C Ramchandra-Naushad comparison and contrast with Rafi

July 31, 2015

A tribute to Rafi on his 35th death anniversary

Naushad, Rafi and C RamchandraIt is certain that readers would have been expecting something on Rafi with Naushad today, but they would find the inclusion of C Ramchandra surprising and somewhat contrived. While Naushad is the most important composer to have laid the foundation of the Rafi legend, C Ramchandra does not figure among the composers who gave great songs for Rafi. Naushad, SD Burman, OP Nayyar, Shankar Jaikishan, Roshan, Chitragupta, Madan Mohan, Ravi – these are the names that come to mind instantly when you think of Rafi. As a matter of fact, I have read a comment somewhere (not by Raju Bharatan) that CR shared his mentor Anil Biswas’s antipathy for Rafi.

I find this comment surprising, because in my early years when I was hooked to the radio I associated CR with having created the earliest superhit songs for Rafi. Rafi started with Naushad in 1944 with Pahle Aap, and with CR two years later with Safar. Yet if you count their songs till 1949, Rafi had 24 songs with CR, as compared to about 15 with Naushad. Even in qualitative comparison during this period, CR seems to trump Naushad.

CR-Rafi and Naushad-Rafi comparison till 1949

In Pahle Aap (1944), Rafi is secondary singer to Shyam Kumar in two duets. In a chorus song Hindostan ke hum hain Hindostan hamara, HFGK does not credit the singers, but Arunji in his article on Atul’s blog mentions Rafi as one of the singers along with Shyam Kumar, Alauddin Naved and BM Vyas. His next appearance with Naushad is in 1946 in two films. In Shahjehan, he is in a chorus in KL Saigal-dominated Mere sapno ki rani – it was fulfillment of his dream to sing with his idol and the legend. In Anmol Ghadi, he gets to sing a solo Tera khilona toota baalak, but it is overshadowed by Surendra’s songs.

CR on the other hand gives two solos for Rafi in Safar, whereas he himself sings duets with Binapani Mukherjee and Shamshad Begum. One of the songs is a pure gem. Readers can instantly recognise several songs on this Punjabi folk tune that were composed later, one of the most well-known being Dil le ke daga denge (Naya Daur, 1957).

1.  Kah ke bhi na aye tum ab chhupne lage taare by Rafi from Safar (1946), lyrics GS Nepali, music C Ramchandra


While the above song has been mentioned earlier on this blog a couple of times, here is the other one from the same film, less heard but no les charming. You can see Rafi is very sure of himself and shows all the modulation for which he became famous later.

2.  Ab wo hamare ho gaye iqraar karen ya na karen by Rafi from Safar


Contrast this with his early song for Naushad, who leaves no doubt that Shyam Kumar is the lead singer. Rafi sounds decidedly tentative behind his senior partner. The song is absolutely delightful though.

3.  Tum Dilli main Agre by Shyam Kumar and Rafi from Pahle Aap (1944), lyrics DN Madhok, music Naushad


Naushad gives a miss to Rafi in 1947, even though it was a very productive year for him: Dard had only female singers; Surendra was the male singer in Elaan, and Amar in Natak. But CR creates a big Rafi bang in Saajan, with a roaring hit Humko tumhara hi aasra, which had a solo version, and a duet version with Lalilta Deulkar which seemed to be more popular. He had another duet with her in the film, and two more triad songs with Lalita Deulkar and Geeta Dutt. I understand Ashok Kumar wanted to sing his own songs as a hangover from the earlier era, when even non-singer actors got to sing their songs, but CR put his foot down and had Rafi as the lead singer. Even though playback technology had been discovered as early as 1935, 1947 is regarded as the year of resurgence of independent great playback singers.

4.  Humko tumhara hi aasra tum hamare ho na ho by Rafi and Lalita Deulkar from Saajan (1947), lyrics Moti, music C Ramchandra


In 1948, Naushad’s male singers in Anokhi Ada are Mukesh and Surendra, and in Mela the lead singer is Mukesh for Dilip Kumar. Rafi gets to sing the title song though, which is picturised on an itinerant singer, an unknown side character.

5.  Ye zindagi ke mele duniya mein kam na honge by Rafi from Mela (1948), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni, music Naushad


But CR does one up on Naushad by composing a Rafi song for Dilip Kumar. This is his iconic duet with Lalilta Deulkar (singing for Kamini Kaushal) in Nadiya Ke Paar. This is besides the widely-discussed dadadaa dadadaa dadaa dadaa (डडडा डडडा डडा डडा) song – Khushiyan manayen kun na hum jalnewale jala karen – in Khidki, in which Rafi is one of the voices.

6.  More raja ho le chal nadiya ke paar by Rafi and Lalita Deulkar from Nadiya Ke Paar (1948), lyrics Moti, music C Ramchandra


Now we come to the most important watershed year, 1949, in the history of Hindi films. It is a major watershed primarily for the Tsunami wave of Lata Mangeshkar. But on the CR-Naushad-Rafi front, too, we see a distinct transition taking place. Each composed 10 songs for Rafi, but Naushad takes a huge leap in terms of quality and impact, because this was the year of Suhani raat dhal chuki from Dulari, the earliest career-defining song of Rafi by Naushad. I also find his duets with Shamshad Begum in Chandni Raat absolutely charming. And in Dillagi his two solos – Is duniya mein ae dilwalo dil ka lagana khel nahi and Tere kooche mein armanon ki duniya le ke aya hun – for the hero Shyam make quite an impact in the face of two incredibly sweet Shyam Kumar-Suaiya duets in the film – Murliwale murli baja and Zaalim zamana mujhko tujhse chhuda raha hai. These songs compensate for the insignificant place given to Rafi in Andaaz as compared to the lead singer Mukesh for Dilip Kumar.  Perceptive listeners would notice a very subtle ‘inspiration’ from Ghata ghanghor ghor in the instrumental interludes in the following song.  Not surprising, because Naushad had been assistant to Khemchand Prakash.

7.  Is duniya mein ae dilwalo dil ka lagana khel nahi by Rafi from Dillagi (1949), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni, music Naushad


CR’s ten songs for Rafi on the other hand do not stand in the same league. The songs include solos as well as duets, triads and more than three singer songs, some of which are quite popular as we have seen in Patanga. But this is about it. None can be regarded as a landmark song, unlike CR-Rafi songs of the preceding years. One of the nice songs is the following (somehow it reminds me of school prayers, which were generally based on this tune):

8.  Rona hai to ro chupke aansoo na bahe aawaz na ho from Duniya (1949), lyrics (?) music C Ramchandra


CR-Rafi and Naushad-Rafi comparison 1950 onwards

1950 onwards or more precisely 1951 (Deedar) onwards, Naushad zooms off in a different orbit with his Rafi songs. It would not be an exaggeration to say that he laid the foundation of Rafi legend, and gave many immortal songs. While CR more than matched in numbers until 1949, and gave some of the earliest landmark songs for Rafi, 1950 onwards he is not in the Rafi race. Late 50s onwards every major composer joins the Rafi bandwagon, making him ‘The Male Playback’ singer of Hindi films. CR plods on, with some occasional sparks.

CR composed over 75 songs for Rafi over his entire career (not a small number), compared to about 150 by Naushad. It is surprising that with much smaller number of songs for Talat Mahmood, CR is regarded as one of the major composers for him.

So, did CR harbour some ‘antipathy’ for Rafi like his mentor Anil Biswas? I have a very different view on this, and I believe many readers would agree with me on this. Fifties onwards he became so fixated with Lata Mangeshkar that he was not a great one for male songs (with the exception of Talat Mahmood). He could himself chip in to sing, and had the talent to make many of his songs everlasting hits.

I have already done a post on Naushad’s best songs (solos) for Rafi. Their songs are too well-known to bear repetition. CR, however, is not a washout with Rafi. In several films he had Rafi as the lead singer, giving some very memorable songs. I end this post with some post-1950 songs of their combination which can be categorized as outstanding.

9.  Ye hasrat thi ki is duniya mein bas do kaam kar jaate by Rafi from Nausherwan-e-Aadil (1957), lyrics Parvez Shamsi, music C Ramchandra


10.  Taaron ki zubaan poar hai mohabbat ki kahaani by Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar from Nausherwan-e-Aadil


11.  Dekh humein aawaz na dena O bedard zamaane by Rafi and Asha Bhosle from Amar Deep (1958), lyics Rajendra Krishna, music C Ramchandra (Happy version)


Notes and acknowledgements:
1.  Muveen (muveen 123@yahoo.com) has prepared an Excel sheet of complete list of Rafi songs.  This is a very convenient source to look at his songs year-wise and MD-wise. If any reader is interested I can mail it to him.   This was sent to me by Sudhir Kapurji.
2.  Hindi Film Geet Kosh (HFGK): We tend to take HFGK as a given, something like we treat a dictionary on our mantelpiece.  But it is important to pay a tribute to the awesome work of Harmandir Singh ‘Hamraz’ji in preparing the monumental compilation.  The knowledge about old Hindi film songs can be clearly divided between before and after HFGK; prior to HFGK writing about old film songs was quite literally like groping in the dark.  We easily believed claims, such as some singer having sung 25000 songs, HFGK’s arrival proved that the real number was not more than a quarter of this figure.

{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ravindra Kelkar July 31, 2015 at 3:07 pm

Thanks for this wonderful, well researched & a very balanced article. The songs are also wonderful. Probably you could have included the great Rafi solo composed by CR in Insaniyat – “Apni Chhaya Me Bhagwan”.
I agree with your view that, due to his obsession with Lata, CR had a very limited interest in male songs. Though, I personally feel, he should have used Rafi & Talat more in duets with Lata, instead of singing them himself. It would have given more competition to Lata in the duets.
Just a thought for consideration, Husnalal Bhagatram used Rafi a lot during the period from 1948 to 1952, so may be, they also helped Rafi in the earlier years (I know you have mentioned that the post is Rafi with Naushad & CR, still…..).

2 AK July 31, 2015 at 3:23 pm

Ravindran Kelkar,
Thanks a lot for your compliments. Apni chhaya mein Bhagwan is a very good song. Thanks for refreshing my memory.

CR’s Talat-Lata duets are very beautiful. He could have done more, I agree. But with Rafi, CR was was not as good in later years as he was in the early years. I don’t think he had much interest in him. CR himself managed to make very successful duets with Lata Mangeshkar.

HB are one of the composers who gave some great songs for Rafi before the latter took off with Naushad. Therefore, you make a valid point that they are among the important composers who gave a boost to Rafi in his early years. No harm in mentioning them with Naushad and Rafi.

3 Ashok M Vaishnav July 31, 2015 at 3:46 pm

Quite an interesting article, more particularly from the predominantly Rafi-fans (like me).
That, post-1950, CR had composed 65 songs for Rafi is a revelation, and would the provide a good fodder for searching for the other songs form the depths of the memory.
Also, the three songs mentioned here does goes on to show that had CR chosen more to work with Rafi, he not only would have given songs as great as his songs for Talat, but would indeed may have been a catalyst to career too, since Rafi was the wave on which every MD surfed out in 50s and 60s.

4 AK July 31, 2015 at 4:48 pm

A small clarification – 65 CR-Rafi songs are not post-50s, but in all. Similarly, about 150 Naushad-Rafi songs are in all.

5 Latha July 31, 2015 at 5:03 pm

Wonderfully written article! Thanks for introducing us such gem compositions!

6 mumbaikar8 July 31, 2015 at 5:43 pm

Great! You have left m,e a predominantly Rafi fan, stunned by your article. Thanks.
Though small in numbers I personally rank Rafi CR songs very high.
I try hard to stay away from it, but your comment like” As a matter of fact, I have read a comment somewhere (not by Raju Bharatan) that CR shared his mentor Anil Biswas’s antipathy for Rafi”
drags me in, I do not think that C Ramchandra had the same feeling as Anil Biswas , but yes when he joined the group of birds of same feather , he changed his feathers , that did not last long, he went to back to Rafi in late 50’s .
In fact I believe their relationship was more than professional before it soured and it was like a broken mirror that did not mend.
We can feel the chemistry between them, in songs they sang with each other. Their chemistry was only next to Rafi Manna Dey. (in my opinion)
Just listen to this song, feel the chemistry.

7 arvindersharma July 31, 2015 at 5:44 pm

AK Ji,
Once more, a well researched and informative post.
That Naushad was the composer, who was instrumental in Rafi’s takeoff, is beyond doubt.
But I will second Ravinder Kelkar Ji’s opinion about the role of Husnlal Bhagatram in Rafi’s career. They have given Rafi some great hits, in his initial career, and deserved a comparison with Naushad, more than C Ramchandra, in my opinion, for Rafi’s initial years.
Another interesting comparison could be Roshan and Naushad. Both were followers of a similar classical pattern in their compositions, and it would be a good idea to compare them year wise.

8 arvindersharma July 31, 2015 at 5:56 pm

AK Ji,
I’ll be admitting my mistake about Naushad and Roshan comparison, as I overlooked the fact that both created their best of Rafi compositions in different periods.

9 AK July 31, 2015 at 6:21 pm

Thanks a lot for your generous words.

10 AK July 31, 2015 at 6:32 pm

I am flattered by your high praise. Early CR-Rafi songs are indeed gems, as I have said. I am not so impressed by their post 50s songs. But their duets do show their excellent tuning. Very nice song you have added.

11 AK July 31, 2015 at 6:34 pm

Arvinder Sharmaji,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation. You might have seen I have earlier done a post on the best Rafi songs by Roshan. I rate him as one of the very best MDs for both Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar.

12 Anu Warrier July 31, 2015 at 7:10 pm

I have to admire the way you make these comparisons, AK. 🙂 It made for very interesting reading. I was glad to see a post on Rafi on his death anniversary.

Rona hai toh ro is written by Asad Bhopali, I believe. Duniya had three or four lyricists, but I remember somewhere that it was Asad Bhopali who wrote this particular song.

13 AK July 31, 2015 at 9:23 pm

Thanks a lot for your appreciation. Rona hai toh ro: thanks for identifying the lyricist. I will try to confirm from some other sources, too.

14 Arunkumar Deshmukh July 31, 2015 at 10:28 pm

AK ji,

Due to lot of preoccupation I am not able to participate much here ,however when CR is in the picture,I can not stay away !
Ref to your comment on song no.3 “CR put his foot down….”, I do not agree. The story is different.
Please dont forget that Ashok kumar was one of the founders of Filmistan (Saajan was made by Filmistan) and he was related to S. Mukherjee-who was all for Ashok kumar’s singing the song. A.Kumar had done the rehearsals also. CR wanted that Rafi should sing this song. So he had few sessions with Rafi also on this song.
To come out of this situation,CR played a trick. It was the year 1947 and communal riots were errupting in Bombay every now and then. One day a riot took place and CR planned his recording just 2 days after that. He knew very well that Ashok kumar being a coward,would not dare to travel in Bombay during that period,but he called Rafi,who came in time. As expected Ashok kumar did not turn up and Rafi was given the song.
Incidentally,Ashok kumar’s singing in films stopped from that time till may be the 80s when he sang for fun.
Despite my inclination to CR, I feel Naushad did or rather could do a lot for Rafi’s rise…much more than CR in the 50s and 60s.

15 Arunkumar Deshmukh July 31, 2015 at 10:31 pm

correction of a funny mistake- the part should read “CR put down his foot” and not Food- in the 3rd line.
Sorry for the lapse.

16 AK July 31, 2015 at 11:28 pm

I remember to have read my version of the strory from a very respectable source. But both versions have the same core: Ashok Kumar wanted to sing, CR wanted Rafi to do the song.

Thanks for your detailed clarification.

17 ksbhatia July 31, 2015 at 11:31 pm

AK’ji ;

Once again a master piece of an article well written, balanced and nice periodic comparison of the two great music directors vis a vis the great Rafi saheb. I think the transition period , from vintage to golden , were the real years when both Lataji and Rafi out shined their competteters . They were in great demand with other MDs as well ; specially during post 50s .
For the post 50s songs I will rate following Five songs as Rafi’s best :
1. Man tarpat hari darshan ko aaj

2.Meri kahani bhool ne wale

3.Jhoole mein pawan ke aye bahar…………duet with Lataji

4. Tu ganga ki mauj………..duet with Lataji

5. Yeh hasrat thee ki iss duniya mein

and of course there are many great songs of Rafi sahib with other MDs such as

6. Man re tu kahe na dheer kare

7. Maayus to hun wade pe tere tu paas nahin

I feel at least Two songs from the above five should find a place in the post 50s listing .

18 AK August 1, 2015 at 6:18 am

KS Bhatiaji,
Thanks a lot for your very kind words.

My main purpose was to show:
1. CR was not a complete washout with Rafi. He did about 65 songs in all for him, which is not a small number.
2. Up to 1949, he did not only more songs than Naushad for Rafi, but these were also outstanding, and immensely popular. Thus, his contribution to Rafi in his early career is significant.

Therefore, I did a detailed comparison up to 1949. Post 50s, however,CR flounders with Rafi and is not there in reckoning with Naushad, even though he did about 45 songs in the period. He did manage to create some great songs though, which I have included. Naushad-Rafi songs for this period are too well known, and I have done a post on their solos, therefore, I did not mention any of their songs.

19 gaddeswarup August 1, 2015 at 7:20 am


20 gaddeswarup August 1, 2015 at 7:24 am

Ashok Kumar a coward? Manto gives a completely different picture in the passages towards the end of Ashok Kumar giving him a lift http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/arts-letters/ashok-kumar-the-evergreen-hero

21 Dinesh K Jain August 1, 2015 at 9:41 am

I was out of station – and away from Wi-Fi/G3, thanks to miserable Airtel – and therefore could see your latest, AK, only today, now.

My compliments and thanks again for a well-researched piece on an area less traveled but of common interest among the aficionados, even though, as before, most of the songs that you have listed I was not earlier familiar with, except from Mela, Dillagi and Nausherwaneadil, and, frankly, I did not find them particularly appealing on first hearing. But then you and many other friends around here are miles ahead of me in knowledge and appreciation.

22 AK August 1, 2015 at 9:52 am

Manto does say that Ashok Kumar, too, desired his co-stars like others, but was too timid to dare.

23 AK August 1, 2015 at 9:56 am

Thanks a lot for your appreciation. It is a pity CR’s early Rafi songs I have listed didn’t appeal you on first listening. These songs have been my great favourites from the radio era. I hope you get yourself to listen to them again.

24 Arunkumar Deshmukh August 1, 2015 at 10:45 am

gaddeswarup ji,

I have this book with me as well as many others of Manto.
The chapter on Ashok kumar repeatedly emphasises, quoting different instances about the typical nature of Ashok. The most noteworthy instance is when Nalini jaywant and Ashok kumar decided to elope,Ashok petered out and never reached the spot,leaving her high and dry. Later in his old age when he wanted to be friendly with NJ ( she lived in opposite Bungalow), she snubbed him and after the incident she stopped talking to him for ever. He was afraid of keeping even 250 rupees in his room for fear of thieves. Ashok kumar has accepted this aspect of his nature many times.
The instance you are referring was totally unavoidable and ‘Marta kya na karta’ type. This must be one off.


25 AK August 1, 2015 at 12:17 pm

With due respects, you can’t extrapolate this to cowardice. Many of us are awkward with women. Manto’s obsession in ‘Stars from another sky’ is peeping into bedrooms. But if you have read the story of CR-Rafi-Ashok Kumar the way you describe in some authentic source, that is another matter. In any case, none of us knows the truth, our source is someone’s anecdotes we have read somewhere.

26 Ashwin Bhandarkar August 1, 2015 at 4:52 pm

‘Mehfil me meri’ based on a mix of Bhairav-Jogiya-Kaalingada from Albela is one of my favourite Lata-Rafi duets:


CR used the same material in Anarkali for ‘Dua kar gham-e-dil’


Note the similarities in the interludes of the two songs.

Am not sure which movie came first.

27 Arunkumar Deshmukh August 1, 2015 at 5:38 pm

AK ji,

I agree that being awkward with women is not cowardice. May be I used an incorrect word as ‘coward’ . Actually I made a translation of a Marathi word (ghabarat) or one who is not daring enough or is afraid of or one who will not take risks easily.
The point to be noted is that CR knew exactly that under those circumstances ( of riots) Ashok kumar would not venture out of his house and the song would go to Rafi. Period.

28 AK August 1, 2015 at 7:29 pm

Ashwin Bhandarkar,
Mehfil mein meri kaun ye deewana aa gaya is an excellent Rafi-Lata duet. Interestingly, Lata leads and Rafi follows. Therefore, it lingers more as a Lata Mangeshkar song.

The films were two years apart: Albela in 1951, Anarkali in 1953.

29 Ashwin Bhandarkar August 1, 2015 at 9:15 pm

Thanks for the clarification on the years in which Albela and Anarkali were made. ‘Bhool jaayen saare gham’ from Nausherwan-e-Adil also deserves mention in the list of great Rafi-Lata duets.


30 Sathya August 2, 2015 at 12:10 am

A great article and one that I also enjoy because it resonates a lot with my thoughts. But I do feel that even post 1950, whenever CR gave something good to Rafi, it was sparkling and in my view, in its own league and can stand comparison with the best of Naushad-Rafi.

One song that is one of very great favourites from CR-Rafi is the Lata-Rafi duet in “Sagaai” – “udhar se tum chale or hum idhar se”. The song is a joyful experience- its so full of life. Yes, Rafi does sound very subdued and very Talat-ish in the song but doesn’t matter. Its a charmer.

The reasons why CR chose to move away from Rafi is unknown and can be interpreted in many ways. But consider this- CR did 298 songs with Lata in just 63 films. Thats the highest number of songs/film average for Lata with any MD [ref: http://giitaayan.com/satish/index-7.html%5D. With this severe Lata fixation, it is hardly a surprise that there was very little left for any other singer.[In fact, I think it is really a huge credit to Talat that despite the numerically few songs he did with CR, he still manages to loom large in the space left unoccupied by Lata in CR’s music !! :)]

31 AK August 2, 2015 at 5:43 am

Thanks a lot for your appreciation. Post-50s, CR gave about 45 songs to Rafi. Some of them are indeed very good as we have seen, but can it be compared with the best of Rafi with Naushad, SD Burman or others? There I am not so sure as you are. Pre-50 I have no doubt, CR was ahead.

32 Hans August 4, 2015 at 1:37 am

This is certainly better than talking only about Naushad-Rafi which has been discussed frequently. CR has been unfortunate to face negative propaganda and his fans like me are grateful to AK for bringing out his work with Rafi in the right perspective. He has faced the ire of both the Lata (for whom he lived and died) brigade and Rafi fans, but has lived in the hearts of general public for his music.

I had given detailed stats about Rafi-CR combo in comments 17, 38 & 39 in the article on Talat-CR-Naushad. There I had said this combo had 74 songs. This stat was based on HFGK and most of them are on youtube. There were 27 songs from 1946-50 all of which I have checked on youtube. They had 45 songs from 1951 to 1960 and three songs in the 1970 film Rootha Na Karo. This total comes to 75. One I discovered late because it was mentioned in the addenda of HFGK. This song is ‘chali saajan ghar jaye’ from ‘Shadi se pehle’. This film also has the first ever duet by Lata-Rafi ‘chalo ho gayi tayyar’, which may also be the handiwork of CR, because one of the 3 MDs named is Paingankar about whom Arunji said that CR gave music in his name in a few films. I give here the link of the solo from that film

There is another song from film Nazrana which is listed in Appendix I of HFGK as a film which was completed in the 40s but HFGK is not sure about the year. Youtube link mentions the year of this film as 1950. Here is the link of the song ‘lachar hoon akela’.

From Duniya ‘rona hai to ro chupke chupke’ has been listed by AK. This film has another great solo by Rafi ‘is wade ka matlab kya samjhoon’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yv3mIuH_Wlc

These three solos will certainly strengthen his case of providing early fillip to Rafi career and how he gave Rafi his best tunes, before Lata entered his life and he chose to compose only for her. This does not mean that he was the only one who stood for Rafi early. There were others also. HB (46 songs, Hans Raj Behl (36), Gobind Ram (14), Shyam Sunder (13), Ghulam Mohammad and Firoz Nizami (10 each) also contributed. These figures are upto the year 1950. Naushad had 20 songs with Rafi upto 1950.

33 Hans August 4, 2015 at 1:59 am

Regarding the Saajan story about Rafi-CR-Ashok Kumar, I would say we should go by facts instead of these stories which are most of the times just made up. Rafi had 6 songs (2 solos and 4 duets) in Saajan which had 8 songs. He represented the male part in each song. The story is only about one song. What about the other 5. Ashok Kumar was so powerful in Filmistan that he could have got the recording annulled if he wanted, so there seems to be no need to make him the villain in this story. There is another fact. After Chal Chal Re Naujawan (1944) Ashok Kumar recorded only one song in Begum (1945) till Saajan. Even in that film Rafi had a song. So perhaps Ashok Kumar had already decided to leave singing. It may also be remembered that in Safar – also a Filmistan film – Rafi had two great solos. So he rightly got all the songs in Saajan on merit.

34 Hans August 4, 2015 at 2:34 am

This is in respect of your stats of CR-Lata combo. There is no doubt he had a great fixation on Lata. But, I would like to point out one competitor to that fixation. That is SJ. If we compare there stats for the ten years from 1949 to 1958. These are vital years. CR’s fixation can be said to have started from 1949 and Lata stopped singing for him in 1958. SJ started their career in 1949 and had a great fixation for Lata in the first decade. From 1949 to 1958 CR composed for 57 films out of which Lata sang in 51 films a total of 265 songs, which brings her per film average to 5.2. In the same period SJ composed for 31 films out of which Lata sang in 30 films (Boot Polish was the only exception where she herself did not sing) a total of 191 songs. The average of songs per film in their case comes to nearly 6.4.

35 AK August 4, 2015 at 10:32 am

Thanks for this wonderful statistics, and the songs which were new for me, except Duniya song. Your list shows several composers who gave a boost to the early career of Rafi. It is good that you mentioned Firoz Nizami. Though he gave very few songs, his Yahan badla wafa ka bewafai ke siwa kya hai from Jugnu is a major landmark in Rafi’s career. It would be quite interesting to compare them for Rafi for 1944-49.

CR-Ashok Kumar-Rafi story. Both mine and Arunji’s may be apocryphal, but which one you liked as a story?

36 Dinesh K Jain August 4, 2015 at 11:08 am

I much prefer to believe the version about cowardice Ashok Kumar; it is far more amusing and spicy. Hans’s effort to explain it away may be more rational, but prosaic! Now that there is no way to confirm it one way or the other, I exercise my unimpeded right to make my own choice.

37 Hans August 4, 2015 at 11:35 pm

Thanks for the excel sheet from muveen. Consequent upon matching with the songs in that list, there is a change in my stats given in comment 32. There are 29 songs from 1946-50 where CR gave music. The total of songs also comes to 78 instead of 75.

I agree with you that ‘yahan badla wafa ka’ stands apart among his top most duets. Regarding the Ashok story, if I have to give a vote as a must, I will go with Arunji for the simple reason that Ashok’s foot was much heavier to put down. If your story is modified as Ashok was pursuaded by CR, then I would go with you.

38 Hans August 4, 2015 at 11:42 pm


I agree with your unimpeded right. Most of the books on films contain these anecdotes in plenty, because otherwise they would not sell.

Rationality contains the word ration in it. So it is taboo with most people as nobody likes rationing.

39 gaddeswarup August 5, 2015 at 4:54 am

@37, there is a story which seems to agree with the stories so far and further says that Ashok Kumar was so pleased with Rafi’s recording that he wanted a song which he already recorded to be re-recorded in Rafi’s voice.

40 chellamani August 5, 2015 at 7:39 am

excellent analysis and very god observation. same way people have a misconception that Manna Dey was the voice of Mehmood while obviously Rafi has sung more songs for Mehmood !! Percptions versus facts !!


41 AK August 5, 2015 at 10:10 am

Thanks a lot for your recheck. I must have miscounted. I have accordingly revised my post to mention CR-Rafi had over 75 songs.

You may treat my earlier response at #4 accordingly revised.

Now we seem to have three stories on CR-Ashok Kumar-Rafi. Hans has supported this on the basis of data. You are a mathematician. So whatever you say.

Thanks a lot for your appreciation. The correct statistics, thanks to Hans, further reinforces the extent of CR-Rafi association, at least in numbers.

42 Ravindra Kelkar August 6, 2015 at 5:52 pm

AK ji,
I remember hearing one Rafi song composed by CR for a Tamil film in 1970s. I will try to find it.

43 Ravindra Kelkar August 6, 2015 at 11:11 pm

The film was Akbar Salim Anarkali(1979). It was a Telugu film not Tamil. Here is the link http://www.indianscreen.com/mp3/Rafi/AkbarSalimAnarkali_1979-Rafi-TaralentagaMeriseno-CNarayanaReddy_CRamchandra.mp3
It’s a quite ordinary song. It’s relevance is just for the record purpose & nothing more.

44 AK August 7, 2015 at 8:37 am

Ravindra Kelkar,
Thanka a lot for this information. Like stars, even the music directors have only so much span of fame.

45 Sathya August 10, 2015 at 3:10 am

Thanks for all the excellent statistics and anecdotes.
Hansji- I bow to your great knowledge. I did not mean to imply that CR was unique with regard to Lata fixation. As you have mentioned, others also were so impacted. I only attempted to say that what was left in CR’s output after lata’s share was too less to make for impressive numbers with the other singers.

AKji- again, I do not intend to compare CR-Rafi’s overall output with others. Only that their good songs were amongst Rafi’s best with any MD. I would definitely argue for instance that “ye hasrat thi ki is duniyaa” is as good as a” hum bekhudi me tum”. It’s obviously just my personal opinion.

46 D P Rangan September 7, 2015 at 2:05 am

I accidentally stumbled upon this wonderful website songsofyore and have been reading all the posts. Such a wealth of knowledge I never expected to absorb in a life time, has been made possible in a few days thanks to this site. Regret did not latch on to you from 2010. Can I have access to earlier postings starting from 2010. I am a retired old film music lover and have time and leisure to read material on them.

47 AK September 7, 2015 at 10:50 am

DP Rangan.
Welcome to SoY and thanks a lot for your appreciation. I am giving the link of the first post which appeared on 7 June 2010 (this didn’t exactly fit into SoY, but the second post onwards it became pure Songs of Yore). At its bottom you would find a link “Next post”, click on the highlighted title of the next post, and carry on till you come to the most recent post. There are 163 posts in all till date, and several thousand comments which are equally valuable. So you are in for several days of journey into SoY.


I should also warn you about one irritant. YouTube might have removed a good number of links. I do not know why someone does this pointless exercise. However, intrepid music lovers keep on posting replacements of the song links they have removed. Therefore, you may have to look for some songs independently on YT by typing the song title in the Search box. Most likely you would get all the songs. It just involves a little effort.

48 D K Rudola December 21, 2015 at 1:46 pm

Revisiting the website after a long time (apologise for the same), found the article very interesting. Kudos to Mr AK for the pains taken by him.

However, I find the word ‘antipathy’ rather not very appropriate. Every MD has his own likes/dislikes/prejudices/compulsions. I think they had a very good chemistry between them (what else can one expect with an humble and thorough gentleman that Rafi was – I don’t think anyone could have ever been displeased with him, his famous disagreement with Lata notwithstanding which again was on principles and not on personalities). How well the chemistry between Rafi and CR comes out in the song ‘meri sakhi bata’ sung so beautifully by both of them! (Surprising that none mentioned this song!)

I would be extremely grateful AKji if you could please mail me the Excel Sheet prepared by Mr Muveen.

Best regards,

49 AK December 21, 2015 at 4:50 pm

Mr Rudola,
Thanks a lot for your return, and your appreciation.

I used the word ‘antipathy’ in quotes as it was not exactly my expression, I had seen it used by some renowned writer – I don’t remember the reference now. However, I think Anil Biswas was more categorical in expressing that Rafi did not fit his musical style. The writer must have thought AB was saying the same thing in a polite way.

You are right about CR-Rafi chemistry which comes out in several of their duets. With 70 plus songs CR composed for Rafi, we can’t use the same word for him. We can only say that somehow he does not count among the top composers you associate with Rafi. Here is the song Meri sakhi bata from the film Hungama (1952).

I have mailed the Excel sheet to you.

50 D K Rudola December 22, 2015 at 10:35 am

Thank you very much dear Mr AK for the sheet, for the welcome and for the song.

Yes, you are quite right in ascertaining that AB or even CR can’t be considered as top composers for Rafi. I think it was as much their loss as that of the music world. But again, to each his own…

51 Ashok Kumar Tyagi December 28, 2015 at 4:48 pm

AK ji,

I am reminded of a comment made by Mukesh when he was talking to S.N. Tripathi. Mukesh said that he (Tripathi ji) gave him only very few songs to sing even though his style of singing with emotions would have served Tripathiji’s music very well. Tripathi ji replied that it is true that he gave Mukesh only a few songs but all those songs are very popular and will have a very long life.


52 AK December 28, 2015 at 10:02 pm

SN Tripathi composed several outstanding songs for Rafi too. Rafi sang overall five times more songs than Mukesh. The latter need not have complained. It was pure statistics.

53 Hans January 6, 2016 at 12:57 am

Ashok Kumar Tyagi #51
I am not a believer in such anecdotes. I dont think Mukesh – who was a gentleman – could have said this to SN Tripathi who was a very respected figure in hfm. I dont think SNT was to blame for less songs by Mukesh. First thing as AK says Rafi sang about five times more songs than Mukesh. For SNT Rafi sang about 4 times more songs than Mukesh. If we also take into account the fact that Mukesh – of his own volition – stopped (almost) playback singing, for pursuing his acting career, for almost 6-7 years between 51-58, we would see that SNT gave him more than his ratio with other MDs. Nobody blames SDB, who did not give a single song to Mukesh between 49-60 and then between 63-75.

Another fact, which should be kept in mind is that SNT composed mostly for subjects like historical characters, mythology and religion. Mukesh was not much interested in such films or songs. If you study the career of Mukesh and Talat, you would find that they hardly sang bhakti type of songs. Mukesh first sang for SNT in Shri Ram Bhakta Hanuman in 1948. In that film he sang two solos picturised on Rama and the subject of the songs was the separation from Seeta. Male part of all the bhakti type of songs was sung by Rafi. After that we find that he sang for SNT in Rani Roopmati(1959).

Such stories are spread due to the fact that 2-3 songs by Mukesh and composed by SNT became very famous. People like Raju Bharatan also spread canards with his write up listing films in which a single song of Mukesh became famous as against more than one song by Rafi. After I read his article I started making a list of films in which a single song of Rafi became a hit and Mukesh songs remained obscure. You will be surprised that I had identified about 30 such films and then I stopped further research, because Raju Bharatan had listed 18-19 films.

As AK said SNT did not depend on Mukesh for his films. Rafi and Manna Dey and later on Mahendra Kapoor faithfully and with success sang for his type of films and songs. And when Mukesh made himself available, why would he discard his faithful singers.

54 ashok kumar tyagi January 6, 2016 at 3:18 pm

AK ji,

We are thankful to Hans ji, who does his statistical research painstakingly and is always accurate with the data. Furthermore he is an avid follower of good music. In this article on the subject of Naushad- C. Ramchandra comparison regarding utilisation of Rafi in a certain period of time, it comes out that sometimes numbers do not tell the full story. In the world of Test match cricket we have seen that C.K.Nayudu and Sonny Ramadhin are counted among greats though they do not have statistical backing of big performances all the time. We need not compare them with Len Hutton or Richie Benaud.

My thanks to you and Hans ji.

55 Muveen October 4, 2016 at 4:51 pm

Dear Rafians,
Firstly thanks a lot for Writer who mentioned my name with Email ID.
That list made by me before 2006 and I have a lack of knowledge on the subject.
any rafians need upadated list of Rafi saab kindly mail me. I will send it .
Mr. Ejaz Shah has new one forwarded by me by today.

56 AK October 4, 2016 at 5:56 pm

Welcome to SoY. Your Excel sheet is very useful. And thanks for making it available publicly.

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