Many consider Mohd Rafi the Crooning Glory of romance. He could sing any Valentine date out of her reluctance with Mere mehboob tujhe meri mohabbat kikasam.Sadly for Rafi, the King of Romance RajeshKhanna preferred Kishore Kumar.But think of what celluloid romance in the 1970s would have been if Rafi and not Kishore had sung Yeh sham mastani, Woh sham kuch ajeeb thi and Oh Mere dil ke chayan? Here are the songs that define Mohd Rafi’s romantic image.
1. Chaudhvi ka chand ho ya aftab ho(ChaudhviKa Chand): With this Ravi-composed ghazalwritten so eloquently by the great ShakeelBadayuni,any man could woo his beloved out of a sulk. The privilege of having the ultimate love song sung to her on screen went to the bewitching Waheeda Rehman who says modestly, “Itni taareefkare toh koi bhi aurat pighal jaye.Shakeel Saab wrote the love lyrics beautifully .Amd Rafi Saab sang the words as if he owned them. Baqi mujhe kuch nahin karna pada.” Interestingly the rest of the film was shot in black-and-white. Only this song was filmed in colour.
2. Aapke haseen rukh aap aaj naya noorhai(Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi): “Mera dil machalgaya toh mera kya qasoor hai?” completes Dharmendra who had the privilege of singing these immortal lines by Anjaan. He remembers how the song was filmed. “There are two beautiful heroines on screen to whom I’m supposed to be singing: Mala Sinha and Tanuja. It’s not difficult to fall in love when the song and the singer are so into the mood of romance.Saara mehnat toh Rafi Saab ne kiya maine toh kuch bhi nahin kiya,” says Dharamji modestly. This timeless love ballad composed by O.P. Nayyar was to be filmed on Guru Dutt who passed away leaving it to Dharmendra to do the swoon-sahiba-swoon ballad.
3. Tere mere sapne abb ke rang hai(Guide): Kishore Kumar was Dev Anand’s permanent ghost voice. Dev saab knew it. The Guidecomposer Sachin Dev Burman knew it. But they also knew that there were some things that only Rafi Saab and no other singer could do. This ode to love was one of them. Written by Shailendra it is one of Hindi cinema’s finest love ballads. Dev Saab told me, “We nearly lost Burman Dada just before Guide was to begin shooting. He had a massive heart attack. People advised me to replace him. I held my ground.Can you imagine any other composer coming up with Tere mere sapne and Din dhal jaye? Or any other singer singing them?”
4. Khoya khoya chand khula aasman(Kala Bazar): Sachin Dev Burman, Dev Anand, WaheedaRehman and Shailendra again…what to do? They are irresistibly romantic in this number too. VijayAnand shot the songs with Dev Saab in a giddy state of lovelorn euphoria running across a meadow in the throes of love. How can a man running at that speed sing so beautifully without getting breathless? When you are Dev Anand you can do anything.When you have Rafi Saab singing for you, you can scale the moon.
5. Chand mera dil chandni ho tum(Abdullah): This love ballad is to gen-x what LataMangeshkar’s Lag ja gale se is to them. The signature tune of the young by which they know these two iconic singers. Chand mera dil is rare in Rafi’s repertoire. He seldom sang for R D Burmanwho preferred Kishore Kumar all the way. Apparently Abdullah director Sanjay Khan insisted that this love ballad be sung by Rafi Saab and none other. Incidentally this is the third song about the Chand in this list. To this we can only say , Moon re tu kaahe na dheer dhare?