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Use of Mohammad Rafi by Shankar Jaikishan during Rafi Lata spat

By Souvik Chatterji

Lata Mangeshkar and Rafi Sahab

Lata Mangeshkar and Rafi Sahab

Shankar Jaikishan were the musical duo who ruled bollywood films between the 1950s and 1960s. During 1963, a spat occurred between Mohammad Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar over royalty. When the spat took place between Mohammad Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar over the issue of royalty, between 1963 to 1967, both of them did not sing any duet songs. Lata contended that singer should receive royalty for their entire life for songs sung in films. Rafi contended that if singers don’t share the losses suffered by the film industry, they should not also share the profits.

1964 to 1967 were the years when Shankar Jaikishan had the commitment in composing music for the maximum number of films. In 1964, Shankar Jaikishan composed music in the films Sangam, Ayee Milan Ki Bela, Apne Hue Paraye, April Fool, Beti Bete, Raj Kumar, Sanjh Aur Sawera and Zindagi. Very significantly Shankar Jaikishan used both Mohammad Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar in these films and managed to compose the duets for other singers with Mohammad Rafi and they all become immortal hits.

In Raj Kapoor’s Sangam Lata sang the solo songs like “mai kya karoon ram”, while Rafi sang solos like “ye mera prempatra parkar”. The duets were managed by SJ in style like “har dil jo pyar karega” where Mukesh, Lata and Mahendra Kapoor sang together. Lata and Mukesh sang the duet “o mere sanam”. Sangam was the greatest grosser of 1964.

In Biswajeet Saira Banu’s film April Fool, SJ used Rafi for solo songs like “aa gale lag ja”, “april fool banaya”. In case of duets SJ used Suman Kalyanpur opposite Rafi and songs became successful like “kehedo kehedo jahan se kehedo”, “tujhe pyar karte hain”. The film did excellent business.

In Rajender Kumar Saira Banu’s Ayee Milan Ki Bela, Lata and Rafi’s duet was recorded before the spat began. The duet was “o sanam tere ho gaye hum”. There was another duet “aha aye Milan ki bela” which was sung by Rafi and Asha. Rafi’s solo songs in the film like “mai pyar ka diwana”, “tum khamseen ho” became smash hits.

Asha Bhonsle and Rafi Sahab

Asha Bhonsle and Rafi Sahab

In Rajender Kumar Vaijayantimala’s Zindagi, SJ used Lata for solo songs like “hum pyar ka sauda karte hai” and Rafi for solo song “pehele mile the sapno me”. The duet song was sung by Rafi and Asha “ghungarwa mora chamcham baaje”.

In Shammi Kapoor Sadhna’s Raj Kumar, SJ used Lata for the songs “aja aye bahar” and Rafi for the songs “hoshiar, hum hai rajkumar”, “tumne kisi ki jaan ko”. Rafi and Suman Kalyanpur’s duet song “tumne pukara aur hum chale aye” became the greatest hit of all the songs.

In Guru Dutt Meena Kumari’s Saanjh Aur Sawera, Suman Kalyanpur and Rafi’s classical song “ajahu na aye balma” mesmerized the audience. The other duet was sung by Rafi and Asha titled “yehi hai wo saanjh aur sawera”.

In 1965, Shankar Jaikishan composed music in the films Janwar, Gumnaam and Aarzoo. All the films were musical blockbusters.

In Manoj Kumar Nanda’s Gumnaam, SJ used Rafi and Sharda for the duet song “jane chaman shola badan” which became smash hit. SJ used Rafi for solos like “hume kalen hai to kya hua”, “ek ladki ne” and Lata for the song “gumnaam hai koi”.

In Rajender Kumar Sadhna’s Aarzoo, majority of the songs were solo in nature. So SJ did not require to improvise in respect of duets. Lata’s solo songs were “aji ruth kar ab”, “bedardi balma” while Rafi’s solos included “chalke teri ankho se”, “ae nargisi begana”, “ai phoolon ki raani”. All the songs became super hit.

In Shammi Kapoor Rajashri’s Janwar, there was one duet song of Rafi that was “dekho ab to”. There were lot of solo songs of Rafi like “lalchari maidan khari”, “meri muhabbat jawan raha hai”, etc. Suman Kalyanpur’s solo song “mere sang ga gunguna” had classical Andaz and created attention.

In 1966, SJ composed music in the films Badtameez, Amrapali, Gaban, Suraj, Pyar Muhobbat, Love In Tokyo and Teesri Kasam.

Teesri Kasam was Raj Kapoor’s film, so solos were sung by Mukesh, Manna Dey and Lata, so question of duets did not arise. In Joy Mukherjee Asha Parekh’s Love in Tokyo, Rafi’s solos like “o mere shahe khuba”, “Japan, Love in Tokyo”, “aaja re aa zara aa” were as successful as Lata’s solos “hume tum mil gaye humdum”, “koi matwala aaja mere dware”, “o mere shahe khuba”. Music of the film created storm in bollywood.

In Rajender Kumar Vaijayantimala’s film Suraj, Rafi and Suman Kalyanpur’s duet song “itna hai tumse pyar mujhe” was the greatest hit. Rafi’s solos songs were marvelous like “baharon phool barsao”, “gustaqi maaf”. SJ, Rafi had a brilliant combination with Rajender Kumar and it was proved again in the film Suraj.

There were impressive songs of Rafi in films like Pyar Muhabbat, Battameez, Gaban, like “huye aap naraaz khuda khair Karen”, “ehsaan mere dilpe tumhara hai doston”, etc.

In 1967, patch up took place between Lata and Rafi and thereafter duets were sung again. SJ composed music in many films in 1967 including An Evening in Paris, Aman, Diwana, Choti Si Mulakat, Around The World, Latt Sahab, Hare Kaanch Ki Churiya, etc.

The use of Rafi and Lata in solos and the use of Suman Kalyanpur, Mubarak Begum and others opposite Mohammad Rafi in duets when the situation demanded were done successfully by Shankar Jaikishan. Music never suffered during 1963 to 1967. Shankar Jaikishan’s royalty toward Mohammad Rafi also continued. The music in the films referred above had every form of song including pure classical songs, semi-classical songs, ghazals, qawallies, rock and roll songs, folk music, etc. The films and the music require publicity and restoration.

Mr. Souvik Chatterji, the author of this article

Mr. Souvik Chatterji, the author of this article

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25 Blog Comments to “Use of Mohammad Rafi by Shankar Jaikishan during Rafi Lata spat”

  1. Izzat Izuddin says:

    What was the first duet and the last song sung by Mohammed Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar for SJ?

  2. ravinder singh says:

    which was the first duet song sung by Rafi and Lata together after the patch up took placed in 1967

  3. Anonymous says:

    Souvik is a brilliant writer a very loyal respectable Rafi fan.
    Rafi sb has influenced so many with his magical voice

  4. vijay s shetty says:

    Rafi sahab is a singer of having pure soul and humble human .He is untouched by all the greedy of a normal human .I respect Rafi sahab by my heart. The song of rafi sahab is only thing which drawn my interest in music and cried for the death of that man who probably died before 15 years .

  5. nayyar saranjit singh says:

    Can there be a comparison with the humanity and humbleness of RAFI SAHIB What a wonderful person and versatile singer.

  6. Guruprasad says:


  7. D.R.Rao says:

    rafi sab is comparable,his voice is unique.God wants to listen his voice at heaven that is why he has taken away our beloved rafi sab so early.O god if ur thirst is over,pl send him back along with SJ and shammi kapoor,rajendra kumar to create a heaven on this dry earth of music.

  8. D.R.Rao says:

    if any god asks me,whom you want on this earth again,i with closed eyes ask for the the man with golden voice ,the greatest singer ever born on this earth none other than my god rafi sab

  9. Ravi Singh says:

    Hello Friends!…

    Many comments and all very nicely written. Special thanks to Souvik Chatterji for this well researched article and best thing was being unbiased.
    I am great fan of Md. Rafi sahab. I feel that the best pair ever for duet has been Rafi-Lata. It would have been great if Rafi-Lata would have sung the duets b/w 1963-67, but unfortunately this did not happen. I definitely feel that during 1960-70 Rafi sahab was at his best and even better during between 1963-67. Lata has lost during the disputed rivalry from 1963-67, but her grudge made her win later, specially when she started duets with Kishore in 1970’s. The era of Kishore was a setback for Rafi sahab ( he lost his confidence, and that deteriorated the quality of his singing), music directors/actors wanted Kishor to sing for them unlike during 1960’s where Rafi sahab ruled.

  10. Andrea Correa says:

    after a recording of duet with vani jairam – Mohd rafi said : ‘ Kya gaati hai yeh singer ‘ aur ye do…..

    we all know the two.

    as told by a music lover who attended the recording.

  11. The Music Dirctors can miss Lata and find many more other talented lady singers,but they can’t get another RafiSaheb, and so they preferred to avail RafiTHE GREAT,in preference to Lata! In fact, by controversy with him,Lataji missed several noble singing opportunities with HIM,thereby one way she,though not willing but indirectly helped many oyher talent. Rafi Saheb is all time great both as an artiste and as a heartist human!

  12. Ali says:

    History of Bollywood Born in end of 1940″s,Child in 1950’s , young 1960’s , old in 1970’s and death in 1980 that only because of Mohd Rafi he came in late 1940″s….

  13. Haroon says:

    Very nicely composed and well written article …. Well, I must say that Mohammed Rafi was the only male singer, who still seems hard to be replaced .. The only one singer who had the ability to fill acting in the words … Music seems noise when he sings ….

  14. Binu Nair says:

    Mohd Rafi was leading and from 1960 onwards up till 1970 and he ruled the charts.

    Lata Mangeshkar was losing Royalties and Songs tooo to Asha Bhosle and Suman Kalyanpur during the Royalty episode in which Lata lost out to other female singers.

    Both, Suman and Asha were working at fifty per cent of their fees – which was good to the producers.

    Plus the songs with Mohd Rafi would be runaway hits. This pleased the Producers No End.

    At the end of 1967 Lata had learnt her lessons and began the P R exercise with Jaikishan, Nargis Dutt to mend fences with Rafi saaheb and sing again with Rafi Saheb – without any Royalties.

    Lata kept the grudge alive – and asked producers to give duets to other singers – its mentioned by Rafi saaheb’s close friends.

  15. vijay bavdekar says:

    we can’t forget enchanting tunes of sj and peerless voice of rafisaheb in 1967-68 films brahmachari and jhuk gaya aasmaan. brahmachari won the award for the lori ‘mai gaaun tum so jaao’ which was beautifully rendered by rafisaheb in two different moods,including ‘tu bemisaal hai teri taariff kya karun’ which was not shown on the screen,and alongwith rafi-suman duet,all the songs were popular at that’s music of”jhuk gaya aasmaan ”was simply outstanding.the film was a light comedy starring rajendra kumar ,saira banu and rajendranath.”kaun hai jo sapnome aaya”,”kahan chal diye idhar to aao”,sachha hai gar pyaar mera sanam,which was in two moods”,these solos of rafi saheb were melodius.who can forget lataji’s numbers ”unse mili nazar ke mere hosh ud gaye”and ”mere tumhare beechme ab to”.lata -rafi duet”meri aankhonki nindiya chura le gaya”which perhaps was begining of second inning of lata – rafi era, and ashaji’s song ”kisiki jaan lete hai”were in typical sj style… seems that during rafi-lata spat,music directors had full belief in rafisaheb’s voice and invited sumanji or aashaji for duets,which were much more in numbers than those of lata-mahendra,lata-mukesh or so.

  16. Binu Nair says:

    What Would Have Happened Had Rafi Saaheb Not Compromised & Not Sung with Lata ji…..Post their Royalty War?

    The war ended in 1967 and the cold war had begun .

    I look forward to lovers of Bharat Ka Ratna – giving their opinions on it and gifted writers taking the cue and penning a great article on the above…..

    It will be Interesting – I am Doubly Sure.

    If the music is Good, the Heart will Sing. And, when Rafi Saaheb sings,
    The world will Sing….

  17. salimk says:

    post 3, no, thats not the case. SJ were in their prime till Jaikishen passed away. If you go through their work in that era, you will find its amongst the finest and most successfull as JK bhai has pointed out.
    RK chose Rd after Jaikeshen passed away and in one of the interviews RK said that the soul of the pair is lost after the loss of Jaikishen.

  18. Ali says:

    Sir J.K Bharchandani I agree with you(post 7)
    As Lata ji words that Mohd Rafi Said her to help shankar because he alone without jaikishan….

  19. J.K. Bhagchandani says:

    Thanks Souvik ji for this analytical write-up. It only proves the fact that spat of Rafi and Lata effected adversely more to Lata than Rafi. And it also disproves Lata’s version of Rafi apologizing through a letter.

    I too tend to disagree with post of Jayarajt (post no. 3) and agree with your observation (post 5). Shankar Jaikishan remained at top till as late as 1970. His post-1967 hits included Prince, Mere Huzoor, Brahmachari, Pehchaan, Diwana, Mera Naam Joker, Kanyadaan, Tum se achha kaun hai, Andaaz etc. The downfall of this ace musical duo happened only after the untimely demise of Jaikishan in 1971, when even most SJ loyalists like Raj Kapoor deserted Shankar. But then film industry has been like that only…. the only exception being our dearest Rafi saab.

    -J.K. Bhagchandani

  20. Ali says:

    If we back to history of Lata ji to not singing with others, names are SD Burman,SJ,OPN and Mohd Rafi but Mohd Rafi gave his voice to everyone what ever was great name or unknown name..
    OPN one of great name in Bollywood music when OPN ignored Mohd Rafi for two years and he never used Lata ji ,so OPN said that it was his biggest mistake to not use mohd Rafi for two years but OPN never said that not using Lata ji was a mistake but he said Lata ji voice not match his tape of music……

  21. Souvik Chatterji says:

    In reply to the information of Jayarajtji,
    There was no downfall of Shankar Jaikishan between 1963 to 1967. Non-association of Raj Kapoor also did not take place between 1963 to 1967.
    Shankar Jaikishan composed for all the films of Raj Kapoor from 1963 to 1967 including Ek Dil Sau Afsane, Sangam, Teesri Kasam, Diwana, Around The World.

    Besides 1963 to 1967 was the period when Shankar Jaikishan ruled bollywood music. They won the filmfare award 9 times, out of which they won the award for the film Suraj in 1966. Rafi’s song “baharon phool barsao”.

    It is absolute wrong information that there was any downfall of Shankar Jaikishan between 1963 to 1967.

    Souvik Chatterji.

  22. r l arora says:

    Dear Souvik

    I can say with great confidence that Rafi Saab was uncomparable and unreplacable with the result singers like Asha Bhonsale, Sharda and Suman Kalyanpur gained popularityand business too.

    Rafi Saab did not lose at all and Lata had no choice but to sing duets with Rafi Saab without any precondition. Anyway all is well that ends well.

    My best regards to you

    r l arora

  23. jayarajt says:

    It is in the same time frame rift began between SJ and Lata that some say lead to the down fall of SJ from which they never recovered.One of the first casulity was when RK chose RD and then LP.

  24. salim k says:

    Thanks Souvik for this well researched article.

    It is clear from this one example of SJ and Rafisaab that Rafisaab was given the first priority by SJ and lata was a second fiddle.

    Ditto for other MD’s in that era between 63-67, all favored Rafisaab over Lata and this benefited Suman and other singers like Asha and Sharda.

  25. Souvik Chatterji says:

    Shankar Jaikishan were so popular musical duo during the 1960s, that their photos used to feature in the postures of notable films so that the audience could be assured of excellent music in the films.

    Mohammad Rafi was the most sorted after singer for Shankar Jaikishan. SJ had composed around 215 solo songs for Mohammad Rafi and around 126 duet songs for Mohammad Rafi. Majority of the songs became super hit.
    Souvik Chatterji

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