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Who Could Have Sung These Songs?

This article is written by Mr. H.V.Guru Murthy

Mohd Rafi with Shrikant ThackreyA big debate is going on in various web sites of Rafiji, KK and others regarding who was a better singer. In fact, this sort of discussion was always going on even in our days when we used to heatedly argue as to who was better.

No doubt, all these great Singers, whether it was Rafi or KK or Mukesh or Hemant or Talat or Mannadey or Mahendra, gave us wonderful songs which we remember even now after so many years. Mukesh was very good in songs filled with pathos, uncomplicated songs without much high or low, soft, simple songs. Some of his songs especially for Raj Kapoor were superb. Hemant Kumar with a heavy voice, was also good in all these respects as Mukesh was and his songs had a touch of the Bengal culture and Rabindra Sangeet. Talat was King of Gazals, soft, velvety voice used especially well by Madan Mohan and he was the main Singer for Dilip Kumar before Rafi took over.

KK perhaps was much more talented than these above mentioned singers and could carry any song effortlessly. Though he had been giving hummable songs even in fiftees and sixtees, his main period was in seventies. He became main Singer for almost all the heroes in the seventies. Mahendra’s forte was the effortless ease with which he could raise his voice (remember ‘Na Muh Chupake Jiyo’ from “Hamraaj”). He was also lucky that he gave voice regularly to heroes like Manoj Kumar and B.R.Chopra always wanted MK in his movies and also when OPN did not go along with Rafi for a brief period, Mahendra got all OPN songs during the period.

But all these above Singers had their shortcoming in singing classical songs and qawalis. Of course, here classical means not just Indian ragas, which any how any Indian song will have as its basis, but including raag, taal, alaap, etc., typical songs being ‘Duniya Ke Rakhawale’, ‘Kuhu Kuhu Bole Koyaliya’, etc. A typical qawali can be ‘Yeh Ishq Ishq Hai Ishq Ishq’. Mukesh, Talat and Hemant also were not adept at singing at high pitches. Though MK has sung some classical stuff, his effort looked pedestrian. The so called qawalis of KK in the seventies are strictly not qawalis but more of ordinary songs.

Mohd Rafi and Talat Mehmood
Talat Mehmood, Mohd Rafi

The best among all these Singers was Mannadey, talent-wise on par with Rafi but the only difference being the voice, Rafis’ voice was that much more soft, steady, with pure diction and more melodious. In fact, in one of the recent programs at Bangalore, Mannada while talking about Madan Mohan and his Gazals admitted that MM gave so many wonderful gazals sung by Lata and Rafi and howsoever he tried, he could not sing like them. What humility?

All these talks of comparing Rafi with other Singers is not worth discussing as all these Singers as well as their Music Directors have admitted on various occasions that Rafi was the best. His diction, hold on classical ragas, effortless ease with which he used to raise and lower his voice, his throw of words, his way of putting feelings and meaning into each and every word was matchless. It appeared that where others just sang songs, Rafiji felt and lived those songs. However, the topic of comparison raises an interesting debate every time and each Music lover is entitled to his opinion. My opinion is that all were good singers but over all talent-wise, Rafi was the best. Who could have sung the following songs so wonderfully other than Rafi. Can we even imagine the following songs in any other voice. I have restricted the list to just twelve songs and I am sure fellow Rafi lovers can list out many more songs.

“Ishq Ki Garmiye” (Gazal) is a beautiful Rafi Gazal about which we already have a beautiful article in the web site published few months back. Of course, Talat could have sung this Gazal, but what about the lines “Pesh Karun” after each of the three antaras, when Rafiji repeats second time. Rafiji sang the particular two words “Pesh Karun” differently both the times, whether Talat could have achieved the same effect?

“Tumse Kahun Ek Baat” (Dastak) was sung by Rafiji in whispers so sensuously. How many similar songs we have from other singers?

“Ae Watan Ae Watan” (Shaheed) especially the line “Manao Jab Azad Bharat Ka Din, Tum Hame Bhool Jana Nahi”, the pathos, disappointment, every thing comes out in the voice of Rafiji. How many could have given the same effect, perhaps Mannadey to certain extent.

“Kuhu Kuhu Bole Koyaliya” (Suvarna Sundari) was a pure Carnatic classical song sung so beautifully by Rafi and Lata. Which other singer could have sung this classical number especially in the Carnatic style.

“Yeh Ishq Ishq Hai Ishq Ishq” was a qawali made memorable by Rafiji and Mannada. No other singer could have even attempted this song. In fact, all other qawalis sung by others including the so called qawalis sung by KK in the seventies pale in comparison to Rafi and Manna’s qawalis.

The following songs were sung at such a high pitch that probably only Mannada or Mahendra could have tried, but MK could not have made it so memorable.

“O Duniyake Rakhwale” (Baiju Bawra), especially the last line “Rakhawale” raising three times, each higher than the previous one (and on stage fourth time).

“Yeh Mehlo Yeh Takhto” (Pyaasa), one can call this a revolutionary song, the Poet clearly showing his disgust at the Matlabi Society, each stanza sung at a low voice and the tempo raises and the last stanza – “Jalado Jalado” clearly showing his hatred for the Society. Except Rafi, no body else could have justified this song, and that is perhaps the reason SDB chose Rafi for this song.

“Subaha Na Aayi” (Cha Cha Cha) was another song where Rafiji goes high in the end, “Aajao, Aajao, Aajao”, the climax.

In “Jaagi Jaagi Ankhiyon Ke” (Biwi Aur Makan), the breath control is breath-taking.

Mohd Rafi, Kishore Da, Manna Da
Mohd Rafi, Kishore Da, Manna Da

“Dekhi Zamane Ki Yaari” (Kagaz Ke Phool) was another wonderful song for Guru Dutt, again singing very slowly and at low voice in the beginning, slowly raising the voice while singing “Pal Bhar Ki Khushiyan Hai Saari” and suddenly bringing down the pitch, just wonderful. Rafiji goes higher in the second part “Udja Udja Pyaase Bhanvare” and again comes down to the initial low pitch, so effortlessly.

“Apni Aazadi Ko Hum Hargiz” (Leader), especially the lines “Jo Sabak Baapune Sikhlaya Bhula Sakte Nahin, Sar Kata Sakte Hain Lekin Sar Jhuka Sakte Nahin”, who could have raised the voice so effortlessly but still retaining the steady voice. Who said that Rafi needed breath-control.

“Zindabad Zindabad” (Mughal E Azam) already a high pitch song, Rafiji still raises it further while singing the last Antara and the way he brings down the voice from the highest pitch to lower pitch so smoothly after singing “Vo Pathar Hai Insaan Kahan, Insaan Kahan … ”.

In the recent “Voice of India” contest, an up-coming good singer sang a KK qawali when all the Participants were asked to sing qawalis. This particular Singer appeared to be a fan of KK as majority of his songs especially of older generation were of KK. The judge pointed out that the qawali selection was not correct. Later the same singer sang the qawali from “Hum Kisise Kum Nahin” and also admitted that after the earlier episode, he wanted to show that he could also sing qawalis. In fact, the Judges also appreciated his efforts. No doubt, in qawalis, Rafi and Manna are the last words.

Well, Rafiji in his long career of 35 years has sung so many songs. Many of them are such that only Rafi could have done justice to those songs. In fact, even while using other Singers, the MDs reserved certain songs only for Rafi or Manna as they always knew that other Singers would not be able to do justice to those songs.

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95 Blog Comments to “Who Could Have Sung These Songs?”

  1. M.N. Mukherjee says:

    What I meant to say that whereas the other contemporary singers were allowed to flourish Manna Dey hardly got that chance for reasons hard to understand. He gave hits for Sree 420 and Chori Chori, but thereafter got very little chance to playback for Raj Kapoor. In many films he excelled over his contemporaries but forgotten thereafter. I shall take the names of some films as example: Dekh Kabeera Roya, Seema, Meri Soorat Teri Ankhe, Mere Hoozoor, Anand, Mera Naam Joker, Waqt, Saudagar, Jajeer. In fact he was asked to render a song, which no other singer was capable of doing. There are lesser heard songs, which prove that had he been given enough opportunity, he would not have been branded as classical singer only. For example ‘Hasne ki Chahane,, ‘Ek samay par do barsaate, Muskura Ladla Muskura and many duets with Lata Mangeshkar are different from what he is generally known for. He was the most underutilised singer of Bollywood, that was for sure.

    One correction of Mr. Musharraf’s remark about Bngali films. While Hemant Kumar was the main playback singer fopr Uttamkumar till the mid sixties, it was mainly Manna Dey after the film Antonee Firinghee, which has some of the best numbers of the singer’s carrier. Those songs will testify my comments in the earlier paragraph.

    P.S. This is not to belittle the other greats. What I mean to say that Manna Dey was equally good by not exploited to his potential.

  2. Musharraf says:

    I agree with Mr. M.N. Mukherjee as regards the versatility of Manna Dey is concerned. He was definitely a versatile singer and has proved his worth both in Hindi and Bengali songs. He had a classical edge over his contemporaries. However in the Hindi arena Rafi proved to be more successful due to the exceptional voice range and softness which enabled him to sing all types of songs with equal dexterity which satisfied the masses. Usually The Music Directors preferred Manna Dey when it came to songs such as “Jhanak Jhanak tore baaje payelia” or “Laga chunari mey daag” etc. etc. which suited his voice and deliberation. His audience was limited to listeners having classical background. Kishore, although less versatile than Rafi and Manna Dey, had a separate style and voice quality of his own and was also more close to the masses and had considerable commercial success in the early seventies. But Manna Dey’s position remained the same throughout, admired and utilized in songs with classical flavor although he could also sing all types of songs such as , qawalies, romantic, fast songs etc. But he always carried the classical brand that limited his chances within the classical renditions.

    In the Bengali arena Manna Dey was more successful not only as a versatile singer but also as a music director. Many of his Bengali modern songs have become milestones admired by all types of listeners. However in the Kolkata film industry it was Hemanta Mukherjee who was the most dominant. He actually was the main playback for the great legendary “Mahanayak” Uttam Kumar. The reason was Hemanta’s God gifted sweet voice that was particularly suited for the hero of the film. Manna Dey off course had made great renditions in the Bengali film world.

  3. M N Mukherjee says:

    Ours is a democratic country and everybody has his/her own opinion. Anybody can express his difference in opinion from the other but nobody should show disrespect or try to demean others opinion unless it is derogatory or hurtful. Comparisons will be there and there is no harm if the comparisons are logical and backed by facts. If anybody feels that it’s an waste of time, he is free to ignore it.

  4. Haryy says:

    Critics 🙂 tiger versus lion who will win. Einstein versus Newton who is better…cannot you listen to music just for the sake of music? None of us will ever reach the levels of any of the names you have mentioned. So why compare? These people are legends in their own rights. Manna dey praised Rafi saying Rafi was a better singer than him. Rafi mentioned “you people listen to my songs, I listen to Manna Dey songs only”. Who is better? These legends cannot be compared. It’s infinity versus infinity. Just wasting time trying to prove your subject matter expertise? What is your qualification to judge the Gods of music? This is like sitting in the stadium and commenting Ronaldinho has better skills than Kaka because blah blah blah…!!!Why wasting everyone’s time? This way soon ants will start judging who has better army America or Russia or China!!! WTF!

  5. M N Mukherjee says:

    Md. Rafi was an outstanding singer but Manna Dey was equally good. Md. Rafi’s singing style was more melodious but Manna Dey was more accurate and technically perfect. But the major difference was the market force, which does not always follow the logic. Md. Rafi was commercially much more successful than Manna Dey. Time and again Manna Dey proved his singing prowess in some of his immortal renditions but very rarely was he utilised to his potential. Had he received a half of the beautiful compositions that Md. Rafi or Kishore Kumar got in their carrier, there could have been a meaningful comparison. There cannot be any comparison between equally talented singers, some of whom got to sing lots of beautiful compositions and somebody who rarely got good compositions to render. Despite very few good compositions to boast about, it is only a tribute to this outstanding singer that he is even compared with his more successful peers.

  6. C.P. SHARMA says:


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  7. pankaj says:

    look gentlemen all the sangeeth premi’s , there are only and were and will be three great singers in this world. firstly it will be rafi sahab , ghantasala ji and mukesh. because in there singer u can hear the heart singing and the scale of rafi is greater than ghantasala and ghantasala’s far more than rafi and mukesh was the soulful singer aatma ki awaaz, tho in saari baathon ke samajhkar sochkar ek ek gaana in mahanu bhavon ka sabhi log sun li jiye aur amar ho jaaiye. — pankaj

  8. gokuldas Kumar.M says:

    Dear Mr.Murthy,
    My opinion about Muhammad rafi is a very well studied opinion, built and developed not only on the observations I myself could make over the last 45 years about Rafi’s innumerable songs of all moods but also they have been based on the valuable comments made about Rafi by other great singers namely Mannadey, Jesudas, Latha, Kishore Kumar and SPB. Well I hope that you would agree that these are not ordinary singers! Some of them were highly knowledgeable in classical singing also. Their conviction about Rafi’s magical singing has been always in line with what and how I rated the great singer called Muhammad Rafi!

  9. gokuldas kumar.m says:

    Dear Dr.Chandrasekhar,
    I am not particularly peeved by whether you find fault with my views or not ! My opinion transcends beyond region, religion, language and all other biased considerations! What I wanted to convey was that though Rafi may not be as good as the any contemporary XYZ classical greats when it comes to technical perfection in classical music , Rafi’s range was unparalleled. Rafi unlike all other great singers of his time, could sing any type of song of any mood/feel. Do you think there was any other singer in Indian film industry who could sing songs of romance, pathos, flamboyance(like Shammi Kapoor songs) as impressively as Rafi.
    Well, I may not have heard many of the songs of Ghantasala. Yet, when one makes a opinion about comparative performance of great singers after so many years’ observations supported and enriched by the remarks made by other great singers of the industry, well, it becomes a studied opinion. The opinion I made was one such and not at all a knee jerk opinion. And I had known closely several music lovers from Andhra Pradesh. Though all of them acknowledged the greatness of Ghantasala, they invariably placed Rafi in a unique unmatchable class.
    By the way, Dr.Chandrasekar, I am interested to know about your knowledge about Rafi! Can you say with certainty that you have heard enough numbers of songs sung by Rafi of all moods before you would make a comparison?
    Lastly, I would also request that you access the remarks made by great singers like Mannady, Jesudas ( both highly talented singers of classical music), Latha, Kishore Kumar about Rafi. Again about how SPB another great from south has commented about Rafi in an interview!!. When all these are available in the internet for us, why don’t we also weigh these vital inputs before we make comparison and decide, who is what etc.
    If my knowledge about any contemporary singer is incomplete by any means, my observations about Rafi have been vindicated by the comments made by these great singers about Rafi. Please study all of them and let us discuss this issue without any bias!! Good luck!

  10. Y.S. Prasad says:

    With due respect to every one, I am referring to all commentators. You are all commenting on the singers, Carnatic vs Hindustani etc. It is the music director who composes the music and decides the raag, singers will only sing according to the music director’s instructions. If in one language Carnatic is selected and in other language Hindustani for the same song sequence, we should appreciate the music director’s effort in giving life to the same song sequence in different styles. The question of one is greater than the does not arise, at least between Mohammed Rafi and Ghantasala as different languages will have their own sweetness. I have enjoyed the song in both languages with the same passion. Usually when a song from one language is translated to another language it tends to loose the effect, but, personally I would say this song has the same level of quality both in terms of lirics and music. My request to all the people commenting on the great singers is “let us not disrespect any singer or musician” as they have lot more great qualities in them than we can ever think of. Compared to all those great people we are all very small in calibre. When those singers and music directors were not thinking differently about the others, who are we and what knowledge do we possess to comment on such great people. My humble request to all is just hear and enjoy the good songs and music. I did not mean to hurt any ones feelings, if I have said something wrong please excuse and correct me. Namaste.

  11. murthy 2010 says:

    dear sri gokuldas kumar,

    your post 82. certainly and clearly more than singers and fans like you and me, it is the musicians who know better about music. already several posts appeared so far from various musicians of both carnatic and hindustani music who judged and expressed as to who is the best of all indian playback male singers till date. for instance, i advise you to read the post 1897 of mr khan dated 31st may 2010 in “an endless feud between fans of rafi and kishore”. and for your kind information, mr khan is not only a well experienced hindustani musician but also is an ardent fan of rafi. regards.

  12. Dr.Chandrasekhar says:

    82 – gokuldas kumar M

    You seem to know only about rafi and not about others, so I do not find any fault with your views, but it would have been better, if you had written your post with the same knowledge you had on rafi, on other contemporary singer as well, whom you referred in your post. Some of the people, despite incomparable achievements/accomplishements by other singers, fail to grasp the truth about other singers, (as happened in post 80 and 82), it is surprising to think that whether they do not want to listen, or deliberately avoiding to listen, or deliberately arguing even after knowing the truths. Post 81 of vitthal may be carefully read for removing the misconceptions.

    Your views on comparison also does not have any base. The contemporary singer referred by you has not sung in hindi, so comparison is not possible, but rafi had sung in the language in which the singer referred by you has sung. So fans of the contemporary singer referred by you are certainly more capable of deciding who has a edge. I think you understand what I say.

    Mr. Manish kumar has known the facts accurately, though his post dates long back, it is enlightening.

  13. Abhishek says:

    gokuldas kumar – 82

    Pl. read the above posts of manish kumar and others and carefully post 81. If one carefully reads post 81 and the contents therein, I see no validity of posts 80 and 82 here.

  14. gokuldas kumar.M says:

    There is and was no other singer in indian film industry as versatile as Md.Rafi and as complete as Md.Rafi . Even if a particular contemporary singer had an edge over him in classical music, that does not place him over Rafi, just because if Rafi could sing even a classical number well, others could not reach anywhere near him in melody and feel of voice. no other voice had the unique raw material that Rafi’s voice had. It is as simple as that!!!

  15. vitthal says:

    Anurag ji,

    Agreed with rafi ji’s skills, but disagree with your views on ghantasala. Just read word by word this encyclopaedia – you will know the facts.

  16. anurag says:

    Ghantasala,very good in classical singing, but no match for Rafi, who gives pure emotions, clarity of voice, accuracy, mood of song and wider range. he does not have to shout on upper scale. Truly said, all others sing, Rafi lives the song.

  17. mohamedparvez says:

    dear murthy ji and other rafi saab fans, as everybody knows kishoreda use to call rafi saab whenever he gets difficult songs,only rafi saab can sing any type of songs,iam inviting every body to visit rafi saab”s blog,total over 500 pages are there,to go to next page,kindly click older posts,you will find bottom of every page,please don”t miss any page,also kindly visit my you tube channel,i have uploaded over 200 rare songs of rafi saab,kindly visit this links,take care

  18. AR says:

    Narayan ji,

    Sorry, if I have hurt you. That was not my intention. My view was that if Mr. hussein has not liked some version he can state that in a dignified way, but he need not use words such as horrible rendition, he cannot sing great – what are all these. Each has his personal views and they are well appreciated if put upon healthy terms. Sir, I have great regard for you and I personally know you as a fan of ghantasala like rafi fan and I am also aware of your knowledge about the great ghantasala. I am aware that to defend hussein ji, you had made such comment, which I do not take it seriously. And more so I politely disagree with your other points (You also know that ) and I know that you are quite well aware that ghantasala’s versatality extended specially in films to hari karthas, burra kathas, janapada sangeets, padyams, sanskrit renderings, bhagavad gita (private recording) other than playback singing of all varieties of repertoires and genres and wherein in these specialised compositions the essential ingredients & variety versatile factors were more than which were required for any harketein factors which you mentioned. You further quite know that no singer has reached or contributed to the level of ghantasala in the above areas and I am aware that you know this fact very well. So your such remark imo stands out of context.

    So as Manish kumar ji puts it – each was a unique talent and great in his own way. Neither can be replaced or compensated by other. The great rafi is great rafi only and so stands ghantasala, the unique. Thank you sir.

  19. vitthal says:

    Manish kumar ji,

    Nice to read your posts. You are a true rafi fan and true music lover too in line with the great rafi saab’s attitude towards music, specially the insatiable regard which rafi ji had towards ghantasala. Sir, you are 200% correct. Rafi is rafi and ghantasala stands ghantasala. These two were the greatest playback singers the country has ever produced in the last millenium. Each was unique and great in his own way. Both had god gifted unique talents. In fact, the comparitive analysis has been quite healthy in these pages, but for some biased fans (as you said fan pride).

    Dear Moderator ji,

    Anyhow, we as ghantasala fans have great regard for this site of the great rafi, and we are specially thankful to the kind moderator of this beautiful site, which has in right musical spirit allowed healthy discussions among the above two greatest playback singers of india and specially welcoming and participating in discussion of south indian legends viz., ghantasala. Thanks are also due to spirited rafi fans who have appreciated true music and for carrying out beautiful analysis of south indian songs. Thanks are specially due to this site and moderator for having facilitiated for introduction of sri ghantasala to rafi fans and other fans also. This is the only site which is bigger in size than all other sites of music singers (which I have known) and we wish that this site shall continue to grow in popularity in line with rafi saab’s popularity. All the best.

  20. Manish Kumar says:


    “not taking into account the ’subjective’ (according to them) factors like the film situation, the character on whom the song has been picturised etc.”

    exactly! i share your views.

    on one hand, i think comparisons are a fruitless end. in the end, each to his own. however, there’s always a new angle or fact that comes up in these comparisons and i appreciate that. the latter is why i take a lot of interest in comparative discussions. Of course, there is *some* fan pride too 🙂

  21. Manish Kumar says:

    both were versatile & well rounded in their singing. i still maintain my *personal opinion* that the two singers differed in emphasis filmy voice vs. technical ability and each was best for his post. ~20 songs is unfair sampling of a singer but i can have still gauge the voice itself. needless to say, i am biased towards rafi’s velvet smooth voice & expression as i have been a fan of his since i was a child. i’ve listened to a few ghantasala devotional songs and he sings from the heart and reaches great depths in his emotions (and of course voice control is amazing). ghantasala was ghantasala and rafi was rafi. they have a lot of traits in common (that is why ghantasala and rafi are relevant to one another imo) but each was a unique talent.

  22. Manish Kumar says:


    thanks for sharing that outstanding song. first time i heard it. yes, ghantasala’s expression of emotions was amazing not only in the depth but also in the detail. eloquently expressing emotions behind individual syllables & words yet sounding natural is something i revere. i’ve appreciated that trait in rafi and (now) ghantasala thanks to you.

    if it is not a problem at this site, i would actually welcome more links to ghantasala’s songs where he expresses a variety of emotions. i will be able to better appreciate him.


    yes, i’m sure you are right about ghantasala’s emotional songs. i’ve only listened to 20 of ghantasala’s songs (which is nothing) but have enjoyed ~1000 of rafi sahab’s songs. i have not given a fair sampling to ghantasala’s songs to make such a broad statement on expression of emotions. thanks for the correction. it’s hard to imagine a singer have the genius to see the scope of detail, have the god gifted eloquence, and personality to put perfect emotions & voice modulation for each individual syllable in a song. rafi was such a singer and now i’m sure ghantasala is another.

  23. Hussein Sheikh says:

    Post 65: “Pasand Apni Apni, Khayal Apna Apna”. Hope you have heard this proverb.

  24. Anil Cherian says:

    Nice to read your post (again). If you think that technical skills cannot be the only criterion for judging singers, then you have a good company in me. And I wouldn’t say that everything other than technical ones are subjective, when it comes to singing (or other forms of art).
    As you rightly mentioned, if one is to go purely on the technical parameters, it is inevitable that the conclusions reached are incomplete and inconclusive (and often misleading). I have seen this happening in many musical blogs where many (so called) experts thrash Rafisahab (for instance) for his alleged ‘shouting’ at high pitches or ‘whispering’ at low notes or not ‘following the text’ when singing semi-classical songs ,not taking into account the ‘subjective’ (according to them) factors like the film situation, the character on whom the song has been picturised etc.

  25. Anil Cherian says:

    Ref: Posts 65&66.
    Thank you Rafifanji and Murthyji. Nice to know you liked my posts.
    I really don’t want to go into the specific reasons why Karnatic classical exponents can adapt better vis-a-vis their Hindustani counterparts for I think this is not the right platform to do it. May be, as a general note, one can say that Hindustani classical music is more rigid and more concentrated than the Karnatic one.
    Ref: Post 58.
    Singhji, I think you are spot on when you say that ‘kuhu kuhu…’ wouldn’t have attained comparable popularity had it been a Mannada-Lataji duet.

  26. A S MURTY says:

    ref post 69 Ms siri, we are from the rafi foundation, hyderabad chapter and would like you to join our group. we have many a big music enthusiasts in our group and we hold musical sessions twice a month. you can get back to me at 93912 67272 or

    This message is also for any other rafi fan from Hyderabad who would like to join our group.

  27. siri says:

    63 – Manish kumar ji,

    Purely as a music lover from andhra, we enjoy both rafi & ghantasala as two unique incomparable legends the indian playback industry has ever given to music lovers, with the former being more famous across the globe. Regarding your enquiry on emotional songs, i refer your kind attention to this one very great emotional song by ghantasala, wherein he virtually gives display of a crying man, you could get it. A great musical composition indeed. (I hope you might not have heard it earlier)

    For your views manish ji on the same.

  28. Narayan says:

    Post 56 AR your comments to Mr Hussein Sheikhs views are in poor taste and Ghantasala garu will never forgive you for this bland statement of yours..
    Iam also a great follower of the great Ghantasala garu who excels in all devotional,romantic, sad, classical songs like Rafi sahab but is not as versatile as Rafi sahab in light comedy songs in the harkateheins n other form of playback singing…
    Dear Moderatorji… please edit all views expressed by the post 56 AR as the person seems to be fundementalist n fascist and brings such views in the auspiscious,pure website dedicated to Rafi sahab who has sung more Hindu devotional bhajans than all male singer’s put together,,,

  29. AR says:

    Manish kumar saab from post 63

    Sir, I am in full agreement with your balanced and respectable views. What you have stated his fully correct. Both rafi and ghantasala were greater in their own ways and were fully perfect and unique to their respective industries in which they were placed. But on your observation on emotional views, i can say that there are many great emotional songs rendered by ghantasala too in telugu like rafi in hindi and which are simply unique similar to rafi ji songs.

  30. murthy says:

    Post 60 – anil cherian saab,

    Nice post. I have seen in one programme wherein SPB states, Great playback singers that too established greats, sing from nabhi and he specifically made reference to ghantasala and rafi in this regard, who used to bring the effect of the songs from nabhi, Of course depending upon the song, some songs may come from throat that depends upon the situation and circumstance in which the song has to be rendered, but the basic style of singing by established greats is singing from nabhi, in which style the perfection for a song comes. This specially applies to classical based film songs.

    You are correct. Many people have said that trained classical carnatic exponents can easily bring hindusthani style effect (because of their practise from nabhi as well as throat) but the same is not easy for hindusthani trained people, who have to do more effort to bring the desired results. Very good example for this is as discussed in many forums here was the song siva sankari of ghantasala in the rag darbari kannad raga , wherein he creates hindusthani effect without compromising his carnatic style. But, can you please clarify that is it due to the factor that carnatic music has more depth and creative skills than hindusthani, because many state that carnatic experts can easily adapt to hindusthani and not vice versa.

  31. Rafifan says:

    Anil Cherian ji – 60 & 61

    Fully agree with your views. That is what I too had put it. My message (post 55) too clearly states the same views. Agree with your clarification on carnatic style vs. hindusthani style rendition too. Thanks for the posts. Nice to read them.

    Hussein sheikh ji,

    I found only a single person that is you, ( from all music lovers, musicians and other numerous rafi fans whom I met till today), who expressed purely subjective personal views for the telugu version of kuhu kuhu. Of course a subjective personal view. (thus the ratio is 99.99 : 0.01) See the rendition of the version from a musical angle, you will know the truth & anil cherian ji clearly puts it right in his post 60 here. The hindi version too is nice to hear. No doubt about it.

  32. A S MURTY says:

    refer post 57 by “murthy”. sir, can we have your full name because it tends to confuse with my own name and even with that of the author of this article. you will appreciate, i am sure, that it is always better to give one’s full and correct name (for instance my email id does not give my full and correct name, hence I tend to post my comments with my own name, for the sake of clarity to all). hope the present debate ends on a sombre note.

  33. Manish Kumar says:


    i think ghantasala was suited best for his post i.e. telegu industry but rafi was suited best for his post i.e. hindi film songs. i don’t think either could have come close to the other if they swapped posts. their respective industries had different emphasis and each singer, perhaps by good fortune, had the strengths to match their industries. i’m aware that ghantasala has rendered many genres other than just classical music. however, his industry placed greater importance on classical music whereas the songs rafi was asked to sing put greater importance to a filmy voice. i think rafi had a filmier voice than ghantasala. purely my opinion. it’s kind of like rafi vs mannade imo.

    it’s true that i can’t understand telegu and it does bring doubt to my ability to judge emotions in telegu songs. however, i can still get a good grasp of the emotions because music is universal. i can appreciate some of spb’s tamil songs or kishore’s bengali songs or rafi’s punjabi songs. in the few songs i’ve heard, rafi seems to be able to inject more emotions & elements in a song. this is not necessarily in depth (althoug he’s second to none here too) but in terms of detail & variety behind individual words and they all are convincingly natural (coming from the heart, not manufactured, seems just right & not forced) in most of the songs.

    in the past you’ve stated that the only objective way to judge singers is their technical ability. that evaluation is incomplete & inconclusive. that’s like declaring a mack truck better than a porsche because the former has more horse power. it’s just impossible to separate subjectivity from music. rafi’s technical ability was proficient and more than enough for 99% of the songs he sang. is his technical ability lacking in “hum ko tum pe pyar aaya”, “ehsaan tera hoga muchpar”, “tere mere sapne”? absolutely not. he met or exceeded the technical requirements for those songs and those songs are the appropriate yard sticks to judge his technical ability. yes, you have the occasional “baat chalat” but those are few and far between. i acknowledge them but they don’t have much weight in the context of hfm as a whole.

    of course ghantasala is going to have an edge in “kuhu kuhu” because that composition emphasizes his strengths. likewise, i don’t see ghantasala matching rafi for a song like “huye hain tum pe aashiqu bhaala maano bura maano”. both were great in their posts and comparisons are going to be limited. even my own personal opinion of liking rafi’s voice & expression best (which is far reaching & general) does not apply to a lot of ghantasala’s songs because the technical ability was even more important than voice for some of the songs. so nevermind the comparisons and just enjoy these two legends for their unique contributions. it’s a pity we missed out on a ghantasala version of “mere mitwa” as he has left for his heavenly abode by then.

  34. Hussein Sheikh says:

    Post 55, 56, 57, 58: I was referring to telugu version of Kuhu kuhu…. by Ghantasala. It’s my personal view that I did not enjoy the Telugu version. And there’s not like jealousy. That’s your thinking mr. 55. I enjoy Rafi-Lata version in Hindi. That’s it.

  35. Anil Cherian says:

    I hope you wouldn’t mind my observation on your querry adressed to Guru Murthy sir.
    The ‘kuhu kuhu’ is set in Karnatic ragas but I suppose they have their Hindusthani equivalents. So, theoritically, a well-trained Hindusthani vocalist shoudn’t be finding it too tough to sing. However, from what I can pick from this song, Lataji and especially Rafisahab tries to reproduce the typical Karnatic classical style ‘taans’ for which they were not trained enough. So the final outcome is neither purely Karnatic style (which the singers were trying to do) nor purely Hindustani style (in which the singers were trained).
    Having said this, I wouldn’t dare call ‘kuhu kuhu..’ a mediocre effort. Both Rafisahab and Lataji compensates with their sweet voice and ‘manodharma’.
    As a side note, let me mention that it is relatively easier for a Karnatic classical exponent to adapt to Hindustani style rather than vice-versa. And infact there are many well-known South Indian classical film songs set in Hindusthani ragas.

  36. Anil Cherian says:

    Hope we are not witnessing another series of unhealthy comparison. The Telugu original of ‘Kuhu kuhu..’ is set in Karnatic style and raga (actually 3 or 4 of them). Ghantasalaji, a very well trained Karnatic singer, sings it very well, so does his female counterparts (Jikki in Telugu and P Suseela in Tamil). In the Hindi version, both Rafi sahab and Lataji struggles to replicate the original. Lataji does better (from a technical angle) because of her greater training in Hindustani classicals.
    But we have to applaud Rafisahab for attempting a song for which he was not trained enough and his core singing style (singing from the ‘nabhi’ with lesser use of the throat) and his voice type (the multi-layered, rich one) was a major handicap.

  37. Rafifan says:

    Gurumurthy ji,

    Just a small request / advise on kuhu kuhu bole koyaliya song in your wonderful article above. You were stating that it is sung in carnatic style. In my opinion, both rafi and lata have rendered it in hindusthani style, because the pronounciations of swars and alaaps are in hindusthani style and the song does not appear to fulfil the carnatic style requirements. The telugu rendition by ghantasala is purely carnatic, in terms of depth as well and is quite wonderful, simply unique. Pl. correct me if my views are otherwise.

  38. singh says:

    Hussein sheikh ji, – ref. post 54

    How come you are hearing ghantasala songs : if ghantasala’s rendition is not good according to you, then it should be taken that rafi ji’s is even more horrible, because both rafi and lata themselves had acknowledged that they could not sing like ghantasala. In fact lata had told that rafi felt discomfort on singing this song and rather requested manna dey to sing the song. Nevertheless, the hindi song came out as a beautiful number. This song became a hit in hindi simply because rafi and lata had rendered it. Had it been manna dey, I doubt whether such recognition would have come for the song.

    Gurumurthy ji,

    A nice article. All the songs are great numbers by rafi ji and musical hits.

  39. Murthy says:

    Post 54 – hussein sheikh

    Sorry, kuhu kuhu bole koyaliya is sung by rafi and lata and not by ghantasala. Kuhu kuhu is a beautiful number. How can you call it a horrible rendition. In fact, it had also won an award. You do not have a good taste of music. However, one point, many rafi fans take this as one of the great numbers. Do you know that this song is the telugu original one sung by ghantasala, the telugu great playback singer, for whom this song is only a left hand game and there are many far greater renditions in telugu by ghantasala than this suvarna sundari song, which is only one of the simple songs ghantasala had rendered in telugu. For this simple song, many people rate ghantasala as greater, In fact his greatness lies in many other great renditions in telugu which are far far greater and superb than the suvarna sundari number. For this simple number (for ghantasala), many view that in hindi rafi and lata struggled which stands only as a simple number for ghantasala.

  40. AR says:

    Post 54

    Well, i am not aware of you sheikh saab. But your post speaks of a fundamentalist mentality for which I need not make any comment. From your words, i have to decipher that you have heard rafi’s song and your views perfectly fit to the said song. Because kuhu kuhu bole koyaliya is sung by rafi and not by ghantasala (the original telugu number is hayi hayiga – meaning happily know the meaning of telugu words first, you will know what a lyric is). You first try to know which song is sung by whom.

  41. Rafifan says:

    Post 53

    AR ji,

    I agree with you, kuhu kuhu original telugu rendition is unique and outstanding. Specially, ghantasala outshines others. There is no dispute about that. Ghantasala stands great in his own style. The hindi version is also good and you have to look at the same from a hindusthani style, both rafi and lata did a good job. The hindi version also provides for a great rendition by rafi and lata the outstanding singers of hfm.

    Post 54 Hussein sheik ji,

    No jealousy please. If an artist is superb, we have to accept that, no issues on that front. There are many songs which sound great only in rafi saab voice and nobody can dispute that. Similarly, in some genres and songs, the same applies to shri ghantasala as well, kuhu kuhu telugu rendition being one among them.

  42. Hussein Sheikh says:

    Post 53: I have heard “Kuhu Kuhu Bole koyaliya…” in the voice of ghantasala…, it was horrible rendition. Nothing great. He can’t sing better than Rafi Saheb.

  43. AR says:

    Mr. Gurumurthy ji

    In your article you write kuhu kuhu bole koyaliya, which singer could have sung better in carnatic style. It is well known that the same song in telugu (original one) by shri ghantasala ji, wherein ghantasala ji easily overtakes both rafi and lata and in hindi, a fact which was acknowledged by rafi as well as lata. Classical rendition filmy songs shri ghantasala easily overtakes rafi by wider margins.

  44. sudhir dwivedi says:

    a nice article and i appriciate it.whatever the songs which have been discussed in your article was few.nomber of songs are there which no one could have sung those songs.few songs which iam discussing here,aaja re aa zara(1961),dil ruba dil pe tu ye sitam kiye ja(raj kumar),ye dunia ye mahfil(heer ranjha),dil jo na kah saka wohi raaj dil kahne ki raat aayee,nafrat ki dunia ko chor kar pyar ki dunia me khush rahna mere yar(haathi mere saathi)mai nighahe tere chehre se hatau kaise,toote hue khabo ko is dil me basaya tha,azhu na aayo balma sawan bita zaye,hum kaale hai to kya hua dil wale hai,ye raat hai pyasi pyasi (choti bahu),dil saad tha (aap aaye bahar aayee),tere isk ka mujh pe hua ye asar hai(naagin),parda hai hai parda hai(amar akbar anthonee).keep it up

  45. Patil says:

    Dear Raj,
    Aadaab Rafi.
    It was wonderful interacting with you and other Baar Baar Rafi Fan Club memebers last saturday. Looking forward to more of such meets and get togethers. Pleae do let me know if there is anythig I can do for the club, anything for Rafi Saab !
    Aadaab Rafi, Allah Haafiz.

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