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Going Solo

An article that appeared in the Mumbai Mid-day News, March 01, 2000

It was Rafi’s thematic vocalising of Naushad that fetched Bharat Bhooshan spot star status.

My ceaseless quest (Melodiana, February 16) for quality in Naushad’s music certainly had Mohammad Rafi votaries up in arms. The number of calls I had here — the burden of the song being that I had scaled down Mohammed Rafi to uphold Lata Mangeshkar in the vital matter of highlighting Naushad’s raag repertoire. In vain did I argue that I had but turned the focus on Lata while touching on Malka-e-Tarannum Noorjehan’s visit to India in February 1982. ‘‘In that case, how come you failed to touch on the landmark Jugnu duet with Rafi, Yahaan badlaa wafaa ka bewafaaii ke siva kya hai, that Noorjehan sang solo, on that occasion, on the Shamukhananda Hall stage?’’ queried one persisting caller. ‘‘As Lata’s biographer, this was only to be expected of you!’’

On this one point, I must join issue. And how better to issue a caveat here than by venturing to spotlight Rafi’s raag-oriented contribution to Naushad’s oeuvre, down the years, starting with the never-never Suhani raat dhal chuki na jaane tum kab aaoge in Pahadi from Dulari? Yes, I am going to steer clear of duets altogether here, for only by eliminating this genre of song can I keep Lata out of the Rafi-Naushad kaleidoscope! So much so that I am not going to pause even to note that, in my last column, Lata’s Shabab classic on Nutan, Jo main jaantee bisrat hai saiyyan, was an unwitting Maand miss out by me.

In the same Shabab, on Bharat Bhooshan, I turn to Rafi’s Aaye na balaam waada kar ke to seek to know from rasiks whether even Naushad has composed better than this, in Gaud Sarang, for his pet male performer. Unless you argue that Yehee armaan le kar aaj apne ghar se hum nikle is the superior Rafi solo (in Raag Tilang) from Shabab. While you thus pick and choose between Rafi in Gaud Sarang and Rafi in Tilang, I contend that in Shabab, there is nothing to beat this stalwart singer’s Mehlon mein rehne waale humein tere dar se kya — in rare Raag Shahana. A qawwali to compare with the best, in this class, of any era.

It was Rafi’s thematic vocalising of Naushad that fetched Bharat Bhooshan spot star status as Baiju Bawra. In this Naushad-Rafi cine classic, do I, any longer, need to add to the sum total of your raagdaari knowledge by identifying O duniya ke rakhwaale as Darbari, Insaan bano insaan bano as Gujari Todi; Tu Ganga kee mauj main Jamuna ka dhara (strictly a solo in the film) as Bhairavi and Man tarpat Hari darshan ko aaj as Malkauns?

Likewise, I am not going to stop to revivify Rafi-Naushads Insaaf ka mandir hai (in Amar) as Bhairavi, Ae husn zara jaag tujhe ishq jagaye (in Mere Mehboob) as Yaman, Saaz ho tum awaaz hoon main (in Saaz Aur Awaaz) as Patdeep and Madhuban mein Radhika naache re (in Kohinoor) as Hamir.

Neither Rafi nor Naushad needed a big star to leave a lasting impact. Take struggler Kanwaljeet in Son Of India —- long before he emerged as Waheeda Rehman’s real-life husband. Savour the Jaijaiwanti gem Naushad polished for Kanwaljeet here, via the captive vocals of Rafi, as Zindagee aaj mere naam se sharmaatee hai. Does this one suffer, in any way, when compared with the Jaijaiwanti that Naushad-Rafi created for Dilip Kumar (in Uran Khatola) as Mohabbat kee raahon mein chalna sambhal ke?

Staying with the Naushad-Rafi-Dilip Kumar triad in Uran Khatola, how abiding still is the Bhairavi appeal of Na toofaan se khelo na saaheel se khelo and the Raag Durga spell of O door ke musafir hum ko bhee saath le le re?

This then is also the point at which to recall Naushad’s breakthrough Deedar solo in the career of Rafi vis-à-vis Dilip Kumar — Meree kahaanee bhoolne waale tera jahaan aabaad rahe — in Raag Tilang. Dilip Kumar, oddly under Naushad, had not a single number going on him in Mughal-e-Azam. But the solo picturised in the film, on character actor Kumar, is all about Salim Dilip’s fixation on Anarkali Madhubala — in the Raag Kirvani shape of Zindabad zindabad ae mohabbat zindabad, a composition testing Rafi’s phenomenal range all the way.

On Dilip Kumar himself, in Dil Diya Dard Liya, it is logical to think that even Rafi could not excel himself — once you had savoured him here, under Naushad’s baton, in quintessential Kalavati as Koee saagar dil ko behlaata naheen. But reflect, in the same Dilip Kumar-Waheeda Rehman starrer, upon the Yaman quality of Naushad-Rafi’s Dilruba maine tere pyaar mein kya kya na kiya, dil diya dard liya and the Darbari serenity of the duo’s Guzare hai aaj ishq mein hum us makaam se.

Rajendra Kumar, for his screen part, always did expect Naushad (through Rafi) to cast him in the Dilip song-mantle. The attempt might not quite have come off in Palki, as the film saw the dark of release-day at a time (1967) when Rajendra Kumar’s star was no longer in the ascendant. That probably explains the Naushad-Rafi team’s here not quite being able to gather momentum with Kal raat zindagee se mulaquaat ho gayee (in Maand) and Chehre se apne aaj to parda uthaiye (in Piloo).

Asked to choose his best one for Rafi from the raagmatazz above, Naushad said his finest creation for this singer was in Raag Patdeep from the never-completed Habba Khatoon, going (as written by Ali Sardar Jafri) as: Jis raat ke khwab aaye, woh khwaabon ki raat aayee.

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2 Blog Comments to “Going Solo”

  1. ssmakkar says:

    i think an absolute gem of an article.
    may i know the name of the person who penned this ?

  2. Bonifacius says:

    Great article. I am just sad I dont know how to reply properly, though, since I want to show my appreciation like many other.

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