As I was surfing looking for pictures of Mohd Rafi, I was struck by the fact that he is smiling in all the pictures. Not one, where that kind smile has not lit his face and sparkled through his eyes. There is something gentle and loveable about the man.
Thirty four years after his death, there has not been one bad word said about him by anyone till date! Till date, the anecdotes reminisce about his gentleness, generosity, child-like enthusiasm and kindness. Including those from people with whom he is said to have had a fallout, for example Lata Mangeshkar and Rafi were not on talking terms after a rift on the issue of royalties. But she also called him a “sant aadmi.” Manna Dey openly acknowledged that he was no match to Rafi as a singer and that the one thing he was better than Rafi was in flying kites! The legendary music composer, O.P.Nayyar (the only person from the industry Rafi considered a close friend) once got furious with Rafi as he had turned up late for a recording. Nayyar was known to be a stickler for punctuality. The result – Nayyar did not work with Rafi for two years. Two years later, Rafi is said to have gone to Nayyar’s house in tears and the men made up. Nayyar in one of his last interviews admitted that the biggest mistake of his life was to have kept the “farishta” away from his recording studio for a couple of years!
In his career that spanned nearly four decades, Mohd Rafi sang approximately 5000 songs. Out of these, he sang the maximum number of duets with Asha Bhosle (among female singers) and Manna Dey (male singers). As a continuation to my earlier post that featured Rafi solos, this is a list of 20 of my favourite Rafi duets, starting with 5 songs that he sang with male co-singers.
1) Gham Ki Andheri Raat Mein (Sushila, 1963, Co-singer- Talat Mahmood, MD: C.Arjun): This is a very rare number from the film Susheela composed by a lesser known music director, C.Arjun. The lyrics by Jan Nisar Akhtar are remarkable – optimistic and reassuring. “Gham Ki Andheri Raat Mein, Dil Ko Na
Bekhayal Bekarar Kar, Subah Zaroor Aayegi, Subah Ka Intezaar Kar.” I came across this interesting anecdote in one of the comments on youtube. Apparently Sahir’s Woh Subah Zaroor Aayegi was very popular those days but the music director C Arjun did not agree with the thoughts expressed in that. He mentioned it in a discussion with Jan Nisar Akhtar (a close friend of Sahir’s incidentally) and the next day, Akhtar brought him this poem and this song was born.
There is not much known about the film. It is said to have been launched by director Mahendra Pran in 1963 (which is when the songs were recorded), but certified for a release only in 1966. The star cast is not known and no video exists. But do listen to this melodious song.
2) Mat Poochiye Dil Hai Kahan, Dil Ki Manzil Hai Kahan (Hum Matwale Naujawan, 1961, Co-singer – Mukesh, MD: Chitragupta): This is a peppy Rafi-Mukesh duet from a lesser known film of the sixties starring Shekhar. I have not seen the song or the movie, but have heard it numerous times on All India Radio in the late eighties.
3) Tu Hai Mera Prem Devta (Kalpana, 1960, Co-singer: Manna Dey, MD: OPN): This is a beautiful classical composition by O.P.Nayyar, written by Qamar
Jasung Jalalabadi sung exceedingly well by both Manna Dey and Rafi. The Travancore sisters Padmini and Ragini are dancing on screen. Sublime lyrics, music and singing. Beautiful.
4) Bade Miyan Deewane Aise Na Bano (Shagird, 1967, Co-singer: Manna Dey, MD:Laxmikant-Pyarelal): Same singers, completely different mood though! Joy Mukherjee is training I.S.Johar on how to become a lady-killer! Rafi sings for Joy and Manna for I.S.Johar! Its a sweet, funny song.
5) Phir Tumhari Yaad Aayi Aye Sanam (Rustom Sohrab, 1963, Co-singers: Manna Dey, Sadat Khan(?), MD: Sajjad Hussain): This is one of the best qawwalis in Hindi cinema. Excellent music, brilliant words and perfect singing! Picturised on Premnath who plays Sohrab, it is a war song, where the troops are assembled after the day’s fight in front of a warm fire and are singing songs of happier times and memories.
6) Deewana Hua Badal (Kashmir Ki Kali, 1964, Co-singer: Asha Bhosle, MD: OPN): When I hear the word romantic, this is the song that comes to my mind. My favourite romantic song. What is there not to like!- the beautiful locales of Kashmir (Dal Lake), the charming Shammi Kapoor, pretty Sharmila Tagore, the brilliant, melodious music and the velvet voices of Rafi & Asha! Mesmerising.
7) Deewana Mastana Hua Dil (Bambai Ka Babu, 1960, Co-singer: Asha Bhosle, MD:
OPN SDB): Another Deewana song, again with Asha Bhosle, but how different. It is teasing, playful and simply lovely. Picturised on the dashing Dev Anand and winsome Suchitra Sen, this song is said to be a variation of a Bengali folk song. The superb music is by Sachin Dev Burman.
8) Main Chali Main Chali (Professor, 1962, Co-Singer: Lata Mangeshkar, MD: Shankar-Jaikishen): Okay, this one is from a film I absolutely adore. I first watched it in the late 80s/ early 90s shortly after I watched Kashmir Ki Kali and was smitten by Shammi Kapoor. Luckily it came on TV sometime then and my Shammi Kapoor obsession grew! Over the years I have watched it numerous times and enjoy it (barring the melodramatic ending and the fact that I do not quite like the heroine – Kalpana.). The music composed by Shankar-Jaikishen is brilliant. This Lata -Rafi duet is a favourite.
9) Dekho Rootha Na Karo (Tere Ghar Ke Saamne, 1963, Co-singer: Lata Mangeshkar, MD: SDB): Again a song from a movie I love. Rafi and Lata sing for Dev Anand and Nutan. What a beautiful roothna-manana number. Nutan is angry as Dev teases her and tries to placate her. Dev is at his romantic best and Rafi is perfect as his playback. Soothing, placating and yet slightly amused.
10) Acchaji Main Haari Chalo Maan Jao Na (Kala Pani, 1958, Co-singer: Asha Bhosle, MD: SDB): Same mood, same actor, same music director but from a different movie. The gorgeous Madhubala is making up to a huffy Dev Anand as three scandalised on-lookers watch on. Asha Bhosle joins Rafi in making this one of the most memorable songs in Hindi cinema. Delightful.
11) Jaane Kahan Mera Jigar Gaya Ji (Mr and Mrs 55, 1955, Co-singer: Geeta Dutt, MD: OPN): I am aware that this might just become a Dev Anand or a Shammi Kapoor list. So taking a break to include 2 lovely Johnny Walker songs. Rafi and Geeta Dutt sing this cute, peppy song as Johnny Walker flirts with a pretty Yasmin telling her that he has lost his heart and looks for that in an office- under tables and in filing cabinets! The music is by the brilliant O.P. Nayyar.
12) Aye Dil Hai Mushkil Jeena Yahan (CID, 1956, Co-singer: Geeta Dutt, MD: OPN): Same singers, same music director but a different film. Listen to the two Johnny Walker numbers – how different they sound, but one still cannot picture anyone but Johnny Walker on screen. A sign of Rafi’s versatility – he was the actor on screen. Unlike the above number, this is not all out funny. Instead it is a rather critical look at life in a big city – devoid of humanity and goodness. Fairly pessimistic.
13) Chupke Se Mile Pyaase Pyaase (Manzil, 1960, Co-singer: Geeta Dutt, MD:SDB): Same singers again but a love song. And what a spectacular love song this is. It starts off with poetry recited softly and then it takes off into a beautiful melody. Rafi and Geeta sing this, not together, but instead they complement each other. One hums while the other sings and vice versa. Dev Anand and Nutan sparkle on screen (despite the dim and poor lighting) , in an otherwise boring, lacklustre movie.
14) Tere Bin Soone Nayan Hamare (Meri Soorat Teri Aankhen, 1963, Co-singer: Lata Mangeshkar, MD: SDB): This is a slow, mellifluous number in Raga Piloo. What a beauty! The music of this 1963 film was composed by S.D. Burman. The use of the orchestra is minimal – only a couple of instruments and that too in the background. The focus on the singers’ voices and how sweet does Rafi sound. It is picturised on Ashok Kumar and Asha Parekh. No, in the movie Ashok Kumar’s character is not looking for Asha Parekh (who incidentally looks gorgeous).
15) Zubaan-e-Yaar Man Turki (Ek Musafir Ek Hasina, 1962, Co-singer: Asha Bhosle, MD: OPN): Ek Musafir Ek Hasina was a film with exceptional music. All the songs are masterpieces and had 3 amazing Rafi-Asha duets: Bahut Shukriya Badi Meherbaani, Aap Yunhi Agar Humse Milte Rahe and the lovely lovely Main Pyaar Ka Rahi hoon (It apparently was picturised but deleted from the film. The video is unavailable). This song is interesting – not only for its lively, peppy music with typical O.P.Nayyar beats, claps and all. The main line is actually in Persian and from an Amir Khusrau poem. Wonderful song – picturised on a charming Joy Mukherjee and a gorgeous Sadhana.
16) Tumhein Dil Se Chaaha Tumhein Dil Diya Hai (Chand Aur Suraj, 1965, Co-singer: Suman Kalyanpur, MD: Salil Choudhary): A lovely song featuring a dishy Dharmendra and a pretty pretty Tanuja. This one has Rafi singing along with Suman Kalyanpur (the singer with the sweet voice who sounded almost just like Lata Mangeshkar, who was definitely born in the wrong era! She would have done better had she be born later.) This 1965 movie had melodious music by Salil Choudhary and some really nice songs like the cute Baag Mein Kali Khili.
17) Dil Toh Pehle Se Hi Madhosh Hai (Baharein Phir Bhi Aayengi, 1966, Co-singer: Asha Bhosle, MD: OPN): Another song sung by Rafi and picturised on Dharmendra and Tanuja from Baharein Phir Bhi Aayengi. Guru Dutt died during the making of this film and Dharmendra replaced him midway. The movie was not that good but the songs were superb.
18) Tasveer Teri Dil Mein (Maya, 1961, Co-singer: Lata Mangeshkar, MD: Salil Choudhary): This is an amazing song from a very boring film. As with most Salil Choudhary songs, this sounds easy to sing but it is not – listen to the various ups and downs and the pitch. Lata sings with Rafi and it is said that they had their tiff during the recording of this particular song. One story goes that while they largely disagreed about the royalty issue, it was this argument that made them stop singing with each other for a couple of years.
19) Palkon Ke Peeche Se Kya Tumne Keh Dala (Talaash, 1969, Co-singer: Lata Mangeshkar, MD: SDB): Another Lata-Rafi song but from a later movie which starred a past-his-prime Rajendra Kumar with Sharmila Tagore. The picturisation as such is not that good but the song is very sweet to listen to.
20) Hum Intezaar Karenge (Bahu Begum, 1967, Co-singer: Asha Bhosle, MD: Roshan): Ending this list with an old favourite from the days when DD used to play it on Chitrahaar and Rangoli. This is from the Pradeep Kumar – Meena Kumari starrer Bahu Begum. The song is wonderfully romantic as it describes the wait for one’s beloved till eternity. The meaningful song is written by Sahir Ludhianvi and Roshan is the music director. This is one of Asha and Rafi’s best duets.
These 45 songs hardly do any justice to the sheer versatility and range of this great singer. The more I listen to him, I do not have words to describe his genius. Songs have been transformed into musical masterpieces because of his emotional and faultless rendition. Happy Birthday, Rafi saab!