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Roshan’s everlasting bond with Mohammad Rafi

By: Souvik Chatterji. Master of Law from Warwick university, UK, Master of Law from Case WEstern REserve University, USA.

Mohd Rafi and RoshanRoshan galvanised the Indian horizon of film music with his excellent experiments on melody. He had created mujras, qawallis, ghazals, classical compositions which match the exact requirement of the theme of the films wherever he had worked.

The earlier films like Bawre Nain was created at a time when recording was not modernised to that extent. Even then his songs in the 50s like “bade armano se rakha hai balam” were hits. In the 60s Roshan utilized the Golden voice of Indian cinema, Mohammad Rafi in the most melodious manner that was possible. In the film Barsaat ki Raat,1960, the song “zindagi bhar nahin bhulenge woh barsaat ki raat” mesmerised the music lovers with the melody of the sarengi that was used so well. Rafi’s voice floated like cirus clouds in the air and Bharatbhusan’s performance in the film was well acclaimed by the Indian audience. The same film had a qawalli “yeh isq isq hai, isq isq” which was started by Manna Dey and completed by Rafi. The grammer of Qawalli was fully existant in the song.

Roshan with Mohd Rafi, Raj Kapoor and Mukesh
Roshan with Mohd Rafi, Raj Kapoor and Mukesh

Besides Roshan created songs with a very serene dimension in the film Aarti, 1963, picturised on pradeepkumar.Most of the songs were on Raag Pahari. Rafi created an intoxicating appeal with the songs “Ab kya misal doon mai tumhare shabab ki” and “aapne yaad dilaya tha to mujhe yaad aya”. Meena kumari’s performance was matched with the background score in the song “baharon ki manzil rahi.”

Roshan LalIn the film Tajmahal,1963, the andaz of Pradeepkumar almost replicated the style of living of emperor Shahjahan that existed during the mughal period. The songs of Rafi namely “Jo wada kiya ho nibhana parega” and “payon chulene do phulon ko inayat hogi” had matched the badshahi andaz of the historical period.The lyrics were written by shari Ludhiyanvi. Besides other everlasting creations of Roshan include Shahir Ludhianvi, “laga chunri me daag chupayun kase” sung by Manna Dey in the film “Dil hi to hai” picturised on Raj Kapoor, and “Kya baat hai tujhme teri tasver me nahin” sung by Mohammad Rafi.

In the film Chitralekha,1965, picturised on Pradeep Kumar, Roshan motivated Rafi to sing a legendary bhajan titled “man re to kahena dhir dhare, woh nir mohi moh na jane jinka moh kare”. It was a blank verse with very little musical instruments being used. Rafi’s performance was amazing. In the film Bheegi Raat, 1965, Rafi made people spell bound with the songs “jane woh kaun hai kya naam hai in ankhoka,” and “dil jo na keh saka, wohi raze dil”. Pradeep kumar’s screen presence was outstanding as Roshan’s orchestration and the sensational performance of Rafi.

Noted poet and music director Salil Chowdhury in his interview with Asha bhosle had said he admired Roshan the most because of his use of melody through the instruments used in the songs including sarengi, tabla, sexaphone, guitar and noted instruments. Asha Bhosle said that Rafi, Lata and others have worshipped Roshan like sage. The song in the film Bahubegum, titled “niklethe kahan jane ke liye pahunchethe kahan maloom nahi”, almost told the story of Meenakumari who left home for not marrying pradeep kumar and ended up in a kotha.It was a mujra and the orchestration was outstanding by every means. The same film had one of the most immortal performance of Lata titled “Duniya kare sawal to hum kya jawab de.” Rafi was outstanding with his final performance “hum intezer karenge tera qawamat tak, khuda karen ki qawamat ho aur tu aye.” Viewers became speechless in the cinemahall with this song.

Besides Roshan’s performance in the Film Mamta, 1967 is worth mentioning. Mamta was the hindi version of the Bengali film “Uttar Phalguni”, which depicted the story of a tawaif who was victim of circumstances and shed blood to make her daughter a Barrister who ultimately pleads in the High Court of Calcutta in an alleged murder case of her mother. The performance of Suchitra Sen, the most versatile Actress of Bengali Cinema cannot be described in words. But the big challenge was matching the quality music composed by Robin chatterji in bengali film where the majority of the songs were sung by classical singer Sandhya Mukherjee. Roshan created the same class of music in the film. The popular songs included “Rahe na rahen hum” sung by Lata and “in baharon me akela na phiro, rah me kaighata rok nale” sung by Rafi. But the type of Hindustani classical songs that used to be sung in the Class of singers called baijees in the late 18th century was displayed by Roshan.Roshan died in 1969 with his last film “anokhi raat.” It is big loss for the Film industry because if any composer had utilized the Royal style of Rafi’s singing it was Roshan himself. Rafi’s archive should contain the works of Roshan so that future generations can learn the grammer of Hindustani classical used under different moods.

Souvik Chatterji - the author along with his wife, Rumi Chatterji
Souvik Chatterji – the author along with his wife, Rumi Chatterji

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37 Blog Comments to “Roshan’s everlasting bond with Mohammad Rafi”

  1. shammi says:

    I think it can be said without any doubts that where there were similar songs sang by rafi and lata that the version sang by rafi wins hands down, the popularity of the songs speak volumes. Some of the old songs where lata has sang the same song such as the one from the film junglee doesn’t do her any favours and obviously comparisons will be made and she just can’t hit the high notes and that’s the truth. There is a beautiful song from the film Raat ke andhere mein please listen as the songs are truly beautiful where both lata and rafi sing the same song, sorry but not quite the nightingale voice when compared to the great mohd rafisahab. The song I am referring to is Agar bewafa tujhko.

  2. Souvik Chatterji says:

    It is really amazing to believe that Roshan’s creations for Rafi in the 60s had resulted in the enhancement of musical taste of large-scale audiene in the country. Roshan composed music in films having very serious subjects, sometimes relating to history of India including Tajmahal. Yet Rafi’s songs in most of the films ranging from Aarti to Chitralekha, Tajmahal to Bheegi Raat, Barsaat Ki Raat to Bahu Begum had become immortal hits. The lips of Pradip Kumar and Bharat Bhushan were additional attraction for the songs. It is a pity that Roshan died in 1969. He had a lot of music left in him and Rafi would have been benefitted much with Roshan’s creations had he survived for a longer period of time.

    Souvik Chatterji.

  3. Souvik Chatterji says:

    While reflecting some of the legendary duet songs of Rafi and Lata composed by Roshan I had forgot to mention “baar baar tohe kya samjhayun payal ki jhankar” from the Film “Aarti” picturised on Pradeep Kumar and Meena Kumari. It had a very uncommon taal and had a different implication if compared with the other songs of the same film including “ab kya misaal doon”, “aapne yaad dilaya”, “kabhi to milegi”, etc.
    Souvik Chatterji.

  4. B.Venkatadri says:

    Souvik Ji,

    “Zindagi Bhar Nahi Bhoolegi Woh” is in two versions, one a solo by Rafi Saab and the other a Rafi-Lata duet. There is no Lata solo of that.

    Rafi Saab had surpasses Lata in his solo, without doubt. But, even in the duet, Rafi Saab comes in after the first two Antaras by Lata with the words, “Roothne Wali,—-Mayoos Na Ho” and steals the thunder.


  5. Souvik Chatterji says:

    Roshan asked Rafi and lata to sing the same song in different andaz one if Zindagi Bhar Nagi Bhulenge woh barsaat ki raat from film barsaat ki raat, 1960, the other being dil jo na keh saka from film Bheegi Raat, 1965. in both the cases Rafi’s presentation even supeseded lata’s performance, may be due to the echo effect or may be due to the style of picurisation. Indeed Rafi made listeners spellbound in these songs.
    Souvik Chatterji.

  6. RAMAKRISHNA says:

    ref post 31
    pradeep kumar jee,

    nice to hear from you regarding the use of musical instruments & also the excellent songs. I feel the harmonium was played at the lower octave of the scale & that too continously to creat a reverberating effect of the song. you have noted most of the songs of roshan jee are with echoe effect.

    similarly ravi jee has used tabla ( neele gagan ke taley ) very close to the microphone to creat a perfect punch to the songs. some of the songs of ravi ji you can observe this .

  7. Pradeep Kumar says:

    Ref Posts 29 & 30:

    Thanks Mr. Haldar for including additional songs.

    Getting back to “Baar Baar Tohe” (duet by Mohd Rafi & Lata from “Aarthi”) – if you have a crystal clear copy of this song (perhaps from an original soundtrack, digitized version), one can hear a harmonium (with a bass sound) playing in the background throughout the song. The harmonium seems to be at a distance quite far from any mike. The question to ponder and ask is, “did Roshan Saab himself play the harmonium at this song recording” ?

  8. P. Haldar says:

    ref post 29:

    Great job, Mr. Pradeep Kumar. To the list of songs you’ve provided, I’d also add “Karvaan guzar gaya” from Nayi Umar ki Nayi Fasal. What lyrics! But it was not by Sahir.

    By the way, does anyone remember a book written by Sahir after Rafi saab passed away? I distinctly remember having seen a thin paperback book with Rafi saab’s picture on the cover and Sahir’s name as the author at the Kanpur railway station sometime in 1981. It was in Hindi/Urdu and I should have bought a copy. Wonder what the great poet wrote about our favourite singer.

  9. Pradeep Kumar says:

    Continuing with another great series of the best hindi film composers and their association with Mohd Rafi, readers may want to see for themselves some of the video clips of movies mentioned throughout this article by Mr. Chatterji and the followup comments from various individuals.

    These songs are all available on

    1. Aarthi – Ab Kya Misaal Do (Mohd Rafi)

    Listen to Mohd Rafi humming before the start of the song. This is not available on the HMV released version of the song. Beautifully picturised on Pradeep Kumar and Meena Kumari.

    2. Aarthi – Aap Ne Yaad (Mohd Rafi & Lata Mangeshkar)

    A classic Rafi-Lata duet following their trademark songs of Barsaat Ki Raat and Taj Mahal

    3. Aarthi – Baar Baar Tohe (Mohd Rafi & Lata Mangeshkar)

    One of the most beautiful duets sung by Rafi & Lata and possibly one that can be part of their collection of top songs. Also in my opinion, one of the best picturised duets in hindi films. Meena Kumari looks absolutely stunning and you can see the love and feelings expressed by Pradeep Kumar for her through his effortless acting. These two made a great pair. Every song composed for this film by Majrooh-Roshan team is a classic.

    4. Aarthi – Kabhi Toh Milegi (Lata Mangeshkar)

    Another great Roshan-Lata classic

    5. Bheegi Raat – Dil Jo Na Keh Saka (Mohd Rafi)

    6. Zindagi Bhar Nahin – Barsaat Ki Raat (Mohd Rafi)

    There is no need to write much. Just listen and get transported out of earth.

    7. Maine Shayad Tumhe – Barsaat Ki Raat (Mohd Rafi)

    Rafi Saab’s greatness and his majestic grasp of any given song provided to him by a composer is clearly evident with this classic song. One of the best hindi songs ever made. Kudos to Sahir, Roshan and Mohd Rafi.

    8. Zindagi Bhar Nahin – Barsaat Ki Raat (Mohd Rafi & Lata Mangeshkar)

    Extremely well sung by both Rafi and Lata. Listen to the saxophone, flute and some other instruments that Roshan introduced at the beginning of this song. The melodies that he could create by mixing sax, xylophone, flute, sarod, sitar, mandolin, shehnai at the beginning, interlude sections and concluding parts are just incredible.

    8. Jo Vada Kiya Woh – Taj Mahal (Mohd Rafi & Lata Mangheskar)

    A classic Rafi, Lata, Sahir, Roshan song. Anyone who has followed hindi film songs know this gem as one of the greatest duets of the singing pair.

    9. Jo Baat Tujhmein Hai – Taj Mahal (Mohd Rafi)

    Another fantastic Rafi song written by Sahir and composed by Roshan.

    10. In Baharon Mein Akele – Mamta (Mohd Rafi & Asha Bhonsle)

    Picturised on Dharmendra and Suchitra Sen

    11. Mile Na Phool – Anokhi Raat (Mohd Rafi)

    The last song that Rafi Saab recorded for MD Roshan. What a tragic loss for the hindi film industry when Roshan was rising to the top. Roshan was one MD who came to the hindi film music scene in the late 1940’s and worked very hard to establish his mark and then went on to create some of the best songs in films with Mohd Rafi, Lata, Suman Kalyanpur, Asha Bhonsle, Mukesh, Manna Dey and other legendary singers.

    12. Chha Gaye Badal Neel Gagan Par – Chitralekha (Mohd Rafi & Asha Bhonsle)

    Another mesmerizing duet composed by Roshan. Picturised again on Pradeep Kumar and Meena Kumari, very daringly for the year that it was released – 1964.

    13. Man Re Tu Kahe – Chitralekha (Mohd Rafi)

    The best recorded hindi film song according to many in the industry. Some attribute that this is the best song ever made anywhere in India. The best lyrics, the best composition, the best interlude music and the finest singing one can ever hear ever anywhere. We, the music lovers who have heard this song in our life span are extremely privileged. What a team they made – Sahir, Roshan and Mohd Rafi Saab.

  10. ATM SALIM says:


    ” ECHO ” TYPE .e.g. :


  11. Asser says:

    bhalo likhechho souvik da……………….darun laglo pore…………parle ekta article Madan mohan ji ke niye likho

    I m in love with him

  12. Asser says:

    Halder ji

    I think the correct lyric is as follows

    Allah aur Rasool ka farmaan ishq hai
    Yaani Hadis ishq hai Quran ishq hai
    Goutam aur Maseeh ka armaan ishq hai
    Ye kaynaat jism hai aur jaan ishq hai

    Ishq sarmad Ishq hi Mansoor hai
    Ishq Musa Ishq Koh-e-toor hai
    Khaak ko but aur but ko devta karta hai ishq
    Inteha ye hai k bande ko khuda karta hai ishq

    this stanza has extensive reference of islamic mythology………but yes of course, None else but Sahir sahab can write like this

  13. P. Haldar says:

    ref post 21:

    Parveen ji, I must have read the same interview. Thanks for confirming.

  14. Narayanan says:

    I personally rate the Chitralekha song “Man re tu kahe na dheer dhare” superlatively melodious well composed n well sung by Roshanji n Rafi saab…
    This song was voted the best bollywood song by the today’s leading artistes in Outlook magz.
    The artistes were Mannda,Rajesh Roshan,Javed Akthar,Kavitha,Shankar,Kumar sanu,Abhijeeth,Shreya Goshal,Sonu,Shaan,Alisha chinoy,Annu Malik, and others…
    Pl correct me if Iam wrong…

  15. Manish Kumar says:

    Of all my favorite songs all time, “Mile Na Phool To Kaato Se Dosati Karlee…” make the top 10 easily. That song is very close to my heart – I loved it IMMEDIATELY. I respect & do enjoy songs from Chitralekha or Taj Mahal or the famous qawwali Na Tu Karavan – but my person favorite by far is this one. It gets me thoughtful. It is very melodious. The composition is very intriguing and full of emotions – and Mohammed Rafi matches it perfect. This is where singer and MD match.

  16. Prakash Shah says:

    Ref.post20;Thanks to pt.out is ‘dil hi to he”And not- DUL HA DULHAN

  17. parveen says:

    haldar jee
    it is true that yeah ishq ishq qawalli has ustad fateh ali tune used by roshan with permission as indicated by nusrat himself in his interview.
    secondly,dil diya thaa tujhe rakhne sung by mukesh and its original tune is made by kursheed anwer and sung by geeta while i think roshan was assistant to kursheed in that movie.i will tell u song later.

  18. H.V.GURU MURTHY says:

    Refer Pots 14. Music of Dulha Dulha starring Raj Kapoor and Sadhana was by KA and not by Roshan.

  19. P. Haldar says:

    ref post 14:

    Prakash ji, that’s true but please note that Roshan also worked with a lot of female singers including Shamshad, Geeta, Sudha, Asha and Suman. He also worked extensively with Mukesh (Teri duniya mein dil lagta nahin), Talat (Main dil hoon ik armaan bhara) and Manna (Laga chunri mein daag).

  20. P. Haldar says:

    ref post 12:

    Venkat ji, great observation. By the way, do you know anything about the origins of the “yeh ishq ishq” qawaali? I had read somewhere that Roshan based it on Ustad Fateh Ali Khan’s (Nusrat’s dad) composition. But I haven’t heard the original composition, so can’t be sure.

  21. Ruhi Khan says:

    Here are some more gems from the same evergreen combination

    Mamta : In baharon mein akele na phirro.

    Noorjehan : Woh mohabat woh wafaein, kis tarah hum bhool paein

  22. Abhas Joshi is a 17 years singer from Jabalpur, who always sings Rafi Sahab’s songs on all the programs he participates. As a 14 year old boy, he was a recognised contestant in Sa Re Ga Ma Pa. Today, as a 17 years old lad, he is singing in Voice of India. He is in a critical zone. He needs the blessing of the great farishta from the sky and materially from we mortals. I fervently appeal to you to kindly vote thro mobile to
    VOI 05 and sms to 57827.
    This is not a solicitation, but a request. We have very few young singers to carry on the legacy of our farishta, Rafi Sahab.

    Shirish Kulkarni
    098204 52562

  23. N.G.RAMASWAMY says:

    Dear all Rafians,

    Just now I got a call from Mr.Shirish Kulkarni that Abhaas Joshi (a Rafi fan) and a contestant of Star voice of India is lagging behind by around 20000 thousand votes as of now. The voting is open upto 12 midnight on 09.09.07 (sunday). Yesterday, he has sung Aaja Aaja Main hoon pyar tera from Teesri Manzil and drew a vast round of applause from the audience and the judges and also special judge Ishaa koprikar. I also spoke to Abhaas Joshi immediately after the song and assured him of his victory by gathering maximum votes through Rafians. Pl. do not forget and keep on voting for him till the contest is over and make him the voice of india by continuously voting for him. He is a die hard fan of Rafi saheb even though he is only 17 year old. His voting id is : from landline : 1862 424 7827 05, from mobile 505 7827 05 or SMS VOI(space)05 and send it to 57827. Simultaneously, another contestant miss Sumitra Iyer, who is my neighbour in Thane is also lagging behind and is also a fan of Rafi Saheb and a great contestant. Pl. do make her female voice of india by dialling: 1862 424 7827 01 from landline, or 505 7827 01 from mobile or SMS VOI(space)01 and send it to 57827. Thanks (N.G.Ramaswamy)

  24. Prakash Shah says:

    I afraid to write but Roshan had given equally superb songs with lataji in Barsat ki raat,aarti,chitralekha,bhigiraat,dulhadulhan,and tajmahal.

  25. Prakash Shah says:

    Ref post 10;Dont forget LP-SAHIR-Rafi “DASTAN”Na tu jami ke liye na tu aasman ke liye

  26. B.Venkatadri says:

    Haldar Ji,

    It may be more accurate to say that ‘Rahe Na Rahe Hum’ from Mamta (Roshan) and ‘Thandi Hawayen’ from Naujawan (SDB) have identical metre and just similar (not identical) tune! Metre is the fill of words and the way the syllables are arranged.

    Just an observation.



  27. P. Haldar says:

    Roshan based “Rahen na rahen hum” on S. D. Burman’s “Thandi hawayen lehrati aaye” in Nau Jawan. Both were sung by Lata. Then R. D. Burman used the tune in Saagar for “Saagar kinare dil ye pukare”, a Kishore-Lata duet. Kishore sounds hoarse and off-key. Another example of RD’s indifference to the “horses for courses” principle. From a melody standpoint, Manna would have been better, but from a playback standpoint, Shaili would have sufficed.

  28. P. Haldar says:

    Here’s the part in the Barsat ki raat qawaali where Rafi saab enters:

    allaah rasuul kaa faramaan ishq hai
    yaane hafiiz ishq hai, quraan ishq hai
    gautam kaa aur masiih kaa aramaan ishq hai
    ye kaayanaat jism hai aur jaan ishq hai
    ishq saramad, ishq hii ma.nsuur hai
    ishq muusaa, ishq koh-e-nuur hai
    Kaaq ko but, aur but ko devataa karataa hai ishq
    intahaa ye hai ke ba.nde ko Kudaa karataa hai ishq

    Only Sahir could have written this. We should thank our lucky stars that he didn’t stay back in Lahore. Sahir-Roshan-Rafi is one of the greatest combinations in film music. Sahir fell out with SD after Pyaasa, and OP (an SD bhakt) also stayed away from him after that. But Sahir continued to produce gems with Roshan, Ravi and Khayyam.

  29. RAMAKRISHNA says:

    publisher pls delete my post no-6 . I am sorry i could not see my comment at post n0-5 which is due for moderation.

  30. RAMAKRISHNA says:

    sorry my responce was deleted.

  31. binus2000 says:

    An Invitation to Music Lovers

    Sargam Magazine will be released in Mumbai on sept 29, a saturday
    at Vile parles Hotel Panchwati party hall at 7.00 p.m.
    The event will be marked by some lilting live vintage melodies
    and a half hour listening session of yesteryear “gems”. Needless
    to say : rafi saab gems will echo in the auditorium.
    Please register yourself at my e.mail address or call me :
    P.S.The hotel is located behind hotel ramakrishna, VILEPARLE EAST.

    binu nair cell 9833 250 701 Mumbai.

  32. RAMAKRISHNA says:

    here I would like to share one interesting thing–

    my father was not that much fond of music rather he was more fond of political leaders & used to attend the meetings& rallies conducted by them. Its as similar to our attending the musical programmes. but when ever the quawwali — ‘ NA TO KARWAN KI TALAASH HAI ‘ broadcasted in radio he used to stay back & listen to it completely. He used to exclaim what a beautiful music. I will recall the complete rendering was for 40 minutes.

    slowly I was hypnotised & fell flat to the song ‘ Zindagi bhar nahin bhulenge wo barsaat ki raat ‘. what an excellent lyric, composition & lastly but not the least what an exceptional rendering by our saint.

    And the song ‘ Jo wada kiyaavo nibhana padega ‘ takes us to an imaginary world, makes us utmost emotional & takes a time of ‘sunset to sunrise ‘ to retain our normalcy in case we listen to this hypnotic number in the evening.

    What a jugalbandi of Roshan jee & Rafi sahab.

  33. parveen says:

    jo baat tujh main hai teri tasveer main nahin is from tajmahal.
    roshan was a legend punjabi along op but both have different nature of music.both were kings.roshan classical knoweledge was supereb even accepted by naushad

  34. Anmol Singh says:

    Roshan’s music style was totally different and unique compared to his contempories. So of the ever lasting Raag based songs have been composed by Roshan.

    If we talk about the ever lasting qawwalis of all times from the film “Barsaat Ki Raat” sung by Rafi and Manna Dey then Roshan will be remembered by history for that.

  35. unknow says:

    if i am not worry son of Roshan said that why there no good music today boz there is no singer like Mohd Rafi today………

  36. Narayanan says:

    Superbly n crisply written
    I think if Roshanji would have been alive in 70s the music trend would not have changed and the younsters would have got a new dimension of Roshan-Rafi-Lata combination.
    coming to the Quavali ishk,Isk from Dil hi tho hai we can claim that this can be rated the best quavali in bollywood superbly sung by all Manna da, Ashaji,Sudhaji n of course our Rafi saab.

  37. binus2000 says:

    Roshan of tajmahal fame will always remain “amar”. Roshan
    saab was a great friend of another wizard – o.p.nayyar saab.
    A heart attack claimed roshan and we music lovers lost innumerable
    gems from the veteran.

    binu nair.

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