A Humble Tribute to the Greatest Playback Singer of all times – by Nasir. In order to appreciate the genius of the Indian Legendary Singer, Mohammed Rafi, a very brief survey of the Indian Cinema during the Nineteen Forties becomes imperative. Regional cinema is out of the purview. Dada Saheb Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra (1913) was the first silent movie in India, with no synchronised sounds or dialogues. Some of the well-known actors of the time were Patience Cooper, Ruby Myers (Sulochna), and Renee Smith (Sita Devi), Zubeida, Fatima Begum, Master Vithal, Master Nisar, and Prithviraj Kapoor. Improvements in technology and the synchronisation of the sound with the pictures, heralded the end of the silent-movie era. Alam Ara, the first “talkie” film in India, was released in Mumbai’s Majestic Cinema in 1931. Its producer, Ardeshir M. Irani is therefore considered to be the father of the “talkie” film. Zubeida was the leading lady. It had the first song of the Indian cinema, DE DE KHUDA KE NAAM PAR, by W.M. Khan

who acted as a faqir. It was recorded live, accompanied with a Tabla and a Harmonium. The arrival of sound had serious implications for the entire generation of film-makers, technicians and artists who could not adapt themselves to the new system. Many studios closed down. Now only those actors or actresses could be employed in films who, besides their acting talent, could also deliver dialogues and sing many songs. The Anglo-Indians were the worst hit as they could not speak fluent Urdu or Hindi. Many actors of the silent era lost their job since they could not sing.

There was no playback system. Direct recording meant that the actors had to act as well as sing. The many retakes would leave them dead tired to do either the singing or the acting as desired, with the mircrophones being hidden with great imagination from the camera. Not to speak of the perspiration and the repeated dabbing of the make-up on the singing artiste who had to even sing louder to reach the overhead mike without being able to hear the orchestra fully. At times, the microphone, the instrumentalists and the camera had to follow the walking singer. During the silvern age of the Nineteen Thirties, the Bombay Talkies, Prabhat, Wadia Movietone, and New Theatres ruled supreme. These Houses employed the artistes mainly on a monthly salary. Some of the reputed names of the talkie-films were Devika Rani, Shobhana Samarth, Leela Chitnis, Durga Khote, Shanta Apte, Sadhna Bose, Padma Devi and Kananbala, as well as Ashok Kumar, P.C. Barua,

Prithviraj Kapoor and others. It was also the era of the “Fearless” Nadia who performed daring stunts in Homi Wadia’s movie. Her name became synonymous with her role in Hunterwali which is remembered to this day. With the dawn of Saigal era (1932-1947) new techniques evolved that could allow the actors to just mimic the off-camera song that had already been recorded in the voice of the playback singer. Even here, the songs used to be played on the loudspeakers for the actors to mimic the songs. These songs could also be broadcast on the radio and also made into flat discs called “records” whose production, by 1931, was in the hands of a a single record company, EMI. It was R.C. Boral (d.1981), a stalwart of the New Theatres at Calcutta, who had introduced the first playback singing for a movie called Dhoop Chhaaon (Bhagyachakra in Bengali version) in 1935. Punkaj Mallick, his colleague and an all-round figure, had earlier made his debut as Music Director in Yahudi ki Ladki (1933) and introduced the use of western instruments such as piano and accordion in songs and also introduced the background musical score to enhance the action, the mood and the tempo of the film scenes, just as Naushad was to mix the clarinet, the flute and other musical instruments and improve the background music. The Thirties could boast of many fine movies that included Shantaram’s Amrit Manthan (1934), Bombay Talkies’ Achhut Kanya (1936), Mehboob Khan’s Ek Hi Rasta and Aurat (1939), and Minerva Movietone’s Pukar (1939). It was also the time when there were many gramophone stars. A 1938movie was even named Gramophone Singer (Music Anil Biswas) which had K.L. Saigal. By 1940, many gramophone stars who could not make it to the film music as playback singers soon lost their standing in the music world. In the Forties, some memorable films were made such as Shantaram’s Dr. Kotnis ki Amar Kahani, K.A. Abbas’s Dharti Ke Lal, Chetan Anand’s Neecha Nagar, Uday Shankar’s Kalpana, Mehboob Khan’s Roti, Wadia’s Court Dancer, Sohrab Modi’s Sikandar and Prithvi Vallabh, Raj Kapoor’s Aag and Barsaat, and Vijay Bhatt’s Ram Rajya and Bharat Milap.

Mumbai had the lineup of highly professional music directors such as Shyam Sunder, Khemchand Prakash, Timir Baran, R.C. Boral, Datta Kogaonkar, Husnlal-Bhagatram, Sajjad, Naushad, Ghulam Haider, Hansraj Behl, Khursheed Anwar, Vinod and Anil Biswas. It was usual for the orchestras to be on the exclusive payroll of the individual music director. Mumbai had replaced Calcutta as the leading film city of India and had become the base of composite culture where a new amalgam of music was born. Naushad Ali of Lucknow, who had made his debut in Prem Nagar in 1940, brought the fusion of Hindustani music and the classical ragas and introduced many innovations in his musical compositions and system of recording. If Ghulam Haider had the opportunity of introducing Baby Noor Jahan in Gul-e-Bakavli a Punjabi movie of 1939, as Baby Noor Jahan, and later in 1941 as a playback singer in Pancholi Art Pictures’ super-hit, Khanzanchi, Naushad too, made the 13-year old Suraiya playback in his second movie, Sharda, for the heroine Mehtab. Pandit Amarnath had discovered Zeenat Begum of the Gul Baloch fame (S.Mohinder). Around this time, Mukesh and Habib Tabani (Habib Wali Mohammed) won the audition test meant for aspiring singers. It was for Meena Kumari to appreciate the Ghazals of Habib and play them on Radio Ceylon, thus making Habib a celebrity in the mid-forties. Around 1941, Ghulam Haider “changed the complexion of the Indian film music” especially with the stretching and breaking of the lyrics to enhance the beauty and the weight of the rhythm and giving peculiar charm to his musical compositions. He introduced the Dholak and other instruments in films. Ghulam Haider employed ‘Taals’ (beats) very prominently in his films, including Khazanchi (1941), Khandan (1942), Zameendar (1942) and Poonji (1943). The playback singing in the movies gained ground and by the midforties it became predominant. According to Naushad, initially, in the early forties, a single mike was meant to be used by singers as well as the musicians who used to take turn coming to the mike and doing their bits. Besides, the mike called “Fedler Tone” needed the heat of the fire before it could function. No sound-proof recording studios

existed. Recordings were done in the parks at the dead of night so that there was no disturbance or echo. As before, music, songs and dance, became an integral part of Indian films, as they also pushed the film-story ahead and could portray the inmost emotions of the performers who could now not be bothered about singing their songs on-screen. The songs could either make or break a movie. The genres of romantic songs, patriotic numbers, the sad songs or laments, devotional songs, the ghazals and the qawwalis were recorded, once the scenes were finalised in most of the cases. The fragrance of folk songs came from the soils of Rajasthan, Bombay Province (i.e. Gujarat, Saurashtra, Kutch, and Maharashtra), and the United Province (U.P.). All this and the Rabindra Sangeet of Bengal, found their way to the home of the common man through films and gramophone records and through the radio stations as and when they came to be established. New technology also made it possible to have the songs released before the movies, which in fact worked as an ad. New talents in the fields of music, singing, acting, and producing and directing movies came to the fore, impacting on the socio-culture of the indigenous population that extended from the Hindukush mountains to the Brahmaputra river and beyond so that a time came when the heroine could sing, MERE PIYA GAYE RANGOON WAHAAN SE KIYA HAI TELEPHOON... Yes, Rangoon, where Indians formed half of the city’s population. At least till 1942 the singing actors held on to their own since there was a dearth of the playback singers. Ashok Kumar used to sing his own songs with heroines such as Devika Rani, Leela Chitnis, etc., in early career. Some of his famous songs are: MAI.N BAN KI CHI.DIYA sung along with Devika Rani(Achut Kanya -1936), CHAL CHAL RE NAUJAWAAN (Bandhan – 1940), NAA JAANE KIDHAR AAJ MEREE NAAV CHALI RE (Jhoola – 1941), and his songs with Leela Chitnis in the same movie; BOLO HAR HAR MAHADEV ALLAHO AKBAR (Chal Chal Re Naujawan – 1941) to name just a few. Many times there used to be different versions of the same song: one in the film by the actor, and on the record it used to be the playback singer as happened in the case of Ashok Kumar in Kismet when Anil Biswas

made Arun Kumar playback for him. Some of the singers of the decade between the Nineteen Thirties to the ‘Forties were: K.L. Saigal, Pankaj Mullick, R.C. Boral, Pahadi Sanyal, Ashok Kumar, K.C. Dey (Manna Dey’s uncle), Mumtaz Ali (Mehmood’s father), Arun Kumar, Ahmed Dilawar, Bashir Qawwaal, Master Parshuram, S.N. Tripathy, Balwant Singh, Minu the Mystic, R.C Pal, Vishnupant Pagnis, Kantilal, Master Suresh, Govindrao Tembe, Akbar Khan Peshawari, Eruch Tarapore, Utpal Sen, Rafiq Ghaznavi who was also a composer, Ashraf Khan the actor-singer, Pradeep who continued to sing and write lyrics for at least three decades thereafter. Some other singers were: Kamla Jharia, Indubala, Shanta Apte, Gauhar Sultana, Umrao Zia Begum, Saraswati Rane, Hameeda Banu, Kaushalya, Rehmat Banu, Zeenat Begum, Bina Chowdhary and Munawwar Sultana. Filmy ghazals were popularised by Ameerbai Karnataki, Zohrabai Ambalewali, Kajjan, Jaddanbai, Goharbai and K.L. Saigal. Non-filmi ghazals were rendered by Akhtaribai Faizabadi (Begum Akhtar), Jankibai, Kamla Jharia and Malika Pukhraj. Some other singers who were mainly in the Forties and whose songs were commonly heard in the Fifties were G.M.Durrani, Surendra, Shyam Kumar, Jagmohan, Khan Mastana, Zohrabai Ambalewali, Amirbai Karnatki, Noor Jahan, Suraiya, Raj Kumari, Shamshad Begum, Shanta Apte, Meena Kapoor, S.D. Batish, Lalita Dewulkar, and Surinder Kaur. Coming to the contemporaries of Mohammed Rafi, we have Talat Mehmood, who had popularised light ghazals and was known for his “velvety or silken voice.” Manna Dey was known for his “manly” voice and great classical background and the ability to take down the musical notations. Mukesh who belonged to the Saigal School was excellent in low tones; Kishore Kumar was an actor who could sing. C. Ramchandra was the music director who could sing. Hemant Kumar, who had been singing since 1937 in Bengal, was known for his heavy-moulded and sonorous voice. He too was a musician. C.H. Atma who had deep voice like Saigal’s made his debut in 1945. These were the stiffest male competition that Mohammed Rafi had to face and overcome. The others who would keep him company would be

Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle, Geeta Dutt, Sudha Malhotra, Suman Kalyanpur, and a few others. NASIR To be continued...

A Humble Tribute to the Greatest Playback Singer of all times – by Nasir. Let’s now have some glimpses of the Mohammed Rafi’s pilgrim progress that began in Nineteen Forties amidst a multitude of talents and competitions and went on to establish a lasting memory of his name and fame well up to the next century.

Haji Mohammed Ali was the native of Kotla Sultanpur (or Kotla

Sultan Singh) near Amritsar, India. Pheeko, the youngest of his six sons, was born on 24 December, 1924. As a seven-year child, Pheeko used to listen to the songs and hymns of a faqir who frequented his locality and neighbourhood. Destiny was at work here. So much enchanted was he by those hymns, that he began to sing them and thus showing his great musical inclination. Now, there used to be lot of vehicular traffic between Amritsar and Lahore those days, undivided as they were by any of the rivers of the Punjab. Fortunately for Pheeko, in 1935, his father shifted to Lahore, then a great centre for Punjabi culture, educational institution, music and film industry. Lahore had become a centre for the aspiring actors, singers, writers, poets, lyricists, producers and directors. Prithvi Theatre was established here by Prithviraj Kapoor while Dalsukh M. Pancholi had the largest studio in south east Asia. He made many famous movies at Lahore before he ruefully left for Mumbai during the the partition of India in 1947. It was at Lahore that Pheeko, who was to earn his name and fame as Mohammed Rafi, got his Hindustani classical music training from Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan and his younger brother, and from the towering figure of the Kirana Gharana, Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan (d.1949). He also took music lessons from Feroze Nizami and Pandit Jeevanlal Matto Kashmiri in Lahore. These music lessons and the classical music training stood him good stead when he was asked to give his first public performance in Lahore. The legendary K.L. Saigal had come to Lahore to sing in a concert that was held to felicitate King George VI’s coronation in Britain in May 1937. As is well known, there was a power outage and K.L.Saigal refused to sing on the failed microphone. At this time, since the audience was getting impatient, the organisers, at the request of Rafi’s elder brother Hamid, put Rafi on the stage to entertain the crowd till electricity was restored. Rafi had by then stepped into his thirteenth year barely five months before. But he was in his elements and such was his confidence that with his sweet but powerful voice he was able to reach the far corners of the open auditorium , regaling his listeners who were clamouring for more. The legendary Saigal Saab was impressed by the potentials of this

young lad. According to Rafi Sahaab, it was here at the concert that the great Saigal Saab blessed him saying, “A day would come when you would be a much sought-after singer.” Thus Saigal Saab has been seen by some critics as “Ruhaani Ustaad”, or Spiritual Mentor of Mohammed Rafi. Indeed, he had passed on the keys of the kingdom to him. Saigal Saab had his style of singing; Rafi would evolve his own, and by November 1977alone, he would sing some 25,000-26,000 songs. Rafi’s musical training continued under Ustad Abdul Waheed Khan. This was the time that the singing spree of Rafi began. By the time he was 15, he would often be invited to sing at his friends’ places. According to one account, on one such occasion, he was spotted by Nasir Khan, a film Producer-Actor, who offered to take him to Mumbai to groom him as a singer in films. It was only with great reluctance and prodded by Hamid, that the head of the household agreed. Saigal Saab’s blessing was realised earlier than thought. On 28th February, 1941, Rafi was to record a Punjabi song for his first movie, Gul Baloch, under the musical direction of Shyam Sunder who had heard the young prodigy sing in that K.L. Saigal concert. The Gul Baloch song, GORIYE NEE, HEERIYE NEE, TERI YAAD NE AAN SATAYAA...was a duet which Rafi sang with Zeenat Begum who had herself made her singing debut in a Punjabi movie, MANGTI, which was released in 1942. So much impressed was Shyam Sunder that he gave an invitation to young Rafi to come down to see him at Mumbai. Most sources say that the release of Gul Baloch was delayed and it finally came to be released on in 1944. Some unconfirmed reports even attribute Rafi’s debut under the musical direction of Pandit Govindram for the blockbuster Platinum-Jubilee hit, MANGTI. This has not been corroborated by Rafi Sahaab when he was asked about his debut song. According to him, his Mumbai debut was in 1942, in the Nazir-Swarnlata starrer, Laila Majnu, where he did a bit role and also sang a qawaali as part of the chorus under Pandit Govindram. Whatever that may be, both Shyam Sunder and Pandit Govindram utilised Rafi Sahaab around the same time. Laila Majnu was released

much later in 1945. Otherwise, too, 1942 was an important year not only for the Indian political Quit India Movement, but for the world at large. The sneak attack on the Pearl Harbour in December 1941 had now drawn the U.S. into the arena of World War II. Japan was growing stronger so much so that it came right upto Burma which bordered India. During the years 1930-1941 the number of Burmese films was 600 and this number dwindled considerably. After the Japanese invasion of 1942, half a million Indian fled on foot. Thousands died on their way to India via Assam. Film production was hit owing to the shortage of raw materials and conservation. Gone were the hay-days of Bombay Talkies, Prabhat, and New Theatres as many artistes sought their own independence. There was a formation of independent studios such as the Filmistan, Kardar Studios, Rajkamal Kalamandir, and Basant Pictures. Mehboob Productions came out with the banner of a sickle and a hammer, and the ominous lines: MUDDAI LAAKH BURAA CHAAHE TOH KYAA HOTAA HAI, WOHEE HOTAA HAI JO MANZOOR-E-KHUDAA HOTAA HAI. C. Ramchandra made his debut in Sukhi Jivan. Baby Mumtaz (Madhubala) made her debut in Basant, lip-synching a Parul Ghosh number. Manna Dey sang for the first time under his uncle, K.C. Dey’s baton in Tamanna, including a duet, JAAGO AAYEE USHA, with Baby Suraiya who had found an actress’s opening in Taj Mahal (1941). Her song in Sharda, as well as the songs of Kanan Devi (TOOFAAN MAIL..) in Jawab, Noor Jahan’s under Ghulam Haider in Pancholi’s famous movie, Khandan were the rage of their days. In Zamindar, Qamar Jalalabadi penned his first film lyrics which was sung by Shamshad Begum for Ghulam Haider. Akhtari Faizabadi (Begum Akhtar) sang six songs under Anil Biswas in Mehboob Khan’s Roti. All these songs were very popular. Suraiya was lucky to have the music directors who enhanced her singing career: Naushad, HusnlalBhagatram, Khursheed Anwar; plus the stalwarts such as Anil Biswas, Ghulam Mohammed, S.D. Burman and some others. After the Japanese occupation of Burma in 1942, the year 1943 saw

a horrendous, but largely man-made, famine in Bengal where more than 3.5 million people died. The dying destitutes, scouring for rotten remains in trash-cans, were removed to the rural Bengal so that the cities such as Calcutta and Dacca might look clean. Not to speak of the massive sexual abuse of starving women and young girls by the civilians and the military that could put even the Japanese exploitation of the “comfort women” to shame. In the film annals, 1943 is remembered for the blockbuster movie, Kismet, starring Ashok Kumar and Mumtaz Shanti. Kismet ran for more than three years continually at the Roxy Theatre in Calcutta. This record would only be broken by Sholay (1975) and Sholay’s record would be broken by Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge (1995). Anil Biswas’s music and all the songs of Amirbai, Arun Kumar, Parul Ghosh in Kismet were superhit and are still unforgotten. Amirbai had become a rage reaching her peak in 1947. The song: DUUR HATO AY DUNYAA WAALON HINDUSTAN HAMARAA HAI had almost got the film banned by the British Government. Sohrab Modi of the Pukar (1939) and Sikandar (1941) fame was not as successful in Prithvi Vallabh. A 14-year old Fatimah Rashid (Nargis) was groomed as the heroine of Mehboob Khan’s Taqdir, opposite hero Motilal by Sardar Akhtar. Shakuntala was another blockbuster film of the year and the heroine Jayshree sang her own song. Incidentally, this was the first movie of V. Shantaram’s own studio. There are also more firsts: Ghulam Mohammed made his debut in Mera Khwaab. Similarly, Najma was the first film of Mehboob Khan under Mehboob Productions. Mahasati Anusuya was the first musical venture of Avinash Vyas. Some other popular songs of the time were by Ram Apte and Madhusudhan (Ram Rajya), Khursheed and Saigal (Tansen), G.M. Durrani (Nai Kahani), Parul Ghosh (Namaste), Raj Kumari (Nurse), Kanan Devi (Hospital), Shamshad Begum (Poonji) and Suraiya (Qanoon). Manna Dey’s song in Ram Rajya made him famous. There in Lahore, not knowing what the future will have in store for him, a lad had by this time transformed into a handsome but humble youth of charming manners, and was much more mellifluous and

knowledgeable in the field of music and singing. He was Mohammed Rafi! While still in his teens, Rafi got married to the thirteen-year old Bashira, the sister of his brother’s wife. She vouches that Rafi used to sing even when he was ten. By March 1943, thanks to Feroze Nizami who was himself a competent vocalist of the Kirana Gharana, the young Rafi began singing on the Lahore’s All India Radio which was the fifth in the country and a home for Shamshad Begum, Zeenat Begum, “Fateh Din” (Actor Om Prakash) and other worthies since 1937. Kaur sisters were to follow a little later. This radio station had become a local even as far as Amritsar. According to Bashira, even at that time Rafi was well into singing ghazals which were a craze at that time, though she herself being a conservative Muslim it didn’t matter to her since music was not her forte. In retrospect she remembered that those were such happy moments for her that she could never forget them. When Rafi was around there were no troubles. They would just vanish! Even decades later she would say that Rafi Sahaab never lost his temper even once with her. As for Hamid, a good brother that he was, he knocked on every door to ensure that work kept coming to his little brother Mohammed Rafi. NASIR To continue... A Humble Tribute to the Greatest Playback Singer of all times – by Nasir.

By 1944, lots of things were happening on the filmy scene. Dadasaheb Phalke, the “Father of Indian Cinema” died. Mumbai began to attract the Punjabi musicians. With the exception of Pandit Govind Ram and Pandit Amar Nath, the other musicians of Lahore such as Master Ghulam Haider who left Pancholi Arts, Shyam Sunder, Feroze Nizami, Khurshid Anwar, Hansraj Behl, Rashid Atre , and Pandit Husnlal-Bhagatram who were the younger brothers of Pandit Amar Nath, came over to Mumbai. Devika Rani selected a youthful peshwari Pathan named Yusuf Khan for a role in Jwar Bhata. Devika Rani who had earlier named Mumtaz as Madhubala, launched him as Dilip Kumar for that was one of the three names selected for Yusuf Khan. This name, Dilip Kumar, was to cast a magical spell of its own for three generations. The Jwar-Bhata song by Arun Kumar, SANJH KEE BELAA PANCHEE AKELAA, was a hit. Anil Biswas who provided the music also sang a song, and others included Manna Dey, Parul Ghosh, Amirbai, Surendra, and C.Ramchandra.

Some other popular songs were by Raj Kumari in Panna, Amirbai in Bharthari, and Manju in Chaand. Manju’s song in Chaand, DO DILON KO YEH DUNYAA was the first hit of Husnlal-Bhagatram who had also made their debut. With their lilt and rhythm they popularised the Punjabi folk tunes. More on this later. Around this time, Hemant Kumar recorded his debut song in Hindi in Iraada for music director Amarnath. Noor Jahan gave hit songs, including BADNAAM MOHABBAT KAUN KARE under Sajjad Hussain in Dost. Bulo C. Rani made his musical debut in Pagli Duniya. Another great musical hit was Meri Bahen. K.L. Saigal’s DOH NAINA MATWAARE and KYAA MAINE KIYAA HAI among other songs are the more memorable ones. Pankaj Mullick was the music director. But the year 1944 clearly belonged to Naushad for his trend-setting musical compositions in Rattan, starring Swarnlata and Karan Dewan, which was directed by M. Sadiq. The songs penned by D.N. Madhok and sung by Zohrabai Ambalewali, Amirbai Karnatki, Manju, Karan Dewan, and Shyam Kumar, were highly popular. Just hear the beats in MILKE BICHHAD GAYEE ANKHIYAN (Amirbai)!

The superhit duet, O JAANEWAALE BAALAMWAA (Amirbai and Karan Dewan) is parodied in the 1965 flick Padosan where the hero who is a non-singer finally settles down to sing this number to win the heart of his beloved, Saira Banu. Old timers surely remember that ANKHIYAA.N MILAA KE, JIYAA BHARMAA KE of Zohrabai, where the beloved tries to prevent her lover from leaving. The movie as a whole, had such an impact on young girls of impressionable age that many of them were emboldened to elope with their young lovers. The signs of Life imitating Art had begun for the better or worse. No more the puritan standards of the Thirties, not withstanding the smouldering smooch of Devika Rani and Himansu Rai in Karma (1933)! Rattan was a box-office hit across the nation, with everyone humming or singing its song. S.D. Burman was to find his formula for success when he heard his servant singing a Rattan’s number, JAB TUM HI CHALE PARDES LAGAAKAR THESS... Though annoyed at first, he soon realised that it’s the simplicity of the song that makes it popular. Thereafter, he would hum his tunes to his servants and obtain their feedback. This struggler was thus able to obtain a firm foothold in Mumbai thereafter with a thundering success for decades to come. In April that year, two heavy explosions occurred, one after the other, when a ship carrying inflammable material, such as cotton, TNT and gold bullions caught fire. The explosions rocked the Victoria Harbour of the Bombay Docks, killing 800 people and scattering the debris around. Since World War II was ongoing, people thought it was the work of sabotage or that Japan had bombarded Mumbai. But the explosions were accidental around which many tales have been woven. Many firemen who rushed to the scene after the first explosion had pay with their lives when the second explosion took place after some time. Eye-witnesses tell us that the impact was

such that those who were on the scene of incident had their heads severed by the impact. Eye witnesses who came later even chanced to see the bodies of headless firemen running around in the line of duty. Owing to the explosions, many other ships were destroyed. Gold bullions from the ship flew all around, either sinking in the waters or falling in the homes of the nearby residents. A 28-lb gold bullion was found a mile away from the accident site. The above incident fanned the fear that the Japanese would be coming to the Mumbai shore. The Japanese did not come but the fear resulted in a mass exodus of people from Mumbai. Ghulam Haider’s musicians too made their exits to Lahore and no amount of coaxing, salary advance or double-salary, and secured shelter could hold them back. This incident also had an impact on Naushad Saab, so two decades later he explored it as the theme for his 1967 movie, Palki, where the hero is given up for dead in the explosions. In passing, it may be mentioned here that the incident was predicted three days in advance by a naked faqir known as Nange Shah Baba. This faqir who had never spoken before, suddenly began shouting, “Bhaago Bhaago” as a warning to the residents around. The faqir lies buried in the Chhota Sonapur Qabrastan of Mumbai. Gul Baloch the Punjabi movie, which had featured the first filmy song of Rafi with Zeenat Begum was released in 1944. Now with the bulk of musical talent having shifted to Mumbai, it was time for Mohammed Rafi too to follow suit. When Mohammed Rafi migrated to Mumbai sometime in July 1944, little did he himself realize that his immigration from Lahore to Mumbai was to catapult him in future as not only the best playback singer of the sub-continent but also the most revered one. NASIR To continue...


A Humble Tribute to the Greatest Playback Singer of all times – by Nasir. One of the prestigious train services in India was the Frontier Mail that even had air-conditioned coaches. This train used to run between Peshwar and Colaba Terminus. Lahore was one of the halts in between. In 1944, while Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was using it for escaping to Peshwar and then Afghanistan, Mohammed Rafi and Hameed boarded the III Class compartment of the train, to a tearful send-off by relatives, friends and well-wishers. After arriving in Mumbai, Mohammed Rafi took up a modest residence first at Dongri and then in Bhendi Bazaar, a bustling commercial area with narrow lanes and crowded tenements. The ‘Victoria’ i.e. the horse driven carriages, the taxis, and the electrictrams running even in narrow lanes and by-lanes, added to the congestion. Not to speak of the bullock-carts and the hand-carts used to transfer the goods in the city. Only when things would get better for him, that he would shift with his family to an apartment in the posh Colaba area and finally to Bandra. The era still belonged to actor-singers. For a person who wanted just the job of playback singing, the time was still not ripe. Rafi had to face a bitter struggle to make ends meet in the beginning of his

career. It is said that Rafi would walk from Bhendi Bazaar up to Dadar, the centre of filmy activities then. Since non-Mumbaikars would have no idea of this distance I would like to take the initiative of providing an idea of this pretty long stretch. Dadar was then the hub of the film personalities. Mahim was considered a suburb. In order to reach Dadar on foot from Bhendi Bazaar one has to first reach the junction of the J.J. Hospital, (15 minutes), from there walking straight ahead, passing the Richardson and Cruddas, the Jewish synagogue, Hume High School, and The Traffic Institute, one would reach Khada Parsi which falls in Byculla (20 minutes). Again, going straight from the Khada Parsi one would reach the Byculla Market, Anthony D’Souza High School, Palace Cinema, Byculla Railway Station, Rani Baagh or the zoo that was known as the Victoria Gardens (another 20 minutes or so). Then further, we need to reach Lal Baugh area by passing the Jaihind Talkies, (say 15 minutes); going from Lal Baugh to Parel would take another 20 minutes. Then from Parel we need to pass the Surya Talkies (wonder if it’s still there), then further towards the Hind Mata Talkies, then Chitra Cinema and the Kohinoor Mills and finally Dadar in maybe 25 minutes. So that’s about two hours walking distance at a fast pace. A bagful of ‘Chana’ (grams) kept him and his brother Hamid, company. Such were the days of struggle for Rafi Sahaab. The other probable alternative must have been the electric-tram which was the cheapest form of conveyance. From the Sassoon Dock which was to the extreme south even further down than Colaba, the tram fare upto Dadar was just One and a Half Anna (9 paise). From Bhendi Bazaar to Dadar, it must have been One Anna (6 paise) at the most. In fact, even as late as 1964 when last of the trams were removed from Mumbai, the fare between Museum (the Regal Cinema) and King Circle which is still further than Dadar, was just 6 paise. In order to make the ends meet, Rafi also used to sing in the ‘Mehfils’ usually of the Punjabi fraternity. According to an account by Syed Abid Ali, after Rafi’s arrival in Mumbai, he performed in his sprawling bungalow on the occasion of the sister of Syed Abid Ali. Roshan Ara Begum had shifted from Calcutta to Mumbai in the late ‘Thirties. She came to be known as “Bombaywaali” Roshan Ara Begum (19171982). She used to live with her police-inspector husband in one part

of the Bungalow. Hearing the young Rafi sing, she was duly captivated. She predicted: “The man with the golden voice was destined to go far in life.” This observation was significant as Roshan Ara Begum had herself been a student of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan (d.1937) who was the cousin and brother-in-law of Mohammed Rafi’s Ustad, Abdul Wahid Khan. After migration to Pakistan she was later conferred with such titles as “malika-e-mausiqee.” She was an exponent of the Kirana Gharana style of Khayal singing. Indeed, her early predictions about Rafi Sahaab proved to be true. Roshan Ara Begum sang for films too, such as Jugnu and Siskiyan. Tanvir Naqvi, the poet and lyrics writer, (who after migration to Pakistan married the elder sister of NoorJahan) also introduced the young Rafi to Producer-Director Mehboob Khan, Actor-Director Nazeer, and Producer-Director Abdul Rasheed Kardar who had made the first silent movie in Lahore and was to produce and direct many more movies in India. For his film, Pehle Aap, A.R. Kardar had signed Naushad Ali as the music director. Naushad used the young Rafi for what has been sometimes termed as the first Hindi/Urdu song of Rafi Sahaab in this 1944 flick. The song was HINDUSTAA.N KE HAMM HAIN/HINDUSTAA.N HAMAARA/ HINDU-MUSLIM DONO.N KI AANKHO.N KA TAARA, accompanied by Alluaddin, Shaam Kumar and chorus. Since this was a marching song, Naushad had a pair of shoes bought from Mumbai’s infamous Chor Bazaar for Rafi who was to sing the song while marching with the boots on at the microphone itself. Two more songs followed: EK BAAR UNSE MILAA DE, and TUM DILLI MAI.N AAGRE MERE DIL SE NIKLE HAAY. All the three songs were penned by multi-facet personality, Dinanath Madhok. Shaam Kumar was the co-singer in these songs.

Music Director Shyam Sunder who had given Rafi his first break in Punjabi film, Gul Baloch, and promised to record more songs once Rafi came down to Mumbai, made good his promise. Shyam Sunder recorded Rafi’s songs for the Noor Jahan starrer, Gaon Ki Gori (Village Belle). These were the duets with G.M. Durrani: AJI DIL HO QAABOO ME.N, and MAI.N KHETO.N KA PANCHHEE. Noor Jahan had four songs, including BAITHEE HOON TERE YAAD KA, in this movie. According to Rafi Sahaab, his songs in Gaon Ki Gori were his first Hindi songs. However, since the serial number on the records of his Pehle Aap songs precedes the serial number on the records of his Gaon Ki Gori songs, Naushad technically steals a march over Shyam Sunder for the credit of introducing Mohammed Rafi to Hindi films. World War II was over in 1945, leaving over 60-million dead. There was an emergence of a new world order as U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R rose as the world powers, with U.K. relegated to the background, with heavy losses and wartime debts. United Nations Organisation was established and the League of Nations was history. These events accelerated the freedom struggle in India that eventually led to the Independence in 1947. The Indian film industry was still suffering from wartime restrictions and shortages. Here in the film circle, in the meantime, word was out that there was a young Punjabi singer who had immense singing potential and whose enormous talent did not betray his youth. Under Pandit Govindram, Rafi Sahaab sang in Vijay Bhatt’s Hamara Sansar AY DILE-NAKAAM TAMANNA, said to be his first solo, and along with

Zohrabai and Shamshad Begum, CHHOTI SI EK BANAAYENGE NAIYAA. Again for the Pandit, Rafi Sahaab sang a Qawwali, TERA JALWA JISNE DEKHA WOH DEEWAANA HO GAYA along with S.D. Batish and chorus; and another one with S.D. Batish: SAKHEE KEE KHAIR, MAI-BAAP KI KHAIR in Laila Majnu (1945) where he also had an acting stint. Of course, his name was not mentioned in the credit. The same year, Rafi rendered a duet with Zohrabai in Kulkalank: TOPIWAALE BABU NE DIL CHHEENA RE for A.R. Qureshi; and a duet with Mohantara Talpade in Begum: DIL DIYE CHALE DIL LIYE CHALE under the musical direction of Hari Prasanna Das. Homi Wadia of Wadia Movietone was tremendously impressed with the singing voice of the young Rafi so much so that he insisted that it would be only Rafi who would sing for his film Sharbati Ankhen (1945) and other movies for which Feroze Nizami was slated to give music. The solos thus recorded were PYAAR KARNA HI PADEGAA EK DIN; BAHOT MUKHTASAR HAI HAMAARI KAHAANI; and AB NA BEEN BAJAA SNEHEE. Some of the other music directors who utilised Rafi Sahaab in 1945 were Hafiz Khan for whom he soulfully rendered HAAY RE DUNIYA in Zeenat. Speaking of Zeenat, this movie created a coup of sorts, with Noor Jahan, Zohrabai, Kalyani singing AAHEN NAA BHAREEN SHIKWE NAA KIYE with chorus. This was said to be the first kind of zenana Qawwali in a movie. This Qawwali was always the hot favourite of Radio Ceylon which I distinctly remember hearing it often on the radio a decade later. Mukesh who had earlier did not make it as a hero in his maiden venture, Nirdosh '41, made himself known by his Pehli Nazar song, DIL JALTA HAI TOH JALNE DE which he sang in a K.L. Saigal style for the screen hero, Motilal. Talat Mehmood, who was known as Tapan Kumar in Bengal and was already an established ghazal singer, recorded his first Hindi film song in Raj Lakshmi in which he also had the acting assignment. Madhubala, too, sang two songs in Dhanna Bhagat with Brijlal under Khemchand Prakash. Noor Jahan, besides acting in films, continued her spree of being a top playback singer. Her DIYA JALAAKAR AAP BUJHAAYE in Badi Maa was a hit; while the

Khursheed-Mukesh duet, BADARIYA BARAS GAYEE USS PAAR from Moorti was a super-hit number. Jagmohan’s Meghdoot number, O VARSHA KE PEHLE BAADAL proved to be popular. Ghulam Haider and Mehboob Khan came together for the first time in Humayun '45 but the former charm of Ghulam Haider was missing here.

NASIR To continue....
, SEPTEMBER 27, 2009


A Humble Tribute to the Greatest Playback Singer of All Times - by Nasir.

Looking outside of India, the use of atomic bombs by the USA in August 1945 over Nagasaki and Hiroshima in Japan no doubt forced the surrender of the Imperial Japanese forces, but the devastating power of the bombs and the resulting annihilation and long-term suffering of the survivors also shocked the world, leading to the protests for abolition of nuclear weapons ever since. Many movies were produced on the subject and in recent memory one Indian movie Aman (1967) comes to my mind. In India, by 1946, winds of change were blowing more and more with the coming years. The two-nation theory was gaining ground and there was a general unrest in the Indian populace at the prospect of the division of the country. Worst Communal riots broke out in Calcutta and this spilled over to other regions of Bengal and Bihar and to some extent in other provinces too. Sometimes, when the law and order situations prevailed, the theatres had to be closed down. I remember my parents telling me that once they were in the midst of watching Mehboob Khan’s Anmol Ghadi at the Minerva Theatre in Mumbai when the Management

stopped the screening and asked everyone in the hall to go home as communal riots had broken out in Mumbai. It was with great difficulty that my parents reached home alive at the nearby Nana Chowk and so must have others who stayed alive. It was not the kind of Calcutta communal riots fortunately. So such unfortunate things used to happen then. The theatres or rather the “Talkies” which exhibited hundreds of movies were one place where all people irrespective of the castes, creeds, and communities could sit together as one family and enjoy the movie. The themes of the movie were such which portrayed the social problems that affected one and all, irrespective of the religion of the community. Just as the blood of all the communities is red, even of the so-called ‘blue-blood’ aristocracy and nobility. The filmy themes dealt with poverty, child marriage, widow re-marriage, women’s emancipation, patriotism, evils of usury, palace intrigues, chieftan’s revolts, some war movies, cruelty of step-mothers, family values and ideals - which were common to every one. It appears that Indian movies were the great catalyst in restoring normalcy and keeping the people together.

Before 1946 the cutting of records was in the hands of a single company, EMI Ltd. This Company was incorporated as the Gramophone Co. (India) Ltd., in 1946. There were subsequent name changes too, the last being in the year 2000 when the name was changed to Saregama India Ltd. But it is the brand name HMV (His Master’s Voice) that the old timers are nostalgic about. Anyway, during the early years when playback singing was beginning to make waves, the names of the playback singers were not mentioned but the names of the character of the movies were mentioned on the gramophone records. Still worse, while the names of the female singers were mentioned, Rafi’s name was not mentioned. Therefore, Rafi Sahaab never got the credit for many of his early songs. Since

before then, all along, the actors had themselves been rendering their voice for the songs, the actors did not relish the idea of making the cine-goer believe that they were just lip-synching the song which had been playbacked by another person behind the screen. The old films did not list the playback singers even in their credit titles of the movie. Thus many songs of Rafi Sahaab were lost, especially during the conversion from the old 78RPM records to the newer versions, as and when they came into vogue. Generally, the original soundtrack of the movies and the masters of the 78RPM records were also destroyed to reuse for newer songs. Needless to say, the selection being subjective, many Gems of Rafi Sahaab’s songs were lost – some of which were found only in private collections. It is also known that disinterested members of family throw away the old records once the avid collector of the family ceases to exist. Akbar Shah, who came from the line of avid record collectors, during his collection spree came to the Kabaadi (Junk) Market of Hyderabad and found a record which he thought no longer existed. It was the song of Mohammed Rafi where he had soulfully rendered SABAK RAZA KA DE GAYE KARBALA WAALE which was from a 1954 flick, Shaan-e-Haatham. If such could be the state of the songs of the Fifties, what must have happened to those of the Forties? On the positive note, the Hindi film production which had dropped to 74 in 1945, shot up to 156 in 1946.

It was in 1946 that Geeta Roy made her debut in Bhakta Prahlad under Hanuman Prasad and later became famous with Do Bhai (1947) under S.D. Burman who had made his Hindi musical debut

with Shikari in 1946. Geeta Roy had the looks more of a film heroine than that of a playback singer. Chetan Anand's Neecha Nagar is exhibited at the Cannes Film Festival. Meena Kumar bagged her first role as an adult person after a score of baby roles. Kishore Kumar made his first appearance as an actor in Shikari. Meena Kapoor made her debut in Eight Days which had music by S.D. Burman. Music Director Sudhir Phadke, too, made his appearance in his first Hindi movie, Gokul. Chitragupt came out as an independent music director in Lady Robinhood. Ram Ganguli, an assistant of R.C. Boral, made his musical debut with Maharana Pratap. Hansraj Behl too came into his own after assisting Khemchand Prakash, Rashid Atre, and Pandit Gobindram. He made his musical debut in Pujari in which Baby Madhubala had a song to sing. Lata Mangeshkar appeared in Jeevan Yatra and also sang a solo under the baton of Vasant Desai. As far as actors were concerned, Dev Anand, Rehman, and Rehana made their debut appearances in Hum Ek Hain which was directed by the debutant P.L. Santoshi. Abhi Bhattacharya acted in a Hindi film for the first time. This movie was Milan which starred Dilip Kumar. Neecha Nagar lauched the careers of Chetan Anand, Kamini Kaushal and others. Dharti Ke Lal, directed by Khwaja Ahmed Abbas, won critical acclaim at home and abroad. K.L. Saigal’s Umar Khayam was released. This was his second film with Suraiya. His third film with Suraiya, Parwana(1947) would be his last.

The visually-challenged musician and singer, K.C. Dey was an unparalleled singer who after earning great fame as actor, singer and composer in the Thirties, had shifted to Mumbai in 1942 till his final return to Calcutta in 1946. Once, aided by his protégé, Manna Dey, K.C. Dey had composed a song for a movie called Justice. When the composition was ready, K.C. Dey instructed Manna Dey to let Rafi know that the tune was ready for him to sing. Manna Dey was flabbergasted. Rafi had worked as a chorus singer under him when

he was the Assistant Music Director. How could this be? Manna Dey frankly recounts in his interview with Kavita Chibber that he felt very hurt at that time. He asked his uncle: “’Why can’t I sing it?’ My uncle said ‘No you can’t! Only he can sing this.’ I swallowed my pride and fetched him and then after he finished recording, I realised that indeed, I couldn’t have sung it as well as he did.” (Italics mine). This great singer has always been a frank admirer of Rafi Sahaab as many of his interviews show. First it was K.L. Saigal, and now here was another great singer, K.C. Dey of MANN KEE ANKHEN KHOL BABA (Dhoop Chhaon) fame who, on the strength of his inner eye, put a stamp of approval on the tremendous potentials of Rafi Sahaab! Many years later, the illustrious S.D. Burman, who was a chela of K.C. Dey, would use the same ploy with Manna Dey and pass on the song to Rafi Sahaab. Similarly, there is an incident which does not belong to the Forties but mentioning it here is a must in order to complete the links of the Bengali chain. That link in the chain is R.C. Boral. He was a stalwart of the New Theatres, and the one who discovered and shaped the voice of K.L. Saigal and the one who had introduced the playback singing in 1935. To state it briefly, this Dada Saheb Phalke Award Winner, would come face to face with Mohammed Rafi many years later for recording of a Bengali Kirtan which the former had composed. He thought that if he were not satisfied with Rafi, he could always have any of the well-known Bengal singers sing the Kirtan for him. Rafi Sahaab had always been conscientious about his work. He asked R.C. Boral’s permission for a short prayer. After offering his ‘Namaaz’ in one corner of the recording-room, he came to the mike to render the Kirtan. The result of the rendition of the Kirtan was so perfect that R.C. Boral was wonder-struck at the genius of this non-Bengali singer.

It was after Rafi Sahaab had passed away in 1980 that R.C. Boral paid a glowing tribute to him in an AIR programme at Calcutta, narrating that wonderful experience. If he had not told us of this amazing contribution of Rafi Sahaab at that time, we would never have known, for the very next year (1981) R.C. Boral, the Father of Indian Music, too passed away. For the records, R.C. Boral had utilized Rafi Sahaab in the three movies of the early Fifties: Mahaprabhu Chaitanya and Dard-e-Dil (1953) and in Swami Vivekanand in 1955 which is not our subject-matter here. NASIR To continue...


A Humble Tribute to the Greatest Playback Singer of all times – by Nasir. While we are still in 1946, Noor Jahan was singing a beautiful song penned by Anjum Pilibhiti and composed by Hafiz Khan in Hamjoli starring herself, Jairaj and Agha among others. The song was: YEH DESH, YEH DESH HAMAARA PYAARA HINDUSTAN JAHAA.N SE NYAARAA/HINDUSTAAN KE HAMM HAIN PYAARE, HINDUSTAAN HAMAARA PYAARA. This song draws our attention to the anticipated independence from the British Raj. It was in 1946 that Rafi’s Sahaab’s name appeared for the first time in the credits of Arab Ka Sitaara which was Cuckoo’s debut film. ROSHAN SA IK SITAARA was a duet he sang with Amirbai Karnataki. Some of the other movies of 1946 for which Rafi Sahaab sang are: Amar Raj: Two solos: PRAAN TYAAG KAR TUUNE DEEWAANEE; and TO.DO TO.DO TO.DO DIL KE TAAR. Another solo was: MAIN JAB GAAOON GEET SUHAANA, GAAYE MERE SAATH ZAMAANA, written by Pandit Fani. This must be his earliest semi-classical song. There was also a

duet with Mohantara: MAI.N JAB CHHE.DOO PREM TARAANAA. Music was by Feroze Nizami. Yes, this was for Wadia Movietone. A curious thing here is that Rafi Sahaab’s name is missing from the duet. The 78RPM record mentions: “Mohantara Talpade in duet” though she sings hardly for a minute, while the young Rafi sings for nearly six minutes for this song which is recorded on both the sides of the record. In an ordinary 78RPM 10-inch disc, just a little over 3 minutes could be recorded on one side. Such was the limit of the technology then. In this movie, a young Nirupa Roy, made her acting debut. Mera Geet: MERA SWAPN BA.DAA SUHAANAA; JAAKE PARDES PIYAA BHOOL NAA JAANAA; both under musical direction of Shankar Rao Vyas. Rasili: Rafi Sahaab sang two duets with Shamshad Begum: YEH NAYAN KYOO.N SHARMA GAYE, and DIL MUJHKO JALAATAA HAI. Hanuman Prasad was the music director. Rang Bhoomi: The music was rendered by Premnath. The songs of Rafi Sahaab are: SOOYE MANZIL BADHAAYE CHALAA CHAL KOEE along with chorus; then three duets with Shamshad Begum: AAG LAGEE TANN MANN DHANN; JO AAGE BA.DHE USSE; and KHUD SAMAJH LO KE ILTIJAA KYAA. Sona Chandi: Tufail Farooqi was the music director. Rafi Sahaab had two solos and two duets as follows: ABKE BHAGWAAN DAYAA KARENGE and DAATAA JI TERE BHED NAA PAAYAA; one duet with Shamshad Begum: BAITHE HAI.N TERE DAR PE; the other duet with Ameerbai: MANN KI SOONEE NAGARIYAA.

Rupa: Music was by Gobind Ram. Rafi Sahaab sang two duets with Shamshad Begum: WATAN KEE AMAANAT MEREE ZINDAGEE HAI with chorus; and BALA JAWANVAA SAMBHAALAA NAA JAAYE. Safar: Music was by C.Ramchandra. The notable solos of Rafi Sahaab are: KEHKE BHEE NAA AAYE TUM where the tonal quality and style of Rafi Sahaab reminds us of the mid-fifties. It proved to be a hit song. The other song was, AB VOH HAMAARE HO GAYE. Some of the following 1946 movies have a song each of Rafi Sahaab: Sassi Punnu: AASHIQ KA KAAFLAA along with G.M. Durrani and chorus. Music was by Gobind Ram. Room No.9: RAHE TOH KAISE RAHE DIL PE IKHTIYAAR, which had music by Rashid Atre. Insaaf: Hari Prasanna Das was the music director. Rafi Sahaab sang a duet with Hameeda Bano: ROOKHEE SOOKHEE MAI.N KHAA LOONGEE. Mansarovar: S.N. Tripathi composed the music for this movie. Rafi sang Yeh Hind Ki Kahaaniyan with Geeta Roy and Binapani. Shah Jahan and Anmol Ghadi.

In 1946

Naushad was again at his best

in Anmol Ghadi and Shah Jahan. Both these movies were immensely popular along with other movies such as the Dilip Kumar starrer Milan, Saigal starrer Omar Khayyam, V.Shantaram’s Dr. Kotnis ki Amar Kahani, and Chetan Anand’s Neecha Nagar. Noor Jahan and Mehboob Khan had come together for the first time – and the last time in Anmol Ghadi which was Noor Jahan’s greatest hit. As for the songs of Anmol Ghadi, Noor Jahan’s JAWAA.N HAI MOHABBAT, AAJAA AAJAA MEREE, MERE BACHPAN KE SAATHI and KYA MIL GAYA BHAGWAAN, and the duet AAWAAZ DE were superhits overshadowing the good songs of Shamshad Begum and Suraiya. Noor Jahan at just 20 was at her career-best. Suraiya played the second lead to her.

The songs of Anmol Ghadi are etched in everyone’s memory. So when she visited Mumbai in 1982, she was accorded a warm reception by Dilip Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar and Naushad. Even Suraiya was present. When Noor Jahan began to sing AAWAAZ DE KAHAA.N HAI, DUNYA MEREE JAWAA.N HAI, on the stage for the show "Mortal Men,

Immortal Melodies" she and the composer Naushad had tears in their eyes. The latter exclaimed that she had indeed done him the honour and “made my song immortal.” Anmol Ghadi had also raised the stock of Tanvir Naqvi so that he had charged a whopping Rs.5,0000/for his work. What an irony of fate that the same talented lyricist had to go round the studios in Pakistan for merely Rs.200/- in the Seventies! Two years had elapsed since Pehle Aap (1944) when Naushad had given the young Rafi an opportunity to sing a couple of duets. For the first time, Naushad Ali gave a solo number to Rafi in Anmol Ghadi (1946): TERA KHILONA TOOTA BAALAK, which was playbacked for an unknown character of a toy-seller, since the movie had Mehboob’s favourite singer-hero, Surendra. After this, the team of Mehboob Khan and Naushad worked in a number of blockbuster movies.

Shah Jahan had the best of K.L. Saigal numbers. Naushad was the first to record songs and the music on different tracks and then mixing them together and he also did this in Shah Jahan. Shah Jahan had excellent songs of K.L. Saigal such as GHAM DIYE MUSTAQIL KITNAA NAAZUK HAI DIL, CHAAH BARBAAD KAREGEE HAMEN MAALOOM NAA THAAH, and JAB DIL HEE TOOT GAYAA. The lyrics of all the ten songs were credited to the debutant Majrooh Sultanpuri, the young chela of Jigar Moradabadi. However, according to the article in “Gaata Rahe Mera Dil,” the songs BEDARD NA KAR; CHAAH BARBAAD KAREGEE HAMEN; AY DIL BEQARAAR JHOOM were written

by Khumar Barabankavi. Naushad would be fulfilling the wishes of the young singer by giving him an opportunity to sing in the chorus of a K.L. Saigal song in Shah Jahan. Naushad himself had been enamoured of K.L. Saigal. Rafi was happy with just the chorus rendering of RUHEE RUHEE RUHEE, MERE SAPNON KI RANI, where he can be easily spotted on the screen and actually sings the entire line towards the fag-end of the song when a faqir is shown entering the scene. The blessing of K.L. Saigal had come full circle. Who could have imagined that after nearly a decade the same lad who sang at the K.L. Saigal Concert in Lahore would also sing along with the legendary singer/actor in a movie that would create history of the present and the future legends coming together in the same song! The RUHEE song is specially remembered for that reason. Thus Rafi Sahaab also has the distinction of not only being blessed by K.L. Saigal but also singing a song with him – the distinction denied to self-proclaimed fans such as Mukesh, Manna Dey, Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle, Talat Mehmood, and Shamshad Begum who were already a sensation by mid-Forties. All of them and also Geeta Dutt, would be dominating the Indian playback scene along with Rafi Sahaab in the decades to come. NASIR To continue...


A Humble Tribute to the Greatest Playback Singer of all times – by Nasir. The year 1947 was a very eventful year. Politically, India got independence from the British Raj and a new country of East and West Pakistan also came into existence.

Millions of people were dislocated on either side. At least a million died in the beastly and brutal communal riots that followed. Saadat Manto has graphically chronicled the holocaust of the Partition but from a humanitarian view. Amrita Pritam in her Ode to Waris Ali Shah, the Sufi Saint and Poet known for his legendary Poem, Heer Ranjha, has lamented the division and burning of Punjab. The historical account has been rendered in Freedom at Midnight by

Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins. Deepa Mehta’s movie, 1947 Earth (based on Ice Candy Man) and Gaddar a Prem Katha are depicted against the background of the horrendous consequences of the Partition.

The why’s and wherefore’s of the Partition have never been openly discussed, or if discussed they, just as some other historical facts, have been glossed over or distorted in various books. The latest exposure comes from Jaswant Singh’s book, Jinnah: India- Partition, Independence which was initially banned in the Indian state of Gujarat, and for which Jaswant Singh has been thrown out by his own party, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) like a fly in the ointment for glorification of Jinnah and holding Pandit Nehru and Sardar Vallabh Patel responsible for the Partition of India. According to journalist Khushwant Singh, the leaders were not to blame, but the circumstances that had evolved over the centuries. Let’s leave this matter to the political analysts, intellectuals and historians, and come back to our subject and see what the film industry lost and gained as the result of the partition.

A.R. Kardar’s Shah Jahan, V.Shantaram’s Dr. Kotnis ki Amar Kahani, and Vijay Bhatt’s Ram Rajya were shown at Canadian National Exhibition at Toronto. Unfortunately, the hero of Shah Jahan was no more. It was Naushad Saab who had convinced Saigal Saab that he could sing very well even without his “Kaali Paanch”. “Kaali Paanch” was the code name for whiskey pegs that K.L. Saigal used to imbibe during recordings. “If I had met you earlier, I would have been a different Kundan altogether,” the singer told Naushad. Alas! It was too late then.

The legendary singer died of cirrhosis of the liver on 18th January 1947. The band played JAB DIL HEE TOOT GAYAA at his funeral as per his dying wish. Just 250 soulful songs and 28 films had made K.L. Saigal immortal in the Musical Hall of Fame. There was no one who commanded rapt attention as Saigal Saab used to command during that time. With his untimely death a void had been created in the world of Hindustani filmy music.

(This "void" can be explained better with an example: After Rafi Sahaab’s premature death in 1980, many aspiring singers jumped on the bandwagon of his style of singing and successfully carved a niche for themselves for a decade, managing with just an individual shade out of the many shades of Rafi Sahaab’s powerehouse of a talent. These singers were Anwar, Shabbir Kumar, Mohammed Aziz, and others. Sonu Nigam was a just a child then, but when he took to singing it was his idol, Mohammed Rafi, whose songs he began to sing before coming into his own. The same thing happened after the demise of K.L. Saigal.) With most of the actors having given up singing too about the midForties, playback singing was a new industry and those who came in at that stage. Most of them were heavily influenced by the Saigal style of singing. Mukesh and Kishore Kumar too were smitten by K.L. Saigal for that matter, and in fact earlier in 1945 Mukesh sang DIL

JALTA TOH JALNE DE in a typical K.L. Saigal style in Pehli Nazar. Kishore Kumar, initially sang in the traditional style of Saigal Saab. C.H. Atma too carried this tradition all his life. Surendra in Bombay remained a poor man’s Saigal. Even Bulo C. Rani who later stuck to musical direction had initially commenced singing in the style of K.L. Saigal. Naushad, who had teamed up with Saigal in Kedar’s masterpiece Shahjehan gave the last of great musical hits that kept the memory K.L. Saigal alive.The contemporaries and the gen-next were crazy after K.L. Saigal. A classic example is that of Lata Mangeshkar who in her early years had a crush on him and wanted to marry him but was advised to the contrary by her father, Dinanath Mangeshkar. Shamshad Begum watched Saigal’s Devdas over and over again. Suraiya, too, was thrilled by K.L. Saigal when he directed the director of movie, where Suraiya was singing, to cast her opposite him in Tadbir (1945) after which they did two more movies. Talat Mehmood was an ardent fan of Saigal, and used to croon his songs in family gatherings in early stages of his life. Mohammed Rafi, too, in his early years wanted to sing along with K.L. Saigal even if it meant singing in a chorus and he did sing in the chorus of the famous Ruhee song as we have already noted. After more than a decade later, Rafi Sahaab would be singing: MARR KE AMAR HAI SAIGAL JISKA HAR KOEE DEEWAANA HAI in the TEENKANASTAR song from a 1958 film, Love Marriage. It is no wonder, therefore, that for many years after Saigal’s demise, Radio Ceylon used to play a 78 rpm record of his songs every day at 7:57 a.m. It is against this background that emergence of Mohammad Rafi has to be seen to be fully appreciated. India suffered a loss of many film artistes who permanently shifted to Pakistan. Noor Jahan did not at once migrate to Pakistan in 1947. She did so after finishing her assignments here one of which was Mirza Sahiban that again had her unforgettable numbers such as KYA YEHI TERAA PYAAR THAAH and AAJAA TUJHE AFSAANA JUDAAI KA SUNAAYEN. By 1949 Noor Jahan and Shaukat Hussain were spotted in Karachi and thereafter in Lahore. Though Shaukat Hussain was a hit director with Khandan, Zeenath and Jugnu in India, he proved to be a flop director in Pakistan. One of her fans informs us that she had

already sung about 127 songs in about 69 Indian films during the period 1932-47. Some 55 movies were made in Bombay, 5 in Lahore, 1 in Rangoon (Burma), and 8 in Calcutta. She also did 12 Silent Movies. Noor Jahan had been Lata Mangeshkar’s inspiration in the early years of the latter’s musical life. The others who migrated were Actress Swaran Lata and her actordirector husband Nazir, producer-director W.Z. Ahmad, and Khwaja Khursheed Anwar who had last composed the music for K.L. SaigalSuraiya starrer, Parwana. Khursheed Bano of Tansen fame migrated later. Composer Master Ghulam Haider went to Pakistan in 1950 after doing some more films, including Kaneez (1949), in India. Film star Rehana who had the best phase of her career in India from 1948-51, migrated later in 1956 after completing her last films here.

Meena Shorey, the Lara Lappa girl, migrated to Pakistan in 1956 for good and died in penury. Tanvir Naqvi also went back to his original place, Lahore, after a few years of partition. Shaikh Mukhtar migrated to Pakistan in the Sixties saddened by the fact that his magnum opus, Noor Jahan, flopped miserably after its premier at the Naaz Cinema, Bombay. This movie, however, did roaring business in Pakistan. There is a very mellifluous number of Rafi Sahaab in Noor Jahan: VOH MUHABBAT VOH WAFAAYEN... Composer Nisar Bazmi (Khoj fame) too migrated in June 1962, since his talent was not duly recognised despite his struggle for 15 long years in Bombay. Khoj has been rendered immortal by Rafi Sahaab’s moving song: CHANDAA KA DIL TOOT GAYAA HAI. Some other names are Nashad and Faiyaz Hashimi (Bara Dari fame) Iqbal Bano, and Fateh Ali Khan. There were a host of classical singers and musicians who went to Pakistan.

If Bombay lost lots of filmy talents to Lahore, it gained many in return. Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan also went to his native place Kasur in Pakistan, but he came back to India and acquired the Indian citizenship in 1957. He had said: “If in every home one child was taught the Hindustani Classical Music, this country would never have been parititioned.“ Dev Anand and Balraj Sahni had graduated from Government College, Lahore, where Amitabh Bachchan’s mother, Tajasavi Bachchan, was the lecturer before their earlier migration. Also, Kamini Kaushal’s father was a Professor of Botany there, while she herself did her B.A. at the Lahore’s Kinnaird College. Others were Ramanand Sagar, Om Prakash, Pran, Chetan Anand, film tycoon Dalsukh Pancholi (remember the famous Pancholi Theatres?), and others including Jayant. B.R. Chopra, (who used to publish English film magazines then) Yash Chopra, Shekhar Kapoor, Anupam Kher, too were Lahorites. Others who migrated from Lahore were composers O.P. Nayyar, Roshan (Gujranwala), Pandit Gobind Ram, (Pandit Amarnath had already died in Feb.1947) Shyam Sunder, Lachhi Ram and Dhanni Ram. Khayyam had started his career in Lahore. So also Sahir Ludhianvi. Prithviraj Kapoor and his sons were from Peshwar. Dilip Kumar aka Yusuf Khan was also from Peshwar. Raj Kumar was born in Baluchistan. Rajendra Kumar had come from Sialkot, Gulzar and Sunil Dutt from Jhelum, and Anand Bakshi from Rawalpindi. At the same time more and more film personalities permanently shifted from Lahore and elsewhere in Pakistan to Bombay. Many chose to make India their home. Rafi Sahaab and Shamshad Begum, who were originally from what came to be called as the East Punjab, had gone to Lahore in mid-Thirties. They finally left Lahore for good in 1944 to seek singing career in the Bombay film industry. As for Suraiya many sources trace her roots to Lahore and a few to Gujranwala, but she had already settled in India long before, completing her high school studies in Bombay. NASIR To continue...



A Humble Tribute to the Greatest Playback Singer of all times – by Nasir. Let’s check out some 1947 songs of Rafi Sahaab: Jugnu: The success of Anmol Ghadi had boosted the confidence of Noor Jahan and Shaukat Hussain, both of whom had married in 1944, to come out with their own production banner. The result was Jugnu, produced under the Shaukat Art Productions. Dilip Kumar and Noor Jahan came together for the first and last time. So also Rafi and Noor Jahan sang together for the first and the last time. Rafi Sahaab sang for Dilip Kumar for the first time: YAHAAN BADLAA WAFAA KA BEWAFAAI KE SIWAA KYAA HAI (with the reigning queen of melodies, Noor Jahan). It was Noor Jahan who favoured the budding Rafi over the currently popular G.M. Durrani for that classic duet. This shows that she knew him or had at least heard about him, having arrived in Bombay earlier in 1943. Feroze Nizami, of course,

had no objection. He had known Rafi from his Lahore days when he and Rafi used to train under Ustad Abdul Waheed Khan. We can also be sure that Noor Jahan must have been truly amazed by the mellifluous voice of the young singer from Lahore. The difficult part of the song such as BADE ARMAAN SE WAADON NE...DIL MEIN GHAR BASAAYAA THAA... which is in the form of an Alaap in the first stanza, and then the crying anguish of the character (Dilip Kumar) BHULAA DOH HAAN BHULAA DOH in the second stanza, had all the elements of making Rafi the tragedy king of Bollywood singing in the same manner as Dilip Kumar became the Tragedy King of Acting. The interesting coincidence is that Jugnu zoomed not only Dilip Kumar but also Mohammed Rafi to the top. Both were destined to become legends in their respective field of acting and singing during their lifetime.

“Iss ke Baad Rafi Sahaab ko kabhee peechhe naheen dekhnaa pa.daa,” observes Shammi Kapoor for whom Rafi Sahaab sang so many songs of romantic love and flirtations, in the Sixties, enhancing his flamboyant image as the Rebel Hero. The price-tag of Rafi’s song came at par with that of Noor Jahan. He also had an acting stint in Jugnu and is seen singing his own song, WOH APNEE YAAD DILAANE KO with a chorus, a jovial collegian song which was something new in the movie at that time. After all, the tragic story was based on the college romance. Despite the ongoing communal riots, this movie did a fantastic business.

It would be of interest for the readers to know that on February 11,

1982 a show called Mortal Men, Immortal Melodies (as mentioned before) was held at the Shanmukhanand Hall at Matunga, Mumbai to celebrate the visit of Malika-e-Tarannum Noor Jahan to India after the Partition. We could easily discern the nostalgic sentiments on the faces of both Dilip Kumar and Noor Jahan as if the Jugnu days were here again. In a very impressive Urdu speech, Dilip Kumar confessed to the audience that intelligence and the words were unable to translate the feelings of a person who all of a sudden were to see a “dilkash” and “dil-fareb hasti” after 35 years. He had finally this to say to her: “Noor Jahanji jitne baras ke baad aap hamse milne aayee.n hai.n, Theek Utne hee baras aap kaa hamne intezaar kiyaa hai.” Sadly, there was no Mohammed Rafi Sahaab. O that the Madam had come some 2-3 years earlier! Then the trilogy would have been complete. There would have been a historic repeat of YAHAAN BADLAA WAFAA KAA.... Alas!

Aage Badho: Sudhir Phadke had given the music for this Dev Anand-Khursheed starrer. The only song that Rafi Sahaab sang with Khursheed before her departure to Pakistan was SAAWAN KI GHATAAO DHEERE DHEERE AANA where Khursheed has late entry in this song. Do Bhai: Rafi Sahaab had the outstanding song: DUNIYA ME.N MEREE AAJ ANDHERAA HI ANDHERAA. This song of lament was also a pointer in the direction that despite his youth, the young Rafi had ample maturity to empathise very well with the afflicted character of the film. It was S.D. Burman who provided music for Do Bhai. Two songs written by Raja Mehdi Ali Khan: MERA SUNDER SAPNA BEET GAYAA,

and IK DIN HAMKO YAAD KAROGE among her other songs, made Geeta Roy very famous. Aap Ki Sewa Mein: Rafi had one solo number, MEREE ANKHON KE TAARE, plus a duet with Mohantara, MAIN TEREE TUU MERAA. Rafi had another duet also, DESH ME.N SANKAT AAYA HAI. This was with G.M. Sajan. Datta Devjekar was the music director who had begun his career with Marathi films. In this movie, he introduced Lata Mangeshkar to Hindi films who sang her first three songs in Hindi. Her debut song was SHAM MOSE NAA KHELO HOREE which was written by Mahipal – yes Mahipal who was later to become the hero of many swashbuckling and mythological movies. Shadi Se Pehle: Mohammed Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar sang their first duet together: CHALO HO GAYEE TAYYAAR, ZARAA TEHRO JEE... This number is really one of its kind and a hilarious one. There was also a Rafi’s solo, probably his first ‘Bidaai’ song: CHALI SAJAN GHAR JAAYE AAJ DULHANIYA KES SA.NWAARE KESAR BINDIYAA KAAJAR DAARE... An interesting song this is, with ‘taan’ ‘alaaps’ and even a different type of high pitch lines. Music is said to be by C. Ramchandra. The composition type, however, seems to me to be a mixture of Pankaj Mullick and S.D. Burman styles. Lyrics were by Pandit Mukhram Sharma. Sajan: C. Ramchandra provided excellent music. Mohammed Rafi gave us a song which even after more than sixty years does not fail to pull us to him by virtue of its oozing romance, sweetness and lovable sadness. This was HAMM KO TUMHAARA HI AASRA penned by Moti. We have also the same song of his in a duet with Lalita Dewulkar. Other duets with Lalita are KISKO SUNAAOO.N HAAL-E-DIL, and

MAIN HOON JAIPUR KI BANJAARAN – the first one was written by Moti and the second one by Qamar Jalabadi. Then we have the trio of Rafi, Lalita, and Geeta singing ISS BANJAARE SANGG HAMAARE as well as SAMBHAL SAMBHAL KE JAIYO, written by Moti and Ram Murti respectively. Both the songs had the chorus for company. Another Rafi solo was O BAABU GALI MEIN TERE CHAAND CHAMKAA which was written by Qamar Jalalabadi. Some of the other 1947 movies in which Rafi Sahaab sang were: Shanti: JEEVAN HAI ANMOL, and QISMAT KO DEKHO HAMSAFAR for which V.S. Thakur provided the music and Shakeel Badayuni penned the lyrics; Malika: DAS NA JAAYEN ZULFEN TUJHKO which was composed by A.R. Qureshi while the lyrics were written by Tanvir Naqvi; Utho Jaago: PREM KI NAIYA DOL RAHEE HAI, composed by Aziz Khan;

Rishta: MAYA MANN KA ROG HAI penned by Wahshi Jaunpuri and composed by Mohammed Shafi;

Ek Kadam: TUU BHEE RAAHEE a duet with Shamshad Begum, composed by Prakash Sharma and written by Avatar Visharad;

In Dak Bungalow: JAB BAITHE BAITHE DIL BHAR AAYE penned by D.N. Madhok and composed by Naresh Bhattacharya.

Besides Jugnu, Samaj Ko Badal Dalo was another film in 1947 where Rafi had done some acting stint. Some of the other movies that did brisk business were Mirza Sahiban, Shehnai, Elan, Saajan, Neel Kamal and Dard. Shehnai is especially remembered for that western

number composed by C. Ramchandra: AANA MEREE JAAN SUNDAY KE SUNDAY sung by Meena Kapoor and C.Ramchandra as Chitalkar, and the same song again with Shamshad Begum. Amirbai’s MAARI KATAARI MAR JAANA is simply unforgettable. The year also saw Rajinder Krishan writing his first song, GOREE GHUNGHAT KE PATT KHOL for the movie, Janta, which had music by Harishchandra Bali. Raj Kapoor sang his own song in Jail Yatra, PIYA MILNE NAVELEE JAAYE RE. Even in Dil Ki Raani he sings a song, O DUNYAA KE REHNE WAALON. Then, In Piya Ghar Aajaa, Meena Kumari sang 2 duets with Karan Dewan and six 6 solos under the musical direction of Bulo C. Rani. Actor Manhar Desai made his Hindi film debut in Toofaani Sawaar. Next, Mirabai had all the 13 songs sung by Sitara of Kanpur (not the Kathak dancer Sitara Devi) where the music was provided by S.K. Pal. In Mira, M.S. Subbulakshmi played the role and sang 15 of the 18 songs in the movie. Manna Dey sang the devotional numbers in Geet Govind.

The year also saw the emergence of a music director and excellent trumpeteer who would have been easily forgotten if it were not for his four sons who became music directors in the Bombay film industry in the next generation. Pyarelal of the Laxmikant-Pyarelal was one such son. His father, Pandit Ram Prasad Sharma, gave music for 7 movies, beginning with Nayee Baat and including Shakti (1948) and Magic Carpet (1964) – the same year that Dosti made the nation crazy with Rafi Sahaab’s immortal songs CHAAHUNGAA MAIN TUJHE SAANJH SAVERE and other songs under the musical direction of his son Pyarelal along with Laxmikant.

In 1947 A.R. Kardar released his Dard which is notable for the singing debut of Uma Devi under Naushad’s baton. The song was AFSAANA LIKH RAHEE HOON DIL-E-BEQARAAR KAA, and this song alone made her very famous. Another of her songs was AAJ MACHEE HAI DHOOM. It’s a pity that such a fine singer was reduced to playing comic roles, such as the one in Babul (1950) where she was christened as Tun Tun by Naushad. But even in this new avatar she excelled herself. I remember her children attending the same school

as me in Cadell Road, Mahim, Bombay. Old timers inform me that Shamshad Begum’s song HAMM DARD KA AFSAANA almost got Dard banned, as the British Government thought that it incited a section of the Indian citizens against the British governance which was still in place – though there were no such thing in that song, unless they considered the line ROTE HUWE NAGHMON SE TOOFAN UTHAA DENGE.... or the lines:


Haay! Those were the fiery lines of Shakeel Badayuni who had just made his debut with this film and who would go on to write lyrics for some 89 movies, mostly with Naushad and Ravi and to some extent, Hemant Kumar. NASIR

To continue...



A Humble Tribute to the Greatest Playback Singer of all times – by Nasir.

The year 1948 was a shocker. India and Pakistan were at war, their first one, over Kashmir. In 1948, the State of Israel was carved out of the Palestine State, thus driving out the Palestinians Arabs and rendering lakhs of them homeless. On 30th January 1948 Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in a well pre-planned murder by Nathuram Godse. No one was ready for such a rot that had set in right at the dawn of India’s freedom. While the fascists organisations in India celebrated this tragic event, the entire world was weeping. The Indian film industry’s reaction was no exception to the Gandhian tragedy. The newcomer, Rajinder Krishan penned a song on the Mahatma, which went SUNO SUNO AY DUNYAA WAALON BAAPU JI KI AMAR KAHAANI. Husnlal-Bhagatram, the first musical duo, composed the four-part song. It was given to Mohammed Rafi. Before that no one had attempted to sing such a long song. What an emotional singer Rafi Sahaab was! The tide of his emotions swept away whoever heard the song. The song was a rage in India for many years and still holds us in thrall. The first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawarharlal Nehru, evidently having heard of the awesome singer, invited Rafi to his residence to sing to him that lyrical obituary

relating to the Father of the Nation - that Bapu who was as venerable as the waters of the holy Ganga: “POOJYA HAI ITNA JITNAA GANGA MAA KA PAANI”. There was, perhaps, no one to record how many precious tears the Indian Prime Minister must have shed on listening to the deep, rich voice, that heart-rending pathos... On the Independence Day celebrations in 1948, the Prime Minister awarded the young Rafi with a Silver Medal. For many years this song used to be faithfully aired on the radio stations in the country on every 30th of January. Dilip Kumar’s touching performance in Jugnu, a year before, had made him the heartthrob of the nation. Following on its heel in 1948 were his other super-hits movies such as Ghar Ki Izzat with Mumtaz Shanti, Mela and Anokha Pyaar with Nargis, and Nadiya Ke Paar and Shaheed with Kamini Kaushal. Mohammed Rafi in the Nineteen Forties was not actually the voice of Dilip Kumar. Mukesh and Talat Mehmood were preferably used to playback for the tragedy king. Anil Biswas used Mukesh in Anokha Pyaar. Naushad used Mukesh in Mela and later in Andaz (1949) to playback for Dilip Kumar. Mela had Rafi’s YEH ZINDAGI KE MELA but it was filmed on an unknown character, while Ghar ki Izzat had a background song WAH RE ZAMAANE composed by Pandit Govindram. Only C. Ramchandra had a Rafi-Lalita Dewulkar duet, MORRE RAAJA HO LE CHAL NADIYA KE PAAR, which was filmed on the leading pair Dilip Kumar and Kamini Kaushal. Ghulam Haider’s WATAN KI RAAH MEIN WATAN KE NAUJAWAA.N SHAHEED HO had the Rafi and Khan Mastana duet number along with the chorus in the fast-paced song filmed on Dilip Kumar and another artiste. The same version has only Rafi but again it is played in the background when the dead body of the martyr Ram (Dilip Kumar) is borne to the cremation ground by a crowd of thousands. When Rafi says: HAI KAUN KHUSHNASEEB that song, we can feel the lump in our throat.

No singer had such an emotional impact before. Happily, there was a promise in this song that Rafi Sahaab would be excelling in the genre of patriotic songs too – the promise that would be more than fulfilled the same year as we have seen and in the years to come, as we all know. On the aside, it is a cruel irony of fate that Khan Mastana who has also provided music for some films under a different name and was also a singer of repute, would die decades later on the streets of Mumbai, begging near the Mahim Dargah. I learn that the same fate awaits his son too near the said Dargah. Some of his beautiful songs are PANGAT PE EK CHHABEELEE in Main Hari (1940), ZINDAGI HAI PYAAR SE with chorus and two others in Sikandar (1941), a duet with Parul Ghosh, KANTE LAAGE RE SAJANWA MOSE RAAH CHALI NA JAAYE in Basant (1942), HAMM APNE DARD KA QISSAA SUNAAYE JAATE HAIN in Muqabla (1942) and even as late as 1959 in Nek Parveen: MAULA KI REHMAT SE HOGI HAR MUSHKIL AASAAN.

My deceased father, may Allah grant him the Jannatul Firdaus, often used to say: BANEE KE CHEHRE PE LAAKHON NISAAR HOTE HAIN, BANEE JO BIGADTEE HAI TOH DUSHMAN HAZAAR HOTE HAIN. In English, this can be tersely stated as: Prosperity brings friends, Adversity tries them! Shakeel Badayuni’s lyrics sung by Rafi sang in Mela (1948): YEH ZINDAGI KE MELE DUNYAA MEIN KAMM NA HONGE AFSOS HAMM NAA HONGE, are true for all times to come.

Some of the other 1948 songs of Rafi are:


HAMM APNE DIL KA FASAANAA; AY DIL MEREEE AA.NHO.N ME.N, and a duet with Shamshad Begum: DHEERE DHEERE BOL KOEE SUN NAA LE. Shyam Sunder provided the music, while J.Naqshab wrote the lyrics.


DOH VIDAA DOH PRAAN; QISMAT TOH DEKHO; KYOO.N BICHA.D GAYEE; and a duet with Mohantara Talpade, BAIRAN HO GAYEE RAAT. Music Director was Datta Devjekar. Mahipal was the lyricist.


MOHABBAT MEIN KHUDAAYA AYSE GUZRE ZINDAGI APNI, and AY DIL TUJHEE KO NEEND NAA AAYE. Then there were four duets with Amirbai Karnataki who was also the music director for Shehnaz: TERE NAZDEEK AATE HAIN; and NAZAARON SE KHELOON. These two songs and the 2nd solo were written by Pilbheeti. Then then we have ZINDAGI KEE RAAH MEIN TEZ CHAL and the first solo penned by Devbandi. Fiza Kausari wrote the duet MUJHE TUMSE MUHABBAT HAI.

Lal Dupatta:

The two duets of Rafi with Shamshad Begum are: CHALO JAMNA KE TEER and ARREE O ALBELI NAAR. The first one was penned by D.N Madhok and the second one by Manhar Khanna. Gyan Dutta was the music director.

REHNUMA (The Guide):

It had two solos: QISMAT SE KOEE KYAA BOLE and SULTAAN-EMADINA. The two duets were: EK AISA MAHAL BANAAYEN with Rekha Rani, and EK ABRE SIYAAH CHHAAYAA with Shamshad Begum. The last song was written by Dhumi Khan and the others were written by Habib Sarhadi. It was Dhumi Khan who provided the music.

Amar Prem:

Rafi had two duets here. One was with Raj Kumari: AAO CHALE MANVAA MORE DUUR and the other was with Rekha Rani:

YAMUNAA KE TAT. Music was by Datta Thakar and the lyrics were written by Mohan Mishra.


The music for this film was composed by C.Ramchandra who was also a singer. Rafi sang with him and Shamshad Begum in AJI MERAA BHEE KOI HAAL SUNO (which cites FIFTY-FIFTY as the solution to all problems of the world), comedy song. The tune of just the two words, FIFTY-FIFTY reminds me of a Shabnam (Dilip-Kamini-S.D. Burman) song of Shamshad Begum: PHIR DEKH MAZAA! Another song, KHUSHIYAAN MANAAYEN KYOON had Rafi sing along with him again and with G.M. Sajan and chorus. The songs were written by P.L. Santoshi.


A duet with Geeta Dutt was: PHOOL KO BHOOL KE LE BAITHA KHAAR. The solo of Rafi, SAB KUCHH LUTAAYAA HAMNE AAKAR TERI GALI MEIN, placed the music director Hansraj Behl among the top class music directors of the day. This movie saw Asha Bhonsle singing her first Hindi line in Chunariya under Hansraj Behl. Mulkraj Bhakri was the lyricist.



KAR DAALA. The lyricists were Surjit Sethi and Sevak.


A duet with Suraiya: TAARON BHARI RAAT HAI which was written by D.N. Madhok. Music was by Ghulam Mohammed.

Rang Mahal:

Again, a duet with Suraiya, ROOTHO NAA TUM BAHAAR MEIN, composed by K. Dutta.

Bhakt Gopal Bhaiya:

The two solo Bhajans were: RADHE SHYAM, RADHE SHYAM RADHE SHYAM TUU GAAYE JAA and BHAGWAAN HAMM CHEEKH RAHEN HAIN, written by Ramesh Gupta. Music was by S.R. Vyas.

Then we have the solos: BUJH GAYE DEEPAK was penned by Mahipal and composed by Purshuttam in Mere Lal; DOOBEE NAIYA AAKE KINAARE in Jeene Do, written by Shevan Rizvi and composed by Shaukat Hussain; a Bhajan composed by S.N. Tripathi in Shri Ram Bhakt Hanuman: MADHUR RAM KA NAAM which was written by B.D. Mishra; MUJHE JAANE TUMSE KYOO.N PYAAR in Mitti Ke Khilone which was written by B.R. Sharma and had music by Hansraj Behl. Then was NIGAAHEN MILAANE KO JEE CHAAHTAA HAI in Paraayi Aag, which had music by Ghulam Mohamed and the lyrics by Tanvir Naqvi.

Raj Kapoor’s directorial venture, Aag, had Ram Ganguli as the music director besides three heroines: Nargis, Kamini Kaushal and Nigar Sultan. There was only one song here for Rafi and that was a duet with Shamshad: SOLAH BARAS KI BHAYEE UMARIYAA penned by Bahzaad Laknawi.

Not just Feroze Nizami and Shyam Sunder were smitten by the singing voice of Mohammed Rafi. The musical duo of HusnlalBhagatram was another addition to the growing influence of the young singer. Bhagatram who had earlier association with Master Madhavlal teamed up later with his brother Husnlal. Rafi was their favourite singer along with Lata and Suraiya. They were also responsible for giving break to Surinder Kaur with four songs in a row. Pyar ki Jeet (1948) put them in forefront of the music directors. Rafi’s IK DIL KE TUKDE HAZAAR HUWE was a chartbuster, giving a new dimension to sad songs. This song which was penned by Qamar Jalalabadi, as indeed he wrote so many other songs for the duo. It was initially written for the 1941 flick Sindoor. S.Mukherjee the director of Sindoor rejected this song, terming it as “useless.” Husnlal-Bhagatram did their best to make this composition a hit, and the pathos in the voice of Rafi perfectly suited the song as well as the musical temperament of the duo. Picturisation was altered to suit the demand of the song. Music Director Khayyam proudly calls the duo as his Gurus. It would be his fortune to be associated with Mohammed Rafi in the ‘Fifties-Sixties, beginning with Biwi where he provided music under a different name. The song, AKELE MEIN VOH GHABRAATE TOH HONGE in

Biwi (1950) proved very popular. In the meantime, HusnlalBhagatram would utilize Rafi more and more and churn out hit songs in 1949.


To continue...


A Humble Tribute to the Greatest Playback Singer of all times – by Nasir.

In 1948 the Government of India revived production of documentaries and reels. This year also saw the triumph of Anil Biswas’s music in Anokha Pyaar starring Dilip Kumar, Nargis and Nalini Jaywant. Mehboob Khan produced Anokhi Ada with 13 songs

composed by Naushad. Despite Naushad, there was not a single song of Rafi. He had given just one song to him in Mela that year. It would take him another year to give him some solo numbers. But the next decade would cement their bond in a lasting and memorable musical journey.

Chandralekha, directed by S.S. Vasan, was released after five years in the making and remains the costliest South Indian film so produced. Uday Shankar produced a ballet called Kalpana and won critical acclaims. Some other notable movies of the year were Vidya which had good music from S.D. Burman; Shikaayat which had the first-time film lyrics from Jaan Nisaar Akhtar the father of Javed Akhtar; Sehraa which had songs sung by Actor Govinda’s parents to the music of S. Mohinder; Gunjan where Nalini Jaywant sang six songs out of nine songs composed by Ashok Ghosh; (She indeed had a sweet voice that ranges somewhere between Suraiya and Lata style); Heer Ranjha where Khayyam gave music with Varmaji; and Gajre the Suraiya-Motilal starrer that had music by Anil Biswas; Ziddi where Kishore Kumar recorded his first song in his brother’s movie, Ziddi, starring Dev Anand: MARNE KEE DUAYEN KYOON MAANGOO, and a duet with Lata too in the same movie under the baton of Khemchand Prakash; (these were his only songs in 1948); and Mandir, where Shanta Apte was the star, and Nanda and Lata

Mangeshkar did their acting stints. Speaking of Lata Mangeshkar, it was Ghulam Haider who really groomed her after her father’s initial training in music. Ghulam Haider was a tough task-master and a perfectionist who brought out the best among his musicians and singers. According to an article on Ghulam Haider by Harjap Singh Aujla, (South Asia Post Issue 36 Vol II, March 31, 2007) he had even gone to the extent of slapping her when she kept on making a crucial mistake during a rehearsal in the recording room. The members of his orchestra were stunned. One of his most trusted harmonium players, Kartar Singh, asked why he had done that. Upon that Ghulam Haider replied: “Look Kartar Singh, I used to slap Noorjehan and see how high a pedestal she has reached, she is on top in her profession. This slap is going to catapult Lata Mangeshkar into a great singer, who will rule the World of music”. The prophecy proved to be true. Of course, that slap was not out of spite but was a token from a teacher who wanted the best for his student. Those were different times. JO APNAA HOTAA HAI USEE PAR HAMM HAQ JATAATE HAIN. Wasn’t he the one who had discovered her in a running train while she was singing something in a shrill but sweet voice? Did he not call her to the recording studio for an audition? It was Ghulam Haider who told her to pay attention to the lyrics and enunciation of the words. He also told her to keep in mind the film characters who were to mime her song. So she followed those instructions to the T, besides using the nuances and variations while singing. The song, DIL MERA TODAA was recorded in 1947 for Majboor which was released in 1948. This song in fact launched her career. She also sang for Ghulam Haider in Aabshaar in 1948. Ghulam Haider even introduced her to other musicians such as Anil Biswas, Khemchand Prakash, and Sajjad Hussain. As Lata Mangeshkar stated in an interview in Mumbai Mirror of the Times of India of 28th September 2009: “One of the earliest composers to support me was Master Ghulam Haider. When he was told that my voice wouldn’t suit the heroine in a Dilip Kumar saab starrer Shaheed, he gave me songs in Majboor.

Then other composers like Anil Biswasji, Khemchand Prakashji and Naushad saab came forward to sign me. From 1947 onwards there was no looking back.” By the mid-Fifties and the Sixties Lata Mangeshkar could make or break any music director. Such would be her clout. Surinder Kaur had replaced her in Shaheed, and her song BADNAAM NAA HO JAAYE proved very popular. It seems that a duet of LataMadan Mohan Kohli was recorded but ultimately dropped from the movie. It was at this time that she met Madan Mohan – "Madan Bhaiyya". The partition of India that led to the migration of Noor Jahan to Pakistan played a great role for securing the filmy future of the newcomer Lata Mangeshkar. Noor Jahan had introduced the trend of singing in shrill feminine voice so that the new actresses began to demand it, thus sealing the fate of Zeenat Begum, Sitaradevi Kanpuri, Lalita Dewulkar, and Zohrabai of Ambala. Additionally, at the time of Lata Mangeshkar’s entry in 1947, Amirbai Karnataki was over forty years of age, while Zohrabai Ambalewali retired at the peak of her career in order to groom her daughter, Roshan Kumari, the noted Kathak dancer. Amirbai Karnataki often praised this very young petite singer and used to advise her that whenever anyone should praise her songs, she should say: YEH ALLAH KI MEHERBANI HAI. Other older female singers saw the writing on the wall and gradually faded away. Raj Kumari of the Mahal fame (GHABRAA KE JO HAM SAR KO TAKRAAYEN TOH ACHCHAA HO) was the unluckiest and died in poverty in 2000. It was only the “Khanakti Aawaaz” or the “Punjab ka Jaadu” Shamshad Begum, whom Mehboob Khan had brought to Bombay after much persuasion for his Taqdeer where Nargis made her debut, went on singing with many music directors such as Naushad, Khemchand Prakash, Hansraj Behl, Ravi, KalyanjiAnandji, R.D. Burman and O.P. Nayyar right upto 1968 (KAJRA MOHABBAT WAALA with Asha Bhonsle in Kismat) and even beyond. She was already a sensation by the mid-forties when she lost no chance in helping out the newcomers, such as Raj Kapoor and Madan Mohan. On the national television, O.P. Nayyar acknowledged her contribution to his career. Some others did not even come back to

her after they had attained fame. It was in the late Sixties that she was happy to quit the film industry with grace though we occasionally find her songs even in 1971, and yet again 1981 when she sang three songs with Mubarak Begum in Ganga Maang Rahi Balidaan. Geeta Roy (or Geeta Dutt after marriage with Guru Dutt) was another female singer who stood against the Lata Wave. We have seen that she began her singing career in 1946. In the Forties-Fifties she worked with almost all the worthy music directors including Hanumant Prasad, Pankaj Mullick, Shyam Sunder, Anil Biswas, S.D. Burman, Ghulam Haider, Bulo C.Rani, Gyan Dutt, Vasant Desai, S.N. Tripathi, Arun Mukherjee, C. Ramchandra, Avinash Vyas, Sajjad Hussain, Naushad, Husnlal-Bhagatram, O.P. Nayyar and others. Asha Bhonsle was inspired by her style in her early career. Her voice was so soothing that it could induce sleep and was best suited for Bhajans (e.g. Ghungat Ke Patt Khol Re in Jogan 1950, and Torah Manwa Kyoon Ghabraaye in Sadhna, 1958) , lullabies and the tragic songs. But she could easily swing to Rock 'N' Roll songs, the romantic songs and the pub-songs with ease if the music director demanded. The most astonishing fact about Geeta Dutt and Guru Dutt is that their songs would sum up the tragedy of their life. She sang MERA SUNDER SAPNA BEET GAYA (1947) and WAQT NE KIYA KYA HASEEN SITAM (1959 Kaaghaz ke Phool). While the very next year Guru Dutt was to lip-synch Rafi Sahaab’s song: MILI KHAAK MEIN MOHABBAT JALAA DIL KA AASHIYAANA (1960 – Chaudhvin ka Chand). It was for Meena Kapoor to pay her a tribute at the Mortal Men, Immortal Melodies concert at Bombay in 1982. In addition to her own songs and the ones she sang with other playback singers, Geeta Dutt has a total of no less than 162 hit songs with Mohammed Rafi, being the highest number of her duets with any singer. As for Suraiya, both acting and singing were just accidental for she never aspired to be either an actor or a singer. When she was 13, she was discovered by Naushad who got her to sing for Mehtab (future Mrs. Sohrab Modi) in Sharda as we’ve noted before. She became a very popular film-star who also sang her songs, thus having an edge over Nargis and Kamini Kaushal. The flip side was that popularity of

her songs was bracketed with her being the heroine of her movies and that could not go on forever. Her peak period was 1948-1949. By 1963, she appeared for the last time in Rustom Sohrab playing the role of Premnath’s mother and often collapsing during the shoot. YEH KAISEE AJAB DAASTAA.N HO GAYEE HAI under the baton of Sajjad Hussain was her swan song. But Suraiya always acknowledged that Lata had achieved greatness whereas the greatness had been thrust on her. As for Noor Jahan, Suraiya stated that she was born great. But more about her later.

After the death of Noor Jahan, Lata Mangeshkar admitted: “Maine unke suron ki ungli pakad kar gaana seekha hai.” No doubt then, that the early songs of Lata Mangeshkar were sung in the style of her idol, Noor Jahan. Had Noor Jahan chosen to make India her home, Lata Mangeshkar would not have found the kind of encouragement she received from Ghulam Haider. As she used to copy Noor Jahaan’s style, she would have remained more of a poor man’s Noor Jahan, just as Suman Kalyanpur was a poor man’s Lata Mangeshkar, for at least ten years more, before the rise of political regionalism would change the equation. However, this is idle speculation. Who can stop the march of events? Lata Mangeshkar was no ‘Daal-Bhaat’ singer, having acquired her initial training under her own father, Dinanath Mangeshkar. She was also the student of Ustad Aman Ali Khan of the Bhendi Bazaar Gharana since June 11, 1945 and after his migration to Pakistan she got the the classical training from Amanat Khan Devaswale, other Ustads, and Maulanas of Urdu language as well. The term "daalbhaat" has an interesting story behind it. One day Dilip Kumar, Anil Biswas and Lata Mangeshkar were travelling to work by train. Those were the days sometime in 1947-48, when no one used to recognise them. Which makes me believe that it was definitely before the release of Jugnu and before filming of Andaz (1949) and Anokha Pyaar(1948) - otherwise Dilip Kumar would have surely known about

her. Anyway, upon enquiry, Anil Biswas introduced Lata Mangeshkar as a singer who sings well. When Dilip Kumar learnt that she was a Maharashtrian, he was concerned that she would not be able to pronounce the Urdu words correctly. It is in this context that he used the expression: "In their singing you can smell the 'daal-bhaat.'" That was the day when she made it a point to learn the Urdu language well. With the help of Mohammed Shafi who was the Assistant to Naushad and Anil Biswas, she hired one Maulana named Mehboob who began teaching her the language. Thus Dilip Kumar's chance utterance worked wonders for Lata Mangeshkar and we find a flawless renditions of "Hindi" songs. Mohammed Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar had met during their days of struggle in the Bombay’s film industry. To use her own words, “HAMNE BHEE KAAFI PAAPA.D BELE HAI.N.” She would walk from her home in Nana Chowk to the Grant Railway Station to go to Malad and from there instead of using a Victoria, she would walk upto the recording studios to save some money which would enable her to buy vegetables at home. There are stories of how Rafi and Lata used to be given intensive musical training by Husnlal. It appears that Husnlal used to call Rafi at his residence at 4 a.m.. Rafi was supposed to carry his ‘Tanpura’ as well. There Husnlal would give him the ‘Alaap’ of the Raga that was to be used for the song. Rafi would practice this ‘Alaap’ for several hours after which he would be given the composed tune to sing. Even Lata was given such a regimen, only, in her case she used to be called to the recording studio. However, Husnlal’s late-night arrivals at home was not liked by his wife, and this generated a continual domestic tension between him and his wife. As years passed by, Pandit Husnlal began to maintain his distance from Lata Mangeshkar. After ten years they came to the point when they could no longer work together. The ‘Forties were the days of their camaraderie, and Rafi and Hamid would often visit her home at Nana Chowk from their nearby Bhendi Bazaar home, have meals and chat all day long. Even during the late Forties, Rafi would visit Lata during the Ganpati Festival. She

remembers that once he even sang at her house, and during one such visit of Mohammed Rafi, she had gifted a gold button to Rafi. Later in life when they could hardly meet each other, Rafi remained very close to her younger brother, Hridyanath Mangeshkar.

While singing the duets with Mohammed Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar took extra care, for in him she found a formidable singer who used to put his own additional inputs while rendering his songs. So she too would try to add some nuances to the songs that she sang with him. Sometimes she would face difficulties. Such instances, though rare as they were, did happen not only in the Forties but also in the Fifties which she has herself recounted. While recording the title track for S.D. Burman in Tere Ghar Ke Samne, for example, she had a problem with Rafi’s executing a particular word. In the Sixties she complained to the musical duo Shankar-Jaikishan that their range of the song made her ears turn red and whether they were testing her. That was the Arzoo song: AJEE ROOTHKAR KAR AB which Rafi Sahaab sang as the solo version, AJEE HAMSE BACHKAR KAHAAN JAAYEGAA; and in the Sixties while recording TASVEER TEREE DIL MEIN there was certain misunderstandings between her and Rafi Sahaab, when Salil Chowdhary took her side.

Lata Mangeshkar is very forthcoming when she says that Rafi Sahaab’s voice was his greatest blessing. Irrespective of the pitch, whether high or low, the voice had a certain “namrataa” (softness). And as for his “inimitable ‘harkatein’ and ‘taan,’ all this was a natural part of his talent.


To continue...


Part 11: Mohammed Rafi & the Nineteen Forties.

A Humble Tribute to the Greatest Playback Singer of All Times by Nasir. During the Nineteen Forties too, the Indian society being a conservative one in general, the unreliable profession in the movies, namely singing, dancing and acting in particular, did not inspire much respect not only in the cultured and elite circles but also among most of the middle class. On the day of his wedding, when asked to enter his profession in the Nikahnama by the Qazi, Naushad mentioned it as “Tailor” for the fear of what his “Biraadari” would say if they learnt that he was in the film industry. What an irony that precisely at that time the wedding band was playing the hit music from his own movies where as the Music Director he had composed beautiful songs and given the background music! Imagine, the profession of a tailor was more preferable to that of a person from the film background!

The use of words such as “Kanjar” and “Miraasi” were derogatorily used for ‘Nachne Gaane Waale.’ I remember having listened to a radio-programme of AIR or the Vividh Bharti in the Sixties. Some film-personality while hosting the programme narrated an incident that occurred at the time when he and his group were in transit to go to Afghanistan for some cultural-show. The interesting thing about the incident was that at the time of granting the visas at the border, the immigration officer was at a loss of words to categorise this group. Finally he came up with the words. The words used by him for the group were: “Tolaa-e-Kanjaaraan!” It was also the time when the likes of Dilip Kumar, Anil Biswas, Lata Mangshkar and others, before they became legends in their own right, used to travel by trains to Malad for their work in the film studios such as the Bombay Talkies or at the Filmistan which is actually located at Goregaon in Mumbai. Some used to go round plying second-hand motor-bikes. Some preferred to just walk in order to save money for the meals. Some, such as Naushad, used to sleep on the foot-path so that they need not walk many miles to the place of their work. Mohammed Rafi, too, used to walk from Bhendi Bazaar to Dadar as we have noted before.

Now before we go to 1949, let’s see what else occurred in the film industry in Mumbai in 1948 or thereabout. At this time, there were some beautiful actresses around such as Kamini Kaushal, Nargis, Suraiya, Nalini Jaywant, Geeta Bali and Madhubala who would leave their lasting impressions on the cine-goers well up to the next century. Leela Chitnis was the first Indian actress who endorsed the Lux Beauty ad in 1941, but by 1948 was reduced to playing mother’s role. The pages of the history of Mumbai film industry would be incomplete if we don’t mention the real-life romance of the film personalities that provided glamour. sheen and colour of their own to the Nineteen Forties. Unfortunately, the flower of their love was doomed to wither away from the beginning itself. Their love was just an autumn flower that would see no happiness of the spring. These

three pairs could not succeed for the reasons that a woman and a man were already married to someone else, while the third pair of lovers was of different religious donomination. The film heroes, who were involved, would rise to the topmost level in the immediate decade of the Fifties. Yes, they were Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand and Raj Kapoor who would head the three tier system of film-stars that would automatically come into being in the Sixties. Though the cinema is considered to be the director’s medium, yet these actors gave wings to new concepts in their profession which were not inferior to those of directors. It is to be remembered that the Forties were the conservative times and therefore the impact on the contemporaries then was much more than we could possibly imagine in these days of permissive sex and pornography. Without going into their biographies or introductions, let’s examine these love-birds very briefly:

Dilip Kumar and Kamini Kaushal were the leading pair that worked together in Shaheed, Nadiya Ke Paar, (both 1948), Shabnam (1949) and Arzoo (1950). Kamini Kaushal was senior to Dilip Kumar, having begun her filmy career in 1941 in Sangam. She was a popular actress that can be gauged from her earlier release of Neecha Nagar (1946) and the five releases during 1948: Shaheed and Nadiya Ke Paar with Dilip Kumar, Pagree with Amar (Remember the Sang-Taraash in Mughal-e-Azam?), Ziddi with Dev Anand, and Aag with ProducerDirector-Actor Raj Kapoor. Naturally, the shooting for these films must have been going around at about the same time. Dilip Kumar and Kamini Kaushal came closer to each other while doing Shaheed. Both were very young and deeply involved. When Kamini was not with him, it appears that Dilip Kumar would feel the pangs of separation. So he would visit her on the sets where Kamini used to

shoot for other pictures during that period. As such, he would often drop on the sets of Pagree which was being produced and directed by P.N. Arora. However, there was a terrible problem facing this pair, for the reallife story of Uma (for that was Kamini’s real name) appears to be the story of the heroine of Gumrah that was made in 1963 by B.R. Chopra. (Dilip Kumar had refused to do Gumrah when B.R. Chopra offered him the role) Her sister had died leaving her husband and children behind and she was made to marry her sister’s widower, Mr. Sood who was a senior officer in the Bombay Port Trust and had been allotted a beautiful bungalow by the Port Trust. Is it not said in the sub-continent of India and Pakistan that who else but a “Mausi” or “Khaala” (maternal aunt) would make the best of the stepmothers? So there you are! Otherwise, too, how could the family tolerate Kamini Kaushal’s love affair, when she was a married woman? It was not easy to obtain a divorce. The comprehensive Hindu Marriage Act came into effect only in 1955 and even that was very stringent on the question of divorce. P.N. Arora had never interfered with Dilip’s visit to his studio since the love-affair was their personal affair. But one day, according to him, a military guy who happened to be the brother of Kamini Kaushal stomped on the sets of Pagree and pointing his pistol at Kamini he threatened to shoot her if the clandestine love affair did not end there and then. Later it was settled that she would be allowed to complete her pending assignments. Kamini suspected P.N. Arora’s hand in leaking out the information to her family but completed his movie which required just a few days’ shoot.

However, it appears that the affair had gone on as far as the Arzoo (1950) days. In the meantime, Dilip Kumar and Kamini Kaushal did Filmistan’s Shabnam (1949) which was based on the English movie, Caravan. Ismat Chugtai who was the story-writer as well as the playwright and dialogue writer for Arzoo reveals that while shooting for Arzoo, Dilip Kumar and Kamini Kaushal would hold each other’s hand under the cover of the film script that they used to read. By then the scandal had broken out when Kamini Kaushal’s brother threatened to shoot Dilip Kumar if the affair was not wound up. As a kid I did hear some such rumour but it was a little more serious namely that Kamini’s brother had actual taken a shot at Dilip Kumar but missed him! After Arzoo the pair never acted together again. According to Sitara Devi the noted Kathak dancer and who also played Dilip Kumar’s boss’s role in K. Asif’s Hulchal (1951), Dilip Kumar was a broken man thereafter since he really loved Kamini Kaushal. Dilip Kumar has admitted in the biography written by Bunny Reuben that as a young man he was attracted to Kamini Kaushal. Kamini Kaushal never offered any statement in this regard. As the decades would roll, in Dilip Kumar’s life there would be new women that would include, Madhubala, Vyjayantimala, Waheeda Rehman, Saira Banu, and the forgettable Asma. Incidentally, neither Shabnam nor Arzoo had any songs of Mohammed Rafi. The music director of Shabnam was S.D. Burman and its lyricist was Qamar Jalalabadi. In Arzoo Anil Biswas provided the music, while Majrooh Sultanpuri, Jan Nisar Akhtar, and Prem

Dhawan provided the lyrics. Before we come to the next pair of love-birds, I would like to very briefly acquaint the dear readers with at least a sketchy information about the hold that Suraiya had on this nation of cineme lovers, reminding you at the same time that she was not a classic beauty as, say, Naseem Banu was, but her charms and songs plus her good looks made up more than that. It was that beauty and those melodious songs that captured the imagination of the cinema-lovers of the sub-continent. Suraiya was at her zenith in 1948-1949 and with the grand success of Pyar Ki Jeet, Badi Bahen and Dillagi and a string of other movies in the Fifties, she became the richest female star of her time. Old timers simply cannot forget the craze that Suraiya generated both as a film-star and singer. Pyar ki Jeet and Badi Bahen which had music by Husnlal-Bhagatram, and Dillagi which had music by Naushad had outstanding songs of Suraiya. Dillagi’s MURLI WAALE MURLI BAJAA, and the songs composed by the said duo musicians, TERE NAINON NE CHORI KIYA and WOH PAAS RAHEN YAA DUUR RAHEN and other songs generated a mass hysteria. She used to be mobbed on the road, at her house, and at the premiere shows of her movies. She had a daily fan-mail of 7,000. This craze continued till the mid-Fifties and I remember having read about an incident when one of her passionate fans stole all her discrecords from her home. She lodged a police complaint, pursuant to which the police went on looking for the culprit. Finally, they were able to nab the thief from a cottage at Lonavala, near Poona (Pune). What led them to the thief were the melodious songs of Suraiya that were being played by him in that cottage at that time, oblivious to all else. Dharmendra who was still in his native place, not knowing that one day he would himself become a great film star, used to walk miles in his native place to see Dillagi nearly 40 times. Not just the commoners, but the film-stars too were enamoured of her. Even the super-star of Hollywood Gregory Peck came to see her at her residence in 1954. It was Al-Nasir who told him that Suraiya was his fan and so Gregory Peck, who was on his way to Ceylon for the shooting of Purple Plain and was lodged at the Ambassador Hotel at

Bombay during his transit, gave a midnight knock at her doors and spent an hour with her.

Suraiya was a big star when Dev Anand fell for her charms. Dev Anand changed his mannerisms to those of Gregory Peck precisely for the sake of Suraiya it seems. Both of them did seven films together, beginning with Vidya (1948), Jeet and Shayar (1949), Afsar and Neeli in 1950, and Do Sitare and Sanam in 1951. The origin of their love began while they were picturising a song in a boat for Vidya. The song was KINAARE KINAARE CHALE JAYENGE. While they were rowing, their boat suddenly turned over and Suraiya found herself drowning since she did not know how to swim. Dev Anand saved her life, and that was it! But the course of true love never doth run smooth. Suraiya’s granny was strictly against the fruition of this romance since Dev Anand was a Hindu and Suraiya a Muslim. While shooting for Jeet Dev Anand proposed to Suraiya and gave her diamond ring worth Rs.3,000/-. On seeing the ring, Suraiya’s granny threw it into the sea. Remember they used to stay at Krishna Mahal on the Marine Drive facing the Arabian Sea. The granny took steps to ensure that they could never marry, and even undermined their plan to elope. The story is long and not really our subject-matter. Ultimately, they drifted apart. Suraiya’s movies started flopping one after the other. Soon Dev Anand married Kalpana Kartik. Suraiya gave up acting. But she did return in 1954 in Waris opposite Talat Mehmood and in Mirza Ghalib opposite Bharat Bhushan. She won great commendations from Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru for her role in Mirza Ghalib and for her Ghalib’s ghazals. She later did a supporting role in Shama in 1961 and her last movie was Rustom Sohrab in 1963 after which spent the life of a recluse. Dev Anand admitted in his autobiography, “Romancing with

Life”: “Yes, I loved Suraiya.” But Suraiya’s love was more sincere. She remained unmarried all her life till the icy hands of death claimed her. Such was the epic romance of Dilip Kumar and Kamini Kaushal on one hand, and Dev Anand and Suraiya, on the other. The romance of Raj Kapoor and Nargis belongs to the Fifties and is therefore not broached here. Mohammed Rafi sang some 24 duets with Suraiya. Suraiya was friends with Lata and both of them have paid tributes to each other and the poisonous story about Suraiya is not true. If at all Suraiya had any grudge, it was against Madhubala who had replaced her in Mahal (1949). NASIR To continue...



A Humble Tribute to the Greatest Playback Singer of all times – by Nasir.

Having discussed about Suraiya in the last article, I still find myself

in a swoon at the mention of her name. However, sometimes I wonder how could Rafi Sahaab have escaped the charms of Suraiya while singing such romantic songs with her. As we have observed in the last article, that was the time when her presence used to cause traffic jams, people used to stalk her, rob her records to hear her voice in solitude, and even Dev Anand the lady killer wanted to marry her. Not to mention the mischievous shooting retakes of Dilip Kumar with her in K.Asif’s Janwar - when she finally withdrew herself out of suspicion after returning the signing amount, never to act opposite Dilip Kumar. It's time for some musings now: Though the songs of Fifties are out of the scope of this article, I cannot help but mention DIL KO HAAY DIL KO, DIL KO TEREE TASVEER SE, BEHLAAYE HUWE.N HAI.... (Dastaan 1950) Just listening to this song races my blood, makes my heart beat faster, while the body shakes to the rhythm of the song. Just mere thoughts whip up the hidden desires to be with the “Chocolate Charmer” in the sylvan setting of the Omar Khayyam Rubaiyat: A Book of Verses underneath the Bough, A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread—and Thou Beside me singing in the Wilderness— Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow! I wonder how the young pair of Rafi and Suraiya must have recorded that song. Ordinarily, sparks should have flown. Now this is no speculation: Noor Jahan or Suraiya; or Saira Banu or Sharmila Tagore (in 1963 and 1967) or even Tina Munim (in 1980) Rafi Sahaab always concentrated on the songs and not the female singer’s beauty and bearings. It was only through his singing voice that he conveyed the inner emotions of love and romance. He was never involved in any filmy romance or scandal at all throughout his life. Neither did he need a "Jug of Wine". He could easily bring

himself to sing like an incorrigible boozard or like an occasional drinker drowning his sorrows in the goblet or trying to enlist the virtues of wine, or discoursing on the philosphy of life. But all of those songs pertain to the Fifties, the Sixties, and the Seventies. If he needed any jug, it was of rich tea laced with almonds and pistachios which he shared with others during the recordings. At times he even went to drink Lassi with a musician. The “Book of Verses” pertain to the lyrics that he sang and recorded. While the “Loaf of Bread” that he earned he divided it between his family on the one hand, and the poor and the needy on the other. As for the “Wilderness,” he lived in the tinsel town as if it were a wilderness in a true Sufi spirit – i.e. he lived in the world but was not swayed by the world and its temptations and sins, or glamour and greed, or rivalry and cunning. Man, that’s not easy. Just try living like that! So much for the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayam! Lata Mangeshkar was slated to become a much sought-after female playback singer chiefly owing to the encouragement of Ghulam Haider who stood by her when others had rejected her as we noted before. Naushad too wanted to have a share in this “discovery”. So Andaz had all her songs for the heroine Nargis. Shamshad Begum had just one song (filmed on Cuckoo), and that was the duet with Lata Mangeshkar: DAR NAA MOHABBAT KAR LE. But it seems that he had sought the permission of Mehboob Khan for using Lata Mangeshkar. Also, he would make her do the rehearsing for days on end before the final take would be recorded in the presence of Mehboob Khan. It thus appears that Mehboob Khan would interfere in Naushad’s work. One day, the witty Naushad would make him eat a humble pie by giving him a tit for tat. Once during a shooting of some movie (I don’t remember at this moment which one was that probably it was Andaz) Naushad went right up to the camera, brushed Mehboob Khan aside, peeped into the camera lens and said that the camera- angle was not proper. Bemused with this remark of Naushad, Mehboob Khan asked him what he knew about the cameras and their angles and shots. “Nothing,” said Naushad. In the next breath he put the counter-question to Mehboob: “What do you know about music, Ragas, the Raginis?” Mehboob Khan got the hint. It is said that from that onwards he never interfered with Naushad’s

system of work. Naushad had grown big since his Prem Nagar (1940) days. In late ‘Forties, he began to have a large orchestra. His Indian classical music had a western arrange-ment. However, his greatest musical wonders were reserved for Nineteen Fifties when he would provide music for Babul, Dastaan, Jadu, Deedar, Aan, Deewana, Baiju Bawra, Amar, Shabab, Uran Khatola, Mother India, Sohni and Mahiwal. And for his movies of the ‘Sixties such as Kohinoor, Mughale-Azam, Ganga Jamuna, Mere Mehboob, Leader and Dil Diya Dard Liya, Ram Aur Shyam, Aadmi, to name a few only. Playback singers Mohammed Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar had already become household names. Even as late as 1949, Lata Mangeshkar would still be singing in the style of Noor Jahan as her songs from Mahal, Andaz, Padmini, and even in Barsaat, would suggest. The Mahal song AAYEGA AAYEGAA AAYEGAA AANEWAALA AAYEGAA AAYEGAA composed by Khemchand Prakash, was a super-hit and it zoomed her career. This song used to played on loudspeakers time and again at most of the nooks and corners of towns and cities, and I myself remember hearing this song as a three-year kid whenever I went out to buy myself some ‘Gulgule’. Mahal was a huge success for Kamal Amrohi - though I am told it was released and soon removed from the theatres. It was only after the re-run soon thereafter that it caught on. I remember that initially Madhumati (1958) was criticized by drawing comparison with Mahal. In my personal opinion, Mahal has heavy overtones of mystery, while Madhumati is a superb entertainer in all respects. The year 1949 saw the Government of India raising the entertainment to a ridiculous extent, thus leading to protest and closure of cinemas all over India. New censorship classification code came into existence. The Film Division was launched. Exhibition of approved documentaries before screening of the movie was made compulsory. Now I understand why as a kid I had to wait for at least half an hour or so watching the news that I then found torturous. To make matters worse, sometimes in their zeal, they would come out with a second documentary too.

Out of nostalgia for my childhood friends, Hyder Ali and Asghar Ali, now I would like to make a mention of their mother, actress Pramila (Esther Victoria Abraham) who, in 1949, was crowned the First Miss India 1947. She joined the theatre company and later went on to become the vamp and a fearless stunt star in many movies that included Ulti Ganga,Bijli,Jungle King and Basant. In Basant (1942) the Amirbai Karnataki’s song, HUWA KYAA QASOOR was picturised on her. She was also a major film producer in her hey days. Her last film was at the age of 92, entitled Thaang. It is a Marathi film which is directed by Amol Palekar. She was once wrongly arrested at the instance of Morarji Desai, on charges of being spy simply because she used to visit Pakistan to see her father and also for the business of film distribution. She was the fighter all her life and never gave up under any circumstance. I had the opportunity to see her and her husband Kumar sometimes in the mid-Fifties when I visited her home near the Paradise Cinema at Mahim, Mumbai, along with her son Hyder Ali who was my classmate in the Belvedere Convent which used to be located by the side of the Scottish Orphanage at Cadell Road. Asghar Ali was one year senior. Later Hyder Ali joined the St. Michael High School. I still remember a skit presented in the school by Asghar Ali. It was, what used to be called “record dance.” He and a girl gave a brilliant dance performance while the Kishore KumarLata Mangeshkar record, MERA NAAM ABDUL REHMAN was played in the background. I know that Hyder Ali also performed in the TV

shows of Nukkad in the Eighties, though I never had a chance of meeting him after the school days.

Hyder Ali and Asghar Ali with their mother Pramila and family.


A Humble Tribute to the Greatest Playback Singer of all times – by Nasir. Rafi Sahaab’s repertoire of songs in 1949 increases compared to his

past years. Just to point out a few more songs with some music directors: With Pandit Husnlal-Bhagatram: As we mentioned before, Husnlal-Bhagatram had found immense success after Pyar ki Jeet (1948). In 1949 they gave seven songs to Rafi in Jal Tarang: four solos and two duets to Rafi. Three solos were written by Kaifi Irfani and they were: HAI KAAM MOHABBAT KA; AAYI JAWAANI; and TUMEH SUNAAYE EK KAHAANI; while Kedar Sharma penned HAAY RE PYAARE PYAARE. ZARA TUMNE DEKHA TOH was a Rafi-Lata duet penned by Kaifi Irfani. The Rafi-Shamshad duet, MUSAAFIR SADAA GEET GAYE CHALA CHAL was written by Sudarshan Fakir.

Rafi found further favour with Husnlal Bhagatram in Naach where there were: two duets with Suraiya; CHHAAYAA SAMAA SUHAANA, and SEENE MEIN AAG BHADAKTI; Two songs were with Geeta Roy and Lata Mangeshkar: KYOON KARTA MAAN JAWAANI KAA and LAB PE HAI FARIYAAD. One with Shamshad Begum: DIL SE DIYAA HAI TUJHKO. In Hamara Manzil, there were two duets with Geeta Roy: ANDHERE SE NAA DARR...KAANTE BANENGI KALIYAAN, written by Rajinder Krishan, and WOH AUR ZAMAANA THAH which has S.D. Batish along with them. He also had a solo: TOOTE HUWE DIL KO.

Bansuria had a beautiful solo: TERI YAAD SATAAYE GHADI GHADI written by Mulkraj Bhakri. Baalam had a musical solo: THUKRAKE HAMEN CHAL DIYE, and another, TUM HAMEN BHOOL GAYE. There were two duets too, one with S.D. Batish and another with Suraiya: DUNYAA WAALON MUJHE BATAAO and AATAA HAI ZINDAGI MEIN BHALA respectively. Songs were written by Qamar Jalalabadi. In Badi Bahen, there was a solo song of Rafi: MOHABBAT KE DHOKE MEIN KOI NA AAYE which was a super-hit. The lyrics were by Rajinder Krishan. In Saawan Bhadon Rafi sang a duet with Lata: SADAA RAHE YEH DIN HAMAARE. Mulkraj Bhakri was the lyricist. With Shyam Sunder: Not to be outdone, Shyam Sunder gave sevens songs to Rafi: four solos and three duets, written by Qamar Jalalabadi, as under in Bazaar: The solos were: O JAANE WAALE CHAAND ZARAA MUSKURAA KE JAA; SHAHEEDON TUMKO MERA SALAAM; YEH HAI DUNYAA KA BAAZAAR; and the heart-rending MERE BHAGWAAN TUU MUJHKO YUNHI BARBAAD REHNE DE. While the second song is a satire on day to day life in a city, the last one is a touching song that decries one’s fate but indulges in the sacrifice of seeing one’s beloved happy at her new home. The duets were: AY MOHABBAT UNSE MILNE KA BAHAANA MIL GAYAA with Lata Mangeshkar was extremely popular. APNEE NAZAR SE DUUR was another duet with Lata Mangeshkar. Tnere was another song too that he sang with Shamshad Begum and Satish Batra: CHHALLA DE JAA NISHAANI TERI MEHERBANI .

In an M. Sadiq directed movie, Char Din, there was a Rafi-Raj Kumari duet: HASEENON KI ADAAYEN BHEE. The lyrics were written by Shakeel Badayuni. With Vinod: A musician who was influenced by Husnlal-Bhagatram style of music since he worked under their elder brother Pandit Amarnath was Vinod (Eric Roberts). He got a good break in Ek Thi Ladki (1949) which had a good number of Mohammed Rafi songs. Some of his duets with Lata Mangeshkar were: YEH SHOKH SITAARE; EK BAAT SUNO SAATHI; AB HAALE DIL HAALE JIGAR; and HAMM CHALE DUUR which also had Satish Batra. His solo number along with the chorus was LAMBI JORU BADI MUSIBAT. The most famous of the songs was the LARA LAPPA number sungs by Rafi-G.M.Durrani-Lata, based on the Kangra folk tune. All the songs were penned by Aziz Kashmiri.

With Ghulam Muhammed: One of the earliest melodious solos of Mohammed Rafi we find in Paras (1949) for which Ghulam Mohammed provided the musical score: DIL KI LAGEE NE HAMKO DIWAANA. If one wants to know how sweetness was the backbone of Rafi Sahaab's voice even during his salad days, then please listen to this song. Shakeel Badayuni was the lyricist. Rafi had two duets with Shamshad Begum: MOHABBAT MEIN KISE MAALOOM and MERE DIL KI.. His duet with Lata was: DIL LEKE O CHHUPNE WAALE. In Shair, there was a Rafi-Shamshad duet: O MORE BAALMA. Ghulam Mohammed later proved a great asset to Naushad and used to make a liberal use of the Tabla – the tradition which he carried right upto his Pakeezah days. I remember a friend of mine informally telling Asha Bhonsle and R.D. Burman when they were discussing Umrao Jaan's (1981) musical success at their home that it was nothing compared to Ghulam Mohammed's music what with the 'thaap' or beats of Tabla in Pakeezah that was released a decade

before. They just stared at his face. Anyway, that was the personal opinion but the pity is that Ghulam Mohammed died unrewarded.

With Hansraj Behl: Rafi’ song in Raat ki Rani, JIN RAATON MEIN NEEND UD JAATI HAI, written by Arzoo Lucknawi for Hansraj Behl, was a nation wide hit. Another solo was TAN PHOONKTA HAI, which was penned by Shikarpuri who also wrote the Rafi-Lata duet: SUN LO MERA AFSAANA. The other lovable duet of Rafi-Lata was written by Shameen: USS CHAAND SE PYAARE CHAAND HO. It appears that the same duet was recorded in the voice of Mukesh and Geeta Roy but was not retained.

Hansraj Behl gave five songs to Rafi in Rumaal: A solo: DIL TOOTAA AUR ARMAAN LOOTE, and four duets out of which three were with Bina Pani and one with Asha Bhonsle: HAM MAATI SE SONA BANAAYENGE; O LACHHI LACHHI TUU MANN KI; and TUMSE MILAAKAR NAINA were the duets with Bina Paani. A lone duet with Asha Bhonsle was: LO DOOM DUBAA KAR BHAAGE written by Nazim Panipati. The other songs were written by Mulkraj Bhakri. In Zevraat there was his notable solo, AAKAASH PE REHNE WAALE, written by Habib Sarhadi. A duet with Lata Mangeshkar was: SAAJAN KI OT LEKE.

Karvat had a Geeta-Rafi duet: Gaya Andhera .... Jaag Uthe Sansaar , written by S. K. Dipak. In Chakori, Rafi had three solos written by Mulkraj Bhakri: KYOO.N GARM SARD HOTE HO; PREET LAGAA KE CHALE GAYE; and ISS DUKHIYAA JAWAANI KI HAI BAS ITNI. Raaz had the solo SAMAY KA CHAKKAR SAU BAL KHAAYE which was composed by Sardar Malik and written by one Meeraji. Incidentally, Hansraj Behl's last great composition would also be sung by Mohammed Rafi in Sikandar-e-Azam (1965): JAHAAN DAAL DAAL PAR SONE KI CHIDIYAAN KART HAIN BASERA... With Naushad:

We have seen above that the young singer of 19 years of age had sung his own first Hindi song in Pehle Aap, HINDUSTAA.N KE HAMM HAI.N, plus two more songs which were anything but solos. What strikes me regarding Naushad is that he gave a solo number to Rafi Sahaab only in 1946, while Rafi Sahaab also recorded so many excellent songs for other music directors even prior to 1946; and then he gave just another solo number after two years in Mela (1948). It was as late as in 1949 that Naushad gave a real break to Rafi by recording his lead solos for the heroes in Dillagi, Dulari and Chandni Raat which had lyrics by Shakeel Badayuni.

Rafi got to sing the choicest of songs in Dillagi for the main lead in Dillagi - the Suraiya and Shyam starrer: TERE KOOCHE ME.N ARMAANON KEE DUNYA LEKE AAYA HOON, and ISS DUNYAA ME.N AY DILWAALO.N. And the ever-popular, the evergreen, song from Dulari: SUHAANI RAAT DHAL CHUKI filmed on the hero, Suresh, has become a legend. This was Rafi Sahaab’s favourite song. Dulari also had the pleasant Rafi-Lata duet: MIL MILKE GAAYENGE HO DOH DIL YAHAAN; and RAAT RANGEELI MAST NAZAARE. In Chandni Raat, Rafi sang a solo: DIL HO UNHEN MUBAARAK JO DIL KO DHOONDTE HAIN which proved very popular in 1949. The others were duets with Shamshad Begum: KAISE BAJE DIL KAA SITAAR, which has a good accompaniment of piano, and KHABAR KYAA THEEH KE GHAM KHAANA PADEGAA. However, by Rafi’s standards these songs are of low notes. Mehboob’s Andaz had the Rafi-Lata duet: YOON TOH AAPAS MEIN BIGADTE HAIN which was filmed on Nargis and Raj Kapoor. Another lively Rafi-Lata duet, SUN LO DIL KA AFSAANA DUNYAA DIL KE BASAAKE NAA BHOOL JAANA was, however, not used in the movie. This was also the fate of a Mukesh song: KYOON PHERI NAZAR DEKHO TOH IDHAR.

With C. Ramchandra: C. Ramchandra was himself a singer who sang as "Chitalkar" and so we don’t find him using Mohammed Rafi much. As we noted before, he did use Rafi in Safar, Sajan and Nadiya Ke Paar in previous years. C. Ramchandra gave some beautiful duets and solos to Rafi in 1949. The Duniya duets with Suraiya were HAAY RE TUUNE KYAA KIYAA, and QISMAT KE LIKHE KO. The solos were RONA HAI TOH RO CHUPKE and ISS WAADE KA MATLAB KYAA. In Patanga, BOLOJI DIL LOGE TOH KYAA KYAA DOGE was Rafi’s duet

with Shamshad Begum. In Namoona, TADPAA KE MUJHE was the duet song which Rafi sang with Lata. The next decade would find “Anna” C. Ramchandra using lots of western instruments such as bongo, clarinets, oboe, saxophone. He also used the alto-sax with guitar and harmonica. His autobiography written some 30 years later, "Maajhya Jeevnaachee Sargam" (My Life's Melody) makes interesting reading and throws light on his personal relationship with his muse and his fall-out later.

With S. Mohinder: Rafi had four duets in Jeewan Saathi: Two with Shamshad Begum: MILKAR JAAYEN HAM PREET and MUHABBAT ROG BAN KAR. One duet with Amirbai: MAI.N KAISE KEH DOON. One duet with Chand Barq: CHAAND KI GOD MEIN...

With Bulo C. Rani: Bulo C. Rani utilized Rafi in Gareebi. The two solos that Rafi sang were: KISI SE HAMNE POOCHAA and EK DIN EK ARMAAN BHARA DIL. A duet with Shamshad Begum was AY SAMNE AANE WAALE BATAA. Some of the other movies in which Mohammed Rafi recorded his songs were: With Khemchand Prakash: Rhimjhim: A duet with Ramola: HAWA TUU UNSE JAAKAR KEHDE, written by Moti of Sajan fame. Sawan Aaya Re: A duet with Shamshad Begum: AY DIL NAA MUJHE

YAAD AA, written by Bharat Vyas.

With Sajjad/Nisar Bazmi/Khumar Barabankavi. In Roop Lekha there was a solo of Rafi: TEER PE TEER KHAAYE JAA. A duet with Surinder Kaur was: TUM HO JAAO HAMAARE KABHI. With Mohammed Shafi: In Gharana, there were two duets of Rafi: One with Paro: TUU KAHAAN HAI BAALAM. The other was with Shyama Bai: FARIYAAD NAA KARNAA HAAY KAHEEN.

With Sharmaji (Khayyam): In Parda, there were two solos of Rafi: SITAMGAR SE LETA HAI TUU INTEQAM, penned by Tanvir Naqvi; and the other one penned by Swami Ramanand: IK DIL NE KAHAA, a beautiful sad song indeed. In Jannat, Bashir Khan was the music director. One of the solos of Rafi was: JAHAAN QISMAT TERI MEHFIL SE and, penned by M.K. Chibbar. In Chilman, H.P. Das was the composer while P.L. Santoshi was the lyricist. One of the Rafi solos was: ZAHE QISMAT TERI MEHFIL SE JO. He sang a duet with Mukesh: JALEN JALNE WAALE HAMKO JAISE. Krishna Dayal was the music director of Lekh which had a Qamar Jalalabadi lyrics sung by Rafi and Asha: KAR LE KISEE SE PYAAR. In Nisbat, the music was composed by Pandit Govindram. The RafiShamshad duet was: TAARON KA YEH KHAZAANAA. Majrooh wrote the lyrics. Kaneez had three music directors: O.P. Nayyar made a debut with the

background music. Ghulam Haider provided the usual music. There was a duet of Rafi and S.D. Batish: HAR AYSH HAI DUNYAA MEIN AMIRON KO. On the other hand, Hansraj Behl provided the music for the very famous Rafi song: ISS DIL SE TERI YAAD BHULAAYI NAHEEN JAATI. O.P. Nayyar would not taste success with his movies, Aasmaan, Chham Chhama Chham, and Jaal, till as late as 1953. His success story belongs to the Fifties and thereafter, and amazingly he never ever used Lata Mangeshkar. The year 1949 is noteworthy for the new entrants Shankar and Jaikishan who would since gradually leave all the other musicians behind for at least two decades. They had worked as assistants to Ram Ganguly who provided music for Raj Kapoor’s first directorial venture, Aag in 1948. Raj Kapoor knew that for his home-production Barsaat the Aag type of music would just not do. He wanted something new. He therefore gave a break to the musical duo of Shankar-Jaikishan who also "discovered" Lata Mangeshkar and recorded their first song in her voice: JIYA BEQARAR HAI. All the songs of Barsaat were hit and they created a history of sorts. However, their style initially resembled that of Husnlal-Bhagatram whom they had assisted before. How could they leave out Mohammed Rafi? His song went thus: MAIN ZINDAGEE MEIN HARDAM ROTAA HI RAHAA HOON. The high notes, KHAMOSH.. KHAMOSH MOHABBAT LIYE PHIRTAA HI RAHAA HOON sung by Rafi effortlessly put life into the lyrics. The combination of Mohammed Rafi and the Shankar-Jaikishan musical duo would rise to its greatest height in the Sixties.

Mohammed Rafi with Jaikishan

In 1949, Khurshid Anwar came back to India from Pakistan. He had been a music director of several films in the pre-partition years, but it was his musical composition in Saigal-Suraiya starrer, Parwana (1947)that made him very famous. Surprisingly for the riot ravaged lands, this movie had done a great business among the Muslims of Lahore and the Sikhs and Hindus of Amritsar. Khurshid Anwar is known for hiring Roshan as a dilruba player (while with AIR Delhi) and also for giving a break to Rajkumar in Kurmai - an early Forties Punjabi film of A.R. Kardar. It is also to be noted that Lata Mangeshkar has rued the fact that she did not get an opportunity to sing the musical compositions of Khurshid Anwar. After coming back he composed music for three movies: Singar, Nishana and Khamosh Sipahi which were released in the early Fifties. Before he went back to Pakistan, he composed the music for Neelampari (1952) which incidentally was his only movie that featured Mohammed Rafi, and that was a duet with Geeta Roy: CHAAHE QISMAT HAMKO RULAAYE. NASIR

To continue...


A Humble Tribute to the Greatest Playback Singer of all times – by Nasir.

Rafi Sahaab used to work very hard on each and every song he was asked to sing. To surmarise, during the years 1944-1949, Rafi Sahaab worked with the following lyricists and music directors: Some of the lyricists who worked with Rafi Sahaab in the Forties: Majrooh Sultanpuri, Tanvir Naqvi, Pandit Mukhram Sharma, Mahipal, D.N. Madhok, Gopal Singh Nepali, Wali Sahaab, Rupbani, Pandit Indra, Pt.Fani, Gaafil Harnalvi, Hanuman Prasad, Raja Mehdi Ali Khan, Moti, Qamar Jalalabadi, M. Ibrahim, Ram Murti, Shakeel Badayuni, Wahshi Jaunpuri, Amar Verma, Avtar Visharad, Asghar Sarhadi, Mohan Mishra, J.Naqshab, P.L. Santoshi, Manohar Khanna, Pilibheeti, Deobandi, Fiza Kausari, Surjit Sethi, Sevak, Rajinder Krishan, Ramesh Gupta, Shevan Rizvi, Habeeb Sarhadi, B.D. Mishra, B.R. Sharma, Mulk Raj Bhakri, Bahzad, I.C. Kapoor, Mohan Misra, Kaifi Irfani, Kedar Sharma, Sudarshan Faqir, Aziz Kashmiri, Bharat Vyas, M.G. Adeeb, Sarshar, Nazim Panipati, Alam Siyahposh, S.K. Deepak, S.H. Bihari, Arzoo Lucknowi, Swami Ramanand, Hazrat Lakh, M.K. Chibbar, P.L. Santoshi, Shameen, Shikarpuri, Hamid Khumar, Hasrat Jaipuri, Meeraji, Gulshan Bawra, and Khumar Barabankavi

Some of the Music Directors who worked with Mohammed Rafi in the ‘Forties: Naushad, Shyam Sunder, Pandit Govindram, Chitragupt, A.R. Qureshi, Datta Devjekar,Premnath, S.D. Burman, Naresh Bhattacharya, B.S. Thakur, Mohammed Shafi, Azim Khan, Sudhir Phadke, Prakash Sharma, Firoze Nizami, Datta Thakar, Gyan Datta, Amirbai Karnataki, Hansraj Behl, Husnlal-Bhagatram, Shankar Rao Vyas, S. Purshottam, Shaukat Hussain, Dhumi Khan, S.N. Tripathi, Ghulam Mohammed, Shankar Rao Vyas, Ram Ganguli, Master Ghulam Haider, Datta Thakur, Vinod, Khemchand Prakash, Bulo C. Rani, Sharma ji, Basheer Khan, H.P. Das, Krishna Dayal, S. Mohinder, Shankar-Jaikishan, Sardar Mallik, Rashid Atre, Tufail Farooqi and Khan Mastana.

As we noted before, by 1947 especially after Jugnu, Rafi Sahaab’s name became a household name and that his songs had become a run-away hit with the masses. Rafi Sahaab’s voice had laid the foundation in the forties to make the business of musical recording songs more exciting. He had proven his magic in the ‘Forties and the Nineteen-Fifties was beckoning him with open arms. Of course, in the next decade he was going to astonish his music directors and the lovers of music by his wonderful feat of powerful singing and versatility that had not been attempted before with such success. In the process he would ‘liberate’ the music directors from their beaten path of low octaves and limited range and scope within which they composed their songs. The presence of senior male singers such as G.M. Durrani, Surendra, Khan Mastana, Shyam and others could not suppress the rising star. But then, they too were gentle souls. As Rafi Sahaab recounted: ”’Unki Khoobi yeh thi janaab ke’ instead of considering me as yet another competitor they encouraged me to give my best….” And this is what Rafi Sahaab himself did along the way. Later, not only he used to recommend to music directors those playback singers who were once a force to reckon with, but he also made it a point to encourage the new talents to give their best without considering them as his competition – which brings me to Mahendra Kapoor since his story unfolds in Nineteen Forties.

As we all know, Mahendra Kapoor was a huge fan of Mohammed Rafi whose voice and songs had enchanted him since his early age and he would sing in the style of his icon at Amritsar. He once purchased a record of Jugnu but to his dismay found that the record did not have the male singer’s name. After lots of enquiries he learnt that the name of the singer was Mohammed Rafi. Even when the family shifted to Bombay, his craze increased all the more so that even at school he would scribble “Rafi, Rafi, Rafi” in his class note-book. Seeing the litany, we are told, that his class-teacher scolded him. One of his more knowledgeable class-mates then gave him the address of Mohammed Rafi who was still at Bhendi Bazaar – indicating that it was the earliest phase of the singer then. Mahendra then went there all alone to meet his icon with the sole wish “Bin Guru Gyan Kahaan Se Paaoon.” Seeing his love and devotion, Mohammed Rafi accepted him as his disciple, teaching him how to play the Harmonium and even taking him along with him to his shows and recordings. The teacher would then treat him to a glass of Lassi. Such details were known before but they were repeated by Mahendra Kapoor’s son, Rohan Kapoor while accepting the award on behalf of his father at the Tribute to a Legend show at the Indian Museum Auditorium, Kolkata, on 30th November 2008. Rohan Kapoor, the actor-singer son narrated the earliest phase of his father’s brush with the Legendary Mohammed Rafi. The audience was naturally spellbound and moved to tears. The student also took the advice of his teacher seriously and began learning the Hindustani classical music under Pandit Husnlal (of the musical duo HusnlalBhagatram) and Tulsiram Sharma. Rest of the story of Mahendra Kapoor belongs to the late ‘Fifties, and I would have left it at that if it were not for certain comments of Raju Bharatan: “Kapoor may not have matched Rafi but he was so committed to his craft that he always kept Rafi on his toes.” The craft lies in this statement. Note how a damaging idea is interwoven along with a seeming praise in a single sentence which does service neither to Mohammed Rafi nor to Mahendra Kapoor. At the outset I may state that there was never any question of matching

Mahendra Kapoor with Mohammed Rafi, least of all keeping Mohammed Rafi on toes! If the case of Mahendra Kapoor was like any other normal competition, then there would have been some semblance of sanity in Raju’s statement. Besides, this was not the sibling rivalry of some noted playback singers. Nor was it the story of “Abhimaan” of a wife’s or husband’s one upmanship. For Mahendra Kapoor, Mohammed Rafi was a father figure. Nay, he was more: He was his Guru, his idol! A father is always proud of his obedient and successful son. A guru is always proud of his chela even if he exceeds him in wealth and fame, which of course was not the case here any way. The pages of history is replete with such examples. The clinching evidence for rebuttal of Raju’s statement has its roots in the Nineteen Forties, which we have noted above. Therefore, Raju’s statement should have read: “Kapoor may not have matched Rafi but he was so committed to his craft that he made Rafi proud of him.” Nothing more needs to be said. More rebuttals would require an article by itself. To state briefly, how much Mahendra Kapoor loved and respected Rafi Sahaab was exhibited by him unabashedly after doing a show at the Royal Albert Hall in Lodon. When Rafi Sahaab’s sons went to pay their respects to “uncle” Mahendra Kapoor backstage the latter astounded them by touching their feet in a humble obeisance instead. At that time Mahendra Kapoor made a very significant statement: “I’m only paying respects to my Guru with whose blessings, grooming and guidance I’m here and a packed audience has come to her me.”

We’ve to remember always: Mahendra Kapoor was not a competition for Rafi Sahaab who had taught him the rudiments of songs and music and after his lessons had recommended him to many film personalities, including B.R. Chopra. The best period of Mahendra Kapoor's creativity was during the lifetime of Rafi Sahaab. Mahendra Kapoor’s success must have surely delighted Rafi Sahaab, just as the miserable conditions of some of the yesteryear singers used to cause him pain so that he would quietly recommend them also to music directors of the day. Sometimes he helped them monetarily. Not only such singers but also the music directors who had fallen on bad times used to receive regular checks for a number of years without their knowing who was their benefactor. It was only decades later one day when the cheques stopped coming that they realised that Mohammed Rafi Sahaab had been their benefactor all along.

Mahendra Kapoor was the torch-bearer of the Mohammed Rafi School. This torch came to be later passed on to Anwar, Shabbir Kumar, Mohammed Aziz, Udit Narayan and Sonu Nigam and others about whom the world will soon know. At the same time, the name and fame of Mohammed Rafi is growing by leaps and bound even after nearly 30 years of his demise.

Let’s hark back to the Forties! In his early career in the Forties, Rafi Sahaab never faced the kind of rejections, say, as Lata Mangeshkar did. The young Rafi was lapped up wherever he went. It’s true that in

the Forties we have no Rafi songs for Anil Biswas according to whom Rafi was not quite fit for his compositions. He was no O.P. Nayyar who never used Lata Mangeshkar all his life. Anil Biswas did use Rafi only in the Fifities but that was not out of condescension. That was the time when Mohammed Rafi was rising and rising, and Anil Biswas was sliding and sliding, especially after 1958 whereafter he could do just about ten films – the last being Chhoti Chhoti Baaten (1965) – the time when Rafi Sahaab was at the zenith of his singing career. But the gentleman that he was Rafi Sahaab did not mind singing for him. He sang for him in Beqasoor (1950): KHABAR KISEE KO NAHEEN VOH KIDHAR DEKHTE HAIN sung by Rafi, Durrani and Mukesh; in Paisa Hi Paise (1956): PYAAR KIYA JHAK MAARI which was a solo comedy song; a duet with Asha: UFF NAA KARNA KE MERI MOHABBAT BADNAAM HO; and ULFAT MEIN HAR EK which was sung by Rafi-Kishore and Asha (Kishore Kumar was the hero) and a duet with Kishore Kumar: LELO SONE KA LADDU; in Heer (1956): two solos: ALLAH TERI KHAIR KARE and LE JAA USKI DUWAAYEN; and a duet with Asha: O KHAAMOSH ZAMAANA HAI; in Abhimaan (1957): CHALI JAWAANI THOKAR KHAANE which is a didactic duet with Asha Bhonsle; and a solo in Sanskar: WAAH RE TIKDAMBAAZI. With all respects for him, I’m constrained to quote one Anonymous in his review of “How the Golden Age of Bollywood should have sounded:” “Bollywood productions during the career of Mohammed Rafi (19461980) unfortunately employed some of the worst recording techniques ever - thanks to a certain Anil Biswas, who although revered for his music abilities obviously knew very little about how to use a music recording studio. ... “ Even decades later, Anil Biswas targeted Mohammed Rafi, and then Kishore Kumar himself did not take it kindly and put a poser to him: “How could Rafi then remain on the top for two decades?” Anil Biswas, of course, had no answers. Kishore Kumar certainly remembered that in Haathi Mere Saathi (1971) the song NAFRAT KI DUNYAA was not his cup of tea and so Rafi Sahaab was called to sing

it. And he did sing it without any trace of complaint or hurt as to why he was not called to render it in the first place. It was not for nothing that Kishore Kumar had a huge portrait of Mohammed Rafi fixed on the wall of the drawing-room of his home at Juhu, Mumbai. He had frankly told one of his loyal fans that he himself was the fan of Rafi Sahaab. “If you insult him, you insult me!” Similarly Anil Biswas praised Manna Dey no ends saying that he was the only singer who took down notations of every song and did the song in one take. He told him that he could sing whatever Rafi, or Kishore or Mukesh or Talat Mehmood could sing but that they couldn’t what he sang. Manna Dey had this to say: “That’s very generous of him. He was very fond of me, but I don’t think there is anyone to touch Mohammed Rafi.” But whatever his predilections might have been, Anil Biswas could not escape the touching impact of Rafi Sahaab’s good nature and humility, as he himself confessed, for the latter had no grudges despite being ignored by him. We can only say that it was not the loss of Rafi Sahaab who has by his songs immortalised even the lesser-known musicians whose names might have sunk into oblivion if it were not for the songs that he sang for them. But as Rafi Sahaab used to say: “Yeh Sab Khuda ki Dain Hai.” NASIR To be concluded....


Concluding Part of the Tribute to the Greatest Playback Singer of All Times – by Nasir: Here on the Bollywood music scene in the Forties, Mohammed Rafi surmounted all competitions and emerged as a winner. According to statisticians, when the Forties ended, Rafi Sahaab had sung more songs than the combined songs of all the male playback singers, including Mukesh, Talat Mehmood, Hemant Kumar, Manna Dey, C.Ramchandra and Kishore Kumar. Similarly, by the end of the decade Zohrabai would top the chart for the most popular female singer, recording three times more songs than either Lata Mangeshkar or Geeta Roy. Asha Bhonsle was nowhere in the reckoning.

In the Fifties, it would be a tough going for Mohammed Rafi what with Mukesh competing for the sad songs plus mainly the Raj Kapoor

songs, Talat Mehmood competing mainly for ghazals and nazams and romantic songs plus Dilip Kumar songs, Manna Dey competing mainly for classically-based songs, patriotic songs and the Bhajans, with C. Ramchandra also trying to fill in the gaps wherever he could, Hemant Kumar competing for Pradeep Kumar songs, and coming out with beautiful romantic solos and duets and ‘loris’ (lullabies), Kishore Kumar competing for comedy songs plus mainly Dev Anand's songs and the compositions of S.D. Burman. Happily, Naushad would revise his preferences for one reasons or another in the Fifties and stand by Mohammed Rafi like a solid rock. But that alone would not do. Rafi Sahaab had to work his way around all the music directors if he were to survive. This he did very deftly by keeping himself abreast of the times by always being a learner and cultivating good habits such as hard work, punctuality, genuine humility, and giving 100% to the songs whether they were composed by the mighty music directors or by the small ones, or even by little known artistes who wanted to cling to his name in order to seek their bread and butter in the film industry. Thanks to his understanding of the classical Hindustani music and his versatility to sing all genres of songs, his “adaaygi” his pure diction and “throw” of words to suit the mood of the songs, backed by his powerful but soft and mellifluous voice, Mohammed Rafi Sahaab left all of them in awe whoever heard him. By the mid-Fifties and towards the end of that decade he would not only fill in the void left by the previous legend, K.L. Saigal, but with passage of time he would also acquire the irrefutable position of being the Greatest playback singer of all times in the annals of the Indian film industry. By adapting himself to the changing face of music, he left an undelible impression on the music itself, setting up excellent standards for the aspiring singers. His voice never sounded monotonous despite the thousands of songs that he left to posterity. Despite the very stiff competition for Rafi Sahaab, history was to repeat itself by the next decade too. When the Fifties ended, Rafi Sahaab again, had recorded more songs than the combined figures of Talat Mehmood, Manna Dey, Mukesh, Hemant Kumar, C.Ramchandra and Kishore Kumar. So when the time permits we’ll have a dekho of the Nineteen Fifties!

In conclusion, it will be interesting for us to know how the film industry people found Mohammed Rafi when they saw him for the first time. Who else could be the most qualified in this respect than the Thespian Dilip Kumar himself, the most revered acting legend in the sub-continent of India and Pakistan!

According to Dilip Kumar, he found Mohammed Rafi a very handsome man when he first set his eyes on him at the Bombay Talkies, in the Nineteen Forties. He found his personality impressive and there was something in his eyes which attracted Dilip Kumar to him, telling him that “he would have a nice tuning” with this newcomer. When Dilip Kumar heard Mohammed Rafi sing for the first time, he immediately felt that this was no ordinary singer, for here was the young man who had come into the field of playback singing fully prepared. The emotions in the singing voice of Mohammed Rafi that Dilip Kumar heard for the first time were such that he could never forget even after decades had passed away. How could he? Was it not Jugnu(1947) that heralded the arrival of these brightest stars on the horizons of singing and acting? He believes that all the emotions made Mohammed Rafi’s singing “complete” in all respects, and therefore he could sing with complete ease whether it was a tragic or sad song, a light peppy song, a classical song or a romantic duet. Even after five decades, the song MADHUBAN MEIN RAADHIKA

NAACHE RE (Kohinoor – 1960) doesn’t fail to overwhelm Dilip Kumar on whom the song was beautifully picturised. He says that Rafi’s voice had tremendous talent, and with Naushad his voice used to reach even greater heights. However, Dilip Kumar feels that since Mohammed Rafi was a simple person who could not say no, this “Emperor of Voice and Melody” was exploited by some music directors who made him sing some third-class songs. He remembers that in 1969 and the early Seventies when people were talking of how Kishore Kumar had “dismantled the position” of Mohammed Rafi, the latter was not even slightly affected by it. Nor did he reply those critics with words. “It was always his voice and songs that used to do the talking.” Surmises the Tragedy King: “Rafi is not among us today but his voice and his songs are still there with us.” One could go on writing about the Legendary Mohammed Rafi Sahaab forever, for such was his persona and charisma as well as the impact on the Indian film industry, its films, music, musicians and film stars. As long as there are people who love good songs and music, and take pride in the rich heritage of our films and musical traditions; as long as there are people who value sterling personal character, altruism, charity and faithfulness; as long as there are people who are moved by pain and sufferings of humanity, as long as there are people who are in quest of true songs of love, romance, philosophy and devotion, the name of Mohammed Rafi Sahaab will always come to the fore to emblazon the cultural and humane side of Bollywood. NASIR. Concluded.

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