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Suman Kalyanpur and Rafi’s duets did not get publicity

This article is written by Mr. Souvik Chatterji

Mohd Rafi and Suman Kalyanpur

Mohd Rafi and Suman Kalyanpur

The media during the last 60s years had been too kind towards some of the celebrities while remained silent about the others. For example during the golden age 50s, 60s and 70s, other than Lata and Rafi there were other combinations who had given everlasting hits.

Lata Mangeshkar always got the focus of attention and as such her duets with Rafi which covers more than 440 in number always stole the attention. Yet Suman Kalyanpur during the same age of competition had sung almost 170 duets with Rafi most of which became super hit, yet could not get the lime light which they deserved.

The song “ajahu na aye balma” from Saanjh Aur Sawera, picturised on Mehmood and Subha Khote and  composed by Shankar Jaikishan showed the compatibility of Rafi with Suman Kalyanpur in classical songs. Rafi could adapt his style of singing with any singer. But Suman Kalyanpur also did a great job with the giant. The song “dil-e-betaab ko seene se lagana hoga” from the film Palki, picturised on Rajender Kumar and Wahida Rehman and composed by Naushad had the ghazal andaz embedded in them and Suman Kalyanpur was unblemmish aside Rafi.

SJ used the same Suman Kalyanpur aside Rafi in fast numbers like “aaj kal tere mere pyar ke charche” from Brahmchari picturised on Shammi Kapoor and Mumtaz, “hai na bolo bolo” picturised on Shammi Kapoor and Hema Malini in the film Andaz. The biggest tragedy is that the songs did great business and the films became super hit, yet the message relating to Rafi’s combination with Suman Kalyanpur did not reach most of the viewers and the media too did not play a neutral role in that aspect. Half of the people thought the duets were sung by Rafi and Lata as Suman Kalyanpur’s singing style matched with that of Lata.

Suman Kalyanpur

Suman Kalyanpur

Khayyam’s composition “thereiye hosh me aaloon to chale jayiega” from the film Mohabbat is ko kehte hai picturised on Shashi Kapoor and Nanda had another romantic number of Rafi and Suman.  Madan Mohan’s tune “baad muddat se yeh ghari aye” sung by Rafi and Suman stunned many listeners of ghazals, as the urdu words were pronounced in style in the film Jahanara. Bharat Bhushan  and Mala Sinha were sublime in the film. Rafi as usual was unblemish in respect of ghazals. But Suman too had adapted her style of singing which suited the songs of the Mughal period.

Even the fast numbers composed by LP like “tumse o haseena” sung by Rafi and Suman did not get the hype of media which it deserved inspite of Farz ending up as a run away hit of Jeetender. Roshan’s meritorious composition like “maine aye jaane wafa” from the film Bedaag, “chand takda hai idhar” from the film Doojh Ka Chaand remained unnoticed.

Besides there were other hits like “parbaton ke paron par sham ka basera hai” from the film Shagun composed by Khayyam, “tumne pukara aur hum chale aye” from the film Raj Kumar composed by Shankar Jaikishan, “dil ek mandir hai” from the film Dil Ek Mandir composed by Shankar Jaikishan, “tujhe dekha tujhe chaha” from the film Choti Si Mulakat composed by Shankar Jaikishan, “tujhe pyar karte karte” from the film April Fool composed by Shankar Jaikishan, “mujhe yeh phool na den” from the film Ghazal composed by Madan Mohan.

The factor of Suman Kalyanpur being chosen to sing duets with legendary Rafi Sahab by giant composers like Shankar Jaikishan, Naushad, Madan Mohan, Khayyam, Laxmikant Pyarellal, Kalyanji Anandji, proved another fact that she was not any particular composer’s singer. She did a great job with Rafi, but due to passive attitude of the media the songs got recognition with no information relating to the singer. Even in many films when the names of the singers were written Suman Kalyanpur’s name was mentioned at the end without any particular reason for it.

Rafi had proved in his entire life that he was a greater human being than a singer. That was the reason why he could match his singing style with any fellow female artist including Lata, Geeta Dutt, Sumna Kalyanpur, Sharda, Mubarak Begum, Asha Bhosle, Shamshad Begum, and others.

His combination with Suman Kalyanpur should be preserved and restored.

Souvik Chatterji, the author of this article

Souvik Chatterji, the author of this article

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34 Blog Comments to “Suman Kalyanpur and Rafi’s duets did not get publicity”

  1. Mukund says:

    Sumanji came much later than Lataji almost after 8 to 10 years and by that time Lataji was already established singer and in demand having sung for great stars like Nargis, Madhubala, Meena Kumari and gave many popular songs till 1955. Suman was getting opportunity in Marathi and few hindi songs and was well appreciated by all but no one thought of replacing her in place of Lataji as there was no need to do so. During the same time Binaca Geetmala was in its peak and was the only program where ranking of songs started for annual programs. Sequence was as such 1956 – Rafi for film CID, 1957 – Rafi + Lata duet for film Janam janam ke phere, 1958 – Hemant Kumar for film Solva saal, 1959 – Kishor + Asha duet – for film chalti ka naam gadi, 1960 – Rafi for barsat ki raat ( this song also had lata version but rafi version scored the top slot), 1961 – Rafi for film sasooral Teri pyari pyari, 1962 – Rafi for film Junglee Ehesaan tera ho ga (This song too had lata version but rafi got top slot), 1963 – Rafi + lata duet from film tajmahal ( In this song there are 2 duets one with 2 stanzas of lata and one stanza of rafi and other one stanza for each and third stanza for both together this version was chosen). Rafi was almost a monopoly in this period and even if you listen now Rafi versions are better than lata versions. At this period dispute started between lata and rafi. Royalti is the reason given officially but no one talks about the real matter behind the curtain. But this was the great opportunity for sumanji to come with flying colours. Dispute did not affect Rafi in any way and on the contrary his songs were increased as many like shammi kapoor, Joy mukherjee, Bisvajeet etc had more solo songs in film than what male actors used to have earlier. Music directors can not shut the shop because of dispute so they started using Ashaji and Sumanji wherever duets were involved. lata had only choice of Mukeshji and Mannade ji but overall business with rafi was much more than Manna de + Mukesh together. It was the great loss for lataji and Suman ji was getting very well established and was perhaps upcoming threat to lataji. After 3 years dispute was settled by jaykishait mediating. But it was lataji who refused to sing with rafi and this dispute did not affect Rafi any way then what was necessity of patch up? People give different reasons but the very great singer who refused to sing with Rafi but agreed to patch up after 3 years it self shows the greatness of Sumanji without any certificate.

  2. shammi says:

    Souvikji, I agree that Suman didn’t get the publicity or recognition that she deserved and the sad thing about all this is that even up to today most of the public who have heard the popular duets with Suman and Rafi are under the impression that Asha Bhondsle was the female voice. I have to admit with some songs myself included, this only goes to show what a great versatile singer she was.

    Rafi definitely didn’t miss out without Lata during the period they had their spat, in fact if anything Lata was the loser by far!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. sandesh naik says:

    hello sir
    i am pleased to read it because suman kalyanpur is all time great female singer, as good as Lata Didi.
    thanks for sharing this information
    sandesh naik (legal consultant)

  4. Deepak Deshmukh says:

    Researches should be done on the voice of great Mohd. Rafi.Modern technology can play a very important part in discovering secret of NATURE,just as researches were done on the brain of Dr. Eienstein.The subject should be ‘HOW RAFIJI COULD MATCH HIS VOICE WITH Dev Anand,Rajendra kumar,Dilip kumar, Mehmud,Johney Walker,Bharat Bhushan,Shammi -Shashi-Rishi kapurs,Guru Dutt, Joy Mukerjee,Jitendra,B.Sahani,Sanjiv kumar,Raaj kumar,Sunil Dutt,Ashok Kumar,Talat Mehmud,Dharmendra & so many.

  5. chayan mitra says:

    dear souvik chetterjee nice post really informative please put more regarding suman kalyanpur.thanks and regards. chayan mitra

  6. meenu says:

    Hi Binuji,

    “Aadmi musafir hai” song is a duet of LATA and RAFI. If you think she is SUMAN then you are wrong. There is vast difference in their voices. There vocal were similar in 1950-60 in 70 onwards we can clearly identify difference.
    e.g. ‘Hamne maana hum pe ‘ from DADA.

  7. Muniza says:

    I can’t figure out how every one of you miss Rafi Suman duet which I liked the most —Aise tau na dekho ke behak jaain kahin hum—from the movie Bheegi Raat under the music by Roshan.

  8. Ahmed Khan says:

    Binu Sir,

    Kindly clear the supsense of song “Aadmi musafir hai”.
    Still I am sure that it’s Lata M.

    Kind regards,

    Imtiyaz A. Sharif

  9. Imran Rustam says:

    Duets of both the legends are awesome.

    My one of favorite duet of both is “meri jaan tum se mohabbat he, magar kaise kahun”. what a nice song this is.


  10. Samina says:

    I am a Rafi Saab’s fan since I was 18. I am 26 now. I don’t belong to his time but I regret it so much else I would have definitely done something to meet him 🙁 . His voice is Godly and I can’t explain what was the impact of his voice on my life. I was surprised when I first came to know about Suman Kalyanpur as till then I thought all those songs were sung by Lata. After some 8 years of my passion in old hindi songs, I began to think that now I can recognize the difference between the two voices by identifying the subtle difference in the accent and diction (needs trained ears) . But today I felt defeated again when I found many other songs which I thought were sung by Lata have actually been sung by Suman. How can Lata be unique when someone can be as good as her. I really feel sorry Suman Kalyanpur. Younger generation doesn’t even know about her.. Media celebrate Lata’s b’day; why don;t they even mention singers like Suman, Geeta etc? There is so much bias…. ‘Mere Mehboob na jaa’ is toooooo goooooood. Forget my generation people even my mom didn;t believe when I told her it’s not Lata but Suman. She thought it was an error by radio jockey’s of Vividh Bharati… Shame on the people who are responsible for this…..

  11. Sudhir Vashishtha says:

    It is great that music lovers do realise worth of Suman Kalyanpur but sadly not acknowledged by Film Industry / Media. But in this world, majority of the people want ‘Their’ Credit only not the ‘Due’ credit !

  12. Imtiyaz A. Sharif says:

    Ref. post 10 & 22
    Yes sir, it’s Lata Mangeshkar.
    Meenuji, what you says?

    Imtiyaz A. Sharif

  13. binu nair says:

    Post 13 : Mr. Musharraf … please try again, its not LATA MANGESHKAR … by any chance…


    sept 28 was lata didi’s birthday and there were many programmes in almost all channels. amrut lata – a collection of lata songs music show also was held at 4 places in mumbai.

    i wish to get any book which “lists” all the 27000 songs sung by lata mangeshkar.

    i think meenu ji the great lata fan could help me…

    binu nair, mumbai

  14. sumit Nagpal says:

    Just a reply to the discussion… Although Rafi saheb was a Muslim but I can tell you that we all love him and this fact never came in my mind… Md. Rafi was an Indian and I love him and worship him to the extent that only Rafi Saheb’s die hard fans can understand it…

  15. sumit Nagpal says:

    This is indeed a tragedy that Suman Kalyanpur never got that much hype… To be very frank… the songs which have been mentioned here… I always thought were sung by Lata ji… May be Suman ji should have developed a style of her own… Otherwise she would have got the attention she deserved….

  16. Rajkumar Akela says:

    Dear Nasreen,
    Thanks for your reciprocation.
    I am a die-hard woor of late Rafi Sahab.
    I love him from the core of my heart.
    His golden voice, his melodious songs, his life style tought me to love each and every man in this world.
    Though Rafi Sahab was a muslim, but his divine voice was above caste, crew and any religion.
    He was my ruhani-guru.
    Wish you all the best.
    Rajkumar Akela

  17. Nasreen says:

    Dear Rajkumarji

    Thank you for the Eid wishes. Of course I don’t know you personally, but I was touched to see you giving Eid greetings to your muslim friends on this site (and I think all of us who love Rafi Sahab are friends).

    Eid Mubarak to you all.

  18. Rajkumar Akela says:

    Eid Mubarak to all my Muslim friends !
    May Allah bless you and your family with the most joyous Eid !!!

  19. Utthara says:

    The song Mere sung gaa gungunaa sung so beautifully is from Janwar and not Junglee. it is picturised on Rajshree on stage. The song Dekho rootha na karo is sung by Lata and not Suman.



  20. Nedumangadan says:

    Suman Kalyanpur, like Mahendra Kapoor got stuck up under powerful Rafi, was washed ashore by Lata. Still she gave excellent songs like semi classical “Mere sang gaa gunguna..” from “Junglee,” “masoom chehra..” with Rafi from “Dil tera Deewana”, “ye kisne geet cheda” with Mukesh from Teri soorat Meri Aankhen, and “Dekho rootha na karo..” with Rafi from “Tere Ghar ke Samne”

  21. Nedumangadan says:

    Suman Kalyanpur had almost identical voice of Lata and singing style. Because of that cedit for so many of her hits went to Lata. And she is called most of the time as a replacement for Lata. Even then Shankar jaikishan, and Roshan gave her many songs and she rendered it brilliantly. Who can forget her classical solo “Mere sang gaa, gun guna..” from Junglee(SJ), “Masoom chehra…” with Rafi(Dil thera Deewana S J) “Dekho rootha na karo..” with Rafi (Tere Ghar ke Samne SDB), and” Ye kisne geet cheda…” with Mukesh (Theri surat, Meri Ankhen SDB)

  22. Musharraf says:

    Binu Nairjee(post 10), the co-female singer of the song is Lata Mangeshkar.

  23. Dr.vasudha says:

    Dear souvik,
    that was a sterling tribute to the melody queen–i just love her voice and her consistency.suman did not hog the limelight nevertheless her renditions remain etched in the hearts of music lovers.her duets and solos were out of the ordinary.
    souvik–recently she was felicitated by the pais of manipal.according to me she deserves every honour and reverence.
    tehriye hosh mein aloo , raat suhaani jaag rahi hai,ki jaan chali jaaye are some of my fave songs..
    thanks a lot for reminding us of this evergreen singer.

  24. dr virag dave says:

    informative artcle

    one memorable duet is from the movie “BLACK PRINCE” –nigahen na phero, chale jayenge hum.

  25. binu nair says:

    A Rafi Duet : Interesting Quiz. lets see how many of us know the answer.

    The song :Aaadmii musaffir hai, aata hai jaata hai is tuned by l & P.

    Who is the Co singer, the female singer along with rafi saaheb????

    binu nair

  26. Nagesh Sidhanti says:

    Dear Mr. Souvik,

    Thanks for the tribute to the great singer Suman Kalyanpur. I too believe
    she is rather unsung compared to Lataji and Ashaji.

    I simply like her tonal quality which has this innocent ada. My favorite
    Rafi-Suman duets are ajahuna aaye, teheriye hosh main aloo, rahe na
    rahe hum & tujhe dekha.

    Your write-up helped me to fondly recall those lilting melodies.

    Nagesh Sidhanti

  27. A S MURTY says:

    a timely article on the superlative playback singer – suman kalyanpur. one of the finest female singers she ran neck to neck with lata mangeshkar in her singing style and sur. unfortunately for her and for music lovers in general, she was not given her due for reasons other than capability. in several songs it is sometimes mistaken that lata mangeshkar has rendered the song while it actually is suman kalyanpur, so much for their similarity. and with rafi sahab, they have come out with some of the most exotic duets ever, some of which are there in the article itself and also in the comments by others. the media has always been obsessed with only some of the legends and have ignored some classic singers over the years. articles like this one will go a long way in remembering the golden melodies of suman kalyanpur. souvikji, keep writing on.

  28. Rajen Shah canada says:

    dear sovik,
    You have done wonderful job. suman is one of the best singer but did not get justices. There is no word for our Rafi saheb,he was very pious and great. Thank you for great job our next generation will remember these great singers.

  29. souvik and uttara,

    at the outset. i wish to thank souvik for an insight into the personality and great singing talent of Suman Kalyanpur.

    How sad, though the world enjoyed her songs and singing, none had the gumption to pick upt the pen and paper and record their views.

    what could be the reasons for this step motherly treatment to a great singer like suman.

    today, we are writing about the greatness of a singer and someone who was totally neglected and did not get her due recognition, is more like a POST MORTEM “.

    Were the film music media reporters of those days under any blanket ban or PROFESSIONAL OATH, not to report anything about singers other than LATA.

    Was Latha so powerful already by that time that she called all the shots.

    O.K. forget all this, the people who wrote the lyrics, the people who scored music, the people who made those movies in which this highly talented suman kalyanpur rendered all these materpieces, dumbfounded not to assert or air their views including protests about this gross injustice.

    NONE happened. Why is it that it is left to our generation to always questions and seek clarifications for all these mysterious lacunaes.

    The great loss of music lovers. Is not the loss of the Music Industry too.
    Were the movie makers too busy dishing out – hit after hits – and innocently allowed Suman Kalyanpur pass away UNSUNG.?

    These are some of the very many anamolys rising in the minds of all of us when we think of rare singers like Suman Kalyanpur.

    Anyone who has sung along with Mohd Rafi Sahab in so many duets and that too very well – could not have gone Un-Noticed.

    There has to be something very deep and sinister in all these happenings and is now part of history.

    Our great nation, India ( Bharat ), which I extremely proud of often leaves us with a lot desires un-fulfilled. I should rephrase the whole sentence.

    Injustices done to legends like Rafi Sahab – BHARAT RATNA ?

    Great thoughts and an equally fantastic TRIBUTE to Suman Kalyanpur – Souvik. You are back to your elements and I like it. This is your true self.
    You are too good a writer to be ignored.

    Your choice of subject is spot on – keep em coming Souvik !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Thanx a ton to UKpedia for her most valuable inputs as always.

  30. Saroj kumar says:

    Sauvik bhai apne suman kalyanpur ke gano ka prastuti bahut achcha laga suman asami thi aur itne gano ke bad bhi unhe wo samman nahi mila jiski wo haqdar thi unka career ka political death ho gaya wo aj bhi gumnami ke andhere me jee rahi hain. yahi haal sharda ka bhi hai. So i request to rafi foundation to come farward for such co-singers of rafi n honour them this is true tribute to rafi.i also talk with sharda bt no connection with suman though i try email add-

  31. Utthara says:

    Hi Souvik, like you said, Suman Kalyanpur was unsung and underrated. She held her own and gave several hits __ both solos and duets. Thank you for paying a tribute to this wonderful artiste.

    Rafi and Suman Kalyanpur have given several hits. Though Suman’s voice did not have the depth of Lata’s, she neverhteless was good. Rafi and Suman came together during the infamous Rafi-Lata spat. I am just listing some of my fav songs.

    1. Thehriye hosh mein aloon toh chalejayiyega __ excellent(you can go on listening to this wonderful song)

    2. Meri zindagi tere pyar mein hum kahan kahan se guzar gaye __ picturised on rajendranath __ great music and great singing

    3. Baad muddat ki yeh ghadi aayi __ one of the best duets

    4. Ke jaan chali jaye jiya chali jaye jiya jaye toh phir jiya nahin jaye __ one of the most romantic songs

    5. Raat suhani jag rahi hai __ Jigri Dost… good one.

    6. The duet version with Rafi __ Rahe na rahe hum __ Mamta

    7. Dil ne phir yaad kiya __ with Rafi and Mukesh

    Suman has sung some beautiful solos like Sharaabi sharaabi yeh sawan ka mausam from Noorjehan(my fav). the hugely popular Na na karte pyar tumhi se kar baithe, , the haunting Mere mehboob na jaa, aaj ki raat na ja, from Noormahal, the most beautiful Haale dil unko yeh sunaya na gaya from Fariyaad(music director Snehal Bhatkar); , in the same film she sang a glorious duet with Mahendra Kapoor Dekho dekho raha tha papiha, Natum hame jano from Baat ek raat ki)ther is Hemant’s version of the same song), Pani mein jale from Munimji, Barkha bairan (you have Mukesh’s tandem song Barkha rani), Jahan Pyar Mile’s title song, Woh jidhar dekh rahen from Sabak, Juhi ki kali meri ladli from Dil ek mandir, Behna ne bhai ki kalayi se from resham ki dori., Sunle Bapu yeh paigam picturised on baby Sarika from Balak….these are a very few samples of her singing prowess.

    Souvik, thank you for taking us down melody lane.

    With musical regards


  32. J.K. Bhagchandani says:

    There is another Rafi- Suman gem- ‘Aapne huzoor mujhe kya se kya banaa diyaa….. meharbani meharbai….. ‘ from film ‘Fariyaad’

  33. J.K. Bhagchandani says:

    Mr. Souvik Chatterji has raised a very relevant point. It is a fact that media is generally partial to Lata and Asha. Singers like Suman Kalyanpur, Geeta Dutt, Shamshad Begum, Mubarak Begum, Sudha Malhotra and even Suraiya etc. are almost completely ignored. Shamshad Begum got some media coverage recently after remix versions of her super hit songs hit the market.

    Apart from great duets with Rafi, Suman Kalyanpur has to her credit some very nice solos too. ‘Mere Mehboob na jaa, aaj ki raat naa jaa…’, ‘Yoon hi dil chaha tha rona rulana teri yaad yo gayi….’ etc. are some of her great solos. Suman has also sung some wonderful duets with other singers too. ‘Chura le tumko ye mausam suhana (with Mukesh- Dil hi to hai), ‘Mera pyaa bhi tu hai’ (with Mukesh- Saathi), ‘Tum jo aao to pyaar aa jaaye…’ (with Manna Dey- Sakhi Robin) are some duets that are coming to my mind.

    One error in the article: The female voice in the song ‘Dil usse do jo jaan de de…’ of film Andaz is Asha Bhonsle not Suman Kalyanpur.

  34. binu nair says:

    Informative one, mr.souvik saaheb – this time. and, good listing of great songs.
    the song from andaz, dil use de jo jaan, de de…. is by rafi/asha duo.


    another piece of good news : the rafi foundation is opening its cochin chapter very shortly. mohd rafi lovers from cochin and nearby may contact mr.jayprakash for more details.

    please correspond : or call ….

    binu nair, rafi foundation – mumbai

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