his success to god! Was very humane, and till date there is no one who has anything bad to say about him.

  8. Bashirahmed H. Jamadar says:

    There are no words to say anything regarding the great rafisaahab, he was..he.. is….and he will……be the one and only greastest singer having lot of humanity towards.. new comers…and all those in film industry…who were in problems…rafisaahab…only help everybody…the greatest humanbeing born in our beloved country INDIA, but some professional oldest singers are opposing to get rafisaahab A BHARATRATNA award…is the very sad and we all fans are badluck….because all knows very well…who is making the politics regarding BHARATRATNA.

  9. Santhanakrishnan says:

    I had read in an article in Illustrated Weekly of India – where Rafi saab had mentioned that people also want change. When Rafi saab came to prominence he replaced Talatji, on whom Rafi saab mentioned that Talatji’s voice as velvety as ever, and he became popular. Now people want a change and the switched over to Kishore. Kishore and Amit have a lot of regard for Rafi saab. Kishore saab acknowledged how great it will be for him to be able to sing a song like “lagta nahin hai dil mera” without much instrumental support and still sound so musical!

    Rahul Dev Burman, had mentioned that Rafi can not easily change to newer modifications once the song’s tune is set. Rafi was mentioned as a composer’s delight by Naushadji, that the composer need not worry while composing if the singer would be able to sing the difficult portions. Anil Biswas, whom some musicians considered as composer of composers, did not like Rafi’s style of singing and barely ever used him. There were many leading music directors who came to prominence solely because of Rafi saab singing their compositions, and also many not so well known music directors – Iqbal Qureshi, Bipin Babul, GS Kohli, C Arjun , etc used Rafi saab has he was helpful.

    Rahul Dev Burman was of different generation and used Rafi in all his movies of 60s (teesri Manzil, Pyar ka mausam, Yadon hi barat, etc). But after Aradhana, the public also associated Rajesh Khanna, RD and Kishore together though LP used Rafi saab in Do Raste, and Kalyanji Anandji in Sachha Jootha on Rajesh Khanna. Rahul Dev brought in some new inventions, was overly dependent on the instuements and became predictable – and his songs barring few were not for singers enjoyment – or opportunity to excel.

    Anil Biswas – was overtly Bengali music which were of Rabindra Sangeet type. Sachin da and Naushadji were the wo MDs who exploited Rafi saab’s versatility and capability. Ravi’s music was simple giving Rafi saab a lot of freedom to innovate and add his own embellishment. SJ and LP gave a lot of opportunities for Rafi saab to excel through a combination of Orchestra and melody.

    So I would not attach any intention behind RD’s not using Rafi but simple and plain inability to think beyond Kishore and limiting his compositions to fit Kishore style of singing. It was purely born out of his inability to compose where the singer could add value to the songs. No conspiracy angle. He did not use any other singers either barring Manna De and Rafi. There are few odd songs for other male singers.

    Santhanakrishnan

  10. Rajiv nair says:

    Ahamed kutty sir, you are right RDBurman did not promote Rafi saab. As he had feltthat kishore kumar did more justice to his songs. however the song “kya hua tera vaada”from hum kisi se kum nahin, gave Rafi saab a national award.

    Destiny had conspired with Rafi saab, else he would have definitely tied Yesudas asregards the number of national awards are concerned. Anyway as you had mentionedthat kishore kumar never got a national award. I would like to mention songs of which could have got a mention in the national awards:
    )Zindagi ka safar
    2)Zindagi ke safar mein
    3)Jeevan se Bhari
    4)Phoolon ka Taaron ka
    5)Kitne be tu kar le sitam.

    Rafi saab and kishore kumar were never rivals in real life, in fact they were goodfriends. Rafi saab always helped kishore to raise funds by singing in charity shows.Rafi saab was of the opinion was kishore’s source of income was by singing. So why should he be stopped from singing. As all india radio had banned airing kishore songs for some time.

    Kishore kumar and son amit kumar were the first one to come to Rafi mansion early morningafter hearing about Rafi saab’s death. And Ahmed Bhai of Calicut was witness to Kishore da crying inconsolobly like a child.

    Rajiv Nair
    95677 86277

  11. Ahamed Kutty says:

    The ugly game played by RDB against Rafi Saab turned to him
    and he was nothing at the end of his life.Even junior regional
    language singers could get at least one National Award but
    these people’s efforts was not fruitful to have a National
    Award for KK .It is a shame for a singer like KK.

  12. Rajiv Nair says:

    Thank you Balwant sir and Binu sir, i really appreciate your comments on this topic. It motivates me to get more information and articles and publish on this website. This website is a god given opportunity for all Rafi fans, who can know more and more about the legend whose name is Rafi saab. Rafi saab is the real Bharat Ratna we have. It is sad that our Government has lapsed in recognising such an icon.

    Binu sir our quest for rare songs of rafi saab will always be there as i am in touch with Rafi saab’s close friend Ahmed Bhai from Calicut.

    Along with Naushad ji, i also appreciate Madan Mohan ji for lifting the confidence of Rafi saab who seemed to be in depression, in the 70’s. That Madan Mohan gave the song “Tum Jo Mil Gaye Ho from Hanste Zakhm, just to prove any doubters in the music industry, who thought Rafi saab was losing his midas touch.

  13. SURESH RAFI says:

    Dear Rajiv Nair,
    I feel very proud someone who wrote on the Relationship between Mohammed Rafi Sahib & Mahendra Kapoor. I never listen that incident, Mahendra Kapoor Sahib worship the Rafi’s Sahib sons feet and convey the message to all Rafi Bhagat ” Assa Yaar De Nazaare Wicho RUB Vekheya”
    Thanks & Regards,
    Suresh Rafi ( Singer )
    09855805688

  14. Onika Setia says:

    nice article

  15. BALWANT SAQI says:

    Dear Rajiv Nair. Mujhe bahut khushi hui.Jo in do mahan hastion ke bare mein itni meethi meethi payari payari batein. Hum sabhi Rafi sahab ke Mohinder Kapoor ji ke bhagton fans ke sath share ki. Bahut bahut shukriya dhanyawaad.Kash koi Rafi ji Mohinder aur Mannadday ji in teen mahan hastion ke bare. inke aapsi relation mail jole milna milana payar mohbbat ki baatein bataye . To kaya maza ho Khuda kare koi bhagat Worshipper kahe bataye.BALWANT SAQI.

  16. Binu Nair says:

    A nice article.

    Actually, the song Tum Jo Mil Gaye Ho took months to make it. Rafi saab promised that he would go to Madan Mohan jis residence to Learn and Rehearse the song.

    This was told by Ajay Madan Mohan, the son of MM in a tribute show at Dinanath Hall at Vile Parle.

    The songs LP was played to Mahendra Kapoor at Rafi saabs house. It was heard again and again. And then, both Rafi & Mahendra broke down. (As told to me by Rohan Kapoor)

    Hope you will do more research on rare songs of Rafi saaheb and also of those songs recorded and not released. There are hundreds of songs not found the daylight and many Lost. Its a fact.

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