When Dustedoff kicked off a Rafi moods fest in blogland, I knew I had to do a Rafi post, too – not just because I love Rafi, but also because there is so much of lovely Rafi around that a post on his songs is possibly the most challenging thing one can attempt! While his most popular songs may be classified as either romantic or sad songs, it isn’t that easy to classify his expressions in them. He was a superb vocal actor and could bring a range of emotions into the limited time (usually about 3 minutes, back then) a song allowed him. From romantic to sensual, angry to soothing, loving to despairing, or outright joy and laughter, there isn’t a single emotion that his wonderfully fluid voice did not express, and express beautifully. Which begs the question – how does one go about classifying the moods and emotions his voice brought to the screen?
Thanks to Wikipedia (where would I be without it?), ancient India came to the rescue. Classical performing arts in India are traditionally made up of the navrasa - 9 rasas or 9 major emotions/expressions. Eight of these rasas were set forth in the Nātyashāstra (a two thousand years old treatise on the performing arts) while a ninth rasa was added about a thousand years ago, giving us the expression – navrasa (9 rasas). Turns out that there are now a total of 11 rasas and ALL of them go into the making of a good Bollywood masala flick! And guess what - Rafi Saab’s voice has given us a song for every emotion. So without much ado I give you the 11 rasas of Rafi.
Shringar श्रृंगार (love)
Sau baar janam lenge (Ustadon Ke Ustad, 1963)
Rafi certainly was a master at expressing romance and the sheer number of his great romantic songs is a testament to that. Just listen to this haunting romantic number. It starts out slowly – with Rafi’s voice calling out like a Siren to his beloved (if there were a male Siren, this is he!). While she answers the irresistible pull of the magical voice, he brings out the well-worn vows of the romantic, and he makes them sound fresh and timeless. “You and I will be together, even if we need to be re-born a hundred times” - the words came out of Asad Bhopali’s pen, but the emotion is all Rafi and its no wonder that Shakeela is drowning in that voice or that she is startled to see that it came out of Pradeep Kumar!
Hasya हास्य (comedy)
Chhuri ban kaanta ban (Jaali Note, 1960) and Tere poojan ko bhagwan (Shaadi 1962)
Much has been said about Rafi and Johnny Walker and their superb comedic partnership. But Rafi did great comedy for others too – as you can see in these two very different songs where he helps Om Prakash along. The first song expresses some serious sentiments “This world constantly throws up surprises, so, My son, become a knife or a fork, but never a spoon (a euphemism for sycophant)”. But Rafi’s rendition turns what might be a serious examination of worldliness into a straight up comedic number! He takes his time to chew over every syllable, exaggerating every word, and taking such obvious delight in his rendition. The result is a hilarious song. The second song is a humorous parody of a 1935 filmi bhajan (also Tere poojan ko bhagwan). A miser is exhorting his God (money!) to never leave his home, for he will make Him a big bank to live in. Rafi sings it like a serious bhajan with all the devotional fervour that he can summon, and the contrast with the hilarious lyrics and Om Prakash’s on-screen antics just serves to heighten the comedy.
Adbhut अद्भुत (wonder)Tumne mujhe dekha (Teesri Manzil, 1966)
While most of us are lost in the wonder of his voice, Rafi could be vocally lost in the wonder of discovery in other ways – as this song highlights. "Tumne mujhe dekha hokar meherbaan" (you looked kindly on me) – you can hear the joy and the wonder of a man who, contrary to his expectations, finds himself loved by his beloved. Rafi banks down his vocal energy, playing this as a sweet love-lorn man, just happy to have his love reciprocated, and you can’t but feel for Shammi’s joy. Is it any wonder that Asha Parekh is weeping into her cocktail at having to deliver a heartbreaking-punch – I wouldn’t be able to do that in the face of that golden voice!
Raudra (रौद्र) – angerYa meri manzil bata (Rakhi, 1962)
Rafi was especially adept at expressing anger, his voice could slip into the high notes and quick enunciation of the angry man, with extraordinary control and with such great effect - like in O duniya ke rakhwaale which is probably the angriest lament in Bollywood! But the song I’ve chosen here, expresses anger in a more subdued form. Also an angry lament, this one has the fires of anger banked down and smouldering as the protagonist (Ashok Kumar) demands that fate either tell him his goal or take away his life. You can hear the anger get heated in a few places like when Rafi demands “De nahin sakta agar aaram ka ek saans bhi, paaon mere tod de, awaargi ko chheen le (if you cant give even one breath of rest, break my legs and take away my wanderlust).” But it always cools down to a baffled, sad sort of anger with Rafi’s voice-modulation doing a superb job of expressing the emotion, as always.
Veer वीर (heroic)Kar chale hum fida jan-o-tan saathiyo (Haqeeqat)
This song never ever fails to reduce me to tears! As the camera pans over the dead and the dying on the battlefield of the India-China war, Rafi’s voice rings out clear and pure, exhorting the living on the behalf of the fallen men to take care of the country as “we (the fallen soldiers) have sacrificed our lives and our bodies”. A patriotic song in the heroic vein, it gives voice to the heroic sacrifices of the dead soldiers while managing to bring home the brutality of war, as well! I LOVE how Rafi’s voice quickens with the strength of his emotions and how heroic and sad the high notes sound, and of course, I love the lyrics that seem to release a well-spring of patriotism even in me!
Karuna करुणा (compassion)Kahan ja raha hai (Seema, 1955)
“Where art thee going, o fleeing one, its dark, enlighten yourself first”. The “fleeing one” in this case is a troubled teen (played by Nutan) who feels the pull of this compassionate voice as he tells her that life is a struggle and the victors are those who fall and get up to struggle again, not ones who never fall. A compassionate understanding of human troubles coats Rafi’s voice as it once again effortlessly brings forth the emotions demanded of it.
Bhayanak भयानक (horror)Main apne aap se ghabra gaya hoon (Bindiya)
There is no supernatural here, no mythical horrifying creatures, but the horror is no less palpable. Its the horror of a man waking up to his own crimes of omission or commission. He is horrified by himself and wants nothing but the oblivion of madness. Rafi plays it with restraint, letting the lyrics and the emotions of his voice speak out the horror and self-disgust. If I weren’t already sold on Rafi’s voice, there is the added incentive of seeing Balraj Sahni acting the horror-struck man onscreen (I do wonder why his acting is so uncharacteristically over-the-top, though) – a double whammy of favourites, in fact!
Vibhatsa वीभत्स (disgust)Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye to kya hai (Pyaasa)
Can one think of any other song that exemplifies disgust so well? “This world of glitter and privileges and suffocating rituals, so what if one does get it?!” The powerful lyrics are Sahir Ludhianvi’s, but the voice and the emotion? Its all Rafi. What can I possibly say about this priceless gem of a song? Let the song speak for itself, and for a poet’s disgust with a worthless materialistic world.
Shant शांत (peace)Basti basti parvat parvat (Railway Platform, 1955)
This song is sung in the voice of one who accepts the world as it is and is at peace with himself. The injustices, the quirks, the strange ways of the world - he sees them all, he marvels at the vagaries of human nature, but seems remarkably untroubled by everything. For all the searing indictment of human nature that the lyrics call for, its a remarkably quiet song with Rafi’s voice channelling the peaceful observer, without an ounce of the drama he normally brings to his singing.
Vatsalya वात्सल्य (parental love)O nanhe se farishtey (Ek Phool Do Maali)
Parental love is usually the province of women in Bollywood. So while you can find a ton of mother-child songs in Hindi films, coming up with one sung by the male of the species is rather rare. Naturally, rare or not, Rafi has his share of parental-love songs! The most famous is, of course, Babul ki duaayein leti ja – a quintessential bidai song. But I must admit that I much prefer O nanhe se farishtey – perhaps because it sounds so heart-warmingly sincere, perhaps because it is very emotional without being weepy, or perhaps because it played a lot on TV in my childhood. Whatever the reason, you must admit that Rafi Saab’s voice makes a darned good parent!
Bhakti भक्ति (spiritual devotion)Duniya na bhaaye (Basant Bahar, 1956)
As usual, there is a lot of material to choose from. Rafi has some superb bhajans, the most famous of them picturised on Bharat Bhushan (as this one is)! Like all classical-based songs, it starts out slow with a short alaap and a slow tempo that quickens pretty soon. The best part is, of course, Rafi’s voice. He starts out pleading for a place in God’s feet, since he does not like the world (is it because he – Bharat Bhushan onscreen – is being pursued by a demented Nimmi?), and soon the voice is soaring in an ecstasy of devotional fervour, with, of course, perfect control on the higher notes.
Thanks also for the info on 11 rasas, what are the last two?
I'll surely send you my 9 mohd rafi rasas! But have to think it over.
The last song blew me away.
Fabulous list! I love all of these songs - those which I'd heard earlier, and those which I've now come to know thanks to your post.ReplyDelete
When I was thinking up my Rafi post, I'd initially toyed with the idea of doing a navrasas post, but gave it up - I just couldn't figure out songs for each of the rasas. Way to go, bollyviewer!
Now how about navrasas for Lata, Asha, Kishore?.... ;-)
Simply superb. You outdo yourself with each inning. Just curious--sadness is missing. Or is sadness subsumed in anger, peace,disgust etc... Well, because I can think of Rafi songs that are indescribably sad.ReplyDelete
For hatred/disgust I would nominate" Meri Dushman tu meri" (from Aaye din bahar ke). The expressions on Dharmendra's face along with Rafi (hear him say dushman) --I'd never want to be object of such invective.
And oh yes, love the Haqueeqat songs. The man dying in the beginning of Kar chale is I think Dharmendra.
I apologize--you start of with sadness and then qualify it. Some songs though are just sad, there is no 'fight' in them.ReplyDelete
The wiki entry also lists the bhavas which might be another way of characterizing these.
Your list is excellent. I'm going to have to think hard to give better examples.
For joy(not on your list) I'd suggest "Kaajal wale nain" from Devar.
Q: Did Rafi have a greater emotional range or did Lata? My answer is Rafi but I am a newbie.
I love the songs- especially the one from Haqeeqat, which has me in tears every time I hear it. And "Tumne mujhe dekha" IS truly magical- once can feel the wonder- very very well chosen. Clappings for ur very fabulous taste!ReplyDelete
OMGOMGOMG!!! I can't wait to sit and listen to these goodies... too bad I can't do it right away. Thank YOU So much for doing this. God bless you. Reading the post now. :DReplyDelete
I got so excited I had to post a comment before I started reading it.
this is OMG !!ReplyDelete
Brilliant choices. Never knew Rafi saab can be classified in such a different way !! my papa got flattered by this post :)
harvey, all the 11 rasas are up there in my post - Bhakti rasa and Vaatsalya rasa were the two added on to the navarasas. Cant wait to see your selection of Rafi navarasas.ReplyDelete
dustedoff, it certainly wasnt easy! I got a few pointers from the internet (somebody else had also thought of Rafi and navarasas), but even then its taken me days. Navarasas of Lata, Asha, Kishore? Hmm... let me catch my breath from this one! :-) How about doing one of them yourself?
sophy, I did notice that sadness and joy were two emotions missing from the list - guess we'll have to go back in time and argue with the writers of the Nātyashāstra to include these as separate emotions! Mere dushman, I would include more in the Raudra category since it expresses anger and hatred rather than disgust and aversion.
Did Lata have a larger emotional range than Rafi? I would go with Rafi, since I don't think Lata did sensual, or foot tapping joy, very well. She was good with sadness and happiness, but exuberance wasn't her forte. But who knows, doing a list might bring out surprises!
Shweta, Kar chale hum fida is a total tear-jerker, for all its heroic patriotism. I was toying with Aye watan aye watan (Shaheed) but this one just tugs on the heart strings!
Kanan, Dustedoff and you showed the way - I just HAD to follow! :-)
Darshit, one needs to be creative when making a list of Rafi songs - there are so many of them and so varied too...
THANK YOU for all the work you've put into this post, bollyviewer! You kicked off with one of my all-time favourites, sau baar janam lenge, and included the song which is my anthem in life, yeh duniya agar mil. I have most of verse 1 of that song on a t-shirt, and plan to have more made with other quotes from that astonishing and totally accurate masterpiece. Now, though, I must get busy getting to know all the others you have just introduced me to. I also want to share a nice piece someone wrote about the destruction of his grave:ReplyDelete
Just a brilliant post, Bollyviewer! Thanks so much for putting these great songs together in such a thoughtful way. I'm in awe of both Mohammed Rafi and you.ReplyDelete
And as for sadness and joy, I'd say they're both included in love.
I wouldn't mind trying to tackle a 'Lata in Ten Moods' - but not navrasas; that's too restrictive for me, because I'm pretty sure I'd never be able to think up songs to suit exactly those nine emotions! :-)ReplyDelete
What a wonderful list!!! Love all the songs - each one of them. Had heard some before and some were new - thanks for introducing them to me. But the fact that they are sung my Rafi itself is more than enough reason for me to like them :-)ReplyDelete
Lovely compilation. Where do you think Abhi Na Jao Chodke from Hum Dono would fall? That's one of my favourite songs!!!
DUNIYA NAA BHAAYE, in my opinion is one of the most difficult songs to sing since as you mentioned it begins with an Alaap and that Alaap stops at a certain high level. Then begins the second stage of the Alaap at a higher note. There it stops. At that higher note begins with the song. Now the verses themselves rise in crescendos. Truly a difficult composition that SJ gave Rafi Sahaab to sing. The astonishing thing is how SJ could come up with beautiful classifications as they did in BASANT BAHAAR.ReplyDelete
The Basant Bahar songs, each one of them, are full of bhav and artistry. Manna Dey and Bhimsen Joshi also contributed to this fabulous soundtrack but the other famous Rafi number from this is Badi der bhai (also under spiritual.) I feel though that Rafi struggled with the high notes--that's how I know they are high (as a female I wouldn't know otherwise.)ReplyDelete
I prefer the Manna Dey songs in this movie--Bhai bhanjana, Ketki gulab, sur na saje.
Very interesting post, Bollyviewer...ReplyDelete
Here's a rather uncanny coincidence... Right about the time you posted this, I was putting together my annual post for Padmini's birthday (June 12), which included what I call the "Nine Emotions Dance" (“Marainthirunthu Paarkkum”). Here, Padmini sings (in P. Susheela's voice) about the nine emotions and proceeds to illustrate them (quite superbly, I think) via abhinaya. I always thought of these as the nine emotions of bharatanatyam, but it makes sense that they are the nine emotions of classical Indian performing arts in generral. Thank you for consulting Wikipedia about that! :)
The Rafi songs are splendid, by the way. It was very original for you to include the Bindiya song as horror, as I never would have thought of that.
And Seema is such a wonderful film for Rafi compassion songs. :) My own favorite Rafi song from that movie also would fit - "Hume Bhi De Do Sahara":
I agree that you couldn't pick a more brilliant disgust song than "Yeh Duniya Agar Mil..."
The other choices are all good - though I could think of other ones too, because Rafi supplied so many to choose from, just as you said. :)
Here is my list:ReplyDelete
I've put the rasas in an alphabetical order:
Adbhut अद्भुत (wonder)
Chaudhvin ka chaand ho
For Adbhut, i was searchign for a song like yeh kaun chitrakar hai by Mukesh, but it seems Rafi didn't get to praise nature other than to compare it to the heroine's beauty. Thus I took this song, where the heor is really amazed that he could get a beautiful bride like Waheeda!
Bhakti भक्ति (spiritual devotion)
man tarpat hari darshan ko aaj
Well, does one need to say more. A classic!
Bhayanak भयानक (horror)
mili Khak mein mohabbat
I tried searching for a song where the character is really afraid of something, but it seems our heroes are not allowed to be afraid and moreover if any character gets afraid then it is the comdian and thus not really fit for this rasa. Thus this song, where the character finds that his wife is coveted by his best friend and sings his feeling of horror at the situation
Hasya हास्य (comedy)
Yeh duniya gol hai
Well, it seems on 'real' funny songs Kishore Kumar has the monopoly.
*tries to save himself from the brickbats*
First I wanted to take 'All line clear', but it is a bit of sexist.
Karuna करुणा (compassion)
na tuu zameen ke lie hai na
nice compassionate and philosophical song!
Raudra (रौद्र) – anger
yeh mahalon yeh takthon yeh taajon ki duniya
You had put it under vibhasta, but I feel his jaala do is very ver yangry!
Shant शांत (peace)
aai hai bahaaren mite zulm-o-sitam
Well, okay the song is not sung in Shant rasa but, but it brings the news of peace, thus the inclusion.
Shringar श्रृंगार (love)
aap ke hasiin rukh pe aaj naya noor hai
In my opinion a beautiful shringar rasa song is 'chal gori pi ke milan ko chali' by Hemant Kumar. My brother used to sing it as 'chali gori pike, milan ko chali' in the sense that she is drunk. But quite drunk in the beauty of his admired one is this song! Everytime I hear it, I get gooseflesh!
Veer वीर (heroic)
ai watan, ai watan hamako terii kasam
very heroic! Since I'm not so much for heroism, it was difficult to choose one for this rasa, but here it is!
BTW how blind of me, not to notice that you HAD included all the 11 rasas. It seems I can't even count properly now.ReplyDelete
It looks like I am going senile day by day.
But looking at the brighter side: I have an excuse for my eccentricities now!
Vah vah great post i absolutely love your wonder choice that's a song i love very very much especially the way he goes 'jaaneman jaaneman' slowly like as if he's dying/hurtingReplyDelete
One Rafi song i would pick for karuna/ Break up feelings is Chahunga main tujhe from Dosti
maxqnz, the pleasure was all mine! Research for this post gave me an iron-clad excuse to spend days and days on youtube,ReplyDelete
exploring more Rafi and discovering "new" Rafi songs.
The destruction of his grave is a sad testament to how much India values her history! But then, Rafi's voice will always be with us, and considering how popular he still is - even 30 years after his death - I am sure his popularity wont wane either. Could anybody ask for a grander memorial than that?
Pessimisissimo, sadness and joy are probably supposed to be included in all the other emotions, but still, I think they should have a place of their own as original emotions!
dustedoff, give it a shot - you might surprise yourself.
I was close to giving up on Rafi navrasas, too - but google and youtube (and lots and lots of time!) came to the rescue. :D Of course, Lata in ten moods would be equally great!
sunheriyaadein, Rafi's voice is certainly reason enough to like any song! :D
Sharmi, I would definitely slot it in shringar rasa since its all romance in my book.
Nasir, I hadn't thought of Duniya na bhaaye like that!
But then, Rafi's voice kind of blinds me to almost anything else - especially technical brilliance which I take for granted in his songs, anyway!! :D
sophy, I'm not sure I understand the connection between your gender and your ability to get what high notes are!
And I've never heard Rafi struggling with the high notes - in fact I've always thought that high notes were his specialty! Manna Dey, I think, was the best playback singer Hindi Cinema has ever seen. And he was particularly great in classical numbers. Rafi though, was a whole lot more charismatic and the better actor, and thats probably why he was so enormously popular.
Richard, that is certainly a big co-incidence! Off to check out Padmini's navarasas.
I didnt think of Hume bhi de do sahara ki besahare hain since it is a plea for compassion, rather than an offer of compassion - but I guess compassion can be offered as well as requested!
harvey, Love your list! It also has some uncanny similarities with mine! I almost went with Chaudhvin ka chand ho for adbhut rasa, too, but after seeing the film recently, I am rather off the song for a bit (I am sure I will get back to loving it, once the memories of the film have faded somewhet!). For veer rasa I took forever to decide between Aye watan aye watan and Kar chale hum fida. I thought about Yeh duniya gol hai for haasya rasa - but finally decided that it was too philosophical. AND I reached the same conclusion as you, about Rafi's funny songs - Kishore does have a monopoly on the nonsense genre. Even the funniest of Rafi songs have depth and philosophy, or sarcasm, or satire in them!
bollywooddeewaana, Rafi's voice when he does jaan-e-man, jaan-e-jaan is very very potent. :D The Dosti songs are the first that came to mind for compassion, but I've heard them on radio so often and for so long that I am not so keen on them any more! They are marvelous though and were very big hits in their time.
"I almost went with Chaudhvin ka chand ho too, but after seeing the film recently, I am rather off the song for a bit (I am sure I will get back to loving it, once the memories of the film have faded somewhet!)"ReplyDelete
Yes, you've convinced me - leave the film alone, and stick to the songs. As for Rafi's memorial being his voice, that was exactly why I thought. I also liked your comment about Rafi being the better actor than Manna Dey. I think it is that versatility of character that makes him so special.
Please do re-watch Chaudhvin Ka Chand. I'd LOVE to see your pithy comments on the film! :DReplyDelete
Thanks for the news about Rafi's grave!
It is a shame!
Reminds me of the song from Mr. Sampath, which I just reviewed and posted the translation of:
Itni lambi chaudi duniya
phir bhi isme jagah nahin
Housefull hai, jagah nahin
What a shame!
Have you seen the Mohammad RAfi Chowk in Bombay? Appalling!
Ha ha! I can't stand Chaudhvin Ka Chand (except the gorgeous songs). Glad I am not alone.ReplyDelete
This is so educational on so many levels Bollyviewer, thank you :)
Hi,I came across a Movie Review Contest on http://movies.desimartini.com and found it very interesting.ReplyDelete
You really do come up with the most creative themes for your posts. And what a topic - RAFI!ReplyDelete
I love the mapping of "adbhut" to "tumne mujhe dekha" and you're absolutely right about the restrained joy and wonder Rafi infuses the song with. It's one of the finest examples of "playback" singing.
I'll have to think about all the rasas and my picks for them, but the one for Shringar is a no-brainer - aak ki raat badi shokh badi natkhat hai from Nai Umar Ki Nai Fasal. Rafi's voice does unmentionable things to me in this song.8-D
memsaab, Chaudhvin Ka Chand does seem to wind up as need-not-see even among Guru Dutt fans in blogland!ReplyDelete
Mayank, thanks for that info. I'll be sure to check it out.
Shalini, Rafi certainly is an absorbing topic - I could write and write and write about his songs and his voice and... :)
"the one for Shringar is a no-brainer - aaj ki raat badi shokh badi natkhat hai from Nai Umar Ki Nai Fasal." I think that about almost every Rafi romance number when I hear it! :D
Aaj ki raat IS a lovely song, though. For a completely unknown film, Nai Umar Ki Nai Fasal has a surprisingly wonderful soundtrack - each and every song is a masterpiece. I usually get stuck on Caravan guzar gaya which gives me goose-flesh every time I hear it, and I tend to buy song collections just because it happens to be one of the songs!
Being a Rafi Sahaab's fan, I can only go on reading all those comments over and over again, and enjoying every bit of it.ReplyDelete
Manny Dey was the most accomplished at that time and he is simply in awe of Rafi Sahaab. What humility! Yesudas acknowledge that there was "magic" in Rafi Sahaab's voice. Lata spoke of about "Namrata" and "harketein". For SPB, Rafi Sahaab's was the "Ultimate"! Even Kishore Kumar admitted he was a fan of Rafi Sahaab. No doubt, then that Rafi Sahaab still rules.
It is fun discovering all these Rafi fans online, isn't it? Have you seen www.mohdrafi.com? It seems to be the online gathering site for all Rafi fans, and there is tons of interesting information about his songs, too.ReplyDelete
I finally got to listen to your favorites. Sorry it took so long, vacation came in between so I couldn't write my thoughts on here.
I just adore sau baar janam lenge and main apne aap se ghabra gaya hoon. And can't bring myself to listen to kar chale. It's too sad.
I like that you have so many Balraj Sahni songs. :)
So many ones that I haven't listened to.
Chhuri ban kaanta ban and tere poojan ko bhagwaan are so much fun and philosophical at the same time.
OMG! Basti basti parvat parvat has the most amazing lyrics ever... *sigh* it's so deep. I love it.
O nanhe se farishte is so cute. It reminds me of "bhari duniya mein aakhir" specially the "khushboo se teri mehke kyon baag mere dil ka".
Listening to "duniya na bhaaye" is more emotional without the visuals. Rafi sahab's voice pierces the heart.
And last but not least, tumne mujhe dekha makes each and every hair on body stand up!
ps. mohdrafi.com rocks, doesn't it! :)
For me the most romantic song of Rafi is "Ek Haseen Shaam Ko Dil Mera Kho Gaya, perhle apna hua karta tha abh kissa ka ho gaya"!ReplyDelete
Kanan I am so glad you liked my favorites! :D mohdrafi.com totally rocks. I can spend hours there... And Balraj Sahni is just as popular on OiG as Rafi is - so their songs together are a total win-win for this bollyviewer! :DReplyDelete
Filmbuff, that's a lovely song. But then, I think that about almost every Rafi song... Hopeless Rafi fan - that's me!