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Rafi’s Pancham note

By Anuj Sharma

Rafi’s Pancham note

The Rahul Dev Burman baton may have associated overwhelmingly with Kishore Kumar, but there was an area where the son, as disparate from the father as anyone could be, was in complete confluence with the senior Burman. Both despite their propensity for Kishore could never as shrewd composers do injustice to the Tansen of hindi film music: Mohammed Rafi.

All music lovers acknowledge the fact that Mohammed Rafi (1924-1980) was the ‘Tansen’ of Indian film music in general and Hindi film music in particular. His rich deep voice with surprisingly elaborate range is unparalleled and has enthralled the music loving audience all over the world for more almost four decades and continues to do so even today.

The combination of Rafi and Pancham produced around 110 songs and barring 4 – 5 songs each and every song of this combination was a gem. Rafi, let it be remembered, played major role in Pancham’s first ever officially recorded album Chhote Nawab (1961). Even before Chhote Nawab happened in 1961, RD had already chosen Rafi for his first independent assignment under Guru Dutt Productions’ Raaz in around 1957. An eighteen year old Pancham had selected Rafi, Geeta Dutt and Hemant Kumar as his first set of singers for his first film. Unfortunately the film shelved. Chhote Nawab(1961) was an album all full of Lata Mangeshkar and Mohd Rafi. Three beautiful duets and an overtly emotional song was what RD had to offer for Rafi. “Ilaahi tu sunle” was the solo but my personal favourite is “Matwali aankhonwale”- the amazing Lata-Rafi duet in that movie.

R.D. continued to assist his father in films like Baat Ek Raat Ki, (1962), Meri Surat Teri Ankhen and Tere Ghar Ke Samne (1963), Kaise Kahun, Ziddi and Benazir (1964), Teen Deviyan and Guide (1965), Aradhana and Talash (1969)- in all of which there are songs-solos and duets- in the melodious voice of Rafi. R.D’s third film ‘Teesra Kaun’ released in 1965 carried one solo by Rafi- ‘Meri jaan tu khafa hai to kya huwa’. It won’t be an understatement to say that Rafi was RD’s main voice in the sixties. Rafi, in the helm of his career and ruling the industry like a colossus, featured in almost all the movies of RD in the sixties, except – Bhoot Bangla(1965), Pati Patni(1965) and Padosan(1968).

In 1966, Pancham’s super hit film Teesri Manzil was released. Teesri Manzil(1966) was the movie which happened to be the career changer for Pancham. Shammi Kapoor, an otherwise SJ loyalist, worked for the first and as a hero last time, with R D Burman. A musical extravaganza, Teesri Manzil revolutionized Indian cine music with ultra modern sound and arrangement. It had six trend setting songs all sung by Rafi- ‘Aaja aaja main hun pyar tera’, ‘O haseena zulfon wali’, ‘O mere sonare’ and ‘Dekhiye saibo’ (all with Asha) and ‘Deewana mujhsa nahin’ and ‘ Tumne mujhe’ being solos. Pancham thus did associate Rafi  with intense melody right from his earliest days, getting him to vocalize such sterling beauties such as “Tumne Mujhe Dekha (Teesri Manzil 1966)”,  “Tumhe Dekha hai main gulsita mein (Chandan ka palna 1967)”, “Zamane ne mare jawan kaise kaise (Baharon ke sapne 1967)” to name a few.

Abhilasha (1968) saw RD using Rafi and Manna together in a duet under him- Ek janeeb sham-e-mehfil. The same year, RD had created the immortal and the first Kishore-Manna duet under him in the other movie- Padosan. Abhilasha also saw arguably the best RD-Rafi solo “Wadiyan mera daman”- a song which had a Lata solo version also, but clearly the Rafi version landing up as the winner by a substantial margin. Pyar ka mausam (1969)- yet another Nasir Husain musical saw RD-Rafi in a high again. Rafi was all over the album with three versions of the evergreen “Tum bin jaaoon kahan” on the lip of the hero- Shashi Kapoor. Also a beautiful duet with Lata “Ni sultana re” and the solo “Che khush nazare”- rafi rocked the album! In the same year, Waaris(1969) was released and Rafi again was there in three songs- one solo and two duets.

Next came ‘Raton Ka Raja’ and ‘The Train’ in 1970 which again had hit songs by Rafi like ‘Mere liye aati hai shyam’, ‘Aana to sajni din ko aana’ ‘Mohabbat se tumhen dekha’ ‘Door se tera deewana’ (last three being duets with Asha) in Raton Ka Raja and ‘Gulabi ankhen’(solo) and ‘Mujhse bhala ye’ (with Asha) in ‘The Train’. In 1971 came Adhikar, Caravan, Mela and Pyar Ki Kahani which had lovely numbers by Rafi sahab either as solos or as duets such as ‘Jao jao tum bhi jao’ (solo from Adhikar), ‘Kitna pyara wada hai’, ‘Goriyan kahan tera des re’ and ‘Chadti jawani meri’ (all duets with Lata from Caravan), ‘Ek baar rakhde kadam’ (solo), ‘Gori ke hath mein’ and ‘Rut hai Milan ke‘ (duets from Mela), ‘Koi aur duniya me’ and ‘Ek patey ki baat batadun’ (both solos from Pyar Ki Kahani).

R.D. Burman, who always had an eye on popularity and wanted to outdo others, went his way and composed many tunes in the voice of Rafi that sounded similar to Shankar-Jaikishan’s like ‘Deewana mujhsa nahin’ (Teesri Manzil), ‘Zamaane ne maare’ (Baharon Ke Sapne), ‘Wadiyan mera daman’ (Abhilasha), ‘Rekha O Rekha’ (Adhikar), ‘Ek bechara’ (Waris), ‘Ai jane wafa’ (Chalia) and ‘Jao tum bhi jao’ (Dil Ka Raja). These were nevertheless different and thus could gain immense popularity of music lovers all over the world. In late 1970s RD recorded a beautiful duet of Rafi with Lata in Bundal Baaz– Nagma hamara gayega yeh zamana, a philosophical gem in Mukti- Pyar hai ik nishaan qadmon ka and those famous Qawalis in HKKN and TBT.

Hum kisise kum nahin, along with Laila-Majnu by MM and Amar Akbar Anthony by L-P, was definitely the turning point of Rafi’s career in the 70s and made him start his second innings afresh. An album with youthful music and peppy tracks, Rafi brought the serious depth with “Kya hua tera wada” and romanticism unlimited with “Chand mera dil”. Rafi’s voice texture, which had taken a slightly husky touch by then, brought the exact emotions out of “Kya hua tera wada”. From 1978-1980, Pancham-Rafi combo continued to come up with winners. Most memorable RD-Rafi songs that period were “ Jab kisi kaza se guzro” (Devta-1978), “Pyar mein aji kya” (Phandebaaz, 1978), “Maine poochha chand se” (Abdullah, 1980), “Poochho na yaar kya hua” (Zamane ko dikhana hai, 1981) and “Dukh sukh ki har ek mala” (Kudrat, 1981), “Hum Jab ek sath hain (Bulandi, 1980) and Yamma Yamma (Shaan 1980)”.

R.D.Burman never failed to recognize and use Rafi’s sonorous voice whenever he felt the situation in the film demanded till the latter’s untimely death in 1980. Looking at the remarkable cavalcade of scintillating numbers- solos, duets and qawwalis- given by Pancham to Rafi sahab as mentioned above, one cannot miss the vital connection between these two great personalities that produced songs expressing a plethora of human emotions such as- pathos, joy, romance and comedy’ in that melodious musical era! Although it is true that Pancham has given more songs to Kishore than Rafi, he never ignored Rafi and quality-wise, has given equally great or perhaps greater quality songs to Mohammad Rafi till his passing away in 1980. Rafi Sahab passed away in 1980, creating a vacuum in the film music industry. The greatest singer who had a marathon career of almost 4 decades in the industry and gave us innumerable evergreen melodies, left a legacy we cherish even today.

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21 Blog Comments to “Rafi’s Pancham note”

  1. saifudin. rajbhai. tanzania. says:

    write comments on Haathi mere saathi ( nafrat ki duniya) & amar akber antony ( shirdiwale sai baba).

  2. P.Pathak says:

    Rafi Saheb was a great great great singer and to give us joys in our sorrow and bad times in our life to hear his every songs.

  3. Ali says:

    Happy birthday to you Shammi Ji…
    RD Burman best music hit was possible only when Shammi ji and Mohd rafi became together……..

  4. rlarora says:

    Dear Siva ji
    Infact I hv not seen this film Mera Naam Joker but I only read somewhere that the music director of this film suggested the producer of the film to delete this song for the reason I hv already mentioned but this was not accepted by the producer. Thats why Rafi Saab was asked to sing this song. If you see the video you wud find Raj Kapoor ji is acting on this song. May be if this is part of film or not I dont know as I hv only heard the song several times but never seen the movie as such. Anyway hats off to the best singer of the Bollywood and winner of hearts of music lovers (Rafi Saab)

    My rich regards to you and writer of the subject. I remain, a Rafian fan

    r l arora

  5. Siva says:

    Arora ji…thanks for remembering the masterpiece “Sadqe heer tujh pe hum fakeer sadqe”. Composed by Shankar -Jaikishen and penned by the great poet Neeraj , this .song unfortunately was deleted from the movie but in my opinion is truly a masterpiece . The emotion that Rafi sahab has put in this is without any parallel in playback singing. When you listen to the part …”tere dar pe hain..aakhri baar aaye”….especially aakhri b.a.a..a..a..r aaye” you can realize what a great singer Rafi sahab is. Though I am a great lover of Hindi film music, I am very poor in knowing certain background facts about the same. In my opinion the words Tere dar pe aakhri baar aaye proved to be really true in the sense that after this song , I couldnt think of any other song that Rafi sahab sang in any of Raj Kapoor movies after Mera Naam Joker. Can anyone knowledgeable on this confirm this point?

  6. Sara says:

    Srinivasan sir I agree with your comments whole heartly and totally blame the rise of Kishore Kumar and down fall in good music on R D Burman, I think he has a lot to answer for and I personally wouldn’t waste my time and energy on reading any articles associated with him. He definetly ensured that the voice behind the big actors of that time was given to Kishore Kumar such as Rajesh Khanna and Amithab Bachan as he knew that their stardom would ensure and secure stardom for Kishore Kumar who let’s face it on a level playing field wouldn’t stand a chance against the great talent of Mohd Rafi. I think R D burman was nothing short of patetic!!!!!!!!

  7. Mercy Daven says:

    rlarora, It is mostly Kishore who is being compared with Rafi. Kishore was a good singer and remains very popular, but his abilities as a singer is not anywhere near Rafi’s. Most people including renowned singers know and acknowledge that but for some reason Kishore fans have this obsession to compare him with Rafi as if that will somehow elevate Kishore’s status. It sometimes takes ridiculous proportions. No matter what the facts are, this comparison is never going to end. I do not think even Kishore himself thought his abilities could be compared with Rafi’s. It is just the fantasy of Kishore fans that cannot be cured.

  8. rlarora says:

    It is unwise to compare Legend Rafi Saab with any singer including Kishore Kumar. the logic is there wont be another example in the world that a singer sang songs for another singer. Rafi Saab sang number of songs for Kishore Kumar wherein he acted. By doing so our beloved Rafi Saab undoubtedly becomes an unparrlled singer in this world of Music. It wont be out of place to mention that Rafi Saab sang songs where other playback singers could not perform the way as required by the music director/producer. One example is song of film Mera Naam Joker. Rafi Saab sang the song ‘ Sadke heer tujh pe hum faqir sade’ . Mukeshji could not sing this as desired by Raj Kapoor ji. Rafi saab filled the gap and sang as per desire of Raj Kapoor Ji.

    r l arora

  9. R. Srinivasan says:

    R.D. Burman was not in the same league as the golden era greats like Shankar Jaikishan, Naushad, S.D. Burman, O.P. Nayyar, Lakshmikant-Pyarelal, Ravi, Chitragupt, Madan Mohan, Roshan and many others. As long his father SDB was around, his influence was seen on RDB’s music. But when SDB became critically ill in the early 70’s, we saw the real and ugly face of RDB. In my opinion, RDB was almost single-handedly responsible for the transition of Hindi film music from the dizzy heights of the golden era to the pathetic state that it is in today. RDB and the caucus around him was also responsible for the unforgivably shabby treatment that the immortal Rafi sahab received in the 70’s. RDB is also on record saying he prefers Kishore Kumar to Rafi sahab. But today the truth has prevailed, as expected, and nobody believes the nonsensical propaganda that was unleashed in favor of KK in the 70’s.

  10. Mirza Baig says:

    Mr. Moderator,

    What was objectionable in my earlier post?

  11. Ahamed Kutty says:

    Yes.He tried to create a style to accommodate KK in the
    industry by spoiling the music.It gave advantage to KK
    but it ended with the collapse of the giant RDB.

  12. Zaheer says:

    You said it Asif Sahab! I would request the moderator to remove this article from the website. Let us not give any undue importance to this chor whose music was nothing but shor.

  13. SalRafi says:

    Nice article, well analyzed. If anyone know music should surely understand greatness of Rafi Saab against others, so do RDB. RDB is an opportunist and created a caucus for some reason that included KK and ignored the great Rafi Saab. He was not a great musician always but had some rare talent and that showed some times. He was lucky that he was associated with phenomenal raise of Rajesh Khanna and untimely death of great Jaikishen of SJ duo. Like many other opportunist that is very common in an industry like Bollywood RDB also ditched Rafi Saab and paid the price. Remember his last days??? Even his beloved Asha ignored him. That is the quality of the industry where an angel like Rafi saab survived only because of his enormous talent and humility.

  14. Mirza baig says:

    Nice article. Well written.

    Puncham’s relation with Rafi sahib is hard to guage. He started his carrier with Rafi sahib’s help and composed some very popular songs for him throughout his carrier. In various interviews and articles he praised Rafi sahib. But he was basically a very untrustworthy person. He would publish a heart-warming article in an Urdu magazine (which was posted on this site sometimes ago) praising Rafi sahib like a devotee. But then he will turn around and criticize him in another interview or article. An example of which is his statement that Rafi sahib needed a lot of time to learn a song whereas Kishore da will grasp it in a hurry. I will take Kishore over Rafi any day, he said. As we say in America, he spoke from both sides of his mouth.

    I read a blog on the internet sometimes ago that described how an eye-witness narrated an incidence at R.D.’s recording studio where an R.D. assistant, in presence of R.D., was yelling at Rafi sahib on a musical issue. Naushad sahib just happen to be there in the recording studio that day and when he saw this mistreatment, he could not tolerate it and immediately left. Later on, he told Rafi sahib that he should not allow this kind of behavior from anybody, especially a musical non-entity.

    When I think about this incidence, I feel extremely sad. If lesser-person were in Rafi sahib’s position, he would have certainly snapped at that man. But again, nobody is like him. He withstood the mistreatment with his trade-mark smile. So was our hero. Long live his memory!

  15. shammi says:

    Whilst I agree with most of this article it appears to be highlighting RD Burmans talent rather than Mohd Rafi’s and I’m afraid I still dispise R D Burman and will continue to do so for showing so much favouritism towards Kishore Kumar.
    In the films he used Mohd Rafi the songs remain memmorable and evergreen but most of his songs with Kishore Kumar are not even worth a mention. I would love to read more about Mohd Rafi’s association with artists that really appreciated his versatality and talent rather than his association with artists like R D Burman.

  16. Asif says:

    Another fan of (cho)R D Burman in the guise of Rafi fan promoting greatest music-chor of all time!

  17. Ali says:

    When Rd got his first film Rd asked M Rafi to sing for him ..Rd was a big fan of Mohd Rafi..RD was a good music director . A good music director can’t make a great singer but a great singer like mohd rafi made many music directors..

  18. manohar s nadkarni says:

    It was SD Barman who played Politics by giving Amitabh, Kishor’s voice when Amitabh was on top as a singer, When Amitabh’s singing career goes down,
    Rafisaabs voice was used for him (Teri Bindiya Re) and later Amitabh’s career
    still further declines Manahar’s voice used for playback.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I am not trying to belittle RD Burman. He was a good music director with young blood. In terms of sheer ability to compose music, RD Burman relied more on the nuances that he could bring in with instruments. He lacked the acumen of his father in composing intricate music to match songs of Tere ghar ke saame or Meri Surat teri Aankhe – where the pure music lifted all the listners. RD Burman resorted to more of Kishore as his songs were limited in music. In the same way OP Nayyar had used Asha to her full potential than RD Burman who used her only for songs for vamps.

  20. r l arora says:

    Thanks for giving boost to my soul. Our beloved Rafi Saab was just unmatched and unparalell . No singer whether male or female were near to his sweet and lovely voice when we compare him in this world of music.

    Not only that, he was a thorough gentle person, soft-spoken, cultured and we can briefly say he was an angel. He never had preference for money thats why he sang so many songs without taking a single rupee.

    Singing was his dream and he sang to the pleasure of all who loved music.

    my rich regards to the writer of the above about our beloved Rafi Saab.

    r l arora

  21. Binu Nair says:

    Rafi Saaheb is Always Numero Uno… and for we common folks – One Life is Not Enough – to Relish All of his nearly twenty thousand songs – documented and not Documented.

    The Topic is Great and RDB was a great composer with – Weak Ears Many Say. The time he realised his mistakes of going with only ‘One Set of Singers’ it was too Late.

    He went back to Rafi Saaheb and had some great hits in late seventies but in 1980 the Tansen of Singing – had sung his last Notes.

    I know of an incident in which RDB went to Rafi Home and pleaded with him to sing – But Rafi Saaheb declined citing h is personal commitments.

    Before that RDB GOT recorded Pyar ka Mausam in Rafi Voice and Improvised “Tum Bin Jaaoo Kahan” for Kishore Kumar for Bharat Bhooshan whereas Rafi sang for Shashi Kapoor the Hero.

    Dil khush hai ……….Keep writing dear writer. Thanks,



    Rafi Foundation Trust.

    Cell : 9833 250 701

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