He was reputed to be famous or moulding his voice to the actor’s personality he was singing for. Since he was considered the god of Hindi songs, it invited jealousy and certain lobbies’ succeeded in ousting him in favour of Kishore Kumar for some time. Ironically the same lobby was forced to bring him back but by then it was too late and he was sick with heart ailment and sang a few songs.
After this brief history we must mention the wonderful songs, this quartet created. The first movie was 1948 movie ‘Mela’ and the hit song was “Ye zindigi kei mele”. The next movie was 1951 movie ‘Deedar’. The best song of this movie was Lata-Rafi duet “Daikh liya main nei qismet ka tamasha” picturised on Dilip and Nimmi; the latter ousting Nargis in acting in this movie like she did Madhubala in a subsequent film ‘Amar’. This song uses the crooner’s broad ranged voices in the second half climax in both antaras (stanzas). This Nitin Bose directed movie had Ashok Kumar in it as well. Rafi’s solo “Hue hum jin kei liye barbad” with Dohra “Aseer-Panja-e-Ehd-e-Shabab”. Imagine that in the disguise of Hindi language, all Urdu vocabulary is used, not only in this song but in most of Indian film songs. The only difference is that Hindi script is used in place of the Arabic one. That is why Urdu language has been extinct in India now. This is the outcome of deliberate policies of those who matter there. Irony is that still they cannot do without Urdu language in poetry. Dilip sang this song with harmonium around his neck begging for money and Ashok gives him some money as Dilip plays a blind man in this movie with Motilal as his partner. He commanded a powerful role assisted with Rafi’s powerful vocals. Another duet “Bachpan kei din bhula na daina” with Lata-Shamshad singing the children playback needs mention. The adult version was rendered by Rafi when Dilip recalls his childhood with Nargis (who had conveniently forgotten it) sitting at the back of horse cart (buggy) with Nargis on the front seat. This movie had three nice songs but by Lata and Shamshad.
The next worth discussing movie was the 1952; first colour venture of India namely ‘Aan’. 1952. This was a super-hit movie of that time, produced and directed by the legendary Mehboob Khan. Amongst all the song that best describes the theme of the movie, that is, a poor villager Dilip Kumar overcoming the pride (Aan) of the Princess Nadira is “Maan mera ehsaan arre”. Another Rafi song was “Muhabbat choome jin kei haath”. A horse riding song “Dil main chuppa kei pyaar ka toofan” sung by Rafi and picturised on Dilip in disguised personality was an interesting situation in the movie. Another worth listening song is “Khelo rang hamare sang” featuring Dilip Kumar, Nimmi and Nadira. The song is sung by Rafi and Shamshad Begum. A song “Main rani hun raja ki, raja mera piya” sung by Shamshad Begum with Prem Nath teasing Nimmi while passing in his car in the fields, is also featured in this movie. Until then Naushad Ali used to utilise Shamshad’s powerful lungs for his songs.
Two years later the great Mehboob Khan got the quartet together again for the movie ‘Amar’. The song that is close to my heart is the bhajan “Insaaf ka mandir hai yei bhagwan ka ghar”. Just imagine all four Muslims getting together and making a mandir (Hindu temple) song! This was the essential greatness of the society, the movies and songs of that era: people of all communities participated in hymns of all religions, unlike today’s polarisation. The movie had three Lata’s songs “Na shikwa hei koi”, “Tere sadque balam” and “Na milta ghum tau barbadi kei afsaane”. This movie revolved around the guilt of Dilip Kumar who had made love to Nimmi in a perturbed frame of mind and ultimately he had to sacrifice his love of Madhubala for Nimmi. This movie touched this sensitive issue in very delicate and subtle manner.
The next movie of the quartet was the 1955 movie ‘Uran Khatola’ that was produced by Naushad Ali. The storyline of this movie revolves around an airplane crashing near an isolated town that is ruled by women. The other songs worth mentioning are “Na toofan se khelo”, “Hue ham jinke liye barbaad” and “O door kei musaafir”. Rafi is at his best in the song “Mohabbat ki rahon mein chalna sambhal kei”.
It is said that Kumar went into depression after playing tragic roles in films such as ‘Devdas’ and his psychiatrist recommended to do lighter and comic roles. One such role that he took up was that in ‘Kohinoor’ opposite Meena Kumari who played prince and princess of different kingdoms respectively and was full of sword fights, songs and dances. Continued
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