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Looking back at combination of OP Nayyar and Mohammad Rafi

By Souvik Chatterji

Rafi Sahab with O.P.Nayyar

Rafi Sahab with O.P.Nayyar

The musiclovers had remembered legendary composer Omkar Prasad Nayyar, popularly known as OP Nayyar on his birthday on 16th January, 2011. 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. 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 barana”, “mangke saath tumhara”, “mai bombai ka babu”, contributed a lot in the absolute success of the film. 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.

Mohd Rafi with O.P.Nayyar

Mohd Rafi with O.P.Nayyar

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. 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.

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16 Blog Comments to “Looking back at combination of OP Nayyar and Mohammad Rafi”

  1. Binu Nair says:

    Great effort Souvik ji…

    when opn was making inroads in to the music industry, as usual – there was poverty staring at his face in mumbai.
    a producer changed his composer mid-way and took opn as his composer for the movie. there was a thunderstorm created by the lady singers club as how someone else can take another composers work mid-way in a film.

    opn who had one of the biggest heart in the music industry just said : ” when u dont know when or from where your childs next round of milk will come, you tend to do small things. the people who raise such issues – must know that”.
    its also said that opn had rehearsed lata didi for a song but that song never saw daylight.
    and, opn said that he will make another rafi but failed – miserably in his effort.

    opn – a composer loved and hated by many. but cant be ignored by any.

    good work souvik.

  2. Gautam Banerjee says:

    I differ on your Top 25 list, specially ‘Kajra mohabbatwala’. In my opinion this doesn’t even deserve in Top200. O.P. Nayyar had composed so many great songs that it’s very difficult to name Top25. My personal choice “Tumsa nahi drkha” an “C.I.D.” to name 2 best films.

  3. Man Mouji says:

    OPN’s debut film was Aaasman released in 1952. Is Bewafaa Jahan mein wafa (CH Atma) was his first song recorded. Out of 8, Geeta Dutt sang 4. She liked his style so much that she introduced OP to Guru Dutt when she wasn’t even married to GD. GD signed him up for Baazi. The Dutts got married on May 1953 and the movie was released five days later. There was no song of Asha’s in Aaasman, Baazi or for that matter Aar Paar (1954) the movie which really catapulted OP to the top virtually overnight. In fact, in all the early OP/Asha recordings, Asha has tried to replicate Geeta’s style.

    S.H. Bihari wrote with varying success, for the Hindi film industry. In the late fifties and sixties, his work, particularly his partnership with composer O.P. Nayyar and the singer Asha Bhosle was exceptionally popular and the old catalogue continues to sell. With the decline in romantic movies during the seventies, his recorded work was limited though he continued to write throughout the period. Some of his popular songs:
    1)Dekho woh chaand chhupke karta hai kya ishaare (Shart, 1953)
    2)Na yeh chaand hoga na taare rahenge magar ham hamesha tumhaare rahenge (Shart, 1953)
    3)Yeh hansta hua karvaan zindagi ka na poochho chala hai kidhar (Ek Jhalak, 1956)
    4)Bahut shukriya badi mehrbaani meri zindagi mein huzoor aap aaye (Ek Musafir Ek Haseena, 1962)
    5)Taarif karoon kya uski jisne tujhe banaya (Kashmir Ki Kali, 1964)
    6)Zara haule haule chalo more saajna ham bhi peechhe hain tumhaare (Sawan Ki Ghata, 1966)
    7)Yehi woh jagah hai yehi woh fiza hai jahaan par (Yeh Raat Phir Na Aayegi, 1966)
    8)Kajra mohabbatwaala ankhiyon mein aisa daala kajre ne le lee meri jaan (Kismat, 1968)

    S.H. Bihari wrote for 25 Films for OPN which had a total 94 songs, the highest any lyricist wrote for OPN.

    Asha Bhosle sings for 60 films had the total 324 songs. The highest any female singer sung for OPN

    Mohammad Rafi Sahab sung for 57 films which had the total 202 songs, the highest any male singer sung for OPN .

    Op Nayyar Top 25 listed below:
    1. Jaayiye aap kahan
    2. kazra mohobbatwala
    3.Chal akela
    5. Deewana hua badal
    6. Poochon na humen
    7.Chain se humko
    8.Mangke saath
    9.Aapke haseen rukh
    10. Yunto humne
    11. Pukarta chala hun
    12. anchal mein sajale
    13.Booz mera kya
    14. Babuji dhire chalna
    15.Ankhon se jo uthri
    16. Aap yuhin agar
    17. Balma khuli hawan
    18. Kabhi aar kabhi paar
    19. Dekho are dil bar
    20. Ayiye meherbaan
    21.Ankhon hi ankhon
    22. Aana hai aa rahme
    23. Khoob surat sathi
    24.Leke pehla pehla
    25. Bahut shukriya

    it was mentioned that O P Nayyar had parted ways with Rafi. However they also patched up after 4 years, they worked together in Ek Bar Muskurado, Heera Moti and Bin Maa ke Bachchey. Even the songs in Bin Maa ke bachhey songs were great hits ,especially the songs Apni bhi ek din aisi motor car hogi and Jo raat ko jaldi soye.

    It is Sad that OPN could not give hits after parting ways with Asha Bhonsle. OPN and Asha Bhosle parted ways in 1974, and that parting impacted OPN for the rest of his life. After the breakup, he tried to work with several good singers, including Dilraj Kaur, Alka Yagnik, Krishna Kale, Vani Jayaram, and Kavita Krishanmurthy, but the magic in his work somehow seemed to have long gone. Almost until his last days, he would often refer to Asha as a singing sensation.

    OPN music was energetic and the peppy tunes were melodious that will be remembered for ages.

  4. A Rakesh says:

    @post 12, it was balbir with rafi saab in ‘ye desh hai’

  5. Jae-Bee says:

    Indeed a great duo. One thing to be noted that before Naya Daur and Asha, opn used geeta bali brilliantly too, alongwith shamshad begum. but when it came to male singers, it was rafi sahab by far, except when they had a fall out and mk was used. It was rafi sahab who insisted to opn, naushad, and ravi alike to use mk whenever he wasn’t available. the big blow that opn got was his last hit film ek baar muskoora do. when with the kishoreda wave and or on the instigation of asha he once again ignored rafi sahab by giving only one song(obviously a difficult one too) to rafi and the rest to kk and mukesh. The film was hit due to the story line, but asha and op split up she went to camp rdb and opn went down after that. he tried with rafi sahab and dilraj kaur again in heera moti, but the magic of opn was gone. by the way can any rafian tell me who sings with rafi sahab for ajit in Naya Daur? yeh desh hai veer jawano ka… seems that rafi is lending his voice to both dilip and ajit in the same song. thanks in advance.

  6. K.N.kumar says:

    A very good article, Mr Chatterjee. Congratulations.
    Rafi Sahab had an enduring relationship with all great music directors and one of the most popular team was the OP Nayyar & Rafi Sahab. Even today all songs sung my Rafi Sahab for
    OP Nayyar are fresh and they will never fade away. Both respected each other.
    OPN’s music had the flavour of Punjab and North India and since Rafi Sahab himself was a Punjabi all the songs were sung from his heart. There was an Indianness in OPN’s songs
    just as in Naushad Sahab’s music.
    OPN was truly one of the greats of the Hindi film world music. He never compromised on his music and never cared for the legendary female singer when just about everyone was fawning over her. Let us continue to enjoy the rich treasure of songs left behind
    OP Nayyar and Mohd Rafi Sahab.

  7. jayesh says:

    very nice article. Almost all the songs composed by o.p.nayyar saab & sung by rafi saab had become instant hits & all of them are melodious, fresh & brilliant songs. One of the greatest Jodi’s of hindi film industry.

  8. Jayant Sanyal says:

    Dear Mr. Chatterjee,

    Hats off to you for penning an excellent article. O.P. Nayyar and Mohd Rafi Combination is without doubt one of the deadliest combinations ever to grace the Hindi Film music scene for a period spanning at least 2 decades from 1950-1970. Besides the fact that the compositions were rich in melody, the sheer fact that the lyrics of the songs were great poetic masterpieces also contributed greatly to the success of the songs. With lyricists like Shevan Rizvi, S.h. Bihari, who were not very successful as compared to some other noted lyricists like Majrooh Sultanpuri, Sahir Ludhainvi, O.P.Nayyar wove magic on the silver screen, with Rafi Sahab providing the soul of such memorable melodies. Yes, you are right, such films and songs should be preserved for the young generation.

  9. Ahamed Kutty says:

    Whenever we hear the name o p nayyar the first name
    to be joint with it is rafi saab’s and ofcourse the second
    name none other than ashaji.

    “ishaarom ishaarom” from the film ‘kashmir ki kali’ is one
    of my favourite duet song.the songs of rafi saab music
    given by o p saab is giving some special touch to our

  10. kanji patel says:

    Very good article on opn and our rafiji. Film mere sanam was a golden jubilee hit film and credit goes to brilliant music by nayyarsaab and needless to say ‘sone pe suhaga’ rafiji’s golden voice.
    two more songs i would like to add to the endless list:
    1. Na jaane kyoon hamare dil ko tum ne dil nahin samjha from the film
    Mohabbat zindagi hai – starring dharmendra and rajshree
    2. Garib jaan ke humko na tum mita dena; tumhine dard diya hai tumhi
    dawa dena from the film : Chhoomantar the song was sung by rafisaab
    and geeta dutt and picturised on johnny walker

  11. dear chatterji saheb, good article indeed op saheb and rafi saheb gave unmatched and evergreen hits. How romantically rafi saheb sung in op’s
    compositons that no one can imagine this gentleman, shy looking rafi saheb can sing so romantically. Few example : Huye hain tumpe aasik hum bhala mano bura maano, Humdum mere mann bhi jao kahna mere pyaar ka, and so on. It is only rafi saheb who sungs for maximum music directors and gave
    hundreds of hits. True music lovers will always remember rafi saheb in the coming generations too. Jab tak duniya mein sangeet rahega rafi saheb bhi rahenge aur unke chhahne wale bhi. Thanks

  12. A Rakesh says:

    Beautiful write up Souvik ji and very good coverage. O P Nayyar and Md Rafi combination was a well accepted magic. O P Nayyar saab always maintained that Rafi saab played a very important role in making of O P Nayyar.
    Can any body tell which were those two years when Nayyar saab did not work with Rafi saab and which were the films, he composed during those two years ? O P Nayyar saab generally gave very melodious and rythm based, happy mood, fast songs but at times he gave very different and slow songs, one such song ‘main soya ankhiyaan meeche’, my favourite from film Phagun and Rafi saab and Asha ji doing full justice.

  13. Souvik Chatterji says:

    Dear Jayarajtji,
    Thanks for reading my article patiently.
    I apologize if for lack of time I could not give weight to the films Tumsa Nahi Dekha and Phagun.
    OP Nayyar and Rafi combination were at their peak in those films. In Tumsa Nahi Dekha if the tanga flavour in the song “yun to humne lakh hasin dekhe hai” charmed the audience, “dekh kasam se”, the duet of Rafi and Asha had peppy appeal.
    Phagun was even more brilliant. “kaun se pardesi” had remained immortal for 60 years down the line. Rafi and OP Nayyar combination was unmatchable.
    Souvik Chatterji.

  14. jayarajt says:

    Ecellent write up,Souviji.You just about cvered everything.The only thing I would add is that I wouldnt have mentioned Tumsa Nahee Dekha and Phagun in passing.Definitely I would have given more weight to TND.It is the songs by Rafi and the music of OP Nayyar that lifted Shammi Kapoor in to stardom.

  15. Ali says:

    Opn and m rafi there is still with us,opn is the only music diretor in bollywood who ignored lata ji and said lata ji good singer but her voice is not fit for my tape of music also opn ignored mohd rafi for two years but he back to mohd rafi again and he said it was his biggest mistake in the life to put mohd rafi away from his music room. Also he said about mohd rafi that mohd rafi was greater human as a singer and people will remember him even after 100 years..

  16. MILIND M BIJOOR says:

    Yes There have been some combinations in the Hindi Film Music world which have created an everlasting name in the minds of the millions of music lovers across the world. And one such combination was of O P Nayyar Sahab and Mohd Rafi Sahab. You can never think of O P Nayyar Hits without Rafi Sahab’s voice and neither can you think of top Mohd Rafi Hits without some of O P Nayyar’s tunes. What a combination. Take any of the great Music Directors Naushad Sahab, S D Burmanda, O P Nayyar Sahab, Shankar Jaikishan, Roshan Sahab, Ravi, Laxmikant Pyarelal, Kalyanji Anandji, R D Burman (the list would be really endless so please forgive me if I have missed out on any names unintentionally) and their compositions would not have been the same without Mohd Rafi’s voice. That was and is the real beauty, the power of Mohd Rafi Sahab’s voice. A voice which this and the next generations to come will never forget. “Tum mujhe yun bhula na paooge….. jab sunoge geet mere, mere sang sang gungunaooge”

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