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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”

  1. Bina says:

    Haldar Saab:

    Coming back to the degrees of freedom, I think it is a very astute observation by you, as to what extent the reins were in the hands of the MDs and how often they were relaxed. There must have been some very good variations and inputs from the singers themselves, but all in all a respectful balance would certainly have been maintained…

    Aapko batana hi hoga ki when do you think the tonga overturned?..would like to know which songs you are referring to..and that is, by the way, an interesting topic in itself…there are 1-2 Rafi songs in which I am not very fond of his “harkat” in certain stanzas..and wish that it had been re-recorded…

    Achal jee and Haldar jee….Ah! the romanticism of being in the presence of those great idols of HFM/cricket! What a thought!

    Ramesh jee:

    Aap kaunse century ki baat kar rahen hain? If you are talking about the number of comments on this article, uski toh koi baat nahi saab..what will always be 100% and more is the input and knowledge that all of us have gained through yours and otthers’ writings. Those comments are the real winners!

    Mohan bhaisaab:

    Aap toh fours and sixes maare jaa rahen hain apne recollections se..

    chalo ek badhiya gaana sun leejiye to get back to pavillion (just kidding):

    Rafi and Asha in Aakhri Dao..listen to their most amazing vocals..


  2. binajee – badhaayee ho – aap century maarney waali ho – abhee aapkaa aglaa title hogaa – captain and her team mates – love marriage kaa title song lekar – cricket key saath aapkaa article taiyar hojayegaa. aapkaa article kaa prashansaa mey hum sab cricket waaley haazir hojayenge.

    century badhaayee ho – kyaa yah aapkaa maiden century hai ?.


  3. Gan Sharma says:

    Haldar saab,

    That Dec 1969 match in Calcutta (oops!) was laden with incidents, you may remember. Lawrie said he’d go fishing on the 5th day, and he did, ’cause Aus won the match by 10 wickets at the end of the 4th day. They had to complete the formaility of scoring 39 in 20 minutes before the day ended – much like the formality of an Ifthekar appearance in the last scene in police inspector garb. Lawrie wasn’t a crowd favourite – he hit a photographer with his bat when he got too close as there was a minor attack by fans on the field. Lawrie did the unthinkable by rubbing the ball in the ground during India’s first innings just to bring on Gleeson (wasn’t that the spinner’s name?) early.

    Pataudi created a furore when after just one over by Subroto Guha in the Aus first innings, he brought on Bedi in over No. 3 (Solkar bowled the 2nd over). Bedi made Lawrie dance, and again, Pataudi brought insult to bear when he had Wadekar field at silly point. I don’t know if Wadekar EVER fielded in the position – he was a permamnent fixture at first slip – but the idea was to crowd Lawrie. Bedi finally got Lawrie caught by Solkar – where else – forward short-leg.

    Lawrie returned the compliment to Pataudi in India’s 2nd innings – crowded him as well!

    Oh, that was a great match. With all the incongruities of a good Hindi masala movie. The most popular “song” of the movie, though, filled with great poetry, great “alaap”, and fantastic singing was done by Vishwanath Rafi when he scored that half-century in the first innings.

    One more thing. Prasanna didn’t get a single wicket in the match. The hero’s best friend who doesn’t get the girl kind of thing.

    Gan (Mohan)

  4. P. Haldar says:

    post 91:

    Bina ji,

    The song in question is “achha ji main haari” from kala pani:

  5. P. Haldar says:

    Dear gan ji, ramesh ji and achal ji,

    Terrific posts by all of you. Gan ji, you must have had read my mind because I was about to refer to the December 1969 test against Australia in Kolkata in my next episode. Specifically, I was going to talk about Graham McKenzie’s swing bowling. If you recall, Eden Gardens didn’t use to have the concrete structure it has now; the pavilion used to be on the green stands on the Hoogly side and the first hour of the day was always problematic for the batsmen, especially when facing a pacer of McKenzie’s class.

    There was some grass on the pitch and the conditions were heavy. I remember McKenzie sending back Engineer and Wadekar without a run on the board. Then entered Vishy — who later became the eternal crowd favourite at Eden Gardens — and went after McKenzie with brilliant shots around the wicket.

    Here’s some trivia. Till that time, no Indian player who had scored a century on debut (Lala Amarnath, Hanumant Singh, Abbas Ali Baig,…) was able to score a second century. In an interview given to Sunny, Vishy had said that his favourite singer was Mohd Rafi. Ramesh ji, you’ve talked about his late cut, but this is a shot at least two other players in the 70s Indian team were quite good at. However, there are a couple of other shots that no one else in his team could play. One commentator had once compared Vishy’s strokes to Jamini Roy’s strokes on canvas.

    Achal ji, you have said that in your next life you want to be a cricket commentator. Do you know what I’d have loved to be in my present life if given a choice? To serve tea to the singers and musicians in the recording room. Just meet Naushad Saab, Nayyar Saab, Burman da, Rafi saab, Manna da, Lata di, Shankar ji, Jaikishan ji, Sebastian saab, Kishore da, Asha di on a regular basis and witness the high-voltage drama. I’m a very simple person with simple desires.

    Friends, I still have to work for a living, otherwise I would have completed the story by now. But bear with me for a couple of weeks and I should be able to complete the story. The title is “Jangal mein mor nacha kisine na dekha”. The action will shift to Darjeeling soon.

  6. Gan Sharma says:

    Bina (Post # 91),

    Kahaan se dhoond ke laye aap ye cricket wala gana! Mazaa aa gaya; have never heard the song; Dev and Mala look good; aur ban gaya din.



  7. achal rangaswamy says:

    nrp bhai

    one small little correction, not that it really matters since the site is for discussions on rafi saab, but since we are on the subject of cricket and the famous Kanpur Test where GRV made his debut- the australian wicketkeeper in question was Brian Taber. small built, but quick in reflexes, he had a tough time as connolly went berserk at GRV. i was very fortunate to follow this match first hand. and what a debut !!!

    incidentally this was the same year when rafi saab sang one of my favourite numbers- likhe jo khat tujhe from kanyaadaaan.

    both batsmen, rafi saab and grv scored centuries worth remembering, as far as i am concerned.


    achal rangaswamy

  8. rameshkurpad says:

    haldarsahab, mohanpyaare, binajee and nrpbhai,

    i will narrate a happening with me – and i shall never forget that scene in my entire life time.

    nrpbhai – this specially goes to you as your description of grv shows that you are that much of a fan as any true lover of the game would be.

    once sometime in the late nineties, i was passing by ksca stadium and suddenly a thought occurred to me that – lets enter the stadium and see whats going on.

    there was a match being played between state bank of india and some other team ( i forget ).

    the pavillion stands were all vaccant and i thought – i would spend a few moments to watch the match.

    suddenly, after a while, in the far section of the pavillion stands, i sighted a huge section of people say about more than 50 to 60 people all huddled and in a “U” formation watching something and not the match.

    out of curiosity – i went there for a closer look – and what do i see –

    GUNDAPPA VISHWANATH – was seated in a chair ( a humble human ) and was oblivious of the crowd around him – intently watching the match. the people around him – were just watching him in total awe, admiration – as if he were GOD.

    i tell you nrpbhai – i was dumbstruck by the sight – in tears – just wondering – that after so many years of retirement people are still awestruck just by the sight of grv.

    he draws crowds around him even today. oh !!!!! his late cuts – i have seen them – being executed so so late that the wicket keeper is searching for the ball inside his gloves. – he was a master of some strokes – even sobers admired and admitted many a times of this great cricketer –

    grv – is considered a greater stroke player in comparison to his b-i-l = the little master. sunny.

    i just couldnt help but ” butt in ” when i saw all of you are into cricket – without me.

    today i can have a good nights sleep after some cricket talk.


  9. Padmanabhan NR says:


    So fast!!

    friends, post 89 was stuck up for sometime on my system and I never knew that it also got through. hence the two mails with the same content.

    padmanabhan NR

  10. Bina says:

    Haldar Saab, Mohan and NRP:

    I couldnt have imagined the beautiful tandem subjects that are being discussed parallelly right now when I wrote my piece about Lata and Asha…and of course, Rafi Saab..

    But gentlemen, this is amazing and fabulous input by all of you…it adds that touch of class when cricket and music are written about together..a heady combination if ever there was one.. This is another “match” where winning the toss doesnt matter..and there is untold delight in both batting and fielding..

    Cricket and films have blended together for many years now, but the marriage of cricket and hindi film music is absolutely new to me and I must thank you gentlemen for a very pleasant and enlivening perspective.

    This brings me to another song from Love Marriage closer to the topic of discusion now..dedicated to you

    Haldar Saab, in post No. 87 you havent mentioned the name of any song that you have referred to..would be glad to know the names of the songs you had in mind…waiting for more cover drives from you!


  11. padmanabhan nr says:

    Mohan and haldar saahab,

    You mention vishwanath and my fingers flew to the nearest keyboard! i was privy to one of the best things that has happened to Indian cricket.

    kanpur, 1967. Out for a duck on his debut in the first innings, in strode this feeble 5 point something to take guard around afternoon of the fourth day against the aussies. Amidst strangling giants such as mckenzie, connolly and hawke and the constant bickerings of the sledging aussi fielders.

    What happened thereafter was simply not cricket; it was poetry. Not much was expected from the recruit whose bat apeared to be bigger than his own self. yet by the end of the day, the scoreline against his name read 68 not out, with no less than 15 fours – majority of them being between point and cover! mind you, lawrie had se a fully packed off-side field but GRV penetrated that fortified region with impunity, with disdain almost terryfying the gangling fast bowlers. Lawrie positioned his fielders for the cover drive and square cut, little knowing that Vishy will impregnate these seemingly invincible placings as only he could through those trademark square drives of his. The legend was born.

    Exasperated, connolly even tried a battery of bouncers too. The fledgling Vishy did not even have to duck!! Wally grout, the keeper had the easiest short balls to handle as it was coming off from the most unobstructive of the batsmen – in full view.

    Cricket, rafi saahab and Vishwanath !!! Bina, not even in your wildest would you have thought this thread would develop into such heady concoction! thanks for giving us the opportunity of reliving those glorious moments.

    Padmanabhan NR
    rafi foundation, hyderabad chapter & baar baar rafi, bangalore.

  12. Padmanabhan NR says:

    Mohan and Haldar saahab,

    Vishwanath’s name is enough to provoke me on to the keyboard. I was a witness to that debut innings of his at kanpur. After his first innings duck, nothing was expected of him. In strode that 5 point something amongst those giants Mckenzie, hawke and connolly supported vociforously by the sledging aussies.

    Cricket after that was poetry. He scored 68 on that day in that second innings ( before it got into the records as 137 on debut the next day ). No less than 15 fours in that 68, I swear. And no less than 8 fours between that point and cover region which became the most inhabited of the fielding places for GRV thereafter. The sheer timing of his shots through the gaping fielders within this region was ecstatic. We did not have TV’s in those days, otherwise the action replays would have brought out the miseries on the aussie faces. destination boundary was written all over the ball once it bisected those fielders. You do expect a cover drive or a square cut as employable strokes in that region. For the first time in his life lawrie was witness to that majestic square drive again and again which crooned at them on way to the boundaries.

    Out of frustration, connolly did try some royal bumpers. But the midget did not even have to duck!! They went soaring past high and dry. Grout ( I hope I am right ) had a very easy time collecting them behind the wickets with a totally unobstructed view!!!

    Cricket, Rafi Saahab and GRV ! Bina, you would not have imagined such a heady concoction even in your wildest dreams. Thanks for affording us this opportunity.

    Padmanabhan NR

    Rafi foundation, Hyderabad Chapter & baar Baar rafi, Bangalore

  13. Gan Sharma says:

    Haldar saab,

    It is not often that an oft-repeated metaphor can continue to entertain: that happens when the jocular theme (in this instance, cricket) overshadows the original point of the discussion – in this instance – Lata and Asha. However, you’ve managed to keep your cricket topical and relevant; kudos for an excellent write-up.

    I especially liked your “degrees of freedom” bit: the parallel between the range of a singer and the capacity for variations in a bowler is more than just relevant: the dedication with which native talent is converted to excellence follows the same demands on the best of both professions.

    Bahut khoob!

    India had lost two wickets with nothing on the board. Bill Lawrie had said before the match (mind games were as powerful then as now) that he’d go fishing on the fifth day (unfortunately, he did.) Vishwanath, whom the world had begun to take notice because of his century in Kanpur, walked in and square cut McKenzie for a four to point, much to the delight of the Calcutta crowd (my apologies – I can’t spell it the “correct” way – although, as the Bengalis would say – tomake theek kore lekha ucheet, Mohon – tumi bodo hoyecho Kolkatai – yet, there is so much romance in the word Calcutta – just as Shakespeare Sarani to me will always be Theatre Road) . That match’s beginning was much like a Hindi Movie tearjerker that begins like a particulalry tragic Premchand novel, and then out comes the hero who sets things right in a flash – and then breaks into a Rafi number we’d all hum for the next 50 years.

    Such is the power of the draw. Not the “draw”n match – I mean the OK Corral kind of draw.

    Gan (Mohan).

  14. P. Haldar says:

    A year earlier, Dada had discovered the joy of making this pair bowl in tandem. It’s the last day of the test and the pitch (Madhubala) is turning like crazy. On home turf, Dada has always relied on spin and he has no hesitation in tossing the ball over to Asha. She starts with a few leg breaks and then delivers one of the deadliest Chandra-like googlies (more on Chandra later…).

    Mindful of the fact that this is a hard act to follow, the bowler at the other end slowly starts his over. He has already bowled many turners in the company of geeta, but Asha’s googly amazes even a seasoned campaigner like him no end. As you are well aware, he can bowl left-arm fast-medium, left-arm orthodox spin, left-arm wrist spin… After a couple of slow deliveries, he releases a chinaman, a fitting response to Asha’s googly. There have been very few players in the game who can bowl a chinaman; sobers, incidentally, is one of them.

    The duet I am talking about has to be one of the most playful and enjoyable songs from Hindi films. In terms of the “teasing” effect, this song is certainly the best. Laxmikant plays the mandolin and Manohari Singh joins the Burman team. In another epochal delivery from the same test, Dada’s deputy gives theka on the tabla.

    In the meantime, OP’s tonga yatra is in full swing. It finally arrives in the city where it originated, the home of Pankaj Mallick. And OP hands over the reins to Rafi saying “aap kalkatta ghum ke aaiye”.

    Each singer has what I call “degrees of freedom”. Rafi, Asha and Kishore each has more degrees of freedom than any other singer, and it is this aspect that makes them so attractive from the standpoint of “playback”. But there is another factor here — whether the skipper would allow the bowler to exercise his or her freedom. In Dada’s case, he would definitely let his bowlers exercise their freedom — as was evident in Kishore-Asha’s haal kaisa hai janab ka — but he would always keep the reins in his own hands. OP, on the other hand, was more than happy to hand over the reins to Rafi, producing spectacular results. But once or twice the tonga overturned (don’t ask me when).

    To be continued…

  15. binu nair says:

    TWO POINTS, VERY IMPORTANT….I am sorry to mention that MANY OF US tried to meet, get in contact with sandeep nadkarni saaheb , but to no success.

    sandeep ji also sent a letter to the rafi foundation to be published in this site. he loves all of THE mohd rafi lovers he had remarked… the note.

    let’s pray that his prayers go “answered” and the many many rafi lovers get success unabated in every walks of their lives. sandeep ji had a special space in his heart for the rafi foundation. it’s this blessings from countless mohd rafi fans like sandeep ji and others that take our “mission” forward…





  16. P. Haldar says:

    I’d like to thank all of you (bina ji, bijoor ji, bhagchandani ji, ali bhai, gan sharma ji and others) for your kind words. Whenever I post something on this forum, let me tell you that I always have our departed friend in mind. You’ll soon find that the story that is unfolding right now would not have been complete without a crucial piece of information from sandeep nadkarni saab; may his soul rest in peace.

    I’d also like to tell you that binu ji tried his best to get in touch with sandeep ji during his last few days. But he wanted to retire peacefully in private and so that meeting was not possible.

  17. binu nair says:

    gyan ji and all RAFI lovers……

    once i praised leg spinner padmakar shivalkar now a selector and also known for singing “oh duniya ke rakhwalle sun dard bhare mere….after he sang this number at the rafi foundation

    the spinner in a moment of a second was seen looking at the heaven’s , his hands now folded and thanking the mohd rafi – for the opportunity he got to sing the don bradmanian songs of mohd rafi.
    it’s his benovelence he said that a small person like him can sing his songs.

    the good news is that self will be meeting the leg spin bowler very soon at a marriage reception of a cricketer. more of it later and some cricketing nuances in playback singing too – from the cricketers themselves.

    binus, mumbai

  18. Gan Sharma says:

    Biju saab, NRP,

    Thanks for your comments. Much appreciated.

    NRP, I believe the term “Woodful Innings” was coined by a commentator when he remembered how in a match Bill Woodful did carry his bat through! some great Aussies you’ve mentioned there!

    Biju saab, we are in violent agreement! None other than Rafi saab, for sure…

    Gan / Mohan

  19. Bina says:

    Hussein Saab:

    Totally agree..yeh gaana bhi kamaal ka gaana hai! Teenon ke muqable mein toh jeet hai toh bas sangeet and nritya ki!

    Haldar Saab:

    Why do you say that the picture of Rafi saab, Lata and Jaikishen is the most importatnt picture in history of film music?

    And I will take all the duets you have mentioned…and thus Asha’s story unfolds with your pen..

    Mohan bhaisaab:

    Marvellously put…”If it is indeed two and not the Don alone, then the cricketing world is luckier – there cannot be a Rafi saab 500 years either side of him; and neither you nor I will have the privilege of knowing who it is who follows.”

    Bijoor Saab:

    You are very kind with your words. Thank you ever so much.

    Aapne sach kaha.. Haldar Saab is the right person for writing a shraddanjali to Sandeep Nadkarni and all of us surely will keenly await it.

    I have to admit that after this article of mine was published in this forum, there is not a day when I have not missed Sandeep Saab’s inputs and his fatherly love through his comments…as he did on my first attempt on review of Kaheen Bekhayal Hokar..


  20. Padmanabhan NR says:


    In addition to the what you have described as woodful, I think woodful was also a cricketer of the highest order. woodful, ponsford, jack fingleton, et al from australia. remember? Thousands of “jardines” ( read critics ) with their “bodyline” attack will not be able to dislodge the “don” rafi saahab who will continue to be the master plus/ minus 500 years!!

    I am truly amazed at the felicity with which this discussion on Rafi saahab has brought so much of cricket in this thread. That is the tribute from a gentlemen’s game to the gentleman himself. An enjoyable experience, all thru.

    Incidentally, that inadvertant y in your name by some, could give way to permanence also. such has been your mastery in conveying your thoughts. jug, jug jiyo mere dost aur aise hi gyan baantte raho.

    Padmanabhan NR

  21. Mr Gaurav D Bijoor says:

    Great & lovely little piece. As usual the words have directly flown from the core of your heart. Rafi-Asha-Lata the greatest trio i personaly feel should never be brought on the comparison table ever mainly since there are certain miracles in the world and the trio has been one of such miracles.
    Yes Haldar Saab — Geeta Dutt was one such toweing personality who has always facinated me to the greatest extent possible. Probably a voice very difficult to copy & emulate.
    In fact Haldar Saab has always been my favourite after the great Sandeep Nadkarni uncle whose sad and sudden demise has automatically created a null & void in this beautiful site which i am confident will be filled up by our dearest Haldar Saab.
    In fact we all earnestly wish if dear Haldar Saab can come forward and write a small memorial on this gentleman — Sandeep Nadkarni Saab which in fact will definately turn-up to be one of the greatest memorials i for one definitely believe.
    Haldar Saab we are eagerly awaiting your memorial piece on the violin exponent — Late dear Sandeepjee

  22. binu nair says:

    YES . THE HISTORY OF PLAYBACK SINGING SHOWS – THERE can’t be two don’s in playback singing UNLIKE CRICKET. there is only one there at the top – mohd rafi – with all the abilities of a don bradman and a sachin tendulkar and the GRAND styles of gary sobers, sunil gavaskar and gundappa vishwanath – just to name a few.


  23. Gan Sharma says:

    Haldar saab,

    It is not by accident that you’ve woven together some excellent HFM trivia with metaphorical comparisons with the king of all sport – cricket. reminiscent of a “woodful” innings, (a term given to an opening batsman who carries his bat through to the end and remains not out – and yes, it dates me), rafi saab’s singing carries on, regardless of pitch conditions (read, music directors), unmindful of the swing in the air or the jag off the seam (read, actors on whom the song is picturized), and independent of his partners (read Lata or Asha…or, if on occasion, a “runner” like a Suman or whoever else.)

    Of course, the Don was the Don; yet, his partnerships with Sid Barnes or Arthur Morris would be better than say, a No. 10 player – enhancing the sight for the Gods, so to speak. Thus were the embellishments of a Lata or a Asha additions to the lustre of Rafi’s renderings (and I wouldn’t dare compare them – who’s a better partner to Sachin? Rahul? Someone else?). Any other flower may be good or bad, but the shab-e gul has its own spark.

    Class speaks for itself. And there were many in either field of study you’ve opened, Halder saab, that would qualify for that speech. A Sobers here, a Mahendra Kapoor in Gumraah there; a Len Hutton in flow matched by a Manna De bringing alive Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s Madhushala. But there is only one Don, well maybe two if you want to patch on (justifiably, I admit) a Sachin. If it is indeed two and not the Don alone, then the cricketing world is luckier – there cannot be a Rafi saab 500 years either side of him; and neither you nor I will have the privilege of knowing who it is who follows.

    If you’ll permit a slight slant to this study of comparative religions (HFM, cricket: aren’t they religions?) you want to travel to “chicken”. A term used in baseball for a pitcher who walks a great batter by bowling four “balls”, enabling the dangerous batter to walk to first base. If Rafi was a batter, then there would be whole poutry farms in place…..such was the excellence of the man.

    I like Bina’s use of the term “Mates” – it almost begs a sports comparison, where the team consists of exactly that – mates. But asking me to choose, well; I’ll reply with a favourite verse of Bina herself, from a song she has so beautifully reviewed in this very website:

    are mujhpe naazwalon, yeh nayaazmandian kyon?
    hai yehi karam tumhara, to mujhe na doge jeene!

    Let’s hope we see one more cricket match, listen to one more Rafi / Lata or Rafi / Asha song before we’ve got to go that place where there are neither horses not elephants – ah, but that was Mukesh saab.

    Gan Sharma (Mohan) – I’ve really got to put an end to the identity confusion.

  24. P. Haldar says:

    1957. Ten years after independence. This is a pivotal year in hindi film music. Sahir-SD-Rafi-GuruDutt define what is surely the pinnacle of playback singing. A partnership never to be seen again. Most singers would be happy to have done one Pyaasa in a lifetime. But this is no ordinary cricketer; he is the greatest all-rounder the game has seen, the Gary Sobers of playback singing. In just one year, he demonstrates the variations that other cricketers can only dream of showing in their lifetime.

    Where should I start? With Chitragupta’s Bhavi or with Hansraj Behl’s Chengiz Khan? If you love Rafi-Lata duets, how about S. N. Tripathi’s “Zara Samne to Aayo Chhaliye” from Janam Janam ke Phere? Or Hemant Kumar’s “Vrindavan Ka Krishna Kanhaiya” and “O Raat ke Musafir” from Miss Mary? The discerning listener might pick the two gems from Anna’s Nausherwan-E-Adil: “Taaron ki Zuban Par” and “Bhool Jaayen Saare Gham”.

    The cricketer who had made her debut by partnering with the greatest all-rounder in the game is watching, still living under Didi’s fame and Geeta’s shadow. And then OP gives her twin breaks, one with Naya Daur and the other with Tumsa Nahin Dekha. The rest, as they say, is history. In reel life, Dilip Kumar may be wooing Vyjanthimala on OP’s tonga, but in real life, Mrs. Hope’s naya daur takes off at the speed of a Cadillac. There is no looking back.

    To be continued…

  25. P. Haldar says:

    Dear Friends,

    “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words,” as the saying goes. The picture that you see at the top of this article is worth a million words. It’s probably the most important picture taken in the world of film music.

  26. binaji,

    the two lillting songs mentioned by you are also my favourites. puraney zamaaney kee yaad aati hai.

    had evergreen hits like, on the one hand, the breezy bade hain dil ke kaale and the marvellously soft hum aur tum aur yeh sama, on the other hand…
    both exhibiting the range of this fabulous singing duo.


    next birth you want to be a cricket commentator, what if i say – i wish to be achal rangaswamy. – chalegaa key permission – nahi hai.

    halder sahab is too good on his comparitive cricket singing. he really takes you around and one gets into that kind of talk very easily.

    binuji is very articulate in his choice of words and metaphors – writes pretty decently and tol molkey liktaa hai.

    overall – padhney ko mazaa aataa hai.

    binajee, aisey hee likhtey rehnaa aap – hum log comment kartey rahenge – har baar aapko century replies milengey.


  27. Hussein Sheikh says:

    How about this song – “muqabla hum se na karo…’ from the film Prince? Both sisters tried their best to sing with the master, but listen how rafi saheb surpassed both of them?!

  28. Bina says:

    Haldar jee:

    Refer post 67. Thanks for some great songs and very interesting trivia.

    Goonj uthi shehnai was released in 1958 and love marriage in 1959.

    The former movie also saw another haule haule song (which reminds me again of nazuk nazuk badan mora) the song was haule haule ghoonghat pat
    khole..a really foot tapping number from the Lata-Rafi stable

    SJ gave the title song of Love marriage to geeta-rafi ..wonder why..?

    1959 saw some great hits by Asha-rafi too..SD’s chand sa mukhda kyon sharmaya from insaan jaag utha and usha khanna’s instant hit dil deke dekho
    had evergreen hits like, on the one hand, the breezy bade hain dil ke kaale and the marvellously soft hum aur tum aur yeh sama, on the other hand…
    both exhibiting the range of this fabulous singing duo.

    Khaja Alliudin Saab:

    Bahut shukriya for your wishes aur aapko bhi hum sabki taraf se eid mubarak ho..

    Dear Vani:

    Thank you so much for writing..value ur comments.. The passion that you put into your work is very much another source of inspiration for me.


  29. achal rangaswamy says:

    this is a wonderful thread, and i think each one of you has added a big score to the aggreggate.

    haldar saab, in my next life i would like to be a cricket commentator and i will surely come to you for advise on commenting as you have beautifully woven this description of the game. great stuff, sir.
    i would also take some training from binu ji in terms of paying homage to the singing cricketers of mumbai (how can you have a team of cricketers or singers or both – and not from mumbai???)
    incidentally i am given to understand that anil kumble, sanjay manjrekar and vinod kambli -all of them sing quite well.

    and i do remember that ashok mankad (nicknamed kaka by his friends for his great appreciation of rajesh khanna) also had a good singing voice.

    of course, the match winning ball is from rafi saab, “ek nazar se dil bechaara ho gaya LBW” from the film Love Marriage.

  30. vani murthy says:

    Great write up Bina !

  31. Ali Rashid says:

    Ref. Post 60:


    your observation is correct.

    rd used part of the interlude music of “aaj ko junli raat ma” (talash) in “kahe apno ke” (rampur ka lakshman).

    aulad was a nice musical by the under-rated chitragupta, with some fabulous songs.

  32. Ali Rashid says:

    Ref. Post 59:

    Dear P. Haldar,

    In response to your question, is this lata-rafi duet “palkon ke peeche se” from Talash ?. In the film, sd is singing in the background before the wonderful duet starts. Other than that, I don’t remember any other lata-rafi duet by sd, where he chips in before.

    Where would you rank sd-rafi amongst the best composer-singer (male) associations in the history of hfm ?.

    I would not be surprised if many refer to them as the best of all time. The class, variety, depth, creativity, chemistry and so much more is present in this combo.

    Then again, Rafi-saab had the ability to forge amazing associations with a variety of composers.

  33. Khaja Aliuddin,MD says:

    To all Rafians, “EID MUBARAK”,
    With regards,
    Dr. Khaja Aliuddin,

  34. P. Haldar says:

    The year is 1959, exactly 50 years ago. In a separate article, Mr. Achal Rangaswamy has profiled an immortal Rafi solo from that year, which should easily find itself among the top 20 hindi film songs of all time.

    Lata and Rafi are tied for the top spot. Naushad, Shankar Jaikishan, S. D. Burman and O. P. Nayyar are among the leading composers. The first two rely on Rafi-Lata for duets while the last two rely on Rafi-Asha. The only constant is Rafi. Both SJ and SD feel the heat generated by OP. Love marriage is still taboo in India but SJ uses it as a platform to take a jibe at OP via Rafi, and then delivers a beauty at an incredible pace. “dheere dheere…” is a total misnomer; there is nothing slow about this song:

    Great job by the two pacers, but Rafi puts in that extra Dev Anand swing.

    But the deadliest delivery this year is under the captaincy of Vasant Desai. It’s an absolute stunner where Lata sets up the initial pace and Rafi follows suit. The only difference is that Rafi this time lets the ball reverse swing for Rajendra Kumar:

    Much as I like the other great male singers of our time, I’ll say this: the nightingale would have uprooted the stumps of each and every one of them. Is it any surprise that Vasant Desai considered rafi to be a gandharva on earth?

  35. P. Haldar says:

    Mr. Devraj,

    I completely agree with your views. In many ways, I think that if Rafi had worked exclusively with those two artists who migrated to Bombay from East Bengal, life would have been much simpler for him. Anyway, I am not going to go down that line because I might lose my cool.

    P. Haldar

  36. M V Devraj says:

    Binuji,Haldarji,friends: This is exactly what I was trying to say in my earlier post-39.Both Geeta Dutt and Suman Kalyanpur never got their chances either by their own luck or for other ‘reasons’ and hence we are left comparing Asha and Lata.The picture definitely have been very different if the former artistes had their chances.There is,of course, no room for ifs and buts in this highly commercial and cruel world of films.
    Best wishes.
    M V Devraj

  37. P. Haldar says:

    post 62:


    Manik Premchand’s story must be true. But both sd and op had a special relationship with the Dutt family and I’d be very surprised if guru dutt would have barred his wife from singing for his friend Dev Anand’s films. OP has confessed in several interviews that dumping geeta was a major mistake. And he has also confessed that Asha didn’t want his compositions to go to any other female singers (read “geeta dutt” and “shamshad begum”). I don’t blame OP for what he did; he was involved in a relationship and asha was a class singer anyway. But sd could have been a little more considerate, having known geeta intimately since 1947. Also, guru dutt passed away in 1965. SD could have easily given geeta a song or two after that. It was left to an unknown music director called Kanu Roy to create some beautiful gems for geeta in anubhav in 1971.

    By the late 50s, rafi and geeta had already completed a century partnership. And, if I am not mistaken, geeta was accompanying rafi for concert tours abroad even in the 60s. So it could not have been a total curfew.

    Anyway, here’s a beautiful rafi-geet duet from 1960, set in conversational mode by sd (chupke se mile pyase pyase):

    By the way, is that pancham on the mouth organ?

  38. P. Haldar says:

    post 61:


    Sorry for the typo; it should be 9211 (nau do gyarah).

    P. Haldar

  39. BINU NAIR says:

    Post 58… HALDAR JI…… GEETA DUTTA WOULD HAVE HIT SOME 4s and 6s had she been “permitted” by her hubby to sing – post marriage and post children.

    i had admired guru dutt saaheb as an absolute great actor.

    but some facts mentioned by friend and author mr. manik premchand in his book – “YESTERDAYS MELODIES, TODAYS MEMORIES about geeta dutta-guru dutt is shocking.
    geeta was barred from singing by dutt saaheb and its told that she used to sneak in to the recording rooms without the knowledge of her hubby. at 5.30 or so she would become nervous and could not give full justice to the song and the composer. that’s why she was dumped – says manik premchand.
    it’s destiny at play for everyone out there in the utmost competitive field of playback singing. it would have been an interesting very interesting test match had both these players played for a longer while in the playback industry

    i would believe manik’s story ’cause he put some six years of research in to the book.

    binu nair

  40. Bina says:

    Haldar Saab:

    Eagerly awaiting your next issue..!!

    I did not understand..”a year after 911?”


  41. Bina says:

    Ali Rashid:

    You are right about RD’s voice in these songs…that was very minute observation fact, in nisultana re the interlude music is the mukhda of another song..i am unable to correctly recall the words of the song but it is a Kishore number and I think picturized on Dev Anand with the repetitive word hey ram.. (between 2:32-2:46)

    any idea?

    This folk song reminded me of another Rafi-Lata great number nazuk nazuk badan mora from aulad which had really fantastic compositions by Chitragupt Srivastava (whose sons, Anand-Milind also are music directors)
    ab ke bahaar aayee hai tumhare naam se – lata-rafi
    kab tak huzoor roothe rahoge – lata
    armaan tha hame jinka woh pyaar ke din aaye – lata-rafi
    jodi hamari jamega kaise jaani – Manna Da and Asha

  42. P. Haldar says:

    Dear Ali,

    The two Rafi-Lata duets that you’ve described are simply great! And yes, Pancham’s line gives a new twist to both songs. Here’s a quiz question: there’s a Rafi-Lata duet where the baap, not the beta, chips in before Rafi begins. Which song is that?

  43. P. Haldar says:

    The two sisters are the sultans of swing. Because of her overall all-round capabilities, Asha to me is the Wasim Akram and Lata the Waqar Younus of hfm. At their best, they are absolutely lethal, only to be appreciated by those who are rooting for their team. Count yourself lucky if you turn around to see the bails knocked off; if you are not one of those lucky one, your toe fingers may have been broken by one of the fastest yorkers in the game. Whether you like them or not as human beings is a different issue altogether; this is competitive sport where there is no margin for error.

    One year after 911 and two years into his spat with lata, dada selects rafi as his No. 1 singer. He also gives geeta the “royal tripura” ditch and brings in her clone, the deadly asha, as his No. 2 singer. Around the same time, op also decides to dump the holy gita under howrah bridge and surrenders to the siren call of “aaiye mehrbaan”.

    To be continued…

  44. Ali Rashid says:

    Ref. Post 55:

    Bina-ji, before Rafi-saab takes us into another world with his entry of “Ni sultana re”, rd comes in with “o rama” (at about 0:48-0:52 in the above link).

    Here is another Rafi-Lata duet composed by sd, in which rd (correct me if I’m wrong) also makes an appearance at the beginning (5:37-5:45):

    Before Lata proceeds to the mukhda, rd sings “ke jaas re bhaanti gaang baaiya”. These lines are in bengali, and they form the mukhda of one of sd’s bengali songs that came out in 1969. sd later converted that song into hindi, lata’s “sun ri pawan” from Anuraag (1972).

    Ramchandra Pandit who worked as a percussionist in sd’s orchestra mentioned that the above song is based on nepali folk, and that rd wanted to interfere in the tune but sd firmly refused, and his was the final say.

  45. achal rangaswamy says:

    bina ji and all the others who brought forth this wonderful pairing of music with cricket, thank you so much.

    you made my day because i guess these are the two subjects that fascinate me the most. i may be selling tiles for a living but i live, breathe, dream cricket. i am a novice at both-singing and cricket but am an avid listener and watcher. this discussion was like an interesting match with many twists and turns.

    thank you very much

    achal rangaswamy

  46. Bina says:

    Ali Rashid:

    Those are fantastic examples of the the folk flavored songs of the Burmans. Nisultanare makes enjoyable listening for its variations in tune and the magical entry of Rafi Saab after every antara..simply marvellous.!

    aapne jaise bola hai, waise yeh RDB waala appearance toh nahi dikhayi diya mujhe is gaane mein..kahan hai woh?

    Binu Nair jee:

    Thanks for the input..I read recently about Sachin’s love for the song in the papers.

    So many Rafi Saab songs are nowadays used in advertisements too..goes to show his unanimous popularity for all ages..

    Baar Baar Dekho was recently used in a car ad..and then the song where the lady on the death bed (I think it was Kamini Kaushal) aakhri wish is to hear a Mohammad Rafi song..I forget both the song and the name of the advertisement. Wasnt Rafi song used in a shampoo ad too?

    Would love information on this if anyone knows..


  47. Ali Rashid says:

    Dear Bina-ji,

    A nice write-up on the two greatest duet pairs of all time.

    Almost every MD of the golden era composed beautiful songs for both the pairs, and it is these two pairs that have produced the maximum number of memorable and outstanding duets in the history of HFM. Lata and Asha both have the pleasure of singing their maximum number of songs with the Badshah Rafi-saab, and vice-versa, in the case of Rafi-saab with the sisters.

    I for one cannot choose the better between the two pairs, both are very special to me, and both have their share of sublime, soulful, heartfelt, and amazing compositions.

    I also agree with Haldar-ji’s comparisons of singers to cricketers, all in all, it makes sense. I also agree that the Burmans made great use of both the pairs.

    When I think of the Burmans, I am taken to the hilly folk mountain regions where they were at their best. Both baap and beta loved to compose in the folk mode, and gifted hfm very fine duets in that genre.

    To touch upon two of them, here is baap composing a Rafi-Asha stunner (with input from beta). The beta influences are clear throughout the song:

    Now here is beta composing another stunner, this time by Rafi-Lata, showing how well he learned the folk ropes from his baap. beta also makes a special appearance in this gem:

  48. BINU NAIR says:


    cricket like playback singing requires the greatest amount of CONCENTRATION AND its no surprise that cricketers listen to music to ease their nerves.

    while (paddy) padmakar shivalkar is a great rafi lover and singer who has sung in rafi foundation programs the immortal bhagwan song , sunil manohar gavaskar is a committed lover of mohd rafi numbers. sachin tendulkar like our p.m. loves the song : mai zindagi ka saath nibhata chala gaya… all music lovers.

    kirmani syed our ace wicket keeper is a good singer and used to entertain team mates with his brand of songs but “who” is his favourite singer is yet to be discovered.

    binu nair, mumbai

  49. Bina says:


    Without doubt, a fantastic song..woh hanske mile humse..

    Haldar and Bhagchandani Sahab:

    I am enjoying the conversations flowing back and forth between you. Like Bhagchandani Saab says, Haldar Saab the observations that you have made are very refined and definitely worth a separate article on this forum, which I am sure many will enjoy because without doubt, there are as many crazy cricket fans as there are Rafi fans in this forum…

    Ashok Mehta jee:

    Its an ordinary person like me who is overawed with such fine comments such as yours. Thank you sir, ever so much.


  50. J.K. Bhagchandani says:

    Haldar ji,

    Post 49: Even at the risk of being repetitive, let me compliment you for the brilliant comparison of singers and cricketers you brought about. It was just perfect. With more elaboration, the contents of your post deserved to be a full-fledged article on this site.

    Post 50: The very famous singer you did not talk about: Is it Mukesh? or Talat?

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