You're browsing: Home / Meri awaaz suno / Salil Chowdhury’s relationship with Mohammad Rafi

Salil Chowdhury’s relationship with Mohammad Rafi

By: Souvik Chatterji
Master of Law from Warwick University, Coventry,UK
Master of Law from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.

Salil ChowdhurySalil Chowdhury, noted poet, musician, lyricist, thinker is one of the most renowned intellectuals who had glorified the Silver Screen (both Bollywood and Bengali Cinema) with his stories, poetry, lyrics, dynamic musical compositions in the 50s, 60s and 70s. He was a member of the IPTA, an organisation which has been an instrument of public awareness during the pre-independence and post-independence period. Salil Chowdhury’s story was picturised under the title Do Bigha Zameen, in 1953, depicting the struggle of a farmer of a village in coming to urbanised city of Kolkata and earning his livelihood as a rickshaw-puller, which had brought national and international awards for the story, direction of Bimal Roy and other categories.

The poetic and literary skills of Salil Chowdhury had synchronised with his east-west blend of music in most of his creations. Best example can be “Ujjal Ek Jhak Paira” sung by Classical Bengali singer, Sandhya Mukherjee. It was written by Bengali poet, describing the flight of pigeons and Salil Chowdhury composed the upward and downward movement of the song in the same lines as the pigeons fly in air. The literary society in Bengal were flabbergasted with the composition of Salil Chowdhury with the translation of famous poetry titled “Runner” (postman) written by Sukanta Bhattacharya, the way the movement in music changed with the moods of the postman delivering mails on road. Other landmark musical creations of Salil Chowdhury include “Palkir Gaan” written by famous Bengali poet Satyendranath Dutta and sung by Hemanta Mukherjee.

While bringing in revolution with words and music in Bengali modern songs Salil Chowdhury went to Bombay with his treasure of knowledge. Very interestingly the song “apni kahani” in Do Bigha Zameen, 1953, sung by Manna Dey had been based on Russian processions. While using Mukesh in a number of songs in Raj Kapoor’s Jagte Raho, 1956 and Dilip Kumar’s Madhumati, 1958, Salil Chowdhury acknowledged the versatile talent of Mohammad Rafi, the man with the golden voice. Salil Chowdhury created a Choir Group in Bombay, where Rafi, Lata were all members.

Probably Madhumati, showed the range of music composition of Salil Chowdhury, where he got an opportunity to blend the flavour of music in the hilly regions.1 The songs for Rafi included “Jangal Me mor Nacha kisi ne na dekha” for Johnny Walker. But Salil Chowdhury reserved the best song in the tragic andaz for Rafi titled “tute hue khwabon ne”. The pathos in the role of Dilip Kumar was depicted by the serene performance of Rafi.

Salil ChowdhurySalil Chowdhury also used Rafi in the film Maya. The song “Tasvir teri dilme” which was a duet song with Lata Mangeshkar was very big hit. The other song of Mohammad Rafi included “Koi sone ka dilwala” which was also successful. Rafi was used in the film Musafir, 1957, where his songs along with Dilipkumar’s own song “lagi naahi chute rama, chahe jiya jae” showed the tragedy of Dilipkumar who had provided his immortal performance as a poor wretched violin player, who could not marry Usha Kiran, but played the violin for a handicapped child, not knowing his son, and dying at the end of the film. It was the beginning of journey in film direction of Director Hrishikesh Mukherjee.

Salil Chowdhury also used Rafi in the song “insaan ki zindagi hai” from the film Jhoola, 1962. There was also a chorus song of Rafi and Lata, “aag pani me lagi”. There was a song “dil tarpe tarapae” for Rafi in the film Poonam ki raat, 1965, and “tumhe dilse chaha” in the film Chand Aur Suraj, 1965. Besides Rafi was given an Afghani song “ho ya qurban” in the film Kabuliwala, 1961, in which Manna Dey’s song “ai mere pyare watan” was also a big hit.

In the 1970s, Salil Chowdhury reduced composition of film music in hindi films, as he was busy with Bengali films and Bengali modern songs.2 Even then Manna Dey’s song “Zindagi kasi hai paheli” in the film Anand, 1970 shows his class in composing chorus songs. Even Mukesh’s song “Kahi Door Jab din dhal Jaye” was well acclaimed by musical pandits in India.3

Salil ChowdhuryAt the same time Salil Chowdhury had encouraged new talents in Bombay and allowed noted Bengali singers to flourish in the all India arena, examples include Shyamal Mitra in the song “Ek aye ek jaye” in the film Musafir, 1957. He also composed songs for Dijen Mukherjee, Subir Sen and other singers for Bollywood films. In Bengali films like Ganga, 1960, Kinugoalar Goli, 1964, Lal Pathor, 1964, Marjina Abdulla, 1976, Salil Chowdhury’s music amazed the listeners with folk songs and westernised tunes. Besides his basic compositions for Monobendra Mukherjee, “Ami parini bujhite parini”, Dhanonjoy Bhattacharya, “Jhanana Jhanana Baje”, Krishna Ganguly’s “Dakhina Batashe Mono keno Kande”, Sandhya Mukherjee’s “Srabon Ajhor jhore”, shows his control over Hindustani classical compositions.

It is difficult to highlight the contribution of Salil Chowdhury in a short article, because he had created immense number of immortal poetry, prose, songs, music in Bengali, Hindi, Malayalam films in a span of 50 years. But his admiration for Rafi is evident in the rich compositions. So Rafi’s archive should be adorned with Salil Chowdhury’s compositions to mark their fair relationship.

1 Salil Chowdhury received Filmfare award for best music in the film Madhumati in 1958.
2 Salil Chowdhury’s Assistants like Probir Majumdar, Anol Chatterjee, Abhijit Banerjee, became legendary Music Directors in Bengali Modern Music in later years.
3 My father, Chitta Ranjan Chatterji, Ex-chief Public Prosecutor, Bankshall Court, Kolkata, had interviewed Abhijit Banerjee, renowned Music Director who had composed Bengali modern songs like “muktojharar neiko konya neiko motir haar”, “jodi amake dekho tumi udashi” for Manobendra Mukherjee, who said Salil Choudhury’s most of the creations are based on scientific, logical justifications of lyrics and tunes, which only a small section of the listeners understand, giving example of song “dhitang dhitang bole” which was based on Caribbean Calypso.

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

Other articles by Mr. Souvik Chatterji

Proclaim your love for Rafi Sahab on twitter

Post your Comment on this Blog

If your comments hit the moderation queue, comments will be moderated within 7 days.

73 Blog Comments to “Salil Chowdhury’s relationship with Mohammad Rafi”

  1. binus2000 says:

    actually many of the decisions in the s.d. camp were made by
    mira burman who recently passed away in a hostel for aged
    persons. she is the wife of s.d.b.
    her half bengalee ‘bahu’ obviously could not care for her
    mother-in-law at her ‘sprawling home’ in mumbai’s peddar road.
    anyway,old furnitures lose their value and they are not meant to
    be kept at ‘posh houses’ or at ‘homes’

    coming back to the point : mira burman was a strong willed person
    and she used to overrule s.d.b. in many matters – according to
    many people in the music industry.

    binu nair.

  2. myk says:

    I would like to clear up some things here about SDB:

    Before his association with Rafi took, he hardly used him in his earlier films. I don’t know the reason for this (haldar-ji please throw some light on this), but we should be thankful the two came together after that.

    From NDG is when the Rafi-SD partnership created history. Post 1970, when KK became popular SD decided to use KK more than Rafi, but Rafi’s sidelining also had to do with SD’s ill health at the time, and others taking over his music. SD always used to refer to Rafi and Lata as his ‘first serves’ and Kishore as his ‘second serve’.

    I don’t understand why because of KK’s popularity, his first serve couldn’t continue like he did before, but Haldar-ji mentioned a great point. Pre-1970 when he was competing with the other genius MD’s he needed Rafi, whereas post 1970 when the competition wasn’t as high, and his son was going on a rampage with KK, he used KK to fight it off even though he could have used Rafi to fight it off as well. There are memorable SD-Rafi songs in the 70’s but they should have come together more during that time. Aside from all this, SD’s best output from the male angle came with Rafi.

    SD did not use Talat on his own will for the Sujata song, it was under the pressure of Bimal Roy that Talat was taken. SD’s first choice here was Rafi.

    Even though Burman Dada stood by KK, he thought Rafi and Lata were the two best singers ever.

    I don’t think Salil matches up to SD in any way. Sometimes I feel he is over-rated, his compositions don’t match up to the likes of SDB, SJ, MM etc. even though they may be complex. For me the greatest talent to come out of Bengal was SDB. He was head and shoulders above Salil, Pancham, Hemant etc. His music had long lasting power, combined elements of folk, classical, Ravindra music, Rabindra sangeet and nazrul geeti. He was also strong in western music which made him the complete MD.

    For those who say SD’s music doesn’t have a lot in it do not know anything about music. His music had depth along with being simple which added to the beauty of his songs. The music was a mixture of many elements which is complex in itself, and combined with the soft elegance made it amazing. Also the vocals of his songs were challenging, and needed singers like Rafi and Lata who have a wide range.

    True, SD may have not given Rafi any Bengali songs, but it doesn’t mean anything, their partnership was one of the high points of HFM. Anyhow, SD’s Bengali compositions sung by him were turned into Rafi hits, so the ‘bengali song’ angle presents itself right there.

    How did SD fail to use Rafi when they have so many amazing songs together ?. Leave aside Bhupinder, the one aspect where SD could have done better is using Mukesh. Only around 12 songs doesn’t do enough justice to Mukesh’s talent but then again SD never thought highly of him. Yet, he gave Mukesh two of his most finest songs in Bandini and BKB and these two virtually appear in most Mukesh compilations and live shows etc. Also when he used Mukesh other times the outcome was great. For example, how about the MSTA duet, “Yeh kisne geet cheda” and then forward to Chupke Chupke in 1975 with the lilting duet “Bagon mein kaise yeh phool”.

  3. Aseer says:

    no need for any explanation
    as u have stated urself that SD insulted Rafi sahab directly then same goes for Salil Ch ,whats the point beyond writing this article
    didnt u have anything else to do? or enuf time no work is true with u too?

    this is a fitting article for a Salil Ch website but certainly not here

    one word expression for ur whole article is RUBBISH

  4. Souvik Chatterji says:

    Sd Burman not only failed to use rafi, in his own unit Bhupinder singh played Guitar, sythesizer, for 10 years and sd managed to give him just a dhun o shalu in jewel thief because kk was appearing in his dreams. The same bhupinder singh was used by Madanmohan in Mausam, 1975, Jaidev in Gharonda, 1975, Rd in Parichay, 1972, Khayyam, in Bazaar, 1982. May be Sd fans will say he was the greatest md ever. unfortunately he did not learn casting the right singer for right song. So I am not amazed with the raw treatment Rafi received from sd. but for the rafians Rafi, was such a farishta, sd had insulted himself by insulting Rafi.

  5. Souvik Chatterji says:

    I have learnt classical singing from Sapna Dey, the disciple of Girija Devi and from my music sense I still justify the fact that Salil Choudhury was the greatest bengali talent ever to have graced bollywood. it is a pity he used Rafi for such a less number of songs. hemant kumar and others never had any background of classical or folk flavour, only knew rabindra sangeet, and without classical back ground a singer misses the mathematics of music. Regarding rafi, as a bengali I know that he is loved the maximum, only by bengalis having musical ears, Rafi’s bengali song include ekhono biday bolona, ejibone jodi ar konodin, pakhitar buke jeno tir mero na. Obviously Sd miserably failed to give even 1 bengali song to rafi in his 35 years in bombay.

  6. Souvik Chatterji says:

    In fact SD planned to throw Rafi out of the firmanent of music by launching KK in Dev Anand’s films Munimji, Funtoosh, Paying Guest, Nau do Gyarah, but he found the resistance of SJ, Naushad, Madanmohan, Roshan, OP Nayyar still dominating the golden age who neutralised the neglect of Sd with their admiration for Rafi. Gurudutt had everlasting combination with Rafi. Instead Sd brought Hemant kumar to sing jane woh kaise in film Pyasa whose hindi pronounciation requires reformation. after using kk for all the songs of Gambler Sd used Rafi to sing one song as if he was given viksha. Rafi never required the assistance of SD because Ravi to Dattaram, Kalyanji Anadji to Laxmikant Pyarellal all devoted their best for Rafi.

  7. Souvik Chatterji says:

    SD Burman learnt music from KC Dey the uncle of Manna Dey who was his assistant in bombay. SD Burman miserably failed to used Manna Dey who had such a command of classical where SJ used him against Bhim sen Joshi in Basant Bahar, 1957. SD Burman was so fond of KK that he could have sacrificed all the singers in bombay only for KK. so it is obvious that SD’s use of Rafi would be for namesake. Instead Salil chowdhuey justified Manna Dey’s use in Anand and mukesh’s tragic andaz in kahin door jab din dhal jaye. Manna Dey in his DD interview in 1981 said, Rafi was such a sensation in playback that he cold sing all the songs of Talat, Mukesh, Kishore, etc. The other singers got the scope of singing them for sheer luck

  8. Souvik Chatterji says:

    Salil Chowdhury had created majority of his songs for Lata Mangeshkar but by bringing in bengali talents in bombay he gave them a break, he did not continue with them for ever. Regarding Rafi, he was such a gem of gems, hi one song tute hue khwabon ne had more everlasting appeal than two of Mukesh’s song sunaha safar and dil tarap tarap tarap ke kahraha hai a bhi ja. Sd Burman had the reputation of bringing wrong singers for the wrong actors althrough his career. He made Sunil Dutt sing Talat’s song in Sujata, whose voice is 50000 kilometers away from Sunil Dutt. Tapan Sinha’s music in bengali film Sagina was 50 times better hopeless use of KK with Dilip kumar in hindi version of Sagina in 1974.

  9. Souvik Chatterji says:

    This is a reply to the allegations of a number of Rafians in this Forum about my article on Rafi and Salil chowdhury, Sd burman and Rd Burman.
    I dont understand what annoyed the Rafians about the article. Nowhere in either of these articles there is mention that Rafi had been properly utilised by RD Burman. I have written RD Burman had immense classical skills yet due to the pressure of producers for popular music (not quality music) he failed to use it excepting the films of Gulzar. Besides he had immense love for Kishore Kumar. Instead SD Burman directly insulted Rafi by ignoring him in Prem Pujari, Tere Mere Sapne, Jugnu whose songs miserably failed in box office.

  10. parveen says:

    u are right but may be due to sisters influence.

  11. Anil Cherian says:

    Ref: post 36
    Terrific joke, Venkat Sir.

  12. Aseer says:

    let me with regards to Halder ji and the author ofcourse say that if we judge the anti Rafi group in bollywood, it consisted mainly of bengalis. Anil Biswas was there leading from the front, RD was there, SD was forced to use Rafi but avioded it as much as he can and then salil da. Salilda used mukesh for DK which is almost a crime. Rafi sahab is the voice of DK and it happened during his primetime. I dont know why is this the case with bengalees. they r afraid of admitting that a non-bengali is the best singer of all time!!!! instead of the many candidates from bengal like KK ,MD ,HK etc. Rafi sahab singlehandedly sidelined them that too with sheer talent. are they angry of that fact? I wonder whether bengalees are growing very narrow regionlaistic community or not. think when Sourav was dropped from the team.

    I also wish to see that era when every bengali was like “rasgulle si mithi baatein,inki shaan nirali”. Salil da denied the presence of Rafi sahab and tried Mukesh for even RK. Souvik ji, i tell me why even in a whole article u r only able to mention 10 or so songs of this duo? i dont know whether this letter will be published or not but this is truth and no article can change the facts.


  13. RAMAKRISHNA says:

    ref post 37
    Sri Phoujdar ji,

    there may be several reasons why Salil da has not taken the help of Rafi sahab for playback. You will observe most of the songs of salil da were female oriented. Of course some are by Mukesh & manna da.

    personally I feel as salil da is a bengali & its natural that he has a flair for Rabindra sangeet. His songs have the folk touch of Assam & bengal. For this he would have chosen Mukesh jee, manna da to have a base voice with a little of nasal touch.

    and when the question of Dev anand came then it had become necessary for him to take the help of Rafi sahab.

    sir therefore its my perception that the necessity of taking the help of rafi sahab was need based.

    but sir I tell you rafi sahab is the supreme voice. the song which Mr X, Mr Y or Mr Z can sing that song rafi sahab can sing with a lot of ease. but the song which Rafi sahab sings that Mr A …….. Mr Z can not sing.

    nothing happens to rafi sahab but the music directors who have not taken the help of Rafi sahab I feel pity on them because they are so unfortunate .

  14. phoujadar says:

    If we see Salil’s discography he has not given a single song to Rafi after 1966 (after a movie Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose) . SC gave music to atleast 20 hindi movies after 1966. The database is available on official website on salil chowdhuri. This shows what was the relationship of Salilda with Rafi.
    I like Salilda’s music but as a diehard Rafi fan I wonder why he has not used Rafi after 1966.

  15. B.Venkatadri says:

    Reg. post no. 35 of Ankit.

    So, you say that the author makes use of the high readership/viewership on the Rafi Forum to present life-histories of his pet MDs!

    I used to have a co-student at Primary School, who knew only how to write an Esaay on Cow. So, whichever topic the teacher gave him, he would bring in a connection with the COW and then Chapaao his complete Essay on Cow!

    So, here, is it a similar excercise, but in the reverse!

    Just joking,


  16. ankit says:

    Hi Admin,
    Please delete such irrelevent articles like (Relationship of Rafi Sahab with Salil chowdhury). If you read the article you will find 99.9% information on Salil chowdhury and not on Rafi Sahab. The guy seems to have a very diplomatic kind of style to explain the histories of music directors just by associating his name with Rafi Sahab. If he wants to write about MDs he can do so in other websites but not here as this site is dedicated to Rafi Sahab only.
    I request you not to publish such articles.

  17. RAMAKRISHNA says:

    ref post 33

    sudheer kumar jee.

    please be cool. yes this is a forum especially for our legend. with this i request sauvik to please make us blind so that we cant see & read his articles.

  18. Sudhir Kumar says:

    What a waste of space on this site. Mr. Chatterjee, it seems has no sense of modesty. why does he need to flaunt his Masters degrees along with his write ups, or his mugshot for that matter. I believe, and it has been pointed out by others time and again that this site is about Mohd. Rafi Saab, the articles should be relevant in this context. Unfortunately, this author goes on and on about the history of particular ‘Bengali’ music directors and their achievements and greatness. Please spare us this torture.

  19. vijay says:

    rafi-lata salil and Maya,

    We all rafi fans would like to know exactly what happened at the recording of tasweer teri dil mein!

    As has been quoted lata lost her cool with rafi on the antara’s. But has RB puts it you cant tell that rafi was any lesser than Lata when you hear the song. In fact he not only gave justice to the song he gave it the Dev Anand expression to it as well. You can hardly say that it was Mala Sinha with Lata!

    The only way to know this is to ASK lata! Is there any way we can do it through the forum?

  20. P. Haldar says:

    Let’s not keep speculating why Salil da grew out of Rafi saab’s “maya” and went back under Talat saab’s “chhaya”. I didn’t say it before, but the passage Mr. Ramakrishna refers to in the song is what had been on my mind too. However, I’d like to believe that someone like Rafi saab would have been able to adapt to that rapid change in harmonics quite easily. You’ll have to remember that Lata di had been rendering such songs for Salil da for a long time, both in Bengali and Hindi. Reminds me of what Naushad saab had once said of Salil da: Salil knows the rules of grammar so well that he can easily break them.

    The other point made by Mr. Ramakrishna is also very important. In many cases it is the producer or the star who decides on the singer. The fact that Anna or Salil da used Rafi saab later doesn’t imply that there was nothing wrong with their relationships. If anyone remembers the top 10 songs Lata di selected to celebrate her 25th year in film music, you will know what I mean. There was not a single SJ or an SD number in her top 10! Some people don’t forget that easily.

    Finally, let me say that I’ve read both versions on Sagina alluded to by Mr. Narayanan and Mr. Gurumurthy. And, believe it or not, both were written by Raju Bharatan. Mr. Gurumurthy’s version, if I remember correctly, appeared in the 1974 Filmfare article and Mr. Narayanan’s version appeared more recently in article titled “the Aradhana syndrome”. So his stories keep changing over time. But like Shirish Kulkarni, I can’t take my eyes of his articles because, more often than not, the central character is our dear Rafi saab. By the way, you haven’t heard the last from mr. bharatan. Wait till I send you an excerpt from a recent article that myk has sent me. But I’ll post that on the Dev Anand thread.

  21. myk says:

    Raju Bharatan is one of the most well-known journalists in India. He is knowledgeable about the industry, has inside information about the music world, however not all of his so called facts should be trusted.

    I have read a lot of his old articles and in them he has written untrue nonsense about Rafi saab. My dad was a regular reader of his columns in the 60’s and 70’s and he tells me stories of how RB used to be really bias against Rafi and write a lot of bad things about him. He also wrote nice stuff on Rafi as well during that time, and even now in his recent articles, but he has his share of trash. Not all that comes from RB should be taken as true facts.

  22. parveen says:

    haldar saab
    soory ,for late reply.however i am thankful for giving us detail.however,cram was responsible for creating distance due to her loving lady.he was doubtful about lady relationships.
    i read somewhere he called rafi as
    gahana,maisana kind of person……..however,everything vanishes with time.
    i was shocked about anil statement.can any one put light on this?

  23. RAMAKRISHNA says:

    ref post 15

    haldar da,

    I may be wrong but what I presume Lata might have got upset with rafi sahab in the antara of ‘ tasweer teri dil main ‘ where the song is ‘ maathey ki bindiya too hai sanam, nainonka kajra…. that ‘ kajra ‘ rendering is extremely rapid. I can say that particular ‘ kajra ‘ word has a total harmonic distortion.

    this word might have been the bone of contention between the legend & Lata .

  24. RAMAKRISHNA says:

    ref post 24,

    mr makkar jee,

    It was Sri N.T.Rama Rao garu who has insisted the music director that Rafi sahab should sing all the songs in the film.

    for your information Mrs P.Susheela garu & S.P. balu garu have the respect to the highest order for rafi sahab.

    They always quote rafi sahab’s name when the question of melody & range arises.

  25. H.V.GURU MURTHY says:

    With reference to Post No. 19, on the otherhand, I read some where that Rafi Saab was up set that his hero Dilip also opted for KK in Sagina.

  26. binus2000 says:

    Men and women do mistakes and many of them learn by their
    The ever-increasing popularity of rafi saab is a testimony of his

    while the wrong doers have bitten the dust and forgotten there
    are many whose conscience must be telling them : U have done
    some wrong to this great legend and repenting today.
    anna did repent that he served dishonest people who used him for
    their selfish endsand then threw him out – virtually from the industry
    to die a lonely man – unsung & uncared.

    Binu Nair. ///the rafi foundation//// sargam magazine.

  27. ssmakkar says:

    when c ramchand was down and out, about 4/5 years since he did his last hindi film ,he got a telegu film of nt ramarao, ” salim akbar anarkali”.
    are you aware that he got all the male voice songs sung by rafi saab ?
    i still remember the comment of p. susheela, that great telegu singer ” when rafi saab sings, his voice soars into the heavens “.
    this appeared in the screen, with a photograph of rafi saab, p susheela and anna during the rehearsal.
    this was the same anna ji, who had once arrogantly remarked after rootha na karo that he would never record with rafi saab !

  28. binus2000 says:

    I have met Raju Bharatan only once in 1974 during Salil Choudhary’s
    felicitation on his completion of 25 years in the film industry. It was
    a press conference at Hotel Bristol in bombay’s fort area. Raju Bharatan
    was the centre of attraction along with manna dey.
    Raju being the assistant editor of times of india group magazine enjoyed
    great respect and his writings always were very popular.
    then he retired from times and in between he wrote a biography on the
    nightingale – lata.
    they both started as friends and when the book was released, they
    became foes may be due to some “real facts” reported by the ace
    These days he writes a column in the hindustan times every monday
    and in some of them he writes very colourfully on rafi saabs various
    recordings which he attended.
    He is on record saying that he can write innumerable pages on rafi
    but can’t write a book on him – since rafi was a person who followed
    a nine to five daily routine.
    during the long journey raju bharatan has added up a long list of
    critics and foes but his writings are memorable.
    raju bharatan could be loved or hated ; but can’t be ignored and i
    look forward to meet him one of these days.

    binu nair….//// sargam magazine….. ////……the rafi foundation……/////

  29. Res: Post 19
    Dear Narayanan Sahab,
    I totally concur with you on your comment on giving needless over importance to Mr. Raju Bharatan. Agreed that Mr. Bharatan is a veteren and a well known film journalist. He always makes it a point to write something that makes one feel that he was a withess to many tiffs . As a journalist, he must be having inside information. But if you read his articles closely, he depends largely on some quotes. It gives me a feeling that he does not want the onus of giving his opinion. After reading his articles, i used to always wonder, what exactly he wanted to say! A case in point is his recent article in Hindustan Times, where he uses Suraiya Madam’s opinion about Rafi Sahab’s contribution to Dev Sahab’s career. For those who have not read the article, i wish to inform you that she said in no uncertain terms that it was Rafi Sahab’s contribution which made Dev Anand Sahab’s career at least on the music front.
    Needless to say, RaJu Bharatan sir did not conclude with his opinion!.
    Despite some such reservations, i confess that i enjoy reading his writing, for the sheer joy to find out, who is he pitting against whom! But at the end i always fail miserably, probably due to my lack of inside info or sheer inability to decipher the answer in his writings.

    Shirish Kulkarni

  30. binus2000 says:

    Haldar ji:

    we Rafi lovers and music lovers in mumbai talk to many journos
    and music buffs and we “know” who the villains are who were not
    at all comfortable with rafi saabs soaring popularity.
    Please remember that a doctor will never tell good about a fellow
    In the same way, a local singer will never tell good about a local
    level top singer. I have experienced this whole of my life.
    So rafi saab inspite of being the “singer of singers” and most
    competent in the field, faced great rivalries from men , women and
    their friends too – which we all have seen.
    Ultimately what prevails is the quality and the “mesmerising” qualites
    of the songs and not the “black deeds” undertaken by the “caucus”
    who have neither the talents nor the skills to outshine the legendary
    singer – mohd rafi saab.

    binu nair. the rafi foundation/sargam magazine

  31. P. Haldar says:

    ref post 18:

    venkatji, I understand your point. all i was trying to tell you is that if Salil humiliated Rafi or Anna made baseless allegations (as reported by Raju Bharatan), it was not Rafi saab’s fault. You’ll have to remember that Rafi saab was human too; if someone insulted him, you can’t expect him to turn up for recording with the same composer the following day. Anna, as you said, did record with rafi even in the 70s; in fact, I remember seeing a photograph of them together in the mid 70s for the recording of a song for a Tamil (or Telugu) film.

    If I were a journalist, whom would I talk to if I wanted to know more about Rafi? I’d talk to composers like Naushad, OP, SD, Madan Mohan, Ravi, LP and Chitragupta. Why mr. bharatan sought Salil’s opinion I have no idea. Salil had hardly anything to do with Rafi; he considered Lata the “ultimate phenomenon” and everyone was much lower in his esteem. Anna, on the other hand, used to have a productive relationship with his “yeh hasrat thi” rafi in the 50s but I don’t know what happened later. All I was mentioning is what raju bharatan had reported in that article, though I doubt he was in the recording room with Anna and Rafi.

    My thesis, which actually coincides with yours, is that rafi saab was pulling ahead of a certain singer in the 60s and that created a lot of insecurity not only for her but also for composers who were aligned with her. And some of the press-wallahs, losing sense of their objectivity, kept planting stories in the media.

  32. Narayanan says:

    dear Haldarda,Binuji,Venkatdri garu, Praveenji
    I feel we are discussing too much on Raju Bharatan’s article who is a big fan of lata n Rafi saab but while writing he loses focus on the main subject and sometimes delve into irrelevant things.
    Infact the quote or a misquote of salilda on Rafi saab, I had a strong urge to go n meet the MD in Calcutta when i was just a student.
    Hence pl do not take raju bharatan sir seriously however through he may be with the musical knowledge.
    Another quote/misquote by raju bharatan himself is that Rafi saab himself did not want to sing for dilip kumar in Sagina mohito.
    And he says pl do not ask me why
    can any sane music buff beleive the journo raju bharatan in the above question?

  33. B.Venkatadri says:

    Haldar Saab,

    I respect all die-hard Rafi fans immensely and I respect die-hard Rafi fans with knowledge and analytical ability, such as yourself, even more!

    I only mentioned in a matter-of-fact way the small factual error that had crept in. There was nothing more to it.

    Regarding who was responsible for the various rifts, with Lata, OPN, Salil ,Anil, Chitalkar, etc., I always believe that it was the opposite parties, not Rafi Saab, who were responsible by initiating them.

    Why I had struck a small disagreeing note in my post was because I do not even believe that Rafi Saab could ever say, “Oh, you do not want to talk to me; Ok, I too do not want to talk to you”!


  34. binus2000 says:

    Post 15:

    While rafi saab was at the pinnacle of his singing carreer
    a group of influential people like salil da, C.Ramchandra, Lata
    and few others were not really comfortable with “rafis popula-
    But the times and the tides were in rafi’s favour and these men
    and women could only make “backroom maneoveres.”
    Its absolute nonsense that salil or c. Ramchandra thought that rafi
    would play gimmicks in the recording room.
    In a c. ramchandra recording the composer over the mike said
    to rafi : “rafi mian the pronunciation of —— is like this. please
    pronounce it this way.
    the word i cannot recall : but the reaction of rafi was : yes sir.. I
    will do it this way and he did that way.
    This proves that the so called gimmicks of rafi saab was in the
    minds of composers who were divided in to two camps.
    I read a review of c.ramchandra after rafi saab went away in
    1980. He said on record that he had recorded just 10 days before a
    song with rafi saab. He paid glowing tributes to rafi saab in the
    review which is in marathi.
    c. ramchandra was in the lata camp and very close to her. He died
    in absolute poverty and misery in a hospital in mumbai. no one
    from the industry came to his help.

    Coming back to the subject of rafi doing gimmicks just read what
    veteran composer ravi said in a function in Ulhasnagar recently.
    He said that rafi would improvise the song to such a great extent
    that he would accept it – rightaway. He named a few songs in which
    rafi saab suggested improvements that were memorable hits.
    Surely : improvisation and suggestions cannot be called “gimmicks”
    by any yardstick.

    binu nair / sargam magazine / the rafi foundation

  35. H.V.GURU MURTHY says:

    Rootha Na Karo also had two solos by Rafi – Mere Sathiyan Mere Dilruba and Dil Mera Legayi Laal Batuame.

  36. P. Haldar says:

    ref post 14:

    Venkat ji, please note that I do not know Raju Bharatan personally. The Lata-Salil-Rafi affair has been out in print for quite some time; Mr. Bharatan recounted this episode in an article he wrote for last year. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

    “Rafi was talking robust commonsense, but Lata viewed his stand as her royalty stumbling block. Lata dramatically said she would no longer sing with Rafi. Whereupon Rafi, greatly daring, observed that he, from thereon, was only so keen to sing with Lata as she was with him. “If Lata is number one, Mohammed Rafi, too, is number one!” claimed our Trojan in a rare burst of self-pride.
    Rafi perhaps nursed the sneaking feeling that Lata, in reality, was not prepared to acknowledge his late-earned suzerainty. While the two, for example, were rendering Tasveer Teri Dil Mein (to go on Mala Sinha-Dev Anand in Maya: 1961), Lata had even lost her cool with Rafi in a certain passage of the song.
    Rafi here felt belittled upon seeing Salil Chowdhury siding with Lata. Certain composers were not all out for Rafi and Lata knew it. Yet just hear, afresh, Tasveer Teri Dil Mein and you just cannot tell where Rafi is anything less than Lata.”

    A few years ago, a Bengali daily was reproducing excerpts from Mr. Bharatan’s biography of Lata and, unless something was lost in translation, he mentioned that Rafi was having problems with the tune.

    The C. Ramchandra-Rafi episode was also described by an article by Raju Bharatan. That’s why I’ve been requesting Binuji and others to trace the Filmfare article. I can’t be fully sure if that incident was mentioned in that article, but I am 100% sure that what I’ve reported is the gist of what happened, as reported by Mr. Bharatan.

    The other source that you maybe talking about is hardly a source. Knowing that I am a diehard Rafian, he called me up and we had a conversation. Whatever he said, you can take it with a pinch (or bowl) of salt. But his version was actually much better (at least to my ears) than the one put forward by mr. bharatan.

    I’m not sure how you thought that I implied that Rafi was responsible for the rifts. Is it the word “nuance” that you didn’t like? The dictionary definitions of “nuance” are:

    1 : a subtle distinction or variation
    2 : a subtle quality : NICETY
    3 : sensibility to, awareness of, or ability to express delicate shadings (as of meaning, feeling, or value)

    Anything objectionable about that term? In fact, I consider Rafi the best playback singer ever because of the way he brings in his nuances for different actors. That’s what playback singing is all about.

    My apologies to you for being “factually off the mark”. Thanks for pointing out that in the decade when Rafi ruled like a monarch, Salil was generous enough to give him one more song in another film. Surely, it was the sign of a normal and healthy relationship. I don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of Rafi’s songs as you do, but I do follow trends. Could that song have been an exception to the rule?

    Parveen ji wanted to get a scoop on this episode, that’s why I provided the information, which I myself cannot fully trust. But let me tell you what else mr. bharatan wrote in that article. I didn’t mention that before because it was too painful for me. He asked Salil why he was no longer using his “toote huwe khwabon mein” rafi, to which Salil replied, “Are you sure he won’t try his gimmicks?”

    Much as we might differ on the factual details, we agree on the overall thesis that there was a lot of envy at play. And if you interpret my post in that context, you will realise what I was trying to say.

  37. B.Venkatadri says:

    Haldar Saab,

    Reg. your posts 11 and 12 above, you/your sources seem to be putting the blame on Rafi Saab for the rifts with Salil and C.Ramachandra. I tend not to believe that. Almost all the rifts were inflicted by the opposite parties (mostly due to reasons of jealousy and pettiness) on an unsuspecting Rafi Saab!

    Incidentally, as with all the rifts featuring Rafi Saab, it was the opposite parties(Lata, OPN, etc.) who lost very badly and not Rafi Saab.

    Here too, on realising their folly, both Salil and C.Ramachandra have returned on their own to Rafi Saab. Salil with Poonam Ki Raat (1965) —great hit song “Dil Tadpe Tadpaaye” and with Raat Ki Uljhan(1971) and other films. SO, you are factually off the mark when you said “There is nothing by Salil with Rafi after Maya”!

    Even a stagnating and languishing C.Ramachandra had once again taken refuge of Rafi Saab for the FIlm: Rootha Na Karo (1970?) in which there was the hit Rafi-Asha duet, “Aap Ka Chehra Masha Allah”



  38. Narayanan says:

    Post 7
    Welcome back Mohan Floraji
    You have truly gladdened the hearts of all Rafi saab poojaris.
    As for Salilda, C.Ramchandra and Anil Biswas it was their loss not gaint like Rafi saab…. for not using rafi saabs vocals frequently.
    One more anecdote quoted in an old article Srikant Thakeray brother of Balasaheb Thakeray once asked Rafi saab when Utpal son of Anilda came to Rafi villa for a recording that ‘ Anilda never cared for u and had openly admitted in the press’ and still Rafi saab you are co-operating with his son.
    Rafi saab replied Anilda was a legend and I hold no grudge but when his son has come to my door step how can I refuse?/
    This was Rafi saab for us

  39. P. Haldar says:

    ref post 9:

    venkat ji, you are diplomatically avoiding the rd thread. Anyway, here’s the official version of the C. Ramchandra-Rafi fight, according to Mr. Bharatan (who else?). Anna was rehearsing Rafi for some song and he told Rafi that he was not happy with the way it was being sung, to which Rafi replied that he has sung for many md’s and no one ever told him that there was a problem with his singing style. Anna then told Rafi that he had become too proud because of his newly accumulated wealth. Rafi then told Anna point blank that it was Anna who had become envious of his wealth. And that was the end of the affair.

  40. P. Haldar says:

    ref post 10:

    parveen ji, for whatever it’s worth, let me say what I heard in Kolkata a few weeks back. Kolkata, if you are not aware, is full of fanatics of all kinds and what they say, you’ll have to take with a grain of salt. I had the (mis)fortune of getting into a conversation with a Talat fan this time. According to him, Lata and Rafi had a fight during the rehearsal of “tasveer teri dil mein” and Salil took her side. After that, Rafi stopped working with Salil. I actually checked the records; Rafi doesn’t have anything with Salil after 1962. There might have been a film that was released just after Maya, but in all likelihood the songs were recorded earlier. This story somehow rings true. Also note that just before maya, rafi had already cast his spell on dev with “khoya khoya chand” and he might have tried to put some of his own nuances for dev, which salil/lata didn’t like.

    The official version of the story is quite different; in Raju Bharatan’s hagiography, “And God Created Lata”, he devotes some space to this incident. According to Mr. Bharatan, Rafi was having problems with the fast changing harmonics in the song and Lata was getting irritated. If you listen to the song carefully, there’s nothing really difficult about the song, especially for a singer of Rafi’s calibre. The story stops there as far as Mr. Bharatan is concerned. If you have read Mr. Bharatan’s articles, you’ll see that he usually quotes people after they are gone. He quotes Salil after he dies, quotes RD after he dies, … , so that no one can verify the truth with the primary source. Mr. Bharatan also takes Salil’s words as gospel; part of that could be because of Lata’s admiration for Salil.

  41. parveen says:

    can any one put light on that instance of maya song ,tasveer teri dil main?
    lata lost her cool………..haaaaaaaaaaaaa

  42. B.Venkatadri says:

    Raju Korti is absolutely right when he said Salil is a female composer. Not only Salil, there are two more of this kind and psychology: 1. Anil Biswas and 2.C.Ramchandra.

    It may not be a coincidence that all these three had a bit of antipathy towards Rafi Saab. Of course, in case of Anil and Chitalkar, there is the added reason for that. That is, both of them primarily wanted to be singers and leading singers, at that! Needless to say, their singing remained like a lamp in front of Rafi Saab’s singing which dazzled like Sun!


  43. H.V.GURU MURTHY says:

    Salilda gave music in Bengali, Hindi, Malayalam and Kannada movies. We can listen to similar songs in all four languages like “Teri Galiyon Me Hum Aaye”, etc. Of course, his favourite singer was Mukesh and Lata as we can easily see that majority of his songs were sung by Mukesh and Lata. One of the wonderful songs was from the movie MAYA sung by Lata “Jaare, Jaare Udjare Panchi”. Another good song was from MERE APNE sung by KK – “Koi Hota Jisko Apna”.

  44. mohanflora says:

    27th Mohammad Rafi Awards
    Kavita enthrals audience
    Tribune News Service

    Bollywood playback singer Kavita Krishnamurthy receives the best female singer award at the 27th Mohammad Rafi Award-2007 function in Amritsar on Sunday. — Photo by Rajiv Sharma

    Amritsar, October 7
    Well-known Bollywood playback singer Kavita Krishnamurthy enthralled the audience at the 27th Rafi Awards organised here today by the Mohammad Rafi Memorial Society to commemorate the death anniversary of the legendary singer.

    The society organises a function on this day every year to give away awards to promising Hindi and Punjabi singers.

    This year Punjabi singer Sarabjit was given the life-time achievement award, while Kavita was honoured with the Rafi Award for the best playback singer. Stage artiste and film producer K. Deep was also given the life-time achievement award and Jasmine Bhatti was given the best anchor award. Inderjit Nikku received the Rafi Award as the best Punjabi singer and Harmanpreet Singh, editor, Sangeet Darpan magazine, was awarded for his efforts to promote the culture. Kapil Sharma was named the best comedian.

    The evening started with a shabad sung by Tarlochan Singh, president of the society.

    Information and public relations minister Bikram Singh Majithia was the chief guest for the occasion. District transport officer Vimal Setia released the souvenier of the society.

  45. Anil Cherian says:

    It is interesting to note that Salilda preferred K J Yesudas (A singer in the Rafi mould) to Jayachandran (Someone who resembles Mukesh/ Talat more than Rafi). So it may be concluded that his under-utilisation of Rafi has something to do with more than the style of singing.

  46. Hussein Sheikh says:

    Salil Chowdhary made rare songs with Rafi Saheb. He was not lucky as he did not use Rafi Saheb unlike other music directors.

  47. parveen says:

    . During the recording of Tasveer Teri Dil Mein (Maya, 1961), Lata lost her cool with Rafi in a certain passage of the song. Rafi felt belittled, as music director Salil Chowdhury sided with Lata.[12] The situation worsened when Lata Mangeshkar declared that she would no longer sing with Rafi. Rafi stated that he was only so keen to sing with Lata as she was with him.
    this is another aspect of salil, along ramchandra.

  48. binus2000 says:

    In 1974: the year of Salil da’s 25th silver jubilee year, the composer
    was felicitated by all major singers including dilip saab at the famed
    shanmukhananda hall.
    I could see mukesh, yesudas,hemant da, manna dey, david among
    the distinguished gathering.
    Lataji refused to attend and deputed asha and usha to sing at the
    musical. asha sang the haunting : “aa jaa re, mai to kab se khadi”
    very competently and usha sang some other numbers of lata.
    i still remember a young yesudas crooning ” Jaane man Jaane man
    tere do nayan” a duet with asha and sujatha belting out some
    malayalam numbers.
    The other highlight was a “stirring” speech by dilip kumar
    who paid rich tributes in his impeccable style to salil chaudhari.

    binu nair. the rafi foundation

  49. RAMAKRISHNA says:

    mr souvik

    this article is more of a common one than a specific one. i feel there is nothing in this article. its all about Salil Chowdhury.

    Of course I respect Salil da a lot due to his folk music partuclarly that ‘ bihu ‘ touch of Assam which we can clearly make out in the song ‘ daiyyarey diayyarey chadhgayo papi bichua ‘ from Madhumati.

    and the prelude music to the song ‘ kaheen door jab din dhaljaye ‘ in anand takes us to a world of fantasy… an evening full of dust of the dusk due to the return of unruly cattle & the setting sun at the diastant horizon.

    and its all about salil da but with respect to Rafi sahab he had a few numbers. but one thing is specific that the songs were meant for Rafi sahab only & salil da has done full justice to himself in this aspect.

  50. Raju Korti says:

    salilda was a genius no doubt. one of his kind. he will go down in the history of film music as a composer who had the intrinsic talent to indianise western symphanies. i had the good fortune of meeting salilda way back in 1986. i had a long, long chat with him and from the way the conversation was headed, it looked that here was another composer who did not exploit the full rafi potential. for some reasons salilda had reservations about using rafi. he seemed to be slanted towards mukesh and mannada. on record, he did admit that rafi was the supreme singer, but he felt that rafi being rafi, took popular liberties with the song. in case of madhumati, rafi was primarily chosen because it was dilip kumar. and the biggest factor that went in rafi’s favour is his ability to modulate for dilip and johnny walker. so we had songs which were diametrically opposite in ethos and presentation. salilda was also candid that he couldn’t have thought of anyone else for tute huye khwabone. if you study salilda’s career graph, you don’t see rafi in it to the extent that the singer was with other music directors. basically, salilda was a female composer whose tunes were tailor-made for lata.
    by the way, the in the maya song koi sone ke dilwala, going on dev anand, the child in the actor’s arms is none other than gabbar singh amjad khan. it incidentally had another rafi beauty in zindagi hai kya sun meri jaan, pyaar bhara dil mithi jubaan.

Post your Comment on Facebook

Receive updates in your inbox. Enter your email address:

Other Writeups

Social Collaboration