Rafi’s pleasant memories with Madanmohan.
If any composer had utilised the ghazal andaz of Mohammad Rafi to the best of his potentiality it is Madanmohan whose name appears in the minds of the lovers of music across the nation. Madanmohan’s father Rai Bahadur chunnilal send his son to Dehradun to join the army. Instead he left the army and joined All India Radio in Lucknow. He came in contact with Ustad Faizz Khan, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and carried on their legacy in the compositions he made for 30 years which can be classified as masterpieces.
As Madanmohan was not associated with the Big Banners like RK or Navketan, he was not categorised with any star of bollywood during 50s, 60s, 70s. Further he never wanted to balance the popular test of music and excellent class of classical compositions he created. But the compositions were so rich in lyrics and tunes that the musical pandits had no way but to admire them.
The golden age of bollywood music was categorised with the excellence of Mohammad Rafi and as such if any composer neglected Rafi and tried to reach the summit of popularity they have invited their own downfall. Madanmohan did not make such a mistake. He started his career with the film Ankhen in 1950. He also composed music for Raj Kapoor’s film Ashiana in 1952. His notable songs for Rafi in the film Railway Platform, 1956, include “basti basti parbat parbat”. In Gateway of India, 1957, Madanmohan used Mohammad Rafi for the song “do ghari woh jo pass aa baithe” picturised on Bharatbhushan. It was very successful and strengthened the everlasting bond of Rafi with Madanmohan. Rafi’s intoxicating appeal in the song “kabhi na khabhi kahin na kahin koi na koi toi ayega” in the film Sharabi, 1964, composed by Madanmohan can be classified one of the best songs in sombre mood.
The most majestic ghazals of Rafi composed by Madanmohan include “kisiki yaad me apnako hai bhulaye huye” and “baad muddat ke yeh ghari ayi” from the film Jahan ara, 1964, picturised on Bharat Bhushan. Talat Mehmood’s song in the same film “phir wohi sham wohi gham wohi tanhai hai” was also based on ghazal andaz. The classic lyrics were written by Rajinder Kishan. The film titled Ghazal, in 1964, was based on ghazals and Rafi was outstanding by every standard in the song “rang aur noor ki baraat kise pesh karun.” In the same year Rafi’s patriotic flavour was bolstered in the song “kar chale hum fida jan-o-tan sathiyon” in the film Haqeeqat, where Rafi’s ghazal titled “hoke majboor usne bulaya hoga” shared with Bhupinder Singh, Manna Dey and Talat Mehmood was sensational. The majestic lyrics were written by Kaifi Azmi. In the film Neela Akash, 1965, picturised on Dharmender, Rafi’s song “akhri geet muhobbat ka sunayun to chalun” showed the tragic note of Madanmohan. In the film Need Hamari Khwab Tumkhari, all the songs were sung by Rafi including “husn ne jab isq se takraya tha”.
Returning back to ghazals, Rafi’s song “aap ke pehlu me akar” in the film Mera Saya, 1966, was as outstanding as Lata’s title song “tu jahan jahan chalega mera saya saath hoga”. The lyrics were written by Raja Mehendi Ali Kahan. Raj Khosla’s crime thriller ended up becoming a musical blockbuster just like Woh Kaun Thi, in 1964, where Madanmohan’s composition “naina barse,” “lagja gale”, etc. for Lata Mangeshkar was probably the most immortal creation in the history of film music, with Sadhna giving life time performances in ghostly characters in both these films.
The landmark ghazal “tumhari zulf ke saye me sham karlunga” in the film Naunihal, in 1967, is probably one of the five best ghazals Rafi did sing in his life. Experts in music realise that ages will pass, but no second singer can provide blood and flesh in the superlative ghazal of Madanmohan the way Rafi had done in this song. Kaifi Azmi has written sensational lyrics for the abovementioned song. People started thinking that Rafi and Madanmohan were made for each other. The belief was put to action in the next film Dulhan Ek raat ki, in 1967, picturised on Dharmender in the song “ek haseen sham ko dil mera kho gaya. In the film Chirag, 1969, “teri aakhon ke siwa duniya me rakkha kya hai” Madanmohan combined ghazal with light orchestration to try to inspire the common listeners in understanding these type of songs.
In the film Heer Ranjha, 1971, picturised on Rajkumar, Rafi’s song “yeh duniya yeh mehfil” was well acclaimed by music lovers. Rafi was outstanding by every standard in the song “tum jo mil gaye ho” in the film Hanste Zakhm, 1973, where Madanmohan synchronised lightning with his own orchestration. Madanmohan also gave a tremendous break to Bhupinder Singh in the song “dil dhoonta hai, phir wohi, fursat ke raat din” written by Gulzar in Sanjeev Kumar’s Mausam in 1975. Rafi had the song “chari re chari kaise gale me pari.”
Madanmohan’s last performance with Jaidev brought out Rafi’s Himalayan range in the film Laila Majnu in 1977. Rafi’s songs “tere dar pe aya hoon,” “barbad muhobat ka duya saath liye ja”, picturised on Rishi Kapoor showed his master spirit of adapting to tunes of middle east which was the geographical location where the story was based. Madanmohan died in 1975, without even seeing the success of Laila Majnu, it appeared like out of seven sur in every octave one sur had gone, because, the majestic combination of Madanmohan with Rafi cannot be forgotten through ages. Rafi’s archive should restore Madanmohan’s combination to let the next generation know about the high esteem with which Madanmohan addressed Mohammad Rafi during the golden age of film music.
 Bhupinder Singh was a great admirer of Rafi. In his interview in DD India, he said, he got a chance of acting and singing in the film Haqeekat and he was supposed to share the microphone with another singer for the song “hoke majboor usne bulaya hoga.” He chose Mohammad Rafi to share the microphone with and as he was taller than Rafi, Rafi was given a tool to balance the voices. Manna Dey and Talat Mehmood shared the other microphone.
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