Who Could Have Sung These Songs?
This article is written by Mr. H.V.Guru Murthy
A big debate is going on in various web sites of Rafiji, KK and others regarding who was a better singer. In fact, this sort of discussion was always going on even in our days when we used to heatedly argue as to who was better.
No doubt, all these great Singers, whether it was Rafi or KK or Mukesh or Hemant or Talat or Mannadey or Mahendra, gave us wonderful songs which we remember even now after so many years. Mukesh was very good in songs filled with pathos, uncomplicated songs without much high or low, soft, simple songs. Some of his songs especially for Raj Kapoor were superb. Hemant Kumar with a heavy voice, was also good in all these respects as Mukesh was and his songs had a touch of the Bengal culture and Rabindra Sangeet. Talat was King of Gazals, soft, velvety voice used especially well by Madan Mohan and he was the main Singer for Dilip Kumar before Rafi took over.
KK perhaps was much more talented than these above mentioned singers and could carry any song effortlessly. Though he had been giving hummable songs even in fiftees and sixtees, his main period was in seventies. He became main Singer for almost all the heroes in the seventies. Mahendraâ€™s forte was the effortless ease with which he could raise his voice (remember â€˜Na Muh Chupake Jiyoâ€™ from â€œHamraajâ€). He was also lucky that he gave voice regularly to heroes like Manoj Kumar and B.R.Chopra always wanted MK in his movies and also when OPN did not go along with Rafi for a brief period, Mahendra got all OPN songs during the period.
But all these above Singers had their shortcoming in singing classical songs and qawalis. Of course, here classical means not just Indian ragas, which any how any Indian song will have as its basis, but including raag, taal, alaap, etc., typical songs being â€˜Duniya Ke Rakhawaleâ€™, â€˜Kuhu Kuhu Bole Koyaliyaâ€™, etc. A typical qawali can be â€˜Yeh Ishq Ishq Hai Ishq Ishqâ€™. Mukesh, Talat and Hemant also were not adept at singing at high pitches. Though MK has sung some classical stuff, his effort looked pedestrian. The so called qawalis of KK in the seventies are strictly not qawalis but more of ordinary songs.
Talat Mehmood, Mohd Rafi
The best among all these Singers was Mannadey, talent-wise on par with Rafi but the only difference being the voice, Rafisâ€™ voice was that much more soft, steady, with pure diction and more melodious. In fact, in one of the recent programs at Bangalore, Mannada while talking about Madan Mohan and his Gazals admitted that MM gave so many wonderful gazals sung by Lata and Rafi and howsoever he tried, he could not sing like them. What humility?
All these talks of comparing Rafi with other Singers is not worth discussing as all these Singers as well as their Music Directors have admitted on various occasions that Rafi was the best. His diction, hold on classical ragas, effortless ease with which he used to raise and lower his voice, his throw of words, his way of putting feelings and meaning into each and every word was matchless. It appeared that where others just sang songs, Rafiji felt and lived those songs. However, the topic of comparison raises an interesting debate every time and each Music lover is entitled to his opinion. My opinion is that all were good singers but over all talent-wise, Rafi was the best. Who could have sung the following songs so wonderfully other than Rafi. Can we even imagine the following songs in any other voice. I have restricted the list to just twelve songs and I am sure fellow Rafi lovers can list out many more songs.
â€œIshq Ki Garmiyeâ€ (Gazal) is a beautiful Rafi Gazal about which we already have a beautiful article in the web site published few months back. Of course, Talat could have sung this Gazal, but what about the lines â€œPesh Karunâ€ after each of the three antaras, when Rafiji repeats second time. Rafiji sang the particular two words â€œPesh Karunâ€ differently both the times, whether Talat could have achieved the same effect?
â€œTumse Kahun Ek Baatâ€ (Dastak) was sung by Rafiji in whispers so sensuously. How many similar songs we have from other singers?
â€œAe Watan Ae Watanâ€ (Shaheed) especially the line â€œManao Jab Azad Bharat Ka Din, Tum Hame Bhool Jana Nahiâ€, the pathos, disappointment, every thing comes out in the voice of Rafiji. How many could have given the same effect, perhaps Mannadey to certain extent.
â€œKuhu Kuhu Bole Koyaliyaâ€ (Suvarna Sundari) was a pure Carnatic classical song sung so beautifully by Rafi and Lata. Which other singer could have sung this classical number especially in the Carnatic style.
â€œYeh Ishq Ishq Hai Ishq Ishqâ€ was a qawali made memorable by Rafiji and Mannada. No other singer could have even attempted this song. In fact, all other qawalis sung by others including the so called qawalis sung by KK in the seventies pale in comparison to Rafi and Mannaâ€™s qawalis.
The following songs were sung at such a high pitch that probably only Mannada or Mahendra could have tried, but MK could not have made it so memorable.
â€œO Duniyake Rakhwaleâ€ (Baiju Bawra), especially the last line â€œRakhawaleâ€ raising three times, each higher than the previous one (and on stage fourth time).
â€œYeh Mehlo Yeh Takhtoâ€ (Pyaasa), one can call this a revolutionary song, the Poet clearly showing his disgust at the Matlabi Society, each stanza sung at a low voice and the tempo raises and the last stanza â€“ â€œJalado Jaladoâ€ clearly showing his hatred for the Society. Except Rafi, no body else could have justified this song, and that is perhaps the reason SDB chose Rafi for this song.
â€œSubaha Na Aayiâ€ (Cha Cha Cha) was another song where Rafiji goes high in the end, â€œAajao, Aajao, Aajaoâ€, the climax.
In â€œJaagi Jaagi Ankhiyon Keâ€ (Biwi Aur Makan), the breath control is breath-taking.
Mohd Rafi, Kishore Da, Manna Da
â€œDekhi Zamane Ki Yaariâ€ (Kagaz Ke Phool) was another wonderful song for Guru Dutt, again singing very slowly and at low voice in the beginning, slowly raising the voice while singing â€œPal Bhar Ki Khushiyan Hai Saariâ€ and suddenly bringing down the pitch, just wonderful. Rafiji goes higher in the second part â€œUdja Udja Pyaase Bhanvareâ€ and again comes down to the initial low pitch, so effortlessly.
â€œApni Aazadi Ko Hum Hargizâ€ (Leader), especially the lines â€œJo Sabak Baapune Sikhlaya Bhula Sakte Nahin, Sar Kata Sakte Hain Lekin Sar Jhuka Sakte Nahinâ€, who could have raised the voice so effortlessly but still retaining the steady voice. Who said that Rafi needed breath-control.
â€œZindabad Zindabadâ€ (Mughal E Azam) already a high pitch song, Rafiji still raises it further while singing the last Antara and the way he brings down the voice from the highest pitch to lower pitch so smoothly after singing â€œVo Pathar Hai Insaan Kahan, Insaan Kahan … â€.
In the recent â€œVoice of Indiaâ€ contest, an up-coming good singer sang a KK qawali when all the Participants were asked to sing qawalis. This particular Singer appeared to be a fan of KK as majority of his songs especially of older generation were of KK. The judge pointed out that the qawali selection was not correct. Later the same singer sang the qawali from â€œHum Kisise Kum Nahinâ€ and also admitted that after the earlier episode, he wanted to show that he could also sing qawalis. In fact, the Judges also appreciated his efforts. No doubt, in qawalis, Rafi and Manna are the last words.
Well, Rafiji in his long career of 35 years has sung so many songs. Many of them are such that only Rafi could have done justice to those songs. In fact, even while using other Singers, the MDs reserved certain songs only for Rafi or Manna as they always knew that other Singers would not be able to do justice to those songs.