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Rafi and Suman Kalyanpur duets composed by Shankar Jaikishan

By Souvik Chatterji.

Mohd Rafi with Suman and Hasrat

Mohd Rafi with Suman and Hasrat

Shankar Jaikishan in the 60s made immense number of experiments in bollywood film music. Right from westernized compositions to Indian classical songs to folk tunes, the compositions had a wide variety. Rafi was the automatic choice of the legendary musical duo, with his tremendous range and romantic appeal. Suman Kalyanpur sang landmark duet song with Rafi under the composition of giant composers during the 60s, including Naushad “dil-e-betaab ko sinese lagana hoga”, in Palki, Madanmohan “baad muddat ke yeh ghari aye”, Jahanara, Roshan “rahe na rahe hum”, in Mamta, Khayyam “parbaton ke pero par sham ka basera hai”, in Shagun, to name a few. Suman Kalyanpur sang many immortal duet songs with Rafi in the 60s and 70s under the composition of Shankar Jaikishan.

In Dil Ek Mandir, the title song “dil ek mandir hai” was sung by Rafi and Suman Kalyanpur with utmost elegance in 1963. The song was sung after the death of Rajender Kumar in the film and therefore the singers displayed the tragic andaz in the song. Rafi had his own solo songs in the film like “jahan koi nahi” and “yaad na jaye” which immortal over a period of time. Suman Kalyanpur’s solo song “juhi ki kali meri ladli” also had a soothing appeal.  In Saanjh Aur Sawera, in 1964, the classical song “ajahuna aye balma, sawan bita jaye” was probably one the most immortal duet sung by Suman Kalyanpur with Rafi composed by SJ.

In 1964, Biswajeet’s April Fool had a number of romantic songs of SJ sung by Rafi. Rafi was unparallel in the song “aa gale lag ja”. Suman Kalyanpur accompanied Rafi very well in the songs “tujhe pyar karte karte” and “kehdo kehdo jahan se kehdo”.  In Sunil Dutt’s film Beti Bete, the song “agar terii jalwa numai na hoti” showed the melodious impact of duet of Rafi and Suman Kalyanpur under the composition of Shankar Jaikishan. The duet “tumne pukara aur hum chale aye” sung by Rafi and Suman Kalyanpur composed by SJ in Shammi Kapoor’s Rajkumar again stormed box-office in 1964.

Mohd Rafi with Suman Kalyanpur, Hasrat Jaipuri, Jaikishan and Minoo Kartik during a song recording

Mohd Rafi with Suman Kalyanpur, Hasrat Jaipuri, Jaikishan and Minoo Kartik during a song recording

In 1966, Rafi and Suman’s duet “itna hai tujhse pyar mujhe mere raazdaar” in Rajender Kumar’s super hit film Suraj stands out as the most romantic song of the film. Rafi sang for Rajender Kumar while Suman Kalyanpur sang for Vyjayantimala.

In the late 60s, Shankar Jaikishan’s rock and roll composition for Shammi Kapoor in the film Brahmchari had probably the most entertaining duets of Rafi with Suman Kalyanpur titled “aajkal tere mere pyar ke charche har jawanpar”. The brilliant orchestration was loud but rhythm –oriented as well. The film ended up being blockbuster and the music of the film played a very important role in the success of the film. Shankar Jaikishan composed a very romantic duet in Uttam Kumar’s film Choti Si Mulakat, titled “tumhe dekha, tumhe chaha” Rafi and Suman. Rafi sang Uttam Kumar’s portion while Suman Kalyanpur had sung Vaijayantimala’s portion. The list of Rafi Suman duets under Shankar Jaikishan was too long.

In the early 70s, SJ’s composition for Suman Kalyanpur in Shammi Kapoor’s film Andaz was well received by the audience. The song “hai na bolo bolo” was sung by Rafi, Suman Kalyanpur, Sushma Shreshta and Pratibha.

After the death of Jaikishan in 1971, many producers and directors who were involved with Shankar Jaikishan shifted towards RD Burman and Laxmikant Pyarellal. So Suman Kalyanpur’s scope of singing duets with Rafi reduced down inspite of Shankar providing good tunes to both Suman Kalyanpur and Rafi. Shankar Jaikishan composed hit song of Suman in Dharmender’s film Resham Ki Dori, “behnane bhai ki kalayi se” in the mid -70s. Rafi’s duets with Suman Kalyanpur under the composition of Shankar Jaikishan require both restoration and publicity.

Mr. Souvik Chatterji, the author of this article

Mr. Souvik Chatterji, the author of this article

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33 Blog Comments to “Rafi and Suman Kalyanpur duets composed by Shankar Jaikishan”

  1. Diwakar Sharma says:

    Thanks me.Souvik Saheb for giving this valuable information

  2. TARUN KUMAR says:


  3. jitu trivedi says:

    very fine article. It’s a homage to the golden voices, milestone music. Congrats

  4. nafisa momin says:

    In some cases, rafi-lata fued worked as lata’s loss and anothers gain. And in some others it was the other way round, like in Guide, S. D. Burman known for his duets composed only one duet, which had to have Kishore due to the said fued maybe? I have always felt Tere Mere Sapne should have been a duet but thank god it was not , we would have been deprived of a gem of a song.

    The art of playback singing was in my opinion perfected by the living legend Lata Mangeshkar, as truly visible (yes some sounds can be seen – that is the magic of hindi film music) in Rahen na Rahen hum . Listen to the line ‘Jab hum na honge to humari khak pe tum rukoge Chalte Chalte’ the pronunciation of Chalte chalte the almost french sound of Ch. Truly amazing. Lata is a true perfectionist. Always bee.

    Thanx. for the link to youtube for Rafi-Suman Gem from Mamta. I would never have found it otherwise.


  5. Prakash Natarajan says:

    Thank you for a wonderful article. Listening to the duets sung by Rafi-saab and Suman-ji bring back so many memories. One of the last duets sung by them (along with Kishore-da) was “Yeh Duniya Ke Badaltey Rishtey” from the movie Badaltey Rishtey (1978). It remains a perennial favourite to this day.

  6. NAFEES KHAN says:

    rafi shahab per ek nazm mene bhi likhi hai->Nagme hain tere ya koi sachchai duniya ki chalakti hai tere chehre se achchai duniya ki tu hai rafi ya koi khuda ka farishta hai har koi tere nagme sunne ko tarasta hai tu hai nahi duniya main to thoda dukh hai sunta hoon tere nagme mere dil ko sukh hai gaate to bahut se the pehle aur gaate hain abhi magar sabhi ke dilon per chaya hai rafi rafi sabhi ko tha ek nazar se dekhta chalakti thi uske bicharon main ekta kuch bhi kaho kuch bhi suno rafi nek tha wo puri duniya main bhala insaan ek tha (I MISS M.RAFI)

  7. NAFEES KHAN says:

    rafi shahab per ek nazm mene bhi likhi hai->Nagme hain tere ya koi sachchai duniya ki chalakti hai tere chehre se achchai duniya ki tu hai rafi ya koi khuda ka farishta hai har koi tere nagme sunne ko tarasta hai tu hai nahi duniya main to thoda dukh hai sunta hoon tere nagme mere dil ko sukh hai gaate to bahut se the pehle aur gaate hain abhi magar sabhi ke dilon per chaya hai rafi rafi sabhi ko tha ek nazar se dekhta chalakti thi uske bicharon main ekta kuch bhi kaho kuch bhi suno rafi nek tha wo puri duniya main bhala insaan ek tha (WE MISS M.RAFI)

  8. Any Singer with Mohd Rafi would excel because of the support given by the Great Mohd Rafi to his co-singers..No one can match or even try to match the depth, sweetness, range and style of Rafi sahib. Suman kalyanpur was a great singer but her voice was mainly utilised by SJ and LP. Her best songs remains “Ajahoo na aaye Balma, Sawan Beeta Jaye”. Though ” Rahein na rahein hum” was sung by Lata, there were many solos of Suman too, which were as good as this song.

  9. suman kalyanpur ji ki awaj bemisaal he lekin unse jese ki filmi duniya ne badla liya ho unka kasoor itna tha ki unki voice lata ji ke bilkul najdeek thi sirf is liye unka tiraskar kiya gya. agar imandari se music director is sk ko chance dete to aaj tasveer kuch or hoti

  10. Mr D P Bijoor says:

    As usual a great article dearest souvikjee for a superb article.

  11. Imtiyaz A. Sharif says:

    Congratulations to all Rafians

    Now, Rafi Sahab’s name is in the top 10 list in “World Vote Ranking”.
    Please keep on voting so that his name could be seen on top of the music world.

    With warmest regards,

    Imtiyaz A. Sharif

  12. J.K. Bhagchandani says:

    Mr. Sagar Atre ji (Post 17):

    Sending below some links of Mohammed Rafi’s live videos. Hope you enjoy these. There are more available on Youtube. Just type the words ‘Mohd. Rafi Live’ in the search slot of Youtube homepage.

    -J.K. Bhagchandani

  13. r.u.mahale says:

    Great article indeed. Your initiatives in bringing it to the world the memorable songs by Mohammad Rafi and Suman Kalyanpur, a victim of monopolistic nature by legend singer (I mean Lata Mangeshkar) are really commendable.
    Some of the readers have expressed doubt on Rahe Na Rahe Hum, which is dispelled with YouTube links. One reader mentions of Dil Ek Mandir as Raj Kumar starrer and not Rajendra Kumar. It shall be noted that both starred in the movie one as the patient and the other as surgeon.

  14. sauvik bhai,

    you are absolutely right.
    dil ek mandir had both the legends-rajender kumar and raj kumar.
    i saw this film nearly 30 years ago and due to the fact that it mainly revolved around jaani raj kumar ji, i thought it starred jaani only.I’m sorry, it was rightly described by you and not a misprint.

    dr.satyavir yadav

  15. sauvik bhai,
    another thoughtful write up by you and a unique one too.
    I love the music of s-j for the deeply intrinsic melody and their interludes which had polished finesse and clear tonal quality rarely heard in hindi filmy music.their beautiful use of counter melody in the antras and their tabla or dholak was never alone,it always had an accompanying jhankar to it. they composed a spectacular 1348 songs,of which 334 were duets.

    suman kalyanpur,an unsung queen of playback rendition, sang 38 songs for s-j,27 before jai’s death and 11 after it.jai kishan was lata’s bhakt but surprisingly he gave many solos to suman.
    her duets with rafi ji, as you have nicely analysed,were an instant hits.
    as far as i can recall,after jai’s death in 1971,shankar used this magical duo of rafi-suman in two more films viz : “yaar mera(1971)” with a melodious number-‘dil ki kitab kori hai kori hi rahne do’ and”insaniyat(1974)” with a magical rafi-suman duet-‘mere yaar ki yaari dekh ke,dil kahta hai’.

    dil ek mandir had the “jaani” raj kumar ji instead of the jublee rajender kumar ji.( a misprint perhaps).

    kudos for this exceptional and wonderful write up.
    dr.satyavir yadav.

  16. vinod mehru says:

    dear souvik ,
    ek film thi yaar mera starring jeetendra/raakhi music by shankar jaikishan, dil ki kitab kori hai kori hi rahne do, yeh duet song rafi sahib aur suman tai ki awazon mein hai. yeh film to nahin chali par gaane jaroor melodious the.

    filmen to chalti nahin thi lekin hamare music contributors ne koi kasar nahin chodi apna kaam dikhane mein, film nahin chalti thi to bhi aisa hota tha ki aaj bhi hum woh gaane sunate hai.

    aap ne ek yaadgaar write up diya hai lekin mere pass thanx bolane ke liye words nahin hai.

    god bless u

    vinod mehru

  17. sagar atre says:

    hi this is sagar atre, thanks for the regular updates and the articles. i would like to know that where can I get the live video of RAFI sahab. any live video either on stage or in studio. thanks once again to all RAFI sahab’s fans.

  18. Dear all,
    The clip is an oudio one and has one stanza.

    Shirish Kulkarni

  19. Dear all,
    I have a short clip of the duet from Mamta sung by Rafi Sahab & Suman ji.
    It is amazing. Anybody who needs can mail your email id.

    Regards to all Rafi fans
    Shirish Kulkarni
    98204 52562

  20. Sudhir Vashishtha says:

    What an article ! Though their duets have direct impact on the mind and soul yet I would like to mention that their duet ‘Tere hum O sanam, tu jahan dil wahaan..’ is a gem of music/singers/lyricist

  21. siva says:

    Nice article-Rafi and Suman duets had that extra sweetness-of course Rafi’s duets with Lata are legendary -when two greatest voices sing together it has to be sheer magic.
    A clarification on behalf of Mr Souvik on the rahe na rahe hum song from Mamta. Although we all know about the great solo version was immortalised by Lata ji, the film had a brief duet version with Rafi and Suman singing the same. Here is the like to the same:


  22. Rashid Diwan says:

    Another brilliant article by Mr. Souvik Chatterj, I admire Mr Chatterji for his knowledge of Rafi Sahab’s songs and the research and effort he puts in preparing the articles is admirable for which I thank whole heartedly. Thank you.

  23. Ali says:

    I don’t want to compare Lata Ji with Suman Kalyanpur but for me I feel the sound same…Lata ji not be compare with any female singer I know that…
    As we all know that Lata ji stop to sing with mohd rafi so music directors has only opation Mohd rafi or Lata ji so they replace Lata ji with Suman Kalyanpur If am not wrong Lata ji stop to sing for Shankar Jaikishan because of that they used Suman Kalyanpur…………
    I am Mohd Rafi fan and Lata ji as a singer only……………

  24. Lt Col Javed Sayyed says:

    Dear Souvikji,
    Very nice article. Indeed, Rafi jelled with suman kalyanpur as good, if not better, as with Lata Mangeshkar. Yes, the monopolistic attitude of the lady singers becoming legends todaY WAS RESPONSIBLE in diminishing quite a few talent & diversity.
    Congrats once again.

  25. Ashok Mehta says:

    Dear Souvik

    Cngratulations for one more good observations on the subject.Going little off the subject,Suman had really sweat voice.For example Sharabi sharabi ye sawan ka mausam by Roshan,Na tum hamen jano by SD Burman,Bhuja Diyen hai khud apne Hathon by Khayyam to name a few.But have a rechek on the song ” Rahen Na Rahen hum By roshan attributed to Suman.May be it was a Lata Song.

  26. Very nice article by Souvik dada….keep writing

  27. Gautam Banerjee says:


    Bombay film industry was not reffered as Bollywood when Shankar Jaikishen composed music for Rafi and Suman Kalyanpur.

    Gautam Banerjee.

  28. Vimmi Subramanian says:

    There is an error in the info provided by you. Rahe na rahe hum from Mamta was sung by Lata & not by Suman K

  29. Girish Masand says:

    Thanks for this great article. There are some more great duets of Suman with Rafi like Ajahun na aiye, Dil ne phir yaad kiya (with Mukesh) – i like them too. Girish :

  30. Dharam Pal Arora says:


    I am one of the fan of the great music directors Shanker Jai Kishan.Perhaps I have seen almost all of the their movies . Mohd.rafi & SJ will be remain immortal till the earth.
    To the best of my knowledge the song of mamta film “rahe na rahe hum ” was sung by lata & not by suman kalyanpur.

  31. Dharam Pal Arora says:

    I am one of fan of The great music directors SHANKER JAI KISHAN.Perhaps I have seen almost all the movies of them. Mohd.rafi & SJ will be immortal till the earth.
    To the best of my knowledge the song of Mamta film “rahe na rahe hum ” was sung by LATA & by Suman kalyanpur.

  32. n k v ranga rao says:

    all the duets sung by them are equally popular like lata,rafi duets.I like the duet from “rajkumar”‘”Tuje pyar karte hai karte rahenge”. Anyway thanks for the article and because of one of the leading female singer not allowed any other singer to come up in the bollywood field, now these people do the big talking that you should encourage young talent and what not.

  33. Souvikji,

    Once again you gave us a superb article on suman,rafi,sj combo. Yes the fact was Lata was not in the picture on that time. So, rafi sang more duets with sumanji. Shankar Jaikishan’s favourite singer rafi gave more and more chance to sumanji to sing with her. After jai’s sudden death also both sang with other music directors ecspecially with Laxmikant-pyarelal. Great write up by you. grt8888.

    shashank chickermane

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