Naushad’s best songs for Mohammad Rafi

December 24, 2011

Double tribute on their birth anniversaries

Naushad-RafiMohammad Rafi’s birth anniversary falls on December 24 (b 1924) and Naushad’s on December 25 (b 1919). This close proximity also extended to their music. Rafi was to playback singing what Naushad was to music composing – both at the commanding heights of their profession for over two decades. Their collaboration produced some of the best and most memorable music of the Golden Era.

Both had childhood passion for music. But Naushad’s father regarded his passion as decadent and wasteful, which forced him to flee home in Lucknow and finally reach Bombay. Rafi’s family on the other hand was supportive. His talent was recognised very early. There is a story that at a music concert in Lahore, his idol KL Saigal was to perform. Suddenly lights went out causing a lot of chaos. Then a 13-year old Rafi was called upon the stage to bring order by his singing. His family shifted to Bombay, Mecca of all dreams for someone like Rafi.

Naushad was by now an established composer. Rafi’s first break was by Pandit Shyam Sundar, but soon after, his association with Naushad started. He also got a chance to sing with his idol Saigal as a voice in chorus in the song Roohi meri roohi (from film Shanjehan); coincidentally the music director was Naushad. Rafi’s solo Suhani raat dhal chuki which first marked him as one of the top singers was composed by Naushad. It was Naushad again who with Baiju Bawra established Rafi as the topmost playback singer.

Rafi was a singer of enormous talents. He could sing for Dilip Kumar and he could sing for Johnny Walker, he could sing for Guru Dutt and he could sing for Shammi Kapoor – and his voice would become one with the actor on the screen. He could sing a qawwali, he could sing bhajans, he could sing soulful, romantic songs and he could sing rock and roll, breezy and comic songs. His talent could not remain confined to just the classicism of Naushad. Many talented composers such as OP Nayyar, SD Burman, Shankar Jaikishan, Roshan, Ravi and numerous others gave their the best with Rafi and presented him in myriad colours. There would always be different views on who gave best Rafi songs. But Naushad – Rafi combination has a unique place and is my special favourite.

Here is my selection of best of Naushad – Rafi as my double tribute to the two legends on their birth anniversaries (Rafi passed away on July 31, 1980 and Naushad on May 5, 2006).

1. Suhani raat dhal chuki from Dulai (1949), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni

There were several hit songs of Rafi before this, both solos and some duets in Sajan, Nadiya Ke Paar and Jugnu. But to my mind this was the first song that hinted here was a singer who was destined to reach great heights. Picturised on yesteryear’s actor Suresh, this early song in his career remains one of the greatest and eternal songs.

2.  Hue hum jinke liye barbaad from Deedar (1951), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni

Naushad had great success with Mukesh and Talat Mahmood for Dilip Kumar, but surprisingly he did not repeat them and now settled for Rafi as the voice for Dilip Kumar. Under Naushad, Rafi gave several immortal songs in a number of films. This song from Deedar picturised on Dilip Kumar playing the harmonium in the street again has a peculiar sadness so characteristic of him during this period. Shakeel Badayuni has now become the main lyricist for Naushad replacing Majrooh Sultanpuri.

3.  O duniya ke rakhwale from Baiju Bawra (1952), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni

Baiju Bawra is a great Naushad landmark. Long back Rattan had established his mastery over the folk, this film marked him as the best for composing songs on classical Ragas. Rafi’s singing is divine, every stanza is sung in a different tune. He shows amazing control over high pitch. One of the greatest not only of Rafi but the Golden Era.

4.  Tasweer banata hun teri khoone jigar se from Deewana (1952), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni

A great song need not be picturised on a great actor. I reckon this song in the same class as Talat Mahmood’s non-film song Tasweer teri dil mera bahla na sakegi. Here Suresh is drawing a portrait of his beloved while singing this song which has incredibly beautiful lyrics. A bonus is its version song in the voice of Habib Wali Mohammad:

तस्वीर बनाता हूं तेरी खूने जिगर से अरे खूने जिगर से
देखा है तुझे मैंने मोहब्बत की नज़र से अरे मोहब्बत की नज़र से

जितने भी मिले रंग वो सब भर दिये तुझमें हाये भर दिये तुझमें
एक रंग-ए-वफा और है लाऊं मैं किधर से अरे लाऊं मैं किधर से

सावन तेरी ज़ुल्फों से घटा मांग के लाया हाये मांग के लाया
बिजली ने चुरायी है तड़प तेरी नज़र से अरे तेरी नज़र से

मैं दिल में बुलाकर तुझे रुखसत ना करूंगा हाये रुखसत ना करूंगा
मुश्किल है तेरा लौट के जाना मेरे घर से अरे जाना मेरे घर से

5.  Aye na balam wada kar ke from Shabab (1954), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni

Naushad, Shakeel Badayun and Rafi again create this masterpiece on classical Raga for Bharat Bhushan.

Aye na balam wada kar ke

6.  O door ke musafir humko bhi saath le le from Udan Khatola (1955), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni

One of the lasting memories of this song is when I was travelling in a city bus several years ago. An itinerant mendicant entered and started the alaap style  Chale aaj tum jahan se and flowing into O door ke musafir in perfect tune. The effect was mesmerising.  One of my greatest Naushad – Rafi favourites.

7.  Dhal chuki sham-e-gham from Kohinoor (1960), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni

What is most enchanting about this song? Kumkum’s dance or Dilip Kumar’s playing the sitar, Rafi’s beautifully modulating voice or Naushad’s music or picturisation of the court celebration? Everything about this song is just perfect. One of my later discoveries, but now my great favourite.

8.  Mere mehboob tujhe meri mohabbat ki kasam from Mere Mehboob (1963), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni

Rafi’s greatness you see in nazms which is more of a recital without much musical accompaniment. This is one of the best in this genre so what if it is picturised on Rajendra Kumar.

9.  Dil ki mehfil hai saji hai chale ayiye from Saaz Aur Awaz (1966), lyrics Khumar Barabankvi

At last we are getting a lyricist other than Shakeel Badayuni. Khumar Barabankvi was a renowned Urdu poet. Though small in number he has given some outstanding songs for films. And Joy Mukherjee? If you thought he had good songs only by OP Nayyar or Shankar Jaikishan, Naushad gives his own touch and creates an unforgettable masterpiece.

10.  Ishq diwana husn bhi ghayal from Sangharsh (1968), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni

I started with one of the Naushad-Rafi’s earliest.  Now I end with their last great song.   By 1968 Naushad’s best was over, soon the Golden Era era would irretrievably give way to RD Burman–Kishore Kumar style of music.  Befittingly it is picturised on Dilip Kumar, Vyjayantimala being the heroine with whom he had a number of stupendous successes including Naya Daur and Ganga Jamna.  This song has all the old world charm of Naushad–Rafi style.

I have come to the end of my best ten Naushad–Rafi songs. Then I came across this beautiful video on YouTube where Naushad describes his recording of Rafi’s last ghazal with him for an unreleased film Habba Khatoon.  Naushad in his elegant style describes how Rafi was on verge of tears at the kind of songs he was made to sing.  This video is a befitting tribute to the two legends.


{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ashok Vaishnav December 24, 2011 at 11:02 am

Presenting Naushad’s songs certainly is one of the best way to Rafi Saab and his eternal contribution to the Hindi Film Music.
It may be a difficult subject to research, but would it not be worthwhile to plan articles on his one-off songs by some of the music directors [ there should be none probably] or with other singers or for actors.
Rafi Saab was known for his additional efforts to make such songs stand out.

2 Naresh P Mankad December 24, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Obviously, Mohammed Rafi was favourite singer of Naushad. Together they created memorable melodies, songs of lasting value,which remain etched in our minds forever. They created not just the melody, they created an atmosphere or ambience. One example is an often quoted episode. Remeber the song Door koi gaaye dhun ye sunaye, from Baiju Bawra? It is one such song that creates an atmosphere by touching the cords of listeners and it is said that Lata Mangeshkar had tears in her eyes when the recording ended.

3 Richard S. December 24, 2011 at 3:09 pm

A very enjoyable post! I don’t know if you know that I also noticed that Rafi’s birthday directly preceded Naushad’s, and I also considered that Noor Jehan’s death anniversary was December 23, so I did a triple tribute on December 23 – but not a full tribute, just a nod, three songs total (one of Noor Jehan, one of Rafi, one instrumental, all by Naushad).

By the way, while your Rafi-Naushad timeline begins in 1949 (and the lovely song that I also chose for my post), if I had done a full chronological post of Rafi-Naushad favorites, I would have begun it in 1946, with “Tera Khilona Toota”:

Among the somewhat later selections, I absolutely agree with you regarding “Dhal Chuki Sham-e-Gham” – that is such a delightful song, with a great dance.

4 AK December 25, 2011 at 6:57 pm

@ Ashok Vaishnav
Good idea for esearch. Would keep in mind and see where does it go.

@Naresh P Mankad
Thanks for your comments.

@Richard S
I did visit your bolg. Did not know anout Noorjehan’s death anniversary. Somehow Tera khilona toota balak never appealed to me in the face of iconic songs of Surendra and Noorjehan in Anmol Ghadi. Naushad-Rafi association predates even this song – he used Rafi for the first time in 1944 in Pahle Aap. But the Rafi songs earlier to Suhani raat dhal chuki I find memorable are all non-Naushad compositions – More raja ho le chal nadiya ke paar, duet with Lalita Devalkar from Nadiya Ke Paar (1948); Humko tumhara hi aasra, solo and duet with Lalita Deolkar from Sajan (1947) both composed by C Ramchandra and Yahan badla wafa ka bewafayi ke siwa kya hai, duet with Noorjehan from Jugnu (1947), composed by Firoz Nizami.

5 harvey December 29, 2011 at 12:19 am

Such a fabulous list! Thanks for this wonderful post, AK!
Enjoyed each and every song in the list.
Thank you also for the last song recorded by Rafi with Naushad.
10 fav Rafi songs with Naushad must have been a difficult task.
My all-time Rafi-Naushad fav is man tarapat hari darshan ko. It brings tears to my eyes everytime I listen to it.

6 AK December 29, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Thanks for your compliments.

Man tadpat hari darshan ko aaj is again Naushad-Rafi’s classical apogee. If purity of Raga is considered this perhaps scores over O duniya ke rakhwale. The reason I chose the latter I guess was because the twists and turns in Darbari appeals to me more than the flatness of Malkauns. Other songs I considered including were Kal raat zindagi se mulaqat ho gayi – but two Rajendra Kumar’s would have been too much. Mujhe duniyawalo sharabi na samjho and Koi saagar dil ko bahalata nahi.

7 K R Vaishampayan January 21, 2012 at 11:57 pm

Dear AK, This is a CLASSIC by any yardstick. I do not want to spoil the great taste it generates. Warmest regards and zillion thanks – KRV

8 AK January 23, 2012 at 1:13 am

@KR Vasihampayan
Thanks a lot for your compliments.

9 Arman April 4, 2012 at 8:08 pm

While going through your blog, I came across this interesting list.
Although generally I like your choice, but little disappointed as some songs should have been mentioned if not included in the top ten category.

Ye zindagi ke mele
Dil mein chupa ke
Madhuban mein radhika
Aaj purani rahoon se

Please don’t have the impression that I always confront with you.

10 AK April 4, 2012 at 10:40 pm

Ye zindagi ke mele would not have occured on my radar screen, as Mela (1948) is strongly associated with Mukesh’s songs. Mahuban mein radhika was already covered in Subodh Agrawal’s guest artcile Best songs based on classical ragas. Aaj purani rahon se to my mind belongs to the period when Naushad was past his best, and I find my best ten well before 1968. Dil men chhupa ke, so also other songs of Aan are among my top favourites too. In fact I had earlier included Mohabbat choome jinke hath, but soon I found YouTube had withdrawn its video so I had to replace it by another song. Since I had to limit it to ten, there are bound to be disappointments, but readers like you make up for any shortfall, and make the blog richer. Thanks for your comments.

11 RS August 18, 2012 at 2:13 am

Good list; virtually impossible to stop at 10 Naushad Rafi creations. I would probably eliminate the Sunghursh song, which I find to be mediocre in such august company. Also your list lacks a truly lively folk song. So I would offer Nain Lad Jayi Hain – What brilliant dancing and emoting by the Tragedy King. The song is in Poorvi Bhasha (Eastern U.P dialect). In an interview, Naushad said he was familiar with Poorvi but Shakeel wasn’t and was hesitant to pen the lyrics. Naushad told him he would help him by stating the sentiment of the song in prose and Shakeel could use his poetic skills to create the final song. Sunghursh itself has a similar lively folk dance number Mere pairon mein ghunghroo bandha de aur phir meri chaal dekh le – . I am sure this song was obviously inspired by the Ganga Jumna song.

12 AK August 18, 2012 at 3:48 pm

I would also not insist too much on Sanghursh song . In that case my choice would be probably Koi sagar dil ko bahlata nahi or an earlier song from Aan or Deedar. But thanks for your comments.

13 Naresh P Mankad August 18, 2012 at 7:10 pm

Rafi and Naushad combination brings to mind the preconceived idea of a classical song. This duet was a departure from that fixed format as early as 1950:
The western dance by Raj Kapoor and Suraiya looks authentic only due to the lilting song.

14 Dr Syed September 13, 2012 at 1:50 am

excellent work,extremely hard job. congratulations

15 AK September 13, 2012 at 7:13 am

Thanks a lot Dr Syed.

16 s p sinha September 19, 2012 at 9:02 pm

great selection. “ae husn jara jaag tujhe ishq jagaye” from mere mehboob is my fav.

17 mumbaikar8 November 3, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Another gem in your crown
How about one on Rafi SDB.
Thanks and keep writing.

18 AK November 3, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Thanks a lot. Yes, some of Rafi’s best songs are by SDB, as also some of the SDB’s best are by Rafi. This would surely come at an appropriate time.

19 ASHOK M VAISHNAV November 3, 2012 at 11:10 pm

In fact, Rafi’s songs with Madan Mohan or Chitragupt or Khayyam or Jaidev or Salil Chaudhari or Hemant Kumar can each provide us veritable hidden treasure troves. Similarly Ravi’s works between Rafi and Mahendra Kapoor can also bring in a very interesting facet of Hindi Film Music.
Of course, Laxmikant Pyarelal’s Work would fall mostly beyond the limits of discussions of this blog, but their Work with Rafi, for lip singing Dharmendra’s songs also do deserve a good luck, when every one thought that Kishore – Rajesh Kahnna – RDB caaled the shots.

20 AK November 4, 2012 at 1:17 am

I have covered Rafi with Naushad and Roshan. In terms of his landmark songs, the names which come to mind next are SD Burman, Shankar Jaikishan, OP Nayyar, Madan Mohan, Chitragupta and Ravi. Khayyam too and some Jaidev also, but Salil Chaudhry and Hemant Kumar I doubt we can reel off their many outstanding Rafi compositions. What can be safely said that every great composer gave his best for Lata Mangeshkar (barring OPN). Now that SoY has acquired a momentum, fuelled no less by the erudite readers, all these should come by and by.

21 jignesh kotadia December 27, 2012 at 11:59 am

@AK ji….delicious topic for music lovers…
Every song is a gem created by this pair. I am only adding some of them which r best but not pointed in this topic.

1. Mahelo me rehnewale hame tere dar se kya (shabaab,54)
2. Ai muhabbat zindabad(mughal e azam)
3. Muhabbat ki raaho me chalna sambhal kar (udan khatola)
4. Insaaf ka mandir hai ye (amar)
5. Zindagi aaj mere naam se sharmati hai (son of india)

@s p sinha
Yes,, ”aye husn zara jaag” is one of my favs of rafi. Great choice.

@Ak ji…and that song of Palki….’kal raat zindagi se mulaqat ho gayi’ is indeed a nice tune.

22 AK December 27, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Rafi’s songs by Naushad have a very special place, though these are not in very large numbers. Many songs which I could not include are exceptionally good. The one from Son of India I like a lot. Thanks.

23 jignesh kotadia December 27, 2012 at 7:25 pm

@Ak ji
Like Naushad-Rafi,, Madan mohan-Lata,, CR-Lata… more pair is a huge temptation for me, its ANILDA and LATA…I hope u will think to initiate such threads.

24 AK December 27, 2012 at 9:46 pm

You can bet I have a number of such singer-composers in mind. Anil Biswas was one of the mentors of Lata Mangeshkar. In the vintage era, his lead singers were his sister, Parul Ghosh, Amirbai Karnataki etc. But in the golden era, his best was for Lata Mangeshkar, as was the case with so many other composers. She also had unstinted praise for him. This combination would surely come some day on SoY.

25 jignesh kotadia December 28, 2012 at 12:03 am

Thanx AKji…waiting

26 Naresh P. Mankad December 28, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Your mentioning ‘Dhal chuki sham-e-gan” and the use of sitart gave me an idea. You can consider about a post on the use of classical Indian instruments in Hindi films. You will find some excellent pieces of sitar, sarangi, sarod, tabla etc in just 3 minutes’ time. Or for that matter you can include other instruments that do not fall under this category. It will really be an interesting exercise.

About the use of sitar in “Dhal chuki sham-e-gam. I have a very strong dislike for the way they show an actor playing some instrument. It should have some semblance of authenticity, or an attempt to bring some authenticity. The way it is shown in our films is absolutely rubbish, ridiculous and disgusting. Look at the actor (Dilip Kumar) who is said to have keen interest in music to the extent that he used to discuss the songs with the music director, specifically Naushad; look at the manner in which he holds sitar, look at the position of his right hand on sitar and places and moves the fingers of left hand. How can this be acceptable even to a dimwit in music? A good actor should observe and learn, and a good director (and also perhaps a sharp music director) should also not be sloppy in such matters. As far as I can remember, Dilip Kumar’s handling of sitar in “madhuban men Radhika nache re” is equally bad or even worse.

27 AK December 29, 2012 at 7:10 am

Thank you Nareshji for your detailed comments. I do have some ideas for a series of posts on songs and musical instruments.

I found your comments on Dilip Kumar’s handling of the sitar interesting. Frankly, I am not knowledgeable enough to really comment on this. I thought Dlip Kumar was a perfectionist, and I also read somewhere that for this particular song he learnt how to play the sitar for a month!

28 Naresh P. Mankad January 4, 2013 at 9:43 pm

I actually feel I should not have dwelt on the subject of handling an instrument as it does not pertain to music, it is related to picturisation. But to music lovers this may sometimes seem distracting. Hrishikesh Mukherji has picturised Ashok Kumar in film “Khoobsoorat” in a better way. Ashok Kumar could ” speak” the “bol” or sound of tabla or dholak (remember Ashirwad?) expertly. In Khoobsoorat, he started playing tabla accompanying the dance of Rekha in a creditable manner but immediately the camera moves farther from him as the beat becomes difficult, and then his hands are not shown.

29 yunus June 27, 2013 at 7:11 pm

we are lucky that we are born when rafisaab, naushadsaab and shakeel badayuni were there and enjoyed lovely and enchanting melodies. however the present generation also love these songs and melodies. these are everlasting songs for many many years to come.

30 chandrakant July 8, 2013 at 6:25 pm

kal raat zindagi se mulaqat ho gayi.dil betab ko sine se lagaana hoga .chehare se apne aaj to parda hataiye. palki is a naushad sahab’s real karishma.every song is anmol heera.

31 kanti Mohan Sharma July 30, 2013 at 12:26 pm

I can suggest another combination which to my mind has given a dozen of memorable songs–Sudhir Phadke-Narendra Sharma-Lata Mangeshkar. This is a rare body-chemistry working at its best when all three of them are together. Several such combinations are worth exploring.

32 R ABDUL GHANI March 10, 2014 at 11:38 am



33 Arun Joshi March 26, 2014 at 6:36 pm

Song od Film Deewana , Tasveer Banta hun teri Khune-jigar se is also recorded in the voice of Wali Mohammad, and is more powerful, and heart touching.

34 M K SHARMA April 24, 2014 at 10:22 am

As for as I strongly think that Insaaf ka mandir hai.. is mind blowing singing with sounds of bells ringing and deserve in place of Sungharsh . A song of its own kind.

35 arvindersharma May 25, 2014 at 6:44 pm

Majority of old time listeners of HFM are certainly (myself included) committed fans of Naushad/Rafi combine.
Naushad’s contribution in Rafi’s ascent is undeniable as he gave preference to Rafi’s strong vocal cords as compared to Talat’s mellow voice, the result being that after ‘Babul’, Talat did not sing any solo for Naushad.
Other composers like OP, SJ and SDB seemed to have taken a liking to Rafi’s voice , and there is also the fact that Talat was not being preferred by the big MDs and heroes. Rafi was able to cope up with the changing times and tastes, and Talat’s decline became inevitably, one aspect being the decline of Urdu language in India after the partition.
A double blow, as far as good times were concerned.
I would like to mention a rare song from K. Asif’s second film, ‘Love And God’ which is in two parts, the first being sung by Manna De, Talat, Balbeer and chorus, and Rafi sings the second part in his unmatchable style.
‘Rahega jahan me tera naam,
Banenge tere bigade kaam,
Hame kuch raah e Khuda de de,
Hame kuch raah e Khuda se se’.

36 a r modak December 12, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Winning awards may not be the yardstick to measure a singer or composer;s successes.
However, after Naushad won the inaugural FilmFare award for BB, he produced great albums-including the very popular “Mere Mehboob” track-but no success for him at all, after a glorious forty years in the industry

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