Ravi’s memorable combination with Rafi.
Ravi, better known as Ravi Shankar Sharma, emerged in the film arena in the 1950s when success of most of the movies were dependant on strong story base and everlasting music composed for those films. Even more significantly the composers like Shankar Jaikishan, Roshan, Naushad, Madanmohan and lyricists like Shakeel Badayani, Shailendra, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Hasrat Jaipuri, never compromised with the producers in respect of compositions. Further Directors like Bimal Roy, Raj Kapoor, Guru Dutt, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, had tried to built in realistic approach in respect of picturisation of song sequences.
It was difficult for any new composer to create his identity in that scenario. Ravi began his journey by composing music in the film Wachan in 1955, but got acclamation of music lovers with his landmark composition in the film Chaudavi ka Chand in 1960. Mohammad Rafi, the man with the golden voice, had galvanized the destiny of many composers, lyricists and instrumentalists. The Title song “Chaudavi ka Chand ho, ya aftab ho, job bhi ho tum khuda ki kasam, lajawab ho,” picturised on Guru Dutt became the greatest hit in a year when Roshan had composed “Zindagi bhar Nahi Bhulenge woh barsaat ki raat” in the film Barsaat ki Raat, 1960, and Naushad had composed “Do sitaron ka zami par hai Milan aaj ki raat”, Kohinoor, 1960. Only the song in the film had a coloured picturisation. It was a challenge of Mohammad Rafi excelling himself in one song or the other.
In the next year, Ravi had been successful to create his identity with the film Gharana, 1961. Most of the songs were picturised on Rajender Kumar, prominent among them being “yeh jhuki jhuki naina”. The best song was “Husnwale tera jawab nahi”. Ravi concentrated on the sweetness of melody, and the softness of his use of instruments had created an intoxicating appeal for the listeners. Rafi was probably at the peak of his career, and the sweetness of his voice added colour in the black and white classic.
The combination of Ravi and Rafi continued in the films that followed after that period of time. In films like China Town, 1962, Ravi produced the rock and roll andaz of Shammi Kapoor in the song Baar Baar Dekho. Even better songs were composed in Guru Dutt’s film Bharosa, 1963, with songs like “aaj ki mulakat bus itni,” where all the songs were sung by Mohammad Rafi. Ravi also composed songs for Mukesh in the film Nazrana, 1961, directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, as it was picturised on Raj Kapoor, as his voice suited him the most.
The following films in that period include Ravi’s compositions with tunes relating hills of India, where some of the songs of Rafi like “yeh wadiyan yeh nazare” becoming big hits. There were successful compositions for Mahendra Kapoor also in the films Gumrah, 1963, Waqt, 1965, Humraaz, 1967. But some of Ravi’s best Ghazals were composed in the film Kaajal, 1965 where Rafi’s song “Chulene do nazuk hoto ko” and “yeh zulf agar khulke bikhar jaye to accha ho” picturised on Raj Kumar was outstanding by every musical standard. The use of Sarengi in those songs were simply brilliant. Other than Roshan, no other composer had used Sarengi the way it was used in the film Kaajal.
Ravi composed very impressive songs in the film Shehnai, 1964, picturised on Biswajeet where most of the songs were sung by Rafi. Songs like “na jhatko zulfse pani” were big hits. Also the songs in Biswajeet’s film Do Kaliyan, 1968, like “yeh sama yeh rut yeh nazare”, “tumhari nazar kyon khafa ho gayi”, were successful. Within all types of creations of Ravi, the songs with tragic notes identify his class. The best examples include “Bhari Duniya me akhir dil ko samjhana kahan jaye” written by Shakeel Badayani and picturised on Manoj Kumar in the film Do Badan, 1966, and “Aaja Tujhko pukare mera pyar” written by Sahir Ludhianvi and picturised on Raj Kumar in the film Neel Kamal, 1968. Rafi was brilliant in all these songs where the pathos of the characters were displayed through his voice. Rafi's song in 1968 titled “Babul ki duwayen leti ja” in the film Neel Kamal, received critic's acclamation which was composed by Ravi.
Due to strong dominance of Shankar Jaikishan in the 50s, 60s and early 70s, Ravi did not get the recognition which he deserved as some of his tunes even had similarity with them, specially in films of Raj Kapoor, Rajender Kumar, Raj Kumar and Shammi Kapoor who were identified with SJ tunes. In the 70s Ravi composed music for lesser number of films but again came into limelight with his classic composition of music in the film Nikah, 1982. Ravi’s creations should adorn the archive of Mohammad Rafi to remember their relationship and the soft compositions and hilly tunes composed by the legendary composer.
 Ravi won his first filmfare award for composing music in the film Gharana, 1961.
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