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The Rafi-Kishore saga

The following article appeared in The Statesman,Calcutta, on Aug.7 th 2005. It will give more food for thought to the ongoing debate about the Rafi personality and magic – Mohan Flora .

Mohd. Rafi was the greatest playback singer, asserts Ranjan Das Gupta as he pays tribute on the melody kings 25th death anniversary. Rafi was a classically trained singer while Kishore was naturally endowed with excellent resonance. The latter was a versatile genius, singer, music director, actor, writer and director all rolled into one. Both were proficient singers but had separate individual styles.

In the 1950s Rafi literally ruled the roost. He was the most favoured singer for veteran composers like Naushad, S.D. Burman, Shanker Jaikishan, Madan Mohan while Kishore was preferred by S.D. Burman and Salil Choudhury who was playback mainly for Dev Anand and his own films. Rafi on the other hand could balance his melodious voice for diverse stars like Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Guru Dutt, Rajendra Kumar and Shammi Kapoor.

It is an astonishing fact that O.P. Nayar used Rafi to sing for Kishore Kumar the unforgettable tune Man Mora Bawra in Ragini in 1957. Shanker Jaikishan also had Rafi to sing Ajab Hai Dastan in Shararat in 1958. Says record museum owner Vinod Santhalia, It is simply amazing. Imagine Mohd. Rafi sang for Kishore Kumar in films Kishore himself acted.

Shanker Jaikishan commented, No doubt Kishore Kumar is a good singer. He sang beautifully for me in Rangoli. But Ajab Hai Dastan was simply not Kishores cup of tea. The mukhdas and antaras required a singer of Rafis range and classical background.

Although Kishore Kumar felt bad about this, he could only marvel at Rafis brilliant rendering of the two songs. Rafi characteristically remarked, No one else except Kishore could sing Dukhi Man Mera in Funtoosh so well.

Salil Choudhury was not favourably inclined towards Rafi at one point of time, but even he was compelled to use Rafi for the unforgettable Tootey Huey Khuabo Nay in Madhumati and Koi Soney Ke Dil Wala in Maya and confess that Rafi was indeed peerless.

It is generally known that Rafi and Kishore went through a bad patch in their relationship. Yet it is also true that both liked and respected each other. S.D. Burman openly admitted to Kishore that the three solos in Guide by Rafi could not be matched by any singer. On Dev Anands special request, he composed the Kishore-Lata super hit duet Gata Rahe Mera Dil for Guide. Similarly, Rafis numbers in Teen Deviyan and the haunting duet with Lata Mangeshkar in Jewel Thief were far superior to the Kishore numbers in these films.

In the late 60s when R.D. Burman composed the melody for Tum Bin Jaaun Kahan in Pyar Ka Mausam, he experimented the same solo with both Rafi and Kishore. True, Kishore sang this number by melodiously incorporating his inimitable yodelling. But in the romantic number, Rafi scored over Kishore in melody.

The 60s was also considered Rafis decade though Kishore matured considerably as a singer during this period. The Jungle Mein Mangal number Woh Din Ke Baat Sharan Karo had both Rafi and Kishore together but is somehow not remembered that well. But Shanker Jaikishans Hanste Gate Jahan Se Guzar in Andaz by Rafi quite eclipsed Kishores entire Zindagi Ek Safar in 1971.

Madan Mohan also used both Rafi and Kishore in the song Yu Na Sharma for Parwana in 1972. Kishore sang the happy rendition for hero Navin Nischal. But there was Rafi again to do full justice to the Are Hansnewale, the melancholic aspect of the same song for Amitabh Bachchan.

In the 1970s the Kishore Kumar wave took the Hindi film music by storm and was backed by R.D. Burman. Some critics felt R.D was partial to Kishore and avoided using Rafi. The Rafi Kishore duet Yaadon Ki Barat from the film with the same title in 1973 turned out to be a superhit. But it cannot be categorised either as an exclusive Rafi or a Kishore gem for both sang in perfect harmony.

Subsequently, R.D. Burman opted for Rafi again after four years as no other singer could have rendered so skillfully Chand Mera Dil and Kya Hua in Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahin; that too in a film with many Kishore Kumar superhits like Mil Gaya and Aa Meri Jaan.

When Rafi sang Darde Dil for Laxmikant Pyarelal in Karz in1980 based on a single note, he proved melody was indeed God-gifted to him, remembers upcoming singer Sujan Bose. Kishores Ay Mere Umar Ke and Ek Hasina Thi could not touch that level. The same can be said for Rajesh Roshan’s Yarana where Rafi’s Aare Re Aisa Tarana completely surpassed Kishore’s Sara Zamana and Tere Jaisa.

Mohd. Rafi left for his heavenly abode on 31 July, 25 years ago. Remembers author Nabaran Bhattacharya, The photo of a silent, sad and grief-struck Kishore in the newspapers portrayed very well that no one except him understood what an irreparable loss had taken place in Indian film music.

As Kishore himself said when Jagjit Singh criticised the Rafi gharana, How dare these so-called ghazal singers criticise an icon that Manna Dey, Mukesh and I dare not criticise. Rafi was unique.

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815 Blog Comments to “The Rafi-Kishore saga”

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  1. admin says:

    I don’t see a point in keeping the discussions open for this thread as most what I see here is only bickering! Thanks!

  2. unknow1 says:

    Dear Avi,
    U r wrong?Madan Mohan,SJ,O P Nayar
    Naushand said at Zee on Sa re ga ma that Mohd Rafi was 19 and there be 18 and 20 but not 19 I hope u understant what Naushand mean 19?I hope that u listened what Naushand what said about Mohd Rafi, we can give u many big name who said that they are because of Mohd Rafi, Madan Mohan Said that when Mohd Rafi sing he should not be paid please give one name who said about KK,please visit kk site,Sorry to say dear Avi u look like a blind man we are tring to show u but u can’t see because u are blind(sorry for saying that)
    Offourse Lata is best female singer and also there are many good female singers but when we speak about male singer there is only Mohd Rafi.

  3. avi says:

    Abey Gadhhe Roop,

    Saaley talk abt music and defend Rafi. Why u r getting personal?
    It shows abt ur bullshit background.

    Dear Admin, Pls. go through Roop’s blog, It shows how intelligent rafi fans are !

    Boss, first become a good human being.
    Let me suggest u one thing. Criticise work but don’t criticise indivisual.

    Hope u will take care from ur next blog,

    Dear Unknown1,

    Kumar sanu sang 21 songs in a day and it is there in guiness book, does it mean he is great…?
    Person who knows music and famous personality, (Not like Rafians who claim they know music) never said that Rafi is greatest or Kishore is greatest.
    Always they said their fav. are ****.

    Naushad never said Rafi was greatest but he said his fav. are Rafi and Mukesh.

    But yes, Only one singer in the industry whom everybody accepted as no. 1 is one and only LATA MANGESHKAR.

    It is you and me who are saying Rafi is great or Kishore is great.

    For your kind informantion, There are many site which talks abt KISHORE, may be more than Rafi. You can find Kishore’s site never argue abt greatest singer and they never have a page like RAFI-KISHORE saga because Kishore’s fans know who is the best. It is one and only KISHORE.

    I hope i clear ur doubts abt sites.

  4. unknow1 says:

    Dear Avi,
    I never said that kk is not good,KK was a great or u can say the greatest man in bollywood but when we speak about one man show but when we speak about singer dear AVi no way to compare Mohd Rafi or manny Dey with KK as a SINGER SINGER SINGER i hope u understant,
    As u said that Manna Dey accepted that he lost to kishore in “PADOSAN”.Mr Manny dey spoke about this song my time he first didn’t accepted,Yes Maddy dey siad that KK is great maybe it not mean that is greater than Mohd Rafi,If some one say that he is good it not mean that he or she is better than other,
    I was looking to SA Re GA MA at Zee Tv there are three who know about music but I can’t understant how one of them give c and other A+.
    Dear Avi please visit KK site and write something there because no one write there.
    P from LP said it easy to make song for Mohd Rafi,Lata and Asha because how we make it they will sing it but other singer we should make it there style,L from PL said that Mohd Rafi singed six song in one day no other singer can do it.
    dear Avi u can’t force any one to like kk because I don’t like kk as singer but it not mean that is bad but as actor i like him so much,
    Look dear Avi all in music world they say that mohd Rafi is the best male singer also there are many who said that kk is good singer but no one said that he was better singer than Mohd Raf but there are many who know about music they said about Mohd rafi is the best.

  5. Roger says:

    i have already sokan in length about the ‘ death of originality’ in the present day singers and the fact that Rafi becomes a’ big barrier reef’ in good sence) for the up coming artists.

    Now recalling this particular usage of ‘ death of originality’.
    You see hindi film singing in particular has evolved from old. Playback singing started with a particular purpose in mind.

    GIVING LIFE TO LYRICS can be 1 purpose of play back singing.

    This purpose in turn has gotten winded with the with the situation in demand.

  6. I also appeared under the title Roger and A.V.P in the Mohan flora section (may archive) previously.

  7. roop says:

    Let me congratulate the author of the above article for listing the hard facts. Rafi was number 1 from the time he sang Yahan Badla wafa ka in the 40′s till the last time he faced the mic.

    Even a simple song like Bhishan Chacha was enough to dislodge several KK numbers, thats a slap on the face of the fustated KK club.

    Rafi songs are a very challenging to sing especially those in 40′s, 50′s and 60′s. KK was no where in these decades, he was not even considered a singer. It was only due to the great music of Pancham da and SD Burman that he salvaged something. Even Anu malik would have become popular singer if he was offered hundreds of great tunes to sing.

    Rafi was always the first choice for a vast majority of music directors whereas KK was the first choice of the greedy producers (in 70′s only) who wanted to make money of his fame in early 70′s. Music directors never thought much of KK.

    Shankar of SJ refused to allow KK to sing Ajab hein dastaan saying that it is not his cup of tea. OP Nayar has said on many ocassions that KK ruined his songs.

    However hard these desperate KK club may try they cant change history and its facts. KK does not even come close to Rafi, he is just a mole compared to a mighty mountain of singing, the one and only Rafi.

    So go on barking you mad dogs (and jokers)…..

  8. roop says:

    Avi

    You are a proven gone case, it will be fun playing with a genuine donkey like you. The whole world lost to KK….lol…who lost when Rafi was called to sing songs for him…LOL. KK bechara is a toddler in singing, he is like Aftab Shindasni infront of Sharukh Khan. Bewakuf insaan, see that we do not trace your IP, mooh kala karkar gadhe par baitakar Kandwa ki ser karanoga.

    You are a laughing stock and everyone here is literally palying with you. You could win an oscar without any competition for the premium joker of the year, even the best of jokers loose to you.

    Stop humiliating KK by your crazy analysis, so who wants to kick his butt first……LOL…lol….LOL

  9. avi says:

    Roop,

    Don’t force me to use bad words for you.
    Boss, I have not said anythign wrong against Rafi.
    As this page is on RAFI-KISHORE so i am putting my points.

    Boss, If you can’t accept the truth then pls. get out of this site.
    Kishore is/was greatest among all. It has been proven.
    KK was kid that’s why Manna Dey accepted that he lost to kishore in “PADOSAN”.

    I appreciate ur knowledge. Keep it up.

  10. roop says:

    Avi

    Are you on drugs or are you simply a nut case. You are a perfect example of a sick wacko who is getting needless attention. The modertors of this forum must stop allowing this nonsense.

    KK is a kid in singing compared with Mana Dey and Mukesh and a toddler compared with the mighty Rafi.

    Get this into your garbage head and buzz off before we find you out.

  11. avi says:

    Dear Unknow1 and Roger,

    I never care abt ur words because your knowledge is very little abt rafi and kishore.

    But i would like to answer Roger, I Know u r “DOUBLE DHOL”. In all aspect, KISHORE is/was superior than Rafi.

    We have already proved and when you people run short of words, you started saying all rubbish thing abt Kishore.

    Dear Unknown1,
    I am very sorry abt u guys because u see world from one eye. Pls. read what Pyarelal said abt KISHORE. HE said KISHORE was amazing and he was the only guy who could sing anything.

    I sent a link where Manna Dey had chat with journalist Mr. Chandran and he said KISHORE was most talented than any other singers.
    On 4th Aug’06, He again said the same thing in AAJ TAK, STAR NEWS in the memory of KISHORE.

    Why u r talking abt Amit Kumar, I have seen the same program and he sang Rafi’s song, he was good also. He did not sing the same song after “once more” demand from public, Does it mean he is not comfotable to sing the same song? NOOOOOOOOOOOO.

    Pls. see SA RE GA MA, there is one guy named
    Aurojit (Not remember exact name, he is boy but he looks like girl). He is learning classical music and he was singing Rafi’s most difficult song very effortlessly but in last episode when he was asked to sing Kishore number, he was failed.

    I hope i answered ur question. When i hear Sonu Nigam humming Rafi’s songs, I never found any flaw in his songs but many times when he tried to sing KISHORE, he failed.

    Anyone Kannadiga here? If you rememebr a hindi movie name “JULIE” composed by rajesh Roshan. Remake of Julies is released in Kannada and they kept same music. I was hearing Kannada version of “BHOOL GAYA SAB KUCHH, YAAD NAHI AB KUCHH” sung by UDIT NARAYAN (Male version). He was pathetic. he was not able to sing “JULIEEEEEEEEEEEEE AAAAAAAAAAAAA, I Love You”.
    Udit is known singer and he is there in the industry for last 27 yrs and he could not able to do justice to this songs.

    It shows how superior is KISHORE than any other singer.

  12. unknow1 says:

    Dear Avi and Shankar,
    Are u Amit Kummar?(kk song)sorry if u mind because i remmber my old days when i was child when i said that Bachchan voice is bettern than Mohd Rafi when they sing togetter in Nasseb,
    Dear Avi and Shankar If u ask a blind man that sun is shining?!!!!I hope u understant what i mean.
    As u said mr Avi that Manny dey said that KK is a good singer but u didn’t said that same Manney Dey said that Mohd Rafi is the better than all male singers.
    To all KK fans,
    please with best music dirtectors in bollywood?
    please answer mr Avi as u saw the programm at zee tv where Amit kummar(maybe u r Amit)he tried to sing Mohd Rafi song and he can’t?I hope u remmber that,
    these are KK word “KK said that world say that I am crazy but I say to the world is crazy”
    Dear KK fans the Q is not that kk is good singer, the Q is who is the best male singer in Bollywood?
    Dear Shankar the singer they can sing Mohd Rafi but they can’t sing KK songs do u know why?it is so easy because who play football he will be not good in cricket as in football,the singer work is singing songs if it is not a song how he will sing it?!!

    I hope u read what said by P from Lp about Mohd Rafi.,

  13. Roger says:

    Avi, abtaq you were changing your name. Now who is this Rafiq bhai?

  14. Roger says:

    I am a die hard Rafi fan. I love Rafi. I am always for Rafi. Even if I want to defend Kishore there are so very few good points in him that i will soon loose the battle. So, I have shifted sides and I will be a Rafian now.

  15. Roger says:

    Rafi was the best no matter who came ha is stationary.

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