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Rafi’s immortal relationship with Khayyam

By Souvik Chatterji

Mohd Rafi with poet lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi and composer Khayyam

Mohd Rafi with poet lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi and composer Khayyam

Mohammad Zahur Khayyam Hashmi, better known as Khayyam, was generally an off-beat composer whose level of excellence could be very well compared with Naushad or Shankar Jaikishan or Roshan, inspite of composing music in less number of films.

Born in 1927, Khayyam, learnt music from Baba Chisti, a renowned composer of Pakistan. He learnt music from also Hunslal Bhagatram and Pandit Amar Nath. He assisted composer G.A. Chisti in Lahore for some time. He returned back to Ludhiana in 1943. He went to Bombay to be an actor. He got a role in the Yeh Hai Zindagi in 1947.

After assisting a number of composers, who composed music independently for the first time in Zia Sarhadi’s film Footpath in 1953. His song “sham-e-gham ki kasam” sung by Talat Mehmood in Dilip Kumar’s successful film created a separate identity for Khayyam. His songs in Raj Kapoor’s film Phir Subah Hogi, became equally famous. Mukesh’s songs “wo subah kabhi to ayegi”, “chin-o-arab hamara”, “phir na kije gustaq nigah ka gila”, were very soft romantic numbers , while Rafi’s song “jo bore kare yaar ko” had comedy andaz picturised on Rehman. Rafi sang in Khayyam’s early contribution in the film Tattar Ka Chor in 1955 titled “dekho zara ulfat ka asar”. In the less known film Barood in 1960, Rafi sang a solo “chala chal chala chal ghar hai andhera”.

Rafi’s best songs composed by Khayyam were in the film Shola Aur Shabnam. All the songs were written by Kaifi Azmi, with great philosophy embedded in them. Rafi’s voice was probably at its best in the songs “jane kya dhoonti rehti hai yeh ankhe mujhme”, “jeet hi lenge baazi hum tum”, “pehle to aankh milna” in the film.  Dharmender was blessed with the soft romantic songs in the early part of his career which took to a huge distance in his goal of being a successful romantic actor. Khayyam provided his hilly tunes in the film Shagun in 1964, where Rafi’s number “parbaton ke paron par sham ka basera hai” still haunts listeners. Rafi’s other songs in the same film composed by Khayyam titled “tum chali jayogi, parchaiyan reh jayegi” and “yeh raat bahut rangeen sahi” can make any listener intoxicated. The brilliant lyrics were written by Sahir Ludhianvi who probably had written some of his best shayeris for Khayyam. Due to the fact the main actor in that film being Kanwaljeet, having limited box-office presence, the songs did not get the publicity that they deserved.

Mohd Rafi with poet lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi and composer Khayyam

Mohd Rafi with poet lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi and composer Khayyam

The magic combination of Rafi with Khayyam continued in the film Muhabbat Is Ko Kehte Hai. Rafi’s songs for Shashi Kapoor namely “meri nigahen” and the duet song with Suman Kalyanpur namely “thehriye hosh me aaloon to chale jaiyega” had ghazal andaz and ended up being big hits.

In Rajesh Khanna’s Akhri Khat in 1966, Khayyam’s composition for Rafi titled “aur thori der theher” mesmerize the audience equally like Lata’s solo song “baharon mera jeevan bhi sawaron”.  Khayyam’s songs always had very orthodox urdu poetry attached with them, so the classic words balanced the meaningful orchestration accompanied by the sweet voice of Rafi. Rafi sang a duet song “nain milake pyar jatake” along with Jagjit Kaur in the film Mera Bhai Mera Dushman in 1967.

For the next four five years, Khayyam did not compose music prominently. In the mid-70s, Khayyam got recognition for his touchy numbers in the film Kabhi Kabhi in 1975, and landmark mujras in Umrao Jaan in 1981, for which he received filmfare awards for best composer. Mukesh’s songs “kabhi kabhi mere dil me”, “mai pal do pal ka shayar hoon” and Asha Bhosle’s songs “in ankhon ki masti”, “ dil cheez kya hai” had become musical classics over a period of time. Even Bhupinder Singh’s song “karoge yaad to” can be considered to a legendary ghazal of Khayyam.

The combination of Rafi and Khayyam in film music faded away from mid-70s. But at the same time Khayyam composed landmark bhajans for Rafi which again had great musical value. It is a pity that composers like Khayyam had composed songs in less number of films, otherwise Rafi and Khayyam combination could have featured more. The films, the songs and the non-film albums should be preserved.

Mr. Souvik Chatterji, the author of this article

Mr. Souvik Chatterji, the author of this article

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8 Blog Comments to “Rafi’s immortal relationship with Khayyam”


    Rafi Sahab’s association with Khayyam was immortal. Although both churned out less number of songs, however the quality of songs were exemplary….
    Rafi sahab’s first song with Khayyam was for the film Biwi in the year 1950, Akele mein wo ghabrate to Honge,,,,That was a huge hit……
    Khayyam’s one of the greatest achievements has been in establishing Rafi Sahab as the most versatile singer through Non Film Ghazal Album in the year 1954 “This is Mohammed Rafi”… this was the best selling disc for over 10 years…
    Although he worked less with Rafi during 70’s for some reason…
    However, they churned out classics in films like Shankar Hussain & Chambal Ki Kasam..

  2. Dinesh Sharma says:

    in my opinion ruhani awaz ke malik rafi sahib sung everlasting songs for all music composers but his one sung under khyam sahib from movie lailarukh hai kali ke labh par tere hussen ka fassana is unmachable and is full of melody and action because one cannot stop himself from dancing on the floor with the songs.Long live Khyam sahib with very good health and we keep listening to songs of rafi sahib and composition of Khyam sahib.

  3. Ashok Mehta says:

    Dear Souvik

    Indeed a very good topic you cose to write.Many many congrats.You mentioned that rafi sang lot of Bhajans .Rafi also sang Ghazals ( Non Filmy ) for the composer.What a gem of ghazalas and bhajans.To name a few.Shauk har rang,Dard Minnat,Pooch na mujhse,Tere Bharose,Suniyo araz hamari.If i would have some knowledge of music i could have written any amount of words to describe the quality of these compositions But as a normal listener i can say these are matchless compositions of the combination of Rafi and Khayyams .You hear and u will enjoy the rare quality of these gems.

    Ashok Mehta,
    ( 9958099417}

  4. jasbir singh zando,calcutta says:

    kudos to mr.chatterjee for nice n well informed article on khayyamsaab with rafisaab,i think he forgot to mention the beautiful n lovely song of film shanker hussain,,,kahin eke nazuk si ladki bahut khoobsoorat magar sawanli si….erotic n stimulating song rafisaab sang with full ishaqi voice in his rare style…more u write about rafisaab the less it is…becoz he is sea of melody….long live rafisaab…our govt still hesitating to honour him bharat rattan,,,kyon…even great manna dey,this year dadasaab phalke awardee..said about rafisaab…he is better singer than me…for what govt is waiting..also dev anand said..let the govt possess his records by declaring him bharat rattan….it is too late…we rafifans are losing our patience…..

  5. Siva says:

    Although the number of compositions Rafi sahab sang for Khayyam were limited, almost all were sweet melodies. Thanks for bringing out this in this article. Also thanks , Dr Yadav for mentioning the immortal bhajans Rafi sahab had sung for Khayyam sahab. I liked your comment —“every phrase aesthetically embellished is a lesson for the present day insipidity laden singers who focus solely on technical correctness with the listener’s lament being the only true value addition.”
    Can you believe in one of the recent so called ” indian idol” shows, the singers were specifically dissuaded from singing old songs by the judges!!!
    May be they are so afraid of listening to the songs from the golden era due to their inherent inferiority complex, which comes out in form of their arrogance and superiority complex!!
    But they do not understand that even centuries or milleniums cannot erase the golden era of Hindi film music of 50’s & 60’s.

    By the way, I find this site lacking the usual fervour and excitement now-a-days. Where are the Haldars, Venkatadris, Achals, Uttaras,Binas and so many other enthisiastic Rafi fans?? I see very little comments/posts of Rafi’s gems.
    One of these days I am thinking of writing about some excellent duets of Rafi-Lata that I recently heard (the golden or should we say Platinum combination ever heard in living history)

  6. dr.satyavir yadav says:

    Souvik Chatterji sahib,
    Excellent informative write up by you.
    Khayyam and rafi saab both were blessed by each other to create some immortal numbers for us.You have counted many of them..all of which are a real treat to be heard and blessed.

    In 1950,s when mohd.rafi,s singing graph was ascending steeply in india and khayyam saab,s entry to music industry was a little new; the legendary rafi saab,s unusual call and meeting with khayyam completely surprised khayyam ji.Rafi saab had requested khayyam ji to compose music for some hindu devotional bhajans to be sung by him and rafi saab had given him some basic tunes for reference.Khayym ji was overwhelmed by his gesture and both of them later created some immortal non filmy bhajans, which are still unparalleled and incomparable. I frequently listen to these bhajans and the numbers “paon padoon tore shyaam” and “tere bharose hai nandalala” still mesmerize my mind and soul even today.

    In the khayaam saab’s magically tuned bhajan “paon padoon tore shyaam”, rafi saab displays immense control,his voice seamlessly transitioning between the lovingly persuasive “laut chalo” and…here goes again..”paon padoon”..
    Every word (listen to the prayerful way he puts out…’shyaam’) lovingly put through, every phrase aesthetically embellished is a lesson for the present day insipidity laden singers who focus solely on technical correctness with the listener’s lament being the only true value addition.
    In ‘paon padoon tore shyaam’…only the creator knows how rafi saab pioneered this immensely touching, soulful style of rendition….crooning.

    Kudos!!! souvik ji for your sincere efforts to remind and refresh we all about this immortal association of the two legends of music.


  7. Imtiyaz A. Sharif says:

    Dearest Rafians,

    Please keep on voting Rafi Sahab.

    Kindly watch, other competitor is chasing to Rafi Sahab’s position No. 1.
    So, kindly vote atleast 5 in a day.

    With best regards,

    Imtiyaz A. Sharif

  8. biman says:

    Souvik ji
    Nice article . Both the legends created some memorable songs which are everlasting . Awaiting for more write-up.

    According to Khayyam, the weak combination between the composer and the lyricist is the reason why very few everlasting film songs come out of the recording rooms nowadays.

    With best regards
    biman baruah

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