Published on Tuesday, 31 July 2012 11:13
Written by Kiran Arora
If ever there was a saint in human form in Indian cinema, it was the late Mohammed Rafi, who passed away on July 31, 1980. No one spoke ill of him - ever, which is a kind of a record in an industry.
And who could sing everything
to perfection, like Rafi-saab
did? You could never guess that the pristine voice that sang a bhajan
was not a devout Hindu, but make him sing a devout qawwali
and he would sound no less than a paighambar
, the Islamic messenger of God! He was urban lover-boy as easily as a rustic, full-throated farmer. When his dedication saw him blend the needs of a song and the preferences of its composer with the persona of from Dilip Kumar to Rishi Kapoor with Johnny Walker and lesser-known names, it was as if the actor himself was singing.
Rafi lived for his art, and never succumbed to the mart - he was the busiest singer for decades only
on merit, the demand being as much for Rafi the simple man as for the fact that he was our most versatile singer. But while his associations with top actors and composers are well-documented, it is a fact that Rafi put in his 200 per cent not just for them but for every small-time composer, whether their films had a known actor or not. As a tribute to this trait on the occasion of his 32nd death anniversary, let us look at his songs for 32 such composers from early in his career - Rafi was already a top singer by the late '40s.
Rafi would charge the less-affording producers and composers less - if at all he did take money from them. Frequently, if he loved the song, he would smilingly wave (and waive) away the payment. 'Paas Baitho Tabiyat Machal Jaayegi
' from Punar Milan
(1964) was one such song, composed by newcomer C.Arjun, who was to be best known later for the chartbusting score of Jai Santoshi Maa
Lavish in his words of praise and encouragement to such newbies, strugglers and humbler talents, he never realized what he had achieved himself in such songs, and how he often changed the very fortunes of the compositions, the films, and the men behind them. Like when he lead four other singers (Asha Bhosle, Shailendra Singh, Bhupinder and Sapan Chakravorty) in the song that is Raamlaxman's signature tune a decade before Maine Pyar Kiya
and Hum Aapke Hain Koun…!
- the rousing 'Deva O Deva Ganpati Deva
' from Humse Badhkar Kaun
? Even today, the song is a must-play track at every Ganesh Festival.
For years after his death, Rafi's songs kept coming in various films and albums. Two beauties that we must single out here are the title-track of Mera Salaam
, a Muslim social composed by Rajkamal (later to do Chashme Buddoor
and B.R.Chopra's epic serial Mahabharat
) and Jugal Kishore-Tilak Raj's duet in Bheegi Palkein, 'Janam Janam Ka Saath Hai
', with Lata, as filmed on Raj Babbar and Smita Patil.
In 1972, Rafi sang the deceptively-simple 'Kaisi Shaam Suhani Aayi Re
' from Pasand Apni Apni
composed by Vishnu Khanna, never heard of again, with its quick change in octaves at the cross-line (the transition from antara
back to the mukhda
). The song was filmed on Sameer, younger brother of Feroz and Sanjay Khan. In the same steeply melodious mould were Shatrughan Sinha's twin towers, 'Dil Ka Soona Saaz' (Ek Nari Do Roop
) composed by Ganesh, (Laxmikant-) Pyarelal's brother and 'Kahin Aisa Na Ho' (Milap)
, with Brij Bhushan as composer. Ganesh's title-track from 'Ek Nanhi Munni Ladki Thi
' was another high-point.
Lyricist Prem Dhawan's limited but sparkling career as composer is strobe-lit by Rafi stunners, led by 'Ae Watan Ae Watan'
(1965) and 'Agar Bewafa Tujhko Pehchan Jaate' (Raat Ke Andhere Mein
/ 1970). Very few know that occasional composer Vijay Singh was Maine Pyar Kiya
heroine Bhagyashree's dad. What a song he created for Rafi in Khoon Khoon
, a 1973 rehash of Hollywood's classic Dirty Harry
- 'Maati ke jalte deepak ki jyot to ek din bujh jaani hai
! It was nothing less than a melodious oasis in a cacophony of action!
N.Dutta, a hugely-talented Hindi-Marathi composer, owes Rafi his signature tune in Hindi films, 'Tu Hindu Banega Na Mussalman Banega
' from Yash Chopra's debut film Dhool Ka Phool
. A name often confused with him is of fellow Goan genius Dattaram, Shankar-Jaikishan's key assistant for decades - and Rafi rollicked his way through the latter's Mama ho mama
with Manna Dey in the 1959 Parvarish
Rafi and Manna Dey together always proved a lethal combo, and the raag-rich
'Sudh Bisar Gayi Aaj
' by freedom fighter-actor-composer S.N.Tripathi from Sangeet Samrat Tansen
also proved it. Tripathi it was for whom Rafi's 'Zaraa Saamne To Aa O Chhaliye
' in the 1957 Janam Janam Ke Phere
and 'Na Kisiki Aankh Ka Noor Hoon' (Lal Quila
/1960) also became raging hits. Rafi gave another classicist composer, Pt.Shivram, his career biggest hit in 'Daulat Ke Jhoote Nashe Mein
' in the 1955 Oonchi Haveli
When Pandit Ravi Shankar stepped in to compose Godaan
, it was Rafi to the fore again with the superbly rustic 'Pipra Ke Patwa Sarikhe Dole Manwa
'. Also a giant in his field but a 'smallie' on the Hindi scene was Marathi cinema's biggest composer, Sudhir Phadke in whose Hindi debut in 1947, Aage Badho
starring Dev Anand, Rafi sang the quaint hit, Saawan ki ghataaon
'Apni Aankhon Mein Basaakar
' from Thokar
, composed by Shamji Ghanashamji, Madan Mohan's assistant, is virtually the only aspect of the film that endures. Another film that remains alive, like Thokar
, only because of the music, was My Love
(1970), including its passionate Anand Bakshi-written title-track composed by Daan Singh, who never got his due in Hindi films. And speaking of Bakshi, let us recall his early hit 'Dhalti Jaaye Raat
' from Razia Sultana
in 1963 composed by Lacchiram as well as Nisar Bazmi, Bakshi's first-ever composer. Rafi, it is said, was apologetically told that Bazmi could only afford to pay him Rs 50 for the song 'Mohabbat Aur Wafaa Ki Kis Qadar Tauheen
' in his debut film Khoj
(1953), but after recording it, an impressed Rafi only took a rupee! In the same year came 'Tera Kaam Hai Jalna Parwane
' composed by S.Mohinder for Paap
and filmed on none other than Raj Kapoor. Both were huge hits.
In his time, Hansraj Behl may have introduced Asha Bhosle, but he remained a small-timer, yet Rafi gave this man both the songs that have immortalized him - 'Jahaan Daal Daal Par Sone Ki Chidiya
' in Sikander-E-Azam
and the love litany 'Mohabbat Zinda Rehti Hai
' from Changez Khan
. Another such composer Iqbal Qureshi, owes Rafi the popular 'Main Apne Aap Se
' from Bindiya
(1960) and the chartbuster 'Subah Na Aayi Shaam Na Aayi
' from Cha Cha Cha
Anu Malik's father, the late Sardar Malik, could never make the top grade, but Rafi's memorabilia for him include 'Mujhe Tumse Mohabbat Hai
' from Bachpan
and 'Piya Kaise Miloon
', the Saranga
duet with Lata Mangeshkar. And speaking of Lata duets, who can forget the classic and 'Kuhu Kuhu Bole Koyaliya
' that classical stunner composed by Adi Narayan Rao for Suvarna Sundari
and Ramlal's Sehra
beauty for V.Shantaram, 'Tum To Pyar Ho
Such is Rafi's charisma and the magic of our singing legends that they dwarf even the famous creators of the songs. And so, while everyone even today recalls and sings 'Sai Baba Bolo
' (Rafi with Anuradha Paudwal, Anup Jalota and Jani Babu) and 'Sainath Tere Hazaaron Haath
' (with Usha Mangeshkar) from Manoj Kumar's Shirdi Ke Sai Baba
(Manoj even wrote these songs), no one knows the Marathi composer who created them - Pandurang Dikshit.
In a field where talent and success are independent of each other, we must mention Sapan-Jagmohan, who began very promisingly but remained choices for small films. In their debut film, Begana
(1963), we had a Rafi classic, 'Phir Woh Bhooli Si Yaad Aayi Hai
Let us also not forget that Rafi also was an integral and 'hit' part of so many debuts of composers who went on to hit big-time, from Shankar-Jaikishan in Barsaat
to Anu Malik in Poonam
, with Ravi, Usha Khanna, Kalyanji-Anandji, R.D.Burman, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Sonik-Omi, Ravindra Jain, Rajesh Roshan and Nadeem-Shravan (in the Bhojpuri Dangal
) in between. We mention this only to emphasize that Rafi never knew which way their careers would head when he blessed them, so to speak, by doing his vocal best for their firt films.
We wrap up with six more names to show that for Rafi, the song as a composition and a musical exercise and tapasya
was the only thing that mattered, not mundane material things like money or the stature of those involved in the songs or the film.
It was Rafi who sang singer Sharda's biggest hit as a composer, 'Accha Hi Hua Dil Toot Gaya
' from Maa Bahen Aur Biwi
and Robin Banerjee's popular 'Iraada Na Tha
' with Suman Kalyanpur (Aandhi Aur Toofan
/ 1964). The very talented Nashad may have just a letter missing from Naushad, but that seemed to change his fortunes! However, his classic 'Bhula Nahin Dena Jee
' (with Lata/Baradari
in 1955) was a raging hit not to be forgotten even today.
And speaking of Naushad, who gave Rafi his first Hindi break in the 1944 Pahele Aap
, the legendary composer famous assistant Ghulam Mohammed could only achieve limited success as an independent composer, but Rafi's lustrous Lata duets 'Hum Tum Yeh Bahaar' (Amber
/1952 for Raj Kapoor-Nargis) and 'Chalo Dildaar Chalo
/ 1972 for Raaj Kumar and Meena Kumari) still stands tall in his work. Naushad's other assistant Mohammed Shafi recorded 'O Bichhade Hue Saathi
' with Rafi-Lata as early as 1951 in Hulchul
. And finally, we cannot ignore one of Rafi's finest Muslim devotional songs in this month of Ramzan, Shafi's stunner 'Madad Kijiye Tajdar-E-Madina
' from the 1975 Dayar-E-Madina
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