Even after post ‘Aradhna’ (1969) era, when Kishore Kumar had gained popularity, SD Burman kept on using Muhammad Rafi’s talent until the very end.
Rafi’s voice is used wonderfully well by SD for ghazal rendering also. Although Khayyam and Madan Mohan are considered the best in this domain of art, both SD’s two representative numbers in this domain of singing are first of all; “Hum bekhudi mein tum ko” from the movie ‘Kala Pani’ (1958) picturised on Dev Anand. (It is a standard example of SD’s craftsmanship. This song has a special pedigree, as it is based on SD Burman’s Bengali song “Ghum Bbhulechhi” (“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. Her sitting dancing mujra is a deviation from the usual dancing steps and loud music. Rafi stretches each and every word with emotion and tunefulness with special emotions in his rendering. SD has created masterpieces with minimal orchestra. Rafi’s command over his voice shows his mastery on such songs). The second worth mentioning song is “Kahin bekhayal ho kar” from the movie ‘Teen Deviyan’ (1965) with lyrics by Majrooh Sultanpuri. Beauty of this song is its seven beat rhythms, use of flute and santoor in interval pieces. Another gem from this Bimal Roy movie is “Dil main ik jan-e-tamana”. Since this movie was a less acclaimed movie of Bimal Roy, one can close one’s eyes and imagine Dev Anand singing these songs rather than Shashi Kapoor.
After the success of Guru Dutt’s movie ‘Pyaasa’, Dutt went for another venture ‘Kagaz Ke Phool’ but not commercially successful this time. Many cinema lovers still recognise this movie greater than ‘Pyaasa’.
Themes of these had certain commonality in the sense that the main figures in these movies were an actor and a film director respectively. Both have to face the selfish and cynical world, which values commercial success more than inherent values. Some critics say that it was an autobiography of Dutt and many rate this movie as one of the greatest classics. As Sinha (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 moody song by Rafi with excellent poetry by Kaifi Azmi (actress Shabana Azmi’s father). The song is “Daikho zamane ki yaari”. The ritual of using minimum orchestra was replicated by SD in this movie. It is because when one creates a masterpiece; one is hesitant to use too many colours to confuse the creation as doing so would distract the art lover from the beauty of the statuette. 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; another masterpiece of Dutt’s fascination with light and shades.
Rafi again excelled in Dev Anand’s 1965 movie ‘Guide’ with the soft songs “Din dhal jeye” (lyrics by Shailender) and “Tere mere sapne sab aik rang hain”. These songs are acclaimed masterpieces of Navketan films. Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman’s acting was at their top, so was Vijay Anand’s direction. SD’s music for the song “Aj phir jeene ki tamana hei” is one of the best Lata-Kishore Kumar’s songs and Waheeda’s acting. It was a pity that ‘Guide’ music was not given Filmfare award that year and SK’s ‘Suraj’ was preferred instead. Many believe that SK would themselves have been embarrassed on SD being ignored that year for the award. Rafi’s song “Kya se kya ho gya” uses Rafi’s full throat singing amicably well. In another Navketan movie 1960 movie ‘Kala Bazar’ Rafi and SD were at their best in the song “Khoya khoya chand, khula asman”. This song depicts varied shades of the great romantic hero Dev Anand in another successful venture.
The next worth mentioning songs is “Nache mun mora magan” from the movie ‘Meri Surat Teri Ankhen’ (1963) with lyrics by Shailender. It was a semi-classical number with special emphasis on tabla playing. SD’s training in classical music is exhibited in this song. Rafi’s proficient singing on ugly looking Ashok Kumar and Asha Parekh’s dance on the stage is marvellous. Rafi’s soft rendition is especially exhibited in the song “Tu kahan yei bata is nasheeli raat main” (lyrics Hasrat Jaipuri) from the 1963 movie ‘Tere Ghar Kei Samney’. This song was again picturised on Dev Anand who was famous for his songs with slight tilt of his head. Another song “Dil ka bhanwer kare pukar” from this movie is one of my favourites. Dev Anand sings this song while climbing the stairs of a minaret for Nutun; lovely piece of acting by both on the Hasrat Jaipuri penned song.