Muhammad Rafi — full throat, tuneful, versatile singer — Part IV

Muhammad Rafi — full throat, tuneful, versatile singer — Part IV

The ultimate combination of Abdul Rashid Kardar, Naushad Ali and Muhammad Rafi for this movie has been melodious. The star cast for this jubilee hit was Suresh, Madhubala and Geeta Bali. Another duet “Raat rangeeli mast nazare” with Madhubala sitting on royal seat and Suresh standing nearby with a dancer shown in silhouette was innovation of that time. Many music lovers believe that by far the number one song in Hindi movies has been the 1963 movie Mere Mehboob’s title song “Mere mehbub tujhe meri muhabat”. Its lyrics are the finest written by Shakeel Bidayuni and Naushad Ali has given the most heart-touching music. Rafi’s rendition is at his best but instead of Dilip, the film had Rajender Kumar as hero.
The best combination in Rafi’s initial days has been with actor Bharat Bhushan on Naushad Ali’s songs. All songs by Rafi of the film ‘Baiju Bawra’ like “O duniya ke rakhwale sun”, “Tu ganga ke mauj mein”, “Man tarpat hari darshan ko aaj”, “Nirdhan ka dhan lutnewale lut”, “Akeli mat jaiyo raadhe jamuna ke teer”, ‘Jhoole mein pawan ki aayi bahar”, “Door ki gaae dhun ye sunaae” (with Shamshad Begum), “Insaan bano karlo bhalai ka koi kaam” became very popular and out of, which first two are everlasting songs. The songs “O dunya kei rakhwaley” and “Mun tarpat” are representatives of raags, darbari and malkaus respectively. Songs “Mohe bhool gaye sawariya” and “Bachpan ki mohabbat ko dil se” are Lata’s everlasting melodies. The film was a golden jubilee hit with much impetus gained from Naushad’s classical raag based compositions and vocals of Rafi. The movie thus established two new stars Bharat Bhushan and Meena Kumari. It has been reported that Lata had given her opinion on this music as, “The music he composed for Baiju Bawara surprised even me. It was entirely different from what he had done before. Different raags were used for different situations and the purity of the raags was maintained to the greatest possible extent.” Now I would like to continue first with Rafi-Naushad-Dilip Kumar and Shakeel combination that produced dozens of popular songs. Out of this quartet three are no more now and at the time of writing this submission, Dilip Kumar is still alive with his birthday falling on December 11 though he is 90 now. Rafi died on July 31, 1980, almost 34 years ago. He was only 56 at that time. Similarly, Naushad died on May 5, 2006. It is a mere coincidence that three among them had their birthdays in December! Shakeel didn’t even reach the age of 54: born on August 3, 1916, he died on April 20, 1970. Shakeel had tried to be an actor initially but ended up as a successful poet in Bollywood in 1944. He hailed from the village Bidayuni as his name indicates. Instead of following the Progressive Movement like his contemporaries, he opted to say love-poetry instead. His first movie was AR Kardar’s ‘Dard’ in 1947. The songs were a hit especially “Afsana likh rahi hun dil-e-beqarar ka” rendered by Oma Devi (‘Tun Tun’). Though Shakeel wrote for music composers Ravi, SD Burman, Hemant Kumar and C Ramachander as well but his favourite always remained Naushad Ali. Unlike other poets, Shakeel did not drink but died young at the age of 53 due to diabetes related problems. Naushad Ali was three and a half years younger to Shakeel Bidayuni but was already an established name seven years before he came across Shakeel Bidayuni. Naushad Ali was a music composer who mostly based his songs on raags and qawwali beats being tutored and brought up in an environment akin to these traits. He ruled Bollywood for six decades before he was awarded with the Dadasaheb Phalke award in 1981 and Padam Bhushan in 1992. Dilip Kumar, a living legend was born as Muhammad Yusuf Khan in Peshawar (now in Pakistan) on December 11, 1922. Satyajit Ray called him the ultimate method actor. He too began his career in the same year as Shakeel did. He was the first actor to win Filmfare Best Actor Award; ultimately he won the highest number; eight in number, an honour that he shares with Shahrukh Khan. He was awarded the Padam Bhushan in 1991, Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993 and Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1994. He remained a good friend of Shakeel and Naushad all his life. The youngest in this quartet was Rafi; most humble in personality. During his film career he rendered about 8,000 songs that included 112 non-Hindi and 328 non-film songs. His career however lasted nearly half of Naushad Ali’s. In total, he sang 149 songs composed by Naushad Ali. For other languages than Urdu/Hindi he sang in Konkani, Bhojpuri, Orya, Punjabi, Bengali, Marathi, Sindhi, Gujarati, Kannada, Tamil, Maghi, Maithili, Assamese, English, Persian, Spanish and Dutch. 


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