Thursday, October 8, 2009


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

The year 1949 started on a promising note.  Four pictures celebrated their silver jubilees: Mela, Pyaar ki Jeet, Dard and Khidki.  Pugree too was released.  In the line-up were: Andaz,  Singhar, Char Din, Barsaat, Apna Desh, Samadhi, Rajani, and Lahore.   In India, the earliest social drama with the backdrop of Partition was the 1949 flick, Lahore, where the lovers (Nargis and Karan Deewan) get separated owing to ethnic violence and women’s abduction.  However, Lahore emerges more as a romantic film than a purposeful one.  Though Shyam Sunder was the music director for Lahore, it did not have a single song by young Rafi. 

However, there was some bad news too.  On 2nd April 1949, Chandramohan the well-known star of  Sohrab Modi's Pukar (1939) and a powerful  performer of many other later movies died at a young age of 44.  He died  penniless despite the fact that he had earned a fabulous fortune at one time.  His funeral rites were performed at the expense of Film Artistes Association.  Things had been looking up for him  before he died since he began working in Shaheed, Ram Baan and Dukhiyari.  Besides, he had three more movies in hand: Sadiq's Sabak, Arora's Paaras, and Prem Adib's Ram Vivah.   Who can forget his role in Shaheed as the Public Prosecutor of the British Government and who ultimately comes to the defence of his own son, the patriotic Ram (Dilip Kumar) who has been sentenced to death!   Those powerful  dialogues and the scene is as immortal as the scene of Ram's funeral after he has been sentenced to death on the gallows.  Decades later, Dilip Kumar would turn down the role of Jahangir,  that was played by Chandramohan in Pukar, thus refusing Sohrab Modi's offer in the remake of Pukar.      

In the meantime now, Rafi Sahaab’s repertoire of songs in 1949 increases compared to his past years. Just to point out a few more songs with some music directors:

With Pandit Husnlal-Bhagatram:

As we mentioned before, Husnlal-Bhagatram had found immense success after Pyar ki Jeet (1948). In 1949 they gave seven songs to Rafi in Jal Tarang: four solos and two duets to Rafi. Three solos were written by Kaifi Irfani and they were: HAI KAAM MOHABBAT KA; AAYI JAWAANI; and TUMEH SUNAAYE EK KAHAANI; while Kedar Sharma penned HAAY RE PYAARE PYAARE. ZARA TUMNE DEKHA TOH was a Rafi-Lata duet penned by Kaifi Irfani. The Rafi-Shamshad duet, MUSAAFIR SADAA GEET GAYE CHALA CHAL was written by Sudarshan Fakir.

Rafi found further favour with Husnlal Bhagatram in Kuldip Sehgal's Naach which featured Suraiya, Shyam and Wasti, and  where there were: two duets with Suraiya; CHHAAYAA SAMAA SUHAANA, and SEENE MEIN AAG BHADAKTI; Two songs were with Geeta Roy and Lata Mangeshkar: KYOON KARTA MAAN JAWAANI KAA and LAB PE HAI FARIYAAD. One with Shamshad Begum: DIL SE DIYAA HAI TUJHKO. 

In Hamara Manzil, there were two duets with Geeta Roy: ANDHERE SE NAA DARR...KAANTE BANENGI KALIYAAN, written by Rajinder Krishan, and WOH AUR ZAMAANA THAH which has S.D. Batish along with them. He also had a solo: TOOTE HUWE DIL KO.

Nigaristan Film, Bansaria had Geeta Bali and Randhir in the lead roles.  There was a beautiful solo: TERI YAAD SATAAYE GHADI GHADI written by Mulkraj Bhakri who was also the Producer and Writer of Bansaria. 

Hila Wadia Productions' Baalam was touted as a gorgeous musical romance.  Suraiya was again the lead star with Nigar and Wasti in tow.  Rafi  had a musical solo: THUKRAKE HAMEN CHAL DIYE, and another, TUM HAMEN BHOOL GAYE. There were two duets too, one with S.D. Batish and another with Suraiya: DUNYAA WAALON MUJHE BATAAO and AATAA HAI ZINDAGI MEIN BHALA respectively. Songs were written by Qamar Jalalabadi.

In Badi Bahen, there was a solo song of Rafi: MOHABBAT KE DHOKE MEIN KOI NA AAYE which was a super-hit. The lyrics were by Rajinder Krishan.  This movie,  which was a tender tale of love and affection,  starred Suraiya, Rehman and Geeta Bali, and was released on 9th April 1949 at the Imperial Cinema in Bombay. 

In Saawan Bhadon Rafi sang a duet with Lata: SADAA RAHE YEH DIN HAMAARE. Mulkraj Bhakri was the lyricist.

With Shyam Sunder:

Not to be outdone, Shyam Sunder gave sevens songs to Rafi: four solos and three duets, written by Qamar Jalalabadi, as under in Bazaar:

The solos were: O JAANE WAALE CHAAND ZARAA MUSKURAA KE JAA; SHAHEEDON TUMKO MERA SALAAM; YEH HAI DUNYAA KA BAAZAAR; and the heart-rending MERE BHAGWAAN TUU MUJHKO YUNHI BARBAAD REHNE DE. While the second song is a satire on day to day life in a city, the last one is a touching song that decries one’s fate but indulges in the sacrifice of seeing one’s beloved happy at her new home. 
The duets were:

AY MOHABBAT UNSE MILNE KA BAHAANA MIL GAYAA with Lata Mangeshkar was extremely popular. APNEE NAZAR SE DUUR was another duet with Lata Mangeshkar.
Tnere was another song too that he sang with Shamshad Begum and Satish Batra: CHHALLA DE JAA NISHAANI TERI MEHERBANI .

The lead stars were Nigar Sultana and Shyam,  ably supported by Yaqub and Gope.  It was released at the Kamal Talkies which was later renovated as the Alankar Cinema in 1961 with the release of Raj Kapoor's Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai. 

The year 1949 is noteworthy for the new entrants Shankar and Jaikishan who would since gradually leave all the other musicians behind for at least two decades. They had worked as assistants to Ram Ganguly who provided music for Raj Kapoor’s first directorial venture, Aag in 1948.  Raj Kapoor knew that for his home-production Barsaat the Aag type of music would just not do. He wanted something new. He therefore gave a break to the musical duo of Shankar-Jaikishan who also "discovered" Lata Mangeshkar and recorded their first song in her voice: JIYA BEQARAR HAI. All the songs of Barsaat were hit and they created a history of sorts. However, their style initially resembled that of Husnlal-Bhagatram whom they had assisted before. How could they leave out Mohammed Rafi? His song went thus: MAIN ZINDAGEE MEIN HARDAM ROTAA HI RAHAA HOON. The high notes, KHAMOSH.. KHAMOSH MOHABBAT LIYE PHIRTAA HI RAHAA HOON sung by Rafi effortlessly put life into the lyrics. The combination of Mohammed Rafi and the Shankar-Jaikishan musical duo would rise to its greatest height in the Sixties.

In an M. Sadiq directed movie, Char Din that was released on 27th May 1949 at Roxy, there was a Rafi-Raj Kumari duet: HASEENON KI ADAAYEN BHEE. The lyrics were written by Shakeel Badayuni. Char Din was a Suraiya and Shyam  starrer. 

With Vinod:

A musician who was influenced by Husnlal-Bhagatram style of music since he worked under their elder brother Pandit Amarnath was Vinod (Eric Roberts). He got a good break in Ek Thi Ladki (1949) which had a good number of Mohammed Rafi songs. Some of his duets with Lata Mangeshkar were: YEH SHOKH SITAARE; EK BAAT SUNO SAATHI; AB HAALE DIL HAALE JIGAR; and HAMM CHALE DUUR which also had Satish Batra. His solo number along with the chorus was LAMBI JORU BADI MUSIBAT. The most famous of the songs was the LARA LAPPA number sungs by Rafi-G.M.Durrani-Lata, based on the Kangra folk tune. All the songs were penned by Aziz Kashmiri.

With Ghulam Muhammed:

One of the earliest melodious solos of Mohammed Rafi we find in Paras (1949) for which Ghulam Mohammed provided the musical score: DIL KI LAGEE NE HAMKO DIWAANA. If one wants to know how sweetness was the backbone of Rafi Sahaab's voice even during his salad days, then please listen to this song. Shakeel Badayuni was the lyricist. Rafi had two duets with Shamshad Begum: MOHABBAT MEIN KISE MAALOOM and MERE DIL KI.. His duet with Lata was: DIL LEKE O CHHUPNE WAALE.

In Shair, there was a Rafi-Shamshad duet: O MORE BAALMA.

Ghulam Mohammed later proved a great asset to Naushad and used to make a liberal use of the Tabla – the tradition which he carried right upto his Pakeezah days. I remember a friend of mine informally telling Asha Bhonsle and R.D. Burman when they were discussing Umrao Jaan's (1981) musical success at their home that it was nothing compared to Ghulam Mohammed's music what with the 'thaap' or beats of Tabla in Pakeezah that was released a decade before. They just stared at his face. Anyway, that was the personal opinion but the pity is that Ghulam Mohammed died unrewarded.

With Hansraj Behl:

Rafi’ song in Raat ki Rani, JIN RAATON MEIN NEEND UD JAATI HAI, written by Arzoo Lucknawi for Hansraj Behl, was a nation wide hit. Another solo was TAN PHOONKTA HAI, which was penned by Shikarpuri who also wrote the Rafi-Lata duet: SUN LO MERA AFSAANA. The other lovable duet of Rafi-Lata was written by Shameen: USS CHAAND SE PYAARE CHAAND HO. It appears that the same duet was recorded in the voice of Mukesh and Geeta Roy but was not retained.

Hansraj Behl gave five songs to Rafi in Rumaal that featured Nargis, Rehman and Jairaj:

A solo: DIL TOOTAA AUR ARMAAN LOOTE, and four duets out of which three were with Bina Pani and one with Asha Bhonsle: HAM MAATI SE SONA BANAAYENGE; O LACHHI LACHHI TUU MANN KI; and TUMSE MILAAKAR NAINA were the duets with Bina Paani.

A lone duet with Asha Bhonsle was: LO DOOM DUBAA KAR BHAAGE written by Nazim Panipati. The other songs were written by Mulkraj Bhakri.

In Zevraat there was his notable solo, AAKAASH PE REHNE WAALE, written by Habib Sarhadi. A duet with Lata Mangeshkar was: SAAJAN KI OT LEKE.

Karvat had a Geeta-Rafi duet: Gaya Andhera .... Jaag Uthe Sansaar , written by S. K. Dipak.

In Chakori, Rafi had three solos written by Mulkraj Bhakri: KYOO.N GARM SARD HOTE HO; PREET LAGAA KE CHALE GAYE; and ISS DUKHIYAA JAWAANI KI HAI BAS ITNI.

Raaz had the solo SAMAY KA CHAKKAR SAU BAL KHAAYE which was composed by Sardar Malik and written by one Meeraji.

Incidentally, Hansraj Behl's last great composition would also be sung by Mohammed Rafi in Sikandar-e-Azam (1965): JAHAAN DAAL DAAL PAR SONE KI CHIDIYAAN KART HAIN BASERA...

With Naushad:

We have seen above that the young singer of 19 years of age had sung his own first Hindi song in Pehle Aap, HINDUSTAA.N KE HAMM HAI.N, plus two more songs which were anything but solos. What strikes me regarding Naushad is that he gave a solo number to Rafi Sahaab only in 1946, while Rafi Sahaab also recorded so many excellent songs for other music directors even prior to 1946; and then he gave just another solo number after two years in Mela (1948). It was as late as in 1949 that Naushad gave a real break to Rafi by recording his lead solos for the heroes in Dillagi, Dulari and Chandni Raat which had lyrics by Shakeel Badayuni.

Rafi got to sing the choicest of songs in Dillagi for the main lead in Dillagi - the Suraiya and Shyam starrer: TERE KOOCHE ME.N ARMAANON KEE DUNYA LEKE AAYA HOON, and ISS DUNYAA ME.N AY DILWAALO.N.

And the ever-popular, the evergreen, song from Dulari: SUHAANI RAAT DHAL CHUKI filmed on the hero, Suresh, has become a legend. This was Rafi Sahaab’s favourite song. Dulari also had the pleasant Rafi-Lata duet: MIL MILKE GAAYENGE HO DOH DIL YAHAAN; and RAAT RANGEELI MAST NAZAARE.

In Chandni Raat, Rafi sang a solo: DIL HO UNHEN MUBAARAK JO DIL KO DHOONDTE HAIN which proved very popular in 1949. The others were duets with Shamshad Begum: KAISE BAJE DIL KAA SITAAR, which has a good accompaniment of piano, and KHABAR KYAA THEEH KE GHAM KHAANA PADEGAA.  Then of course, my favourte, CHHEEN KE DIL KYOON PHER LEE NAZAR... which I find very melodious.  However, by Rafi’s standards these songs are of low notes as was usual during that era of Indian filmy music. 

Mehboob’s Andaz had the Rafi-Lata duet: YOON TOH AAPAS MEIN BIGADTE HAIN which was filmed on Nargis and Raj Kapoor. Another lively Rafi-Lata duet, SUN LO DIL KA AFSAANA DUNYAA DIL KE BASAAKE NAA BHOOL JAANA was, however, not used in the movie. This was also the fate of a Mukesh song: KYOON PHERI NAZAR DEKHO TOH IDHAR.

With C. Ramchandra:
C. Ramchandra was himself a singer who sang as "Chitalkar" and so we don’t find him using Mohammed Rafi much. As we noted before, he did use Rafi in Safar, Sajan and Nadiya Ke Paar in previous years. C. Ramchandra gave some beautiful duets and solos to Rafi in 1949.


In Patanga, BOLOJI DIL LOGE TOH KYAA KYAA DOGE was Rafi’s duet with Shamshad Begum.

In Namoona, TADPAA KE MUJHE was the duet song which Rafi sang with Lata.

The next decade would find “Anna” C. Ramchandra using lots of western instruments such as bongo, clarinets, oboe, saxophone. He also used the alto-sax with guitar and harmonica. His autobiography written some 30 years later, "Maajhya Jeevnaachee Sargam" (My Life's Melody) makes interesting reading and throws light on his personal relationship with his muse and his fall-out later.

With S. Mohinder:

Rafi had four duets in Jeewan Saathi:

One duet with Amirbai: MAI.N KAISE KEH DOON.
One duet with Chand Barq: CHAAND KI GOD MEIN...

With Bulo C. Rani:

Bulo C. Rani utilized Rafi in Gareebi. The two solos that Rafi sang were: KISI SE HAMNE POOCHAA and EK DIN EK ARMAAN BHARA DIL. A duet with Shamshad Begum was AY SAMNE AANE WAALE BATAA.

Some of the other movies in which Mohammed Rafi recorded his songs were:

With Khemchand Prakash:

Rhimjhim: A duet with Ramola: HAWA TUU UNSE JAAKAR KEHDE, written by Moti of Sajan fame.

Sawan Aaya Re: A duet with Shamshad Begum: AY DIL NAA MUJHE YAAD AA, written by Bharat Vyas.

With Sajjad/Nisar Bazmi/Khumar Barabankavi.

In Roop Lekha there was a solo of Rafi: TEER PE TEER KHAAYE JAA.
A duet with Surinder Kaur was: TUM HO JAAO HAMAARE KABHI.

With Mohammed Shafi:

In Gharana, there were two duets of Rafi: One with Paro: TUU KAHAAN HAI BAALAM.
The other was with Shyama Bai: FARIYAAD NAA KARNAA HAAY KAHEEN.

With Sharmaji (Khayyam):

In Parda, there were two solos of Rafi: SITAMGAR SE LETA HAI TUU INTEQAM, penned by Tanvir Naqvi; and the other one penned by Swami Ramanand: IK DIL NE KAHAA, a beautiful sad song indeed.

In Jannat, Bashir Khan was the music director. One of the solos of Rafi was: JAHAAN QISMAT TERI MEHFIL SE and, penned by M.K. Chibbar.

In Chilman, H.P. Das was the composer while P.L. Santoshi was the lyricist. One of the Rafi solos was: ZAHE QISMAT TERI MEHFIL SE JO. He sang a duet with Mukesh: JALEN JALNE WAALE HAMKO JAISE.

Krishna Dayal was the music director of Lekh which had a Qamar Jalalabadi lyrics sung by Rafi and Asha: KAR LE KISEE SE PYAAR.

In Nisbat, the music was composed by Pandit Govindram. The Rafi-Shamshad duet was: TAARON KA YEH KHAZAANAA. Majrooh wrote the lyrics.

Kaneez had three music directors: O.P. Nayyar made a debut with the background music. Ghulam Haider provided the usual music. There was a duet of Rafi and S.D. Batish: HAR AYSH HAI DUNYAA MEIN AMIRON KO. On the other hand, Hansraj Behl provided the music for the very famous Rafi song: ISS DIL SE TERI YAAD BHULAAYI NAHEEN JAATI. O.P. Nayyar would not taste success with his movies, Aasmaan, Chham Chhama Chham, and Jaal, till as late as 1953. His success story belongs to the Fifties and thereafter, and amazingly he never ever used Lata Mangeshkar.
Mohammed Rafi with Jaikishan

In the Raj Kapoor starrer, Parivartan, two songs of Rafi may be pointed out:  HASRAT LIYE HUWE and AY DUNIYA HAMM PAR REHAM... for which S.K. Pal provided the music while Gulshan Jalalabadi wrote the lyrics.   

Sudhir Phadke provided music for Sant Janabai.  Two of the songs were sung by Rafi: VITTHAL RAKH MERI LAAJ and VITTHAL NAAM KI MADHURI.  The lyricist was Narendra Sharma. 

In 1949, Khurshid Anwar came back to India from Pakistan. He had been a music director of several films in the pre-partition years, but it was his musical composition in Saigal-Suraiya starrer, Parwana (1947)that made him very famous. Surprisingly for the riot ravaged lands, this movie had done a great business among the Muslims of Lahore and the Sikhs and Hindus of Amritsar. Khurshid Anwar is known for hiring Roshan as a dilruba player (while with AIR Delhi) and also for giving a break to Rajkumari in Kurmai - an early Forties Punjabi film of A.R. Kardar. It is also to be noted that Lata Mangeshkar has rued the fact that she did not get an opportunity to sing the musical compositions of Khurshid Anwar. After coming back he composed music for three movies: Singar,  which was a Madhubala-Suraiya-Jairaj starrer, and  Nishana and Khamosh Sipahi (two songs were written for Mehfil which was scrapped and later the producer-director Madhok used them for Khamosh Sipahi which had music by Hansraj Behl and singers were Raj Kumari-Lalita Dewulkar: MERA BHOLA SA BALMA RE; and Geeta Roy-Surinder Kaur's: KEHDO KALI KALI which tune was used by KA in Pakistani "Haveli" in 1964) which were released in the early Fifties. Before he went back to Pakistan, he composed the music for Neelampari (1952) which incidentally was his only movie that featured Mohammed Rafi,  and that was a duet with Geeta Roy: CHAAHE QISMAT HAMKO RULAAYE.


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