I remember singing along with Mushtaq Hashimi two songs “Do sitaron ka zameen par” and “Koi pyar ki daikhe jadugari”; duets by Rafi and Lata in Government College’s Logia for our friends in early 1960s. These songs were from the 1960 movie ‘Koh-i-Noor’. The worth mentioning song by Muhammad Rafi is the classical number “Madhuban mein radhika nache rei” in, which Dilip Kumar is said to have practiced playing sitar for many days before he allowed himself to picture the Sitar playing sequence on the dancing steps of Kum Kum. This song established the classical based singing of Rafi. This film is also notable for some rare comical and funny scenes by Meena Kumari, who is otherwise known as tragedy queen. This movie’s tone was light and it lacked the intense characterizations of their earlier films. It was a major hit of the year. Songs such as “Dhal chuki sham-e-gham”, “Chalain gei teer jab dil par to parwano ka kya” (duet with Lata), “Zara mun ki kaiwaria khol gori tere duware khare” and “Tun rang lo ji aj mun rang lo” (duet with Asha) are worth mentioning songs from this movie.
Then there was a five-year gap after ‘Uran Khatola’ in which no simultaneous movie of the quartet was released though there were other movies for them to accept. The wait was worthwhile. The 1960 ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ was written by Kamal Amrohi and directed by K Asif. It was the biggest box office hit ever (Rs 133 crores after adjusting for inflation) until much later; the movie ‘Sholay’ broke this record. The movie was based on Syed Imtiaz Ali Taj’s story (without giving credit to him) about the love affair between Prince Salim (who went on to become Emperor Jahangir) and courtesan Anarkali. The movie belonged to Lata Mangeshkar who rendered the best and most popular songs like “Mohe panghat pei nandlal chair geyo re”, “Mohabbat ki jhooti kahani pe roye” and “Jab pyaar kiya to darna kya”. Rafi had only one important song but it became very famous: “Zindabaad zindabaad; aei mohabbat zindabaad” picturised on actor Kumar playing the role of the sculpture who raises his voice in support of Prince Salim’s bravely to opt for gallows from the hands of his father Shehenshah Akbar.
In 1961, Dilip appeared as a romantic pair with Vyjantimala in the film ‘Ganga Jamuna’. Rafi’s song “Nain lar jai hain to manva ma kasak hoibi khari” based on Purbi folk dialect was in consonance with the dancing steps of Dilip Kumar. Needless to say Lata excelled in her numbers “Do hanson ka jora bicher geyo re” and “Dhoondo dhoondo re saajna”. Now it was time to use raag Lillat for the song “Ik shehenshah nei banwa kei haseen Taj Mahal”. The location to shoot this love song was Taj Mahal, Agra on Dilip Kumar and Vyjantimala in the film ‘Leader’. The year was 1964 to find the quartet again. This movie belonged to Rafi with songs such as “Apni azadi ko hum”, “Hamin se mohabbat hamin sei laraayi”, Arre maar daala duhai duhai” and “Tere husn ki kya taareef karun” (with Lata). The song that excelled however was “Mujhe duniya walo sharabi na samjho”, if only to enjoy seeing Dilip in assumed drunken attire and Rafi matched the drunken voice in this song.
It was now time to adapt Emily Bronte’s famous novel Wuthering Heights in Indian version as ‘Dil Diya Dard Liya’. Dilip Kumar’s role as the oppressed one later turning into a bully in retaliation to Pran’s tyranny was an excellent piece of acting. Waheeda Rehman played heroine opposite Dilip Kumar with side heroine Shyama. If Lata excelled in ‘Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Aai’ and ‘Kaya Rang-e-Mehfil Hei Dildarum’, Rafi excelled in raag Kalawati based song “Koi sagar dil ko behlata nahin” along with “Guzre hain aaj ishq main” with concluding climax lines “O bewafaa tera bhi youn hi toot jaae dil”; excellent piece of poetry by Shakeel. It only matches Saif uddin Saif’s poetry in the Pakistani movie ‘Saath Laakh’ song “Qarar looteney waale” wherein the beloved is given negative entreaty in desperation. Another solo “Dilruba main nei tere pyar main” and duet “Sawen Aei” with Asha are added beauty of this movie’s music. Despite excellent treatment imparted by the director, this movie did not do well commercially. Probably the theme was too serious for the happy-go-lucky cinemagoers of that time.
It was therefore time for the quartet to lean towards comedy again and two years later, this combination returned in the shape of the super-hit movie ‘Ram Aur Shyam’. The theme of twins separated at birth and united later in life made its debut and this theme continued unabated for many years.
The movie had a soul-stirring song by Rafi “Aaj ki raat mere dil ki salaami”. Continued
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