By J.K. Bhagchandani
Music and especially a song has been a very potent and perhaps most natural medium of expression of love and romance. Hindi films have very effectively used the songs at innumerable occasions to narrate the romantic facet of the story-line of the movie in a very creative and inspired way. The extent of depth, the passion or any other aspect of the romantic feelings that a 3 to 4 minute song can convey outshines the series of romantic dialogues lasting many-fold minutes.
A well known jazz vocalist Joe Williams once said, “I think that musicians should never forget about the intimacy of bringing two people together, and the aesthetic transference where you’re almost vicariously involved in a romance between other people.” This one sentence aptly signifies the nuance of a romantic song, the benchmark of ‘passion for performance’ that the performer (singer) needs to integrate in his/ her renderings. And at that benchmark Mohammed Rafi’s name will remain the foremost for not only achieving that but surpassing the same by many a mile.
In an article in the Times of India on Rafi saab’s 30th death anniversary columnists Avijit Ghosh and Utthara Kumari wrote: “If there are 101 ways of saying ‘I love you’ in a song, Mohammed Rafi knew them all. The awkwardness of puppy love, the friskiness of teen romance, the philosophy of unrequited love and the anguish of heartbreak – he could explore every crevice of ardour……”
Last year on Valentine Day Sarah Modi had listed 14 best romantic solos of Rafi saab. I thought that on this Valentine day, it will not be a bad idea to list 14 best romantic duets of Rafi saab. In the ocean of Rafi saab’s gems, to select fourteen best romantic songs is a difficult path to venture into. But nonetheless the exercise is filled with thrill and joy.
(1) Abhi Na jaao chhod kar ki dil abhi bhara nahin….: Dev saab crowned this song to be the ultimate in ‘Romanticism’. I am sure many will agree with him. Sahir Ludhianvi’s soft and subtle poetry is oozing with romance. Jaidev has given us many brilliant songs but this song remains the ‘signature tune’ of his career. Rafi saab with his sweet and velvety voice has taken the song to altogether a different level, perfectly depicting the thoughts, the feelings of a man pleading his lady love to prolong these romantic moments. Look at some wonderful, short, sweet and soft lyrical lines and recall how Rafi saab has delivered each and every word.
abhi abhi to aayi ho
bahar ban ke chayee ho
hawa zara mahak to le
nazar zara bahak to le
ye sham dhal to le zara
ye dil sambhal to le zara
mein thodi der ji to loo
nashe ke ghoont pee to loo
abhi to kuch kaha nahi
abhi to kuch suna nahi
(2) Jo wada kiya wo nibhana padega…..: The situation of the song in the film (Taj Mahal) required it to have the ingredients of ‘immortality’. And immortal it is. Set to a haunting tune by Roshan written by Sahir Ludhianvi and sung by Rafi and Lata, the song has the mettle of lasting till eternity. Lata Mangeshkar has sung this song in many live concerts as a tribute to Rafi saab. Today the immortality of Taj Mahal finds an echo in this song.
(3) Baad muddat ke ye ghadi aayi….: Madan Mohan composed, Rajinder Krishna written this Jahan Ara song has been rather under-rated by many music lovers. The song needs to be revisited by all Rafi fans. The song represents a situation of some lovely romantic moments of their lives… which have come rather hard way…. not sure they will get such moments again. It is among the finest Madan Mohan compositions and one of the best songs of Suman Kalyanpur. Rafi saab captivates you from the opening lines itself; ‘Baad muddat ke ye ghadi aayee..’. The way he says the word ‘aayee’… and then ‘Ishq mar mar ke kaamyaab hua.. aaj ek zarra aaftaab hua..’ It is simply mesmerizing.
(4) Jeet hi lenge baazi … An eternal romantic song having ingredients of deep love, passion, belonging, dreams, commitment, tranquility, sedition, pleasure, hope, oneness etc. all integrated in a way that the song instantly takes you away from the material world to a sublime horizons… (Milta hai jahaan dharti se gagan…) making you float with the song. It is definitely one of the Khaiyaam saab’s best compositions (sung by Rafi and Lata).
(5) Hum aapki aankhon mein is dil ko basaa len to…. : Rafi saab modulated songs ‘Ye Mehalon ye takhton ye tajon ki duniya…’, ‘Ye kooche ye galiya…’ of the film ‘Pyasa’so brilliantly that these songs were perfect reflection of Vijay (Guru Dutt) a rejected poet that he portrayed in the film. The challenge in creating ‘hum aapki aankhon mein is dil ko…….’ song might have been to give a romantic angle to such a poet/ writer (rejected by society). Rafi saab has sung this song so magnificently that one gets that feeling “Oh yes…. this poet will sound only this way in romantic mood”. In the interlude, the song has the piano and guitar combination to go perfectly with its rhythm. One of the finest compositions of S.D. Burman.
(6) Jhule mein pawan ke ayee bahaar: We often applaud the ghazal writing expertise of Shakeel Badayuni and overlook his great contribution in folk based songs. ‘Suno ji saiyaan ji utrenge paar wo….’, ‘Gao taraane mil ke…’, ‘Aaj mere man mein sakhi bansuri bajaye…’, ‘Door koi gaye…’, Dukh bhare din beete re bhaiya…’ etc. are some of the best written lyrics with a folk fragrance. In the same category is this Naushad composed, Rafi-Lata sung ‘Baiju Bawra’ pearl. The skillful integration of words like ‘jhoola, saawan, bahaar etc. make it a treasured song that can be called as ‘Earthy Romantic’ and the line ‘Dole man mora sajna, chunaria baar baar dhalke….’ adds a bit of sweet sensuality to this memorable song.
(7) Deewana hua baadal…… : Listen to the way Rafi saab sings the word ‘…jhooma’ The feel of that word jhoom is wonderfully conveyed by Rafi saab. This is only one of the highlights of this O.P. Nayyar composed gem. The song makes you to flow in the soothing journey of its romantic endeavor.
(8) Tum akele to kabhi baag mein jaya na karo….: There may be some disagreement on inclusion of this song among top 14. But this Usha Khanna composed song of the film ‘Aao Pyar Karen’ is my personal favourite. It has the elements of ‘shokhi’, ‘chhedchhad’ and unadulterated romance, all perfectly crafted out by Rafi and Lata. The subtle variations in the throw of words ‘……..to fir kya hoga’ that Rafi saab has brought out is outstanding. The song was among the top superhits of 1964.
(9) Jhilmil sitaron ka aangan hoga….: Romance is not a domain of kings, nawabs, poets only. It touches the lives of all of us in one way or the other. This song is a brilliant depiction of romance of a common man… a middle class man. The lyrics written by Anand Bakshi wonderfully depict the sweet, cute, simple dreams of an honest common man:
Prem ki gali mein ek chhota sa ghar banayenge,
Kaliyan na milen na sahi kaaton se sajayenge,
Bagiya se sunder wo ban hoga,
Rimjhim barasta sawan hoga.
Feel the simplicity, the feel-good ingredients of the song so effectively brought out by Rafi-Lata combination composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal. ‘Simply romantic’.
(10) Maang ke saath tumhara maine…: If images of a boy, a girl, an umbrella and rain are the synonyms of song ‘Pyar hua ikraar hua… (Shri 420), then the mention of Dilip Kumar, Vyjantimala and a tonga robotically take your mind to the song Maang ke saath tumhara…. The tonga sound has been so skillfully integrated as the core rhythm of the song that it conveys the essence of the film’s theme and its rural backdrop in a most brilliant way. Rafi-Asha-O.P. Nayyar combination at its best.
(11) Taaron ki zuban par hai mohabbat ki kahani…..: Can the glossary of best romantic songs be complete without the elements of ‘night romance’ or should we say romance under the valley of shining star in a clear sky? The song just fits nicely in that set-up. This C. Ramchandra composed duet has the magic of Rafi-Lata combination at its best.
Hum hon na hon duniya yoon bhi abaad rahegi
Ye thandi hawa aur ye fiza yaad rahegi
Rah Jayegi duniya mein mohabbat ki nashani
Ae chand mubarak ho tujhe raat suhani
(12) Dhalti Jaye raat keh le dil ki baat: Another wonderful song of night romance. Lesser known composer Lachhi Ram delivered this gem for the movie ‘Razia Sultana’ through the intoxicating vocals of Rafi and Asha Bhonsle.
(13) Mujhe kitna pyar hai tumse: Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye. says a famous quote. And this Shankar-Jaikishan composed Rafi-Lata duet from the movie ‘Dil Tera Deewana’ is conveys just those sentiments. The song is a heart to heart exchange of love-filled feelings. Listen to it to get that heavenly feelings.
(14) Jane kahan mera jigar gaya ji..: Romance also has a comic angle. This O.P. Nayyar created ‘comically romantic’ song from the movie ‘Mr. & Mrs 55’ is so brilliantly rendered by Rafi saab that you can close your eyes and instantly make out that the song is picturized on Johny Walker. Geeta Dutt’s peppy side of singing is at its best.
I am sure I have left out many. Selecting fourteen out of the silo of gems that Rafi saab has left in the genre of romantic songs is indeed a task meant not to be easy. May be readers can contribute their own choices.
So on this valentine day get that romantic fervor with life through music with Rafi saab’s songs. As there is a saying You don’t love someone for their looks, or their clothes, or for their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear.