Wonderful Rafi, Talat songs on Raj Kapur
When Mukesh died (in 1976), Raj Kapur said he had lost his voice. And rightly so. When you think of Raj Kapur, you think of Awara hun, Mera joota hai japani, Ruk ja o janewali ruk ja, Chhalia mera naam, Mera naam Raju gharana a-naam, and countless other Mukesh songs lip-synched by Raj Kapur on the screen.
You are also aware of the outstanding Manna Dey songs in duets such as Pyaar hua ekraar hua, Ye raat bheegi bheegi, A ja sanam madhur chandni mein hum etc. This came about when Mukesh was distracted from playback singing as he became convinced by his handsome looks that he was hero material.
Raj Kapur gave him a 3-minute appearance in Aah as the coachman who sings Chhoti si ye zidagaani. This was of course trivial, and one of the trivia, which you know if you know it. What better way than to produce your own film to make sure you became a hero. This enterprise ended in disaster when his films Mashuqa and Anurag bombed at the box office (though Anurag had Mukesh’s one of the best songs Koi dil mein hai aur koi hai nazar mein). He was lucky to make a comeback as a playback singer with Yahudi (Ye mera deewanapan hai). He was also lucky that his friends Raj Kapur-Shailendra-Hasrat Jaipuri-Shankar Jaikishan had not given up on him, and gave him a major musical success with Anari, and thus resumed his long innings as a great playback singer.
Manna Dey later sang for Raj Kapur in Parvarish (Masti bhara hai sama), Dil Hi To Hai (Laga chunari mein daag), Mera Naam Joker (Ae bhai zara dekh ke chalo). It is creditable that all the Manna Dey songs, though few in number, acquired iconic status.
Rafi for Raj Kapur
Aside from Mukesh and Manna Dey, what about Rafi for Raj Kapur? It would be difficult to recall or even visualise Rafi singing for Raj Kapur. Rafi’s voice has been used in RK films, but in a very secondary and sometimes insignificant manner. His best known is Ye mera prem patra padhkar for Rajendra Kumar in Sangam (1964). In Raj Kapur’s early films, you have Rafi’s Main zindagi mein hardam rota hi rahi hun in Barsaat picturised on Raj Kapur, but it is a background song. In Awara Rafi sings the boatman song Naiya teri majhdhar hoshiyar. In Shri 420, he is one of the chorus singers in O Ramaiya vastavaiya. How could Rafi allow himself to be used in such a trivial manner? Mind you, he had already reached commanding heights as a singer. The only possible explanation could be his basic humility and decency which kept him from saying no to anyone. Rafi was known to be a very simple person devoid of the film world intrigue or arrogance.
It turns out Rafi did sing for Raj Kapur, I have come across at least four films in which the songs on Raj Kapur are in the voice of Rafi.
1. Film Andaaz (1949): Raj Kapur, Dilip Kumar and Nargis; Music Naushad
This film is known for the iconic Mukesh songs on Dilip Kumar, Jhoom jhoom ke nacho aaj, Tu kahe agar, Hum aaj kahin dil kho baithe and Toote na dil toote na. Coming close on the heels of Mela (1948) which had Mukesh singing for Dilip Kumar with great impact, it was natural for Naushad to repeat the combination. One hardly recalls any Raj Kapur song in this film. But what would now appear as a surprise and role reversal, Rafi sang for Raj Kapur, Lata Mangeshkar singing for Nargis in the duet Milnewale kahin ulfat mein juda hote hain.
Rafi sings Milnewale kahin ulfat mein juda hote hain for Raj Kapur
2. Film Paapi (1953): Raj Kapur, Nargis. Music S Mohinder
Tera kaaam hai jalna parwane chahe shama jale ya na jale
3. Film Do Ustaad (1959): Raj Kapur, Madhubala; Lyric – Qamar Jalalabadi; Music – OP Nayyar
Worli ka naka is a funny rock and roll song in which Raj Kapur straddles along the chaotic street which has Sam’s Rok n Roll School to Brijwasi Dugdhalay to Aziz Shoe Mart to tongas to motor cars. Raj Kapur in the end proclaims that his song is Rock and Roll ka chacha and ends in a fast rap.
Rafi sings Worli ka naka for Raj Kapur
I would not blame you if you thought that the song or the music did not quite go on Raj Kapur. But OP Nayyar goes on regardless, and gives several more Rafi songs on Raj Kapur in his typical style which could be straight from CID or Howrah Bridge or Mr and Mrs 55 or Phagun or Naya Daur. Some of these songs sound familiar such as Tere dil ka makan saiyan bada alishan bolo bolo meri jaan hai kiraya kitna, but one would have never associated this with Raj Kapur. So listen to these OP Nayyar-Rafi songs from Do Ustaad and pinch yourself to remind that they are on Raj Kapur.
Ruk ruk kahan chali diwani
Tere dil ka makan saiyan bada alishan bolo bolo meri jaan hai kiraya kitna
Nazron ke teer mare kas kas kas
Tu ladki main ladka tujhe dekh kaleja dadka
4. Film Amber (1952): Raj Kapur and Nargis; Lyric – Shakeel Badayuni; Music -Ghulam Mohammad
Finally you get a Rafi song on Raj Kapur which redeems all the above disappointments and oddities. This is a beautiful duet with Lata, which would rank among the best of Ghulam Mohammad and the best of Rafi-Lata duets. Ghulam Mohammad was Naushad’s assistant, but I always felt this description did not do justice to him. His best in Dil-e-Nadan, Mirza Ghalib and Pakeezah, to name just a few, marks him among the tallest of our composers.
Hum tum ye bahar dekho rang laya pyar
Here is another Rafi song from the same film, not so well known, but quite pleasant.
Chale jana hmse door bade shauq se huzoor hai mera dil mujhe wapas kar do
Talat Mahmood for Raj Kapur
While Rafi songs for Raj Kapur may not be memorable, everyone would know Talat’s Main pagal mera manwa pagal, Mera qaraar le ja, Main dil hun ek armaan bhara etc. You would find them in any compilation of Talat’s great songs. In case you were also not aware for many years like me that these were picturised on Raj Kapur, listen to these songs.
1. Main pagal mera manwa pagal from the film Ashiana (1952), Raj Kapur, Nargis: Lyric – Rajendra Krishna; Music – Madan Mohan
2. Mera qarar le ja also from Ashiana
3. Main dil hun ek armaan bhara from the film Anhonee (1952); Raj Kapur, Nargis; Music – Roshan.
Great Talat Mahmood solos from the film Bewafa
However, the Talat songs for Raj Kapur which take my breath away for their beauty are two relatively less known songs from the film Bewafa (1952), starring Raj Kapur, Nargis and Ashok Kumar. The music was composed by AR Qureshi, known more famously as the great tabla player Allah Rakha, whose son Zakir Hussain of Wah Taj fame is of course a modern day icon.
Dil matwala lakh sambhala phir bhi kisi par aa hi gaya
The scene is a kind of lift from Andaaz, instead of Dilip Kumar it is Raj Kapur on the piano, and Mukesh is now replaced by Talat Mahmood. Nargis is leaning quite lovingly on the piano, Raj Kapur looking into her eyes. The third angle of the triangle is provided by the pipe smoking Ashok Kumar, who seems to be ignored by the twosome, therefore he plonks on the sofa immersed in his own thoughts about the relatioship. Now you can fill up the blanks to get a hang of the story. Here is my all time great Talat Mahmood favourite.
Tumko fursat ho meri jaan idhar dekh to lo
If Dil matwala reminds you of Andaaz, Tumko fursat ho meri jaan idhar dekh to lo reminds me of Nargis’s swimming suit scene in Awara. But in Bewafa it is a swimming pool enclosed in a high boundary wall. The pool management seemed to observe gender segregation; therefore Raj Kapur sits outside the boundary wall in the garden eating guava and playing with it. This is hardly the setting to ask her Tumko fursat ho meri jaan idhar dekh to lo. Nargis is disturbed in her swimming, she seems puzzled and somewhat bewildered at this distraction, and often looks around to find out where the singing is coming from. I am not sure if this was the ideal way to picturise this song, but the song happens to be my great favourite.
It turns out this was not all, Talat had another solo for Raj Kapur in this film, Tu aye na aye teri khushi hum aas lagaye baithe hain, which again has typical Talat’s silken touch.
Tu aye na aye teri khushi
Seeing how Talat suits Raj Kapur, and his great songs on Dilip Kumar in Babul, Daag, Arzoo, Sangdil, I often wonder at the injustice as to how soon he was sidelined by the film industry. In the great churning between Mukesh, Rafi and Talat Mahmood in 1950-52, Mukesh became the voice for Raj Kapur and Rafi for Dilip Kumar, supported by the titans Shankar Jaikishan and Naushad. Rafi, of course, became the voice of everyone else – Guru Dutt, Bharat Bhushan, Pradeep Kumar, Shammi Kapur, Rajendra Kumar etc. Talat’s Lakhnavi-Urdu elitism, and inability to stray from the elegant ghazal path, became his constraint in achieving mass popularity. But it is to his credit that with less than 800 songs including his private songs and Bengali songs, he has left an indelible imprint on the golden era of film music, which many singers with ten times more songs would envy to achieve.
Kishore Kumar for Raj Kapur (!)
This may sound quite odd, but Kishore Kumar has also sung for Raj Kapur. The only film having this distinction is Pyar (1950), lyrics by Rajendra Krishna and composed by who else but SD Burman. Though there were a number of Kishore Kumar for Raj Kapur songs in the film, I could only find the duet Ek hum aur doosre tum teesra koi nahin by Kishore Kumar and Geeta Dutt, obviously for Raj Kapur and Nargis on YouTube, though only the audio is available.
Ek hum aur doosre tum teesra koi nahin