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Rafi Sahab – The Voice of Shammi Kapoor

This article is written by Mr. Bhargav P Vasavada.

Mohd Rafi and Shammi KapoorUsi ne ha lootaa, mazaa zindagi ka, mohabbat me jo ho gaya ho kisika‘. When it comes to the ‘lootaa…‘ part, an engrossed listener would feel as if there is a sudden spurt of intoxication after all the intensely peaceful imbibing that has been going on till then. We know the shift in gears that Rafi Sahib was uniquely capable of doing, yet we wonder how come there is still that bit extra every time he paired up with Shamsher Singh Kapoor, better known as Shammi Kapoor, the icon almost singularly responsible for changing the image of the lead actor to a rebellious lover brimming with confidence and charisma. It’s that era that we are going to focus on today.

Of course there are some other very important pieces to this jigsaw, namely O P Nayyar, Shankar Jaikishan, Majrooh, Shailendra and so on. The very fact that when we close our eyes and think of the Shammi era, the term ‘music’ brings up the name ‘OP’, goes on to show the heights achieved by the master in the good old days of Kapoor’s kinly association with Shankar Jaikishan.

With due lack of respect to the storylines and directions, it would be an understatement to remark that some of the flicks around then were made worth remembering purely because of the genius of Rafi-Shammi Siamese duo. It almost seemed they had the music ready to go, but somehow they had to knit a story and some side cast around it for packaging purpose. Whether it was the royally inglorious ‘Prince’ or the princely mediocre ‘Rajkumar’ or the equally average ‘Kashmir ki Kali’ – all of them were fortunate enough to carve a place in the annals of Hindi music, purely because of individual brilliances of SK, RS, OP and SJ.

Mohd Rafi with Shammi Kapoor, Shankar, Datta Ram, Hasrat Jaipuri and others
Mohd Rafi with Shammi Kapoor, Shankar, Datta Ram, Hasrat Jaipuri and others

Which lesser mortal, if not already aware of it, would be able to claim its a dubbing when Shammi approaches Sadhana crawling on all fours acting out ‘vo dekho mujhse rooth kar meri jaan ja rahi hai‘. Rafi sahib is the best mimic of all time, having mimicked with finesse to give voice to a galaxy of actors. Though somehow, perhaps just by design, it seems even the mimic didn’t have to be anything but at his natural most, when it came to singing for Shammi. Of course great credit to the actor as well, else who would believe the way he fools the audience in ‘hai duniya usiki…’ into believing for a moment that a second Rafi was born – or was it that Rafi tried this number in a spiritually uplifted state as well? It never happened with Shammi-Manna combo somehow, although the music was melodious as ever. You never feel the same onscreen chemistry in ‘jhoomta mausam mast mahina..’ although Manna da is bright as ever in the foot tapping classic.

It is not surprising thus, that SK himself was quite good at appreciating music. He played an active role in the selection, creation, recording and concept of his music and the final filming of his songs. In fact few know that it was Shammi-Rafi who had decided in consultation with OP that every ‘taarif’ in ‘taarif karun mai kya uski‘ would be rendered differently by RS and would be differently enacted each time by SK. Such were the days of versatile artistry and teamwork. SK once recalled that when OP was zeroed on for Kashmir ki kali, he was ready with 52 tunes, from which the bosses RS and SK selected 9 of the best!

Mohd Rafi with Shammi Kapoor
Mohd Rafi with Shammi Kapoor

Talent can sometimes be a quality for lifetime! After Geeta Bali’s death, ironically associated so much now with the real life like acting in ‘Tumne mujhe dekha..’ by SK, he was to lose interest and cut down on his work. However flashes of SK-RS brilliance did keep coming as in the pahadi based ‘dil ke jharokhe me…’ I sometimes try to sing this number out of sheer disregard to greatness, only to realize my lesser mortal stature very soon.

From the chocolate like, almost childlike ‘hum aur tum aur ye saman…’ to one of the best lullabies in ‘mai gaon tum so jao…’ over the years, this pair has given us a reason – reason to smile, reason to be ourselves, reason to just forget our self importance in presence of something supremely sublime.

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37 Blog Comments to “Rafi Sahab – The Voice of Shammi Kapoor”

  1. prakash says:

    wen me hear songs of md rafii i feel wy he is gone so soon ; belive me i do hear his songs repeatedly of shami kapoor films as i has seen pictures repeatedly due to songs of md rafi we do miss md rafi ;

  2. rafiji and shammiji u both r my soul without u both i cant survive u both r my love without shammiji and mohammd rafiji i cant breathe i always talk to my kids and i tell them ki jab mai maroo aur tum mijhe jinda karna chaoo tu ek baar shammi kapoor ki awaaz sona dena and mohammad rafji ke gaane sona dena mai jinda hoo jaongi really i feel and i know this this will happen

  3. Usha Subramanian says:

    I have no words to describe the chemistry between these two legendary personalities. However, I think Shammi Kapoor’s whole romantic attitude to life is personified in the song “Meri Mohobbat Jawan Rahegi” from the film Janwar. And the way Rafi has performed it gives me the goose bumps every time I hear the song.

  4. Harikishan Tapse says:

    It is true that the voice of Rafi ji suited Shammi Kapoor so much. Whether is a boncy song like yahoo or aasmaan se or romantic song like is rang badalthi or a sad song like hai duniya usiki every song was a perfect . With Shammi kapoor’s demise we have lost the pair of melody .

  5. Najam says:

    Rafi’s calibre and class is absolutely unmatchable, and most music lovers believe it will remain so in time to come. He generated a new ultimate, untouchable class of his own and gave new dimensions to “perfection” in singing. All other singers of his time and of today are not even an inch of his enormous versality. He invented new styles, new moods for the film singing, hiterto, unimaginable for music lovers. Billions people on this planet firmly believe that with Rafi, the ultimate perfect singing is gone.


  6. Mike Guddoy says:

    This is a very interesting article. I believe that the magic formula of Shammi Kapoor/Mohammed Rafi will remain unique and inimitable in the annals of Indian cinema. They were both highly talented artists. Shammi was a great actor and Rafi was a brillant singer. Shammi is still a musical person and his knowledge of music is unbelievable. His rock n roll influence in many of their tunes is obvious. It would be impossible to fail to mention the contributions of the two greatest musicians of Indian cinema, Shankar-Jaikishan and also O.P. Nayyar.

  7. Jainarine Mohimaid says:

    Great article. What else can we expect from two giants in their professions? They were perfection in sound and movement. Best timing between song and acting.

  8. Rafi ki awaz Shammi ke jism ke her ang se nikalti maloom padti thi.

  9. Well great article, I love your writing style and, writing about legend shammi kapoor.

  10. mohamedparvez says:

    dear rafisaab fans iam glad to post convesation video of shammida speaking about rafisaab with song please watch

  11. Ahamed Kutty says:

    Dear Rafians,

    Rafi Saab was just like a shining “sun” with whose help so many
    artists come up.People used to say they had bee to a Shammi
    Kapoor movie to hear Rafi Saab’s songs singing by Shammi
    Kapoor.No other sound is matching for SK as Rafi Saab’s.

    Rafi Saab is a cause of Joy to millions of people all over
    the world.

  12. ATM SALIM says:





  13. Ashok Parekh says:

    Bhargavbhai, my appreciation for a very good article on these two legendary personalities.

    We all know so much about them, their songs, their chemistry. I am however, puzzled about few music directors for SK movies wherein Rafisaab has given him playback. I would like to bring the same to this forum to have possible answers for them:

    O. P. Nayyar: Tum Sa Nahi Dekha altogether changed SK’s image for good and from where he never looked back. Two more movies Basaant & Mujrim followed which I think did not fared well on Box office. Despite subsequent Kashmir Ki Kali hit, there was no OP-SK combination thereafter.

    Usha Khanna: Dil De Ke Dekho an out and out hit movie, Asha Parekh made her debut, all the songs hit. There was no repeatation of UK-SK combination thereafter.

    Ravi: China Town again a musical hit. One more movie by Ravisaab for SK (Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya) with a beautiful song, “Jaane Bahar Husn Tera Bemisaal Hai”. They did not come together therafter. Probably, the movie not doing good business was the reason for the same.

    Kalyanji Anandji: A Manmohan Desai movie in which KA used 3 singers for SK, Rafisaab, Mukesh and Hemant Kumar. Though musically hit (who can forget Govinda Ala Re), this pair never come together again may be due to the same reason – movie did not fare well at Box Office.

    R. D. Burman: The most surprising one. Despite all time hit, a landmark movie, all hit songs, RD-SK never teamed up again.

    So far as my knowledge the above is factually correct. If not, I may be corrected. I am sure our knowedgable forum would able to provide clue about my above puzzle. Binuji can even talk to SKsaab himself to find the answers.

    Regards and Best Wishes to all for 2008

    Ashok Parekh

  14. b.venkatadri says:

    Hats off, SSmakkar Ji and Zorawar Ji, for your posts on the “Tu Ne Mera Yaar” song from Film:Shama Parwana(1954). Whenever I hear this song (especially the ending), my heart becomes heavy and I keep feeling so sad for Rafi Saab.

    When I hear the words, “Nahi To Aake Mujhi Ko Phir Is Jahan Se Uthaaaaaaaaa, Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa”, it sounds to me more like an orphaned infant crying breathlessly at the highest pitch!

    I often think of Rafi Saab’s Godliness because he evokes such intense emotions/passions from genuine music lovers, which no other human could.


  15. Zorawar says:

    Fantastic article. I cannot even think of writing an article on this jodi as I have no words to explain this combination but the way it has been expressed here, I feel may be I can also pull out something now and add further.
    But for Mr. Ashish Kapoor, as I also have the full record of Shama Parwana and I have been hearing this song for last 20 years and rehearsing also but that last part referred to by you cannot be imitated if even you “faado” your voice. That last part of the song shows the feelings, the passion and height of love that male character possesses for his beloved.
    Coming back to jodi, after the final edit of the song Tumne Mujhe Dekha, even Shammi Ji admitted that he should have done something better to justify Rafi Sahab’s singing. Considering the calibre and position that Shammi Ji had and the way he acted in this particular song, I think that’s a very big statement.
    Dear Mr. Bhargav, do keep on posting such good and peaceful articles to keep our blood flowing at 120/80. Thanks.

  16. rony says:

    Mohd. Rafi is undoubtedly the best so far. sony channel has started a program called “k for kishore”. everyone one is trying to lift kishore. and they are ignoring the real great. why not start a program for rafi fans? then today’s youth will learn more on rafi-the best.

  17. KRUPESH PATEL says:



  18. xxx says:

    its a nice post……

    how easily rafi sahab used to get into d soul of d song… he sang many gr8 rock n rolls for shammi in a playfull mood & flamboyant way(unlike his nature)…

    kya daur hoga wo bhi jahan rafi sahab jaise jaadugar perform kar gaye hain……….
    hats off to rafi sahab, long live rafi sahab…

  19. b.venkatadri says:

    Mr. Ashish Kapoor,

    Mehtab Ji is very right regarding the “Tu Ne Mera Yaar” song by Rafi Saab in Shama Parwana.

    Don’t you think it is truly a divine rendition over the entire 04:52 duration? This song is supposed to be an extremely tragic song in the film and especially the last Antara, during the words, “Nahin To Aake Mujhi Ko Phir Us Jahan Se Utha”, was meant to be heart-rending, at the highest possble scale possible for humans , much the same way as an infant cries breathlessly and makes the listeners die with compassion! So, in this noble process, if there was a streak of voice-break, it was very much intended. After all, the MD, Husnlal Bhagatram, a stickler for high quality would have gone for another recording otherwise!


  20. Mohd. Salim says:

    Mein Rafi Sahab ka bahut bada fan hoon. Main kya likhoon meri to samajh mein hi aa raha hai. Itna hi kah sakta hoon, I love him very much.

  21. ssmakkar says:

    i am a rafi sahib bhakt.
    yes there is a second crack there- no doubt- but seeing the emotion built up and the energy generated by the by the rendering, the music directors decided to retain the element as a very natural eomtional break.
    the song is still beautiful.
    i may inform you that mahendra kapoor ji sang this very song in the murphy singing competition to win the first prize, where naushad sahib and br chopra were the judges.his career was launched thereafter.


    Dear Mr Ashish Kapoorji,

    1.- I can not imagine that RAFI SAHAB KI AVAAZ FAT GAYEE.
    2.-Though I have not heard the referred songs, it is difficult for me to digest the same as mentioned in your article.
    3.-Sk/RS combination is exceptional.


  23. […] lisam014 wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt1) Fir tumhari yaad aayi hai sanam-Rustom Sohrab-with Manna Dey-Music by Sajjad Hussain 2) Ek chameli ke mandve tale–an excellent duet by Rafi saab and Asha where they match each and every sur,word..Film Cha cha cha-Music Iqbal Quershi … […]

  24. Nice article from Bhargavji, Rafi was the instrumental idol for Shammi Kapoor’s films. He sang most of the song for shammikapoor. One song is my favourite “Mein Gaau Tum So Javo”, film “Brahmachari”. what an song it is 2 version one is happy and another sad. Whatever will be Rafisahab sung most of the songs with the music director shankar-jaikishan baton for Shammi Kapoor.

  25. Mehtab says:

    Respected Rafi Sahib’s Fans,
    Dear Mr. Ashish Kapoor, I have also the songs of Shama Parwana, which I recorded from the DD1, when this film was telecast almost 25 years ago. Actually, Rafi Sahib’s voice has not torn in this song. This was only the demand of the story. The Director wanted to show the Hero’s passion of singing through the song of Rafi Sahib. Why such a mistaken or errorfull recording would be taken to the Public? It can be understood easily. When there was an option of re-recording was available, then what was the need to make it public? Rafi Sahib is such a great singer of this planet who is absolutely up from such mistakes.
    — MEHTAB
    Mobile : +91-98157-03226, E-Mail :

  26. Siva says:

    I am a great fan of Rafi saab and have been reading many good articles in this website. It is indeed a great pleasure to see so many ardent fans of Rafi sab. When I see so many Rafi fans I am now confident that the name of Rafi saab shall remain in every Indian’s psyche for centuries to come.
    On the topic of Shammi-Rafi–can anyone believe that a singer who can sing songs like O duniya ke rakhwale/Ye takhton ye tajon ki duniya can sing with equal expertise a song like taarif karoon kya us ki..etc. That’s the versatility of Rafi saab.
    I have been seeing many gems of Rafi saab in this site. I would like to add few very rare gems like:
    1) Fir tumhari yaad aayi hai sanam-Rustom Sohrab-with Manna Dey-Music by Sajjad Hussain
    2) Ek chameli ke mandve tale–an excellent duet by Rafi saab and Asha where they match each and every sur,word..Film Cha cha cha-Music Iqbal Quershi
    3) Tumse kahoon ek baat paron se halke–you should note the way Rafi saab almost whispers the word “halke”–Film Dastak-Music Madan mohan
    4) Na kisi ke annkh ka noor hoon-Film Lal Quila-music S.N.Tripathi–a song which only our Rafi saab could have sung–this was absolutely without any music
    and so on… Please note for so many not-so-popular music directors, only our ever-humble Rafi saab used to sing so many songs. That was his greatness.

  27. H.V.GURU MURTHY says:

    If you start counting the hit songs of this pair, we will keep counting for hours together. I would just like to narrate the following which I have read somewhere.

    It seems Shammi Kapoor himself was a good Singer. When somebody asked SK why he does not sing his own songs, it seems SK replied, “Yes, I sing well, but Rafi sings better”.

    SK has admitted that when he wanted to suggest certain changes in a particular song, Rafi would always come out with those changes even before SK could take up with him. When SK enquired as to how he could guess what he wanted, Rafi would say that he thought that the change would be needed to suit SK style. Such was the chemistry.

    When Rafi passed away, SK was on tour to Vaishno Devi. A tourist broke the news to SK and SK remarked, “My voice has gone”.

  28. Hussein Sheikh says:

    Post # 7: Rafi Saheb ki awaaz faat gaee….. what do you mean? I too have songs of Shama Parwana, it’s nothing like what you have said. It was his way of the singing those songs.

  29. binus2000 says:

    shammi saab ke kya kehne…. he spoke to me last week and
    shammi saab wished the rafi foundation and the website his very
    best wishes…

    he would have come at rafi mansion to cut the cake but for health
    reasons could not attend…..

    we wish shammi saab good health and wish to inform rafi saab
    lovers that dev saab too wished us the very best on dec.22 and
    gave his support for honouring rafi saab with the “bharat ratna”

    dev saab talked with us live in new delhi during the press briefing
    and painting competion on dec22.. and this talk was recorded
    and reported in the media…..

    binu nair… the rafi foundation…

  30. unknow1 says:

    i don’t think that a singer and an actor be made for each other as Mohd rafi and Shammi they was and they will be the best as I think

  31. ashish kapoor says:

    hi all rafians, i remember one of the early movies of shammi kapoor sahab,it was called as shama-parwana,starring this movie,rafi saab has sung all the songs for shammi one of the songs “toone mera yaar naa milaya,main kya jaanu teri yeh khudayi”.at the end of the song rafi saab ne apni aawaaz ko baiju bawra ki tarah kheecha hai aur unki aawaaz faat gayi,the same thing happened in another song in the same movie ,it was ” sarre mehafil jo jala parwana,kar gaya naame wafa parwana”.i have the complete songs of this movie. ashish kapoor,,tel 09810087414

  32. A S MURTY says:

    well written article Sir and you have covered a lot of ground on the subject. also your language is journalistic. rafi sahab and shammi kapoor had the best pairing what with almost every movie churning hit songs after hits. most boisterous would best describe some of the songs like yahoo-chahe koi mujhe junglee kahe, aasmaan se aaya farishta, kisko pyar karoon, tarif karoon kya uski, etc. then there were songs whose tunes were not ordinary like for instance – is rang bhari duniya mein and voh dekho mujhse rooth kar meri jaan jaa rahi hai etc. Like Mr. nawathe has said, we are still enlivened by these roaring numbers even 40 years later. and it is true, but for rafi sahab’s songs, not much would have happened to shammi kapoor with his limited acting skills.

  33. Anil Cherian says:

    Thanx for the superb article, Bhargav ji. Rafi sahab and Shammi ji made one heck of a team. Rafi sahab revealed another dimension to his singing, hitherto unknown to the music lovers, when Shammiji hit the big screen with his yahoo image.


    dear Mr Bhargav,

    1.- Really a masterpiece article on RS/ SK pair.My compliments.

    2.-One can just remember DEEVANA HUA BAADAL or ISHARO ISHARO or DIL TERA DEEVANA HAI SANAM or IS RANG BADALTI DUNIYA ME..etc….and come to the conclusion that, RAFI SAHAB was the only voice for SK.
    3.-Ultimately, they produced such a QUALITY WORK that, we are talking about the same after 40 years with the same interest..this is their true success.

    00968 92 89 90 89

  35. Anmol Singh says:

    Rafi Saab was the driving force behind Shammi’s success. He matched each and every movement of Shammi to perfection, which possibly could have not been possible for any other singer.

  36. biman baruah says:

    dear mr. bhargav, good article. Rafi Saheb was the voice of Shammi Kapoor from his begening to end of his carrer as a hero and his yahoo image owed to Rafi Saheb for songs like “Tumsa Nahin Dekha”, “Dil Lenewali Dil Dena Dekho Ji”, “Sahe Koi Mujhe Junglee Kahe”, “Badan Pe Sitare”, “Yeh Chandsa Roshan Chehra”, “Asman Se Aaya Farista” , “Aaj Kaal Tere Mere Pyar”, and many more …………………………….. . Its a matchless combination.

    Wishing all Rafians a very Happy and Brightful New Year, 2008.

    Biman Baruah
    Siavasgar, Assam

  37. Hussein Sheikh says:

    A nice but very short article specially when it comes to Rafi Saheb and Shammi Kapoor. World knows the musical relationship between these two artists. Shammi Kapoor’s movies were hits just because of Rafi Saheb’s songs. When people went to see Shammi Kapoor’s films, they knew that the songs were sung by none other than Rafi Saheb. The relationship between these two artists is unforgetable.

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