Peeyush Sharma traverses a less travelled but spectacular path, picking up hidden gems along the way and remembering Rafi through the music of RD Burman with some popular and some not so well known songs, in a loving tribute to the legendary singer.
The music fraternity pays tributes to the great Rafi on each and every occasion it can. Icons like Rafi still connect with present and now growing up generation. That pure, straight to the heart, versatile voice that actually left an indelible impression of the pure and saintly soul behind the voice is truly immortal.
Through this short tribute I have decided to use 11 Rafi-RD Burman songs for music lovers to reflect upon and enjoy.
Rafi used to address RD as Chhote Burman Saheb and RD called him Rafi Saab, as most in the industry did. While assisting his illustrious father, SD Burman for many years, RD had become well acquainted with Rafi and his capabilities. Not surprisingly, RD went on to use them to his best advantage, giving us music lovers all the reasons to celebrate.
In his very first film Chote Nawab (1961), RD used Rafi in a duet that would make the world notice RD’s arrival. It was with Lata, Matwali aankhon waale, o albele dilwale with the tap dance on floor by Mehmood and Helen. He also had the courage to make Rafi deliver a ‘tottla’ song in form of Aamchum taamchum kalalabadumchum, carried out excellently by Rafi. I do not recollect many such songs used in films earlier or later, thus making it unique.
But, my first choice is the Abhilasha (1969) tandem by Majrooh, Waadiyan mera daaman, raste meri bahen, jaao mere siva tum kahan jaaoge. That Rafi version leaves a lasting impression and it is no mean achievement. Melodious and catchy instrumentation coupled with smooth delivery, it is a song for any day to relish and enjoy.
Waadiyan mera daaman, raste meri bahen, jaao mere siva tum kahan jaaoge (Abhilasha, 1969)
My next pick is from the same year, from Waris. Written by Rajendra Krishan, this is a duet with Lata, Lehra ke aaya hai jhonkha bahar kaa, mausam hai pyar ka aa bhi jaa.
The delightful and enchanting beginning of the song supported by very tuneful and excellent touches of subtle yet highly effective orchestration throughout, make it a real beauty. Pay attention or you will miss the intricacy.
Lehra ke aaya hai jhonkha bahar kaa, mausam hai pyar ka aa bhi jaa (Waris, 1969)
A little backtrack here, to 1966, to Teesri Manzil. My pick is the Rafi-Asha duet (again Majrooh), Dekhiye sahebo wo koi aur thi, aur ye naazneen hai meri, main in pe marta hoon. I can watch this number everyday.
Sure there is the brilliance of Vijay Anand and his camera work, but the sheer energy and boisterous Shammi Kapoor-style rendering by Rafi with an extraordinary RD composition makes this a song for every day.
Dekhiye sahebo wo koi aur thi, aur ye naazneen hai meri, main in pe marta hoon (Teesri Manzil, 1966)
Pyar Ka Mausam (1969) with Majrooh again is my next beloved – Tumm bin jaaun kahan, ke duniya mein aake, kuchh na phir chaha sanam, tumko chaahke. On suavé, stylish and immaculately handsome Shashi Kapoor, this one sits pat upon, wooing us all to fall in love.
Exceptional delivery and immensely romantic, dekho mujhe sar se kadamm tak, sirf pyar hoon main. Yes we believe it. Coming from Rafi on Shashi with RD tune, oh it is pure love!
Tumm bin jaaun kahan, ke duniya mein aake (Pyar Ka Mausam, 1969)
Though tempted to use the numbers from The Train and Caravan, my pick for this ‘paaydaan’ is from 1971. Prakash Mehra’s Mela, and Majrooh it is with Rut hai milan ki saathi mere aare, mohe kahin le chal, baahon ke sahaare (with Lata). What romance! Unprecedented beat and total melody with surprises in the verses, this is a truly lovable duet.
If by now you have not fallen in love with the way RD handled his Rafi Saab, then relax, grab a smooth cup of coffee and listen to all these wonderful songs again. For I am going to take a different route now. I was tempted to use Chhalia (1973) Ae jaane wafa, aisa bhi kya tum to khafa hum se ho gaye. Excellent composition, but I will skip it this time as I will skip all Yaadon Ki Baraat songs too.
Rut hai milan ki saathi mere aare (Mela, 1971)
My next pick is from Dil Ka Raaja. The popular one was Hare Krishna bolo Hare Krishna bolo Hare Hare Hare Ram, but I want to pick the other one, the odd one, Jaao jaao tum bhi jaao samajhte kya ho, akele bhi reh ke hum jee lenge. If you have not heard this for some time, bear with me and listen to it again.
Have you ever heard any song of such content and fervor and aggressive emotion and delivery? Again, only Rafi could deliver this pitch and color and emotion and still retain the melody.
This is what we call a Kathavastu Sangeet. A song set to the demands of a situation in the screenplay. Only dialogues could have sufficed instead and to place a song here must have been really uneasy, but listen to the mastery of RD Burman’s conception and creation and Rafi’s rendering. It is amazing and unparalleled.
Jaao jaao tum bhi jaao samajhte kya ho (Dil Ka Raaja, 1972)
Straight to 1977 to another Majrooh number that shock starts with a slap on the face of the guitar and then indulges in a roar of excellent string work, winning hearts and awards – Kya hua tera waada, woh kasam woh iraada (Hum Kisi Se Kum Naheen).
These were lean times for Rafi, yet what a confident, resounding and soulful rendering it is. Hats off to Rafi Saab and RD!
Kya hua tera waada, woh kasam woh iraada (Hum Kisi Se Kum Naheen, 1977)
Now you are surely in for a surprise, and I bet you never looked it the way I believe it should have been. Listen intently, Naag Devta, jag devta, janam diya jinko tumne kyon dus liya.
Yes, Shalimar, 1978 by Anand Bakshi. Could RD have got this effect from any other singer under the sun? What courage and dedication has Rafi shown in this one. Listen to the parts, woh cheekh nahin thi naara tha, tum ko Bhagwan pukara tha, is waqt agar dar jaaoge, woh mar gaya tum mar jaaoge. There is a literal ‘dahaad’ in Rafi’s voice, an audible crack, then the disturbing dullness on impact in the next line, and superb control by Rafi. How RD cajoled Rafi to deliver this is beyond words. Purely mesmerizing.
Naag Devta, jag devta (Shalimar, 1978)
Shaan (1980) by Anand Bakshi is my next choice. Highly charged rendition throughout, yet smooth melodious point to point match, Yamma yamma, yamma yamma, ye khoobsurat sama. A rare duet with Rafi Saab and his trust worthy Chhote Burman Saheb. No effort by RD undermines Rafi (not that it would ever have been intended) and they both give a superb delivery. Highly enjoyable.
Yamma Yamma (Shaan, 1980)
Another only Rafi rendition, this one from Kaalia (1981) by Majrooh. Kaun kisi ko baandh saka sayyad to ik diwana hai.
Songs like these are made for Rafi. Excellent delivery with highlighted parts in the verses when he starts to utter the words, pehredaar faanke se, barso Raam dhamake se, hoshiyaar, bhai sab hoshiyaar. It gives goose pimples, just like the Shalimar number did.
Kaun kisiko baandh saka (Kaalia, 1981)
Tempted to use the beautiful Kudrat number, Dukh sukh ki harik mala. But my final pick is from 1981, Zamaane Ko Dikhana Hai, again Majrooh, the duet with Asha where Rafi starts with chak chak chakayee chakaah, and goes on, Poochho na yaar kya hua dil ka karaar kya hua. How effectively he says, tumne pyar se, humko ek baar keh dala hai yaar, to nibha dena.
Honest, straight from his heart and straight to our hearts, that is the pure Rafi effect. And RD, whatever the world says, knew how to best bring about that effect to us music lovers.
Poochho na yaar kya hua (Zamaane Ko Dikhana Hai, 1981)
Destiny had to play its part. Many more such exceptional beauties would have come our way from this duo had Rafi Saab not been summoned by the maker. We will always miss you, Sir.
Also read the tribute to Mohd. Rafi by Balaji Vittal:
Ten Songs of Mohd. Rafi We Could Not Include in ‘Gaata Rahe Mera Dil’
More to read on Music Makers and Golden Voices
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