Tuesday, September 29, 2009


A Humble Tribute to the Greatest Playback Singer of all times – by Nasir.

Let’s check out some 1947 songs of Rafi Sahaab:


The success of Anmol Ghadi had boosted the confidence of Noor Jahan and Shaukat Hussain, both of whom had married in 1944, to come out with their own production banner. The result was Jugnu, produced under the Shaukat Art Productions. Dilip Kumar and Noor Jahan came together for the first and last time. 

So also Rafi and Noor Jahan sang together for the first and the last time. Rafi Sahaab sang for Dilip Kumar for the first time: YAHAAN BADLAA WAFAA KA BEWAFAAI KE SIWAA KYAA HAI (with the reigning queen of melodies, Noor Jahan). It was Noor Jahan who favoured the budding Rafi over the currently popular G.M. Durrani for that classic duet. This shows that she knew him or had at least heard about him, having arrived in Bombay earlier in 1943. Feroze Nizami, of course, had no objection. He had known Rafi from his Lahore days when he and Rafi used to train under Ustad Abdul Waheed Khan. We can also be sure that Noor Jahan must have been truly amazed by the mellifluous voice of the young singer from Lahore. The difficult part of the song such as BADE ARMAAN SE WAADON NE...DIL MEIN GHAR BASAAYAA THAA... which is in the form of an Alaap in the first stanza, and then the crying anguish of the character (Dilip Kumar) BHULAA DOH HAAN BHULAA DOH in the second stanza, had all the elements of making Rafi the tragedy king of Bollywood singing in the same manner as Dilip Kumar became the Tragedy King of Acting. The interesting coincidence is that Jugnu zoomed not only Dilip Kumar but also Mohammed Rafi to the top. Both were destined to become legends in their respective field of acting and singing during their lifetime.
“Iss ke Baad Rafi Sahaab ko kabhee peechhe naheen dekhnaa pa.daa,” observes Shammi Kapoor for whom Rafi Sahaab sang so many songs of romantic love and flirtations, in the Sixties, enhancing his flamboyant image as the Rebel Hero. The price-tag of Rafi’s song came at par with that of Noor Jahan. He also had an acting stint in Jugnu and is seen singing his own song, WOH APNEE YAAD DILAANE KO with a chorus, a jovial collegian song which was something new in the movie at that time. After all, the tragic story was based on the college romance. Despite the ongoing communal riots, this movie did a fantastic business.

It would be of interest for the readers to know that on February 11,1982
a show called Mortal Men, Immortal Melodies (as mentioned before) was held at the Shanmukhanand Hall at Matunga, Mumbai to celebrate the visit of Malika-e-Tarannum Noor Jahan to India after the Partition. We could easily discern the nostalgic sentiments on the faces of both Dilip Kumar and Noor Jahan as if the Jugnu days were here again.  In a very impressive Urdu speech, Dilip Kumar confessed to the audience that intelligence and the words were unable to translate the feelings of a person who all of a sudden were to see a “dilkash” and “dil-fareb hasti” after 35 years. He had finally this to say to her: “Noor Jahanji jitne baras ke baad aap hamse milne aayee.n hai.n, Theek Utne hee baras aap kaa hamne intezaar kiyaa hai.” Sadly, there was no Mohammed Rafi Sahaab. O that the Madam had come some 2-3 years earlier!  Then the trilogy would have been complete. There would have been a historic repeat of YAHAAN BADLAA WAFAA KAA.... Alas!

Aage Badho:

Sudhir Phadke had given the music for this Dev Anand-Khursheed starrer. The only song that Rafi Sahaab sang with Khursheed before her departure to Pakistan was SAAWAN KI GHATAAO DHEERE DHEERE AANA where Khursheed has late entry in this song.

Do Bhai:

Rafi Sahaab had the outstanding song: DUNIYA ME.N MEREE AAJ ANDHERAA HI ANDHERAA. This song of lament was also a pointer in the direction that despite his youth, the young Rafi had ample maturity to empathise very well with the afflicted character of the film. It was S.D. Burman who provided music for Do Bhai. Two songs written by Raja Mehdi Ali Khan: MERA SUNDER SAPNA BEET GAYAA, and IK DIN HAMKO YAAD KAROGE among her other songs, made Geeta Roy very famous.

Aap Ki Sewa Mein:

Rafi had one solo number, MEREE ANKHON KE TAARE, plus a duet with Mohantara, MAIN TEREE TUU MERAA. Rafi had another duet also, DESH ME.N SANKAT AAYA HAI. This was with G.M. Sajan.

Datta Devjekar was the music director who had begun his career with Marathi films. In this movie, he introduced Lata Mangeshkar to Hindi films who sang her first three songs in Hindi. Her debut song was SHAM MOSE NAA KHELO HOREE which was written by Mahipal –yes Mahipal who was later to become the hero of many swashbuckling and mythological movies.

Shadi Se Pehle:

Mohammed Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar sang their first duet together: CHALO HO GAYEE TAYYAAR, ZARAA TEHRO JEE... This number is really one of its kind and a hilarious one. There was also a Rafi’s solo, probably his first ‘Bidaai’ song: CHALI SAJAN GHAR JAAYE AAJ DULHANIYA KES SA.NWAARE KESAR BINDIYAA KAAJAR DAARE... An interesting song this is, with ‘taan’ ‘alaaps’ and even a different type of high pitch lines. Music is said to be by C. Ramchandra. The composition type, however, seems to me to be a mixture of Pankaj Mullick and S.D. Burman styles. Lyrics were by Pandit Mukhram Sharma.


C. Ramchandra provided excellent music. Mohammed Rafi gave us a song which even after more than sixty years does not fail to pull us to him by virtue of its oozing romance, sweetness and lovable sadness. This was HAMM KO TUMHAARA HI AASRA penned by Moti. We have also the same song of his in a duet with Lalita Dewulkar.  Another Rafi solo was O BAABU GALI MEIN TERE CHAAND CHAMKAA which was written by Qamar Jalalabadi.

Other duets with Lalita are KISKO SUNAAOO.N HAAL-E-DIL, and MAIN HOON JAIPUR KI BANJAARAN – the first one was written by Moti and the second one by Qamar Jalabadi. Then we have the trio of Rafi, Lalita, and Geeta singing ISS BANJAARE SANGG HAMAARE as well as SAMBHAL SAMBHAL KE JAIYO, written by Moti and Ram Murti respectively. Both the songs had the chorus for company.

Some of the other 1947 movies in which Rafi Sahaab sang were:

Shanti: JEEVAN HAI ANMOL, and QISMAT KO DEKHO HAMSAFAR for which V.S. Thakur provided the music and Shakeel Badayuni penned the lyrics;

Malika: DAS NA JAAYEN ZULFEN TUJHKO which was composed by A.R. Qureshi while the lyrics were written by Tanvir Naqvi;

Utho Jaago: PREM KI NAIYA DOL RAHEE HAI, composed by Aziz Khan;

Rishta: MAYA MANN KA ROG HAI penned by Wahshi Jaunpuri and composed by Mohammed Shafi;

Ek Kadam: TUU BHEE RAAHEE a duet with Shamshad Begum, composed by Prakash Sharma and written by Avatar Visharad;

In Dak Bungalow: JAB BAITHE BAITHE DIL BHAR AAYE penned by D.N. Madhok and composed by Naresh Bhattacharya.

Besides Jugnu, Samaj Ko Badal Dalo was another film in 1947 where Rafi had done some acting stint. Some of the other movies that did brisk business were Mirza Sahiban, Shehnai, Elan, Saajan, Neel Kamal and Dard. Shehnai is especially remembered for that western number composed by C. Ramchandra: AANA MEREE JAAN SUNDAY KE SUNDAY sung by Meena Kapoor and C.Ramchandra as Chitalkar, and the same song again with Shamshad Begum. Amirbai’s MAARI KATAARI MAR JAANA is simply unforgettable. The year also saw Rajinder Krishan writing his first song, GOREE GHUNGHAT KE PATT KHOL for the movie, Janta, which had music by Harishchandra Bali. Raj Kapoor sang his own song in Jail Yatra, PIYA MILNE NAVELEE JAAYE RE. Even in Dil Ki Raani he sings a song, O DUNYAA KE REHNE WAALON. Then, In Piya Ghar Aajaa, Meena Kumari sang 2 duets with Karan Dewan and six 6 solos under the musical direction of Bulo C. Rani. Actor Manhar Desai made his Hindi film debut in Toofaani Sawaar. Next, Mirabai had all the 13 songs sung by Sitara of Kanpur (not the Kathak dancer Sitara Devi) where the music was provided by S.K. Pal. In Mira, M.S. Subbulakshmi played the role and sang 15 of the 18 songs in the movie. Manna Dey sang the devotional numbers in Geet Govind.

The year also saw the emergence of a music director and excellent trumpeteer who would have been easily forgotten if it were not for his four sons who became music directors in the Bombay film industry in the next generation. Pyarelal of the Laxmikant-Pyarelal was one such son. His father, Pandit Ram Prasad Sharma, gave music for 7 movies, beginning with Nayee Baat and including Shakti (1948) and Magic Carpet (1964) – the same year that Dosti made the nation crazy with Rafi Sahaab’s immortal songs CHAAHUNGAA MAIN TUJHE SAANJH SAVERE and other songs under the musical direction of his son Pyarelal along with Laxmikant.

In 1947 A.R. Kardar released his Dard which is notable for the singing debut of Uma Devi under Naushad’s baton. The song was AFSAANA LIKH RAHEE HOON DIL-E-BEQARAAR KAA, and this song alone made her very famous. Another of her songs was AAJ MACHEE HAI DHOOM. An interesting duet of hers is with Suraiya: BETAAB HAI YEH DIL DARD-E-MOHABBAT KE ASAR SE. It’s a pity that such a fine singer was reduced to playing comic roles, such as the one in Babul (1950) where she was christened as Tun Tun by Naushad. But even in this new avatar she excelled herself. I remember her children attending the same school as me in Cadell Road, Mahim, Bombay. Old timers inform me that Shamshad Begum’s song HAMM DARD KA AFSAANA almost got Dard banned, as the British Government thought that it incited a section of the Indian citizens against the British governance which was still in place – though there were no such thing in that song, unless they considered the line ROTE HUWE NAGHMON SE TOOFAN UTHAA DENGE.... or the lines:


Haay! Those were the fiery lines of Shakeel Badayuni who had just made his debut with this film and who would go on to write lyrics for some 89 movies, mostly with Naushad and Ravi and to some extent, Hemant Kumar.

Mohammed Rafi with his first car: Morris BMY 4004 in 1947.


To continue...

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