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When Rafi Sahab’s Voice Blessed the English Language

By Salim K

Rafi Sahab with Jaikishen and Harindranath Chattopadhyay

Rafi Sahab with Jaikishen and Harindranath Chattopadhyay

No other singer has sung in that many languages as Rafisahab has. His vocals blessed many languages nationally and internationally whether it was Konkani, Bhojpuri, Oriya, Punjabi, Bengali, Marathi, Sindhi, Kannada, Gujarati, Telugu, Maghi, Maithili and Assamese . He also recorded a few songs in foreign languages such as Persian, Spanish, Dutch, Creole and English.

Rafi Sahab conquered another frontier when he sang for an entire album in English. The Music was given by Shankar Jaikishen and lyrics by eminent actor, writer, poet and freedom fighter Harindranath Chattopadhyay. The 2 songs of the album that most Rafians are aware of are “Although we hail from different lands” and the other “The she I love”. The former had the composition as “Baharon Phool Barsao” and the latter had the composition of “Hum Kale hai tho kya hua”.

Rafi Sahab with Jaikishen and Harindranath Chattopadhyay

During the recording of the English album: Rafi Sahab with Jaikishen and Harindranath Chattopadhyay


As we all know Rafi Sahab was not fluent in English. He was quite surprised when he was approached by Harrindranath Da and Shankar Jaikishen with the prospect of doing an English album. Before I go ahead, I must make this clear that Harindranth Da was a great fan of Rafi Sahab and also a dear friend of Rafi Sahab. Harindranath Da assured Rafi Sahab that he would assist him with the English Lyrics and Rafi Sahab used to go to Dada’s house for rehearsals and Dada was very impressed with the outcome and also surprised how easily Rafi Sahab picked up the nuances of the English language. Rafi Sahab was very happy when he heard the recordings and asked Dada what he could give him as an appreciation of thanks. Dada did not ask for anything so next morning there was a huge truck with all the albums of Rafi Sahab in Dada’s building. That was Rafi Sahib’s appreciation of thanks. Dada was overwhelmed at this incredible gesture but respectfully did not accept it and told Rafi Sahab that if he wanted to thank him then just sing “Chahunga Mein Tujhe Saanj Savere” for him at his home”.

Rafi Sahab came with his harmonium and started singing and tears began to flow for Dada’s eyes. Such were these great people, this was narrated to me by the wife of Harindranath Da.

Coming back to the album, it had more than these 2 songs. I had the album but sadly it was damaged by someone who should have not been given the album in the first place. Coming back to these 2 songs, it is simply incredible to hear how Rafi Sahab is so comfortable singing in English and the emotions he has generated are simply incredible. It is really true for this great maestro that whatever he sang became gold. Mohammed Rafi Sahab’s Golden, Incomparable, Velvety, Pure, Fabulous, Poignant & Sweetest voice is evident in these songs. The English lyrics of both these songs are given below.

What is really incredible that how Rafi Sahab was not hesitant to take up any challenges. No wonder his vocals could reach places where no other singer would dare. If Rafi Sahab wanted he could have respectfully declined to do this album specially when he was trained in English but the maestro as always got out of his comfort zone and delivered this astonishing result.

Another incredible aspect is that Rafi Sahab never sang with the lyrics in his hand, and majority of times memorized the songs and this English album was not an exception. Rafi Sahab is not only the greatest singer but also a very intelligent singer who knew which emotion had to delivered in which way and style. His voce modulations and subtle vocal expressions are also evident in these 2 songs.

It is really true for this great maestro that whatever he sang became gold and these English songs are not an exception. Also credit must be given to SJ, who got the best out of Rafi Sahab in many of their songs. The quality of a music director depends on their ability to get the best of a singer and only great MD’s work with great singers as they have the confidence to maximize the full potential of the singers and hence Rafi Sahab has worked consistently with the greatest of MD’s and if today he was alive, I am sure AR Rahman who himself is a Rafian would have worked a lot with Rafi Sahab.

1) Although we hail from different lands

Although we hail from different lands,
we shone earth and sky and sun,
remember friends, the world is one..

We want all enmity to seize,
for we want peace, we all want peace,
we want no hate, we want no strife,
since we were born for love and life,
come let us chant while joining hands,
we shall not rest till wars are done,
remember friends, the world is one..

Although we hail from different lands,
we shone earth and sky and sun,
remember friends, the world is one..

we have matured to dream and build,
we want our dreams to be fulfilled,
we have come here to dream and plan,
a world of joy and hope for man,
a world is dignity demesne,
a world that we shall see begun,
remember friends, the world is one..

Although we hail from different lands,
we shone earth and sky and sun,
remember friends, the world is one..

2) The She I Love

I love her, love her, love her, love her, so will you,
The she I love is a beautiful, beautiful dream comes through.

Because she thinks it pleases me,
Like a cat, rat she seizes me,
She tickles me, she teases me,
She warms me up, she freezes me

I love her, love her, love her, love her, what shall I do,
The she I love is a beautiful, beautiful dream comes through.

O she is a flower lovely and rare,
Her beautiful body seems to bear,
The magical mood of morning air,
And black as night is her raven hair,

I love her, love her, love her, love, my love is true
The she I love is a beautiful, beautiful dream comes through.

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42 Blog Comments to “When Rafi Sahab’s Voice Blessed the English Language”

  1. Manoj says:

    Bappaditya Chakravarty ji, the song’ I hear Sally down in the valley’, is sung by Mahendra Kapoor and is available on you tube

  2. Anjali Kapoor says:

    Okay and your point is?? I mean who really cares
    Kishore Kumar placed your Rafi at the bottom of the music charts and even today we still crave him

  3. Bappaditya Chakravarty says:

    As a cllege student I heard a song of Rafi saheb which went ” I hear Sally/ down in the valley/ her voice clear as the spring/ She’s broken my heart/ and we’re drifting apart…….
    Have not found that song anywhere.
    Any suggestions?

  4. hyder imani says:

    you could remove away the music from Rafi Saheb’s song , and it would still be so much melodius. He sang for free for new music directors, so that they would come up. Wo ek farishta the jo hamare liye aaye zameen par

  5. salim k says:

    Both these legends had close relations with Rafi Sahab. Ravi challenged BR Chopra to not go ahead with the title song unless Rafi sahab was called to sing it and what a song it came out, how could any one achieve the outcome that Rafi Sahab achieved.

    Rafi sahab asked for a very high sum to sing the song and after the recording distributed all the money between the musicians, such was the adaa (style) of the gentle giant of singing.

    When Humsaya flopped badly, Rafi sahab went to Joys house to return the money that he was given for singing the songs of that film….such was Rafi Sahab, a singer and man par excellence.

  6. Binu Nair says:

    today attended our ravi saahebs last rites at santacruz and visited mohd rafi saahebs resting place – located some 100 metres away.

    while returning the news came of joy mukherji passing away.

    I hope friends will write on ravi saaheb and our joy, joy mukherji . Mohd rafi saaheb worked with this two great men and given us great songs.

    Its two losses in three days.


  7. J.K. Bhagchandani says:

    In a span of 2-3 days two great Rafians passed away. First it was music director Ravi and today, the actor Joy Mukherjee. Rafi saab’s combination with both these personalities provided us with some absolute gem of songs which will remain etched in our hearts for all time to come. May God provide peace to the departed souls.

    -J.K. Bhagchandani

  8. sunil kumar says:

    sir, just heard the news that veteran actor Joy Mukherji has died.
    All those lovely movies are coming to my mind ” love in Simla, Love in Tokyo, Shagird, ek baar muskura do, Humsaya, Ek kali muskai, phir wohi dil laya hun”.
    Had great songs with rafi saheb
    All legends are leaving what will happen to the golden era.
    I pay my humble respect to the departed soul.

  9. salim says:

    Ravi Sahab

    What beautiful gems have you leaft behind and many suchgems were beautified by Rafi Sahab’s vocals.

    Your work will always be remembered.

  10. P. Haldar says:

    Ravi ji,

    Thanks so much for the priceless jewels you composed over the years. For people like me, you will always be part of our household. You will have plenty of company up there, with friends like and Hemant da and Rafi saab.

    Rest in peace.
    P. Haldar

  11. sunil kumar says:

    Really very sad news . one more legend goes . It reminds me one of the great Rafi song “Dekhi zamane ki yaari Bichde sabhi bari bari”.
    only your work remains here. Whatever you do, your humbleness,your professional work, your social work world remembers on those things.
    Ravi saheb has gone but his work is with us. Nobody can snatch away that.
    His work in “Aankhen , Neelkamal, Ek phool Do Maali , Dus Lakh & Chaudvi ka chaand”. will always be remembered.
    May his soul rest in peace.

  12. Binu Nair says:

    alvida composer ravi sharma saheb.

    today wednesday 7.00 pm at bombay hospital.

    his great works will live with us.


    the rafi foundation.

  13. A fabulous and very informative write up. At least I never knew about the relationship Rafi Sahib had with Harindranath ji. Thank you very much Salimji for providing us with something many of us had not been aware of. A small addition- Rafi sahib had sung in Rajasthani too. His song ‘Aa Baba Sa ri Ladli Kathine Chali re- Taqdeer Jithine le jaasi uthine chaali re “in the film “Baba Sa ri Ladli” was a big hit..

  14. salim k says:

    Thank you Bhagchandaniji for your valued comments. Yes it is really amazing how Rafi sahab could sing in so many languages with such ease and finesse. No wonder he is the only true benchmark of singing.

    Rajnish ji, i had this record but not anymore. We have the songs though.

  15. RAJNISH says:


  16. Jas Bhakar says:

    Has anyone got any unusual karaoke tracks good quality of Mohd. rafi ji or can anyone make them for me

    please call Jas 07831 872076 Uk or e mail also watch our video clips on youtube under jas entertainments

  17. Jas Bhakar says:

    Rafi Saab Ji na koi aisa insaan aaya hai , na hi aayen ga
    I am sure you all agree
    God Bless Mohammed Rafi Ji Jas Entertainments

  18. J.K. Bhagchandani says:

    I wished that the phenomenon of globalization that we are witnessing now had happened in Rafi saab’s time. He would have been the most revered singer. The songs of this write-up are the testimony of his deep passion for singing irrespective of language, irrespective of the amount of effort that he needed to put to get the nuance of the song right and to get deep into the layers of the song.

    After reading this article I listened to few Sindhi songs of Rafi saab. I was wonder-struck. Absolutely marvelous singing, perfect diction, never giving an impression that a non-Sindhi singer is rendering.

    I would like to compliment and congratulate Mr. Salim for this brilliant write-up, highlighting another aspect of the singing monarch.

    J.K. Bhagchandani

  19. jasbir singh says:

    how truly n wonderfully written about rafisaab’s fluency in all the languages he sang..i got the first chance to hear these english songs way back in 1972 then i purchased ep record still i possess ….i downloaded in my mobile..i have listened almost all the languages he sang..there is one incident during his live on stage programme at netajee indoor stadium in calcutta, in march 1979,after he rendered ‘madhuban mein radhika naache re n other great songs’the audience requested him…rafisaan bangla gaan gao…rafisaab in very humble way answered…m a i n k o s h i s h k a r t a h o o n…when he started modern bengalee song..people stood up in dharoon gayache re…at that i was not knowing bengali even then i enjoyed sweetness n perfect rendering…i can not forget that day…rafisaab only could do one…

  20. OnikaSetia says:

    marvelous ! really rafi sahab and his beautiful ,magical and sweet voice is miracle of god.
    god bless him.

  21. salim k says:

    Javed sahab, I am glad you liked the write up. Thank you all for your feedback.

  22. salim k says:

    Tiwari ji

    here are the songs with the photo of the Lp

  23. sunil kumar says:

    Binu Ji i heard an interview of Rohan kapoor son of play back singer Mahendra Kapoor saying that rafi saheb would often come to their house with a friend of his and would request his grand parents to make lassi for him he was so fond of lassi and when his grand mother would bring in the lassi he would tell them oh i have given so much trouble to all of you. We must also do something for you and would bring in harmonium and will sat on floor and would sing bhajans to please his grand parents . In the process would get so involved in the bhajans and would forget the lassi and would go on and on till everybody is in tears. So much love for elders and for every religion . He was truly a farishta. Were would you get such people now. I pay my humble respects to not only a great singer but a great human being.

  24. Binu Nair says:

    salim ji :

    besides mohd rafi saahebs songs in english and other languages, i am wonderstruck by his neat handwriting in english.

    mohd rafi signature ‘is’ clear and crispy and the personality is seen in it.

    he would talk about ramayan so well – his artist friend sharad vykool told me recently.

    more of it in Sridhar Kulkarni’s forthcoming book which is being translated in to english from marathi by ace journo rajiv vijaykar of screen film weekly.

  25. Its really pleasant to read about these great songs but it will be better if we get the opportunity to listen above 2 English songs.

  26. Lt Col Javed Sayyed(Veteran) says:

    Dear Salim Sahab & My dear Rafians,
    Hearty Congrats for this Xlnt & out of the ordinary writeup. such nuggets of rafi sahab shared with us makes us blessed. The pouring of the heart by rafians is so overwhelming.
    A humble request to all rafians-as requested by Binu Nair in the above post- pl find time & vote for rafi sahab in Vote every hour, everyday. Last request saw more than 250 votes in a day. Now it has dropped down to a mere 100!!
    Pl vote-all rafians. And keep up the good work.

  27. Azad Ilahibaks says:

    Rafi has sung also in the Suriname langauge ‘sranang tongo’. The title of the song is: Ayaya mi lob sranang suku suku

  28. Salim says:

    Welcome Binuji, credit must be given to fans of Rafisahab like you who are doing wonderful job through the foundation.

    Every time i listen to Rafi sahab, there is a unique sense of experience and feeling. Every song is a journey, every song is a new flow of emotions,

  29. Binu Nair says:

    Mohd rafi lovers :

    Please vote everyday at for rafi saaheb. it takes just 10 seconds.


  30. Binu Nair says:

    thanks. this is one different article. the seeds of becoming a mohd rafi lover was sown when i first heard this record as a 12 year old i presume during our annual trip to kerala.

    i was always impressed with this song since i had gathered that Rafi saab just went to school very miserly and had not studied academics – much.

    see the effort rafi saab had put in the song. usually many singers in hfm rush to do similar feats. but, in this case our song emperor stands apart – in glory.

    thank you salim ji.

    the rafi foundation
    cell : 9833 250 701

  31. nasreenjeeee,

    aap ney khoob pharmaayaa. rafi sahab is the answer to all human woes. any one who has heard him once cannot come out of the ” mystique ” he creates on all your senses in a very holistic way.

    you then realise that this world is such a beautiful place to live in – in complete harmony with one’s own self and also the world.

    this is made possible to all rafi fans/bhakhts – because they have understood life through music differently and there is so much of love around you – the atmosphere around you fully heavy with so much of love and romance that there is no place left for anger, hatred, animosity, enemity etc. these words were never there in rafi sahab’s dictionary of life and hence we too do not have it by default if not by practice.

    nasreejeee, dekhiyey humsab log milkar rafi sahab key chatrachaayaa mein kitnee acheee umdaa batein karr rahein hain.

    charon orr khushaalee hai.

    adaab rafi,

    ramesh narain kurpad

  32. salim saab,

    the institution/bureau for you to approach would be ” film archives of india ” located in college street in pune. they are a treasure trove or in other words an office which is supposed to store history of films generations after generations.

    from there you should ask them if you could get a copy of the english songs of rafi sahab which you are looking for.

    it is difficult – cause to my knowledge – they are known to be difficult people – as even for a price at times they are stubborn and they may not oblige you.

    this should be a planned move by you. my sincere advise to you is to also simultaneously approach ” mr.binu of rafi foundation – mumbai ” and then your sucess rate will be more assured. binuji is a highly knowledgable rafi bhakht and knows almost everything.

    i am sure you will get what you are looking for. all the best salim saab.

    ramesh narain kurpad

  33. Salim says:


    Wah Ramesh bhai, khoob kaha. I am very happy that there are people like you around as it seems all the values that we used to chesrish are slowly fading away.

    I am very touched with the kind comments of all here and i would be more than pleased to share whatever i know about Rafi Sahab. I would encourage if any one here has the original album of these English songs then please share with others if you can.

  34. vinod mehru says:

    salim bhai, adaab,
    isme koi shaque nahi hai jo gaana rafi sahab ke pass aaye aur woh usko nibha naa sake, maine to shaayed kabhi aisa suna bhi nahi hai, english bhasha ke yeh do pyaare se geet bahut hi umda bane hai , shankar jaikshan ji ne bhi jitne pyaar se compose kiya hai woh bhi kabile taarif hai, aur rafi sahab ne ek challange samajh kar is assignment ko poora kar hame speechless kar diya hai.

    maine ek baar kisi magzine mein padha tha ek baar unko p susheela ji ke saath ek album karne ka mauka mila ek gaana gaa kar rafi sahab ne kaha ki mujh se bhi behtar gane wale hai telgu mein aap unko lijiye. aisa kaun soch sakta sivaay rafi sahab ke.

    ek sant aatma hai rafi sahab .
    shubhkaamaanyon ke saath
    vinod mehru

  35. Nasreen says:

    To all who are on this site

    I am still here today, after a long absence. The song playing right now is “Aap se pyaar hua” – and my God, it feels like such a long time that I had the time to listen to this voice that makes everything in the world right. Reading some of the posts, esp. Ramesh Kurpad-ji, it is so true that 24 hrs are not enough in today’s ‘multi-tasking’ world – stress, little arguments which create turmoil in your mind and heart – making you unhappy or upset…..and then one hears this voice. From childhood, teenage years, all though life, I have heard this voice – and yes, incongruous as it may sound, I took it for granted in earlier years. Loved it, but took it for granted. That is because, I was ignorant of exactly how much I loved it.

    Now, it seems like my love of this voice is also an indescribable love. Add all the love of all the Rafi lovers on this site and elsewhere…yes, that’s a small measure of the love I have for this voice, what more can I say ? Maybe this should not have been a post but an article about my love for Rafi Sahab’s voice. But no, I know that my love is not more special than any other fan’s. We all love him, we are bound by this gigantic emotion we all have for the most profound, the most wonderful, lovely, sweet, romantic, incomparable, impossible to describe voice, belonging to someone who deserved it in every way. There are many others who sing okay but there personality or character does not match their voice. But Rafi Sahab….yes, Rafi Sahab was a different story.

    Now, the song playingis “Yaar mil gaya toh khuda mil gaya”. I say “Rafi Sahab ka gaana mil gaya toh khuda mil gaya”


  36. Zaheendanish says:

    Language No Barrier to Good Music. Not only English, but the other languages of India, Rafi Saab had sung plenty of songs other than Hindi and Urdu, especially Punjabi and Marathi which are very melodious to the ears of non-speakers of those languages.

    It dominates our airwaves and yet there are many great artists out there in the non-English speaking world who have produced fantastic music but are largely ignored.

  37. salimsaab,

    i have always made myself believe in one great life’s dictum which i have applied to myself and found it to be always true.


    you deserve every bit of praise after having written such a nice article which has made so many of us rafi bhakts/fans so very happy and delighted.

    you only get what you deserve.

    yes i agree with you rafi sahab has taught us humility in everything we do. the thing to be seen is how far are we able to live up to what he has taught us – is the question.

    today’s world with multi-tasking and 24 hours not being enough for all – basic human courtesies ( tehzeeb ) is slowly vanishing and becoming a thing of the past.

    ashaavaadee honeykey naathey – niraash nahee hone chahthaa yaa banaana chahthaa.

    salim saab aisey hee likhthey rahiyegaa.

    adaab rafi,

    ramesh narain kurpad

  38. nasreen says:


    While I read this very interesting article, the song that is playing on the site is “Oye main sadke jaawaan”

    What else is there to say?

    All love to Rafi Sahab…..

  39. Salim says:

    There is a word missing in the above article, it must read as “If Rafi Sahab wanted he could have respectfully declined to do this album specially when he was un-trained in English but the maestro as always got out of his comfort zone and delivered this astonishing result.

    Thank you Ramesh, Achal and Mohammed for your comments. Rameshsaab thanks for using such wonderful words for me, i dont think i deserve it but i will accept it humbly. Humility and sweetness should be the characteristics of all rafi sahab fans and this site is a testimony of this.

  40. mohamedparvez says:

    Asalamu Alaikum ,Salim Sahab,Thanx For Sharing Your Nice Write up With Us On This Subject, I Have Shared This Write Up With My Face Book Friends, Kindly Visit Each And Every Pages Of Rafi Sahab”s Blog,Over 800 Pages Are There,Kindly Visit This Links,Keep It Up,Take Care,Allah Khafiz

  41. yes rangajee,

    i fully agree with you and my belief in the ” myth ” as some call it by i say it is true – that rafi sahab was a singing avathaar of his time.

    he came he saw he conquered would be wrong to say – he came – he chronicled – he is history – is the rifht phrase for rafi sahab’s existance on this earth.

    salim sahab is yet another blessed human who has delved deep into doing research in rafi sahab’s illustrious life and times brought out this piece of prose.

    rangajee – has some fantastic writers ( rangajee included ) and salim sahab has just proved my point.

    thank you salim sahab – keep writing – rafi sahab is smiling as we are learning.

    adaab rafi.

    ramesh narain kurpad

  42. achal rangaswamy says:

    what a tale, and how movingly narrated, Salim Saab

    thank you so much for sharing this wonderful article with us. Harindranath Chattopadhyaya was a poet in his own way, and someone could bring tears to his eyes, it had to be someone like Rafi Saab only.

    warm regards

    achal rangaswamy

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