Monday, 18 February 2013

Akele hai Chale Aao- Recalling an association Rajesh Khanna and Mohd Rafi

There have been quite a few feedbacks received by me regarding my blog and the ways to improve it and make it more interesting. Let me thank all my friends who have been constant source of inspiration for my writing. It seems my effort to highlight many special “combos” in the film music has been received with good appreciation (Kishore-Shankar Jaikishen, Rafi-R D Burman, Kishore-Gulzar are just to name a few) and there have been suggestions to highlight such great but less discussed combos more through my blog.

One such combo which comes to my mind immediately is that of Mohd Rafi and Rajesh Khanna. I find hardly any stuff about this combo in any forum, although, there are plethora of hit songs produced by this combo on screen, even though Kaka is generally associated with Kishore Kumar’s voice.
Rajesh Khanna, aka Kaka, debuted in 1966 under director Chetan Anand in “Aakhri Khat”. The role was not a substantial one, but he left his mark with his own charisma and charm. Kaka’s first song picturized on screen was from that movie and crooned by Mohd Rafi- “Aur kuchh der thahar, aur kuchh der na jaa”.  A highly melodious number composed by Khayyam, Rafi brought out his signature softness in romance and Kaka responded with his intermittent winks and head gestures which became his signature manoeuvres later. You can see a glimpse of the superstar in making with this song- his first ever solo picturized on screen.
Kaka had 2 releases the following year- Baharon ke Sapne and Raaz- both commercially not very successful at the box office. But the music of both these movies were good and some numbers became popular those days as well. Baharon ke Sapne soundtrack was composed by R D Burman, and Mohd Rafi had a stunning solo- Zamane ne maare jawan- which was picturized on young Rajesh Khanna as a background voice. In Raaz, music composed by Kalyanji Anandji, you can again hear Rafi playing back for Kaka in the evergreen “ Akele hai chale aao kahan ho”- arguably, one of the best solos Rafi sang for Rajesh Khanna.
In 1969, Kaka had a unsuccessful release called “Doli” which is hardly remembered today. But Rafi sahib sang a few songs for the hero in the movie which are well remembered today. One of them is “Sajna saath nibhana”- a duet of Rafi and Asha- music composed by Ravi.
The 2 movies with which Rajesh Khanna stormed into superstardom those days, were released in that year 1969 itself- one was Aradhana and the other was Do Raaste. Both released towards the end of 1969 became runway hits and put Kaka in a unquestionable numero uno position. Rafi sang 2 beautiful duets for Rajesh Khanna in Aradhana under the music direction of S D Burman- Gunguna rahe hai bhanwre(with Asha Bhosle) and Baaghon mein bahar hai(with Lata Mangeshkar). Both the songs were extremely popular those days. In this regard, there is a myth going into the industry that S D Burman had recorded these 2 songs with Rafi initially and had a plan to record all the male songs of Aradhana with him. But he fell ill and his son recorded 2 other solos and a duet with Kishore Kumar, resulting in a never ending popularity of the singer. However, this story is not validated till date, as many people involved that time with Aradhana- be it production or music- still say that it was S D Burman’s judicious decision and Pancham was only helping S D in arrangement and rehearsals but did not have any say in singer selection. Shakti Samanta himself had been found to give different stories on different occasions. The fact of S D Burman's overwhelming use of Kishore in the following years post-Aradhana, also does not seem to strengthen the hypothesis either.

Anyways, coming back to Do Raaste, the other 1969 release, had Rafi crooning the beautiful “Yeh reshmi zulfein yeh sharbati aankhein”  for Rajesh Khanna, who was describing Mumtaz’s beauty on the screen with lyrics beautifully penned by Anand Bakshi.  Do Raaste also had a beautiful Lata-Rafi duet “Chhup gaye saare nazare” , picturized on Rajesh Khanna and Mumtaz.
With Aradhana’s musical success, music directors remained divided for some years as far as using the male voice for Rajesh Khanna is concerned. Between 1970-1971, you can see a string of movies where Kishore and Rafi were both used by MDs for the songs of Rajesh Khanna. Examples are: Aan milo Sajna(1970), Sachcha Jhootha(1970), Haathi mere Saathi(1971) and  Mehboob Ki Mehendi(1971). There were a few other films where only Rafi was used as the early inertia by some MDs as well- The Train(1970) and Chhoti Bahu(1971) are a few such examples.
Laxmikant Pyarelal was a MD who kept on using Rafi alongside Kishore, for Rajesh Khanna for quite some time. Their Aan Milo Sajna had a super Rafi solo – “Koi nazrana lekar aaya hoon main” –  and was picturized on Kaka. It was a lovely composition and very well executed by Rafi. LP also gave Rafi the evergreen sad song from Haathi Mere Saathi on Rajesh Khanna- “Nafrat ki duniya”- which turned out to be the most prominent song of the album otherwise dominated by Kishore Kumar’s popular numbers. Mehboob Ki  Mehendi by Laxmikant Pyarelal is according to me, the best soundtrack of Rafi-Rajesh Khanna combo. Released post-Aradhana, LP showed lot of faith on their old gun Rafi to hand over as many as 3 songs in the same album to be picturized on Rajesh Khanna. Rafi’s romantic saga “ Yeh jo chilman hai” and the duet with Lata “Itna to yaad hai mujhe” were highly popular and much into the strong foray of the singer. From 1972 onwards, however, LP started responding more to the market needs, and hardly used Rafi for Kaka thereafter, except for an occasional number in Prem Kahani (1975).
Kalyanji Anandji also used Rafi for Rajesh Khanna in a beautiful duet in Sachcha Jhutha(1970)- Yunhi tum mujhse baat karti ho. However, the winner for me is Chhoti Bahu(1971) solo- Yeh raat hai pyasi pyasi.  Exceptionally well executed by Rafi here, a soft romantic number and a “Nasheela Mood” which only Rafi could deliver in his own inimitable style.
Rahul Dev Burman gave a super thunder hit called “Gulabi aankhein jo teri dekhi” for Rafi-Kaka combo in the The Train(1970). The song  was a typical Pancham treat with Bass Guitar and Sax roaring the sky. Rafi sang with an exuberant energy, typically characterized by his Shammi Kapoor numbers those days.  This is also, to me, one of the finest and most popular Kaka-Rafi songs ever. The Train also saw RD using another song- a Rafi Lata duet- for Kaka and Nanda.  After that, RD did not use Rafi much for Rajesh Khanna, but the occasional usages were also very beautiful like- “Nagma humara gayega  yeh zamana”( Bundalbaaz, 1976), “Kaheko bulaya mujhe”(Humshakal, 1974) and “Teri atharoo chun leva”( Shehzada, 1972).
Naushad practically never used Kishore Kumar. Practically I say, because, he did record a song with KK but that song was never picturized and only released in the  EP of Sunehera Sansar.  So, when the octogenarian MD got a chance to compose for a Rajesh Khanna movie called  Dharam Kaanta(released 1982), he chose Mohd Rafi to deliver the peppy “Yeh goteddar lehenga niklu jab daal ke” with Asha Bhosle as a duet.
Overall, there would be around 30 songs which Rafi sang for Rajesh Khanna, which is not “little” by any standard. More importantly, almost all the songs were hits and were good in musical value as well. 


  1. Good article. Would like to mention another, probably Rafi's last number with him. The qawwali in Suraag (Baapi), "Wo nazar leke aaya dil", with RK doing a guest appearance. KK sings for the hero, Sanjeev Kumar, in the film.

    Also, I spotted a Ranjan Dasgupta, which you need to correct: Gunguna rahe hai bhanwre?

  2. The Train also had Nee soniye ( The song has the masti of Rafi on the expressive Kaka. The kishore-kaka superhit Zindagi ek safar hai suhana had a less popular twin in the Rafi-Shammi kapoor version !

  3. Here is a list of movies and no of songs of Rafi-Kaka:

    1. Aakhri Khat(1966)-1.
    2. Raaz(1967)-2.
    3. Baharon ke Sapne(1967)-1.
    4. Aurat(1969)-1.
    5. Doli(1969)-2.
    6. Aradhana(1969)-2.
    7. Do Raaste(1969)-2.
    8. The Train(1970)-2.
    9. Aan Milo Sajna(1970)-2.
    10. Sacha Jhutha(1970)-1.
    11. Mehboob Ki Mehendi(1971)-3.
    12. Chhoti Bahu(1971)-1.
    13. Haathi Mere Saathi(1971)-1.
    14. Shehzada(1972)-1.
    15. Humshakal(1974)-1.
    16. Bundalbaaz(1976)-1.
    17. Dharam Kaanta(1982)-1.
    18. Suraag(1982)-1.

    Total 26 songs in 18 movies.

  4. Hi Arghya,

    Great article!

    Here are two more Rafi-Rajesh Khanna additions:

    1) "Sadke sadke", a qawwali from Sawa Lakh Se Ek Ladoun (1976).

    2) "Chal chal aage nikal" from Chakravyuha (1979) is filmed on Kaka in the background.


  5. Great Article Arghya.. :) :)

    Yes, this is a combo which cannot be termed as RARE though, in fact this association has given one of the finest hits of it's time...

    This combo typically reminds me of Rafi-RD combo in terms of the oddity in musical forum discussions!!!

    Abhinish!! :) :)