Naushad was a composer par excellence. Rafi was the Voice of God. It was destined that their’s would be a teacher-student, a Guru-Shishya relationship which would give the world priceless gems. and the world would enjoy the fruits of their partnership.
Naushad’s 1st work as a music director was in 1940 for the movie Prem Nagar. It took him only 2 years to give his 1st super hit which was Nai Duniya. He first used Rafi as a chorus singer in the movie Pehle Aap.
Its said that Naushad had Talat Mehmood as his favorite singer at that point of time. However, during the shooting of Babul, he saw Talat smoking and that infuriated him so much that he did not work with him for the next 18 years. More pertinently, from Rafi’s point of view, and to his luck, the songs of Baiju Bawra were given to Rafi. This was the oppurtunity Rafi required and he grabbed it. “O Duniya ke rakhwale”, and “Man Tarpat Hari Darshan ko aaj” established Rafi as the singing superstar.
Baiju Bawra gave Naushad Best Music Director award as well for “Tu Ganga ki Mauj” which was sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Rafi. This was Naushad’s only Best Music Director of his career which is strange considering his brilliance.
Baiju Bawra was a musical landmark as the songs were composed in classical raga modes. Distinguished classical artistes like Amir Khan and DV Paluskar were also hired by Naushad in his successful attempt to bring classical music to the masses. Later in his career he would associate Bade Ghulam Ali Khan in Mughal-e-Azam .
Naushad needed a voice which public would love and in Rafi he found that voice. The dedication of Rafa was something every Guru dreams of. As an illustration, for the song “O duniya ke rakhvaale” Rafi had to rehearse for 15 days and after recording the song his voice needed rest as it was so tired.
2 more interesting trivia about this immortal song. 1stly, Rafi had been concerned that his voice had not been making impact and Naushad had assured him that this song would establish him as a singer. To quote Naushad “This Baiju Bawra theme offers you the kind of vocal challenge which, if you meet, you will find yourself made for life.’ 2ndly a hanged convict when asked his last wish desired to hear “O duniya ke rakhvaale”instead of normal wishes like wanting to see family members or eating/drinking food of his choice. A tape recorder was brought to the jail and the song was played for the to-be-hung jailbird.
Naushad and Rafi would continue to create magic together for well over 2 decades. In 1960, for the Superstar Dilip Kumar’s movie Kohinoor, Naushad had composed the song “Madhuban mein radhika naache” based on Raah Hamir. However the producer was of the opinion that the Raag was too complex for the common man to appreciate and he asked Naushad and Rafi to change it. Rafi put his foot down and said that he will not charge fees and will do so only if the masses like the song. Naushad too insisted for no change. Not only was Kohinoor a big hit, the song was a super success. Later the producer came to pay Rafi his fees and present him a box of sweets, Rafi accepted the sweets but not the fees, saying the appreciation of public was the fees he needed.
“Suhaani raat Dhal Chuki” was a song in the movie Dulari which is one of the best compositions of Naushad. After the recording was over Naushad was satisfied. However Rafi could not sleep the whole night as he thought he did not do justice. The next day he went to Naushad’s house and started weeping. A startled yet impressed Naushad recorded the song again to Rafi’s satisfaction. This magical song we listen to even today. Dulari was in 1949. Who knows, maybe this dedication was in Nushad’s mind and helped him to decide in Rafi’s favour for Baiju Bawra when he was upset with Talat.
“Madhuban mein radhika naache” was written by Shakeel Badayuni, a Muslim. Composed by Naushad, a Muslim. Sung by Rafi and picturised on Dilip Kumar, both Muslims. Indeed, Music has no religion. In fact, “Man Tarpat Hari Darshan ko Aaj” too had the magical trio, Naushad, Shakeel Badayuni and Rafi and for the recording of this Krishna Bhajan, all musicians were asked to come in proper respectful attire and the atmosphere of a Hindu Temple was created with the producer distributing Prasad and sweets and everyone saying Krishna Krishna. Respect.
I would like to conclude this blog by narrating how Naushad gave Rafi back his confidence. After the dynamite Kishore Kumar Rajesh Khanna craze swept the nation, Rafi had less offers and his confidence had gone down. Once in Mehboob studios Naushad heard some wannabe’s giving singing advice to Rafi. Naushad went away and asked Rafi to drop in at his house. He shouted at Rafi saying that “Who are these people to tell Mohammed Rafi what to do? Isn’t Rafi too trained a performer to submit to anyone but the song composer?”He said “Sing confidently, like my Rafi does”.
Not only that, Naushad hurriedly arranged a recording for his son’s movie ‘My friend’, a song in Raag Bhairavi . Rafi sang it brilliantly and got back his confidence. This coincided with Saawan Kumar’s “teri galiyon mein na rakhenge kadam” which gave Rafi yet another best singer award. Rafi was back, and next 6 years, he was the Rafi of old.
Sadly Rafi left us early when he was only 55. Ironically though Naushad was alive till 2006, with Rafi not around he could not produce the magic which he had with Rafi. However, over 30 years, the duo has given us 149 songs including 81 solo numbers for which they will always be in the mind and memory of music lovers.
Suhani Raat Dhal Juki Na Jane Tum Kab Aahoge