Mohammad Rafi was one of the most versatile and popular male playback singers of Hindi cinema.
Though not extensively covered so far on my blog, he’s my most favourite male playback singer. I have covered his association with Chitragupt, S D Burman, Hemant Kumar and Salil Chowdhury. Also posts on his duets with Suman Kalyanpur and Geeta Dutt are on the blog.
When I was publishing the yearly review posts on Lata Mangeshkar’s Hindi film songs, I had thought of a similar series on Rafi’s Hindi film songs. Incidentally Mr Arunkumar Deshmukh shared his information on Rafi’s complete Hindi film song list. That further boosted my idea of the posts. Blog reader Naghma ji also suggested the same to me.
Of course I couldn’t start the series immediately, and then I realised about his birth centenary year and I obviously planned it accordingly. One of the articles by Mr Arunkumar Deshmukh on Atul’s blog proved to be helpful for this first post of the series.

Mohammad Rafi was born on 24th December 1924. He was the youngest of the 5 brothers. The little boy was allegedly attracted towards music when he started to listen to a fakir singing on streets. He used to follow him and listen to him singing below a tree and this is thought to instill the fascination for music. Rafi’s father was however not in support! After the family shifted to Lahore, Rafi still managed to take formal music lessons from stalwarts like Ustad Waheed Ali Khan and Ustad Barkat Ali Khan. According to Manek Premchand’s book, Firoze Nizami offered Rafi a singing job in radio Lahore. And before that Rafi had already sung his first film song, a duet with Zeenat Begum, for the Punjabi film, Gul Baloch (1943). The full song is not available at present on the internet. Rafi soon decided to shift to Bombay (now Mumbai). Hameed Bhai, accompanied him to Mumbai. There after securing a small room at Bhendi Bazaar, Hameed Bhai started visiting all the studios requesting for a chance to Rafi. It was Naushad who gave the young boy an opportunity to sing for one of his Hindi films. It’s said that Hameed Bhai managed to get a recommendation letter from Naushad’s father in Lucknow and upon recommendation of his father, Naushad decided to give a chance to a newcomer boy from Lahore. And thus Rafi’s first Hindi film song was recorded.

In today’s post I’ll cover his Hindi film songs from the years 1944 and 1945, with a total of 14songs. Composer wise breakup follows,

Numbers in the bracket indicate the number of songs with that particular composer

Here’s the table displaying his duets with other male and female playback singers.

In addition, his first Hindi film song was a chorus song with unknown singer(s). He also sang a trio with Zohrabai Ambalewali and Shamshad Begum for Hamara Sansaar.

It’s worth noting that in the year 1945 itself, where Rafi sang around 11 songs, he got the opportunity to sing songs of various genres, right from romantic songs and qawwali to melancholic songs. I’ve tried to incorporate all the genres on the list.

1. Hindustan Ke Hum Hain – Pehle Aap (1944) with Shyam Kumar & Chorus / Naushad – Nazim Panipati
This is the first Hindi film song Rafi sang. Though I am not damn sure about Rafi’s lines in the song, there appear to be at least two male singers (perhaps three) in addition to the chorus. Anyways, the song maintains its importance as Rafi’s first Hindi film song.
The song is a patriotic one and talks about national integration. I looked for the best upload comparing the audio quality with the other uploads and found this upload to be my choice for today’s list.

2. Tum Dilli Main Agre Mein – Pehle Aap (1944) with Shyam Kumar / Naushad – D N Madhok
This is an interesting song! It’s a duet between two male singers, but one of them (Rafi) is expressing the emotions of a lady. Perhaps, the hero’s friends are teasing him by the lady’s name and one of the friends is playing her character, while another is emoting the hero. They are talking about the distance of 100 कोस (around 320 km) between Delhi and Agra being too much for the lovers. Fun to listen to!

After three songs in 1944, Rafi sang around ten songs in 1945. His maximum number of songs and the maximum number of films with composer Gobind Ram. In addition to singing, Rafi was also seen as an actor in a song from Laila Majnu. I think it would be appropriate and interesting to look at the song before we listen to his other songs.

3. Tera Jalwa Jisne Dekha – Laila Majnu (1945) with S D Batish & Chorus / Gobind Ram – Tanveer Naqvi
Rafi’s first screen appearance in Hindi films. The video is not complete.
For the full audio song click here.

4. Ae Dil e Nakaam Ab – Hamara Sansar (1945) / Gobind Ram – Ramesh Gupta
His voice sounds very fresh and there’s no copying any established singer in my opinion. The melody sounds like a typically 40s one!

He had six solos in 1945 and three of those were from a single film. Quite an achievement and encouragement for a newcomer! The film was Sharbati Aankhen and I’ve added a couple of solos to the list.

5. Pyar Karna Hi Padega – Sharbati Aankhen (1945) / Firoze Nizami – Pandit Indra
I must confess that I heard the song for the first time during the research for the post. But I took an instant liking to it. Though I couldn’t exactly decipher the mood of the song, it appears to be romantic with undertones of other moods as well. Rafi has sung it so well, that too in the second year of his career. It doesn’t at all sound like a newcomer. Here I must add that I’m not a music expert and am not aware of technical nuances of music.

6. Bahut Mukhtaar Hai Hamari Kahani – Sharbati Aankhen (1945) / Firoze Nizami – Tanveer Naqvi
Another gem from the same movie. This tune reminded me of a song which I couldn’t place. Could anybody help? And I haven’t heard much of Firoze Nizami, but should be doing so soon.

7. Haye Re Duniya – Zeenat (1945) / Hafeez Ali Khan – Nakshab Jarchavi
His only song for the Noorjahan starrer film. In the film it was a background song, picturised on Noorjahan as she walks down the lanes of the city in a melancholic mood. It seems only one verse was picturised as the available videos are very short as compared to the audio versions. Very beautiful expressions by Rafi, heart touching rendition!

8. Dil Diye Chale Hum – Begum (1945) with Mohantara Talpade / Hari Prasanna Das – G S Nepali
A song with a catchy tune and pleasant orchestration. I couldn’t get much either about the movie or the song. Hari Prasanna Das is not a well known name. He was a composer from Bengal, who could not make an imprint in Hindi films. He was also active in Bangla film

9. Aji Dil Ho Qaabu Mein – Village Girl (1945) with G M Durrani / Shyam Sunder – Wali Saheb
A song composed in a Qawwali style. Very informal and light hearted lyrics, that go against ladies in general. A fun to listen to and no female artist involved in any way in the song, either in picturisation or as a singer. But it talks about them! Strictly for men’s ears only!

10. Topiwale Babu Ne Dil Chhena – Kulkalank (1945) with Amirbai Karnataki / A R Qureshi – Roopbani
The song is also a delight to listen to! Unfortunately the sound quality is not up to the mark in any of the uploads. Yet we can enjoy the romance!

I’ll continue the yearly review series of Rafi’s Hindi film songs. From the year 1946, it will be only one year per post.

Disclaimer –
Mehfil Mein Meri, claims no credit for any image, screenshots or songs posted on this site. Images on this blog are posted to make the text interesting. The images and screenshots are the copyright of their original owners. The song links are shared from YouTube, only for the listening convenience of music lovers. The copyright of these songs rests with the respective owners, producers and music companies.

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