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Their voice too

This article is by Rajiv Vijayakar. Taken from SCREEN Aug. 4th. 2006.

His was a universal voice. While that statement is true enough, the colossus that was Mohammed Rafi was yet associated in particular with Dilip Kumar, Shammi Kapoor, Rajendra Kumar, Dharmendra, Jeetendra, Sanjeev Kumar, Shashi Kapoor, Biswajeet, Joy Mukerji, Guru Dutt and Johnny Walker. In the era (that perhaps ended with Aamir Khan-Udit Narayan) of singer-star associations, it was Mukesh who was considered the soul of Raj Kapoor and Manoj Kumar, Mahendra Kapoor was the other voice for Manoj Kumar, Shailendra Singh and later Kishore Kumar shared Rishi Kapoor, Kishore Kumar was the choice for Dev Anand, Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan and Randhir Kapoor besides himself, and Manna Dey was identified with Mehmood, besides being the second choice for Raj Kapoor. But Rafi was no stranger even for these stars. For most of them, Mohammed Rafi had a distinguished vocal innings. On the occasion of his 26th death anniversary that fell on July 3, we look at how Rafi, that Voice Nonpareil, never seemed incongruous for any of these artistes.


Technically, Rafi’s last song for Dev Anand came as late as the popular ‘Logon ka dil …’ (Manpasand) in 1980, but Rafi was almost on par with Kishore Kumar as a Navketan pillar (all the way till the qawwali ‘Iss mulaqaat ka bas mazaa lijiye …’ in the 1976 Jaaneman) and as Dev’s voice both in his own films and outside.

The only other hit qawwali associated with the ever-young Dev, ‘Hum tujhe dhoond lenge …’ (Mahal/1969) saw Rafi taking over from Kishore Kumar who sang both his other hits in that Kalyanji-Anandji musical suspense drama. The grapevine has it that Rafi lost the Navketan banner only when S.D.Burman’s son R.D.Burman stepped in to help out in Jewel Thief. In all probability this is true, for till then, Rafi was Dada Burman’s vocalist of choice for the urban, urbane and ahead-of-times Dev in films as assorted as Guide, Tere Ghar Ke Saamne, Kala Pani, Kala Bazaar and even outside films like Baat Ek Raat Ki and Teen Deviyan (in which he shouldered the weighty ‘Aisa to na dekho …’ and ‘Kahin bekhayaal hokar …’ amidst Kishore’s lightweight numbers. The same was repeated as late as in the 1971 Gambler, in which the sole Rafi gem, ‘Mera man tera pyaasa …’ stood taller than all the Kishore lovelies.

The classics from all these films (and other Dada-Dev vehicles) are too numerous and obvious to mention. Suffice to say that Jaidev added his lustrous chunk with the delightful songs of Hum Dono, and that all the other music directors in outside films rarely looked beyond Rafi, whether it be C.Ramachandra (Amar Deep), O.P.Nayyar (C.I.D.), Salil Choudhury (Maya) and above all, market-leaders Shankar Jaikishan, in whose `Anand arena’ Kishore entered only once for ‘Dooriyan nazdeekiyaan ban gayi …’ (Duniya). And this film also boasted of Rafi’s awesome ‘Falsafaa pyar ka tum kya jaano …’. S-J also added more to the Dev-Rafi oeuvre, with magic spun in films like Love Marriage, Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai, Asli Naqli and even in relatively tepid scores like Pyar Mohabbat and Kahin Aur Chal (‘Doobte huye dil ko …’).

Dev-Rafi composers: S.D.Burman, Shankar-Jaikishan, C.Ramachandra, O.P.Nayyar, Salil Choudhury, Jaidev, Kalyanji-Anandji, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Rajesh Roshan.


The Raj Kapoor-Rafi combo was admittedly restricted, with Manna Dey being the original Showman’s second-voice-in-command. But C.Ramachandra, whose pets were Rafi and Talat, opted for Rafi in ‘Main hoon Alladdin …’ (Sargam). So did Naushad in ‘Yoon to aapas mein …’ (Andaz), doing a quirky reversal as Mukesh delivered for Dilip Kumar. ‘Hum tum yeh bahaar …’ and ‘Mera dil mujhe wapas kar do …’ for Ghulam Mohammed in Amber, and ‘Worli ka naaka duniya dhamaka …’ and ‘Tere dil ka makaan …’ both for O.P.Nayyar in Do Ustad, were other vintage Rafi outings with Raj Kapoor. Kalyanji Anandji too took on Rafi for the evocative theme song ‘Gali gali Sita roye …’ (Chhalia). Shankar Jaikishan could not have brought in anyone other than Rafi to sing the ‘Heer’ for Raj Kapoor in Mera Naam Joker, and let us not forget S-J’s debut film, Barsaat, again produced and directed by Raj Kapoor, which saw Rafi excel with his sole solo, ‘Main zindagi mein har dum rota hi rahaa hoon …’ in that Mukesh-fest. How strange is it that the only two songs that Rafi sang under S-J for Raj were in the actor’s own productions!

Raj-Rafi composers: Shankar-Jaikishan, Naushad, C. Ramachandra, Ghulam Mohammed, O.P.Nayyar, Kalyanji-Anandji.

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9 Blog Comments to “Their voice too”

  1. mohanflora says:

    Snippet on a Rafi song-from the web:

    yamma yamma” that plays towards the end of the movie,SHAAN, (with a gypsy dance or something) is notable for one “historical” fact. Apparently, it was to be sung by two legendary singers – Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar. However, on a particular rehearsal/recording date, Kishore Kumar was unavailable or something and it was recorded by Rafi and R.D.Burman. In the subsequent days, Rafi fell ill (unfortunately, never to recover) and hence the song was retained as a Rafi-RDB duet, perhaps the only one of its kind.

  2. mohanflora says:

    Let me take a guess, ashq,
    Rafi has song most songs for the following in descending order:
    1..Shammi Kapoor
    2. Rajendra Kumar
    3. Dharmendra
    4. Shashi Kapoor
    5, Jeetendra
    6.Vinod Mehra

    Rafi has sung more songs for both Dharmendra and Shashi Kapoor than has Kishore Kumar.

  3. ashq says:

    Hi Rafi sahab fans.

    I am non Hindi person.I have watched only few Hindi movies.But I am a great fan of Rafi sahab and I have watched a lot of his songs in video.Before becoming a Rafi sahab fan I was unaware of the actors of Hindi films.Now I know almost all of them.I just love those acters too since I feel very nice to see them singing Rafi sahab songs.In my view most of the actors are suitable to convey the expressions of Rafi sahab.Only exception I see is Vinod Khanna.I prefer to watch following actors singing Rafi sahab songs.
    2.Shashi Kapoor
    3.Shammi Kapoor
    4.Rajendra Kumar
    6.Vinod mehra

    please let me know that who has sung the maximum Rafi sahab songs among those mentioned above,if somebody knows about it.Also for Dharmendra & Shashi Kapoor who has sung most no of songs?Kishore da or Rafi sahab?

  4. Nair says:

    Dear Unknow!

    I can feel that innocence of yours that made you to think that Amitabh Bachan and Shammi Kapoor were the best singers. By the way, I have observed your blogs and many times felt that your love for Rafi Sahab is unblemished and beyond any skepticism (obviously with understanding). Carry on my friend.

    And thanks to Mohan Flora, as always, for those wonderful clips.

    Rajiv has researched an unexplored area and elicited the best.


  5. unknow1 says:

    thanks Sir mohanflora again and again
    Dear friends
    Please listen to this songs ‘Chana zor garam…’(Kranti)when mohd Rafi enter to the song,that is Mohd Rafi no one else can enter to the song by this way,when I was a child I don’t know who is Mohd Rafi or Manny Dey and other singer only I liked songs which singed by mr Bachchan and also I liked Mohd rafi songs that time i didn’t know that was Mohd Rafi in mostly Shammi kapoor films

  6. mohanflora says:

    Sorry you can also try this for Zindagi bhar nahin bhoolegi

  7. mohanflora says:

    Of course Rafi was the voice of Bharat Bhushan and Pradeep Kumar, super stars in their own era. Click on the following to hear Rafi and see them.

    1. Pradeep Kumar’s Jo Waada Kiya Hai

    2. Bharat Bhushan’s Barsat ki Raat

  8. mohanflora says:

    Exhaustive and well written Rajiv,

  9. Messi says:

    That’s a wonderful article. Got to read it a few days back, shows how Rafi’s voice matched
    different generations. Thanks a lot. I think Shammi Kapoor is the best choice for Rafi and
    vice versa. Rafi is the voice of Shammi Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor is the face/Body Language
    of Rafi’s voice ( Ofcourse other than Rafi himself ), who do u think is the best for Rafi ?

    With regards

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