For reasons of brevity, let’s now straightway go to the Swinging Sixties - so called because of the libertine attitude that emerged during 1960-69 in the west. In India, the Mini-Skirt fashion was one such indication. There was a transition to colour from the black and white movies of the fifties. Some movies, though, continued to be released in their black and white version even as late as the mid-sixties. These were the times when the ubiquitous radio still ruled the roost. One had to send their “Farmaish” or a request to All-India Radio, or Vividh Bharti or even Sri Lanka Corporation (which was earlier known as Radio Ceylon). The Binaca Geet Mala radio programme was the most favourite one. Having gramophone records was not everyone’s cup of tea. The Tape Recorder was a great luxury and would become common only by the mid-seventies especially when Indians and Pakistanis working in the Gulf states would at least bring home one along with the many stereo-cassettes. Transistors, however, had become common more for the cricket commentaries than enjoyment of film music. It would take another fifteen years or so for the Television to appear in India. There were no music-cassettes’ releases or promos. The CD’s would become common in 1990; whereas the DVD-Video took a little longer by about nine years to become a household item.
The Sixties might have been a decade of mediocre films to some extent; but even the mediocre movies had such songs that outlasted many “A” grade movies. Those songs are remembered to this day. There is this convenient way of appreciating the musical sixties: Either through the prism of filmstars’ or that of the reigning music directors. This is especially true when we look at Mohammed Rafis songs of the sixties. When we take the first approach, we need to recall that by the early sixties a sort of three-tier system was unofficially established among the actors or stars. The top tier consisted of the Trio: Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand and Raj Kapoor. The second tier comprised of Rajendra Kumar, Shammi Kapoor, Sunil Dutt and Raj Kumar. The third tier had all the other remaining actors, including Manoj Kumar, Dharmendra, Shashi Kapoor, Jeetendra, Biswajit, Joy Mukherjee and so on. If we take the second approach we have to remember that Rafi Sahaab worked with all the top Music Directors of the day such as Naushad, S.D. Burman, O.P. Nayyar, Shankar-Jaikishen, Ravi, Kalyanji-Anandji, C. Ramchandra, Hemant Kumar and the new-comers, Laxmikant-Pyarelal. Of course, there were hosts of other musicians as well who composed beautiful numbers for Rafi Sahaab. Both these approaches, however, complement each other.
Rafi Sahaab perfected the "Chameleon Effect."
Now, not every excellent singer can become a great playback singer. This time Rafi Sahaab came out with the technique of blending his voice with that of the actor he was singing for. He became a master of this “Chameleon Technique.” (The word “chameleon” used here is in the positive sense and not in the negative sense generally used in the sub-continent of India and Pakistan). As Joy Mukherjee revealed in an interview, Rafi Sahaab used to ask the film producer as to who would be singing his song, i.e. whether it would be Dilip Kumar, Shammi Kapoor, or Joy Mukherjee. Then Rafi Sahaab would sing in the particular style of that hero. Such was the speciality of Rafi Sahaab, according to Joy Mukherjee. Thus there came a time when Rafi Sahaab became the permanent voice for most of the film-stars and actors. His singing style personalized the tragedy of Dilip Kumar, the soft dulcet voice of Rajendra Kumar, the Elvis the Pelvis or James Dean style of Shammi Kapoor, the “Jumping Jack” style of Jeetendra, the rustic voice of Dharmendra, the suave and urban style of Dev Anand, the impish jives of Shashi Kapoor, and the seriousness of Raj Kumar – just to cite some. Whoever he sang for, he sang from the depth of his heart. As for his rendition of songs for the hero/comedian Johnny Walker, that story has passed into folklores. Every frolic, nodding of head, extending of hands, broad smile, frowning, tumbling and antics on-screen were transformed into the songs that Rafi Sahaab sang for this ace actor. During the Fifties-Sixties, there was an ace comedian by the name of Radhakrishan who had a sort of bass voice and peculiar way of dialogue delivery with his teeth protruding out. When Rafi Sahaab sang for him, he did so by keeping his own teeth out from the mouth. Years later, after the passing away of the Legendary Rafi Sahaab, Nitin Mukesh would still feel entranced by Rafi Sahaab’s transformation from a shy, private person, into a Shammi Kapoor or Jeetendra, or Mehmood right in front of the mike. He also remembers that Rafi Sahaab actually sang in such a style that he made us feel that it was the actor/hero who was actually singing. Speak of the “Chameleon Effect!” Ask any old timer who watched those movies and he will give his right hand to say that Nitin is right.
Rafi Sahaab singing for Dilip Kumar.
For the Screen Legend, Dilip Kumar, Rafi Sahaab had already playbacked in the Nineteen Fifties in such movies as Deedar, Hulchul, Aan, Uran Khatola, Insaniyat, Naya Daur, Madhumati, etc. The 'Sixties began with Kohinoor where all the male-lead songs were sung by Rafi Sahaab. MADHUBAN MEIN RAADHIKA NAACHE RE is still a popular classical number. The other songs such ZARA MANN KI KIVADIYA KHOL; DHAL CHUKI SHAAME GHAM; and his duets with Lata: DOH SITAARON KA ZAMEE.N PAR HAI MILAN, and KOI PYAAR KI DEKHE JAADUGARI are also popular numbers. The only song of Rafi Sahaab in Mughal-e-Azam was not filmed on Dilip Kumar but on the character of Sang Taraash (stone-cutter) played by Amar. The resonant AY MUHABBAT ZINDABAAD which was rendered in high octave by Rafi Sahaab had been recorded by Naushad with at least one hundred chorus singers. In Ganga-Jumna (1961), he gave us NAYN LAD JAYYI HAI in an impeccable Bhojpuri dialect. This foray into a non-Hindi or Urdu track was a precedent to Rafi Sahaab’s foraying into the songs of regional languages in the Seventies. LEADER (1964) had several popular numbers of Rafi Sahaab such as MUJHE DUNIYA WAALON, HAMEEN SE MUHABBAT, TERE HUSN KI KYA, and the patriotic number, APNI AZAADI KO HAMM HARGHIZ. His duet with Suman Kalyanpuri in Raag Lalit: EK SHAHENSHAH NE BANWAA KE…sounds very delightful to the ears. Then, besides the title song and a classical duet in Dil Diya Dard Liya (1966), we have Rafi Sahaab singing for Dilip Kumar: GUZRE HAIN AAJ ISHQ MEIN...a song of revenge, KOI SAAGHAR DIL KO BEHLAATA NAHIN- which is steeped in Raag Kalavati and sung in measured tones by Rafi Sahaab -to convey the despondence of the drunken hero, among others. Then to quote only a few songs, in Ram Aur Shyam (1967): AAJ KI RAAT MERE which has been rendered by Rafi Sahaab with a true manifestation of a lover who is about to lose his lady love for no fault of his own; Aadmi (1968): NA AADMI KA KOI BHAROSA was a commentary on treachery of a friend. Shakespeare had centuries before stated: Most friendship is feigning, Most loving mere folly. In TOOTI HUYI NAYYA HOON song Rafi Sahaab brings out in his vocal the desperation of man at the end of his tethers. Interestingly, the happy song: KAISI HASEEN AAJ BAHAARON KI RAAT HAI is a duet in that on-screen Rafi Sahaab has Mahendra Kapoor for company, while the music released for public consumption has Talat Mehmood with him. Actually Naushad had asked Talat to sing for Manoj, but when the film was almost finished its producer told him that Manoj Kumar wanted Mahendra Kapoor to sing for him. That's the reason for the two versions. AAJ PURAANI RAAHON SE is a masterpiece number which only Rafi Sahaab could have justified and he has. Sanghursh (1969) had MERE PAIRON MEIN,and JAB DIL SE DIL TAKRAATA HAI among other songs. Speaking of MERE PAIRON MEIN GHUNGHROO...it was not taken kindly by Dilip Kumar fans who couldn't digest that their tragic hero could stoop to the level of dancing to the music of bells-laden anklet. At least this is what I gathered when I heard my Hindi Professor openly deprecating in his class, Dilip Kumar's stance of dancing. Yes, heroes were not supposed to dance, least of all Dilip Kumar. But then, he had only the words of praise for Rafi Sahaab's song of enthusiasm and youth.
Dilip Kumar's action and lip-synching of tragic, sad numbers was greatly facilitated by the soulful, heartfelt singing voice of the Legendary Singer, Mohammed Rafi. When it came to the devotional "Bhajans" the combination of Mohammed Rafi and Dilip Kumar could be electrifying. Listen to APNI CHHAAYA MEIN BHAGWANN from Insaniyat (1956)or SUKH KE SABB SAATHI from Gopi (1969) or even the background numbers such INSAAF KA MANDIR HAI from Amar (1954) or AANA HAI TAU AA from Naya Daur (1957) and you'll experience not only the cathartic effect but also the cosmic consciousness and enlightenment.
Rafi Sahaab singing for Dev Anand:
At the height of his popularity, Rafi Sahaab also became the voice for Dev Anand and rendered many pleasant numbers for him. Even in the Fifties he had provided hit tracks for the Evergreen Actor in such films as C.I.D. (1956), Nau Doh Gyaraah,('57) Kala Pani (1958) Solva Saal (1958), and some earlier movies such as Age Badho(1948). The Sixties too had the Legend singing for Dev Anand in many memorable numbers from Kala Bazaar: KHOYA KHOYA CHAAND; Bambai ka Babu: SAATHI NA MANZIL KOI, as well as the delightful duet: DEEWAANA MASTAANA HUA DIL; Tere Ghar ke Saamne (1963): DIL KA BHANWAR KARE PUKAAR; Manzil (1960): DIL TOH HAI DEEWAANA; Maya (1961): KOI SONE KE DILWAALA sung in a breezy pace by Rafi Sahaab to the accompaniment of the piano; Jab Pyaar Kisi se Hota Hai (1961): TERI ZULFON SE; Hum Dono (1961): MAIN ZINDAGI KA SAATH; Asli Naqli (1962): CHHE.DA MERE DIL NE TARAANA; Sharabi (1964): SAAWAN KE MAHINE MEIN; Teen Deviyan (1965): AISE TOH NA DEKHO; Pyar Mohabbat (1966): AAP NAARAZ KHUDA KHAYR KARE; the mother of all the Rafi-Lata romantic duets from Jewel Thief (1967): DIL PUKAARE AA RE AA RE AA RE; Duniya (1968): PHALSAFA PYAAR KA where Rafi Sahaab's style gets into the skin of the stylish Dev Anand. Mark specially his rendition of '..KYAA JAANO..." in that song. Rafi Sahaab’s crooning in Guide (1965) need a special mention. His DIN DHAL JAAYE, which was also crooned by Rekha in Kudiyon ka Zamaana some forty years later(2006), is a mesmerizing song in which Rafi Sahaab eloquently brings out all the pathos and frustrations of the hero desparate for the love and attention of his lady love. His TERE MERE SAPNE is one of the most romantic songs of the Sixties. KYA SE KYA HO GAYA on the other hand conveys the ultimate resignation so dramatically hinted in the song by those fine nuances of Rafi Sahaab's rendition that the character and the singer become one entity.
However, it appears that Dev Anand had always preferred Kishore Kumar to Mohammed Rafi which fact is reinforced by the fact that in his directorial venture Prem Pujari, which flopped miserably at the box office (and the main theatre "Shalimar" in Bombay was even set to fire), there was just one nominal song of Rafi Sahaab: TAAQAT WATAN KI HAMM. This shows that it was S.D. Burman whose career with the Navketan spanned three decades and was part of the family did have the final say in his selecting Rafi Sahaab in most of the movies made under the Nav Ketan Banner. But the failing health of this great composer was to indirectly result in a diversion for sorts in the listening taste of the music lovers in the late Sixties, i.e. in four years’ time from 1965. The triumph of Rafi Sahaab especially in the playback singing for Dev Anand is that the actor could not ignore the Legendary Singer whatever his predilection - and good for him too, for we have so many loveable Rafi numbers filmed on Dev Anand. Imagine, who else but Rafi Sahaab could have taken the sudden flight in "TERI KHUSHBOO NE MERE, HOSH HEE CHHEEN LIYE..." in the 'Antara' of the Rafi-Lata duet: HAM SE ROOTHA NA KARO hearing which our hearts miss a beat while we are transported to the realm of romance and youth. The inescapable conclusion is that it was the voice of Rafi Sahaab that brought out the suave and urbane finesse of Dev Sahaab's on-screen character. Rafi Sahaab's songs for Dev Anand also highlighted the "SHEESHE KA HAI MATWAALE TERA DIL..." image of the evergreen hero.
Rafi Sahaab singing for Shammi Kapoor:
Mohammed Rafi’s tracks for Shammi Kapoor have passed into folklores. It was in Junglee (1961) that Shammi Kapoor zoomed to the highest position that he ever enjoyed in Bollywood. All his songs were sung by Rafi Sahaab in almost all his later movies except when there was some guest appearance as a qawwali singer or the role required him to change his guise - in which case it was Manna Dey for him. (Ujala – 1959 is also exception. ) Yes, in Singapore (1960) Mukesh did render the Title Song though there was DHOKA KHAAYEGI NAA YAARON KI NAZAR and some three more tracks by Rafi Sahaab. The list of Shammi Kapoor’s films is long and the songs playbacked for him by Rafi Sahaab are too many and too popular. The mischievous duet AY GO AY GO AY GO YEH KYA HO GAYA, and SALAAM AAPKI MEETHI NAZAR KO SALAAM in Boy Friend (1961) may be mentioned here. When in Professor (1962) Rafi sings AY GUL BADAN AY GUL BADAN we are transported to another realm where youthfulness never fades away and the fragrance of thousand roses comes dancing with the mountain breeze. After being called a Junglee, Shammi Kapoor earned the title of Budtameez (1966) where Rafi Sahaab rendered all the five numbers for him. Though HASEEN HO TUM KHUDA NAHIN HO is generally cited from this movie, I can’t help remembering APNI BAAHON SAY KOI KAAM TOH LO where one must actually see the movie to appreciate the real talent of Rafi Sahaab’s style for Shammi Kapoor. When the actor genuflects with the line: GIR NA JAAOON MAIN HUZOOR THAAM TOH LO, the word ‘GIR” and “MAIN HUZOOR” are transformed visually in the voice of the great singer. Just as he did for the actor in Kashmir Ki Kali (1964) earlier in the song: TAREEF KARUN KYA US KI the music director of which was O.P. Nayyar. Oh how stylish both these numbers are! Most of the Rafi Sahaab’s tracks for Shammi Kapoor have been musically directed by Shankar-Jaikishen and O.P. Nayyar, with R.D. Burman being reluctantly accepted by Shammi Kapoor in Teesri Manzil (1966). O.P. had Rafi Sahaab singing for Shammi Kapoor also in Basant (1960). Under Shankar-Jaikishen Rafi Sahaab sang for Shammi Kapoor in: Rajkumar('64): ISS RANGG BADALTI DUNIYA MEIN; Boyfriend (1961): MUJHE APNA YAAR BANA LO; Professor (1962): AYE GULBADAN; KHULI PALAK MEIN; An evening in Paris (1967): AASMAAN SAY AAYA FARISHTA; Junglee: (1961): AYY-YAYYI-YAA SUKOO SUKOO;Laat Saab (1967): AY CHAAND ZARA CHHUP JAA (a duet).Prince: (1969): BADAN PE SITAARAY LAPETAY HUWEY; Dil Tera Diwana (1962): NAZAR BACHAA KAR CHALAY GAYE WOH; then all the songs of Brahmachari (1968) including the award-winning DIL KE JHAROKAY MEIN; Janwar (1965): including MERI MUHABBAT JAWAA.N RAHEGI. This movie had a song DEKHO AB TOH which was inspired by the Beatles track: I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND. Next, Tumse Achcha Kaun Hai (1968) had a haunting number: JANAM JANAM KA SAATH HAI and the racy, saucy KIS KO PYAAR KARUN. This list is not exhaustive, though it may be mentioned here that for Shankar-Jaikishen alone for whom he sang at least 377 hit songs, 103 songs were for Shammi Kapoor's movies.
It's notable that Shammi Kapoor considered Rafi Sahaab as his “Soul.” and why not? Rafi Sahaab perfectly matched his voice with Shammi Kapoor’s mannerisms, his exuberance and dancing abilities. Though Shammi Kapoor used to be present in most of his song recordings, there were times when he could not attend and it was then that Rafi Sahaab used to surprise him by his renditions which clearly signaled that the song was playbacked for the Rebel Star. Shammi Kapoor has been very forthcoming on the magic of Rafi Sahaab:
"As a hero I was so involved with my songs, from concept to tunes to lyrics, that I would make it a point to attend all my recordings and offer the suggestions for the audio part of the visuals that I would enact. But whenever I could not, it was uncanny how Rafi would know exactly what I would want by way of nuances! I asked him how he knew exactly what I would want, and he would say, "Maine socha ke tum kaise karoge!"..
The BAAR BAAR DEKHO song from China Town (1961) under music director, Ravi, was a runaway hit and is still a very popular number. But Ravi could also give a very serious musical composition for Shammi Kapoor for he had the Legendary Rafi Sahaab who, he knew would do full justice. That song was: ZINDAGI KYA HAI which was a high-pitched lament in the movie called Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya (1963). The Bluff Master song under Kalyanji Anandji had Rafi Sahaab belting out the eternally favourite, GOVINDA AALA RE AALA. Says Shammi Kapoor: "He was responsible for my success as the Rebel Star and dashing romantic hero." No doubt, then, the loss of this Legendary singer must have dealt a great blow to him.
Rafi Sahaab and Raj Kapoor:
Though Rafi's voice suited Raj Kapoor too, by 1953, Mukesh had become the voice of Raj Kapoor who also used to have Manna Dey singing for him in his films. However, earlier, Mohammed Rafi did sing for him in the late forties in Andaz - YOON TOH AAPAS MEIN BIGADTE HAI, and the cancelled song: SUN LO DIL DIL KA AFSAANA HO. HAI TERA. In early Fifties Naushad again utilized Rafi for Raj Kapoor in Dastaan (YEH SAAWAN RUT HAMM AUR TUM; and my personal favourite, DIL KO HAAY DIL KO...). In Paapi (1953) Rafi sang TERA KAAM HAI JALNA PARWAANE which kept the audience glued to the hall, and the racy number: LELE GORI where names of Nargis, Meena Kumari and Geeta Bali are used for selling bangles) for example. S. Mohinder was the music director. Rafi's song in Amber (1952) were a treat, especially the duet with Lata: the comical, SHAMA JALI PARWANA AAYA; the sad, DUNIYA MEIN NAHIN KOI YAAR; the lilting HAMM TUM YEH BAHAAR under the musical direction of Ghulam Mohammed. Then in 1953 in a movie called Dhun, Madan Mohan used Rafi Sahaab for NAZAR MILAA LE O DILRUBA NA KAR BAHAANE.
Come mid-Fifties, Raj Kapoor did utilize Rafi Sahaab in the movies related to him. Apart from the soulful, TUMHAARE HAIN TUMSE DAYAA MAANGTE HAIN and the motivational duet, NANNEH MUNNE BACHCHE TERI MUTTHI MEN KYAA HAI in Boot Polish (1954) where Raj Kapoor is the Producer, we have the ever popular RAMAYYA VASTAVAYYA in Shri 420 (1955). We have a children song in Dattaram's composition, CHUN CHUN KARTI AAYI CHIRIYA filmed on Yaqub in Ab Dilli Door Nahin (1957- RK as producer). In Main Nashe Mein Hoon (1959) we have the seemingly simple but in fact difficult stanza of Rafi Sahaab: LO KHOON SE KHOON JUDA HUWA, though it is a background song filmed on the main characters Mubarak and Nazir Hussein. The same year we had Do Ustad where O.P. Nayyar opted for his favourite Rafi Sahaab to sing for Raj Kapoor. This movie had about seven songs of Rafi Sahaab (one solo and six duets).
The Nineteen Sixties begins with Chhaliya (1960) where Kalyanji-Anandji had Rafi Sahaab singing GALI GALI SEETA ROYE for Raj Kapoor. The song in Nazrana (1961) is very heart-touching: BAAZI KISEE NE PYAAR KEE JEETEE YAA HAAR DEE.. composed by Ravi and filmed on Raj Kapoor. In Ek Dil Sau Afsaane (1963) there is the romantic duet: TUM HI TUM MERE JEEVAN MEIN composed by SJ who again utilised Rafi Sahaab for an awesome Heer in his Mera Naam Joker (1969-70): SADQE HEER TUJH PE HAMM FAQEER SADQE...which in fact is a very moving song. Only Rafi Sahaab could have done justice to this song which is enough to give one goose-pimples.
Rafi Sahaab singing for Rajendra Kumar:
As for Rajendra Kumar, he considered Mohammed Rafi the Tansen of Bombay Film industry. It was Mohammed Rafi who sang the most for him, and all those songs of his were super hits in the Sixties. Of course, while disussing the Fifties we pointed out the Rafi Sahaab sang for him in such movies as Vachan (1955): JAB LIYA HAATH MEIN HAATH (a duet with Asha); Goonj Uthi Shehnai (1959): KEH DOH KOI NA KARE YAHAAN PYAR; the title track of Chirag Kahan Roshni Kahan (1959). These were respectively under the batons of Ravi, Vasant Desai, and Kalyanji Anandji. Even ihis 1960 movie Maa-Baap had a memorable number: LE LO LE LO DUAAYEN MAA BAAP KI – though sung in the background. But with the advent of 1961 came the turning point for Rajendra Kumar when Rafi Sahaab sang most of his songs for him. Such movies included: Sasural where the evergreen number: TERI PYAARI PYAARI SOORAT KO won Rafi Sahaab the Film Fare Award for the best singer in 1962. This song was competing with HUSN WAALE TERA JAWAAB NAHIN from Rajendra starrer, Gharana. Rafi Sahaab’s duet with Asha Bhonsle in Pyar ka Sagar (1961): MUJHE PYAAR KI ZINDAGI DENE WAALE ranks among the most melodious duets. The “Jubilee” Kumar was lucky enough to have Rafi Sahaab for his movies right from then onwards to the time of former’s decline which began with Aman and Jhuk Gaya Aasmaan. To mention some representative numbers: the Award winner TERI PYAARI PYAARI SOORAT KO (Sasural - 1961); HUSN WAALE TERA JAWAAB NAHIN in Gharana. Then there are so many melodious numbers that Rafi Sahaab sang for him, composed by Shankar-Jaikishen. To name a very few only: YEH AANSU MERE DIL KI ZUBAAN HAI and other songs in Hamrahi – 1963; YAAD NAA JAAYE (Dil Ek Mandir – 1963); the mesmerizing YEH MERA PREM PATRA PARH KAR (Sangam – 1964); TUM KAMSIN HO (Aayee Milan Ki Bela - 1964) PEHLE MILE THEH SAPNON MEIN (Zindagi – 1964); AY NARGISI MASTAANA (Aarzoo – 1965); the Award-winning BAHAARON PHOOL BARSAAO (Suraj -1966) AAJ KI RAAT YEH KAISI RAAT (Aman – 1967); KAHAN CHAL DIYE and the track number (JHUK GAYA AASMAAN – 1968); and the songs from Talash, Anjaana and Shatranj (all 1969).
Naushad too provided music for Rajendra Kumar starrers such as Palki (1967) - his own home production- that has a haunting love-song: KAL RAAT ZINDAGI SE MULAAQAAT HO GAYI; and the all-time favourite Muslim Social, Mere Mehboob (1963) which had beautiful numbers, especially the title track of MERE MEHBOOB TUJHE MERI MUHABBAT KI QASAM – which has rich imagery brought out by Rafi Sahaab’s subtle nuances, softness, and even sorrowing (AB MERI JAAN PAR BAN AAYI HAI) is easily, in my opinion, the most romantic song of 1963 and in the league of YEH MERA PREM PATRA PADHKAR (Shankar-Jaikishen) and TERE MERE SAPNE AB (SD Burman). It will be interesting to note that for the Rajendra Kumar starrer, Saathi (1968), Naushad perhaps wanted to revive the glory of Andaz (1949) along with Mukesh and Majrooh Sultanpuri. But his resorting to western orchestration to experiment something new did not click – though the fact is that he had earlier given a “Twist” number, KYA RANG-E-MEHFIL HAI DILDAARAM (Lata) in Dil Diya Dard Liya – Dilip Kumar starrer.
Rafi Sahaab and the other Actors:
Many heroes of the sixties, as also the fifties, indeed owe their success to Rafi Sahaab who sang for them in the manner that suited their style best. To point out in brief, some of the following songs of Rafi Sahaab resemble the mannerisms and style of these heroes:
Sunil Dutt: RANGG AUR NOOR KI BAARAAT KISE (Ghazal- 1964); TU HO KE BADA BANN JAANA (Khandaan – 1965); AAP KE PEHLOO MEIN (Mera Saya – 1966).
Raj Kumar: TUJH KO PUKAARE MERA PYAAR (Neel Kamal – 1967); AAJ ISS DARJA PILAA DOH (Vaasna – 1968); JO GUZAR RAHI HAI MUJH PE (Mere Huzoor – 1968);
Bharat Bhushan: ZINDAGI BHAR NAHIN BHOOLEGI (Barsaat ki Raat – 1960); DIL KI TAMANNA THI MASTI MEIN (Gyaraah Hazaar Ladkiyaan - 1962); KISI KI YAAD MEIN (Jahan Ara – 1964); JAB JAB BAHAAR AAYI (Taqdeer – 1967).
Pradeep Kumar: AB KYA MISAAL DOON (Arti – 1962); JO BAAT TUJH MEIN HAI (Taj Mahal – 1963); HAMM INTEZAAR KARENGE (Bahu Begum – 1967).
Mohammed Rafi rehearsing a song for Jab Jab Phool Khile
Shashi Kapoor: ABHI NA PHERO NAZAR (Biradari -1966); AFFU KHUDA and others (Jab Jab Phool Khile -1965); KEHNI KI NAHIN BAAT(Pyar Kiye Jaa – 1966) which is an amazing voice gymnastic a la Shashi Kapoor; LIKHE JO KHAT TUJHE (Kanyadan - 1969).
Joy Mukherjee: YOO.N ZINDAGI KE RAASTE (Love in Simla -1961); AANCHAL MEIN SAJAA LENA KALIYAA.N (Phir Wohi Dil Laaya Hoon - - 1963); BADE MIYAA.N DEEWAANE (Shagird – 1967).
Dharmendra: JAANE KYAA DHOONDHTI REHTI HAIN (Shola aur Shabnam - 1962); MAIN KAHIN KAVI NA BANN JAAOON (Pyar Hi Pyar – 1969); AAP KE HASEEN RUKH PE (Bahaaren Phir Bhi Aayengi -1966); YAHI HAI TAMANNA (Aap Ki Parchhaayaan – 1964).
Manoj Kumar: EK LADKI HAI (Gumnaam - 1965); DIL TADPE TADPAAYE (Poonam Ki Raat – 1965); ZULFON KO HATAA LE CHHERE SE (Saawan ki Ghata – 1966); Title track of PATTHAR KE SANAM (1967).
Biswajeet: Like others, he too considers Rafi Sahaab as the Greatest Playback Singer and attributes his success in Bollywood to Rafi Sahaab's songs. For him Rafi Sahaab has sung many songs. A few include: ITNI NAAZUK NA BANO (Vaasna – 1968); NAZAR NA LAG JAAYE (Night in London –1967); PUKAARTA CHALA HOON MAIN (Mere Sanam – 1965), APRIL FOOL BANAAYAA (April Fool - 1964).
Johnny Walker: [We had many memorables in the Fifties: ALL LINE CLEAR (Chori Chori - 1956); AY DIL HAI MUSHKIL (C.I.D. - 1956); MAIN BAMBAI KA BAABU (Naya Daur - 1957); HAMM TUM JISE KEHTAA HAI SHAADI (Kaaghaz ke Phool - 1959); MERA YAAR BANA HAI DULHAA (Chaudhvin ka Chaand – 1960); 'Daaru' songs such as JANGAL MEIN MOR NAACHE (Madhumati - 1958) and DEKHTA CHALAA GAYAA MAIN ZINDAGI KI RAAH MEIN (Gateway of India - 1957); ] EK MUSAFIR KO DUNIYA MEIN KYA CHAAHIYE and HAMM BHI AGAR BACHCHE HOTE (Door ki Awaaz – 1964); SUNO SUNO MISS CHATTERJEE (Bahaarein Phir Bhi Aayengi - 1966), O MERE YAAR ROMEO (Night in London - 1967); and many others.
Mehmood: MEHBOOBA MEHBOOBA (Sadhu Aur Shaitaan 1968); HAMEN KAALE HYN TOH KYA HUA (Gumnaam – 1965); MERA GADHA GADHON KA LEADER (Meherbaan - 1967) among others.
In the Sixties the movies in which Rafi Sahaab sang for Jeetendra, include Farz, (1968); Awlad, Mere Huzoor (1968); Jeene ki Raah, Waris, Jigri Dost, (1969). These songs include the lilting duet with Lata: ARMAAN THA HAMEN JINKA in Awlad, GHAM UTHAANE KE LIYE and the sweet train number RUKH SE ZARA NAQAAB in Mere Huzoor; BAAR BAAR YEH DIN AAYE and other number in Farz; four songs in Jeene ki Raah including AANE SE USKE, EK BANJAARA GAAYE and the naughty duet, AA MERE HAMM-JOLI AA.; the farmer songs: MERE DES MEIN in Jigri Dost and the title track of DHARTI KAHE PUKAAR KE; the romantic duet: LEHRAKE AAYA HAI and the solo EK BECHAARA PYAAR KA MAARA among others in Waaris.
It appears that in the early sixties Rafi Sahaab was competing again – but this time only with himself. It was in 1964 that Madan Mohan gave some nine songs to Rafi Sahaab (two duets with Asha) in Sharaabi; Usha Khanna: six songs (one duet) in Aao Pyar Karen. O.P. Nayyar: seven songs (three duets) in Kashmir ki Kali; S.D. Burman: four songs (one duet) in ZIDDI. There were five solo songs of Rafi Sahaab under the musical direction of rank newcomers Laxmikant-Pyarelal in the 1964 blockbuster, Dosti which, again, had no known heroes and in which Sanjay Khan acted for the first time and that too in a nominal appearance with no song to sing.
YEH MERA PREM PATRA PARH KAR (Sangam - 1964) was the most romantic song of 1964 and was composed by the dashing duo Shankar-Jaikishan who had been nominated for the 1964 Film Fare Award. This song has the history of enchanting its listener even prior to the release of the movie. Once during the shooting of DIL HI TO HAI (Raj & Nutan starrer) in 1963 Raj Kapoor played this song full blast on a loud speaker for the very first time for his Unit. Each and every member of the Unit was completely enthralled on hearing this song. This also happened during a stage programme in 1963 which was held in the presence of the then Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru after the 1962 war of India and China. Rafi Sahaab had just finished singing AY MERE LA.DLO UTHO HIMMAT SE KAAM LO and was in tears when the crowd cried: "Once More, Once More." At this time, under the batons of Shankar-Jaikishen Rafi Sahaab sang the said Sangam song. Sure enough, the entire audience was spell-bound. And so were the music lovers who heard this song when SANGAM was released all over India, including Mumbai where it was released at the newly christened Apsara Cinema in Mumbai.
In 1964 itself, under the batons of Shankar Jaikishen, Rafi Sahaab, roughly speaking, rendered as under: Six songs at least in Beti-Bete (some say nine); Five in April Fool; Five in Aayee Milan ki Bela; Three in Kahin Aur Chal (the movie was probably unreleased – but the song, DOOBTE HUWE DIL KO is so full of pathos); Three in Zindagi; Three in Sanjh Aur Savera – all great hits. The reason cited by Shankar of Shankar-Jaikishen duo for preferring Rafi Sahaab was that language was not a bar to Rafi’s sense of expression. He had better enunciation and better diction. According to him, no one could match the “Soz” of Rafi Sahaab whose voice had “Atma” (Soul) and was a Gift from God (Bhagwan ki Den). He was emphatic when he stated that there would be no other singer of the caliber of Rafi Sahaab. An ardent fan informs us that out of 174 Hindi films for which Shankar-Jaikishen gave music, Rafi Sahaab sang some 377 songs in 123 films – 222 solos, some 111 duets with female singers and the remaining being mixed duets. Further, out of these 377 songs, Rafi Sahaab sang 103 numbers for Shammi Kapoor films, 61 for Rajendra Kumar films, and 29 were for Dev Anand movies.
From a memorable interview of Lata Mangeshkar on a TV channel, we learn that she had a very good relationship with Shankar-Jaikishens and some of their compositions which Rafi Sahaab sang for them were also given to Lata Mangeshkar for one reason or another. She felt that perhaps the music directors were trying to test her voice range. She had to sing in the same 'Sur' as Rafi Sahaab. Such an "impossible scale" was AJI ROOTH KAR AB KAHAAN JAAIYEGAA in Arzoo (1965) about which she admits that it was such a high pitch that "reddened her ears." Rafi Sahaab sang the corresponding composition but the wordings were AJI HAMM SAY BACHKAR KAHAAN JAAIYEGAA. Speaking of the high pitch song of Rafi Sahaab, Shankar-Jaikishen had initially composed the Brahmachari song, DIL KE JHAROKE MEIN TUJHKO BITHAAKAR in a single range but later the duo composers decided to have it in multiple range so that the stress and sorrow of the hero (Shammi Kapoor) could be amply conveyed in the song. When the song was recorded, Rafi Sahaab reached twice the scale that was originally decided. The opening 'Mukhda' was in low pitch and the subsequent verses were sung at four higher levels as in a crescendo. Many well-wishers had then advised Rafi Sahaab against singing songs of breathless pitch. Once again, I may remind my esteemed readers that it is not just the range or high pitch that's being probed. It's about the melodious voice that was retained by him even at hight ranges. Now that's not easy for even an accomplished singer!
Some such other songs were EHSAAN HOGA TERA MUJH PAR from Junglee and the title track of Jab Pyaar Kisi se Hota Hai. Here, it may be recalled that Music Director Ramlal too had given one such type of a song to Lata ji in Sehra: TAQDEER KA FASAANA. But the high pitch is missing in her song as she sings at the lower scale that Rafi Sahaab uses in the second stanza beginning with MATWAALE CHAAND SOORAJ AA AA AA. By the way, I had been wondering about V.Shantaram's unusual choice of Mohammed Rafi Sahaab for his SEHRA. I learnt that when all other singers had failed to do justice, it was only then that Rafi Sahaab was called to finally sing Taqdeer ka Fasaana - and we know the result! Of course, there were other songs that were comparatively easier on scale such as TUM MUJHE YOON BHULAA NA PAAOGE (Pagla Kahin Ka - 1969) and O MERE SHAAHE KHUBAAN (Love in Tokyo - 1966).
No less than the legendary SPB admits that in the tandem songs Rafi Sahaab far excelled his co-singers! Some of these songs are:
Ehsaan teraa hogaa mujh pe…
As for music director, Ravi, it was he who, along with Shankar-Jaikishen, had composed maximum number of songs for Rafi Sahaab. He started with Vachan (1955) which had Rafi Sahaab singing O BAABU, O BAABU, O JAANE WAALE BAABU IK PAISA DE DE (along with Asha Bhonsle who playbacked for a child). This song is undoubtedly the best "begger's delight" even after half a century. For decades one used to see beggars on the streets and the trains, singing this number while extending their hand or a begging-bowl with success. Ravi repeated this formula again with the singing duo with GHARIBON KI SUNO VOH TUMHAARI SUNE.NGAA in Dus Laakh (1966). Incidentally, in the Fifties itself we had some such memorable Rafi Sahaab's songs - though under different composers: MEHLON MEIN REHNEWALE HAME TERE DAR SE KYA (Shabab), TUMHAARE HAIN TUM SE DAYA MAANGTE HAIN (Boot Polish), HAME BHI DE DO SAHAARA (Seema); and in the Sixties the most moving masterpiece: JAANE WAALON ZARA, composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal in Dosti(1964). It was Rafi Sahaab's voice that was full of pain and anguish, that undoubtedly tugged at the heart of the listeners.
Since there were so many movies of this combination of Rafi-Ravi even in the Sixties, it is not possible in this short essay to give all the songs that Rafi Sahaab sang under the musical direction of Ravi. Some of these movies include Bharosa (1963): ISS BHARI DUNIYA MEIN; Aaj aur Kal (1963): YEH WAADIYAA.N YEH FIZAAYE.N; Shenai (1964): NA JHATKO ZULF SAY PAANI, Do Badan: BHARI DUNIYA MEIN AAKHIR DIL KO, Kajal: YEH ZULF AGAR KHULKE, Waqt: WAQT SE DIN AUR RAAT (all 1965); Nai Roshni (1967): JITNI LIKHI THI, Aankhen (1968): the title track; Ek Phool Do Maali (1969): O NANNEH SE FARISHTE and others.
Of course, Ravi also used Mahendra Kapoor in such movies as Gumraah, Waqt, Humraaz, Daastan among others. This was on insistence of B.R. Chopra the producer/director of these films. It's to be remembered here that it was Rafi Sahaab himself who had asked him to take interest in the kid (Mahendra Kapoor). As for Mahendra Kapoor (d.Sept. 2008) he was an avid admirer and "worshipful fan" of Rafi Sahaab as long as he lived and was also his protege.
For Madan Mohan too, Rafi Sahaab sang an amazing mix of numbers in many movies. To give some representative movies of the Sixties: KISI KI YAAD MEIN and BAAD MUDDAT KE in Jahan Ara (1964) though here, he was insistent on retaining Talat Mehmood for other numbers. The same year we have the ever-popular ‘Nazm” RANGG AUR NOOR KI BAARAAT from Ghazal. the patriotic songs KAR CHALE HAMM FIDA in Haqiqat (1964): and in the same year in SHARABI, we already noted before that Madan Mohan asked Rafi Sahaab to sing as many as nine numbers, including the unforgettable KABHI NA KABHI. Next we come to AAKHRI GEET MUHABBAT KA in Neela Aakaash (1965); In 1965 we also have his NAYA KANOON where Rafi Sahaab sang KUCH AYSI PYAARI SHAQL. In Neend Hamaari Khwaab Tumhaare (1966) we have the foot-tapping duets of Rafi-Asha. The solo of Rafi Sahaab, YOON ROOTHO NA HASEENA, was very popular then and still is. The song from the film, Chirag (1969) TERI AANKHON KE SIWAA is still remembered by many old timers and is also the delight of the new generations of music lovers.
For Roshan (father of Rajesh Roshan) Rafi Sahaab had given many beautiful numbers in the Fifties. Roshan used Rafi Sahaab for the maximum number of his songs. The trend continued in the Sixties too. Just to cite some examples: Title track of Barsaat ki Raat (1960); in the same movie we had one of the most romantic Qawwaalis featuring Manna Dey and others. In this Qawwaali Rafi Sahaab is made to have a late entry with a soft, rising Alaap and then dwelling on the sublimity of Love, declaring him a winner. Incidentally, as confirmed, it was Khayyam who was originally called upon to give music for Barsaat Ki Raat for which he had even received the "signing amount". However, since the producer insisted on plagiarism (YEH ISHQ ISHQ HAI ISHQ ISHQ) by reiterating, "BAS YAHI, BAS YAHI.." he returned the signing amount. It was thereafter that Roshan was asked to give music for this movie. This was revealed by Khayyam in the RKB Show of 31st October 2007, while exonerating Roshan for whose original compositions he has great regards. Some other numbers composed by Roshan are: TUM EK BAAR MUHABBAT KA IMTIHAAN TAU LO- Babur, (1960), AB KYA MISAAL DOONA –Aarti, and GHAME-E-HASTI SE BAS BEGAANA HOTAA - Vallah Kya Baat Hai (1962), The duets from Taj Mahal (1963): PAANV CHHOO LENE DOH and JO WAADA KIYA; DIL JO NA KEH SAKA from Bheegi Raat, and the classic SWAPN JHADE PHOOL SE for which the movie, Nayi Umar ki Nayi Fasal, (1965) is still remembered; JAATA HOON MAIN - Daadi Maa (1966), HAMM INTEZAAR KARENGE - Bahu Begum (1967), MILE NA PHOOL TAU (Anokhi Raat- 1968). As for the famous philosophical number, MANN RE TU KAAHE NAA DHEER DHARE from Chitralekha (1964), the OUTLOOK magazine selected eminent jury from the Hindi film industry to select the most popular song and other categories. The jury comprising of Javed Akhtar, Gulzar, Rajesh Roshan, Anu Malik, Shantanu Moitra and other knowledgeable persons declared that Mann Re... was the Most Popular Song. That was in 2006.
Kalyanji-Anandji utilized Rafi Sahaab in Bluff Master (1963) HUSN CHALA KUCHCH AYSI CHAAL (a duet with Lata) besides the all-time hit GOVINDA AALAA RE; again, the 1963, the patriotic song is still fresh in our memory: WATAN PE JO FIDA HOGA (Phool Bane Angaare); The number, TERI ZULFEN PARESHAA.N from Preet Na Jaane Reet (1964) is in a class of its own – thanks to Rafi Sahaab’s stylish rendition; again in 1964 in Ishaara we have hit songs of Rafi Sahaab such as DIL BEQARAAR SA HAI; then all the songs of Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965), including PARDESIYON SE NA ANKHIYAAN MILAANA, and the YAHAA.N MAIN AJNABI HOON – a sad philosophical number; Amne Saamne 1967): NAYN MILAA KE CHAYN CHURAANA; Hasina Maan Jaayegi (1968) – MUHABBAT RANGG LAYEGI; Ek Shriman Ek Shrimati (1969): and the ever-popular, CHALE THEH SAATH MILKE – to name just a few.
Similarly, O.P. Nayyar’s musical compositions and Rafi Sahaab’s songs for the movies like Basant, Jaali Note (1960); Ek Musafir Ek Hasina (1962); Phir Wohi Dil Laaya Hoon (1963); Kashmir ki Kali (1964); Mere Sanam (1965) Muhabbat Zindagi Hai, Saawan ki Ghata and Yeh Raat Phir Na Aayegi (1966) among others, have been very romantically sung by the Legendary Master, Rafi Sahaab, and are too well-known to merit a listing.
Usha Khanna’s musical compositions were also attuned to Rafi Sahaab’s style that we saw in the earlier decade beginning with her debut in Dil Deke Dekho (1958). Her repertoire though not as profilic as LP is still the delight of music lovers when Rafi Sahaab sings for her. To give a few samplings: Hum Hindustani (1960): HAMM JAB CHALEN TOH; Shabnam(1964) MAINE RAKKHA HAI MUHABBAT and YEH TERI SAADGI; , Aao Pyaar Karen (1964) JAHAAN TU HAI WAHAAN PE and DIL KE AAEENE MEIN; Ek Sapera Ek Lutera (1965): HAMM TUMSE JUDA HO KE; Nishan (1965): HAAY TABASSUM TERAA; Main Vohi Hoon (1966): BAHOT HASEEN HO; Bandhish (1969): ABHI TO RAAT BAAQI HAI.
R.D. Burman’s musical debut as the full-fledged Director began in Chhote Nawab where he utilized Rafi Sahaab to the maximum reaching the high point in Teesri Manzil (1966) with all hit songs and melodies including TUMNE MUJHE DEKHA. ZAMAANE NE MAARE JAWAA.N KAISE KAISE was a somber number sung by Rafi Sahaab in a philosophical strain in Bahaaron ke Sapne - a movie which was not in the league of a Nasir Hussain movie. In Abhilasha (1968) Rafi Sahaab sang WAADIYAA.N MERAA DAAMAN in a style as pure the water of a spring.
It's not possible to give the entire list of Music Directors including Iqbal Qureshi, Jaidev, Salil Chowdhry, G.S. Kohli, Hansraj Behl, and others who were fortunate to have Rafi Sahaab sing for them. Nor is it even possible to name the lyricists of the stature of Sahir Ludhianvi, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Hasrat Jaipuri, Shailendra, Shakeel Badayuni, Prem Dhawan, S.H. Bihari, Asad Bhopali, Rajinder Krishan, Raja Mehdi Ali Khan and others who were also lucky in having Rafi Sahaab emote their lyrics with the right mood and expressions.
As for Rafi Sahaab's songs for Laxmikant-Pyarelal, the list is too long to go into, beginning from Chhaila Babu (TERE PYAAR MEIN MUJHE GHAM MILA - which was released some two-three years after Parasmani), Parasmani (1963) to Dosti (1964) (where Rafi Sahaab's songs mostly were based on Raga Pahadi), and Do Raaste (1969), and all of the remaining songs of the Sixties and beyond, as they are too well known. But it is singularly important to point that:
Rafi Sahaab created the DOSTI Mania:
We saw that in 1963, Rafi Sahaab had already sung the Parasmani songs like RAUSHAN TUMHI SE DUNIYA and beautiful duet with Lata: VOH JAB YAAD AAYE. All those songs were a great hit. But the craze was missing. It was the superb rendition by Rafi Sahaab of the the DOSTI numbers which made the songs clearly a cut above the rest. The songs of Dosti sent the nation in tizzy. Luckily, that was also the time when Juke Boxes had been installed in most of the restaurants in Bombay and as such were a great source of listening to the songs of one’s choice. In many personal surveys, I used to sit with a cup of tea and watch every customer walking up to the juke box and selecting ALL Rafi Sahaab's songs from Dosti to the exclusion of all others though that year we had amazing number of hit songs from other movies as well. In pure joy I used to witness the scene as the listeners went into raptures on hearing those songs of Rafi Sahaab. CHAAHOONGA MAIN TUJHE SAANJH SAVERE won the Film Fare Award for the best song of 1964 surpassing the beautiful YEH MERA PREM PATRA PADH KAR. I'm told that someone had pointed out to Majrooh Sultanpuri that this song pertained to "Aashiq-Maashooq" and did not fit in with the subject of DOSTI. To think of it, this song would have been cancelled at the recording stages by Laxmi-Pyare but for our Rafi Sahaab who predicted its success and who in fact adorned it with his rich, powerful, and heart-rending voice and nuances to make the song what it is.
Rafi Sahaab's was a great name when this musical duo of Laxmikant-Pyarelal was assistants to known music directors. For example, even though they were just violinists in the Shankar-Jaikishan musical group yet when both of them began their great journey as the music directors Rafi Sahaab considered them as his 'Ustad' and said that he would learn more from them by singing their songs. Such humility from a great soul has never been witnessed in the Indian film industry ever since. No doubt then, Laxmikant-Pyarelal remained loyal to Rafi Sahaab till his swan song TU KAHIN AAS PAAS HAI in 1980 when this great singer bid adieu to the transitory world.
Rafi Sahaab and the God of Wine, Bacchus:
Among the list of Rafi Sahaabs qualities such as versatility, tonal richness, clarity of expression, emoting lyrics with passion and the feel, there is one more quality known to all Rafi Sahaabs fans, and that is his voice modulation which I call: “the Bacchanalian effect.” As is well-known Rafi Sahaab was a devoted family man and a complete teetotaler. Rafi Sahaab would carry spicy tea in thermos flask while going for the recordings. Yet when called upon, he could render groggy songs of sodden characters with great conviction. For example, in the Fifties itself his rendering of JUNGLE MEIN MOR NAACHA for Johnny Walker in Madhumati (1958) is a masterpiece. Again in 1958, his song in Kala Pani, HAMM BEKHUDI MEIN TUMKO PUKAARE CHALE GAYE under S.D. Burman was, in my opinion, singularly responsible for enhancing the performance of Dev Anand, so that he won his first Filmfare Best Actor Award. Earlier it had been DEKHTA CHALAA GAYA in Gateway of India (1957), with Madhubala's antics adding to the intoxicaton. Just listen to the complete change of voice to approximate the actor plus the lisping style of a drunkard; AB VOH KARAM KAREN KE SITAM (Marine Drive – 1955), beautifully composed by N. Datta); MAINE PEENA SEEKH LIYA (Goonj Uthi Shenai -1958) under Vasant Desai's musical composition; and his songs from Pyaasa (1957). In Do Gunde (1959) he sang MAIN NASHE MEIN HOON under the baton of Ghulam Mohammed in the typical style of a drunkard, what with sarcastic laughter and grins added to it. In the sixties he continued with his tipsy songs such as MAIN KAUN HOON (Main Chup Rahoongi – 1962); MUJHE DUNIYA WAALON (Leader – 1964); HAI DUNIYA USEE KI (Kashmir ki Kali – 1964); MEHFIL SE UTH JAANE WAALON (Dooj Ka Chand – 1964); CHHOO LENE DOH NAAZUK and YEH ZULF AGAR KHUL KE (Kajal – 1965); KOI SAAGAR DIL KO – the number based on Raag Kalavati in Dil Diya Dard Liya (1966); JITNI LIKHI THI MUQADDAR MEIN (Nai Roshni - 1967); CHHALKAAYEN JAAM (Mere Hamdam Mere Dost – 1968); AAJ ISS DARJA PILAA DOH (Vaasna – 1968); and the less-known, SAAQIA AISEE PILAADE from Mall Road (1961) and the YEH MEHFIL YEH BOTAL from Isi Ka Naam Duniya Hai (1962); MAIN SHARABI NAHIN in Khilona which is in the last year of the decade, viz., 1970. (There would be more in the Seventies such as ZINDAGI GUZAAR NE KO SAATHI EK CHAAHIYE from the 1975 flick Ek Mahal Ho Sapnon Ka, and MAIN WOHI WOHI BAAT from the 1974 Naya Din Nayi Raat. where Rafi Sahaab's approximation of Sanjeev Kumar's diction is simply amazing.) There are many other songs too which cannot be mentioned in this general article. These groggy songs convey either the desperation of the sloshed character or a philosophical excuse for drinking or comparing the headiness of Love with the tipsiness of wine – all this was coming from a singer who had never tasted any wine or liquor in his life. This fact is very significant not just from the personal point of view of the Legendary Singer Rafi Sahaab. It has to be viewed in juxtaposition with the fact that people including some singers are known to resort or trying to resort to intoxicants and drugs, including Cocaine, to be on a “high” especially while giving performances. The Legendary K.L. Saigal had succumbed to the liver disease which was aggravated by uncontrolled drinking. Naushad Sahaab's advice to him that he could sing very well without his "Kaali Paanch," had, alas, come too late. But it goes to the endless credit of this pious, humble, but excellent and great singer Rafi Sahaab that he required no such thing. Without the aid of drugs or intoxicants Rafi Sahaab has proved himself in rendering his songs with all jubilations, mirthful glee and effervescence, liveliness and enthusiasm and the bubbly spirit of a child enjoying songs and music. Above all, he was never drunk with his own success and had his feet firmly planted on the ground.
Mohammed Rafi, Dilip Kumar and Agha at the Indo-China Border 1962
The Sixties were indeed a memorable decade but marred by the Indo-China War(1962) and the Indo-Pak War (1965), which led to production of patriotic Indian movies which have been made memorable by Rafi Sahaab’s songs. The film, Phool Bane Angaare (1963) is remembered by virtue of Rafi Sahaab’s number: HIMALAY KI BULANDI SE SUNO AWAAZ HAI AAYI. Later that year came Haqeeqat (1964) where the song KAR CHALE HAMM FIDA, which was set to tune by Madan Mohan and penned by Kaifi Azmi, has been made immortal thanks to the powerful but soft and moving voice of Rafi Sahaab. The same year, Naushad’s superb composition and Shakeel Badayuni’s lyrics in Leader, which is a satirical film on the social and political mores, we have Rafi Sahaab belting out APNI AZAADI KO HAMM HARGHIZ MITTA SAKTE NAHIN. In Manoj Kumar’s Shaheed (1965), which deals with colonial past, we have as many as four of his songs including a duet with Manna Dey. Most notable is AY WATAN, AY WATAN HAMM KO TERI QASAM as well as WATAN PE JO FIDAA HOGA. In that year itself we had Sikandar-e-Azam where Rafi Sahaab’s song JAHAAN DAAL DAAL PAR ushered in the image of “India Shining” much before the recent ruling political party, the BJP, came up with the idea. In fact, five years earlier Rafi Sahaab had sung JIS DIN ISS DUNIYA SE in Rajendra Kumar starrer, Maa-Baap (1960), echoing the ideals of the common man who stood on the threshold of still a nascent Republic of India. The 1961 duet of Rafi-Manna Dey, YEH DOH DIWAANE DIL KE, celebrated the liberation of Goa, Daman, Diu from the Portuguese rule. Rafi Sahaab’s sang about “Globalisation” as far back as 1961 in Mr. India: MAT POOCHH MERA HAI KAUN WATAN, i.e. decades ahead of what we have now come to terms with.
For me, personally, I cannot forget the Year 1964 which year was not just the golden era of Indian Hockey which won the Olympics game at Tokyo. It was the year when Rafi Sahaab was at the zenith of his singing career. In fact, the years 1960 to 1965 were the most productive years of Rafi Sahaab in terms of popularity and hits. These were the times when one could expect to hear the maximum number of Rafi Sahaab’s songs in the Binaca Geet Mala programme which used to be aired on the radio every Wednesday evening at eight. On one such Wednesday which I remember as the 2nd of December 1964 I had the pleasure of listening to the mother of all Binaca Geet Malas. That day I had been left alone in the building since almost all the occupants who happened to be Roman Catholics had gone to the Cross Maidan in Bombay to attend the Eucharistic Congress being held from 2nd to 5th December that year. It was a big occasion for them since the Papal authority (Pope Paul VI) was visiting India for the first time. Home Alone, I remained behind to listen to my favourite radio programme in the fond hope that it would be Rafi Sahaab all the way. You can imagine my delight and ecstasy when I heard all those Rafi Sahaab’s numbers right from the countdown at the beginning to the end except for one song which I think was either from Lata or Mukesh. I shall always cherish that night – thanks to the Binaca Geet Mala - when I could hear my favourite singer churning out one beautiful song after another. It was truly an evening about which Rafi Sahaab was to croon two years later: EK HASEE.N SHAAM KO DIL MERA KHO GAYA (Dulhan Ek Raat Ki)released in 1966.
The towering contribution of Rafi Sahaab in the Sixties is simply unparalleled. By the end of the Sixties, the total number of his songs far exceeded those of all the other male playback singers put together. Till 1966 there used to be a single award in the category of Best Playback Singer for the Film Fare Award.
In the Sixties Rafi Sahaab won the best singer Filmfare Award as follows: 1960 – for the title track of Chaudhvin Ka Chand.. 1961 – Sasural - Teri Pyaari Pyaari Soorat Ko.1964 – Dosti : Chaahonga Main Tujhe,1966 - Suraj - Baharon Phool Barsaao, 1968 - Brahmachari - Dil Ke Jharoke Mein. Filmfare Award nominations:1961 – Gharana: Husn Waale Tera Jawaab Nahin; 1962 - Professor - Ae Gulbadan Ae Gulbadan; 1963 – Mere Mehboob – The title track; 1965 – Kaajal: Chhoo Lene Doh Naazuk; 1968 – Brahmachari: - Main Gaaon Tum So Jaao; 1968 – Neel Kamal: Baabul Ki Duaayen; 1969 - Jeene ki Raah: Aane se Uske Aaye Bahaar. He also won the National Film Award for Baabul Ki Duaayen (Neel Kamal 1968). (Later he was to win the National Film Award as well as the Filmfare Award for his KYA HUA TERA WAADA in Hamm Kisise Kam Nahin -1976.) In the Sixties, he also won the Bengal Film Journalists' Awards for the Best Male Playback Singer in 1965 for his songs in Dosti and in 1966 for his songs in Arzoo. In 1965 the Government of India awarded Rafi Sahaab with the Padma Shri Award resulting in a debate by his fans whether that was enough. It wasn’t.
There was one happy incident when Rafi Sahaab was transported to his Lahore days before he had come down to Bombay. This was his meeting with Bhai Samund Singh ji of Nankina Sahib who used to be his collegaue at All India Radio, Lahore, and whom he admired for his knowledge of classical music. So in 1966, he made the most of this occasion by attending every rendition of his friend at the various gurudwara in the city. Under the musical direction of S. Mohinder, Rafi Sahaab sang a Shabad, Mittar Pyaare Noo.n, for the blockbuster Punjabi film, Nanak Naam Jahaaz Hai (released in 1969). Bhai Samund Singh Ji also rendered a Kirtan for the same movie.
As for me, never have I seen such madness or craze for Rafi Sahaab's songs as the one I along with his millions of fans used to witness in the Sixties. O that the Sixties would return and we would hear Rafi Sahaab again in flesh and blood!
It is sad that the Sixties were not free from intrigues in which Rafi Sahaab was unwittingly drawn into its vortex. We shall briefly deal with those aspects when we come to the next decade –the Seventies.