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Mohammed Rafi: An Antique voice of showman Raj Kapoor

An Accolade to Raj Kapoor and Mohammed Rafi on their 90th Birthday

By Biman Baruah

Mohammed Rafi: An Antique voice of showman Raj Kapoor

Though Mohammed Rafi and Raj Kapoor was not must familiar as a singer and actor, one entity is very common to both of them as they born in the month of December, 1924 in Pakistan of Undivided India. Raj Kapoor was born as Ranbir Raj Kapoor on 14th December, 1924 in Dhakki Munawwar Shah near Qissa Khwani in Peshawar into a Pathan Hindu family to Prithviraj Kapoor and Ramsarni Devi. Raj Kapoor was eldest of six children in the family, out of which two died in infancy and had a sister named Urmila Sial. Mohammed Rafi was born on 24th December, 1924 in Kota Sultan Singh village near Amritsar in Punjab to Hajji Ali Mohammed who further moved to Lahore where he ran a salon in Noor Mohalla in Bhatti Gate. Rafi Sahab was second oldest of six brothers and his elder brother’s friend Abdul Hameed encouraged teenage Rafi to sing and accompanied him to Bombay in 1944. Rafi Sahab popularly known as Pheeko in childhood had done a public performance at the age of 13 in Lahore without mike due to electricity failure which was hosted for singer K. L. Saigal who was accompanied by composer Shyam Sunder. He debut as a playback singer in a duet, “Soniyee Nee, Heeriyee Nee Teri Yaad Ne Bahut Sataaya” with Zeenat Begam in Lahore in the Punjabi film GUL BALOCH (1941) and in a duet “Aji Dil Ho Qaabu Mein To Dildar Ki Aisi Ki Taisi” with GM Durrani in Bombay in the Hindi film GAON KI GORI (1945). Both the songs composed by genius music director Shyam Sundar who composed some memorable songs in 1940s in 24 films (4 Punjabi & 20 Hindi) in 15 years (1939 to 1953). Rafi Sahab appeared on the screen in the film LAILA MAJNU (1945) in song “Tera Jalwa Jis Ne Dekha”. Then his association with composer Naushad Ali begins who also born on 25th December, 1919 made a history in Indian Film Music with lyricist Shakeel Badayuni.

In the 1930s, Raj Kapoor started to work as a clapper boy with director Kidar Sharma for Bombay Talkies and as an actor for Prithvi Theatres owned by his father Prithvi Raj Kapoor. At the age of 10, he worked in film INQUILAB (1935) and debut as in a lead role in NEEL KAMAL (1947) opposite Madhubala. At the age of 24, in 1948 he set up his own banner R.K. Films and became youngest director of his time with debut film AAG (1948). After success of BARSAAT (1949), he also set up R.K. Studio in 1950. As a singer, Rafi Sahab associated with Raj Kapoor as an actor-producer-director and lent his voice for one or two songs in more or less all R.K. Films from AAG (1948) to BIWI O BIWI (1981) and some outside films.

Barsaat (1949)Firstly, when we are talking about playback singing of Raj Kapoor, only Mukesh routinely came to our mind and heart. Since, Mukesh was almost resembled and exclusive playback voice of Raj Kapoor from AAG (1948) to CHANDI SONA (1977) in about 50 films. Mukesh sung almost 90% of Raj Kapoor songs. Secondly, Manna Dey represented as the second alternative voice for him in films like AWAARA (1951), SHREE 420 (1955), CHORI CHORI (1956), PARVARISH (1958), DIL HI TU HAI (1963), TEESRI KASAM (1966), MERA NAAM JOKER (1970) and ABDULLAH (1980). However, Mohammed Rafi is not a stranger to showman and actor Raj Kapoor. As a universal singer, he sung some vintage songs for Raj Kapoor in films like BARSAAT (1949), ANDAZ (1949), DASTAN (1950), SARGAM (1950), AMBER (1952), PAAPI (1953), DO USTAD (1959), CHHALIA (1960), NAZRANA (1961), EK DIL SAU AFSANE (1963) and MERA NAAM JOKER (1970). Remarkably Kishore Kumar and Hemant Kumar were also sung for Raj Kapoor in PYAR (1950) under composition of S.D. Burman and in DHOON (1953) under composition of Madam Mohan respectably.

In R. K. Film’s BARSAAT (1949), Shanker-Jaikishan composed the solo, “Zindagi Mein Hardam Rota Hi Raha” in the voice of Rafi Sahab which was partly filmed on actor-producer-director Raj Kapoor. It was the first major hit of R.K. Films and declared as musical hit too establishing careers debut duo composer Shanker-Jaikishan.   Andaz and Dastan

In outside films, Naushad Ali first made an experiment using Mukesh for Dilip Kumar and Mohammed Rafi for Raj Kapoor in Mehboob Khan’s ANDAZ (1949). The only Rafi-Lata duet “Yun To Aapas Mein Bigadte Hain” filmed on Raj Kapoor and Nargis who worked together in 16 films from AAG (1948) to CHORI CHORI (1956). In A. R. Kardar’s DASTAN (1950), again Naushad Sahab made magic with three light-hearted Rafi-Suraiya duets,“Taraari Yaraari Yeh Saawan Rut Ham Aur Tum”, “Dhadak Dhadak Dil Dhadak Dhadak”, “Dil Ko Haye Dil Ko Dil Ko Teri Tasveer Se Bahlaye Hai” filmed on Raj Kapoor and Suraiya. The film was declared musical hit and became the third highest grosser of 1950.

Amber Paapi

Naushad Sahab was followed by C. Ramachandra in P.L. Santoshi’s SARGAM (1950), Ghulam Mohammed in Jayant Desai’s AMBER (1952) and S. Mohinder in Chandulal Shah’s PAAPI (1953) choosing Rafi Sahab as a playback singer for Raj Kapoor. In SARGAM, Rafi Sahab sung two humourist multi-singer songs for Raj Kapoor, “Main Hoon Alladin” and “Baap Bhala Na Bhaiya Sab Se Bada Rupaiya” with Lata Mangeshkar & Chitalkar. Music Director Ramchandra Narhar Chitalkar sang infrequently using only his surname.

In AMBER, Rafi Sahab sung first outside solo for Raj Kapoor. In the song, “Chale Jana Tum Door Badi Shakh Se Huzoor, Hai Mera Dil Mujhe Wapas Kar Do”, Raj Kapoor ever seen danced paradoxically chasing Nargis. The three Rafi-Lata duets from the film, “Shama Jali Parwana Aaya Shama Jali, Pyar Ki Aag Mein Jalne Ko Ek Deewana Aaya”,“Duniyaa Mein Nahin Koi Yaar Wafaadaar” & “Ham Tum Yeh Bahaar Dekho Rang Laya Pyaar Baarsat Ke Mahine Mein” were also became popular and still hummable.

In PAPPI, Rafi Sahab sung two solos, “Tera Kaam Hai Jalna Parwane Kahi Shama Jale Ya Na Jale” and “Le Le Gori Pehen Le Choodi, Gori Gori Kalayee Pe Kali Kali Choodiya” purely in Raj Kapoor style composed by Punjabi music director Mohinder Singh Sarna popularly known as S. Mohinder in the lyrics of Rajindar Krishan.

Do UstaadFinally, Omkar Prasad Nayyar composed half dozen songs in film DO USTAD (1959), directed by Tara Harish starring Raj Kapoor, Madhubala and producer Sheikh Mukhtar. It was the amazing record of six songs of this combinations composed by O.P. Nayyar in the lyrics of Qumar Jalalbadi. Rafi Sahab sung one solo and five duets with Asha Bhosle for Raj Kapoor. The following fast comic track sung by Rafi Sahab for Raj Kapoor was became very prevalent at that time among common man and children.

Re Re Ra Raka……………
Aaka Ka Baka…………….
Worli Ka Naka……………
Duniya Dhamaka……….
Kadam Kadam Pe Chodoo Ek Phataka………….

The five comic Rafi-Asha romantic duets, “Rik Rik Tik Tik Boom Boom Tik Tere Mere Do Dil Ho Gaye Ek”, “Tu Ladki Main Ladka Tujhe Dekh Kalija Dharka”, “Nazron Se Teer Mare Kas Kas Ek Nahin Do Nahin Aath Nau Dus”, “Tere Dil Ka Makaan Saiyan Bada Aalishaan”, “Ruk Ruk Kahan Chali Dewani” and “Hum Pe Dil Aaya Tu Bolo Kya Karoge” also became very popular and hummable.

Chalia, Nazarana, Ek Dil Sau Afsane

In Director Manmohan Desai’s debut CHHALIA (1960), composer Kalyanji-Anandji recorded the theme song, “Gali Gali Sita Roye Aaj Mere Desh Mein Sita Dekhi Ram Dekha Ek Naye Bhesh Mein” of the film in the voice of Rafi Sahab. It was written by Qamar Jalalbadi and was filmed on Raj Kapoor in the climax of the film.

Ravi Sharma composed the most soulful song, “Baazi Kisi Ne Pyaar Ki Jeeti Haar Di” in voice of Rafi Sahab for director C.V. Sridhar’s debut Hindi film NAZRANA (1961), a triangular love story starring Raj Kapoor, Vyjayanthimala and Usha Kiran. The song lyric was written by Rajendra Krishan.

In R.C. Talwar’s romantic drama film EK DIL SAU AFSANE (1963), Shanker-Jaikishan composed the soft Rafi-Lata duet, “Tum Hi Tum Ho Mere Jeevan Mein Phool Hi Phool Hai Jaise Saman Mein”. The song was written by Shailendra and filmed on Raj Kapoor and Waheeda Rehman in authentic location.

Mera Naam JokerFinally, Shanker-Jaikishan composed the most peerless and everlasting song of this combination in “Sadqay Heer Tujh Pe Hum Fakeer Sadqay” in MERA NAAM JOKER (1970) filmed on Raj Kapoor and Padmini. The minor song was written by unusual lyricist Prem Dhawan in R. K. Films. Raj Kapoor launched music career of two friends Shanker-Jaikishan under his own banner in BARSAAT (1949) and they worked together in about 20 films till KAL AAJ AUR KAAL (1971). Shanker-Jaikishan composed only two solos for Raj Kapoor in the voice of Rafi Sahab in R.K. Films banner BARSAAT and MERA NAAM JOKER. The other songs composed by Shanker-Jaikishan in voice of Rafi Sahab under R. K. Banner filmed on other actors.

Thus, Mohammed Rafi Sahab is found in second position as a playback singer for Raj Kapoor in number of films and number of songs after Mukesh.  Shanker-Jaikishan, Naushad Ali, C. Ramachandra, Ghulam Mohammed, S. Mohinder, O.P. Nayyar, Kalyanji-Anandji and Ravi were the music composers of this singer-actor combination.

Mohammed Rafi and Raj Kapoor were most prominent personality of Indian Cinema in their field, former one is a greatest singer and later one is a greatest filmmaker of all time. Both were National Award winner for several times in their field and PADMA SHREE (1967) and PADMA BHUSHAN (1971) respectively. Both expired in a very early age of 55 and 63 respectively and cine-goers deprived from getting more contributions from them. Mohammed Rafi made a history of playback singing in Indian Cinema as a universal singer with about 26,000 songs for more than 250 actors in 14 tongues. As a universal singer, Rafi Sahab sung for three generation of Kapoors from Prithvi Raj Kapoor to Rishi Kapoor. The showman Raj Kapoor acted in almost 55 films as a lead actor from NEEL KAMAL (1947) to VAKIL BABU (1982). He had also produced 18 films and directed 10 films from AAG (1948) to RAM TERI GANGA MAILI (1985). Raj Kapoor made Indian Cinema as well as Film Music well-known in the World Cinema with his films like AWAARA (1951), SHREE 420 (1955) and JIS DESH MEIN GANGA BEHTI HAI (1960) with light-hearted patriotic themes as follows:

“Mera Joota Hai Japani, Yeh Patloon Inglistani, Sar Pe Lal Topi Rusi, Phir   
  Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani” (My Shoes are Japanese, Jeans are English, Red 
  Cap on my Head is Russian, But still my Heart is INDIAN.) JAI HIND.

They are tangible BHARAT RATNA though not considered in public. Their status will always be remained as a peak of Himalayas in the history of Indian Cinema.

Biman Baruah, the author of this article
Biman Baruah, the author of this article

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15 Blog Comments to “Mohammed Rafi: An Antique voice of showman Raj Kapoor”

  1. Gurbir Grewal says:

    Dear Mr. Biman Baruah,
    I appreciate your love for Rafi Sahab, but as a statistician I would like to correct a statistical error in your article. Total number of Songs recorded by Rafi Sahab is around 4,900. I fail to understand from where a figure of 26,000 comes? This is a very well recorded data, that can be easily verified.

  2. Raja says:

    Just curious has Rafi Sahab gave playback to Prithvi Raj Kapoor in any movie?
    If yes please share song and the movie.

  3. Ashok Gogoi says:

    I appreciate your endeavors for exploring Rafi Sahib through your precious article. Please keep it up and expecting articles on the contributions of Dr. Bhupen Hazarika in future. Best of luck.

  4. Dawood says:

    Mr. Buman,

    An excellent article. But I would like to make one correction, Rafi Sahib rendered his voice in almost 24 languages and not 14 and this is as per my record. It has every possibility that he might have sung in more languages but right now I don’t have the record. The following is the list:

    1 Aasaami
    2 Arabic
    3 Avadi
    4 Bengali
    5 Bhojpuri
    6 Chhattisghadi
    7 English
    8 Gujaraati
    9 Hindi/Sanskrit
    10 Hindi/Urdu
    11 Kannada
    12 Konkani
    13 Maaravaadi
    14 Magadhi
    15 Maithili
    16 Maraathi
    17 Oriya
    18 Persian
    19 Punjabi
    20 Raajasthaani
    21 Sindhi
    22 Spanish
    23 Suriname
    24 Telugu




    My beloved bharatwasiyo,lovers of indian music
    One thing i want to mention that no singer in the World can sing thisHEER ” SABQE HEER TUJH PE HAM FAQIR” song from Mera naam joker so perfactly & sweet as Rafi sahab sang it.I challenge to all the singers of World.

    S.M.Saqlain from Haridwar 9997477330


    My beloved bharatwasiyo,lovers of indian music
    One thing i want to mention that no singer in the World can sing thisHEER ” SABQE HEER TUJH PE HAM FAQIR” song from Mera naam joker so perfactly & sweet as Rafi sahab sang it.I challenge to the all the singers of World.

    S.M.Saqlain from Haridwar 9997477330

  7. Kishor MEHTA says:

    I must congratulate for exploring such very valuable and unknown facts about Rafisaheb and Raj Kapoorji. Who can say that these legends have passed away? They are still with us when ever we watch old hindi movies and listen old hindi songs.

  8. Sreejith says:

    My heart never fills listening to even one song of Rafi sahab a hundred times repeatedly and still craves for more. How can I satisfy my soul with his countless heart touching ones??? I just don’t know 🙁

  9. shammi says:

    I agree that there are many singers but I’m yet to come across anyone that can touch the heart strings and emotions of the listeners like Mohd Rafi did and whats more can sing a sad song and make it so heart felt that the listener before they know it has tears flowing down their cheeks and this has happened to me many a time but no other singer has that impact on me. Also in the same way when I’ve been feeling down a happy song sung by him has lifted my mood.

    I don’t think there can ever be enough praise for this legend and the fact that he passed away so young and nearly 35 years ago and yet people are still so passionate about his music really is a testiment to how talented he was.

  10. Binu Nair says:

    deep study of the subject by Biman ji…. Tons of details too.

    Good for students of Music History and todays youngsters.

    well done sir.


    Rafi Foundation.

  11. rajendra mudliar says:

    rafi saab was indeed a great singer. although there were many other good singers like mukesh,mannadey,kishore kumar, hemant kumar, mahendra kapoor etc but it was rafi saab who touched your heart. great souls are not born everyday!

  12. shammi says:

    I honestly don’t think that it made any difference that Rafi’s playback singing was not associated with Raj Kapoor because with the exception of Raj Kapoor Mohd Rafi was the main singer for nearly every other hero and dominated all the other singers. Even though Raj Kapoor didn’t use Mohd Rafi much for his voice he did acknowledge that he was the uncrowned king of melody, and let’s not forget in his film ‘Sangam’ even though Mohd Rafi provided the playback singing for Rajendra Kumar and not Raj Kapoor that song was head and shoulders better than any other song in the film so with that I rest my case.

  13. Sharad Desai says:

    Rafi Raj combination song Tum hi tum ho mere jeevan me was referred by Rafi sahab during my discussion with him.
    Those days
    Dilip, Dev,Shammi,Rajendra,Biswajeet,Shashi,Joy,Dharmendra,Gurudatt,Johny,Mehmood,Manoj,Bharat,Mahipal,Pradeep and many more actors were having Rafi only for playback giving al ltime hits.

    weldone Biman!

  14. r l arora says:

    Dear Baruha ji

    Thanks for the excellent article. It is big boost of energy for all the fans of our beloved Rafi Saab. Kindly share such articles as and when you have enriched.

    my rich regards to you and best wishes for all the Rafian fans.

    r l arora

  15. Devinder says:

    Great article Bimanji. Just a small correction – Rafi Sahib was born on the Indian side of the border in Amritsar district, amongst Sikh and Hindu families, hence his affinity to Bhajans and Gurbani. From a fellow Rafi devotee, Devinder

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