31st July happens to be the 40th death anniversary of Mohammed Rafi. Here is a look at some of the things not many people may know about the legendary singer, in a three-part series. This is second part of the series.
Did you know that when Rafi was recording “Babul Ki Duayein Leti Jaa” for the film Neelkamal (1968, directed by Ram Maheswari, music by Ravi), he couldn’t control his emotions and broke down? Aptly, he won the national award for this song.
The unique relationship that Madan Mohan shared with Lata Mangeshkar is well-known Lata had made Madan her raakhi brother. But Madan Mohan was equally fond of Rafi too.
Some of Madan Mohan’s excellent songs like “Teri Aankhon Ke Siva”, “Yeh Duniya Yeh Mehfil”, “Kar Chale Hum Fida”, “Meri Awaaz Suno” and “Tum Jo Mil Gaye Ho” were sung by Rafi.
It is also a strange coincidence that all the three top singers of Bollywood, namely Mukesh, Kishore Kumar and Rafi died of cardiac arrest.
OP Nayyar famously remarked once, “Without Rafi, there is no OP Nayyar.”
All the musicals that were released between the late 50s and 60s and mostly shot in Kashmir (and often featuring Asha Parekh, Sadhana, Sharmila Tagore etc) had music composed by OP Nayyar, with Rafi lending the vocals for the male lead.
Sadly, the two had a fallout during the recording of “Sawan Ki Ghata” because Rafi reported late for the recording but the immensely talented and highly egoistic OP Nayyar couldn’t digest this. They did not work together for the next three years but by the early 70s the Nayyar magic had completely waned. His fallout with Asha Bhosale made matters worse for him.
The songs of Parasmani (1963) and Dosti (1964) were immortalised by Rafi’s voice. Lakshmikant Pyarelal hit paydirt with the music that they composed for these songs. The music director duo had humble beginnings in Bollywood as music assistants and arrangers but no one could stop their talent from rising. Unlike the eccentric Kishore Kumar who would do anything to recover his dues, Rafi was more understanding when a producer faced a financial setback.
The film Amar Akbar Anthony was special because in one of the songs “Hum Ko Tumse Ho gaya hai pyar” Rafi sang along with Mukesh, Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar. This was perhaps the first and last time that all the singers came together to sing one song.
Rafi’s bonding with Khayyam
Music director Khayyam was soft-spoken and wasn’t very prolific. But he produced musical gems that stand testimony to his immense talent. Rafi lent him ample support. The song “Kahin Ek Masoon Nazuk Si Ladki” from Shankar Hussain (1977) remains an immortal classic.
Khayyam had scored music for Bibi (1950) and Rafi’s rendition of a ghazal from the movie became a hit. Though Khayyam and Rafi worked only in a few films, their friendship lasted until the singer’s death due to cardiac arrest. Khayyam remarked that Rafi’s dedication was unparalleled and that his humility was his most endearing quality.
The compassionate singer lent his voice to even C-grade films never bothering about his market price. Rafi desired to sing a few bhajans and asked Khayyam to compose them. Rafi was always a student of music keen to learn about the intricacies of music, ragas and mixing. He adapted his voice to the characterisation on the screen and this is what made his songs so special.
Though a throat infection in the 70’s resulted in a brief lull in his career, Rafi still managed to sail through. Some of his songs in the early 70s still top the popularity charts.
1. Kaan Mein Jhumka (Sawan Bhadon, 1969)
2. Tum Mujhe Yun Bhula Na Paoge (Pagla Kahin Ka, 1970)
3. Jhilmil Sitaron Ka (Jeevan Mrityu, 1970)
4. Gulabi Aankhen (The Train, 1970)
5. Yunhi Tum Mujhse Baat (Sachcha Jhuta, 1971)
6. Itna To Yaad Hai Mujhe (Mehboob ki Mehndi, 1971)
7. Mera Man Tera Pyasa (Gambler, 1971)
8. Kitna Pyara Wada (Caravan, 1972)
9. Chura Liya Hai Tumne (Yaadon Ki Baraat, 1973)
10. Na Tu Zameen Ke Liye (Dastan, 1972)
11. Saare Shehar Mein Aapsa (Bairaag, 1976)
12. Aaj Mausam Bada Beiman Hai (Loafer, 1973)
He won the National Award for “Kya Hua Tera Wada” from Nasir Hussain’s bumper hit “Hum Kisi se Kam Nahin” (1977).
In 1978, Rafi gave a performance at the Royal Albert Hall. In 1980 he performed at the Wembley conference centre.
From 1970 until his death he toured around the world extensively giving concert performances to packed halls.
(After working in the corporate world for close to two decades, Bhagyalakshmi Seshachalam started her second career innings as a head-hunter. She is passionate about Hindi movies and loves retro music. When her family shifted to Chennai in the 80s, Bhagya had a taste of Tamil cinema too. In the long term, she plans a book on two of her favourite directors – Guru Dutt and K Balachander. She travels across the country on work and is based in Mysore.)