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The Master and his Mates

This article is written by Bina Krishna – Rafi Saab Ke Charnon Mein

Mohd Rafi with Lata Mangeshkar and Jaikishan

Mohd Rafi with Lata Mangeshkar and Jaikishan

I could never decide with certainty whether Rafi Saab sang better with Lata or with Asha. Everytime I hear a dulcet duet of Lata-Rafi I instinctively opine that it is Lata who is best suited for Rafi Saab and this twosome is matchless, Then when I hear a marvellous duad of Asha-Rafi and that perfect taal-mel between them I unabashedly change my opinion and my leanings and apologize to Lata Didi in my mind.

Going backward and forward thus between Lata and Asha is always like a tug of war, but one which I do with an enjoyable amount of glee and challenge, relishing the fact that both Asha Bhonsle and Lata Mangeshkar were at their throaty best when they sang along with the Master.

Today, as I sat browsing some tunes on youtube, I heard two songs, one not so popular yet very beautiful in every way, and the other a mood-lifting famous number..I was so completely drowned in the melody and mood of the songs, that I had to share this with all of you.

With the first song I take you into a moonlit night. Main Soya Akhiyaan Meeche from Phagun (1958) had music by OPN and lyrics by Qamar Jalalabadi and was picturized on Bharat Bhushan and Madhubala.

The scene that unfolds before us is one of tranquility and quiet solitude, of lovers content to simply be in each others’ presence, resting in a slumber of magical togetherness. Then Madhubala begins humming ever so softly as she wakes Rafi Saab up from a deep reverie, and as if in a dream, the amazing voice stealthily creeps into Madhubala’s senses. This is totally a Madhubala and Rafi Saab melody…the stunning-looking, doe-eyed and lovelorn Madhubala looks all at once lost and transformed in this role as she completely gets into the skin of Asha Bhonsle’s deliciously warm voice. The effect is sublime in both scene and it is, listen and decide for yourself.

Main Soya Akhiyan Meeche

Yeh Kaun Haseen Sharmaya Taaron Ko Paseena Aaya
Hirnee Ki Aankhen Lekar, Dil Kaun Churane Aaya

What does one call Rafi Saab’s voice here? He doesnt sing..he croons, his voice is a gentle hug and Asha complements him with an evenly matched romance in her voice and an indulgent softness that makes this song a perfect duet of the Master and his Mate.

Uffff..I almost exhausted myself there describing a song that has stayed with me all day long..

Mohd Rafi with Lata Mangeshkar and Jaikishan

Mohd Rafi with Lata Mangeshkar and Jaikishan

My next journey began with a bus ride, not with a bus full of people, but with only two sweethearts, pretty and cute Sadhana, and Dev Anand, the cool and easy going bus driver with the toothy smile!

Strangely enough, the first time I saw and heard this song was in Guddi, when Hrishida picturized this hit song on Jaya Bhaduri and Dharmendra. I vaguely remember that even the scene was the same, with Dharam being a driver and placing his cap on Jaya’s head. That was the first time I fell in love with this song. I came to know much later, when seeing Chitrahaar that this song actually was from Asli Naqli. Tujhe Jeevan Ki Dor Se is that song of Rafi Saab’s and Lata’s which has, ever since childhood, remained a very khaas favourite.

Waise toh is film ke sabhi gaane bahut hi acche hain, but this one is a heart and a scene stealer. Rafi Saab and Lata Didi sang in tandem, simply rocking the screen by lending their voices to the adorable couple on screen leaving every woman in the audience starry eyed and every man succumbing to Sadhana’s smile..

Now just listen to Rafi Saab mesmerize you, me and all the Sadhanas out there..

Tujeh Jeevan Ki Dor Se

Hey, how many times did you watch this carefree Shanker-Jaikishen compostion? I am sure you are hooked, just as I am, especially on those three words tere zulmon sitam..!!! Did you notice how happy Rafi Saab is singing this song and how he gets all those beautiful emotions just right !!! Close your eyes and feel yourself dissolve into those moments where divine Lata’s alacrity has matched the Maestro’s tenacity tone for tone and lilt for lilt ..teri tasveer hum sar aankhon par..!!! What a song!! It wants me to dance,sing,and become a young girl of 15 all over again!

Chand Sooraj Bhi Hai Teri Parchhaiyan
Tujhse Roshan Hui Dil Ki Gehrayiyan
Tere Chehre Ki Jhilmil Se Manzil Mili
Aisi Pyaari Poonam Sar Aankhon Par…

Tujhe Jeevan Ki Dor Se Baandh Liya Hai
Tere Zulmon Sitam Sar Aankhon Par.!!!

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152 Blog Comments to “The Master and his Mates”

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  1. P. Haldar says:

    Mr. Bhagchandani,

    You’ll notice that in my previous post, I haven’t talked about a very famous singer. Hint: He is a match-winner.

    P. Haldar

  2. P. Haldar says:

    post 47:

    Mr. Bhachandani,

    Glad to know that you liked my post. As for comparisons of singers to cricketers, let me start with the easiest one: “the Padmakar Shivalkar of Hindi film music”. That title belongs to Suman Kalyanpur. She was extremely unlucky, just like Shivalkar was.

    Look at Sourav’s last name and you can figure out which singer has the closest fit. He has a huge fan following, especially in Bengal. Supremely gifted and “next to God” on the off-side (read “r. d. burman”), but has weakness against the rising ball (read “classical songs”). Can bowl when needed but not a true all-rounder.

    Manna Dey is the Jimmy Amarnath of film music. Has no technical weaknesses; is adept at playing both spin and pace. In my reckoning, one of the greatest batsmen India has ever produced, but still does not have the same type of impact or fame as Gavaskar and Sachin.

    Finally, let me talk about one singer whom I love to death: geeta dutt. In terms of female “voice” alone, hers is the one I like the most; it has the right timbre. It has lata’s sweetness and asha’s sensuality. In short, she is very, very special. Like VVS, she can drive a ball pitched outside off stump through midwicket, without giving any opportunity to the fielders to move. Call it cross-bat if you want, but in terms of sheer beauty, it’s a joy to behold.

    Hope you liked the comparisons.

  3. Ashok Mehta says:

    It was a very interesting reading on two songs.Indeed very earfull bina to really go deep in the song to present the sublime and finer points of the song.For an ordinary person such observations leave them in awe.

  4. J.K. Bhagchandani says:

    Haldarji (post 40),

    Your comparisons of singers with cricketeers was amazing. Just a question for you (and others). If Tendular is Rafi saab, Sehwag is Asha and Dravid is Lata then whom will you like fit in as Sourav Ganguly: Manna da or Kishore da? or may be Geeta Dutt? What is your take?

  5. Chandan says:

    Yes..truly lilting Asha solos that you have presented. I was in fact so awed by her dexterity in dealing with Raag Desh in Bekasi..I also like the other song from Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi..the slow but so sooting number..”Woh Haske Mile Humse..Hum Pyaar Samaj Bhaite..” What a composition of OPN and well sung by Ashaji…
    Here is the link for your ready listening:

  6. Bina says:

    Dear Haldar Jee:

    The way you have compared the Rafi/Lata/Asha to Sachin/Sehwag/Dravid made me smile and nod my head in acknowledgement. Very well put sir, and the similee makes it ever so simple for even a casual reader to understand. Aur may aapke har point se sehmat hoon..its well balanced and thought out.

    Bhagchandani jee:

    Excellent selections sir!

    Ramesh jee:
    here are few songs for your listening pleasure..they are lata solos: from Tarana from Mahal from Anarkali from Amar

    Devraj Saab:

    So you have settled for Asha and Lata, the amazing Mangeshkar sisters together, much as I have, though of course by now all of you know my subtle preference. Like Haldar Saab says these two were the genuine all-rounders.

    I still cant see anyone in the HFM holding a torch to either one of them for the quality of their voices. ..Geeta and Suman were excellent with Rafi Saab in the songs you have brought to our notice. and I adore a few of their songs,..par the magical quality jo Lata aur Asha ki awaaz mein woh aaj tak mujhe kisi mein bhi nahi sunayee dee hai..


    Thank you for your wonderful comments on my review.

    Yes, Asha’s adeptness with variation is very well known and that what gives her such a unique place in the HFM. The naughtiness in her voice suited actresses like Geeta Bali, Madhubala and Suchitra Sen very well…I would like you to listen to these incomparable solos of Asha Bhosle..did not she reserve her best for OPN? from Kalpana from Baharen phir bhi aayegi from mitti aur sona


  7. vinod mehru says:

    bina ji,
    aapne jo do gaane mentioned kiye hai unka koi jawab nahin, meri nazar yaa samajh se mein aaj 29 saal ke baad bhi rafi saheb aur asha bhonsle ji ke combination ko best manta hoon . lata ji ke pass jyada variety nahin hai jo asha ji ke pass hai aur rahegi, asha ji aur rafi saheb dono ek hi shreni mein rakhne yogya hai.1977 mein lp ki composition jisme rafi saheb ke saath kishre ji aur mukesh saheb bhi theus gaane mein lata ji ne pahli baar teen alag alag style se gaaya tha teen heroines ke liye.phir rafi saheb aur aaj ki taarikh mein koi bhi asha bhonsle ke kareeb nahin hai.

  8. devbhai ( post 39 ),

    let me borrow the concluding remarks made by you to – actually thanking you in bringing the subject of discussion and giving it a sense of diection – your conclusion deserves just praise and logonkaa
    ” dimaag kaa khidkee khulgaya ”


    What emerges is that, one, Rafisaab was supreme no matter who sang with him.Secondly in those days we had brilliant music composers and lyricists who gave us one classy song after another.This fact should never be lost sight of.I would therefore settle for these conclusions and leave Lataji and Ashatai as they are.


    halder sahab – as a lover of the sport – cricket and fondly played the game at university levels, i admire your deft late cut ( like gundappa vishwanath ) so late that you almost played it off the keepers gloves.

    with or without the gun, you have accepted that ashajee combines better by sheer class. anyway i do not wish to deviate from the stance i have taken.

    also i am in agreement with devbhai – 1000% – period.

    he has sort of concluded – khatam shuddh.


  9. Chandan says:

    Excellent article as usual. You have the natural gift of the pen and your writing is so natural and so inspiring. Please keep writing as we look forward to more and more of your thoughts and expressions!
    While like most of you, I am a die-hard fan of the duets of both the sisters with Rafi Saab. Over the years I have learnt and sort of realised that Ashaji has a natural versatility, over the spread of singing moods and of course, that does not mean Lataji does not have the ability to sing those numbers in her own inimitable style. The variants in Ashaji’s singing in different anthra’s is what I enjoy and is so intoxicating, matching up to the expressions and feel of Rafi Saab. Versatility is what I prefer over extreme sweetness in Ashaji’s renditions!
    There are many Lata/Rafi lilting numbers which are matchless and this is only a matter of opinion and we all know it differs from person to person.

  10. bhagchandanibhai, ( post 36 ),

    my post of 38 says it all – from my side i summed my views and have nothing more to say – even if another century of bhakts write on this very same subject.

    however, thanx a lot for the various duets of both sisters mentioned by you. i was just playing darts in the dark without going into the intricacies and keeping the conversation going, finding that the support for one sister was a bit lop sided.

    you have given an accurate assessment of both sisters and their duets – thanx.


  11. P. Haldar says:

    Dear Bina ji,

    A good topic for discussion. Without trying to get into whether rafi-lata or rafi-asha is better, let me make the following points:

    1. Rafi and Asha are the only two “genuine” all-rounders the game has ever seen.

    2. Rafi and Lata considered one another as rivals as far as the No. 1 spot is concerned. Pyarelal conceded in a recent interview that they always tried to outdo one another.

    3. If Rafi is Sachin, Asha is Sehwag and Lata is Dravid. (Remember Sehwag’s square cut for 6 and Sachin’s follow-up act? Also, remember Dravid’s declaration? I don’t want to stoke any controversies here.)

    4. Rafi-Asha is more explosive (like Sachin-Sehwag), whereas Rafi-Lata is more steady (like Sachin-Dravid).

    5. Naushad, SJ, KA, LP and so many others overwhelmingly preferred Rafi-Lata, while OP was the only md who was totally for Rafi-Asha. But it is the Burmans who used both combos effectively.

    6. On her own, Lata is better than Asha, but if someone puts a gun to my head and asks me to select between the two combos, I’ll go for Rafi-Asha.

  12. M V Devraj says:

    Hi Bina and friends: I could not post my comments earlier due,in particular,to the dilemma caused by this article as to how to select from two of Indian film industry’s fine female artistes.I have now come to the conclusion that this choice is impossible as both Lataji and Ashatai are great singers in their own individual ways.So also,I would say,that most of the other artistes who had sung with Rasfisaab had been good.
    Take for instance Geeta Dutt,who can compare very adeptly with Asha,has given us some very fine numbers like this one:(Mr & Mrs55:Udhar tum haseen-OPN music)
    Can we say Geeta was any way inferior to Asha?
    Then take Suman Kalyanpur, who had given equal competition to Lataji,as in this song:
    (Bachpan with Sardar Malik’s music-Tere hum o sanam)
    Is Suman not just as good?
    But due to their bad luck or other reasons,these two artistes did not get their due rewards and chances and hence we are left with comparing Lataji and Asha.
    What emerges is that, one, Rafisaab was supreme no matter who sang with him.Secondly in those days we had brilliant music composers and lyricists who gave us one classy song after another.This fact should never be lost sight of.I would therefore settle for these conclusions and leave Lataji and Ashatai as they are.
    Best wishes.
    M V Devraj

  13. dearest binajee,

    who says i not a fan of latajee. i vehemently oppose to that utterance from your end. my name comes before you all when it come to being a fan, but, here your article deals with who is better of the two.

    yes – i say ashaa and you say latha – so be it.

    but dont say – i am not a fan of latha.

    if rafi sahab – had no problems in singing with either of the two sisters and gave us some memorable duets – then who am i to decide on who is better.

    all three are legends – their singing and songs are legendary.

    the big difference is the two sisters were actually singing duets with a singing avataar – god in one such hue we as bhakts are privy to.

    hence, my conclusion, the sisters gave out their best as ” woh dono behen gaatey waqt sudh budh kho baith tethey “.

    resultant – sadiyaan beeth yayenge aur log yahi sawaal poochtey rehenge.
    kiskaa duet zyaadaa acchhaa hai.

    legendary singers have no comparisons and cannot be given gradation – 1, 2, 3 etc.

    they are legends – their singing is legendary – in my view.

    binajee – i shall try to hear to the songs mentioned by you – if i get them.

    nice debate you have ignted. ha ha ha


  14. sundeep pahwa says:

    ref post 18 gurumurthyji we do not have do pahlu
    songs and qawalis in todays films as they dont
    compose songs any more it is just a mix of loud
    orchestra with the singers joining to give the
    orchestra a rest. sundeep pahwa

  15. J.K. Bhagchandani says:

    Ramesh ji (Post 32):

    Your point that you prefer duets of Rafi-Asha over Rafi-Lata duets is well taken. It is purely a matter of personal choice. For me it is very difficult to assess which is better combination. Both are great in their own way. But I would not like to generalize or categorize Rafi-Lata duets as sad and Rafi-Asha duets as happy or peppy ones. Let me give you some examplaes of Rafi-lata duets having great masti. ‘Chaman ke phool bhi tujhko gulab kehate hain …….. (Shikari), Chalenge teer jab dil par……… (Kohiinoor), Tum akele to kabhi baag mein jayaa naa karo…. (Aao pyaar karen), Dheere dheere chal chaand gagan mein….. (Love Marriage), Dekho rutha na karo baat nazron ki suno…… (Tere ghar ke saamne), Tere husn ki kyaa taarif karoon….. (Leader) etc. etc (there are so many). Similarly there are Rafi-Asha soulful/ sad duets like ‘Mujhe gale se lagaa lo bahut udaas hoon mein…… (don’t remember the film), Phir miloge kabhi is baat kaa wada kar lo (Te raat phir naa aayegi), Aaj ki raat bari shokh badi natkhat hai… (duet version from film Nai Umar ki nai fasal), Hum ne to dil ko aapke kadmon mein rakd diyaa….. (Mere Sanam) etc.

    Anyway, it is a sweet confusion. We have the musical wealth of both the combinations to enjoy the great gems by these three giants of playback singing.

  16. Bina says:

    Ramesh jee:

    I respect that you find Asha more pleasurable to listen to than Lata…and its each to his own…hum toh Lata didi ke zabardast fan hai aur hamesha rahenge…I suggest you listen to songs of Amar, Anarkali, Mahal, Tarana for a change..

    Ali saab:

    Good point in your last line…mohd rafi saab always brought out the best in his mates, be in asha, lata, geeta, suman, shamshad, sharada, mubarak begum, kamal barot etc..


    Thanks Jay and nice to know you liked your first impression of main soya akhiyaan meeche…here listen to some more rare and melodious finds and refresh your memories..


  17. Jay Iyer says:

    Bina, That was a great article written with all the passion that you and all of us feel about Rafi. Between the two songs we have Rafi, Asha, Dev, Madhubala, Sadhana and OPN who I love and Lata and SJ who I like (Who cares about Bharat Bhushan anyway). I had not heard the first song ever.

    But with your review and with a chance at seeing Madhubala, I heard it. It was really a very pleasant song, which I would have never heard but for you. Thanks. As far as the debate between the sisters is concerned, I have only this thing to say. Only Asha can be as versatile as Rafi. Others have sung like Lata. But none like Asha (except maybe Geetha Dutt).


  18. ali(unknow) says:

    Good Topic Sir,
    I think it is not fair to compare if mohd Rafi with Lata Ji or Asha ji gave better songs,m Rafi gave his best in all songs he sang and all singers who sang with mohd Rafi they tried to give there best that we can see in Lata ji songs if you compare Lata ji songs to other singers same as Asha Ji as I think they had there best with m Rafi………
    Lata ji sang her best romantic songs with m rafi and Asha ji sang a her best songs with Mohd Rafi and to compare I thank not easy and impossible…
    I think all female singers they had there best songs with mohd rafi and same to male singer.
    If you compare M rafi with Asha or Lata ji or KK or Mannay Day we wil se the best be with mohd rafi………….

  19. dear binajee,

    like you are looking around which are the duets the music lovers are liking, i would attribute to that, but, i would say –

    latha and asha ” sikkey key do pehlu ” ( two sides of the same coin ). after the dahal, chawal and roti and kheer and mithai.

    from my childhood, i have been hearing lathajee doling out sad songs and ashaajee giving peppy songs on after the other.

    i think the same applies to their duets along with rafi sahab ( correct me if i am wrong – as i do not give great weidghtage on technicalities – i just enjoy the song and usmey doob jaataa hoon ).

    hence, you will find more number of people selecting over asha rafi duets over latha rafi duets simply because of this one great difference

    SAD ( melencholy ) – peppy ( happy ).

    asha has always had greater acceptance because of her voice to raise your spirits no end and make you happy, dance and simply freak out.

    sorry binajee ( am i seeing you do a ” grrrrr ” ) latha always made me cry when she sings because gaa gaakey rulaati hai. ( again i may be wrong ).

    latha has a very high pitch ( squeaky – i dont mean bad at all ) voice but
    asha has a voice ( hatkey – kyaa baat hai ) out of the world and opn, pancham and many in the industry who were responsible in writing songs, making music exploited this aspect of ” Asha Bhonsle ” to the hilt
    ( maximum ) and gave us some legendary songs from asha.

    now binajee, coming to the point i was trying to make all this while, i would want the readers and yourself to pick up all my comments above mix it into the duets sung by the two sisters, pick the best duets of both of them and then, i am sure, you all will conclude, if at all, could you term any one of them as better than the other.

    now, this is putting all in a greater quandry than what you have achieved, binajee, HAVE YOU ANY IDEA ? ( that ashaajee is better – this is written in italics – ha ha ha ).


  20. bina says:

    Sanjeev jee:

    Unfortunately, no I have never met Rafi Saab…par yeh kya kam hai ke woh har waqt hamare dil-o-dimaag ke kareeb rehte hain..

    Murty Saab Adaab Rafi:

    Bas ek Rafi-Asha duet sun rahi..aapko pyaar chupane ki buri aadat hai..and was floored by the kamaal of another non-OPN duet from this melodious pair’s stable.


    That was an interesting comparison…yoon toh Rafi Saab ke gaane toh hamare liye kheer aur mithaai ki tarah hain, par daal-roti to basic food hoti hai..isiliye sabko mubarak ho yeh khaana aur gaana..


    You are writing after a long time..thank you for taking the time to comment on my article. .you havent mentioned who is your favorite duo..or at least a hint towards your leanings?


    Thank you so much for writing in…and thank you once again for coming to Bangalore and giving an opportunity for us at BBR to host our dear friends from Hyderabad..

  21. shrirang nawathe says:


    Excellent article..It refreshed me as I switched on to this site after many days ..and am delighted to read your thoughts.
    Rafi Lata or Rafi Asha….both are just divine combinations…dificult to decide which one better….but yes quite interesting thought……


  22. Krupesh Patel, Toronto says:

    In other words, I can say that rafi saab is DAAL, Lata is Roti & Asha is Chhawal

    Dal can eat either roti or chhawal

    In all way Dal-Roti & Dal-Chhawal better combination without any discussion.

    You can drink dall alone, which is easily digest. Roti & Bhat can not eat alone.

  23. A S MURTY says:

    Hello Bina. This is indeed a good debatable topic that you have chosen. For most of us, surely picking on rafi-lata or rafi-asha and rate them better than the other would be difficult. the mangeshkar sisters are adept in almost all the naunces of perfect music and hence they did their best. though asha sang more songs with rafi sahab, hundreds of songs of rafi-lata combine remain more popular when compared to asha-rafi songs. but to be fair enough, asha-rafi combine produced some very incredible duets which will remain at the very top for ever. guruji’s piece on the preferred singers – md-wise – is accurate. good presentation of your thoughts though in this article. the ‘rafi holiday’ occupied most of my time and i could check the write up only today, what with the website too being down for a few days in between. keep writing.

  24. Sanjeev Kumar Dixit says:

    Bina ji,

    Have you ever seen the RAFI SAHEB?


  25. Bina says:

    Bhagchandani jee:

    This Roshan song that you have brought to our notice is a very wonderful popular number…..Just a thought…I am sure Lata jee would have done equal justice to this one..


    Thanks a lot!! I know that you like this song very much!

  26. Bina says:


    This is indeed a wonder find, the do pehlu (well almost) that you have mentioned of rafi saab and asha. the former is from pyaasa with music by sd burman but if you listen to it it will remind you of opn’s humko tumhare ishq na kya kya bana diya…now the question arises as to who has copied whom?

    As for the songs, only the mukhdas are the same but the antaras are completely different.


    Research ho toh aisi..Lata seems to be the inherent favorite of many MDs of yesteryears who wouldnt have had such super hits without her sweet voice giving the perfect accompaniment to their tunes…RD and OPN preferred Asha because it was only she who could do justice to their popular tunes but RD has used only Lata for the more mature songs.

    I think aajkal do pehlu gaanon ke situation hi nahi directors of nowadays have forgotten that such a genre of songs used to exist…qawalli ke liye we have great voices even nowadays like raahat fateh ali khan and toshi but again, and i wish they would make story lines to accomodate a qawalli..i am sure it would be a hit…


    Thanks for the info..this is great news for Rafi Saab Fans and Telugu music lovers.


    Hai tabassum tera…what a song!…yes, it is a perfect do pehlu waala gaana..I agree with you that Lata’s voice started getting thick and she sounded strained during the late 70s and 80s and she was almost unbearable to listen to in films like hum aapke hain kaun..whereas Asha sounded youthful and melodious even up to five years ago..after which, of course, age has taken its toll and she too nowadays sounds labored in her singing..

  27. Sanjeev Kumar Dixit says:

    Hello Bina ji,
    Thanks a lot for your precious individual reply for us.really the voice of RAFI SAHEB is a gift of god for us & we are greatful to GOD that he gave birth to us at this time that we can hear the golden voice of RAFI ji.
    I also thankful to PRABHANJAN JI for giving a information about TELGU songs of RAFI SAHEB.

  28. krish says:

    Hey Been:

    Pardon this late entry of a tough traveler. Now, let me only comment on what i know. Whether Asha or Lata suited Rafi Saab, i may not be competent to answer, but i can surely say : ‘tuje jeevan ki door’ was my favorite song right from my childhood, and this one, your write-up is silken smooth, full of energy and gusto. Keep it up!


  29. J.K. Bhagchandani says:

    There is a do pehlu song from the film Bahu Begum: One version is a duet sung by Mohd. Rafi and Asha Bhonsle and the other a solo sung by Mohd. Rafi. The song is ‘Hum intezar karenge, hum intezaar karenge, tera qayaamat tak……..’ It is gem of a song composed by Roshan saab.

  30. Samina says:

    Another do pehlu song of Rafi-Asha – ‘Hai tabassum tera’
    Both are very nice…of course Rafi saab’s version is beyond “nice” i.e out of the world but asha is good too..

    I find Asha very natural.. I think she captures the mood of a song better than Lata although I prefer Rafi-Lata duets more. Also she has a different voice quality which is both melodious and fresh. She is undoubtedly far more talented than her big sis… Lata sounded very sweet during 50s and 60s… those anarkali songs are out of the world but 70s onwards, I can’t stand her voice..sounds stale, same with no change, no innovation…. My personal view though.

  31. Prabhanjan says:

    Hi all Rafi lovers!
    I have a very useful information regarding Rafi’s Telugu songs. Recently when I went to Calypso music shop in Bangalore I was pleasantly surprised to see that Saregama (formerly HMV) has released a CD of 20 Rafi songs in telugu. THis is followed by 30 more songs by other singers which had hindi versions earlier. And it cost me just Rs.75/-. The title of the album is “Voice of Mohd. Rafi – Telugu Film Songs” and its serial number is M48071.
    Its a must have for all Rafi lovers :).
    Hope that you all find this info very useful 🙂


  32. Siva says:

    Talking about “Do pehlu” songs of Rafi-Asha, I have been wondering about these two songs, which have the same lyrics or at least the opening stanza. Both are from different films and the tune is also different (which is very rare ). Rafi’s version is more of a verse and not a proper song, whereas Asha’s version is a fulfledged song. The song (or verse) is “Tang aa chuke hain kashm-e-kase zindagi se hum. Rafi’s version is from Pyasa. Asha’s version is from a 1957 film Light House-music by N Dutta; lyrics obviously must be from Sahir–are there any more such examples? It would be interesting to know.
    Now coming to the basic topic of this article–although I like many Rafi-Asha duets (top ones are the OPN ones and one gem from SJ-Raat ke humsafar takh ke ghar….from an evening in paris and who can forget the Hum dono one-abhi na jao chod kar), my heart always goes out for Rafi-Lata. The chemistry between Rafi & Lata in the duets are simply amazing.When they sing those fabulous romantic duets it is sheer magic from these two greatest golden voices….
    Also a slight diversion from the topic(please pardon me if it is slightly out of place), but somehow the duets of Manna Dey and Lata -especially the RK-SJ ones are simply magical…..

  33. H.V.GURU MURTHY says:


    After going thru your article, I also started thinking further regarding the Music Directors who gave good duets with these three icons. Though both the pairs were used by all the Music Directoprs, (except of course OPN), still I feel most of the MDs preferred either Rafi-Lata or Rafi-Asha. Perhaps we cannot say that they gave equal oppertunity. My little research says that for Rafi duets the Music Directors preferred the female singers as under:

    1. OPN – Of course, Asha.
    2. Ravi – Asha.
    3. SJ – Lata.
    4. LP – Lata.
    5. KA – Lata.
    6. MM – Lata.
    7. Naushad – Lata.
    8. SDB – Lata.
    9. RDB – Asha.
    10. Roshan – Lata.

    Regarding do pehlus of Rafi & Asha, the following songs come to mind immediately.

    1. Aapse Pyaar Hua – Abroo.
    2. Zindagi Ek Safar – Andaz – including KK.

    One more thing, why these days we do not have do pehlus and qawalis in movies?

  34. Bina says:

    Hi Raji:

    Thanks for the beautiful comments. That was my intention to simply bring out the beauty of these two singers when Rafi Saab was the center of gravity…how well they could match his singing..and how the resulting chemistry spilled on to the listeners..


    You are one of the rare ones who also, like me, prefers Lata-Rafi duets. OPN was a master in creating the Rafi-Asha pair and he brought out the very best in their repertoire…though they have also sung together for other music directors. Since OPN never used Lata since he felt her voice was too sweet for his kind of music, we can hardly compare on that basis but I agree with your statement that varied music directors have used Lata-Rafi with unbeatable results.


    I have heard from Rafi Saab’s daughter Nasreen that Rafi Saab enjoyed singing with Asha more than he did with Lata..perhaps, I think here your point of technicalities seems to the reason..But that’s a good point that you have there…yes there are hardly any do pehlu songs of Asha and Rafi Saab..can anyone throw more light on this…Guruji?
    this is one Lata and Rafi do pehlu song that is pure emotion..

    Achal jee:

    I hope its not a debate as my intention was definitely that all of us could come out with their own particular favorite Asha and Lata duets with Rafi have already mentioned a non-OPN number for Rafi-Asha…I would like to mention some too…husn jab jab ishq se takra gaya, in baharon mein akele, tumhe paake humne jahaan paa liya hai, panchi re oh panchi..and so many more..

    Sanjay Dixit jee:

    I thank you for your kind comments…but really this is an enjoyable debate isnt it? Its so hard to decide and we then end up listening to great songs by both of them with Rafi Saab..

    Ramesh jee:

    i liked this statement of yours “both sisters had their style of singing and rafi sahab just adjusted to the song and the person next to him singing.” That was the greatness of Rafi Saab…

    As for Asha-Rafi or Lata-Rafi I would like to think of it as not a debate Ramesh jee..its simply an eternal unresolvable question…and the only fire I see here is (I am taking a cue from your solution) the one that is warming all of us on a cold morning in I am listening to an Asha-Rafi and a Lata-Rafi simultaneously..

    Thanks for the very kind words Ramesh jee..I try and do my best..


    You have always been a great source of encouragement and I sincerely thank you for it. here is one hatke se asha-rafi song which I am sure you will enjoy
    and another popular lata-rafi duet
    ab shaayad confusion aur bhi bhad gayee hai na?


    Yeh aapne ne bahut sahi kaha ke asha and lata are like our two eyes…agar solos ki baat chali toh lata for me would anyday and everyday score over asha…but in duets with rafi saab the deliberation does depend on the situation…

    However, hope you listened to the extra songs that i have posted and debate ki baat chodikar mazaa le rahen honge gaanon ki..


    yeh aapne kya pooch liya…please log on to website and you will find ur list there..happy researching..

    Adaab Rafi

  35. Bina says:


    Thank you so much for the appreciation…yes, its very difficult to choose since both are such good singers but this cant be a fierce debate because they can hold their own with Rafi Saab in typical songs.


    Aapne jo kaha hai in kalakaron ke baare mein woh sau aane sach kaha hai. Par melody toh dono hi mein hai, par shayad josh Asha-Rafi duets mein zyaada hai..


    Thanks. Though I have tried hard not to take sides, since I do love them both, but for me personally Lata-Rafi songs touch me more than Asha-Rafi ones do…I guess its the kind of person you are that makes you partial to one more than the other.


    Tum jaise zabardast fan se koi argue hi nahi karega ki Rafi Saab was the best, whoever he sang with. Yahan toh maine sirf Asha aur Lata ka zikr kya hai..par kitne aur singers the jo Rafi Saab ke saath gaate the aur kya khoob gaathe the..I am also especially fond of Rafi-Geeta Dutt songs…tum jo hue mere humsafar and Rafi-Suman ..baad muddat ke yeh ghadi aayee…

    Depressed nahi kaha karte..melancholic ya sentimental kaho kyonki you rightly said that Asha-Rafi duets can magically lift your mood whereas Lata-Rafi duets can stir the very depths of your heart…try and listen to yeh dil tum bin ..or rut hai milan ki..or tasveer teri dil mein..or do ghadi woh jo paas aa baithe..

  36. Curtly says:

    I am also a fan of Rafi Sahab. Request somebody to mail me the full list of songs sung by sahab…


  37. Padmanabhan NR says:

    Excellent article, Bina.

    tere bin soone…is a favourite for me too and so is abhi na jaao chhodkar…I wish the madhoshi that Ashaji had in her voice was in lataji’s too. At the same time I also wish the pain that was there in Lataji’s voice was there in Ashaji’s too. they are like our two eyes for us : which one is your favourite one ?

    yet my preference tilts slightly in favour of Ashaji. Lataji scoring 99.9999….%.As so many before me have said, this is an eternal debate. the choice of the songs and the mood of the day will continue to tilt the balance to either side. Notwithstanding the individual choices, if the purpose of your well articulated essay was to stir a conscientious debate, you have been entirely successful. Give us more. All the best.

    Padmanabhan NR
    rafi Foundation, Hyderabad Chapter & Baar Baar rafi, bangalore.

  38. M V Krishnan says:

    Hi Bina,

    Excellent write-up. I sincerely wish you write more often about Rafisaab as it will bring more cheer to the legions of fans of Rafisaab. This particular piece about the quality of songs sung by Ashaji and Lataji with our Rafisaab can be endlessly debated. Each to his own and for me I cherish and treasure all duets of Rafisaab with Asha, Lata, Geeta, Suman, Shamshad et al. You can only marvel at the maestro’s impeccable singing in each of them.

    Thanks for this wonderful write-up.

    M V Krishnan

  39. dear binajee,

    after a long wait, we have you once again, with yet another interesting subject and with your easy flow of thoughts have asked a question to all of us and in your own inimitable style – succeeded in bringing most of us into your predicament.

    aske me and binajee, i will tell you, with a great air of certainity, that, anyone who tries deciphering as to who gels better and sings better duets with rafi sahab, is playing with fire.

    here, we are speaking about legends, two of them ( the sisters ) are still living and very much active in playback singing.

    the three names mentioned here are special, gifted in a way to make all renditions into divine success.

    they knew exactly how to sing, make their duets roaring successes, to last as long as the earth and humans exist.

    both sisters had their style of singing and rafi sahab just adjusted to the song and the person next to him singing.

    this was an unexplainable chemistry, carried out by these legends, dishing out innumerable duets, forcing us to keep humming and sometimes get us into a muddle like you binajee has brought us into.

    hence, in my opinion or a well thought out view – both sisters were good and rafi sahab adjusted to the different styles and as directed by the md.. song, sequence and story requirement.

    the best solution, to this dilema is – soak into the duets and enjoy them and the next thing you see are there are no questions and if any are all answered as it was not a question but an interrogation.

    binajee – please keep writing often and regaling us with intelligent topics and your lovely easy style of expression so very simple, yet appealing.


  40. Sanjeev Kumar Dixit says:

    really there is a lot of confusion between these two for RAFI lovers because if u r asking to them ”which song of RAFI is your favourite?”This question is same as ”Which tide of ocean is most high?”Every song of RAFI ji is unique in itself.
    over all it is a very nice article. Every thing related to RAFI ji is unique & above all.

  41. Sanjeev Kumar Dixit says:

    really there is a lot of confusion between these two for RAFI lovers because if u r asking to them which song of RAFI is your favourite? This question is same as which tide of ocean is most high?Every song of RAFI ji is unique in itself.
    over all it is a very nice article.Every thing related to RAFI ji is unique & above all.

  42. achal rangaswamy says:

    bina ji

    a never ending debate, perhaps. great choice of subject, but difficult to arrive at a precise,most accurate answer.
    and making it even more difficult for us to decide is perhaps a tussle between tere bin soone nain hamare, and one of my top fav rafi-asha numbers, aaj ki raat badi shokh badi natkhat hai…from nayi umar ki nahi fasal….

    both incredible songs.

    thanks for stirring this debate, ma’am


    achal rangaswamy

  43. Jamaal says:

    Hello Binaji,

    You have brought to fore a debatable topic. While both
    asha and lata had their own flavour, rafi sab I think did
    better while singing with lata. May be because he was
    aware of her technical capabilities and he knew he would
    have to always sing a notch above, all in right professional spirit. This is evident especially if you consider the songs
    which lata too has sung as solos of Rafi’s original. It was
    always rafi sab’s which were more popular.

    Somehow, not many asha solos of Rafi’s originals. Would
    that perhaps settle the issue?


  44. Narayan says:

    Adaab Rafi !
    Lovely and wonderful debate and both the leading female legends tried to give the best as their co-singer in this case being Rafi sahab who was the badshah supreme of playback singing. Hence I feel it is difficult for me to judge but my opinion goes to Rafi-Lata duets having slight edge over the Asha duets. This is becoz of the master OPN who created rare melodies to give a tough fight to Lata duets with Rafi sahab and if u take out this composer then it is always a Lata-Rafi duet a clear winner..
    For Lata- Rafi the composers were Naushad, Shankar Jaikishen, LP,Madan Mohan, Roshan, Chitra gupt, S D Burman and even KA who specialised in duets..
    well done Bina for a unique insight to a great debate… the argument will continue forever..

  45. Raji says:

    Hey Bina,

    Your article was a lata-asha-Rafi duet ( shall I say triplets !! ha ) in words ..literally … have brought in emotions and dance in your article ..thats the true spirit of an artist , be it singing , dancing or writing ! Thanks for the beautiful feel you have brought into the hearts of your readers……

    Cheers, Raji

  46. Alka Jain says:

    Dear Bina
    Hi!Loved your write up on the most debatable topic.I would not want to compare these great ladies as a singing pair to Rafiji as they are the BEST in their own ways..I can only say that I really enjoy singing Ashaji’s songs when I am happy and light hearted whereas will love to listen to Lataji’s songs when I am depressed.I feel Ashajis voice compliments happy or vibrant songs whereas Lataji’s voice compliments heart felt or emotional songs.

    Alka Jain

  47. krishna says:

    Dear Bina, Adaab Rafi!!

    Fine article!! perhaps you were more charged and energised by the Rafi holiday programme to have written such a wonderful article. I will go by what Dr.Guru Murthy says. I strongly feel Rafi- Asha combo was a good package to music lovers in terms of providing masti and Rafi-Lata towards melody. Its very difficult to differentiate whose was the best. One thing is for sure our Rafi saab was the best irrespective of whoever is singing alongwith him.

    with cute regards.. KM

  48. vinatha rao says:

    Hi Bina,
    Hey well written,and yes the tug of war still continues in my mind too.Like u said,when I listen to…… main pyaar ka rahin hoon or humsafar saath apna chod chale,I feel Rafi and Asha are real good,but then listen to…. aapne yaad dilaya or tere bin soone and then I feel Lata and rafi,so the decision is hard to make.Well written.

  49. H.V.GURU MURTHY says:


    Well, the confusion whether Rafi-Lata duets were better OR Rafi-Asha, I am sure every music lover would have undergone. As you have wriitten, I also went by the pair of whom I heard the latest. But with much more maturity and having heard them for so many years, my personal opinion is that Rafi-Asha duets are much more melodious (mainly perhaps due to OPN’s songs) but Rafi-Lata duets touch your heart as both of them were experts in putting feelings into the songs.

    Good article.


  50. Gan Sharma says:

    Hi Bina,

    What a can of worms you’ve let loose! Excellent write-up, in your usual careful and carefree style. The two songs you’ve picked are exemplary of the individual singers, and ask the unresolvable question of who’s better in a gentle, wonderful way.

    Personally, I wouldn’t choose; and I dare say no one elase would either!!!

    Thanks for a lovely essay.

    Gan (Mohan).

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