Thursday, 27 September 2012

Musically Yours- R D Burman and Mohd Rafi

A combination producing around 110 songs would have been otherwise highly discussed; alas, with Mohd Rafi and R D Burman it was not to be. Again, a classic case of the fan groups of the singer and the MD constituting two entirely separate sets.


Even before Chhote Nawab happened in 1961, RD had already chosen Rafi for his first independent assignment under Guru Dutt Productions’ Raaz in around 1957. A 18 year old Pancham had selected Hemant Kumar, Geeta Dutt and Rafi as his first set of singers for his first film. Unfortunately, the movie was not released. Chhote Nawab was an album all full of Lata Mangeshkar and Mohd Rafi. Three beautiful duets and an overtly emotional song was what RD had to offer for Rafi. “Ilaahi tu sunle” was the solo but my personal favourite is “Matwali aankhonwale”- the amazing Lata-Rafi duet in that movie.
It wont be an understatement to say that Rafi was RD’s main voice in the sixties. Rafi, in the helm of his career and ruling the industry like a colossus , featured in almost all the movies of RD in the sixties, except - Bhoot Bangla(1965), Pati Patni(1965) and Padosan(1968).
Teesri Manzil(1966) was the movie which happened to be the career changer for Pancham.  Shammi Kapoor, an otherwise SJ loyalist, worked for the first and as an hero last time, with R D Burman. A musical extravaganza, Teesri Manzil revolutionized Indian cine music with ultra modern sound and arrangement. Electric Guitar, sax, trumpet soared the sky and made the entire youth of India dance to its tunes. And all the songs went to Rafi- Shammi’s official voice. It is of no use to discuss the songs of TM, as they have been discussed umpteen number of times. My only observation is I have hardly seen Rafi going so unconventional as he did in “Aaja aaja main hoon pyar tera”- I so wish he had done some more of such stuff! Amazing shivering of voice, absolute perfection by the great singer.
My personal favourite Rafi solo under RD came next year- “Tumhe dekha hai” from Chandan Ka Palna(1967). Dharmendra had still not started drinking the blood of the Dogs that time, and an absolute soft, tender composition from Pancham to suit the then image of Chocolaty Dharmendra rendered superbly by Rafi in his more comfortable domain- the Nazms. The composition has shades of Madan Mohan influence in the early Pancham, and again it was observed in the Lata solo of “Sharm aati hai magar” in the following year.
1967 also saw “Zamane ne maare jawan kaise kaise”, yet another beautiful solo composed by Pancham for Rafi in Baharon ke sapne(1967). Following just after Teesri Manzil the previous year, this was an entirely contrast to the jazzy theme of TM with the same producer- Nasir Hussain. A true blue versatile composer after Shankar Jaikishen, had arrived in Indian cinema.
Abhilasha(1968) saw RD using Rafi and Manna together in a duet under him- Ek janeeb sham-e-mehfil. The same year, RD had created the immortal and the first Kishore-Manna duet under him in the other movie- Padosan. Abhilasha also saw arguably the best RD-Rafi solo “Wadiyan mera daman”- a song which had a Lata solo version also, but clearly the Rafi version landing up as the winner by a substantial margin.
Pyar ka mausam(1969)- yet another Nasir Hussain musical saw RD-Rafi in a high again. Rafi was all over the album with three versions of the evergreen “Tum bin jaaoon kaha” on the lip of the hero- Shashi Kapoor. Also a beautiful duet with Lata “Ni sultana re” and the solo “Che khush nazare”- rafi rocked the album! In the same year, Waaris(1969) was released and Rafi again was there in three songs- one solo and two duets.
1970 saw RD first time switching from Rafi’s prime voice with Kati Patang. However, in the same year, he had already recorded for the same hero, Rajesh Khanna, another album with Rafi as the voice- The Train. “Gulaabi aankhein”- a breezy and typical Pancham rhythmic track- was a runaway hit. In Ehsaan(1970), Pancham used Rafi for Joy Mukherjee in a beautiful Asha-Rafi duet “Aaj tere naina”. A forgettable “Raaton Ka Raja” was also released that year, which had Rafi as the prime male voice again with three songs. The title track “Mere liye aati hai sham” was a treat.
Nasir Hussain made Caravan in 1971. An album mainly an extravaganza with Mangeshkar sisters with the elder sister having one solo and two duets and the younger three solos and one duet; what Rafi had to do was accompany the sisters in their duets. All the Rafi duets in that movie with varied moods and rhythms were chartbusters. Apart from Caravan, Mela was another movie released in the same year where Rafi was the main voice for a RD movie. “Rut hai Milan ki” is a highly melodious and memorable Lata-Rafi duet from the movie. Amitabh Bachchan’s early days as hero in “Pyar Ki Kahani” released that year, saw RD using Rafi as his voice and Kishore as the supporting hero Anil Dhawan’s voice in that movie. “Koi aur duniya mein tumsa haseen” is yet another lovely solo from RD-Rafi combo. In 1971, RD-Rafi combo produced some other popular numbers in Laakhon mein ek and Adhikar .
By 1971, RD had created Paraya Dhan, Amar Prem and Hare Rama Hare Krishna with Kishore as the prime voice, and was divided in his choice. With the big success of each of those soundtracks,by 1972, his preference started getting a lot more prominent. However , he did give a beautiful duet to Rafi with Asha in Parchhaiyan(1972)- Saason mein kabhi.
Nasir Hussain never lost his loyality- neither to RD nor to Rafi. Yaadon Ki Baraat(1973)’s two most popular songs went to Rafi- the evergreen Chura liya hai and the title song. Also, in Chhalia in the same year, we could hear Rafi croon to RD’s beautiful tune “Ae jaan e wafa”.
But Rafi was evidently missing in the more touted works of RD in that period with Shakti Samanta, Gulzar, Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Dev Anand. Between 1974-1976, RD recorded a beautiful duet of Rafi with Lata in Bundalbaaz- Naghma humara gayega yeh zamana, a philosophical gem in Mukti- Pyar hai ik nishaan qadmon ka and the famous Qawalli of Aandhi with Bhupinder Singh and Amit Kumar- Salaam kijiye ali janab aaye hai.
Speaking of Qawallis, RD did utilize this shade of Rafi beautifully with some filmy qawallis- “Hai agar dushman zamana”( Hum kisise kum nahi) and “Pal do pal ka saath”( The Burning Train) .

Hum kisise kum nahi was definitely the turning point of Rafi’s career in the 70s and made him start his second innings afresh. An album with youthful music and peppy tracks, Rafi brought the serious depth with “Kya hua tera wada” and romanticism unlimited with “Chand mera dil”. Rafi’s voice texture, which had taken a slightly husky touch by then, brought the exact emotions out of “Kya hua tera wada”.
Between 1978-1980, Pancham continued to use Kishore as his main voice with making good space for Rafi in every film and making him use more after the lapse in association between 1972-1976. Most memorable RD-Rafi songs that period were “ Jab kisi kaza se guzro”(Devta-1978), “Pyar mein aji kya”(Fandebaaz, 1978), “Maine poochha chand se”(Abdullah, 1980), “Poochho na yaar kya hua”(Zamane ko dikhana hai, 1981) and “Dukh such ki har ek mala”(Kudrat, 1981).
Rafi passed away in 1980, creating a vacuum in the film music industry. A great singer who had a marathon career of 36 years in the industry and gave us some of the evergreen melodies ever, left a legacy we cherish even today. R D Burman, also has left us a treasure of melodies to spend our lifetime with, and a good chunk of that treasure was contributed by Mohd Rafi’s voice as well!


22 comments:

  1. Again another thought provoking article. Even if I have KK as my Guru of singing - one cannot wish away Rafi saab for all the songs he has rendered not just for RD but all the MDs. His HFM songs themselves are so huge and delectable that one lifetime is not enough to fathom him.

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  2. Rafi's tremolo was used beautifully in Dil ke jharokhe mein and before that most amazingly in 'Aaja re aa zara aa' in Love in Tokyo. There are other similar songs also like Dilruba dil pe tuu from Rajkumar Shankar Jaikishan were first to recognize and exploit this facet of Rafi's voice.

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    1. Thanks. Very true and I have heard all these songs. They were indeed beautiful, but I think the Teesri Manzil song was quite "unique", I hope you understand what I intend to say! :) I would put "Dilreuba dil pe" and "Aaj re aa zara" in the same bracket(like "Roop tera mastana" genre of sensual beauties) and "Dil ke jharokhe mein" in a separate bracket. All were great vocal accomplishments.

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  3. Any thing that R D Burman has done is as pathbreaking and everything before and after that mundane.

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    1. With all the due respect to R D Burman sahab (and his fans) this is NOT true. The golden era of HFM was from the late forties to the mid sixties. There are several dozens of great composers before R D Burman sahab started composing music..Please do not look down upon greats for praising your favorite artist.

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    2. Parag is right. RD was Great and one of my idols. But that does not lessen the other music directors' stature by any means. There were many more great MDs our industry has produced.

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  4. In line with each of your topic, this one too is thought provoking and informative. Thanks for each of your write-ups. Just a small highlight....Kudrat song Dukh Sukh Ki is by chandrasekhar gadgil. It is true that producer insisted that the song be sung by Rafi Saab but RD stuck to his stance that since he has committed Chandrasekhar, because he felt that can be best rendered in his voice, he will not change his stance. Incidentally, this song led to Chandrasekhar Gadgil rendering his voice in other movies in the 80s.

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    1. Thank you so much, sir! Appreciation and encouragement from people like you keep us ever-motivated. You are true about Chandrashekhar Gadgil version, however a Rafi version was also recorded.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4Ewkk2TwsM

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  5. Just a point.
    RD used KK and Rafi in the same song on at least two occasions:Kasme Vaade ( mile jo kadi kadi ) and Shaan ( jaanon meri jaan)!

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  6. to project on;y RDB as if no other music Director existed is a farce. This is going on in the media for the last several years.Please stop this canard . We had number of great composers. Naushad saab, Shankar jaikishan * who ruled industry for 2 decades are not visible in media why? laxmikant Pyarelal, Kalyan ji aanand ji , S D burman, Madan mohan and not the least O P Nayyar, Roshan Saab . where is the media who sees only RDB. who is behind all this media blitz.

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  7. true sir entirely agree with you It was SJ who ruled HFM for over two decades but his name is not there in the media. someone is there behind all this. Raj kapoor is one person who had musical ears he found SJ and used him till end. Raj kapoor never used RD except in Dgaram karam that too on the insistence of Randhir kapoor who was close to RD.His work in DHaram karam is nowhere near SJ work in Raf movies. He has been over hyped . Dueing hus life time he was not that famous as hes has been made now as if no other existed , This is a false propaganda.

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    1. Even I am a great fan of SJ, although personally I may be a bit biased towards the Burmans. I admit RD's work in Dharam Karam and Biwi O Biwi are nowhere close to the output of SJ in RK movies, but then RD's contribution to the scores of Rajesh Khanna movies and his off-beat contributions in the movies of Gulzar, Shakti Samanta and Hrishikesh Mukherjee cannot be overlooked. RD was also a great Music Director, amongst the very best, but I agree with you that media cannot only project him and give other greats their due as well. SJ, Salil Chowdhury, Madan Mohan, LP, KA, Roshan, OP were all true blue great music directors and their legacy would remain very rich till the music industry remains.

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  8. You agree but sir someone has to come out and these FM channels play only RDB and Kishore is it not going too far.
    Those who are in the media have responsibility of presenting the facts in right perspective. . That is why I am raising my voice in every forum that present the facts correctly. Recently I wrote an FM Channel 92.7 Big FM. Why are they playing the songs of RDB and Kishore Da only. I was taken a back by their reply that it is their policy to promote these two artist only and SJ , Naushad and Rafi saab do not find a place in their scheme of things. This has led me to believe that here is someone behind all this . We have to expose this fraud.

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    1. Won't call it "fraud" though, perhaps giving RD and KK some posthumous recognition at national level which they were deprived of in their lifetimes whould have been a better option! LOL.. :) We have bigger scams in our nation than FM channels playing RD-KK songs. :).

      Anyways, on a serious note, even I find it strange here in Cal, 2 FM channels, and inarguably most popular ones, Radio Mirchi 98.3 and Radio One 94.3, play mostly KK songs. A RJ, named Arvind, in 94.3, thinks himself to be very knowledgable and ends up always giving wrong information. RAfi-Naushad type of songs are generally played in the late night, when the listenership rating is very low! It can be a suply-demand quotient also, as these are very commercial channels, target mainly metro and urban population and sense only business and not something like Vividh Bharati- which is not concerned about popularity or business. Just my twopence in this!

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  10. Rd Burman under-utilised himself by composing easy songs for Kishor Kumar.

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  11. I am a guy who listens to FM while I drive to work. of late ,the RDB mania in FM channels is becoming unbearable. One can almost predict the songs as if they are played on a CD. So much is the fixation that it is actually creating an aversion towards the great MD. When an overdose is done you wonder what the hell ,how people could listen to the same rhythm in every song for so many years !!! The bias towards KK is just blatant . I guess the RJs consider being a fan of RDB as a style statement. Most of them have very hollow knowledge about the nuances of song composition. RDB,s selective choice of Rafi has more reasons than normal people could understand. There is a deference between an adaptable singer and a perfect singer. Rafi is a perfect singer in traditional mould who rehearsed and would come prepared for a recording session with a final version in his mind. He would take time if last minute changes were made.. That's the way he worked with all his MDs.He needed a perfect final version to master and give it his touch. Maverik MDs like salil da and RDB were continuous innovators and they would improvise until the last minute of recording. KK ( a maverick in his own right )is fast enough to incorporate those improvisations into final recording. This does not make one singer better or worse in terms of their final rendition. It only tells us some people have a relatively better comfort zone in working together. Whenever RDB wanted Rafi for a particular song , he always spent time on him to get what he wanted. The result was there for everyone to see. I dunno how much truth was there in Raju Bharathan's interview where RDB bragged about teaching how to sing Aaaja aaja or Tum ne mujhe dekha . Long before Teesri Manzil , Rafi was singing rock with OPN Baar Baar dekho and with SJ (any number of Shammi movies) . Coming to Tum ne mujhe ... for someone like Rafi who could mesmerize people with 'Jaag Dil e Deewana ' ,Dil ka bhanwar kare pukar' ,Yeh Duniya usi ki Zamana usi ka' ....tum ne mujhe would be a cakewalk. But true to his saintly nature Rafi never discussed RDB attitude in public. Personally I feel its RDB's urge to get away from his father's shadow and create an identity for himself was the reason he limited his work with Rafi.Just like rajesh khanna is the new GenX over Dev Ananad , RDB wanted to be different. Unfortunate truth is RDB could not outlive KK and Rajesh Khanna careerwise. But Rafi , who never restricted himself by a single singer image had already made his comeback by 1980. He sang the title song for Amitab in ' Naseeb' and Dev shifted to Rafi in Man Pasand. It is unfortunate he left so early. When interviewed , the contemporary great AR Rehman was asked by a reporter ' what is it that is lacking in the Indian Music today' His reply ' A voice like that of Mohd.Rafi'. There is no better tribute than that to the musical saint .

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  12. no rafi got less important songs even aftetr comeback but lp backed rafi. still lp had to use mainly kishotre for karz and the bhajan muze prem ka rog laga
    sd burman preferred kishore. rdb had preferred kishore but to a lesser extent than sd burman true patron and recognizer of talent of kishore were sd burman , kalyanji anadji, rajesh roshan

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  13. RAFI WAS CLASS WHILE KISHORE WAS FORM. DONOT FORGET RAFI WAS IN MINORITY STILL HE ACHIEVED THIS

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