Talat Mahmood by Naushad and C Ramchandra

February 24, 2015

A tribute to Talat Mahmood on his 91st birth anniversary (24 February 1924 – 9 May 1998)

Talat Mahmood-Naushad-C RamchandraThere was every reason for Talat Mahmood to have a long innings with Naushad. Both coming from Lucknow, they represented a similar Urdu sensibility and cultural milieu. Talat’s entry into Bombay Hindi film music was spectacular with Ae dil mujhe aisi jagah le chal jahan koi na ho (Arzoo, 1950), composed by Anil Biswas, picturied on Dilip Kumar. Sure enough, Talat Mahmood became Dilip Kumar’s voice under Naushad’s baton in Baabul (1950) with great success. This was a perfect launch for a long career at the top, because Naushad had emerged as the undisputed No.1 and the preferred composer of Dilip Kumar – Naushad-Dilip Kumar notching at least a dozen films together hence. But in a twist which must be unparalleled in the annals of film history, Baabul became effectively the first and the last film in which Talat Mahmood could sing for Naushad. The reason given in popular writings is that Talat managed to give some offence to Naushad by his behaviour during the recording of a song for this film.

On the other hand, Talat Mahmood had a long innings with Naushad’s great rival, C Ramchandra. Was it on the rebound, or am I reading more into it? A commentator has written that C Ramchandra shared his mentor Anil Biswas’s ‘antipathy’ for Rafi. This is not exactly correct, because as has been mentioned before on this blog, Rafi’s earliest hit songs were given by CR. CR has used Rafi quite generously, mostly in duets (including some with himself), and in some very good solos too. However, you would not include CR in the same league as Naushad, SD Burman, Roshan, OP Nayyar or Shankar Jaikishan for Rafi’s greatest songs. But Talat Mahoomd’s best songs would include many compositions by C Ramchandra.

Does it mean that Naushad’s contribution to the career of Talat Mahmood was insignificant? Hans says that even with one film, Naushad’s importance for Talat is no less than that of Anil Biswas. I would not go to that extent, but I would say without hesitation that his five songs in Baabul (two solos, two duets with Shamshad Begum and a triad song with Shamshad and Rafi) are among Talat’s all-time greats.

We are discussing Naushad and CR in tandem. In a unique twist, in different circumstances, Talat had a song-that-could-not-be with both of them. In Azaad (1955), Dilip Kumar insisted to have Talat sing for him. As the latter was too busy those days, CR persuaded Dilip Kumar to let him sing instead, and assured him it would be no less. The result was the all-time great Kitna haseen hai mausam kitna haseen safar hai – one of the best Talat duets that he did not sing. In Aadmi (1968), Naushad recorded a Rafi-Talat duet Kaisi haseen aaj baharon ki raat hai (Rafi for Dilip Kumar and Talat for Manoj Kumar), but on Manoj Kumar’s insistence the Talat part was replaced by Mahendra Kapoor in the film – some indignity this for a singer who was at the top in the early 50s! Talat Mahmood was left with a poor consolation that by that time some records in his voice had already hit the market.

Naushad, C Ramchandra and Talat Mahmood make an interesting study in talent, success, fate and hubris. Let me pay a tribute to them with some of their best songs on the 91st birth anniversary of Talat Mahmood.

Naushad-Talat Mahmood: Baabul (1950), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni

1. Milte hi aankhen dil hua deewana kisi ka (duet with Shamshad Begum)

No one could sing a love song on the piano better than Dilip Kumar, whose pupil-lover Munawwar Sultana follows him diligently.


2. Duniya badal gayi meri duniya badal gayi (duet with Shamshad Begum)

It was not for nothing that Dilip Kumar was the Tragedy King. The producers had the capacity to convert any film into a relentless melancholia for Dilip Kumar and Munawwar Sultana. Naushad comes up with a great gem.


3. Mera jeevan saathi bichhad gaya lo khatm kahani ho gayi

The ultimate rub is when Dilip Kumar is asked to sing at the wedding of his beloved Munawwar to another guy. But the prelude – Khushi ke saath duniya mein hazaro gham bhi hote hain – followed by Mera jeevan sathi bichhad gaya lo khatm kahani ho gayi says it all. When I watched this film I felt they should have been a little more discreet to the bridegroom.


C Ramchandra-Talat Mahmood

There is a long list of films in which Talat sang for CR: Sagaai, Shabistan (1951); Parchhain, Saaqi (1952); Kavi, Meenar, Subah Ka Tara (1954); Duniya Gol Hai, Insaniyat, Yasmin (1955), Devta (1956); Baarish (1957), and finally after a long gap, Toofani Takkar (1978). In the detailed review of the songs of 1955 and 1951, some songs of this combo have been rated as among the best in their category, such as Bechain nazar betaab jigar (Yasmin, 1955) and his duet with Lata Mangeshkar Mohabbat mein aise zamaane bhi aaye (Sagaai, 1951). These songs would figure among Talat’s all-time greats. Avoiding repetition let me present ten other songs – almost all of them hugely popular among music lovers till today.

4. Kabhi tanhaaiyon mein ek aisi bhi ghadi aayi from Meenar (1954), lyrics Rajendra Krishna

I start with his incredibly beautiful song I have discovered while working for this post. The Ghazal King Talat Mahmood is at his velvet best. You can’t fail to notice the harmonium notes in the interludes. One is lucky to be living in the era of Internet.


5. Mohabbat hi na jo samjhe from Parchhain (1952), lyrics Noor Lakahanvi

Now I come to the familiar territory with one of the most well-known Talat songs. One of the leading ladies, Jayshree, play-acting a sitar player, you hear beautiful sitar music in this song, as well as some other songs in this film.


6. Main pee ke nahi aaya from Kavi (1954), lyrics Rajendra Krishna

CR now gives a faster and chirpy composition for Talat for a sharabi song – a delightful change.


7. Apni kaho kuchh meri suno (duet with Lata Mangeshkar) from Parchhain

Sandhya seeking to usurp Jayshree’s love-interest, Shantaram, by pretending she is the one who he remembers. Not a very laudable thing to do, but CR-Talat-Lata, all at their best, create this timeless melody.


8. Laagi laagi karejwa mein chot haaye Ram (duet with Lata Mangeshkar) from Duniya Gol Hai (1955), lyrics Rajendra Krsihna

This is a unique composition. The antaraas are in the style of ghazal recital, but the mukhada and the musical interludes are in folk style. Those familiar with Chitragupt’s songs for Bhojpuri films would recognize he must have taken inspiration from here for some of his songs.


9. Gaya andhera hua ujala (duet with Lata Mangeshkar) from Subah Ka Tara (1954), lyrics Noor Lakhanavi

Another sweet melody from CR-Talat-Lata.


10. Zara mud ke to dekho saajna (duet with Lata Mangeshkar) from Meenar (1954), lyrics Rajendra Krishna

It is clear this is a story of childhood friends growing into adult lovers. CR creates this perfect duet for the joyous lovers, Bharat Bhushan and Beena Rai.

{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rakesh Srivastava February 24, 2015 at 10:51 am

Another bouquet of ever fragrant flowers, each surpassing the other.Every music lover would thank you for this beautiful collection of songs that have been all time favorite of one and all.
I would like to add two more songs to the guldasta above
1-Naghma-Milte Hi Nazar Unse-Geeta Dutt & Talat-Naushad-1954
2-Shabistan-Hai Ye Mausame Bahar-Talat-C Ramchandra-1953

2 AK February 24, 2015 at 11:14 am

Rakesh Srivvastava,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation.

3 Rakesh Srivastava February 24, 2015 at 11:26 am

P.S.Aadmi song -Kaisi Haseen…… by Talat is really very sweet and its deletion from the movie was really unfortunate.Naushad has touched this issue at length in his book-Bombay Talkies.Readers would do good to go through this book.
My tributes to the singer having velvet voice

4 maheshmamadapur February 24, 2015 at 12:04 pm

Rakesh ji,

The music of Naghma was scored by Naashad of “Baradari” fame.

AK ji,
Many Thanks. It is generally believed that Naushad found Talat saab smoking and was deeply offended. He decided to go for only Rafi in Baiju Bawra which Rafi saab grabbed with both hands to the extent that Naushad never had to look for anyone else later on.

It is difficult for me to imagine Talat singing the songs which Rafi saab sung for Naushad, but then Talat definitely deserved many more songs.

Apart from Babul and Aadmi, Talat joined in a chorus song sung by 5-6 male singers in the disastrously made movie “Love and God” for Naushad.

I do agree with you view that Babul was effectively first and last film of Talat saab for Naushad. You are spot on.

Many Thanks.

5 Rakesh Srivastava February 24, 2015 at 1:35 pm

Mahesh ji
Thanks for correcting me and removing my doubt.Raaga.com mentions Naushad as MD for Naghma which can be ignored but Hindigeetmala.net also mentions Naashad and Naushad both as MDs and this and few more songs to be composed by Naushad and few others to be composed by Naashad.
Now I conclude that many of the sites are not reliable as far as authenticity is considered.

6 AK February 24, 2015 at 2:22 pm

Thanks a lot for your appreciation. Obviously Rafi reached an unassailable position. But Talat Mahmood could have longer innings with Naushad. For that matter, it is surprising Naushad jettisoned Mukesh too for almost two decades. So even without Talat’s said indiscretion, Rafi would have comprehensively prevailed.

7 Anu Warrier February 24, 2015 at 7:07 pm

AK, you stole a march on me. 🙂 But you’ve given us some lovely songs to listen to.

Here’s one from Saaqi (1952), a duet with Lata.

Another Talat-Lata duet from Yasmin (1955)

And a cheery tandem with Lata (again) in Insaniyat (1955) (You have to put up with a moustachioed Dev Anand, though.)


8 AK February 24, 2015 at 10:36 pm

I checked up your blog. I haven’t stolen any march on you. You have given excellent overview of Talat’s career. I focused on Naushad and C Ramchandra.

Kise maaloom tha ek din is a wonderful song. Thanks for adding it. Dev Anand was bad enough in pyjamas (or dhoti?). The moustache is painful, spoils CR’s sweet Aayi jhoomti bahar.

9 ksbhatia February 24, 2015 at 11:41 pm

AK’ji; Another wonderful spills of gems from the collectors desk ! Talat and Rafi has been integral singers and fav of many MDs of the golden era and Naushad had that exceptional capacity to extract best out of them . Babul songs are the examples where Naushad used Talat as a fore front singer with Rafi in the background . ……… 1. Nadi kinare saath hamare le ke jawani aayi by Talat, shamshad and Rafi with chorus in the background. 2. Choore babul ka ghar [sad version ] by Talat followed by Rafi sahib wonderful liner at the end ……. Aao sajan kharen hain uus paar doli pe ho ja savaar…… and masterly crafted orchestra . No other MD ever attempted such experiment . Like many others I too wished that Talat should have played longer innings with Naushad . Yes CR was very effective in giving his best both with Talat and Rafi .

10 AK February 25, 2015 at 12:30 am

KS Bhatiaji,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation. It is indeed interesting that Naushad used Rafi very peripherally in Baabul, when a year earlier Rafi had given a great song – Suhani raat dhal chuki.

11 Anu Warrier February 25, 2015 at 12:59 am

AK, here is a Talat Mahmood, Geeta Dutt, Chitalkar triad in Shabistan under C Ramchandra’s baton. You can’t get anymore of the Talat-CR combination than that! 🙂


(Though I wonder why there are two male voices.)

12 gaddeswarup February 25, 2015 at 3:29 am

Is this mentioned? http://youtu.be/RNzG5viyLmc

13 AK February 25, 2015 at 7:38 am

Nice song. The third voice, Chitalkar seems to come from far in the beginning, which prompts Shyam to start his love song. But the bigger wonder is, wouldn’t two people put in jail be worried about their state, or would they start singing a romantic duet!

14 AK February 25, 2015 at 7:45 am

I mentioned there were five Talat songs in Baabul, but included only three. Husnwaalon ko is a very nice song.

15 gaddeswarup February 25, 2015 at 10:12 am

Spurred by this post I bought Naushadnama by Raju Bharatan. There is a long write up about Talat and Naushad. It is interesting though I do not know how true it is.

16 arvind February 25, 2015 at 1:13 pm

(…apni nakami se mujhko kaam hai…..)
..SUBAH KA TARA ( 1954)…
talat mehmood/CR

17 Hans February 26, 2015 at 1:48 am

Nice tribute to Talat. Talat’s list of CR songs would show that he could compose songs with silken touch for a singer other than Lata and Rafi. All of his good songs left out by AK have been mentioned by others.

I am happy you have pointed out that Rafi was used more than Talat by CR. As per my info Rafi got 74 songs ( 19 solos ). All the other golden era male singers Mukesh, Manna Dey, Talat, Hemant, Kishore and M.Kapoor put together got about 110 songs. So Rafi was his second best male singer after himself. In his craze for Lata he composed very few male solos. He himself sang only 28 solos out of about 160 songs.

Regarding Naushad and Babul I would say a super successful film was much better than a series of flop films. Anil Biswas’s best offering for Talat was a partly-successful Tarana. None of his other films with Talat were successful. He was not even prolific with him as he gave only 14 songs (7 solos) to Talat in six films. Naushad gave him 7 songs in one film. Yes they are seven because ‘chhod babul ka ghar’ has four versions and in two of them Talat is there. There is one duet in which Talat sings the mukhda followed by Shamshad and in the end when Nargis is dying in his arms he sings this song in extremely slow tune. Naushad tapped his full talent in one films. Sad solo, happy solo, sad duet, happy duet, very slow sad solo. AB utilised just his strength in solos. There was not much variety like Naushad or CR.

CR gave Talat 26 songs(10 solos) in 12 films from 1951 t0 1957. Out of these 8 were in Kavi with 6 solos and 2 duets. Outside of this film he gave only 4 solos and 14 duets in 11 films. As is well known Naushad gave three consecutive jubilee hits in three years for Dilip Kumar with three different singers. Then he came up with Baiju Bawra with Bharat Bhushan. CR perhaps wanted to do a Baiju Bawra with Talat to show to Naushad in Kavi, which was a film on a poet as the name suggests. For that purpose he selected this film with so many male solos and there was only one duet for Lata. Otherwise he was searching for scripts with female solos for Lata. In Kavi no solo is of the level of his solos in other films. But, both the duets one with Rafi and one with Lata are good.

18 Hans February 26, 2015 at 2:16 am

Mahesh (comment 4),
The reason given by you for Naushad being offended may be correct and Naushad did not give him more songs due to that. But, it is not correct that Naushad used Rafi so extensively in Talat’s absence. In an interview I heard Naushad say that he had rehearsed Rafi for the tunes which he used in Deedar at the time of Dulari. Otherwise also Rafi had sung 15 songs before Babul for Naushad with the famous classic solos in Anmol Ghadi, Mela, Dillagi and Dulari. After Babul and before Baiju Bawra he used Rafi in Deedar, Jadoo, Aan and Deewana extensively. His decision to use Rafi was pre-Babul. In Babul – which was his home production – he gave Talat to provide a fillip to his career. Though he did not give him any other songs, but he signed Talat as singing star for his home production Maalik and he assigned its music to Ghulam Mohammad either because he did not want to compose for him or because he was busy.

Otherwise also, as you agree Talat could not have fitted in songs which were for Rafi. At best he could have a few songs in Shabab or Sohni Mahiwal.

19 AK February 26, 2015 at 7:52 am

Thanks a lot for your detailed comments. It is difficult to believe CR had over 70 songs with Rafi. But you make an interesting point that his heart was primarily in creating a Lata solo, and he did create a pole position for himself. That might explain why with so many songs CR-Rafi would not figure in the top 4-5 Rafi-MD combos. But there was also something more, because much fewer number was not a constraint in his composing some of the all-time great Talat songs.

You are too harsh on Anil Biswas. He had his days mid-30s to early 40s. Later too, though his films may not be Kismet, he did create several immortal songs. Naushad was the new Anil Biswas, and a little more with his good public outreach.

‘AB just utilised Talat’s strength in solos’. Do you hold the same view with Nain mile nain huye baawre, Seene mein sulagate hain armaan and Raahi matwaale?

20 KB February 26, 2015 at 8:25 am


Thanks for bringing out a bouquet of my favorite singer’s songs. Talat’s voice is an epitome of pure melody and creates an aura of peace whenever I listen to him.

I wonder why CR, after all the great creations for Talat, suddenly stopped using him after Baarish (1957)! One of my favorite CR-Talat-Lata combos is “Kisine mujhko mere ghar” from Parcchain. What a melody and what a rhythm!

Had Naushad used Talat in Deedar for the song “Huye hum jinke liye”, he would have taken it to a different level!


In my opinion, Talat’s songs in Babul are terrific, but Anilda’s compositions for Talat are in a different zone altogether!

How I wish Talat did not lose his voice quality that early:-(

21 AK February 26, 2015 at 2:10 pm

Thanks a lot for your appreciation.

22 maheshmamadapur February 26, 2015 at 2:24 pm

Hans ji,
Your correction about my comment does make lot of sense. Thanks.
It is also to be noted that Naushad used a large number of singers pre Lata-Rafi era with very high success rate. For example in “Dard” he used three different female singers on three separate actresses. So in this initial period for example in Andaz, Mela etc, Rafi saab was given second preference after Mukesh.
I think Mukesh moving to SJ camp and his decision to become a singer actor and the Talat incident made Naushad stick to Rafi.
It will be extremely difficult to guess how Naushad would have accommodated Mukesh and Talat had it not been for the above reasons.

23 Subodh Agrawal February 26, 2015 at 5:08 pm

The first LP I bought when I started building my collection as a student in early seventies was ‘In a Blue Mood’ by Talat. ‘Husn walon ko na dil do’ from Babul was included in the collection, although I felt it had a teasing rather than a blue mood. A few years later I saw the film on TV. Brings back all those memories.

It is a pity Naushad didn’t use Talat again. Hearing the songs of ‘Mirza Ghalib’ composed by Ghulam Mohammad on gets a feel of what more Naushad might have achieved with him. There is a noticeable similarity in the style of the two composers.

24 Ravindra Kelkar February 26, 2015 at 5:44 pm

Dear AKji,
Wonderful article. All the songs you have cited are beautiful. I will like to make a few observations.
1) Whatever was the reason due to which Naushad eliminated Talat from his music we will never know. However, I agree with you that he should have used him to sing the tunes which suited Talat. About CR, my view is that he was enchanted with Lata’s voice so much that, he didn’t have too much time for his male singers. I strongly feel that most of the songs that he himself sung would have sounded much better if he had used Rafi or Talat to sing them. As an example, in Albela there is only one Lata/Rafi duet in which Rafi has done such a wonderful job that you can’t help wishing that CR had used Rafi or Talat for that matter in the other duets also. Mind you, CR did sing them OK, but still you feel something missing. Could it be that, he was so much into Lata fixation that, he delibrately had the male part playing second fiddle to her & hence sang many duets himself?
2) I feel that Talat sang a number great songs for Madan Mohan, which according to me are equally good (actually for my taste, some are even better than those you have listed). I personally feel that Madan used him very well. In many comments AB is mentioned, but nobody has mentioned Madan Mohan.
3) The film industry is very commercial. That’s the main reason, I suppose, why Talat slowly got sidetracked & eventually went into oblivion, which was very sad.

25 AK February 27, 2015 at 12:06 am

Ravindra Kelkar,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation. It is clear CR didn’t care much about male voices. About his own singing, he had a magic touch. A number of his songs are super-hits, remembered till today. Whether he was a proper ‘singer’ or not is immaterial. Albela: you are referring to Mehfil mein meri kaun ye diwana aa gaya. I don’t think it is remembered more than Chitalkar’s songs in the films. Not many would agree to replace Chitalkar with Rafi in Albela, that is no comment on their singing merits.

AB was mentioned in the context of his importance in the Bombay debut of Talat Mahmood, and AB-Naushad politics. There was no occasion to discuss Madan Mohan. Earlier, he has been spoken very highly in the context of Talat Mahmood. Subodh has mentioned the LP ‘In a Blue Mood’. Its anchor song was Meri yaad mein tum na aansoo bahana – it would top my list of Talat songs. In the detailed year-wise review we have been doing on SoY, we declared it as the best male solo of 1951.

26 ksbhatia February 27, 2015 at 12:12 am

Ravindra kelkar ‘ji ; It is very difficult to trace the diminishing of Talat from Naushad’s camp after so many hits . Is it due to rapid modernisation and urbanisation wherein the demand of Rock ‘ n’ roll and later on Elvis and Beatle style music emerged which only Rafi , Lata and others could cope with . During 60s Naushad continued with Rafi- Lata combo and gave excellent score in Sohni mahiwal, Amar and Kohinoor followed by Mere mehboob , Leader , Palki , etc . though Naushad sticks to his guns [ lata-rafi] but his music sort of faded with the modern times . As correctly said Talat’s loss was MM, SJ, OP, CR and other MDs gain . Talat was hit in other camps as well and gave beautiful songs like Pyar par bus to nahi hai, Andhe jahan ke andhe raaste , jain to jaain kahan, koi nahi mera is jahan mein , tujhe apne paas bulati hai teri duniya, hum gam ke maroan ka bus itna fassana hai, humse aaya na gaya , apni kaho ya meri suno kya dil ka laggana bhul gaye , jalte hain jinke liye ………and so many others. As such the true followers of good music did not really felt any distraction and continued to relish the sweet melodies of that era .

27 ASHOK M VAISHNAV February 27, 2015 at 3:10 pm

“Film industry is so very commercial’ seems to be only meaningful reason for Talat Mahmood being swept away, even when he already had made substantial in-roads in terms of playback for leading artists, with major music directors, in major production banners.
Talat’s use by Naushad in Babul alone is so inexplicable, that mention of those songs in a tribute article seems a bit out-of-sync with the spirit of a tribute – even as the songs remain of exceptionally high calibre.

28 Ravindra Kelkar February 27, 2015 at 5:28 pm

Dear AKji, I agree the other Albela songs are greater hits. That’s not the point. The quality of final output of the song would have been better if they had been sung by Rafi/Talat. However, this is a purely subjective view point. I always have agreed with the view that the quality of the tune is the decisive factor for the song. If the tune is good, the song is going to be appreciated, even if it is rendered by a competent singer, instead of the best singer available. So CR did a very competent job in singing those duets, & the tune were so good, that rest is history. As I said this is purely my opinion, so take my comments in that spirit.

29 Hans February 27, 2015 at 9:20 pm

Judging who was a preferred singer of an MD is not a short time process. You cannot judge it on film to film basis. So far as I gather from Naushad’s writings or interviews which I have seen, Rafi was in his scheme of things from day one he met him. He had seen a high degree of talent in him and had decided to use him extensively and was preparing him for the big occasion. Even when he was not singing for him, Rafi was in constant touch with Naushad. Whatever classical status has been given to Rafi by KK supporters to win arguments, Rafi was a raw singer and knew precious little about the film industry when he came and neither he had any guide. Those conversant with Panjabi music would find touch of Panjabi accent in many of his early songs – which itself shows that classical training, if any, was just superficial. Though he never divulged this reason for the delayed entry of Rafi as mainstream singer, my guess is that this was the prime reason. In my view, the most refined singer at the entry into the industry was Talat and it was very easy for an MD to work with him, particularly in his range.

Another thing which should be kept in mind is that after Rattan, Naushad was very much in demand and most of his films were decided in advance and Mukesh being early bird was finalised for the films in which he sang, before Rafi was ready. Despite that, of the six films in 1948 and 1949 which Naushad composed, in three Chandani Raat, Dillagi and Dulari Mukesh had no role to play. In the remaining three Mela, Anokhi Ada and Andaz, Mukesh was the main singer but Rafi had a great song in Mela which had two versions.

Mukesh moving in SJ camp had nothing to do with Naushad not using him because Lata and Rafi were also the mainstay of SJ camp for the major period. Lata dominated the female field in SJ camp in the first ten years even more than CR. Just to give an example, from 1949-58 SJ composed 200 solos 150 of which were for females, Lata grabbing 145. Mukesh taking to acting was certainly a factor, but not with Naushad. Neither Rafi benefitted, because most MDs using Mukesh were anti-Rafi and the singers who benefitted were mostly Talat and Manna Dey.

30 Hans February 28, 2015 at 3:00 am

You have made the following two statements.

1. “Had Naushad used Talat in Deedar for the song “Huye hum jinke liye”, he would have taken it to a different level! ”

2. “In my opinion, Talat’s songs in Babul are terrific, but Anilda’s compositions for Talat are in a different zone altogether!”

From the first statement we come to a conclusion that Naushad-Talat would have beeen in a different level as against Naushad-Rafi. The second statement means Biswas-Talat is again in a different zone as against Naushad-Talat. So after 1950 Naushad was dealing in Rafi and Biswas was – till 1954 – with Talat. Perhaps the Indian public could not understand this ‘different zone + different level’ team and were foolish enough to appreciate the inferior team. The public foolishness lead Biswas – who had declared Rafi no singer – to go to Rafi post-1954.

I would not say Rafi would have sung this or that song rendered by Talat better, because, firstly I have a huge respect for Talat and secondly I like AK and others of the view that once a singer sings a song that is fixed in our memory as his song.

I agree with you that Talat’s voice problems which were due to a physical defect deprived us of the possibility of so many other gems, which would have provided music lovers with much more variety. I am also of the view that Talat was a class singer and he dealt in the limited range because of this defect and if he did not have it he would have been a tough competition for Rafi.

31 Hans February 28, 2015 at 3:21 am

Ravindra Kelkar,
Though AK has replied you in the CR matter, I would also like to add my bit. CR was actually a very good singer. In fact if he had not been busy in composing he would have performed much better in singing department than what we get now. He was a prolific composer and after starting in 1942, he gave music in more than 90 films in the two decades upto 1960. He did not have perhaps time for singing but, still sang a lot of duets with Lata for the only objective of being with her and recording his voice with her. Due to this reason he might have ignored other singers, but that does not mean his level of singing was low. Though he mostly sang duets but he was quite capable of taking a film on his shoulders. You can listen to the whole music of Baarish (1957), where he playbacked for Dev Anand. You will not feel that another singer was needed.

He could modulate his voice beautifully. You must have heard the Albela song ‘o betaji’. I give here a link to a beautiful ghazal ‘chali bhi aa ke tera intezar kabse hai’ he sang in the film Shatranj(1956).

32 SSW February 28, 2015 at 7:28 pm

That is an interesting song Hans, the one from Shatranj , I think it is set primarily in raga Bageshri and brings to mind C Ramchandra’s earlier composition “jaag dard e ishq” from Anarkali in the same raga. The duet in the same film “hawa hai sard” especially the arrangement reminds me of Chitragupta’s “Do dil dhadak rahe hai” .

33 Hans March 1, 2015 at 1:50 am

You are perhaps talking about Hemant-Lata duet ‘badli men chhupe chand ne’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yW8MbpNKTWo
The song ‘hawa hai sard’ is a Lata solo with two versions. There is also a Lata solo, the alaap of which appears to have the same tune of ‘do dil dhadak rahe’ with a slow tempo. Here it is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rekklmR4mkQ

I had discovered this film about one and a half year ago while downloading another film, but did not notice the similarity, which I now notice after you pointed out. I found the music of this film so different from other CR music that I prepared a list of CR films and am since discovering and admiring him more and more.

34 SSW March 1, 2015 at 4:46 am

Sorry I meant the Lata solo “Hawa hai sard”. The duet was “Do dil dhadak rahe hai”. Mixed them up.

35 mumbaikar8 March 1, 2015 at 7:56 am

I had expected this year to be full of treats
You surely have mastered living up to expectations.Thanks.
Naushad ought to have more songs with Talat
C Ramchandra ought to have more with Rafi
both the combinations had great chemistry.
Was Ghalib’s sher kabhi neki bhi uske ji me jo aa jaye hai mujhse….. jafaye karke apni yaad sharma jaye hai mujhse applicable , to why C. Ramchandra could not go back to Rafi.
In this song ..all of them Talat Rafi and Chitalkar having a great time

36 AK March 1, 2015 at 6:12 pm

Probably the reason was more हम जहाँ में तेरी (लता) तस्वीर लिए फिरते हैं, तेरी सूरत से नहीं मिलती किसी की सूरत़.

Do you realise you have just discovered another hidden connection. Chaand as chehra phool si rangat aisi qayamat kya kahiye by Rafi from Raat Aur Din (1967) is an exact copy of Soorat ho to aisi ho. SJ flatter CR by imitation, it only required Mumabaikar8 to discover it.

37 mumbaikar8 March 1, 2015 at 10:04 pm

I was referring to C Ramchandra going back to Rafi after Lata deserted him. I really wish he had lasted more than he did …….

All the credit of discovering the link between the songs from Baarish and Raat Aur Din should go to you.
I listened to Baarish’s song more than once thinking I was missing Rafi’s verse .. I did not make the connection with Raat Aur Din at all …… I should have done it. This is one of my favorites of Rafi SJ Hasrat combo honestly I am not a big admirer of that combo.

38 Hans March 2, 2015 at 2:20 am

AK, (comment 19)
About the CR-Rafi and CR-Talat relationship, there are two points. One is that there was no chance of CR coming in top five looking at the enormous amount of songs by a number of MDs and a long list of Rafi greats. But, there is another vital difference. Of the 16 Talat duets Lata was with him in 12 and in two more Rafi and Talat were both present. Of the Rafi 55 duets Lata was there in just 10. Asha sang 10 with Rafi though she started off in 1955. As most agree that CR cared only for Lata, so that made a difference. Rafi also had 16 songs which had 3 or 4 singers and we know such songs are hardly remembered. Another reason CR may be among top 5 MDs for Talat is because he has not many songs with other MDs also. In fact 26 is the highest number for an MD with Talat. Next best is Madan Mohan with 23. So far as solos are concerned Rafi has the better results, though people like KB who say ‘Talat any day over Rafi’ would not agree.

Regarding Anil Biswas, I have not said anything which can be called harsh. I just stated the facts. Success is more important in films. Hundreds of examples can be cited. I would cite the example of Dosti which was a bit hit with Rafi playbacking for Sudhir Kumar, which fact is known to every film lover. But, how many people know that the same Sudhir Kumar played Sant Gyaneshwar in the film of the same name which also came in the same year and MD was also the same.

I have always said Biswas is great MD and has given us great songs, but that cannot chang the fact that after Kismat he did not give a single hit film and Naushad gave several. He and his supporters have tried to balance deficiency in success by through propaganda. He launches the career of Talat by one song in a flop film, but Naushad does not do that even when he gives him a hit with seven songs. Same about Mukesh whom Naushad gave three consecutive jubilee hits, but Biswas is called the maker of Mukesh on the basis of flop films. Nobody knew Zohrabai, but when Naushad made her famous, Biswas comes saying that he gave her first break, which was not true. It was circulated that Biswas encouraged Talat to sing with tremolo, though he never gave him a song after 1954. Talat started to feel the impact of tremolo from 1955 onwards. Actually, it was Madan Mohan who gave Talat songs regularly and in Jahanara he had to convince the reluctant Talat to sing. You call Naushad the new Biswas, but would you call Madan Mohan or Roshan the new Naushad. Biswas was never called the new Boral or Mallick. In my view every great MD is unique, though they may have some common traits. In the case of Naushad and Biswas I am quite sure they have very little similarity, if any.

Regarding his solos, I have perhaps not been able to convey what I meant. I wanted to say that Biswas gave Talat the kind of solos, which were to his liking and which he came to be known for. Talat was so adept at such songs that he sang great songs for a number of Mds. He sang ‘jab chhaye kabhi sawan ki ghata’ for Babul. I kept his duets separate because I believe Biswas gave him variety in the duets.

I have watched about a dozen films of Biswas, which not many of his greatest fans be able to claim. And you know you can best appreciate the music by watching a film. Whenever I have a special Talat session ‘mohabbat tarq ki maine’ is one of the first few songs in the list.

39 Hans March 2, 2015 at 2:49 am

The Indian film industry is replete with myths and the story that CR did not give Rafi songs under Lata influence is one of them. I would give you some facts.

CR started using Rafi in 1946. From 1946 to 1950 he gave Rafi 26 songs though he gave music in 32 films. This can be called the period when there was no Lata effect. From 1951 to 55 he gave music in 29 films and gave Rafi 28 songs. This can be called the true Lata period. Asha entered his recording room in 1954. Some strains started appearing in their relations around 1955 or 56. In the Lata period CR was always willing to sing duets with Lata. But, from 1956 he started perhaps teasing her by singing duets with Asha, while giving solos to both. Lata stopped singing for him during making of Amardeep (1958). Now comes the final phase. From 1956 to 1960, CR scored music for 16 films and gave Rafi 17 songs. From 1961 he stopped using Rafi till he again gave him 3 songs in Rootha Na Karo(1970).

So we see how wrong are common rumours. During the Lata period he was giving Rafi songs, though Lata tried to put pressure by refusing to sing duets with him. It was after Lata break-up that CR kept Rafi wholly out for 9 full years in which period he gave music to 13 films.

40 KB March 2, 2015 at 10:08 am


Thanks for the reply.

You wrote:

Perhaps the Indian public could not understand this ‘different zone + different level’ team and were foolish enough to appreciate the inferior team. The public foolishness lead Biswas – who had declared Rafi no singer – to go to Rafi post-1954.

If I were to go by the public opinion, I would buy a collection of Kumar Sanu hits! Though I certainly agree with you that Naushad was more successful than Anil Biswas, I would say that Anilda had more creativity in his music. And as far as my personal taste is concerned, I like Anilda’s music better. So, I am not concerned with what the box office numbers were. I have heard Talat’s interviews (seen them too). He had no reservations in saying that Anil Biswas was the one who gave him the break in Mumbai. Whether Arzoo was a hit or a flop, it only mattered that Anil Biswas had used Talat, and so other music directors started calling him. Do you disagree?

And coming to Rafi, if someone asked me whether Rafi was the most versatile singer, I would emphatically say yes. If someone asked me if he was “the” best singer, I would emphatically say no. He was certainly one of the best singers of the country, but Talat touched my heart better. The reason I gave the example of “Huye hum jinke liye” from Deedar is because Talat’s voice had an inherent tinge of sadness in it. He did not have to rely on theatrics (ex.: sobbing etc..) as Rafi had to do in umpteen songs of this genre. Even if Talat whispered, it was music – that was the quality of his voice. Same with Mukesh too.

But when it came to overall range in the voice, Rafi towered over others. And again to me, S D Burman brought out the best in Rafi.

41 mumbaikar8 March 2, 2015 at 5:36 pm

I do believe, that Rafi was side tracked by, not only CR but most of the MDs except Naushad in early to mid 50s.
For me he truly arrived when Guru Dutt Shammi OP and SD happened to him mid to late 50s.
In early 50s when Lata was at her peak, Rafi did not sing solos for heroes, he sang bhajans, theme songs, comedy song and duets most of them with Shamshad Begum, Asha and Geeta.
Lata and Rafi started in 1946 both, were applauded for their talent, rounds about lata talent were all over the places, Sardar Mallick gave up the idea of becoming singer when he heard Rafi sing Yaha Badla Wafa Ka so effortlessly.
Come 1950 Lata changed her gears, she ruling the roost started influencing her MDs.
I think she did not believe in competition, as smart and music savvy she was, she could recognize competition in him.

42 Hans March 5, 2015 at 2:01 am

Thanks for speaking your mind. I believe in frank discussion and you have shown an inclination to that and I appreciate that.

I dont know which public is advising you to buy Kumar Sanu hits, because I heard that his songs are not remembered after a fortnight. I could have written 10 pages about this aspect, but after your comparison of Naushad-Rafi with Kumar Sanu it would be pointless. It would suffice to say that society has changed drastically in 70-80 years and we cannot speak for or comment on the public of the bygone era. Even today’s society is mixed. When the Guru of this Sanu in association with RDB and Bappi helped the falling standards of hfm, the non-film music in the shape of ghazals and bhajans revived which had almost become extinct during golden-era. Do you consider these old songs blogs like SOY and others who appreciate Naushad and Rafi as part of public which you mention.

You say that you agree with me that Naushad was more successful as if there was scope of disagreement. Your simply saying that Biswas was more creative would not lead us anywhere because I can say that Naushad or Khem Chand Prakash or Gyan dutt was more creative. Creativity also includes versatility and on both fields Biswas lost out to Naushad and fell way behind and it was even not the case of a close fight. On the other hand CR despite his fixation on Lata gave variety and also gave Naushad a run for his money.

You are relying on the interview of Talat. Talat being a great singer does not mean what he says is always the truth. What happened to Sudha Malhotra’s claims about Arzoo have been discussed on SOY. Firstly, it is a wrong thing to differentiate between Calcutta songs and Bombay songs. That would mean all Calcutta music by the likes of Boral, Mallick, Timir Baran did not exist. Why that distinction is not made in the case of KL Saigal. This distinction is made to give Anil Biswas a chance to be shown as giving Talat a break, because everybody knows that Talat sang a lot in Calcutta for Bengali as well as Hindi films and also non-film ghazals. Talat himself claims that he was well known all over India for his ghazal ‘tasveer teri dil mera bahla na sakegi’, when he came to Bombay. Secondly, even in Bombay he had sung songs for others in 1949 – 1 song in Rakhi (Husnlal-Bhagatram) and 2 songs in Swayamsidhha (Praful Chaudhary). By the record numbers it appears that 1950 film Anmol Rattan (Vinod) was released before Arzoo and Talat had 3 songs in it. Even among Babul and Arzoo it is more probable that the songs of Babul – at least a few – were recorded first, because Naushad is known to take a lot of time in composing his music and by the record numbers of these two films it appears that the gap between release of Arzoo and Babul was anything between 2-4 months. Since Babul was produced by Naushad himself and also this being his first as producer, it is more likely that he was more meticulous about its music. Dilip being a common hero in these two films, it is more likely that he himself suggested to Biswas to use Talat for him because he was being used in Babul.

..to be continued..

43 Hans March 6, 2015 at 1:41 am


You have admitted that in versatility and range Rafi was way above other singers and that automatically includes Talat. After that you say he was not the best singer. Can there be any two diametrically opposite statements than these. If in all the ingredients of singing he is way above others, how can anyone come near him for the title of best singer. There is nothing wrong in your liking Talat more than Rafi, because he was a truly great singer and it is always a matter of personal choice. There are a lot of people who like others better than Rafi.

I could have answered you about ‘hue hum hinke liye’ when you mentioned it for the first time, but I avoided that because I really love Talat as a singer. But, now I must tell you that it was not possible for Talat to sing the alaap before the song ‘aseer panjaye’ the way Rafi did it. Talat could not have even done what Rafi did after the alaap and before the actual song began which is the prolonged call of ‘aee…..’. These things could only be done by Rafi.

I would not comment on the theatrics of Rafi you refer until you actually give me at least 10-15 examples of it out of the umpteen times Rafi did the sobbing etc. But I would say that Talat hardly deviated from the image of ‘tasveer teri dil mera’ in his songs. Most of his famous songs are in the same style. Very few MDs tried different type of songs with him and in my view only Salil Choudhary came up with some songs in different style which also became hits. Even Mukesh about whom lot of people say had a limited range tried his hand at different kind of songs with success, but Talat was happy in his groove and that was one of the reasons of his early exit from films. About Rafi I would write in detail only when you give examples of his theatrics.

Your clubbing Mukesh and Talat to have the common attributes of ‘his whisper was music’ and ‘natural tinge of sadness’ is beyond my understanding. Mukesh had this natural sadness, but nobody can say that his whisper was music. I agree that Talat had the silken touch but he hardly provided variety of depths of sadness in his songs which Rafi was able to register.

You have named another Bengali for bringing the best out of Rafi. It appears you listen only songs composed by Bengali MDs. You should listen to Rafi songs by other MDs before coming to such a conclusion, because SDB gave Rafi less than 100 songs, which is about 2%. And think of giving credit to the singer also. My view would be that Rafi helped SDB in giving his best music and in turn got great songs to sing.

44 Hans March 6, 2015 at 2:04 am

I have forgotten to add one thing. Perhaps the only one strongest proof which would clearly establish that Rafi was a better singer than Talat is that Lata had never any reservations about singing duets with Talat, but she was fearful of having to sing them with Rafi. This much is clear from the figures of duets of Lata with them under the baton of CR. I can provide more figures if you desire. Later she contrived to stop singing duets with Rafi in the 60s under the pretext of the royalty issue, when Rafi was murdering her in duets.

45 Hans March 6, 2015 at 3:06 am

You know I have views similar to you on the Rafi-Lata matter. I have seen your post on the Nayyar-Rafi article and would post my detailed comments there. Here I would like to say that CR in his heart respected Rafi and wanted to use him and that was the reason he used him off and on. But, you are right that he sidetracked him at the behest of Lata. The Bengali MDs were against Rafi, Roshan was CR’s friend so Lata influenced him, Madan Mohan was her bhaiyya, SJ – who were at heart pro-Rafi, remember they gave him their first solo in Barsaat ahead of Mukesh – were bridled with the help of Raj Kapoor who was inexplicably against Rafi though he had such a sense of his music.

So you have a point. I have studied the CR figures in detail. Lata did a big damage to the long standing CR-Bhagwan friendship, by refusing to sing with Rafi in his films after the first song was recorded with Rafi in Albela. In the next film of Bhagwan Arts Jhamela also all male-female duets were Lata-Chitalkar and in even two all-male duets Rafi was not used. The singers used were Sunder and Francis Vaj. I dont know the context of these songs because I have not seen this film.

Bhagwan perhaps got angry even in Albela, but since that film was a hit, he gave Jhamela to CR due to the old friendship and in the hope that CR would behave. But he gave the next film Rangeela to Jamaal Sen and then Halla Gulla and Pyara Dushman to Nisar. In all these films only Rafi and Asha sang all songs. This trend continued in his next two films Bhagambhag and Kar Bhala. In Kar Bhala Lata managed to get one solo and one duet through Chic Choclate who was co-composer with Nisar.

But I think you are giving unnecessary credit to SDB for Rafi’s career. He was just forced to use Rafi and only afer 1957, by which time he was sole proprietor of male singing. Only Talat was in competition from 1952-54 in the matter of solos and by 1955 Rafi had established clear lead.

Early 50s was the era of comedy and bhakti films and Rafi being a versatile singer was naturally chosen for those films. It was the big success of a bhakti film Tulsidas in 1954, which broke the resolve of Lata not to sing for Chitragupta. She perhaps came to him with a view to put dynamite to the Rafi-Chitragupta relationship in which she did not succeed, though she was able to ban Asha from Chitragupta recording room for 4 years.

46 KB March 6, 2015 at 9:23 am

Dear AKji,

I apologize for using your blog for this stretched discussion. Hope you do not mind.


The reason I gave Kumar Sanu example was not to compare Naushad-Rafi with Kumar Sanu. But I wanted to make a point that public opinion does not always guarantee that the music/singer/MD is better than the one that is not appreciated.

Versatility and creativity do not need to go hand in hand. Those are two different qualities. Most of Naushad’s semi-classical creations are simple and eminently hummable but listen to Biswas’ creations – they provide unexpected twists and turns, and sometimes cross the boundaries of ragas almost seamlessly. (Ex.: Main unki ban jaaun re). I agree that he was not a force of reckoning when it came to box office. But that has happened to many a genius (Ex.: Sajjad, Madan Mohan), and that is no yardstick for recognizing creativity. Ultimately whom you like is a personal choice, that’s all.

Regarding Talat’s entry in Mumbai, I’m aware that he was a singing sensation in Bengal before he came to Mumbai. But getting recognition in Mumbai was a different affair. Even R.C.Boral and Pankaj Mullick were legends in Bengal, but I don’t think they got any success in Mumbai. I know there were a couple songs of Talat (Rakhi – 1949 and Wafa – 1950 were recorded before Arzoo). But Arzoo was the first major break that he got in Mumbai, and I do not see any issue with him emphasizing the Biswas connection here. I have heard Mukesh’s interview, and he too mistakenly says that Dil Jalta Hai was his first song! I don’t think they were lying here.Whether Naushad was going to release Babul before Arzoo is just hair-splitting. It is just that Biswas-Talat combo worked for longer.

Now coming to Talat’s voice in taking an alaap – please listen to the alaap in Dil Matwala Lakh Sambhala (Bewafa – 1952) and in Sapnon ki suhaani (Shikast – 1953). Those are more elaborate than the one in Huye hum jinke liye. True, Talat was not a classical singer, neither was Rafi. As to sobbing in Rafi’s songs, please listen to songs from Balam, Bansariya, Barsaat etc.. Take the song “Chal Ud Jaare Panchi” from Bhabhi. Rafi has sung it well, but listen to the way he throws the word “chal” in the beginning of the song. The mood of the song is one of resignation after hopelessness. His “chal” conveys an absolutely opposite mood! Listen to Talat in the same song, he delivers “chal” in the right mood. I cannot have enough of Talat’s “Mitva” from Devdas. He has lived the character in that song. I know Talat’s voice was not suitable for songs that required more robust singing and for songs that required more volume in singer’s voice (due to extremely loud orchestration). But so what, whatever he sung, he sung perfectly well, and that’s all that matters!

As to me liking Bengali MDs, I do but I like the Punjabi team of Ghulam Haider, Pandit Amarnath, Shyam Sunder and Vinod too – great music directors. And needless to say – Khayyam also brought out a different Rafi.

By the way I like Rafi – CR combo in “Kehke bhi na aaye tum” (Safar), “Rona hai to aye dil” (Duniya) and “Mera Mijaaz” (Saqi) – and Rafi-Naushad combo in “Suhani Raat” (Dulari), “Tere Kooche” (Dillagi), and “Insaan Bano”.

In the end, I feel Rafi was a generalist, Talat was a specialist. Naushad created jubilee hits, Anilda created sheer magic.

47 KB March 6, 2015 at 9:29 am


Regarding Lata duets with Talat and with Rafi, I have actually heard the reverse. I have heard that she feared Talat’s prowess. But I do not believe that those things were true.

As to Rafi murdering Lata in duets, absolutely not true. Listen to “Jhanana nan Paayaliya” that the two have sung together. Lata’s taans and her fluidity of voice are impeccable while Rafi struggles to put the taans together, and actually clutters them.

48 KB March 6, 2015 at 9:35 am

One correction in my previous post – It was Anmol Rattan of Vinod and not Wafa that was recorded before Arzoo.

49 AK March 6, 2015 at 12:09 pm

KB, Hans
Don’t worry. I am enjoying the dialogue and also learning a lot. In the end, music is about personal taste. The problem arises when we start treating personal taste as the truth and getting worked up.

A fellow blogger and SoY regular once said what she likes about SoY is its adda like atmosphere. I have also created an exclusive adda here in ‘Open House’ (link at the top of the page).

There cannot be a last word on Anil Biswas-Naushad, nor on Rafi-Talat Mahmood. I have a clear fascination for Naushad, but I can hardly say he was superior to Anil Biswas. More successful? Sure. On Rafi-Talat we all say the same thing. Talat was great in his niche, Rafi was the most versatile singer.

About RC Boral-Pankaj Mullick, I am often surprised to see their Bombay output so unremarkable. I put it to the theory of product life cycle, and not Calcutta-Bombay difference. There was a time for their kind of music; when they came to Bombay it was the time for a different kind of music.

About all the dirty things Lata Mangeshkar did, we all base it on popular writings. I enjoy it as nice celebrity-stories, without making a strong opinion either way.

50 N Venkataraman March 23, 2015 at 9:50 pm

Visiting the recent post that I have missed out. Talat Mahmood’s songs are a pleasure to listen, in his unique voice. Thank you for the wonderful songs.

As per number of films Nauashad – Talat Mahmood association might have been the shortest, nevertheless it was a great success. Without going into any comparisons or reasons, I would say that it was our misfortune / loss that their association was short lived. We could have had more. The songs of Babul remain a testimony to this. In spite of Dilip Kumar’s insistence Talat had to turn down the offer to sing in Azaad. Yes, he was truly very busy then. Talat had roughly 28 films with 51 songs that year. That was 1955. Talat was at his peak of his carreer. Between 1953 and 1955 Talat had rendered more 150 songs. But the story was different in the late sixties. Beside the film Aadmi (1968), where he was replaced by Mahendra Kapoor at the insistence of Manoj Kumar, Talat had to face a similar situation in 1967. Naushad had mentioned this in one of his interviews. The film was Palki. Naushad had asked Talat to sing and the songs were recorded and picturised. But the original director died and the new director at insistence of Rajendra Kumar wanted the songs to be rerecorded in the voice of Md.Rafi. Although Naushad had not mentioned the songs, but I think they were “Kal Raat Zindagi se and Chehre se apne aaj to purdah uthaiye. Our informed readers can confirm/ correct me.

I never expected a post on Talat Mahmood to generate such a vibrant discussion. It was an experience in itself. Thanks to Hans ji, Bhatia ji, Mumbaikar j JI and others.

Thank you Akji .

51 O.P.Rajput May 2, 2015 at 9:11 pm

As I’m curious about learning in which ragas various songs are composed(for which SOY is famous), I clicked on Talat Mahmood to know about ragas of his beautiful songs, specially the song CHAL DIYA CARVAAN from Dil-e-Nadan. Alas, what I got was great arguments, great preferences, great competition between singers and MDs, but not what I was looking for. Sometimes I wonder why so much poison is spilt while discussing Golden Greats. God only knows why.

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