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Rafiji’s songs – A khazana of versions 1

By Santhanakrishnan Srinivasan

Rafiji’s songs - A khazana of versions 1

The last article I wrote on Rafi ji  was on a single aspect of his voice, his exceptional range over his contemporaries. Rafi ji has sung so many songs and we have heard them with so much attention, it is natural that we observe a lot of other aspects such as common and unique patterns in the way songs are made and sung.

If we have listened to the songs on the radio and then on Chayageet or Chitrahaar attentively, we would have noticed there are songs that seem to have two different versions, especially, the picturised version seemed to be longer and had something extra in them.  It was a revelation to me that there was thing called a OST version (Original Sound Track) and this was different from what was getting imprinted on the gramophone record (78 rpm) that would have a limitation on the length of the songs to about 3 and half minutes.

Then I started observing how these versions, OST and audio, differed from each other, since both of them were complete versions.  The first outcome was that there were two recordings of the songs done in earlier days, once for OST and another for the audio.  Then I found there were number of methods used to bring down length of the song from OST to audio, such as cutting down one antara, or changing the interlude music, etc.  This article is an outcome of the analysis on versions of songs mainly based on the songs sung by Rafiji, who was a phenomenon by the sheer number of songs that he sang, and generating a huge following while remaining humility personified.

Here is a brief analysis of these songs and a classification of the reasons leading to their versions.

The reasons for these versions are mere surmisals based on the verifiable facts that can be associated with the versions.  Again the facts have been collected by listening to the songs that are available. There are facts that are other than technical too, in some instances for which the reasons associated are either hearsay or unverified material available in the public domain.   Now let us see some of these versions.

The songs had a definite structure, some orchestral music at the start, in between verses (antaras) and a little at the end.  With each line repeating twice, with two antaras the song would last up to 3 minutes and with three antaras ,  it would typically extend upto of 4 minutes and 15 secs.  However, the gramaphone recording technology available then (78 rpm) did not allow anything longer than 3 minutes and 20 seconds, and this put a limitation on the length of the song. Hence if the production budget allowed, the producers would have two recordings for the same song, once for the film sound track and an abridged version for the gramophone record (78 rpm – short play).  To abridge the song, they (music director or the producer) employed techniques of reducing the length of the song by either dropping the third antara, or retaining the third antara without repetition of the lines, or cutting down on the orchestral music and in rare occasion by converting a duet into solo or a combination of these methods.  This trend followed till the Long Play (33 1/3 rpm) and extended play (45 rpm) came in to being with higher fidelity introduced through better electronics.

  • The easiest option was to cut away one antara from the song.  Still a separate recording was needed as the song needed to be brought to a graceful ending with the same flourish.   The many Rafiji songs that are in this genre are “Khoya khoya chand”  from Kala Bazar the last antara “hum mit chale hain jinke liye” is deleted along with the orchestral music for the antara which is different from rest of the antaras.  There is another one from the movie Savan Badon, ‘Kaan mein jhumka chaal mein thumka’  there are two versions,  both are long, and the longer version has an antara in the middle (Teri maang mein jo main sindoor bhar doon   (Ref:, counter 2:30) set to different tune than other antaras) which is not in the picturized version.  The famous romantic song  ‘Yeh mera patra padkar’ is announced as a solo sung by Rafiji from the audio version .  The picturized version has a humming and singing of couple of lines by Lataji with more of orchestral  music.
  • There is another method employed Music Director  Ravi, in the film Aaj aur Kal, in the song ‘Yeh wadiya yer fizayen’, in which  antaras consist of only one line.  And 4 of these are  included but the lines of antara are not  repeated in the gramophone version.  The picturized version is a revelation in how much variation Rafiji can bring in by adding a lot of  harkat in the first time the line sung.  Both the versions of this song is a must listen for every Rafiji fan.  (audio, picturized version   A similar one is “Nache man mora magan”  from Meri Surat teri aankhen.  In the picturized version, Sachin Dev Burman ji has exploited Rafiji’s ability to sing taan, while closing every antara.  In the gramophone version only a glimpse of the possibility has been recorded. (audio: Not available or not traceable video: many copies available in youtube).
  • In yet another variation, Usha Khanna has shortened the orchestral interludes between antaras, thus ensuring the two antaras could be included in the audio version – listen to  Maine rakha hai mohabbat from Shabnam.
  • Sometimes when the song is long and all the antaras are very meaningful, the entire song was recorded again with a break to allow for a gramophone record with the song on both sides.  The second recording was needed to give a graceful break between the two sides of the record.  An example is ‘Hoke majboor mujhe usne bhulaya hoga’  sung by Bhupinder ji, Rafi ji, Talat ji and Manna Dey ji.  Another example is of  Basti basti parbat parbat from Railway platform.  (There are two songs of Kishore ji, Khush hai zamana aaj pehli tarikh hai from Pehli tariq and Kuye mein khud ke mar jana from Parivar).
  • Here are two more unique and rare examples.  In the movie Naya andaz,  there is duet sung by Kishoreji and Rafiji (Duniya ke bazaar mein bhaiya chalta khota maal) picturized on Johny Walker and Kishoreji.  In the audio version, Rafiji starts the song   ( and in the picturized version ( Kishoreji starts the song!
  • In the movie Aadmi,  for the song the first version that was recorded was sung by  Rafiji and Talatji (  which was also intended to be used on the picturized version .  However, Manoj Kumar had started using Mahendra Kapoorji as his voice on the screen and another recording was made with Rafiji and Mahendra (  Stories on internet say, that the producers liked both the versions and used a survey, and decided to retain Rafiji and Talatji version based on the overwhelming support it got.
  • There were other reasons that also forced, the production team to go for two versions, specially when the song is interrupted by dialogues in the picturized version.  An example of this “Jahan tu hai wahan phir” from the movie Aao Pyar Karen. The gamaphone version without the dialogues (audio:, video:

Recording a version in the olden days meant, practicing and rehearsing with the orchestra artistes and the vocalists, many times before the actual recording, and the amount of effort put in by all is evident in the outcome.  When coming out with two versions, not only the effort put in was to be doubled, the music director and the artists had to show more creativity too.

We, the fans of Hindi film music and especially of  Rafiji, must be thankful and grateful to all the music directors and the artistes who gave us gems of versions of the so many songs.

Again a lot of thanks and to all those who have uploaded the songs in youtube and to Bhaskar, my nephew (who is the next generation Rafiji fan in my family)  for verifying and reviewing the facts and also for providing additional data  from his observations. I solicit  comments on this article too from my fellow fans of  Rafiji,  as you had done for my earlier article.

And this article is numbered 1 as there is a sequel to follow on multiple picturised versions.

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22 Blog Comments to “Rafiji’s songs – A khazana of versions 1”

  1. Satyanarayana Rao says:

    Good work sir. I totally go with words mentioned by Anmol Singhji. Rafi is incredible and one can do never ending research on Rafi’s music journey

  2. SHAMMI says:


  3. Anmol Singh says:

    Incredible Rafi could deliver any thing to perfection. The more we analyze his voice, there are new aspects which come to light.

  4. kk says:

    Thanks for the information…i can remember many songs from which extra stanza was cropped for audio version like
    1. Kahin ek masoom nazuk si ladki
    2. Itni hasin itni jawan raat
    3. Apni ankhon mein basakar
    4. Mujhe ishq hai tujhise etc.

  5. Ahamed Kutty says:

    The South Indian singer Jayachandran Sir told in an
    interview with the Malayalam Channel “Kairali” that
    he is worshiping Rafi saab just like Guruvaayurappan
    (God Sri Krishna of Guruvayoor,Kerala) He also told
    that the famous Malayalam comedian Mala Aravindan
    requested him to sing the Rafi Saab’s song “Aaye bahaar
    ban ke luba kar chale gaye” during his last breath.

    The love and affection of Keralites for Rafi Saab is still
    there which is a vigour for the coming generation also.
    It is happening in a state from where a singer like
    Yesudas ji hails who got maximum National Award for
    Male Singer.

  6. Narayan says:

    Excellent n knowledgeable article on our beloved icon .

  7. Anonymous says:

    Fantabulous and highly informative article, sir.

    Please include the three songs ‘ Dard-e-dil dard-e-jigar’ from the film KARZ, ‘Wadiyan mera daman’ from ABHILASHA as well as ‘Tu is tarah se meri zindagi mein shaamil hai’ from AAP TO AISE NA THE in the sequel since all three of the above mentioned tracks also have two different versions…

    … however, in them the ‘rendering’ by Rafi sahab is different as well eg; they have a slightly faster tempo and Rafi sahabs voice quality is also vastly different from the album version ie; it is more ‘light’ and fresh-sounding the film versions..

  8. Panju says:

    Good coverage. Santhan great.

  9. Sivanandam says:

    Very exhaustive and unique article!Thanks Santhanakrishnan ji..In certain songs we wish we could hear the longer version as Rafi sahab in his inimitable style used to create wonders with his “special touch” .One immediate example that comes to mind my mind ( I am sure this must be in your mind also for your promised sequels!!) is the evergreen melody from “Onche log”: Jaag dil-e-deewana. The last, i.e 3rd antara “Aa mere dil ab khabon se muh mod generally not found in the versions played in radio. The typical Rafi’s golden touch can be heard in the way he adds that mild harkat when he repeats the “Aaa ” the second time…there are many such examples from the Encyclopedia of Playback singing–OUR BELOVED RAFI SAHAB!! …LOOKING FORWARD EAGERLY FOR YOUR SEQUELS…

  10. Toqueer Udaipurwala says:

    I never new of these different versions and practice, I appreciate your information. Thank you sir.

  11. Dr.Khaja Aliuddin says:

    Fabulous writing on a unique topic.
    Congratulations Janab.

    Dr. Khaja Aliuddin

  12. tinmoorthy says:

    fantastic examples and references — thank you Srinivasan JI & Bhaskar JI – we fully enjoyed and apprteciate your efforts — keep up the good work going — tinmoorthy 23 sep 2014 tue 0700 hrs

  13. tinmoorthy says:

    fantastic examples and references — thank you Srinivasan JI & Bhaskar JI – we fully enjoyed and apprteciate your efforts — keep up the good work going — tinmoorthy 23 sep 2014 tue 0700 hrstinmorthhy

  14. Raj says:

    Well researched article. I always wondered why there was a difference between a song in the movie and what was available on the record. and your article has explained well.

  15. ramaswamy says:

    Great write up. Excellent analysis, Srinivasji. Continue the excellent work. Thanks for the fantastic write up.

  16. Geetha sridharan says:

    Very good article santhanam. Keep it up.

    Geetha Sridharan, VIrugambakkam, Chennai

  17. Geetha sridharan says:

    Good article santhanam.

  18. Dear Santhan,
    What a fantastic article on Rafisaab. You are a true rafi fan. What a minute observation and research done by you. You would have put lot of man hours on writing this article. I am really proud of you being my classmate and friend. I have something to add to this. Similarly one duet sung by rafiji and ashaji ‘humne toh dil ko aapke kadmo mein rakh diya phir dil ka kya karenge yeh ab aap sochiye’ from film ‘mere sanam’ was totally missed out in the film. What a beautiful song. Those days after the film gets released some song is to be added afterwards with a big advertisement. I have seen this film several times expecting that this song would be added but unfortunately till today it is not added and you have only audio version of the song. Truly Rafi saab is immortal.
    I also want to write an article on Rafisaab with my feelings and experience with your help. Will start preparing draft right now.
    thanks once again.

  19. Rajagopalan says:

    Whoa SanthanaKrishnan, What a write up. Preety much Exhaustive. Mubaarak ho!


  20. Kadeer Yasin says:

    Thank you brother Santhanakrishnan Srinivasan Ji for putting together a very good article. When a person starts collecting Hindi film songs, be it of any singer, they will come across a 2nd version or a song with an extra antra, etc…. Me being a private collector of our Rafi saab have personally experienced this & have taken great effort to make note of those numbers which have been recorded twice.

    Not only this, but many Hindi movies will also contain short snippets of Rafi saab singing in the background which I believe should also be part of the Rafi saab’s songs collection. Take for an example the famous song of Rafi saab – Tu Is Tarah Se Meri… in the movie there is a short snippet of this song, sung in a slower sad version which is not mentioned on record but only available in the movie itself.

    It’s like doing a masters degree when it comes to collecting Rafi saab’s songs! (A proud collector now for 10 years) (And still going….) 🙂

  21. Sankar D P says:

    I have started hearing Rafi Saab’s records Singing in Binaca Geethmala compered by Amin Sayani.Rafi Sahab is my favourite singer since then,that was some 56 or 57 years ago.

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