Over the next few days, the birth anniversaries of two great Hindi film music personalities will be observed. While December 24 marks the 94th birth anniversary of singer Mohammed Rafi, music director Naushad would have turned 99 the following day.
Naushad and Rafi have been one of the best combinations in Hindi film music, and with lyricist Shakeel Badayuni, created some of the most memorable hits of the 1950s and 1960s. Interestingly, many of them were picturised on the evergreen Dilip Kumar, who turned 96 on December 11.
To shortlist the Top 10 Naushad-Rafi songs was by no means an easy task. So the first thing we did was to stick to solo songs, and avoid duets. Secondly, we went by the song’s popularity, and were thus forced to leave out Naushad masterpieces like Mother India and Mughal-e-Azam, considering that the bigger hits were sung by Lata Mangeshkar or Shamshad Begum. Finally, like all our lists, we stuck to one song per film.
The order is chronological, and interestingly, seven songs are filmed on Dilip Kumar. Time for nostalgia now:
1 Suhani Raat Dhal Chuki – Dulari (1949)
Though the combination had the hit ‘Yeh Zindagi Ke Mele’ the previous year, ‘Suhani Raat’ from Dulari was such a huge success it is played even today in live shows and instrumental versions. The A.R. Kardar film starred Suresh and Madhubala.
2 Hue Hum Jinke Liye Barbad – Deedar (1951)
A song about a torn love affair, Naushad sticks to a simple orchestral form, and Rafi’s voice brims with melody. The Dilip Kumar film has the immortal ‘Bachpan Le Din Bhula Na Dena’, with its horse-ride rhythm and also sung in a female version by Shamshad Begum and Lata Mangeshkar.
3 Man Tadapat Hari Darshan Ko Aaj – Baiju Bawra (1952)
Starting with the ‘Hari Om’ chant, this is one of the greatest devotional songs in Hindi film music history. In fact, it is often pointed out that three Muslim musicians created such an immortal bhajan, sung in raag Malkauns. While the entire Vijay Bhatt movie had outstanding music, this one picturised on Bharat Bhushan remains special.
4 Insaaf Ka Mandir Hai Yeh Bhagwan Ka Ghar Hai – Amar (1954)
This Mehboob Khan film starring Dilip Kumar, Madhubala and Nimmi had some great music, including Mangeshkar’s ‘Na Milta Gham’. Rafi shines on ‘Insaaf Ka Mandir’, which talks of following one’s conscience and being honest.
5 O Door Ke Musafir – Udan Khatola (1955)
With the classic intro ‘Chale aaj tum jahaan se, hui zindagi parayee, tumhe mil gaya thikana, humein maut bhi na aayee’, this song touched the hearts of many. The Dilip Kumar-Nimmi film also had Rafi’s ‘Mohabbat Ki Raahon Mein’ and Mangeshkar’s ‘Hamare Dil Se Na Jaana’.
6 Madhuban Mein Radhika Naache Re – Kohinoor (1960)
Used in practically every Rafi compilation, this classical number in raag Hameer, with the sitar played by Ustad Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan. The use of classical jargon is fantastic. Another beauty from this film is the Mangeshkar-Rafi duet ‘Do Sitaron Ka Hai Zameen Par’.
7 Nain Lad Jaihen – Gunga Jumna (1961)
A fun-romantic song sung in a village dialect with peppy rhythms, the song has been hugely popular in the interior regions of north India. The Nitin Bose movie stars Dilip Kumar and Vyjayanthimala.
8 Mere Mehboob Tujhe Meri Mohabbat – Mere Mehboob (1963)
Starring Rajendra Kumar and Sadhana, this film was best known for its eight-plus minute title song. One of the most romantic pieces of lyric-writing, it has words like– ‘Raat din mujhko satata hai tasavvur tera, dil ki dhadkan tujhe awaaz diye jaati hai, aaj mujhe apne sadaaon ka sahara de de, Mera khoya hua rangeen nazara de de’.
9 Koi Saagar Dil Se Behlata Nahin – Dil Diya Dard Liya (1966)
One of the ultimate examples of pathos, this had beautiful lines like ‘Main koi patthar nahin insaan hoon, kaise keh doon gham se ghabrata nahin’. The Dilip Kumar-Waheeda Rahman was based on Emily Bronte’s book Wuthering Heights.
10 Aaj Ki Raat Mere – Ram Aur Shyam (1967)
Another example of the sheer magic created by Naushad, Badayuni and Rafi. The opening lines ‘Yeh raat jaise dulhan ban gayee charaghon se, karoonga ujaala mein dil ke daaghon se; Aaj ki raat mere dil ki salaami le le, dil ke salaami le le, kal tei bazm se deewana chala jaayega, shama reh jaayegi, parwana chala jaayega’ nail it.
Narendra Kusnur is one of India’s best known music journalists. Born with a musical spoon (okay, doesn’t fit, but you get the drift), Naren, NK, Kusnur, Narender, Kaansen, Jahanpanna… however else many call him, is a late bloomer in music criticism. He was (is!) an aficionado first, and then strayed into writing on music. But in the last two decades, he has made up for most of what he didn’t do earlier. If ever there is an Ustad given for music writing, NK, would be among the first to receive one. Narendra Kusnur writes weekly on Xyngr. Don’t ask us when.