Rafi in Ten Moods

The other day, after a long gap of 16 years, I met someone who used to teach me in college. I never knew back then that he was a Mohammad Rafi aficionado; and now, chatting with him about Dusted Off, I got a request: do a Rafi post.
So, as a sort of gurudakshina, here it is: a Rafi post. And since I cannot even begin to think of trying to narrow down my favourite Rafi songs to just ten (or even a hundred), I’m taking the easy way out. Rafi, in ten moods. Ten songs that showcase the breathtaking versatility of this man and his voice. There will always be dozens of other Rafi songs out there that reflect the same emotions behind these songs, but these are my favourites. And, in keeping with the rules I always set for myself, they’re all from the 50’s and 60’s, from films I’ve seen.

Cynical: Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye (Pyaasa, 1957): This is one of those songs that never fail to give me gooseflesh. Sahir Ludhianvi’s bitter lyrics of a material world and S D Burman’s superb music are of course important elements, but it is Rafi’s voice that lifts Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye into a realm of its own. He drawls and caresses over the first few stanzas in a voice that is very reminiscent of Guru Dutt’s, and then—in the finale—soars up into a crescendo that expresses the cynicism of the disillusioned poet perfectly. What a song.

Devotional: Man tarpat Hari darshan ko aaj (Baiju Bawra, 1952): Much has been made of the fact that the three people involved in the making of this superb bhajan—the lyricist (Shakeel Badayuni), the music director (Naushad) and the singer (Rafi)—were all Muslims. For me, the greatest beauty of this song is in the way Rafi sings it: fervent, emotional, yet very controlled, and a stunning example of Rafi’s expertise as a classical singer.
Incidentally, this isn’t just a hymn; it’s also a song in appreciation of a much-loved guru. Man tarpat Hari darshan ko aaj means “Today my heart trembles for a glimpse of Hari”—and Hari can mean not just God, but is also an allusion to Baiju Bawra’s guru, Swami Haridas. And of course the later verse, beginning with “Bin guru gyaan kahaan se paaoon” (“Without a guru, where will I gain knowledge?”) bears it out.

Exuberant: Duniya paagal hai ya phir main deewaana (Shagird, 1967): At the other end of the spectrum from Man tarpat Hari darshan ko aaj is this: a wild, madcap song at an engagement party, deriding love and marriage. An infectious, energetic song to which Rafi does full justice: he seems to be enjoying himself in every syllable! And how on earth does Rafi manage to fit his voice perfectly into the voice of whichever actor he’s singing playback for? He’s as much Joy Mukherji as he is Guru Dutt or Bharatbhushan or Shammi Kapoor or Johnny Walker or a dozen other men.

Patriotic: Yeh desh hai veer jawaanon ka (Naya Daur, 1957): And not just patriotic, but folksy too. Singing along with Balbir, Rafi makes this paean to his homeland a boisterous, earthy song. It brims with pride for one’s country, and also with the joy of life itself.

Romantic: Deewaana hua baadal (Kashmir ki Kali, 1964): I think romantic, and this song, sung by Rafi along with Asha Bhonsle, always comes to mind. There’s something so gloriously ‘soft focus’ about it all—and I don’t mean just the picturisation (which admittedly is superb, featuring as it does two of my favourite stars and in my favourite setting, Kashmir in the spring). The music is soothingly soft, the lyrics are lovely, and Rafi’s voice is pure velvet.

Comic: Jangal mein mor naacha (Madhumati, 1958): Mohammad Rafi and Johnny Walker make the ultimate comic jodi—and Rafi sounds so exactly Johnny Walker, I tend to forget this isn’t Johnny Walker singing! They have dozens of superb and very funny songs together—Johnny on screen, Rafi playback—but this one’s my favourite. With that slightly drunken (well, maybe not slightly) slurring and the very Johnny Walkerish exaggerated diction, Rafi makes this anti-temperance song a masterpiece.

Melancholic: Dekhi zamaane ki yaari (Kaagaz ke Phool, 1959): You don’t need to have seen Kaagaz ke Phool to understand the utter tragedy the film depicts—this song is enough. Like Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye, it’s cynical, but here the cynicism is overpowered by the complete hopelessness, the all-encompassing sorrow of the song. Kaifi Azmi’s lyrics of course are very powerful, but Rafi’s voice—now slow, burdened with misery; now soaring high in a desperate attempt to break free of that sorrow—is matchless.

Seductive: Aaja re aa zara aa (Love in Tokyo, 1966): Somehow, all the come-hither songs in classic Hindi cinema (Raat akeli hai, Aaiye meherbaan, Yeh hai reshmi zulfon ka andhera, etc) seem to have been sung by women—with this notable exception. And take it from me, as a woman: Rafi sizzles in this one. That intimate low-voiced singing, that hint of aching longing: absolutely, completely come-hither.

Philosophical: Man re tu kaahe na dheer dhare (Chitralekha, 1964): Yes, there are tons of philosophical, introspective and pensive Rafi songs out there (Dosti had more than its fair share), but I have a soft spot for this one. Sahir Ludhianvi’s lyrics—an attempt to reconcile a wounded heart to an unrequited love—are beautiful, as is Roshan’s music, but this song’s greatest attraction for me is Rafi’s complete and seemingly effortless command over his voice, which reigns over the relatively subdued instrumental music. Simply superb.

Empathetic: Tukde hain mere dil ke (Mere Sanam, 1965): This could have been just another part-love, part-sympathy song if it hadn’t been for Rafi’s voice—so full of feeling, so deeply sensitive, that it makes Tukde hain mere dil ke ae yaar tere aansoo (“Your tears, my love, are pieces of my heart”) the ultimate plea—an anguished appeal to be allowed to share in the sorrow of a loved one. A song that I feel is more of a love song than hundreds of others sung onscreen, simply because it throbs with a love and an empathy far deeper than any sung in sunny gardens.

The more I hear of Rafi’s voice, I more I am convinced that any praise of him is inadequate. Sigh. Too, too good.

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86 thoughts on “Rafi in Ten Moods

  1. Wow!!! Simply Wow!!! While I was reading this brilliant post, I kept remembering all those other brilliant Rafi songs that could have been named here!!! Alas, 10 is too tiny a number to contain the sparkling repertoire of Rafi, the musical genius!! Great post!!

  2. Thank you so much. :-)

    And yes, there are dozens of absolutely brilliant Rafi songs that could have been named here! How about part 2 on your blog? Would love to see your list!

  3. What a briliant idea for a Rafi post!!! He certainly was a man for every mood, and every actor, too. Every time I hear him sing, I am smitten afresh with that lovely voice. He was brilliant at poetry too – from Sahir’s Jinhe naaz hai hind par woh kahan hain, Neeraj’s Kaarwan guzar gaya, to my current favorite, Hasrat’s Unhen kissa-e-gham jo likhne ko baithe (he sounds even better without music), there is nobody I’d rather hear poetry from!

  4. Wow!!!! What an amazing list! I would get lost if I tried to make a list of Rafi’s songs. Wouldn’t know where to begin and where to finish. I simply love all these songs. Thank you so much for this post. Half the time I end up watching Bharat Bhushan’s and Biswajeet’s movies just for Rafi’s songs.
    While Duniya paagal hai ya phir main deewaana is totally crazy and masti-bhara, Yeh desh hai veer jawaanon ka is a national pride, Deewaana hua baadal so beautifully romantic, Jangal mein mor naacha nashila, Aaja re aa zara aa extremely seductive, Tukde hain mere dil ke ae yaar tere aansoo so full of love. And then the songs from Pyaasa, Kaagaz Ke Phool and Chitralekha – soulful. Rafi’s versatility knows no boundaries.
    He infused life into the songs he sang – all his songs have the love, emotions and all the factors that a particular song required. Rafi was a true genius!
    @ Sharmi : Why don’t you do a part 2 on your blog? And may be the rest of us could follow as well. I am sure Nasir would be more than happy to do this as well. That way we could cover lots of other songs too :-D

  5. What an awesome awesome list… and what voice!!!!! OMG completely blows me every time I hear him. Oooh, I still haven’t heard “jangal mein mor nacha” and “tukde hai mere dil ke” so unbelievable for me, but I get to discover more Rafi goodies. :D

    As for the “come-hither” category, two more Rafi numbers to add to list: meri duniya mein tum aayi from Heer Ranjha and aaj ki raat from Aman.

    Like you say here and like I’ve said on my songs-music blog many times, any praise for Rafi sahab’s singing is not enough.

    Btw, I can’t wait to do part 2 on my blog. Rafi songs posts and I don’t participate… ho hi nahin sakta! I’ll post a link on here once it’s up. Many thanks for this wonderful post.

  6. bollyviewer: Yes, isn’t he absolutely perfect at recitation too? I like Jinhe naaz hai Hind par so much, I nearly added it to this list. Though I must admit part of the reason I like it so much is Sahir Ludhianvi’s brilliant poetry… I need to do a post on that man too; he’s by far my favourite lyricist.

    sunheriyaadein: I’m all for a series across blogs! Would love to hear everybody’s top ten lists of Rafi in different moods. Such a gorgeous voice, I can’t get enough of him. Really.

    Kanan: Oh, you must, must hear Jangal mein mor naacha and Tukde hain mere dil ke: both are in their own way unbeatable songs!
    I hadn’t heard Meri duniya mein tum aayi before, but just checked it out on youtube: very nice and gentle. I just wish Heer Ranjha starred someone other than Raj Kumar and Priya Rajvansh – not my favourite jodi. The Aman song is lovely too (I like it better than Meri duniya mein…).
    I’m waiting to see your list!

  7. Rafi saab cannot be restricted to 10 moods.
    Rafi saab’s repertoire does not have a ‘lakshmanrekha.He has sung a song for Kishore Kumar. I guess in Half Ticket.
    He could effortlessly sing that ‘tapori’ song energetically to make you dance with ‘Humko tumse pyaar aaya pyaar aaya.. as well as move the heart with Raahi manwa sukh ki chinta kyon satathi hai dukh tho apna saathi hai sukh hai ik chaav aati.. (Dosti).

    Others include

    1) Kaun hai jo sapno meinaaya. lightheartedly remenscing his sweetheart.
    2) kabhi khud pe kabhi haalaat pe rona aaya. words cannot deascribe this song.
    3) chakke pe chakka chakkey pe gaadi gaadi mein nikli apni savaari. childlike, impish when he sings babloo ki topi pet ke inki nanhi.. or the other one hum bhi agar bachein hothey naam ahamara hota babloo shabloo.
    4) tu hindu banega na musallman banega ( one of my cherished rafi saab songs). soulful, secular, human.

    5) freewheeling in an evening in paris and jaaaapaaaan love in tokyo
    6) the classical rafisaab in madhuban mein radhika

    We could all go on an on till the cowa come home and yet not do justice to this wonderful human being, modest, unpretentious and humble to the core.Rafi saab was a wonderful humsan being too.

  8. Mr Neelakantan, thank you for dropping by! If a gurudakshina is seen and accepted by the guru, the shishya’s duty is fulfilled, right? :-)

    Too true… Rafi can’t be restricted to ten moods. But if I start listing each Rafi song I like, this blog is going to be insufficient!

    What wonderful songs you’ve listed – Madhuban mein Radhika naache re was originally on this list, but then I couldn’t figure out what mood to ascribe to it. Such a marvellous song. And all the others, too; each one of them.

    By the way, if you like Rafi, you must take a look at Nasir’s Eclectic Blog – he’s very strong on Rafi.

  9. That would be such a daunting task…which would I include and which would I not???…I fail to bring under a count!!! I love almost every song of his, especially those from the 50s and 60s. But, I will definitely enlist say about 50 of them one fine important day!!! And, let you know when I do that…Till then happy moviewatching!!! :)

  10. Wow, what a list!
    Can you imagine I couldn’t remember: Duniya paagal hai ya phir main deewaana and had to really click the song! I’M GETTING OLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    My fav Rafi’s seduction song would also include “Tumshe kahoon ek baat” from Dastak and “Tu mere saamne hai” from Suhagan.
    And just like you I love ‘man tadpat hari darshan’.
    I love your choice of ‘Jangal mein mor naacha’ over Johnny Walker’s songs in Guru Dutt’s films.
    On the lines sunheriyaadein I think that Mohd. Rafi raises the 60s films from their shallowness.
    How long did you need to decide a song for each mood?
    Stupendous task this! BRAVO!!!!!!!!!!

  11. What a great site. So glad I found it! I tried to summarise Rafi’s songs to ten favourites….an impossible feat. And I agree – any praise of him is inadequate!


  12. harvey: Thank you so much – and for those suggestions from Dastak and Suhagan: both wonderful songs which I’d completely forgotten about! By the way, it didn’t take too much effort to decide a song for each mood: I’ve been pretty ill all of last week, and was confined to bed with a 103F temperature, so had nothing better to do than lie there and listen to Rafi and think about his songs… good way to recuperate!

    Veen: Thank you! And yes, creating a ‘ten favourites’ list of Rafi’s songs is an impossible task – I haven’t done it yet, even though I’ve managed to do that for a lot of other singers. Not Rafi; never.

    Ava: Thanks a ton!

  13. O you poor thing!
    Having fever in Delhi heat is a torture!!!!
    So no warm hugs for you only cool kisses! ;-)

    Bur great that you usedd the time to think of good ol’ Rafi.
    Ten fav list of Rafi is nearly impossible. Maybe a ten fav rafi list for each year of his life!

    And I have to say this again: I’m moved every time when I listen to ‘man tadapat hari darshan’

  14. Vah vah! great list and such a genius way you’ve approached tackling what would have been a daunting task, i love duniya pagal hai too plus i just love Joy in that film, in fact i love Joy, though he wasn’t a major alpha hero as such, i like him a lot. One of my fave rafi songs which i just heard days ago and has been playing on my mind is Teri Pyari Pyari from Sasural (1961)

  15. harvey: Thank you so much for the good wishes! Yes, running a high fever at the peak of Delhi’s summer was awful – I’m so glad to be better now. And you know what? I don’t think I could even manage a top ten for each year of Rafi’s singing – for instance, a year like 1957 (which had Rafi singing in Tumsa Nahin Dekha, Naya Daur, Nau Do Gyarah, Dekh Kabira Roya, Bhabhi and Pyaasa, plus many other films that I haven’t seen but know had great music) would yield dozens of fabulous Rafi songs.
    Let it be; there’s no point. Rafi has too long a list of mind-blowing songs for anybody to try tackling them. Let’s just enjoy them!! :-)

    Monte: Thank you! Which of these are your favourites?

    bollywoodeewana: We agree on Joy Mukherji. :-) He wasn’t a big star, but I somehow like him a lot – and he acted in some very entertaining films. Love in Tokyo, Shagird, Phir Wohi Dil Laaya Hoon and Ek Musafir Ek Haseena are among my favourites – and all had such fabulous music!
    I haven’t seen Sasural, but I really like the Teri pyaari pyaari soorat song: very nice. We used to sing it quite a bit when we were kids.

  16. Loved your idea of doing a mood post: brilliant way to tackle a post like this!
    Liked all your choices, though “Lal chhadhi maidan karhi” is the one that comes when I think of a boisterous Rafi song, and “mein yeh soch kar uske dar se utha tha” (Hakeekat) is particular favourite for melancholic song= so simple, so effective.

    Hearing him sing always brings the joy of singing home to me.
    Someone who previously had little experience of Hindi music, was in a 70s Wembley music concert by him, said that when he came on and sang “Mitwaaaa…..” (the beginning of the song “aaja tujhko pukarein mere geet re”, they were floored for life!

    That song is not here but there is a trailer from this concert

    How I would have loved to have been there.

  17. What can I say?
    This collection of songs, which happen to be my favourites as well have left me wanting more.

    Counting the superb songs of Rafi saab would be like counting the stars.
    But had to contribute something.
    This one is a soft, seductive and romantic – and Shammi looking sooo sexy.

    Anothr song of the same mood as above

    Thank you for this fantastic post :-)

  18. You’ve included some of my Rafi faves too (Aaja Re Aa Zara Aa is one that I even memorized the lyrics for, it is SO seductive) :) Lovely post, Madhu!!!

  19. bawa: Thank you for that clip! It really whetted my appetite – I wish there was more of that concert available on youtube. I’ve never seen Rafi live (well, I don’t even know if I’d have remembered; he died when I wasn’t even 10), but one of my fondest memories of watching Rafi sing is from a studio recording of Madhuban mein Radhika naache re… Doordarshan used to show it frequently in the good old days, and I fell in love with that song because of that!

    pacifist: I love Jawaaniyaan yeh mast-mast bin piye! I’d been wanting to put it on this list, but as in the case of Madhuban mein Radhika naache re, I couldn’t figure out what mood it should be ‘filed’ under…. and thank you for Aapka muskuraana too; his voice is so gloriously smooth and young and wonderful in both songs. :-)

    memsaab: You actually learnt the lyrics without being completely fluent in the language? I am very impressed. Well done! :-) But Aaja re aa zara aa is worth the effort. I really think there’s no other song, even among those sung by Rafi himself, that matches this when it comes to sheer seductiveness.

  20. I remember that DD Madhuban mein radhika too! The only times I saw Rafi live….

    I am wishing someone would post more from that concert. For the moment it looks like they have a project for a DVD.

  21. Fortunately, however, even other than that concert, there’s plenty of footage around of Rafi – studio recordings, concerts, and more! Oh, and look what I found:

  22. I just stumbled across this blog :)

    Must say, its truly a wonderful read, each and every write-up has something new and fresh to offer, keep up the excellent work dustedoff.

    What can one say about Rafi ?. If there was anyone close to perfection when it comes to singing and voice, it’s Rafi. Truly matchless, unique, and out of this world. There are a countless number of songs sung by this ‘once in a lifetime’ singer that showcase his jaw-droppin versatility, and “oh so gorgeous” voice. Thanks for a wonderful list of great songs.

    At the moment, I’m hooked on to “Aise to na dekho” from Teen Devian. I think this song is truly amazing in every way. Composed by SDB, Rafi singing for the Dev (how did he manage to sound like everyone he sang for ?….genius) in 1965 (the same year Guide released):

  23. Thank you so much for the appreciation, Ali! And thank you also for Aise toh na dekho: there’s something so soft and loving about that song. Actually, I think very highly of the music of Teen Deviyaan: it had a brilliant score. I also love Likha hai teri aankhon mein and Arre yaar meri tum bhi ho ghazab – and, of course, the unforgettable Khwaab ho tum ya koi haqeeqat. What fabulous songs, all!

  24. This is such a treat.
    First dustedoff’s 10, then the various links by posters, and then Kanan’s 10. Bliss bliss bliss!!

    Special mantion of the Teen Deviyan song and the live ‘Madhuban main radhika’. The latter is so unique. Dilip Kumar acts superbly.

  25. You attempted the impossible. I would never be able to compile such a list for eiither Rafi or Lata.
    But I came to your blog right now becuase I was looking for a movie review of Teri Surat Meri Aankhen. The song “Tere bin soone, nain hamare” a Rafi-Lata duet is beyond description.

  26. pacifist: Yes, Madhuban mein Radhika naache re is one of my favourite songs too – not just the music and Rafi’s fantastic rendering, but also Dilip Kumar’s acting and Kumkum’s dancing. Lovely!

    sophy: Did you find a review of Teri Surat Meri Aankhen? I saw it a few years back, and didn’t like it too much – too depressing for my taste. But the music is absolutely out of this world; if there is one reason to see that film, it’s for the songs.

    Kanan: Thank you for those links! I wish the videos or audios of all those songs were available, since I can’t seem to remember any of them (though I’m certain I’ve heard them, since I recall watching both Aao Pyaar Karein and Dil Tera Deewaana)… loved Mere liye toh bas yehi pal hain haseen bahaar ke; such a romantic song, and Rafi’s sung it so beautifully.

  27. Yay! A spontaneous Rafi-fest!!! I have been contemplating a Rafi moods post too. Unfortunately, every contemplation necessitates several Rafi song sessions and then I either get lost in his voice or in youtube. I WILL join in, but not until I have gotten some more thinking done, and that might require a few days…

    PS: I remember hearing Mere liye to bas yahi pal hain haseen in a non-Rafi context. Did it show up in a later Hindi film? Or was it sung by Mehdi Hassan?

  28. I don’t mind waiting! It gives me something to look forward to. :-)

    No idea about Mere liye toh bas yehi pal hain haseen… I must admit this was the first time I’d heard it. Maybe Kanan will know?

  29. Kanan, thank you so much for taking the trouble of digging up those songs (I’m listening to the last one – Maasoom chehra yeh qqatil adaayein – even as I type). All three are lovely, but I think I like Jahaan tu hai wahaan phir the best. Beautifully sung, great music and what awesome lyrics! Fabulous.

  30. I’m delighted to see “aa jaa re aa zara” on your list since it’s not one folks remember to remember.:-) Rafi in that song makes me smile and melt at the same time. Delicious singing!

    My current Rafi earworm is the soulful “dil ki awaaz bhi sun” from Humsaya. How can anyone resist that voice?

  31. Ah, lovely, Shalini. Dil ki aawaaz bhi sun is such a beautiful song – lyrics, music, and most of all, Rafi’s voice. Honestly, I can’t imagine even thinking of resisting that voice. :-)

  32. BTW I am only aware of 2 songs featuring Rafi Saab and Talat. Incidentally both songs share a common theme ; hope and optimism in the face of hopelessness and despondency. ‘Hoke Majboor’ from Haqeeqat and ‘ Gham ki andheri raat mein dil ko na bekarar kar, subaha zaroor aayegi, subaha ka intezar kar’
    These two songs are extra special as the two Masters compliment each other. Looking forward to a post on songs featuring the two. A priceless post that should be.

    Keep up the good work.

  33. Thank you! But oh, I don’t know of any other songs that had both Rafi and Talat in them. A ‘credited together’ search for the two of them, on imdb, throws up a list of 29 films that had both Rafi and Talat credited in them, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they featured in the same song together… it could’ve been that Rafi sang some songs in the film and Talat sang others. For instance, in Mirza Ghalib, I know Talat sang Dil-e-naadaan tujhe hua kya hai while Rafi did some fabulous recitations.

    Perhaps someone with a more encyclopedic knowledge of the songs in these 29 films will be able to figure out if there were any others that had Rafi and Talat singing together!

  34. Madhu, aren’t those songs wonderful!! I too completely adore them… I know there’s more of them out there that I don’t know yet.

    Other than the two songs listed above by MS Neelakantan, mohdrafi.com says these are sung by Rafi-Talat combo:

    aa… zulf hai dosh pe, Barish (1957)
    kaisi haseen aaj, Aadmi (1968)
    kavita naam hai gyaan ka, Kavi (1954)
    rahega jahaan mein tera naam, Love and God (1986)

    Of these, I think I’ve only listened to kaisi haseen aaj bahaaron ki raat hai ek chaand aasmaan pe hai ek mere paas hai.

    More Rafi songs to listen to! :)

  35. Here is the Talat version of Kaisi haseen aaj (its the second of the three songs). I read somewhere that Manoj Kumar insisted on Mahendra Kapoor doing the playback for him, so the song was re-recorded with Mahendra K and the Talat version did not make it to the film. Sad…

    The Haqeeqat songs can really tug on your heartstrings, and I’d say that Hoke Majboor and Kar chale hum fida are in a class of their own in the tearjerker category!

  36. Bollyviewer, thanks a ton for sharing this audio clip. Fun fun… I love all of them. I listened to these versions for the first time today. Wish they made more songs with these two singers.

  37. A post missing and that is the qawwali post which was a feature of every film those days- pre 1960

    My two favourites: it features Rafi Saab too.
    1) Na tho caraavan ki talaash hai na humsafar ki talaash hai..

    2) Yeh ishq ishq hai …

  38. bollyviewer: Thank you so much for sharing that! You know, I think Mahender Kapoor was highly underrated. He sang some fabulous songs, but very few people seem to think beyond Rafi, Kishore, Talat and Mukesh… someday I’m going to do a post on Mahender Kapoor. He deserves it! :-)

    Mr Neelakantan: Those are my all-time favourite qawwalis too! They’re outstanding; nothing comes even close to them, I think. I’ve been meaning for a long time to do a qawwali post, but I have a creepy feeling that about half the qawwalis that will feature in that post will be from Barsaat ki Raat. Someday, someday. Meanwhile, I have a post ready to be published on the 16th of June – a post I think you’ll like… look out for it!

  39. Think Mahender Kapoor and you can visualise the tricolour and smell the earth of India hearing the pleasant tinkle of the bells on the bullock’s neck, the panghat…lending his voice primarily for Manoj Kumar

    But in Humraaz was his magnum opus.

  40. Exactly! Humraaz has one song after another that is Mahender Kapoor at his best. There’s also a very rare song, but beautiful, from the film Apna Ghar Apni Kahaani, with Asha… Chaand bhi ki deewana hai. Gentle, romantic and one of my all-time favourite Mahender Kapoor songs.

  41. Ahmer bhai,

    Have read this post of yours at least 10 times. Utterly beautiful. One more mood and an associated song : DESPAIR or RESIGNATION – na kisi aankh ka noor hoon!!!!

  42. Allow me to quote in Hindustani ” Shaayad aasmaan mein taarein kam honge rafi saab ke gaane ki tulna mein.”

    ‘Tum Bin jaoo kahaan yeh duniya mein aakein… ‘ sung both by Kishore and Rafi individually.
    Madhu request for a post on the same song sung by two or more singers in solo in the same film.

  43. Gan Sharma: I’ve no idea who Ahmer Bhai is…! ;-) But since this is my blog and I’m the one who wrote the post, I’m assuming that was meant as a compliment to me. Thank you! And that suggestion’s a good one. Will remember if I decide to do a part 2 of this post.

    Mr Neelakantan: That’s a good suggestion! Will make a note of it and do a list sometime – hopefully soon! Offhand, I think my favourites include Jeevan ke safar mein raahi and Yeh raat yeh chaandni phir kahaan… needs research!

  44. There are some phrases which are simply not possible to say with any coherence or validity, and “too much rafi” is one of them. Thank you for this fine list. In discussing his astonishing emotional range, I would like to submit मैं गाऊँ तुम सो जाओ as a truly remarkable example. Two versions of the same song, with practically identical lyrics, but the sad version just cuts like a knife while the upbeat version is warm and endearing. Similarly with Pardesiyon Se Na Akhiyan Milana, although there he had more lyric changes to work with.

  45. Sorry, but I just saw this: “I’ve been meaning for a long time to do a qawwali post, but I have a creepy feeling that about half the qawwalis that will feature in that post will be from Barsaat ki Raat.” PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do! “Too many qawwalis” is another of those totally meaningless phrases, and “na to karavaan” is simply my favouritestest song in the whole wide world, after An Die Freude. Barsaat ki Raat is cemented in my top 5 films for being a qawwali junkie’s Nirvana, and I would LOVE to read a blog post from you on filmi qawwali – that moribund and VERY sadly missed genre of filmi music.

  46. Thank you for your kind words, Stuart! It’s always good to meet – even if only in cyber space – anyone else who’s a fan of old film music! And of Rafi, in particular. This man was a phenomenon, nothing less. I have to admit to being not much of a fan of either Main gaaoon tum so jaao (though Chakke pe chakka from the same film, Brahmachari, is on my mental list of all-time great car songs!) or Pardesiyon se na ankhiyaan milaana – nothing to do with Rafi’s rendition, it’s just that I don’t especially like the music of either song.

    Okay, now I must start thinking which qawwalis I’m going to put in my list. :-)

  47. “it’s just that I don’t especially like the music of either song.” – Funny you should say this – listening again to Pardesiyon I realised that in fact I have not paid any attention to the music in either of these songs – for me they are ALL about Rafi’s voice, and in the case of Main gaaaun tum so jaaon the perfect pairing with Shammi at his best. Then again, I prefer Asha over her croaky didi (post 1970 anyway), so what do I know?

  48. Stuart, you’re going to get it in the neck from some of the more radical Lata lovers who frequent this blog!!! (one actually stopped commenting on this blog – and probably visiting it – after I said that I like Asha more than Lata in places). Heh. Just joking! ;-)
    I like Lata (a lot), but I really think Asha is generally more versatile. And Asha, as you mention, is definitely better post 1970.

    I guess one reason I think more highly of singers like Talat, Rafi, Geeta Dutt, etc as compared to Asha and Lata is that the two Mangeshkar sisters have carried on singing well past their prime, and so my perception of them is clouded by the memory of songs rendered in raucous voices that should’ve stopped singing years earlier…

  49. Yes, I think one reason I prefer Asha is because I haven’t heard many of HER later filmi songs – I know she broadened out to other genres that I haven’t heard, so she’s still the Asha of her heyday. That said, Lata at her best was superb, and when her material is age-appropriate, like Luka Chuppi and paalanhaare, she’s still pretty good. Not Aayega Anewala,जो वादा किया or Lag Ja Gale good, but still pretty good :)

  50. Asha has broadened out into other genres, but the problem is that her voice is (naturally enough) not what it was – you can tell her age by listening to her. I’d suggest she retire gracefully…

    Lata at her best, as you say, was superb – I was drafting a ‘Lata in Ten Moods’ post, and both Lag Jaa Gale and Aayega Aanewaala feature on it. Aayega Aanewaala, in fact, was the first song that came to mind. :-)

  51. Aayega Aanewaala, in fact, was the first song that came to mind.”

    Having first Lata in songs from the 90s and later (not counting the films I went to as a kid that I don’t remember), I really did not get why she was revered the way she was. Then I heard Aayega Aanewaala and the ana dropped – big time!

  52. That song always gives me gooseflesh. I sort of grew up with it, because my father’s elder brother, who used to be a guitarist, played solo in Aayega Aanewaala. Part of the reason why my father loves the song, and so passed on that love to me too!

  53. This Asholater infidel looks forward to your “Lata in ten moods”. I know she’s better than the मेंढक की अवाज़ of the 90s and 00s, but only know a few of her truly sublime songs.

  54. Well, you already know two of the songs that’ll feature in that list! But really, Lata in the 50′s and the 60′s is a far cry from the Lata of the 90′s and the noughties. That is how I’d want to remember her…

  55. Yes, that’s why I look forward to your post – to replace the bad memories with the REAL Lata, like the ones I have of Asha in HER prime, having not heard her croaky later works. It’s all about fairness, really. :)

  56. Here’s something Rafi fans may like to listen to:

    Chal Udja Re Panchi – sung by Talat Mehmood!!!!

    I have no idea at all how it came to be sung by Talat. Anyone has?

  57. Himmat, thank you for sharing this – lovely! As someone observes in the comments section below the video, Talat’s version is soothing while Rafi’s was heart-wrenching. I agree completely!

    The person who’s uploaded the song gives an explanation for this version:

    “”During 50′s HMV wanted to copy the West (where one hit English song was sung by many singers) and create VERSION RECORDINGS of popular Hindi songs. Since Talat Mahmood was the most popular singer in those days they persuaded him to do the first recording ‘Chal ud ja re panchi’ which Mohd Rafi had sung for film ‘BHABHI’. Similarly, HMV wanted Rafi to sing a Mukesh hit and Hemant Kumar to record a Talat hit. But this idea of singing other singers songs was not going down very well with the singers and they got together to finally decide against going ahead with this VERSION RECORDINGS idea of HMV. Seeing the singers opposition, HMV decided to drop this idea of VERSION RECORDINGS entirely after that. But by this time ‘Chal ud ja re panchi’ sung by Talat was already in the market, releasing as ‘Version Recording FT21027 Twin/Black Label 78 RPM’.”

  58. Pingback: Rafi Sings for Shammi Kapoor – Part I « Bhooli Bisri Sunheri Yaadein

  59. Version recordings – thanks a ton for the information. I wish the singers had allowed these to prosper. Owing to the lack of version recordings we are stuck with the notion that only the singer who sang the song could have done justice to it.

    Perhaps the singers were insecure. Mukesh, for instance, could have thought ‘what if Rafi sounds better in this song than me’ or vice versa.

  60. Rap the flavour of the early ’90′s found its first version in the 60′s.
    Remember Dada Moni (Ashok Kumar’s) ‘Rail Gaadi chuk chuk chuk, beech waaley station boley ruk ruk ruk ruk ruk.!

  61. Himmat: I agree version recording should have been allowed to prosper – I’ve gone through life thinking some songs are perfect in a particular singer’s voice, but would love to see that belief shattered! Another reason why I like hearing different versions of the same song within one film – say, sung by a woman and a man (Thandi hawa yeh chaandni suhaani, Jeevan ke safar mein raahi, Zindagi ek safar hai suhaana, etc) or sung by two different men or women (Tum bin jaaoon kahaan). It’s good to compare the different styles that different singers bring to the same song.

    Mr Neelakantan: Yes, that’s a cute song!

  62. I cannot believe there was a Rafi post out here and I missed it!!!
    Bahut, bahut na-insaafi hai. I am a huge, huge, huge, huge, huge Rafi saab fan.

    Anyway, better late than never to join this post!

    First of all, let me say, this is one hell of a brave task to set out on. Pick 10 Rafi saab songs? Ok, one per mood but just ONE per mood?

    Must have been hugely difficult to do – so hats off to you, Madhu!

    I have tried to come up with my own songs for the same moods. I started with one per mood (and tortured myself in the process!). Then I decided I could take it no more and have come up with multiple songs per mood (and this is just a fraction of the songs of that mood, as you know. These were just top-of-mind as I was typing them out).

    Ye duniya agar mil bhi jaaye (so, same as yours!!!)

    Man tarpat (so, same as yours!!!)

    Koi pyar hamen bhi karta hai (Brahmachari)
    Laal laal gaal (Mr. X) * I badly want to see the video of this song, could not find it anywhere *
    Aaj purani raahon se

    Ye desh hai veer jawaanon ka (so, same as yours)
    Kar chaley hum fidaa

    Main nigaahen tere chehre se
    Kahin ek masoom naazuk si ladki (1970s)
    Tumhaari zulf ke saaye mein shaam kar doonga
    Aap ke haseen rukh pe
    Tu mere saamne hai
    Pukaarta chala hoon main
    Mujhe dard-e-dil ka pata na tha
    Ye jo chilman hai
    Ab kya misaal doon
    Parbaton ke pedon par

    Sar jo tera chakraaye
    Bade miya deewaane

    Karvaan guzar gaya
    Ek dil ke tukde hazaar hue
    Jaane kya dhoondhti rehti hain
    Suhaani raat dhal chuki
    Nafrat ki duniya (1970s)

    Same as yours : The one and only Aaja re aa zaraa (the ULTIMATE seductive song)
    Dilruba dil pe tu

    Manri tu kahe na dheer (so, same as yours)
    Ye zindagi ke mele
    Tu na Hindu banega
    Jab bhi ye dil udaas hota hai (1970s)
    Mile na phool to kaanton se dosti kar li

    Ponchh kar ashq apni aankhon se

  63. Raja, I love all the songs you’ve picked out! – But, very especially, Laal laal gaal, Bade miyaan deewaane, Suhaani raat dhal chuki and Dilruba dil pe tu – I’d considered putting that as the ‘seductive’ song when I was making this list, but then decided to opt for a solo rather than a duet, because I thought that gave Rafi more prominence! (Also, perhaps, that Aa ja re aa zara aa is really hard to beat).

  64. “Laal laal gaal” is just such an upbeat, infectious song!
    I have not seen the video though, the audio itself is lovely.
    Would love to see the video sometime.
    I keep searching youtube for it in the hope somebody will post it there one of these days, but no luck yet. :(

    “Suhaani raat dhal chuki” was one of the songs that got me hooked to Rafi saab when I was a young boy. Kishore was the rage in those days (70s) but then on AIR I heard some Rafi songs like “duniya ke rakhwaale”, “suhaani raat dhal chuki”, “ek dil ke tukde”. I was hooked!

    A song that gives me goosebumps (much like Manna Dey’s “aye mere pyaare watan”) is “jaane kya dhoondhti rehti hain”. I listen to it with my eyes closed and let the lyrics sink in. As I have said before, I am a sucker for lyrics. They are Kaifi Azmi’s this time. Brilliant all the way, especially “kaise baazaar ka dastoor tumhe samjhaoon, bik gaya jo wo khareed-daar nahin ho sakta”. This song, much like Rafi saab’s songs for Pyaasa, are all about lyrics and his voice. Khayyam’s music (much like SD’s in Pyaasa) is brilliant by just playing in the background and accentuating the impact of the song.

    There are so many Rafi saab songs that I did not mention. The list was just top-of-head. How to do justice to songs like
    - “Meri awaaz suno” (Naunihaal)
    - The chulbula “Dil ka bhanwar karey pukaar” in Tere Ghar Ke Saamne (this is one of my favourite picturisations with Dev-Nutan)
    - Songs of Guide, Kala Bazar, Hum Dono and so many more Dev movies when he actually had that hair “puff” which I so loved :-)
    - “Aankhon mein sajaa lenaa kaliyaan” (Phir Wohi Dil Laaya Hoon) and “O mere shah-e-khuba” (Love in Tokyo) for Joy.
    - songs like “main ye sochkar uske dar se utha tha” (Haqeeqat)

    I even love songs like “itni naazuk na bano” and “chale they saath milkar” of the late 60s.

    And we are not even talking about qawwalis here. Or the lovely, lovely Hanste Zakhm songs “ye maana meri jaan” and “tum jo mil gaye ho”.

    Am stopping here because it just goes on and on for me. I will only go mad if I try to list out Rafi saab songs that I like. :-)

    I think in the matter of Rafi saab songs, I need to take recourse to a Kishore da song “mere deewaanepan ki bhi dawaa nahin”. :-)

  65. Dil ka bhanwar kare pukaar is one of my favourite Dev Anand-Nutan picturisations too, especially because the picturisation matches the lyrics in such a beautifully subtle way… I love that!

    Thank you for reminding me of Jaane kya dhoondti rehti hain. I’ve watched Shola aur Shabnam a couple of years back, and the only thing I found amazing about the film was its songs – and this one is especially beautiful.

    Oh, and other Rafi songs that I really like, even though they may not have featured here in this list? All of Johnny Walker, and Shammi Kapoor.

  66. Hi. First time visitor to your blog. Great list. Although, as you say, we are spoiled for choice while trying to decide which is our favourite Rafi song. I have a running list. Songs keep getting added or removed depending on my mood. I agree on the Aaje Re as being a come hither song. Totally love it!

  67. What a lively list. it makes one to travel back to those gold oldendays.

  68. There are no words to describe the magic of Mohd Rafi’s voice, so I won’t even try.
    Here are 2 of my personal favourites

    Woh Aaj Apni Mehfil Mein – Mehndi 1958

    The audio version is amazing, here is the film version

    My 2nd one is Mere Dil Pe Andhere Sa from Ek Phool Ek Bhool 1968

    There are many, many more that I could pick but best to leave it at two!

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