Rafi’s best songs by SD Burman

July 31, 2013

A tribute on Rafi’s death anniversary July 31

SD Burman & Md RafiThere is one thing common between Mohammad Rafi and SD Burman. If Rafi was the most versatile singer, SD Burman was the most versatile composer. He is the only music director who can claim to have composed equally great music with Rafi as with Kishore Kumar, his two main singers. There were also films in which he used the voice of Hemant Kumar for Dev Anand, when he composed unparalleled songs like Ye raat ye chandni phir kahan. And whenever he used Manna Dey, Talat Mahmood and Mukesh, he created songs which became landmarks of their career.

SD Burman was eighteen years older to Rafi, but debuted as a composer in Hindi films (in 1946) two years’ later than Rafi’s debut as a playback singer. Their association started very early – I find a Rafi song composed by SD Burman in Do Bhai (1947), i.e. much earlier than he used Kishore Kumar. Thereafter, he used his voice in several films, but it would not be until a decade later, i.e. 1957 when their combination would give some stunningly beautiful music in Pyasa. In this interregnum of ten years, SD Burman’s work is more noteworthy for his songs by female singers. As for male singers, he composed some great songs by Hemant Kumar, Talat Mahmood, even Kishore Kumar and Mukesh. Rafi, though getting some songs from time to time, remains comparatively unnoticeable. But post 1957, you get Rafi gems one after another in Kala Pani (1958), Insan Jaag Utha, Kagaz Ke Phool (1959), Bambai Ka Babu, Kala Bazar (1960), Meri Surat Teri Ankhen, Tere Ghar Ke Samne (1963), Guide , Teen Deviyan (1965) and so on. Post-Aradhna (1969) too, when Kishore Kumar had a new avatar and zoomed like a meteor, SD Burman used Rafi till the very end.

Who was SD Burman’s favourite singer – Rafi or Kishore Kumar? You won’t get an answer in statistics – the two are generally comparable – 44 Rafi solos versus 52 by Kishore Kumar as per Mr Arunkumar Deshmukh at Atul’s site. The warriors on two sides often get into violent clashes. I would avoid that territory. Only SD Burman knew the answer to this question. As a music lover when I look at the Rafi songs of the abovementioned films, I feel as if a sculptor had crafted these songs with great care, and Rafi put soul into them with equal feeling. SD Burman knew those special situations when no one else but Rafi could deliver what he wanted.

I did my last post on Geeta Dutt’s best songs by SD Burman. Continuing my series on SD Burman with other great singers, I present some Rafi songs by him as my tribute to Rafi on his 33rd death anniversary (July 31).

1. Duniya mein meri aaj andhera hi andhera from Do Bhai (1947), lyrics Raja Mehdi Ali Khan

This must be the first song by Rafi under the baton of SD Burman. I am giving this not only because of its historical importance, but also because it is quite nice and has the hallmark of Rafi style as early as 1947. The song has gone into oblivion, and I heard it for the first time while searching for this post. It deserves to be resuscitated.


2. Ye mahlon ye takhton ye taajon ki duniya from Pyasa (1957), lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanvi

I mentioned sculpture while describing Rafi-SD Burman songs. Now we come to this piece of art. Not only the movie Pyasa, and its director Guru Dutt, by far the most written about and respected Hindi film ever, but also the poetry of Sahir Ludhiyanvi – rarely you describe a film song as poetry. Sahir was never more hard-hitting, more angry and searing than in Pyasa. And SD Burman’s music – he never crafted a song with more care. And Rafi’s rendering virtually without any support of instruments – no one else could have done it. In the climax of the movie, Guru Dutt (poet Vijay) walks in the auditorium where the cynical publisher Rahman, who had trashed his poetry and also married his beloved, Mala Sinha, is presiding over his Barsi (first death anniversary), eulogizing him as his collection of poems has become a roaring success for his publishing house. The ‘dead’ poet standing under the door frame with the director Guru Dutt’s signature play with light and shade, and his singing/reciting this nazm which makes the audience turn their heads, and the ‘dignitaries’ on the dais, including Rahman and Mala Sinha, stare in stunned disbelief, is a piece of art in many respects – not the least Rafi’s rendering and the music of SD Burman. The poetry of Sahir is worth savouring, followed by its excellent translation by Madhu (Dustedoff). And talking about the versatility of SD Burman and Rafi, readers would recall this movie also had Tel malish, Sar jo tera chakraye picturised on Johnny Walker.

Yeh mahalon yeh takhton yeh taajon ki duniya
Yeh insaan ke dushman samaajon ki duniya
Yeh daulat ke bhooke rawaajon ki duniya
Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye toh kya hai

Har ek jism ghaayal, har ek rooh pyasi
Nigaahon mein uljhan, dilon mein udaasi
Yeh duniya hai ya aalam-e-badhawaasi
Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye toh kya hai
Yahan ik khilona hai insaan ki hasti
Yeh basti hai murdaaparaston ki basti
Yahaan par toh jeevan se hai maut sasti
Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye toh kya hai

Jawaani bhatakti hai badkaar ban kar
Jawaan jism sajte hain bazaar ban kar
Yahaan pyaar hota hai vyopaar ban kar
Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye toh kya hai
Yeh duniya jahaan aadmi kuchh nahin hai
Wafaa kuch nahin dosti kuchh nahin hai
Jahaan pyaar ki qadr hi kuchh nahin hai
Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye toh kya hai

Jalaa do ise phoonk daalo yeh duniya
Mere saamne se hata lo yeh duniya
Tumhaari hai, tum hi sambhaalo yeh duniya
Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye toh kya hai

This world of palaces, of thrones and of crowns
This world of societies inimical to man
This world of traditions that hunger for wealth
Even if one were to obtain this world, what would it matter?

Each body wounded, each soul thirsting;
Perplexity in each gaze, sorrow in each heart
Is this a world, or a universe of confusion?
Even if one were to obtain this world, what would it matter?

Here, man’s existence is a mere toy;
This settlement is peopled by the worshippers of the dead
Death here is cheaper than life
Even if one were to obtain this world, what would it matter?
Youth wanders here, seeking to slake its lust
Young bodies are adorned to be sold
Love here takes on the form of trade
Even if one were to obtain this world, what would it matter?

This world, where man is nothing
Where loyalty is nothing, friendship is nothing
Where the importance of love is nothing
Even if one were to obtain this world, what would it matter?

Burn this world, send it up in smoke
Remove this world from before me
It is yours, this world: you look after it!
Even if one were to obtain this world, what would it matter?



3. Hum bekhudi mein tumko pukare chale gaye from Kala Pani (1958), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri

Crafting with care, again! And there was a reason too. This song has a special pedigree, as it is based on SD Burman’s Bengali song Ghum bhulechhi (“I stay awake all alone in this night”).  SD Burman’s singing style is very different from a conventional film song, but he adapts it beautifully to this scene where a dejected Dev Anand drowns his sorrows in alcohol, while the sympathetic courtesan, Nalini Jaiwant dances indulgently. To accentuate the hero’s sadness, see how Rafi stretches each syllable with care. And minimal orchestration – Rafi is the Master of such songs.



4. Dekhi zamane ki yari bichhade sabhi baari baari from Kagaz Ke Phool (1959), lyrics Kaifi Aazmi

Kagaz Ke Phool is the second masterpiece of Guru Dutt; many people reckon it greater than Pyasa. At one level there is similarity between the themes of the two movies – the suffering an uncompromising artist (poet in one, film director in the other) undergoes in the selfish and cynical world which values commercial success more than intrinsic merit. This was an overtly autobiographical film, which was not a commercial success, but rated as one of the greatest classics. As Sinha Saheb (Guru Dutt), once famous, now a ‘failed’ director, surveys the ruins of his studio from the scaffolding, his inner despondency and frustration is reflected in this atmospheric song by Rafi. Wonderful poetry by Kaifi Azmi, and minimal orchestration again by SD Burman – when you are crafting something with care, you don’t want too many colours to distract from the beauty of the sculpture. The song later diffuses into flashback of his glorious days when he was mobbed by admiring fans, scrambling for his autograph, swaying now to a fast chorus with completely different words. The picturisation is another superb example of Guru Dutt’s fascination with light and shades.


5. Hum tum par hain dil se fida from Bewaqoof (1960), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri

Let me move from serious to a light-hearted romantic song picturised on IS Johar in the laugh-riot Bewaqoof. Besides the roaringly funny scenes of IS Johar and Kishore Kumar making a fool of Pran in the boxing ring, a quirky feature of the movie was that all its lead actors had the same screen names as their real names – Pran was Pran, IS Johar was Johar, Kishore Kumar was Kishor, and Mala Sinha, Miss Mala.


6. Khoya khoya chand from Kala Bazar (1960), lyrics Shailendra

A dejected Dev Anand of Hum bekhdi mein to a happy Dev Anand in Khoya khoya chand – SD Burman and Rafi depict varied hues of the great romantic hero in another successful Navketan offering.


7. Nache man mora magan tig da dhigi dhigi from Meri Surat Teri Ankhen (1963), lyrics Shailendra

This one is specially for Subodh, who drew my attention to the outstanding tabla piece in the song. But there is much more – wonderful singing by Rafi, lip synched by the ‘ugly’ but a great musician, Ashok Kumar; excellent classical dance by Asha Parekh on the stage and great music by SD Burman, who was himself professionally trained in classical music.


8. Tu kahan ye bata is nashili raat mein from Tere Ghar Ke Saamne (1963), lyrics Hasrat Jaipuri

A quintessential Dev Anand song, with a slight tilt of his head, a swagger, a cap which sometimes he takes off in his hand – enough to send girls into frenzy. This one is one of my greatest Rafi-SD Burman favourites.


9. Dil mein ek jaane tamanna ne jagah payi hai from Benazir (1964), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni

Benazir is one of the less acclaimed movies of Bimal Roy, and consequently its music is also often ignored. But Dil mein ek jane tamanna ne jagah payi hai is one of my favourite Rafi-SD Burman songs. One way to enjoy its beauty is to close your eyes and imagine Dev Anand, instead of Shashi Kapoor, singing it on the screen.



10. Din dhal jaye aur raat na jaye from Guide (1965), lyrics Shailendra

Guide is an acclaimed masterpiece of Navketan films, the best of Dev Anand’s acting and probably the best of Vijay Anand’s direction. SD Burman matches with his superlative music. I am sure many would have squirmed, and Shankar Jaikishan would themselves have been embarrassed when their Suraj ‘won’ the Filmfare award for the best music direction that year. Talking of SD Burman’s choice between Kishore Kumar and Rafi, he gave Kishore Kumar a duet in this movie with Lata Mangeshkar, Gata rahe mera dil, but all the three solos were by Rafi – the other two being Tere mere sapne ab ek rang hain and Kya se kya hp gaya. Among the three, Din dhal jaye is my special favourite because of the wonderful musical pieces in the interludes.


11. Kahin bekhayal ho kar yun hi chhoo liya kisi ne from Teen Deviyan (1965), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri

I started with the theme of ‘crafting with care’. I end with this wonderful song because it gives me the same feeling of ‘crafted with care’. And why not? The poet Dev Anand is singing (reciting) at this mushaira, which is being broadcast on the All India Radio. Each of the three deviyan – Simi, Kalpana and Nanda – thinks the song is for her. Majrooh Sultanpuri, a leading Urdu poet who was a shagird of Jigar Muradabadi, would have been pleased by Dev Anand’s performance at the ‘mushaira’.

{ 71 comments… read them below or add one }

1 bhushan gupta July 31, 2013 at 9:17 am

very lucky to know about it.

2 Shyamanuja Das July 31, 2013 at 10:21 am

All 11 are gems. I am especially happy to see tu kahan ye bata, one of the most melodious songs in Hindi films, which often does not get its due. The ones I miss from the list are Saathi na koi manzil and sar jo tera chakar aaye. The latter, whatever critics may say, is a classic. My 7 year old song loves it as much as my father did.

Also, would like to mention something I read in a book on S D Burman by Khagesh Dev Burman. Dada Burman actually cultivated Kishore, and started by giving him lighter numbers but working on him to systematically improve him. In fact, long back, I had heard a radio interview of Kishore where he admitted as much. Dada Burman would invite Kishore to his home for lunch, feed him delicious Bengali food and then would shut the door not allowing him to go and force him rehearse. “Ye khana maine tumhe muft mein nahin khilaya” Kishore quoted him saying. He respected and admired Rafi but liked Kishore as a person. In a way, it was also kind of paying back to Dadamoni who persuaded him to stay back in Bombay when he had decided tobleave the city for ever

3 AK July 31, 2013 at 11:53 am

Shyamanuja Das,
Thanks a lot. The two songs are very good, but which song do I remove? As for Sar jo tera chakraye, I went for the song which embodied the spirit of Pyasa.

Interesting anecdote you have given about SD Burman-Kishore Kumar relationship. Can we say SDB was ‘fond’ of KK, but there were some special songs meant only for Rafi?

4 AK July 31, 2013 at 11:55 am

Welcome to SoY. I am happy you liked it.

5 Khyati Bhatt July 31, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Excellent post and tribute to our Rafi Saab. It must have been hard to choose eleven songs of this duo. AKji, out of these eleven songs, five are picturised on Dev Anand. Other songs that I cherish are Manzil ki chaah mein…from Devdas, Mehbooba teri tasveer….. from Ishq Par Zor Nahin, Andhe ne bhi sapna dekha….. from Sujata and many more of Rafi Saab’s duets composed by SDB.
Thank you Sir.

6 Arunkumar Deshmukh July 31, 2013 at 6:07 pm

AK Ji,
Very appropriate post today. The choice of songs ,as usual,is very good.

Dada had his likes and dislikes,but he knew value of quality.he knew that kishore had limitations whereas Rafi had unlimited capabilities in expressing Human Emotions ,be it Happiness,Tragedy,Comedy or a Serious song.

Whenever Dada thought of bringing his Bangla songs in Hindi,probably first he thought of Rafi. manna Dey had a grouch that Dada gave a partial treatment,even when it was a classical song. Bur just listen to ” Tere bin soone ” in Raag Piloo,which was much better rendered than Dada himself in his Bangla geet ” Ami chinu eka basoro jagaye “. Similarly,kala pani-60 song-Hum Bekhudi mein was a better version then Dada’s original Bangla Ghum bhulechi.

Inspite of so many years after Rafi has gone,there has been no replacement for him,itself underlines his greatness and Versatality.

7 AK July 31, 2013 at 6:43 pm

Thanks a lot for your appreciation. I like Mahbooba teri taseer a lot; this also happens to be an adaptation from an old Bengali song of SD Burman. It is interesting to note that you have mentioned Rafi’s songs from Devdas and Sujata. Somehow these could not acquire the popularity of the other songs from these films. Though I saw these films again not long ago, I have just no recollection of these songs.

8 AK July 31, 2013 at 6:51 pm

Thanks. Hum bekhudi mein and Tere bin soone nain hamarey are the high point of Rafi-SD Burman combination. It would be difficult to say that he outdid SD Burman’s original – perhaps it is like comparing apples and oranges. But, yes no one could achieve what Rafi did in these songs.

9 Arunkumar Deshmukh July 31, 2013 at 7:10 pm

When Rafi died on 31-7-1980,this is what I had read in a newspaper the very next day-
” On 31st july,after recording a song for ” Aas Paas”,with L-P,Rafi suddenly asked them ” Main ab jaoon ?” L-P were surprised because he had never before asked like this. he went upto the door,waved his hand and said,” Main jaa rahaa hoon”.
Same day at 7.30 p.m. he died of a heart Attack. “

10 Ashok M Vaishnav July 31, 2013 at 11:07 pm

Mohammad Rafi and S D Burman fan like me could not have asked for more.
But both are so great attractions, that a detailed reconnaissance to thier combined territory is called for, and then let us see how many one can add that can match these 10.

11 Subodh Agrawal August 1, 2013 at 7:25 am

I think comments are quite superfluous in praise of this outstanding combination – there is nothing I can say that has not been said already. Thanks for discovering song number one. As for the list, it does contain most of my favourite songs except ‘Saathi na koi manzil’ – already mentioned in comments.

You have presented ‘Hum bekhudi mein tum ko’ as a sad song. I see this song more as a sensuous and seductive one. The way Rafi lingers on each note and movement is like a connoisseur savouring each moment to the full before moving on. The setting in the movie also confirms this interpretation – Dev Anand is trying to seduce Nalini Jaywant to get her help in proving his father’s innocence. Either way it is a gem.

‘Tu kahan ye bata is nashili raat mein’ is a song that registered with me later than the other songs of this film, but now it has clearly overtaken all of them. I am very happy at its inclusion in your list.

12 Anu Warrier August 1, 2013 at 8:21 am

Have just skimmed through the article, and so will come back to add my two pais,. 🙂 but I couldn’t let this pass: He is the only music director who can claim to have composed equally great music with Rafi as with Kishore Kumar

AK, really? 🙂

13 AK August 1, 2013 at 10:38 am

I would look for your additions.

Shyamanuja Das has also mentioned Sathi na koi manzil, but somehow I could not fit into my top ten.

Hum bekhudi mein – I was inferring from the picturisation. Since you have seen the movie, you must be right.

14 AK August 1, 2013 at 10:45 am

Who would you keep at par with SDB in the 1950s through 60s for creating equally iconic songs for both Rafi and Kishore Kumar? If we go beyond, Laxmikant Pyarelal, and perhaps a couple of more, would fit the bill, but generally I do not look at that period.

Looking for your additions. But I am sure, you are aware that I am very strict that the song has to conform to my theme – in this case it has to be a Rafi song, and has to be composed by SD Burman. 🙂

15 Ashok M Vaishnav August 1, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Subodhji is right- the article and the comments till now leave not much to comment upon, save raising an oft, hotly debated SDB- Rafi vs. (not AND) SGB – Kishore equations.

We may look at the matter from an objective distance.

Let us look at the issue SDB’s films wherein Dev Anand was the hero and SDB’s other films and see how what the equations have yielded.

As well-noted, before 1957, SDB seems to have leaned quite a bit on Hemant Kumar for Dev Anand’s playback voice, which did continue even later, but the scales were seen titling the other way. We would exclude such films – Afsar, House No. 44, Funtoosh, Taxi Driver, Munimji, Nau Do Gyarah and the likes – from the debate. But, his subsequent tilt towards Rafi can certainly provide the fodder to the pro-Rafi fan club. He had predominantly Rafi films of Dev Anand like Kala Bazar, Kala Pani, Guide, Bambai Ka Baboo, Tere Ghar Ke Samane where a stray Hemant Kumar or A Manna Dey song (or duet) would make an appearance. Not surprisingly, SDB- Rafi combination scores matched (or even excelled) SDB- Lata’s (or Asha Bhosle) combination in the same films.

However, interesting comparison emerges when Kishore (or Hemant Kumar) had major share in a film, and a song or two were recorded with Mohammad Rafi, like Teen Devian (Aise To Na Dekho – http://youtu.be/OaginwwacJI , Kahin Bekahayal Ho Kar – http://youtu.be/whJn2agASzk) or Baat Ek Raat Ki (Akela Hun Main – http://youtu.be/3d43e1bEfMI )

Even an otherwise practically no-Rafi films like Jewel Thief or Abhimaan or Solvaa Saal (Yehi To Hai Who) Rafi had a marked presence in a duet..

On the back cover of LP record of Guide, SDB’s diplomatically skirts the issue of use of different singers when he has stated that he prefers to select a singer on the merits of the song.
That does sound true, at least in terms of SDB’s Kishore Kumar or Mohammad Rafi songs in the same film. Songs on Kishore do sound tailored to Kishore’s range, and those of Rafi appear that no one but Rafi could do justice to that song.

16 Ashok M Vaishnav August 1, 2013 at 5:56 pm

Pyaasa does deserve a full-fledged mention of Mohammad Rafi’s songs.

If Dekhi Jamane Ki Yaari is at one end and Sar Jo Tera Chakaraye (which according to some was composed by RDB!?) on the other end of the spectrum, there are other songs and a few pieces which do call for being documented in a Rafi-SDB treatise.

Jinhe Naaz Hain Hind Par Who Kahan Hai – as much a Sahir’s rebellion as SD’s poetic touch @ 2.04 – ‘thaki hari saason pe tablon ki than than- http://youtu.be/3ta4BmumQKc

And Rafi’s immortal rendering of Sahir’s Shayariyaan – http://youtu.be/wFQc6PyAf5I

17 N Venkataraman August 1, 2013 at 7:22 pm

‘Shaam phir kyon udhas hai, dost’. That was last song recorded by Md Rafi on 31st July 1980. The evening had the premonition of the inevitable to follow. That evening Md.Rafi bid adieu to this world, leaving behind his eternal voice and songs for posterity.

Even after more than three decades after his departure we have not found another singer who can come anywhere near him and I doubt there will not be another such voice for eons to come. He is still living among us through his immortal renderings.

‘Mehki mehki fiza ye kehti hai dost, tu kahi aas paas hai’.

Thanks AKJI for this wonderful tribute to the greatest playback singer of the golden era of Hindi film music. Very few will contradict the fact that Md.Rafi, and Lata Mangeshkar were the all time great playback singers belonging to the golden era. Most of us know that, if a film-wise average is taken, ’S D Burman holds the record for the highest number of hit songs scored by a music director’. So it was a ‘double delight’ to have a ‘two in one’ write up and songs of Md.Rafi and S D Burman. The selection of songs was excellent and I could not come up with any song that could replace any of the songs presented by you. Your write up too matches the selection of songs. Thanks Akji for this bounty.

After 1947, Md.Rafi again got an opportunity to sing SDB’s composition for the film Naujawan(1951), that too two duets with Geeta Roy and again another duet, again with Geeta Roy in the film Jeevan Jyoti (1953). He had to wait till 1955, when he got the opportunity to sing, that too with chorus, a solo in the film Devdas. In the same year he sang two duets, one a Comedy song with S Balbir and the other with Geeta Roy in the film Society. As pointed by AKji, Md.Rafi had to wait till 1957 to sing a solo for SDB. Besides Pyaasa, in which he sang three solos, he also got to sing a solo in the film Miss India in the same year.

Besides the films mentioned by AKji, Md.Rafi also sang solo numbers in Sitaron se aage, Solva Saal (1958), Sujata (1959), Apne Haath Jagannath, Bewaqoof, Ek ke baad ek, Miya bibi razi (1960), Baat Ek Raat ki (1962), and Kaise kahun, Ziddi(1964). Again he had to wait till 1970 when he sang another solo in the film Ishq par zor nahin(1970); the song resembles another composition of SDB from the film Abhiman, in some places. Then he got two more solos from SDB in Gambler (1971) and Us Paar (1971). The last song Md.Rafi sang for SDB was a duet with Shamsad Begum in the unreleased film Saaz(1977). But none of the songs can match the 11 songs presented by AKji. If we had to add another song to make it a dozen then I will choose the song ‘Saathi na koi manzil’ from the film Bambai ka babu(1960).

I will like say a few words about the song #7. Subodhji selection of this song in Raag Bharavi was indeed special. Let us see what Sachin Dev Burman had to say about this song.

‘I conducted another …. experiment in the film Meri Surat Teri Aankhen. Shailendra had written a song whose first line was ‘Nache mann mora magan tigdha dhigi dhigi’. You might wonder about the origin of the these words. Kathak maestro Shri Binadin Maharaj, while training his nephews, used to utter the words ‘tigdha dhigi dhigi’, to give them a sense of rhythm with words. These words touched a chord in my mind. I created a tune on them and got Shailendra to write a song. I told him that the first line had to bring alive the idea of a peacock dancing, the mind as a dancing peacock. He wrote the words ‘Nache mann mora magan’ and I added ‘tigdha dhigi dhigi’ to it. It was necessary to have a good tabla beat to bring about the tempo signified by the words ‘ tigdha dighi dighi’. Pandit Shamta Prasad from Varanasi accompanied on the tabla for the song. This song was specially commended by connoisseurs because of its Kathak-stye table accompaniment.’ (Sargamer Nikhad)
– S D Burman: The World of His Music by Khagesh Dev Burman.

Md Rafi’s rendering of this song set to Kaharawa Taal(8 beats) was simply superb and touches the heart. Asha Parekh once said that she danced her best for this song. S.D.Burman waited for Samta Prasad’s (incidentally R D Burman was under the tutelage of Pt. Samta Prasad for some time) arrival from Banaras and postponed the recording of this song. So it was a matchless combination. Most of the readers might be aware of this information.

The song ‘Sar jo tera chakraye’ was mentioned by Akji and others. But there were three more songs, two lip synched by Johny Walker in the film Sitaron se Aage (1958) – ‘Sambhalke Sambhalke yeh Duniya hai nagar hoshiyaronka’, ‘Ho zara ruk ja‘ and the third one lip synched by Mehmood in the film Miya bibi razi (1960)_ ‘Main hoon Bhola Vyapari’.

Let me round off with this interesting song from the film Insaan Jaag Utha.
‘Yeh chanda Russka na yeh Japan ka’ by Md.Rafi and Chorus from the film Insaan Jaag utha (1959), lyrics Shailendra, music S D Burman
Thank You once agin AKji.

18 N Venkataraman August 1, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Ashok ji
That was a splendid analysis. The final line, ‘Songs on Kishore do sound tailored to Kishore’s range, and those of Rafi appear that no one but Rafi could do justice to that song.’ settles the matter.
I tend to agree with you opinion that Md.Rafi’s songs of Pyasaa deserves full-fledged mention.

19 AK August 1, 2013 at 9:31 pm

It is interesting to note that you can’t discuss SD Burman-Rafi combination without Kishore Kumar coming into the equation. You have done a marvellous analysis. I would not like to add further to it, because one of my earliest posts was precisely on Mohammad Rafi versus Kishore Kumar, which is as exhaustive a comparison as you could probably get anywhere.

A small point, your mention of Dekhi zamane ki yari in the context of Pyasa makes it appear as if you ascribe this song to that film.

I am happy that you mentioned the nazms of Pyasa. I had an interesting discussion once on Madhu (Dustedoff)’s post on this film’s songs. When I commented that she had failed to make any mention of these nazms, her response was that she did not count them as ‘songs’. When we talk of Sahir-SD Burman-Rafi hallmark in Pyasa, these nazms are an integral part of it.

20 AK August 1, 2013 at 9:40 pm


You have come again with a thorough dredging of SD Burman-Rafi songs. Thanks a lot. But I am happy to note that you find my selection of songs Pareto-optimal.

The story of Nache man mora magan is very interesting. When Subodh made a special mention of this song because of the tabla composition, probably he was not aware (nor was I obviously) that the tabla was played by Samta Prasad, or Godai Maharaj, as he was popularly known in music circles.

Thanks a lot for your kind words.

21 Kishor Darji August 1, 2013 at 9:46 pm

Great website. Can I put a link on my website to direct viewers to your website under useful links?

22 Ashok M Vaishnav August 1, 2013 at 11:03 pm

#My apologies for Dekhi Jamane Ki Yaari. I really meant, Ye Duniya Agar Milbhi Jaae To Kyaa Hai.

# I broached upon Rafi vs. Kishore issue here so as to settle the issue once and forever. But, the fans on both sides have quite an entrenched poistion. Even if SDB preferred Kishore, on whatever grounds, it was only Rafi that possibly gave him firm footing against other very strong contemporary competitors like Naushad, SJ, Madan Moahn etc. Rafi was a common benchmark on which every music director was testing his / her own work vis-a-vis others, because it was wide Range of Rafi’ chords that gave a music director to make any experiments, and succeed as well. That is why Lata , sometimes, would detest duets with Rafi, because that would stretch her feminine vocal chords a bit too much.

23 AK August 1, 2013 at 11:04 pm

Kishor Darji
Please go ahead.

24 Canasya August 2, 2013 at 1:53 am

My apologies for the long post. Who could possibly argue with an SoY list! The SDB-Rafi combine invariably conjures up ethereal melody comprising silken mystical romance. Raju Bharatan is on record saying that SDB considered Rafi the better singer (compared to KK) – his first serve! SDB’s idiosyncracies with respect to KK are well known (calling him over phone in the night before a recording to test his voice, for instance). His chemistry with Rafi was also no less intimate. Here is a story on the net told by one of SDB’s relatives (http://www.mohdrafi.com/meri-awaaz-suno/sd-burman-and-mohammad-rafi.html) who had “arrived at the Burmans’ s Jet bungalow on a Sunday morning from Calcutta. They all became so immersed in adda that nobody noticed that even though it was close to noon no arrangement had been made for lunch. The old man proposed they have murgi, and said to RD, ” Ki re Pancham, aurey khobor dibi naki?” The author had no idea who this ‘aurey’ might be. However, Pancham went to the telephone and called up someone. About half an hour later the doorbell rang at the Burmans’. The man who stood without was Rafi, reputed to be one of the best cooks in Bombay filmdom when it came to chicken. So, into the kitchen Rafi went, and in due time everyone, Rafi included, sat down to a lunch of chicken cooked by Rafi.”

Now some “rational analysis”, although there is probably little scope for it while talking about something as nebulous as musical preferences of HFM fans. Yet I could not resist listening (for comparison) to SoY’s Rafi-Naushad list along with this one. Both lists have unparalleled songs. I know it was highly inadvisable, but then I tried to (may be, naively, because I am only a dabbler in front of much more knowledgeable commentators such as N Venkatraman ji, Ashok M Vaishnav ji, Arunkumar Deshmukh ji and Subodh Agrawal ji) pin down what, to my mind, differentiates the two lists. I find three striking differences.

One, in most of the songs in SDB’s list Rafi is singing at just a tad bit higher frequency (fraction of an octave higher?), which makes his voice sound more mellifluous and romantic. Roshan (“Maine shayad tumhen” – Barsat ki raat; “Jo baat tujhmen hai” – Tajmahal), Khayyam (“Theheriye hosh mein aa loon” – Mohabbat isko kahete hain; “Kahin ek masoom najuk” – Shankar Hussain), Jaidev (“Abhi na jao” – Humdono), MadanMohan (“Tumse kahoon ik baat” – Dastak) have also used this voice of Rafi endearingly. Manna Dey, while singing a romantic number for Dekh Kabira Roya (Kaun aaya mere), made this adjustment in his voice and the effect is there for everybody to see. For most of his private songs in the album entitled “Tere Bharose He Nand Lala” Rafi seems to have himself chosen to sing at a higher frequency. Talat (as well as SDB—some of his Bengali songs are quite romantic) sang naturally in a slightly higher octave.

Two, most of the compositions in Naushad’s list, in spite of his Hindustani classical roots, seem to be structurally closer to the western popular music tradition in which the intensities of the refrain (Mukhda) and chorus (Antaraa) are quite different — usually the antaraa has much higher intensity – ostensibly to achieve greater variation and to reduce monotony. SJ also seem to adhere to this tradition in many compositions. To my ears then a number of Rafi songs for Naushad (and several for SJ) begin with Mukhadas promising wonderful melodies only for the Antaraas to renege on that promise.

In one interview (http://www.rediff.com/entertai/1998/may/16tal.htm) Naushad seems to suggest that he switched from Talat to Rafi because Talat’s “voice never suited loud songs, songs that demanded a high-pitched (that is, lower frequency, or lower octave) voice. He only sang soft, romantic, lyrical, ghazals.” (Words in parantheses are mine.) Am I the only one who finds several Naushad-Rafi songs (not in the SoY list, of course) loud, high pitched, unromantic (vis-à-vis SDB-Rafi numbers, that is)?

And three, Rafi’s mannerisms are more likely to be seen in Naushad’s (and SJ’s and OPN’s) songs than in SDB’s (or MadanMohan’s, or Jaidev’s). For an example I must go beyond SoY’s list. If you listen to “Kaisi haseen aaj” (Aadmi)


at 2:10-2:40 you will hear what I mean. According to one story, Naushad had asked Talat to sing, against his wishes, in a slightly lower octave and Manoj Kumar ended up discarding that version in the film in favour of Mahendra Kapoor’s.

I agree with Subodh Agrawal ji @ 11. “Hum bekhudi mein” had to be better than the Asha number preceding it because Dev Anand had just all but told Nalini Jaywant, in order to impress her through indifference, that she did not know how to sing. Just as “Tu Kahan” from Tere Ghar ke Saamne grows on you, I find myself spending more time with “Tere mere sapne ab ek rang hain” from Guide than with the other songs of that movie.

I am also sympathetic to Khyatiji @ 5. Somehow I find that Rafi’s voice in “Andhe ne bhi sapna dekha” (Sujata) sounds much better, probably because the SaReGaMa CDs have been recorded from old vinyls on which the less popular songs have less wear (“hiss”).

Ashok M. Vaishnav ji @ 16 is also right in emphasizing Rafi’s recital of Sahir’s Shayariaan. The tunes of many of these have become generic for gazals in hindi films. “Tang aa chuke”, for instance, has also been sung by Asha in Light House (1958) for N Dutta (who had been SDB’s assistant).

One genre of Rafi-SDB song not represented in the above list is “Chali ye fauj hamari re” from Ek ke baad ek:


25 Soumya Banerji August 2, 2013 at 2:37 am

Wonderful post AK. It is indeed very tough to make a list of top SDB-Rafi songs because of personal preferences. Some of the songs that you have selected would make anyone’s favorite list.

Why, oh why, does Kishore Kumar enter in this discussion? I am an unabashed fan of KK but I would freely admit that Rafi had a much wider range and greater virtuosity than KK.

26 AK August 2, 2013 at 9:59 am

Thanks a lot.

Had there been no 1969 (Aradhana), and everything that happened after that, there would have been no Rafi versus Kishore Kumar debate. As for SD Burman, both being his lead singers even otherwise, I guess it is difficult to discuss him with either without the other coming into the picture.

27 AK August 2, 2013 at 10:07 am

You have given a very erudite analysis, and it would take careful reading to assimilate it. I wish to comment just on Naushad versus other composers with Rafi. I have a slightly different view – and this is a non-expert view, of course. What differentiates composers like Roshan, SD Burman and OP Nayyar from Naushad was that they were able to harness inflexion in Rafi’s voice in an amazing manner. I would put in this category Hum bekhudi mein, Aaj ki raat badi shokh badi natkhat hai and Mujhe dekhakar aapka muskurana. These songs instantly register with you for their utaar chadhaav, and create a niche for SD Burman, Roshan and OP Nayyar very distinct from Naushad.

(Your apology not accepted. Please keep on writing such long comments. :))

28 K R Vaishampayan August 2, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Dear AK, This is by far the best tribute to the memories of 2 Greats of Hindi Film music. Rather than adding my ‘thought’ to such a wonderfully written apt tribute, I shall agree with you instead wholeheartedly and indulge into listening and listening again and again the songs these 2 Greats created. With warmest regards – K R Vaishampayan [alias-KRV]

29 AK August 2, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Thanks a lot. You seem to have gone off SoY. I remember you used to be one of the most active members.

30 Ashok M Vaishnav August 2, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Here are some songs that deserve documentation space on the subject of SDB’s Rafi Songs ( I have deliberately altered the sequence of names here)

Ek Ke Baad Ek – Thumak Thumak Thumak Chali Hai Tu Kidhar – http://youtu.be/QGvNw_wqi3k – a romantic song or Chali Ye Fauj Hamari Re –referred to by Canasya #24 – a song for children – these songs present us the wide spectrum of Rafi’s signature ‘harakaten’

Miya Bibi Razi – Tum Mere Saath Ho – http://youtu.be/oOYX8C_KCN8

Kaise Kahoon – Zindagi Tu Jhoom Le Jara – http://youtu.be/wX4lBAeZBkw

Ziddi – Janun Kya Mera Dil Ab Kahan Kho Gaya (subtle butting on of Piano Accordion makes this song special, in addition to Rafi’s style of singing)

or pick up Pyar Ki Manzil Mast Safar – http://youtu.be/aKOVAPVnakc on top of the Ziddi Song – Teri Surat Se Nahin Milti

Gambler – Mera Man Tera Pyaasa http://youtu.be/cxQR8EwAXZk

Us Paar – Aye Mere Man – http://youtu.be/Qz6robXqh6E – relatively an uncharacteristically pedestrian song (!?), by SDB’s or Rafi’s (or that great combination) standards

If SDB seems to be quite dominantly inclined to Rafi for his pensive or pathos tunes during Pyaasa – Guide period, post- 1969, SD’s inclination for Kishore Kumar seems more visible and obvious, Rafi getting some song more as an exception to the rule. In 1971 – 1973 films like Jugnu or Naya Zamana, the period when LP used Rafi profusely for Dharmendra or Jeetendra, SDB has chosen to use Kishore. Well, a Naya Zamana of Rafi Saab’s declining rein was set in….

31 AK August 2, 2013 at 6:40 pm

This is a great effort. My pick from the above list are two songs from ZiddiJanun kya mera dil and Teri soorat se nahi milti kisi ki soorat.

32 Hans August 4, 2013 at 11:15 pm

So rains have invigorated you. 4 posts in July. That must be a record for SOY for a month. And the last one is the best. I see many who are like me fans of both and have hijacked all favourite songs in comments because I am late. There are two more Rafi solos in Kala Bazar, ‘teri dhoom har kahin’ and ‘apni to har aah ik toofan hai’. I like ‘apni to’ better than khoya khoya chand’. Here is the link:

There is another song from Miss India ‘ badla zamana’ not mentioned by anyone. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8nq_JOI-yU

This song is picturised on Johar. The other song picturised on Johar listed at #5, reminded me of another song in the same film in which Johar adorns the saree and Asha gives playback in a style which only she can. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssv1c12Ixj8

Asha has also given playback for Johar’s partner in Bewaqoof, in 1955 film Baap Re Baap. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4aiBc_N-Y4

There is no harm in remembering Kishore, because it is 4th August today.

33 AK August 5, 2013 at 9:54 am

You are never too late for SoY, your additions are a proof of that.

Yes, four posts in a month is a record. When I started SoY my preference was a gap of two weeks between posts, which meant no month could have more than three. But writing a blog also enjoins some obligation towards readers, and there are special dates.

Between Khoya khoya chand and Apni to har aah it is a toss-up. My own reason is that when I heard these songs for the first time many years ago, the former registered more because of its striking mukhadaa, and SDB-Rafi’s elaborate treatment of notes.

Badlaa zamana is an interesting song, describing the conversion when we switched from ‘Rupee, Aana’ to the metric system.

In Bewaqoof apart from the Rafi song I have mentioned, the one I find most enjoyable is the Manna Dey-Asha Bosle duet Dekh idhar dekh tera dhyan kidhar hai. The film is a laugh riot, and all the songs look fascinating in the picturisation.

Since it is a series on SD Burman with major singers, Kishore Kumar would surely figure at an appropriate time.

Thanks a lot for your comments.

34 mumbaikar8 August 6, 2013 at 7:38 am

Der aaye durust aaye.
This is the combination I was waiting for.
As KRV rightly said this a great tribute to two great artists.
Rafi was MD’s singer, he was capable of singing a song as good or (I hope do not offend Rafi’s fans) as mediocre as his MD wanted him to
Rafi is my favourite singer but I do feel that at times he did go overboard in his mannerisms.
SDB was one MD who set the bar of expectation very high for him and each and every time Rafi lived up to it.
Just one album of Pyasa would put this combination length ahead, they even have Guide to back it up.Two great classics with equally great music.
As I am late most of the songs have been discussed.
I would like to add one song which has importance because it is SDB Rafi song in Kishore Kumar starrer

35 AK August 6, 2013 at 9:53 am

Mumbaikar 8,
Der aaye durust aaye‘ – you meant for yourself? 🙂

Some more readers have commented about Rafi’s mannerisms. I thought the more pronounced mannersims were in songs on Johnny Walker and Shammi Kapoor which gave them a distinct identity. I would call that as Rafi’s strength.

I heard the song Apne hathon ko pehchan from Apna Haath Jagannath for the first time. Thanks a lot. That set me thinking, is there a Rafi song composed by SD Burman picturised on Kishore Kumar?

36 K R Vaishampayan [alias-KRV], Nagpur August 6, 2013 at 11:10 am

Dear AK, I take this opportunity to THANK MUMBAIKAR 8 for sharing a wonderful RAFI-SDB song from Apna Haat Jagannath picturised on KK. SDB no doubt was a class apart among his contemporaries and could take out the best out of Singers. For instance AK this reminds me of your post on Best ASHA songs by SDB. Sad part is: Ashaji goes ga ga over RDB instead forgetting OP who gave her a solid footing besides establishing a style ‘all her own’. Sam is applicable to KK too. He has not only sung Best with SDB…but has done so with Chitragupta and Kalyanji-Anandji too. Of course, I know, my statement can be cussed and discussed endlessly by fans on either side of the divide RAFI-KK. I am not into it though.

Here, I would like to mention 2 wonderful solos KK sung for SJ in Rangoli 1 Rangoli Sajao [http://youtu.be/kFwSmL7gYr0] and 2 Chhoti si hai duniya [http://youtu.be/G1asbzOtzGw].

Another duet with ASHA under SJ that springs up is: Dooriya Nazdikiya Ban Gayee from Dev Anand-Vijayanti Mala starrer – Duniya [http://youtu.be/MWgkljqhkh4]

I am sure no fans of KK shall have any difficulty in agreeing with these melodious compositions rendered so endearingly by KK.

But most of the songs he sang post his rediscovered fame…were sadly not up to the TRUE KK Timber, Mirth, Feelings or Quality. And I am sure, most of RAFI-KK fans like us shall continnue to rue over this fact.

Warmest regards – K R Vaishampayan [alias-KRV]

37 K R Vaishampayan [alias-KRV], Nagpur August 6, 2013 at 11:24 am

Hello AK, Can’t help the temptation of dropping in once again. Here is a link to a blog [http://arghyatext.blogspot.in/2012/07/18-songs-in-first-13-years-and-then-87.html] with great article titled “Kishore Kumar and Shankar Jaikishen- Hysteria that did not coincide ” written by one Arghya Dutta. Hope, you will ike it [if you have not seen it earlier] Even I too landed up here accidentally…a Happy Accident that is. Warmest regards – K R Vaishampayan [alias-KRV]

38 a r modak::::::::::::::::::::johannesburg August 6, 2013 at 4:56 pm

excellent tribute…………………
SJ’s win for “Suraj”, against the popular “Guide”, was indeed upsetting…….due respect to SJ…………the compos of “Guide”
were excellent, and so were the 3 solos
the numbers picturised on late GuruDutt were so brilliantly done
by the B & W photographer………

39 AK August 6, 2013 at 5:35 pm

You mirror my view that the best of Kishore Kumar was before he became a rage post-Aradhana. For that period SD Burman is obviously the most prominent composer for him, for whom you can reel off song after song. As for Kalyanji Anandji, did they have great songs for KK before 1969? Chitragupta did have some outstanding songs for him in Ek Raaz and Ganga Ki Lahrein, but SD Burman-KK is a class apart.

You have linked an excellent article on Shankar Jaikishan-Kishore Kumar association. Thanks a lot. I never thought of them as a combination, possibly because, as the article also says, it flourished post-60s, at least in terms of numbers.

40 mumbaikar8 August 6, 2013 at 9:11 pm

I totally agree with you that mannerism was his strength but I believe that mannerism in songs is like acting in comedy, one should know when to stop.(if you cross the border its becomes overacting.) And Rafi specially with Shanker Jaikishen crossed it many times. That is my opinion we can agree to disagree on that.

41 Hans August 9, 2013 at 2:57 am

There has been a discussion on who was the favourite singer of SDB. I give you some statistics from HFGK which will answer the question. SDB started composing in 1946 and in the 11 years till 1956 he composed for 33 films. He gave only 8 songs (2 solos) to Rafi and gave 23 songs (11 solos) to KK, though he came 3 years late to his recording room. From 1957 to 1965 in 30 films SDB gave 73 songs (41 solos) to Rafi and 34 songs (14 solos) to KK. From 1967 till the end in 26 films, SDB gave 13 songs (3 solos) to Rafi and 57 songs (28 solos) to KK.

In the above 3 time frames, the middle period is important. There is another important fact that from 1958 to 1964 KK did not enter the SDB recording room barring the films in which he himself was the hero. What was the reason of this turn around. Two things happened simultaneously. Guru Dutt, naturally insisted on Rafi, with whom he had a lot of success in the previous years. And KK started troubling SDB for recordings, because he was at that moment on a high point in his acting career (he acted in no less than 30 films in the 5 years from 1954 to 1958). Pyaasa had been released in February and Paying Guest in March. When during the recording of Nau Do Gyarah, KK again displayed his tantrums, SDB suddenly turned hostile and called Rafi for two duets. In the next year SDB broke up with Lata also and Rafi became, out of compulsion, a regular feature. But, after sometime when the number of KK’s films came down, and he realised his mistake, he approached both father and son, and ultimately broke through in 1965, with one duet in Guide and 5 songs in Teen Devian. And SDB, who had tasted so much success and name and fame with Rafi, discarded him in favour of KK and shot himself in the foot.

I wonder why most of the people call SDB a thorough professional and claim that he chose singers on merit. I also dont agree with those who say RDB replaced Rafi with KK for Aradhana, because SDB had already discarded Rafi. Rafi was not a person who would leave the recording of a film and go abroad. The distributors of Aradhana wanted to put their money only if Rafi was singing, because SDB had already ditched Rafi in Jewel Thief and Teen Devian. The two duets of Rafi were recorded to pacify distributors and Rafi knew that he was done for the film, so he went abroad.

42 AK August 9, 2013 at 11:13 am

I would not like to comment on the anecdotal stories, which are essentially third person accounts, now widely available in public domain. One problem with these stories is that they often differ diametrically, tending to put one or the other in a better or poor light. The truth obviously has to be somewhere in-between.

But I have to thank you for the fabulous statistical analysis. However, it is possible to draw an opposite inference from your data. The middle period was the period when Rafi was The Male Playback Singer. Therefore, on this ground coupled with Kishore Kumar’s ‘tantrums’, if SD Burman fell for Rafi in a big way, side-lining KK, it is a sign of his professionalism. In his patch up with Lata Mangehskar too after a five-year break up, I understand the first approach was made by SD Burman, which is a sign of professionalism.

The difference in the number of solos – Rafi (46) versus Kishore Kumar (53), as per your data – may not be statistically significant. We can look at it another way. Granted that SD Burman was very fond of Kishore Kumar personally, the fact that yet he gave so many outstanding songs to Rafi shows the high esteem in which he held him.

Finally, Aradhana‘s transformational role in the history of Hindi film and music. This has been beaten to death. My own long piece Rafi versus Kishore Kumar centres around this watershed. Now I can add one more perspective – phenomena like Aradhana, Rajesh Khanna, Kishore Kumar’s Mere sapnon ki rani kab ayegi tu and Roop tera mastana are not planned or predicted. They just happen. These are course-changing events of history, which are to a large degree destiny. It is pointless to attribute it to conspiracies, or debate too much whether Rafi did or did not go to Haj during the recording of Aradhana which led to the rise of KK.

43 Ashok M Vaishnav August 9, 2013 at 11:35 am

The events which are not really predicted, but are profusely ‘explained’ after it has happened are termed “The Black Swan” (coined By NASSIM NICHOLAS TALEB) – I am sorry for introducing a jargon – and this Aradhana event was one such classic “Black Swan” event.
Of course, Mohammad Rafi had displaced Talat Mahmood from the ‘high pedestal’ in mid-50s, and it is said the Talat was also on a foreign concert tour when this trigger point in the ‘game-changer’ chain of events happened.
Incidentally, both SD and RD had to use Rafi post- Aradhana, but the compulsions of market dynamics did not warrant too frequent appearances.
As a Rafi fan, I would certainly take Hans’s view, but , in the end, would agree with AKji that the debate ‘is rather ‘pointless’ in the historical perspective.

44 AK August 9, 2013 at 10:55 pm

Thanks a lot for introducing us to ‘Black Swan’ event. Aradhana is a perfect example. 9/11 is another perfect example.

45 Santanu Banerji, Kolkata October 4, 2013 at 4:12 am

Having been enriched by your in depth analysis covering a very wide spectrum regarding Md Rafi shahab and Kishoreji’s association with great SDB, I would like to make one important point. The point is why having explicitly preferring great Md Rafi to Kishore kumar in SDB’s most fruitful years as a composer (from 1957 to 1970 ), when his music almost touched a devine level, why did he preferred kishoreji to Md Rafi after 1970? In my opinion, when he found RDB-Kishore combine reached its zenith in the early 70s, and his son RDB became the most wanted and popular MD at that point of time, he did not at all want to recall Md Rafi to break the combination of his son and Kishoreji by making Md Rafi to sing for him in Meeli, Sharmeeli or Tere mere sapne. Because, had Md Rafi sung those great nos, it might have paved the way for him to make a come back to the top once again, & the entire scenerio & demand-chain of producer-heroes and MDs could have been altered altogether. SD must have realized that RD, having struggled as a MD since his debut in 1961, did reach the top with Kishore as his main singer, so there was no point in causing a damaging rupture to his son’s cherished career. So, notwithstandig the fact that Kishore kumar was a great singer and SD did have a spcl preference for him in the mid 50s, SD Burman, I perceive, had discarded his favourite great Md Rafi sahab for only MUSICAL reason. It might be painful, but true.

46 Santanu Banerji, Kolkata October 4, 2013 at 4:42 am

There is no doubt that the above scholarly discussion about SDB’s association with Md Rafi and kishoreji has been deep and has covered a wide spectrum. But would like to make an important point here. The point is, why great SD having choosen Md Rafi to be his main and most favourite singer from 1957 to 1970, suddenly tilted totally towards Kishore kumar since 1971? Having composed arguably the best songs of his life with great Md Rafi ( in Pyassa, Kalapani, Kalabazar, Tere gharke samne, Baat ek raat ki, Meri surat.. and Guide) how could he discard Md Rafi totally ( except for a duet & solo in Abhiman and Gambler ) in the 1970. In my opinion it was more because of father – son affection syndrome than any musical reasion. We all know from early 1970s great RD with his favourite singer KK had risen to the top and were having a rolicking time in BFI. SD know it was an upshot of a long struggle of his son which started in 1961, ever since son made a debut in BFI. Obviously, he did not want to rupture the winning combination of his son and Kishoreji, by recalling Md Rafi to sing those great numbers of Meeli, Sharmilee or Teremere sapne or even Gambler, and pave the was to Md Rafi to stage a come back to the top once again, which might have influenced the whole chain of MDs-heroes and distributors in those days. After all he liked Kishoreji also tremendously, RD Burman – kishore kumar combination was deciding the grammer of the day. So obviously, it was reason other than musical, which prompted SD to discard the best male singer of playback of history ever. Painful, but true.

47 Santanu Banerji, Kolkata October 4, 2013 at 5:03 am

Otherwise, is it not astounding and incomprehensible, when he decided to sing Kishoreji that great no. in Sharmeeli, ” Kaise kahen hum, payar mein humko keya keya …”, which was without any speck of doubt demanded the devine timbre, touch and trembling melody of Md Rafi sahab to enhance it to a ” out of the world dimension”. How could we otherwise explain a great MD like SD Burman, who made Md Rafi to sing all the great sad nos in Guide and called Kishoreji to sing a single ( a rollicking masterpeice) duet, could forget Md Rafi altogether in the post 1971 period? Naturally, not taking into reckoning those schematic commonplace songs of Anurag & a disturbing insignificant duet like Saregama.

48 AK October 4, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Santanu Banerji,
Thanks for your compliments. Besides my writing, which obviously does not entail any original research, the readers like you have added a great deal.

You are giving yet another angle to Rafi receding from SD Burman’s favour – that is not to unsettle the RD Burman-Kishore Kumar combination which was proving very successful. But many others started the shift including the known Rafi supporters Laxmikant Pyarelal. Now we have stories ranging from SD Burman’s illness giving a fortuitous opening to RDB to bring in KK in Aradhana, to SDB having decided to jettison him earlier after Jewel Thief to, now, the new one, filial weakness. None of us knows the truth, because these are not in the realm of fact, but speculation – requiring going into the inner motivations of the persons concerned. We can comment only on what we can see as the outcome, i.e. 1969 was a watershed, and post-70s brought about a shift.

What we can summarise is that (i) Rafi and Kishore Kumar both were great favorites of SDB, (ii) in the middle period, as mentioned by several readers, including Hans, SDB was leaning very conspicuously towards Rafi, and (iii) there were some very special songs for which SDB felt only Rafi could do justice to.

49 Kapil August 17, 2014 at 12:44 am

Like many others I also believe that SDB’s best came through Rafi. It’s a real shame that he deserted Rafi post 1969. As to why he did that, I agree with Santanu(# 45). Kishore was like family to Burmans and post 1969 SDB was mostly in frail health, so in last few years of his life he must have wanted to promote his “manas-putra” Kishore as much as he could and probably also wanted not to go against the wishes of his biological “putra” RDB who definitely wanted Kishore to be numero uno at any cost. SDB always considered Rafi better than Kishore but loved Kishore more.

Anyway, as a singer, I have always considered Rafi miles ahead of Kishore – in the 70s too. Lata was the only one who surpassed Rafi but that too in her golden phase (1949 – 59), post 1960 Rafi towered above all.

Also, the other day I was reading SDB-Talat on SoY which I really enjoyed and then I assumed you must have done one on SDB-Hemant as well but could not find anything. I think you have not done SDB-Hemant yet. I hope SDB-Hemant will come soon. The 14 songs he did with Hemant were equally melodious and more iconic than the 14 he did with Talat. In closing, let me cite a very special Rafi-SD song which no one has mentioned in particular:

-Dil ka dard nirala:

50 ksbhatia August 18, 2014 at 1:05 pm

AK ‘ji , Lovely discussions on SDB and Rafi ….enjoying every observation and comments. Thanks to all the SOY family. I have a personal liking of songs which starts with a beautiful mukhda…. I call it as a” takeoff ” ….eg. …Ho ho ho [ Takeoff] Khoya khoya chand….Tu kahaaan [Takeoff ] Yeh battaa is nashili raat mein. Listening to the starter is like having a good starter before an excellent dinner. Like Mannada once said that Rafi had an excellent modulation qualities; i think its unmatched till now . One can render the words ……Tu Kahan …..in so many ways but the way Rafi sahib did i think that was excellent . Many MDs like Naushad , SJ etc also had this quality…listen to ‘Door koi gaye ” or “aye bahar banke lubha kar chale gaye”…..all such songs have beautiful mukhadas or i will say excellent “takeoff ” . Listen to Lata’jis songs from Badal….” Aye dil na mujh se choopaa sach batta kya hua” …and….”Do din ke liye mahenman yahan mallom nahin manjil hai kahan “. There are so many songs to quote . Why there is limitation now? I cannot think.

51 CHANCHAL GHOSH September 8, 2014 at 10:13 pm


52 AK September 10, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Chanchal Ghosh,
I can include only so many songs in a post. The readers add their other favourite songs in their comments. Apni to har aah ek toofan hai has been mentioned by Hans in his comments #32. I like Mehbooba teri tasweer a lot a lot. This has been adapted from SD Burman’s Bengali song Gaaner koli surer durite. These songs have been discussed in SD Burman’s Bengali songs and their Hindi versions.

53 SUDHEER January 8, 2015 at 2:51 am


54 SUDHEER January 8, 2015 at 2:53 am


55 Anu April 14, 2015 at 6:23 pm

Will anyone let me know the film in which Rafi has sung the solo “Hum aur thum aur e samaa, kya nasha nashaa sa hi”?

56 AK April 14, 2015 at 7:34 pm

Dil De Ke Dekho.

57 ksbhatia April 18, 2015 at 1:30 pm

AK ji, The song ‘ Hum aur tum aur yeh samaha ‘ is a beautiful song;[ in fact all the songs of ‘ Dil Deke Dekho’ were hits ]; surprisingly the song ‘ hum aur tum ‘ carried only one stanza in the movie . The radio broadcast carried the complete version during 60s. I think full lyrics are available on internet .

58 AK April 18, 2015 at 2:36 pm

KS Bhatiaji,
That’s interesting. I would now carefully look for it in the movie.

59 Hans April 18, 2015 at 9:05 pm

Bhatiaji is correct. There is only one stanza. This refrain ‘hum aur tum aur ye saman’ was later used by SJ for Shammi in College Girl.

Similarly, SDB and Roshan used ‘aise to na dekho’ in 1965 for two songs.
Here is the link for Roshan song. Comment 15 has the other link.

60 ksbhatia April 20, 2015 at 12:38 am

Hans ji; In one of discussions on Usha khanna / Jaikishan songs in ‘Open house’ the readers were anxious to know wheather Usha really wanted to give the music SJ’s way . In one of the Radio interview Usha herself confirmed her as SJ follower . The tune of ‘ Hum aur tum ‘ has that lilt of Jaikishan’s magic . Anyway the Rafi’s rendering and the song itself is superb. Yes’ one thing more . The movie carried the second stanza only — just to clarify. Your reference to Bheegi raat song reminds me that this movie extensively carried the instrumental version of Mamta’s songs as background music .

61 Komal Raut November 7, 2016 at 10:44 am

Tere Mere Sapne from Guide could be added to the list. No one but Rafi Sahab could have ever got it it right. Like many say, God cannot sing which is why he created Rafi Sahab. His collaboration with SDB is nothing less than a heavenly engagement. Love them both

62 Shaurya January 8, 2017 at 11:36 am

AK ji,
Very nice article. The 11 songs you have mentioned above are masterpiece. Just want to correct you that after film Pyassa, Rafi-SD combo was also seen in 1957 film ‘Nau Do Gyarah’. Who can forget those wonderful duets ‘Aaja panchi akela hai’ & ‘Kali ke roop mein’. Also very few know about the 1959 Dev Anand starrer ‘Ek ke Baad ek’ where the Rafi-SD combo gave us a beautiful song ‘Thummak Thummak hai chalu hai tu kidhar’.

63 AK January 8, 2017 at 12:40 pm

Welcome to SoY and thanks a lot for your appreciation. I was aware of the songs of Nah Do Gyarah. But thanks for mentioning them.

64 Ashok Kumar tyagi January 16, 2017 at 1:38 pm

AK ji
I have had some free time and fruitfully used the same in going through some old posts on SoY.
This post, as also the CR-Lata post, were really top class.
Mentally going through various popular male solos created by SDB, noticed that whenever he wanted some exquisite use of the tabla as a special instrument in a male solo, he chose either Rafi or Manna as the singer.
I also noticed that when he put in special tabla pieces for female songs, the chosen singer was Asha or Geeta or both. One noticeable exception was the great bhajan – Na main dhan chaahun – (Kaala bazar), where Geeta-Sudha combination was used which was a rarity as a combination.

65 ksbhatia January 16, 2017 at 6:03 pm

Ashok kumar Tyagi ji ;

You have brought a nice subject to the fore front to enjoy and expand the horizon of SDB songs vis a vis the special beats in use over tabla , dholak or any other rhythm based instrument . His use of special beats are indicative of his love for Rabindra sangeet . I have two songs to offer as examples but others must have many to offer songs based on such special beats .

1.Aan milo aan milo shyam saware…..Geeta Dutt, Manna Dey…..Devdas


2.Aaj sajan mohe aang lagalo….Geeta Dutt….Pyaasa


Since this article relates to best songs of Rafi for SDB , I have a special song in store to reveal ; which altogether have very different beats and it is my fav.

3.Manzil ki chaah main….Rafi…Devdas


The picturisation of the song is perfect ; and have stamp of the great director , Bimal Roy.

66 AK January 17, 2017 at 4:29 am

Thanks a lot for your comments and compliments. Rafi and Manna Dey for special eats is an obvious choice. Hemant Kumar, Mukesh and Talat Mahmood were different kind of singers. When you say this my thoughts also go to his duets such as Deewana mastana hua dil or Chand sa mukhada kyun sharmaya which have very enjoyable beats, and the ‘drummer’ Dev Anand in Jewel Thief.

I hope you are able to browse more of the older posts. One thing which we can’t help is the YT removing the video links. One doesn’t know what is their method in this madness. They have no qualms in allowing obscene videos on the site.

67 Ashok Kumar Tyagi January 18, 2017 at 1:16 pm

AK ji
Thanks for sharing views via editor’s comment above.
Thanks to Bhatia Sir for linking up three songs above particularly two magnificent songs from film Devdas. I have not read Sharat Chandra novel but I assume that Paro and Chandramukhi come across each other only once as shown so beautifully in the movie with the help of a great song by Rafi; what an imagination – two kuchha paths intersecting, farms around the place adding to the beauty of two pretty ladies, Paro having a second curious look and quickly understanding where Chandramukhi is headed to.
Fail to understand why Sanjay L Bhansali totally changed the story-line in his remake.

68 ksbhatia January 18, 2017 at 5:51 pm

Ashok Kumar Tyagi ji ;

Thanks for Your observation and description that speaks volumes of the exquisite qualities of the handling of the song sequence by the great director . The qualitative rendition of the song by Rafi is simply out of this world ….and the chorus just amazing . …..even their steps and knees slightly compressed and bent with load…. beautifully matches the rhythm and beats of the song . This truly stand apart as SDB’s one of the greatest hidden gems of a song .

Another song that has the particular exceptional beat is ……O more maajhi….from Bandani , this time by SDB himself . Yet another gem of fine direction of Bimal Roy .

69 Hans January 21, 2017 at 8:01 pm

I have read Devdas. This situation of Paro and Chandramukhi crossing each other’s path is not there in the novel. Bimal Roy has remained faithful to the story, but has only changed it at 3 or 4 places and all of them has enhanced the appeal of the film. In this scene also he beautifully shows the changes in the lives of both due to Devdas effect. Devdas’s one mistake lands Paro in the palki and his company changes the life of Chandramukhi. In the novel no specific reason of Devdas taking to drinks is given. But, in the film he shows Devdas in Chandramukhi’s kotha. He still feels uneasy and he opens the window and listens the sound of shehnai and he immediately takes to drinking.

70 Ashok Kumar Tyagi January 22, 2017 at 5:57 am

Thanks to Hans sahib for explaining two of the few alterations made by Bimal Roy in creating the movie. I saw the movie in a Sunday morning show at a young age and could not catch the subtle handling of difficult situations by Bimal Roy. Now after watching the song ‘Manzil ki chah mae’, courtesy Bhatia ji, I recognize the greatness of not only Bimal Roy, but also of Sahir, SDB and Mohd Rafi – they have created an extraordinary song in a remarkable movie.

71 Ashok Kumar Tyagi July 3, 2017 at 3:44 pm

AK ji
Now, having read your top quality post on Sarat Chandra wherein Bimal Roy receives deserved praise, I can fully understand what Hans and KS Bhatia have recorded in comments Number 68 and 69 above. The magnificent director Bimal Roy brought together such superb artists as Dilip, Suchitra Sen, Vyjayanti Mala and Motilal and the talent of Sahir, SDB, Talat, Manna Dey, Geeta Dutt, Rafi, Lata and Mubarak Begum in one movie. Only a few Hindi films can boast of such remarkable gathering and furthermore every one of them performing at the highest level possible.

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