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The combination of OP Nayyar and Mohammad Rafi was like tea and milk

By Souvik Chatterji

Mohd Rafi, O.P.Nayyar and Asha Bhonsle

The musiclovers had remembered legendary composer Omkar Prasad Nayyar, popularly known as OP Nayyar on his birthday on 16th January, 2015. He had died few years back, but his tunes had remained immortal for the audience of bollywood films for years. Whenever the name of OP Nayyar appeared in the minds of the audience, the name of immortal singer Mohammad Rafi had come together, without whom OP Nayyar was incomplete. The relationship between the two greats can be compared as tea and milk. OP Nayyar started his career with the film Kaneej in 1949. 

Guru Dutt had created his image in Bollywood films in different categories being a thoughtful director and producer, dynamic actor, good choreographer. One of the numerous reasons for which his films became super hit in the 50s and 60s included the brilliant songs sung by Rafi during the golden age.

Rafi’s songs in Guru Dutt’s Aar Paar, released in 1954 and composed by OP Nayyar became super hit. It was followed by Mr and Mrs. 55 released in 1955. Songs picturized on both Guru Dutt and Johnny Walker had melody and sweetness. Rafi’s songs like “dil pe kiya aisa jaadu”, “muhobbat karlo aji karlo”, “sun sun sun sun zaalima”, composed by OP Nayyar, created landmark in the mid-50s and Rafi emerged as the greatest singer of bollywood films during that time. In many of the songs Geeta Dutt did a great job in duets sung along with Mohammad Rafi.

The same combination of Guru Dutt, OP Nayyar and Rafi gave everlasting hit in the film 12 O Clock with songs like “mai kho gaya”. Also in CID, OP Nayyar and Rafi combination created gold with songs like “aye dil mushkil jeena yahan”, “leke pehla pehla pyar”, “ankhon hi ankhon me”, etc.

The magic combination of Rafi and OP Nayyar mesmerized the audience in Dilip Kumar’s Naya Daur. The super hit songs “saathi hath badhana”, “mangke saath tumhara”, “mai bombai ka babu”, contributed a lot in the absolute success of the film. OP Nayyar received the filmfare award for the best music director only once in his career. Credit goes to Rafisahab for the great rendition of each songs of Naya Daur.

The brilliant combination of OP Nayyar and Rafi continued in Raj Kapoor’s film Do Ustad. All the songs in the film became extremely popular including “tu ladki mai ladka”, “ruk ruk ruk, chor na de diwane”, “nazron ke teer mare kas kas kas”, etc. Rafisahab was the first choice of OP Nayyar, and inspite of Raj Kapoor’s voice having closeness with Mukesh and Manna Dey. OP Nayyar gave all the songs of Do Ustad released in 1959 to Mohammad Rafi Sahab.

Even in Bharat Bhushan’s Phagun, OP Nayyar composed all the songs for great Rafi Sahab. So of the most super hit songs included “kaun se pardesi mera dil le gaya”, “tum rooth ke mat jana”, “mai soya ankhiya miche”. Qamar Jalalabadi’s words were as brilliant as Rafisahab’s velvety voice.

Joy Mukherjee’s film Ek Musafir Ek Hasina did brilliant business in the early 60s. Raj Khosla’s musical thriller released in 1962 addressed every section of the society with romantic performance of Joy Mukherjee and Sadhna. All the songs of Rafi and Asha picturized on Joy Mukherjee and Sadhna became super hit. It includes songs like “aap yuhin agar humse milte rahe”, “mujhe dekhkar aapka muskurana”, “phir tere shahar me”, “mai pyar ka rahi hoon”, “bahut shukhriya, bari meherbani”, “humko tumhari isqh ne”, to name a few. Rafi was elegant as ever in the songs “phir tere shahar me” and “humko tumhare ishq ne”. OP Nayyar was probably at his best in the film and his blend of eastern and western music created the romantic mood for the film.

Joy Mukherjee, Rafi and OP Nayyar’s magical combination continued in the film Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon. Most part of the film released in 1963 was shot at picturesque locations of Jammu & Kashmir and the landscape was as romantic as the songs sung by Rafi and Asha in the film. The prominent songs included “banda parwar, thamlo jigar”, “lakho hai nigahon me”, “nazneen bara rangeen hai wada tera”, “aanchal me sajalena kaliyan”, “zulf ke chayon me chehere ka ujala lekar”, to name a few. Rafi had shown his excellent classical skills in the songs “zulf ke chayon me”, and “aancal me sajalena kaliyan”. Asha Parekh showed her dancing skills to perfection in the film. Rajender Nath played the role of the relief character in the film. In fact OP Nayyar maintained the same standard of music in Shammi Kapoor’s film Kashmir Ki Kali and Biswajeet’s film Mere Sanam which were made after Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon.

Joy Mukherjee’s combination with OP Nayyar continued in the film Humsaya. In that film Sharmila Tagore got the lead role opposite Joy Mukherjee. By that time due to emergence on new actors and actresses in bollywood films, Joy Mukherjee’s popularity declined and the film also did moderate business. In respect of the songs, Rafi’s song “dil ki awaaz bhi sun” became hit. But OP Nayyar gave a number of songs to Mahendra Kapoor was well which did not strike gold in the box –office.

Besides Rafi’s western romantic mood is utilized by OP Nayyar in a very stylish way in the songs Diwana hua badal, sawan ki ghata chayi” andYeh Chand Sa Roshan Chehera in the film Kashmir Ki Kali, 1964 picturised on Shammi Kapoor and “Humne to dilko aap ke kadmome rakh diya, is dil ka kya karenge yeh ab aap sochiye” in the film Mere Sanam, 1965 and “Phir Miloge Kabhi is baat ka wada karlo, humse ek aur mulakat ka wada karlo” in the film Yeh Raat Phir Na Ayegi, picturised on Biswajeet. In all these songs the sarengi and santoor had played a very pivotal role accompanied by the intoxicating appeal of Rafi’s voice.

In the film Baharen Phir Bhi Aayegi, Rafi’s ghazal “aap ki haseen rukh” composed by OP Nayyar and picturised on Dharmender was extremely romantic and made the audience spellbound in the early 60s. OP Nayyar composed peppy numbers for Rafi Sahab in Dharmender’s film Muhobbat Zindagi Hai in 1966. Rafisahab’s song “na jaane kyun” was as brilliant as “tumhari mulakat se” and “yeh purnur chehra yeh dilkash ada”. The list of films where OP Nayyar and Rafi’s magic flabbergasted the listeners just goes on including films like Tumsa Nahi Dekha, Basant, Phagun, Kismat, etc.

One article is too small to explain the domination of OP Nayyar and Mohammad Rafi in bollywood films of the 50s and 60s. But the songs and the films had not become obsolete and listeners can listen to them again and again. The songs and the films should be restored.

Souvik Chatterji (left), the author of this article.

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22 Blog Comments to “The combination of OP Nayyar and Mohammad Rafi was like tea and milk”

  1. vijay bavdekar says:

    let us not forget the films like bhagam bhaag and johny walker..op sahab used rafi’s voice for kishore and bhagwaan dada both in the song ”hame koi gum hai ”with ashaji for shashikla…op- johny-rafi trio is unforgettable …”aye dil tu na darr is jahan se”’

  2. Dr Souvik Chatterji says:

    Dear Srinivasonji,
    Thanks for the comments.
    I did not write about the break up of Rafisahab and OP Nayyarji after Humsaya. OP Nayyar faded away from the film industry in the late 1960s. His last films like Ek Baar Muskurado or Pran Jay Par Wachan Na Jay were flops. Those actors who gave super hits like Shammi Kapoor in Kashmir Ki Kali, Joy Mukherjee in Ek Musafir Ek Haseena, Biswajeet in Mere Sanam faded away also in the early 1970s.
    So it did not matter that in the last years OP Nayyar due to ego clash used Mahendra Kapoor, the student of Rafisahab in the films Kismat, Dil aur Muhobbat, etc.

    The fact remains Rafisahab sang around 202 songs for OP Nayyar. And those songs were so stylish during the era of Guru Dutt, Joy Mukherjee, Dilip Kumar and others that in the history of Indian music they stand out as most stylish creations.

  3. Dr Souvik Chatterji says:

    Dear Sayyedji,
    just because the reference was made about Lataji, in the career of OP Nayyar spanning for more than 40 years, Lataji was never used by OP Nayyar. He used Shamshad Begum and Geeta Dutt in the 1950s and Asha Bhosle in the 1960s. There is no argument in terms of any enmity. Lataji did not fit in the scheme of stylish westernized andaz that OP Nayyar required.
    Rafisahab was an exception. While his orthodox classical andaz was indispensable in Naushad Ali’s tunes, his ghazal andaz helped Madanmohanji, his western style helped Shankar Jaikishan and OP Nayyar.

  4. Sayyed mohd saqlain says:

    R.Shrinivason ji,
    It is a bitter truth that the man is slave of by-birth human habit but the rare souls like great Mohd Rafi is free of that kind of evil. No doubt OP Nayyer & my favourite MD Ravi are the great” fankars “but both made small mistakes which are negligibles.May GOD send Rafi Sahab again on this planet in place of our lives.

  5. Sarwat Baig says:

    Please watch this video from IndiaTV. A beautiful tribute to Mohammad Rafi Sahab on his 87th birthday. Mentions that Mohammad Rafi was the pioneer of yodeling. Good job, IndiaTV and thank you.

  6. Santhanakrishnan Srinivasan says:

    A very nice article. Both OP Nayarji and Rafi ji enhanced each other’s presence.

    The first song that I thought that was composed with Rafi ji in mind and went to Mahendra Kapur was “Lahon hai yehan dilwale” from Kismat, In Humsaya too, there were a number of songs by Mahendra kapur. In 1972, in Ek Baar Muskura Do, there was one song by Rafi ji is Zamane ki aankhon ne dekka hai yaaron.

    There were also some indications of rapproachment between the two, when in Heera Moti (1979) there is a lovely duet of Rafi and Manna Dey (Kuch aur nahin bas dhyan tera). By then popularity of both was on the wane.

    Santhanakrishnan S

  7. Ali says:

    Dear Sir R Srinivasan I agree with but OPN also said it was his biggest mistake to keep Mohd Rafi away also OPN said If there was no Mohd Rafi there be no OPN….

  8. R Srinivasan says:

    Very informative article on the immortal Nayyar-Rafi combination. One point this article does not mention is that OPN fell out with Rafi sahab in the late 60’s. If I recollect correctly, the song Dil ki awaz bhi sun in the film humsaaya was Rafi sahab’s last recorded with OPN before the dispute, which lasted a couple of years. Great as OPN was, I am a bit shocked and find it difficult to forgive him for treating the gentle Rafi sahab in this manner. After all, the small mistake of arriving late for a recording (which was unavoidable, as Rafi sahab was held up by a SHankar-Jaikishan recoding) did not warrant this kind of response from OPN. Did OPN forget the debt of gratitude he owed to Rafi sahab over decades? Of course, in the end they patched up and all was well between them.

  9. sayyed md saqlain says:

    Once Lata ji came late at recording session and urged with shri O.P.Nyyer nayyer ji became angry & took oath not to be worked with Lata ji.Thus Asha ji & Rafi sahab gave immortal songs to World specialy due to Devine voice of Rafi sahab and Lata ji sufferd a lot of popularity as well as money.

    Sir your article’combination of Rafi sahab & o.p.nayyer ji” is informatic and truthul,congrates.

  10. Harinder Kaur says:

    A very good article

  11. GAUTAM says:

    The lethal combination of RAFI-OP-SHAMMI OR JOY MUKHERJI is intoxicating mesmering a sort of charisma which on later years created by KISHORE- RD-RAJESH KHANNA. These combinations come across once in thousand years as a prize to humanity. long live these magic combinations.

  12. PROF D K DESHMUKH says:

    EXCELLENT article on RAFISAAB & the melody-maker OPN. In fact RAFIJI has sung uncountable hits for OPN after SJ,LP,SDB. OPN preferred RAFI’s voice for heroes Gurudutt,Dev Anand,Joy Mukerjee,Shami kapur,Johney Walker, Viswajit , Dilip kumar all of them were great artists,naturally great musician will prefer great male singer.

  13. R Vasudevan says:

    A very good article. The combo of Rafi Sahib and evergreen MD OP Nayar worked
    worked majic. Even films which were sub standard or that did not run it had very
    good music which carried OPN compsotition.

    Rafi had sung some of the beautiful & memorable songs under Ravi, SJ, LP, Roshan, OPN, but it is difficult to say or compare whose combination was the
    best as all were great in their own way. Rafi saw all music directors equally
    and had no soft corner to any particular composer. Rafi would have been a close friend to OPN or Jaikishan but when comes to singing he gave his best to all composers. That was his honesty. Long live Rafi’s name.

  14. r l arora says:

    Dear Souvik

    Excellent article. A big boost to the souls of Rafian fans. This can’t be termed in words as it is so nice and uncomparable. Kindly keep it up as it pleases Rafian fans and gives enegy to survive without physical survival of our beloved uncomparable Great Rafi Saab. My hats off to you. Thanks once again.

    Yours faithfully,

    R L Arora

  15. Dr Souvik Chatterji says:

    Thanks Aarkayji, Vinodji, Krishnan,
    I could not actually find other words to describe the combination of Rafisahab with OP Nayyarji. Going by statistics LP composed the music songs for Rafi Sahab, very close to 400 songs, and Shankar Jaikishan composed around 375 songs for Rafisahab. But LP used Rafisahab, when already he was ruling bollywood. The credit of Naushad Ali, Shankar Jaikishan and OP Nayyar lies in the early 1950s, when Rafisahab was at par with Mukeshji, Manna Dey sahab, Talatji. More than the numbers, the impact of the melodious songs was huge.

  16. sabnavees says:

    Very good reading wakil sahab. We are expecting your next article ‘ The Combination of LP & Rafi sahab ‘ . It would be MILK & WATER. Our FARISHTA has sung maximum songs under the music direction of LP as compared to other MDs. Next comes SJ.

  17. Narayana Murty Gundala says:

    The greatest singer composer combination. Nayyar saab and Rafi saab.

  18. vinod mehru says:

    Excellent information by Mr Souvik, Great, eagerly awaiting for more such articles. God bless u always.
    vinod mehru

  19. h krishnan says:

    More like (rather then milk and tea)

    kheer and kesar

    ice cream and gulab jamun

    malpua and rabadi

    in short sweet x sweet


  20. Dr Souvik Chatterji says:

    Thanks Jay Beeji,
    Shankar Jaikishan used Rafi sahab for majority of films of Raj Kapoor. There are examples like “hoshiyar hoshiyar” in Awara, “ramaiya vasta maiya” in Shree 420, “yeh mera prem patra parkar” in Sangam, “tum hi tum ho is gagan me” in Ek Dil Sau Afsane, while OP Nayyar used Rafisahab to sing all the songs of Raj Kapoor in the film Do Ustad in 1959. For record purposes all the songs of Do Ustad became bumper hits. The difference was Shankar Jaikishan shared the songs of Raj Kapoor with Mukeshji, Manna Dey sahab and Rafi sahab. OP Nayyar gave all the songs to Rafisahab.

  21. Jae-Bee says:

    Great article. Would like to add a couple of things:
    It was OPN who used rafi sahab to play back for KK in Ragini and Bhagam-Bhag followed by by md SJ in Shararat
    It was OPN who used rafi sahab for Dev Ananad in CID, before that SDB used KK and SJ used Talat and or Hemant for Dev. After CID SDB used rafi sahab for the first time in Nau DO Gyara for Dev after which rafi sahab was used by SJ, Salil Chowdary, MM, C.Ramchandra etc.

  22. Malik Tariq says:

    Very well written. These classics must be digitally restored. This is a treasure which will never recreated.

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