3 August 2011


Rafi Sings For Shammi Kapoor
Shammi Kapoor wouldn't be the Shammi Kapoor we all know and love if it hadn't been for the immense contribution of one man who was not only his dear friend, but almost came to be his alter-ego, his 'voice' - Mohammed Rafi. It is a contribution that the actor gratefully acknowledges even today. Rafisaab's range, his versatility, his ability to modulate his voice - these are all well-known attributes; but, as Shammi Kapoor himself says, Rafi added that 'little extra' to his songs for the actor. In fact, so attuned had the singer become to his image on screen that even when Shammi wasn't in the recording studios exhorting him to sing a particular line in a particular way, Rafisaab knew how he would want it done. 

Shammi Kapoor is quick to provide examples of this - while Aasman se aaya farishta  for 'An Evening in Paris' had to be recorded, Shammi Kapoor was called away on an outdoor schedule. Before leaving, he told the director Shakti Samanta to wait until he returned. However, the recording studio had been booked, and Samanta went ahead with the recording. 

When Shammi returned, he was livid. He took a keen interest in the recordings of all his songs, as all his directors and music directors were aware. When he began berating Samanta, the director was quick to stop him; he asked Shammi to listen to the recording, and then, if he did not approve, they would re-record the song. 

Shammi, still angry, had no other choice. But when he listened to the recording, his anger faded - there wasn't a note that he wanted changed. Samanta explained that when Rafisaab came for the recording, he wanted to know who would enact the song on screen. When told that it was to be picturised on Shammi Kapoor and in a helicopter, to boot, Rafisaab promptly said - "Then, he will shake his head at this point; and move his hands and legs this way - that man doesn't know how to stand still! I'll have to sing it this way..." 

It is these bonds of affection and affinity between the two stalwarts that I am attempting to explore in these songs, songs that are not the ones you usually expect when you hear Rafi-Shammi in the same breath. 

1. Shaam-e-bahaar aayi
Film: Shama Parwana
Music: Husnlal Bhagatram
Singers: Suraiyya, Mohammed Rafi 
While Mohammed Rafi provided playback for Shammi's early films like Rail ka Dibba (where he played second fiddle to Madhubala) Laila Majnu and Shama Parwana, Shammi had never met the singer. His first meeting with Rafisaab was during the recording of the songs of Hum Sab Chor Hain. The relatively new actor was understandably reluctant to make any suggestions of his own. 

While Tune mera yaar na milaya  was probably the best-known song from Shama Parwana, this one is a cute romantic duet with Suraiyya - note Shammi's startling resemblance to his elder brother in this song.  

2. Jawaniyan yeh mast mast
Film: Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957)
Singer: Mohammed Rafi
Music: OP Nayyar
Tumsa Nahin Dekha was Shammi Kapoor's breakthrough film - he had had a string of flops and Prithviraj Kapoor didn't believe in nepotism anyway, so there were no calls to Papaji's friends asking them to cast his younger son in their films. It was at this time that Nasir Hussain had scripted Paying Guest for Subodh Mukherjee. Nasir and Dev Anand were very closely associated and Nasir had signed Dev for the leading role in Tumsa Nahin Dekha. 

For some reason, Dev Anand walked out of the film, and S Mukherjee of Filmistan, who had a soft spot for Shammi Kapoor suggested Nasir take him instead. Nasir was less than overjoyed at the prospect. "That mustachioed, long-haired sissy?" he is reputed to have said.
S Mukherjee persisted. "Shave off his moustache, give the guy a haircut and then see...". And so Shammi promptly did both.
Nasir gave in, and a superhit and a superstar were born. And thus began another successful collaboration that was to give us many, many musicals. 

It was during the recording of the songs for this movie that Shammi Kapoor actually had his first chance to meet and talk to Mohammed Rafi. This was when he told Rafisaab that the song that he was recording at the time (Sar pe topi lal), was going to picturised on him, Shammi, and would Rafisaab consider singing it *just* this way? Shammi had known OP Nayyar for a long time, and the maverick music director did not object to his suggestions. And gentle Rafisaab acquiesced gracefully with a "Let me see what I can do." The rest, as they say, is history.

It is difficult to chose *one* song from a track that boasts of such lovely Rafi solos as Yun to humne lakh haseen dekhe hain, Chupnewale saamne aa, the sweet 'competition' duet Aayi hai door se and the rambunctious duet Sar pe topi lal haath mein resham ka roomal - however, I chose Jawaaniyan yeh mast mast because it was so quintessentially Shammi Kapoor. Chupnewale saamne aa was a close contender, because it is a 'quieter' song.  

3. Hum aur tum aur yeh sama
Film: Dil Deke Dekho (1959)
Music: Usha Khanna 
The sound track was by a relatively new music director, Usha Khanna, who, unfortunately was 'inspired' in many of her compositions; so inspired in fact, that many of them became direct lifts - the beautiful Hai dilruba, meri Neeta was a blatant copy of Paul Anka's Diana, Pyar ki kasam hai was copied from Since I met you baby (Ivory Joe Hunter) and the title song Dil deke dekho was lifted from Sugar in the Morning by the McGuire Sisters.

As far as I know, though, Hum aur tum aur yeh sama is not 'inspired' by anything other than her own inspiration. I certainly hope so anyway, because this is one of the most romantic songs I have ever heard. And Shammi is so dashing, and Asha Parekh is so impossibly beautiful and the ambience so romantic that I can imagine the nasha (intoxication). It is a short song, and the orchestration is barely there, except toward the end, when it peaks into a triumphant crescendo.  

Film: Junglee (1961)
Music: Shankar Jaikishen  
Certainly not the most popular song in a film that burst at the seams with one melodious number after the other; that status must go to the exuberant Chahe koi mujhe junglee kahe, which quickly became the national anthem for rebellious lovers. But, in my opinion, at least, the most romantic of all of Junglee's songs, and not just because of the picturisation. It was a quiet wallop, if you will forgive the oxymoron - the other male solos are just so boisterous (Ayyayya, karoon main kya, Suku, Suku, Yaa-hoo!), and the change from those to this quiet declaration of love showed how the 'Junglee' had been tamed... and it is this very quietness that makes the girl, who is no mood to listen to him, relent at the end. 

Shammi Kapoor is wickedly handsome in this film, and Saira Banu is so breathtakingly beautiful (she reminds me of a porcelain doll!) in her debut that one can be forgiven for watching them open-jawed.
Trivia: The 'Yaaa-hoo' at the beginning of Chahe koi mujhe junglee kahe' was not Rafisaab's doing at all. There was a writer at Prithvi Theatres by name Prayag Raj; it was he who recorded the 'Yaaa-hoo', doing it so well, that Rafisaab was inspired to add an additional bit of enthusiasm to the song itself.  

Film: Boyfriend (1961)
Music: Shankar Jaikishen 
Now this was a movie worth watching just for the eyecandy -  Shammi Kapoor and Madhubala. And this is a song which proves (once again) why Shammi really deserved the tag 'lover boy' (though he definitely was a 'man'!) No one quite romanced his heroines the way Shammi did, until his nephew (Rishi Kapoor) years later. Boyfriend also had Dharmendra looking quite dashing in a police officer's uniform. While Mujhe apna yaar bana lo (on top of a train - this information is for dustedoff's benefit by the way) had the classic Rafi-Shammi touch, I was quite disappointed with the Aigo Aigo duet that Rafi sang with Arti Mukherjee - both song, and picturisation. How they could make Madhubala look ugly is beyond me! 

Film: Professor (1962)
Music: Shankar-Jaikishen 
This was a sitter! Because even though Khuli palak mein jhoota gussa was also a Rafi solo, Ae Gulbadan was such a romantic number, that I am afraid, I fell completely in love with Shammi Kapoor.  How could any woman with red blood in her veins not??  Shammi was at his best, proving that behind the eyecandy, there really was substance. Another debutante, fresh faced Kalpana (she reminds me of a kitten) and a plethora of beautiful songs like Awaaz deke humein tum bulana, Main chali, main chali, Hamare gaon koi aayega completed the entertainment.  This was also one of Lalita Pawar's best roles, and the veteran actress was so good that I am always sad that she was left alone in the end.  
Film: Dil Tera Deewana (1962)
Music: Shankar-Jaikishen 
A rain song to end all rain songs. I mean, the monsoons had nothing on this downpour. Man! It was more like a cloudburst. I must enter a caveat here - I am not a great fan of Mala Sinha (one of the forums that my husband is on, calls her 'Yeggface'), and I honestly wish that the heroine had been somebody - anybody - else. I know this is a duet, but it is a very sexy song, and one where Rafisaab completely channelled his inner Shammi. And I chose it for precisely that reason.

Another wonderful score from SJ that comprised Nazar bachakar chale gaye, Masoom chehra qaatil adaayein, Dhadhakne lagta hai (complete with bark and Mehmood in drag) and Jaan-e-wafamy personal favourite  is Mujhe kitna pyar hai tumse.  

8. Baar baar dekho
China Town (1962)
Music: Ravi
China Town was one of Ravi's triumphs - there was hardly a wrong note anywhere. There were a bouquet of melodies that included (but were not limited to) Dekho ji ek bala, Humse na poocho, and Yeh rang na chootega.

Baar baar dekho was interesting for one reason - how does someone who is an epitome of manliness like Shammi manage to look and act so effeminate?? Just watch him as he shakes his limp wrists and practically simpers at Shakila! And then watch him as he shakes a leg in Yamma yamma, oh yamma - oh, the difference! But the grace is there all the time, and for a big man, his moves were totally smooth. 

The movie was a roller-coaster ride, with identical twins separated at birth; one who becomes a singer, and the other, who ends up on the wrong side of the law; the good one groomed to take the place of the other (wonder whether Don took its premise from here)... 

For once, we had an intelligent villain (Shetty) who suspects the doppelganger, and Chinese people who actually did manage to look oriental and did NOT talk in pidgin Hindi. Full points to the director for that! The Chinese inhabitants of Calcutta's China Town can speak as fluent Hindi as the Marwari residents of Madras can talk fluent Tamil, or Cochin's flourishing Gujarati, Marwadi and Punjabi population can talk colloquial Malayalam.  

9. Hai duniya usi ki zamana usi ka
Music: OP Nayyar 
Yeh chand sa roshan chehrasung by an exuberant Rafisaab, enacted by an over-enthusiastic Shammi, and a picturisation which involved some complicated maneuvering from the shikara boatmen, was the obvious choice, but I like this for the depth of emotion with which Rafisaab displays; and the way Shammi matches Rafisaab's rendition (watch the deep breath that Shammi takes at the 3.49 mark). The saxophone interludes (Manohari Lal) are crazy... 

My personal all-time favourite from this movie is the soft, romantic Ishaaron ishaaron mein dil lene waale; it was so evocative - the lead pair (Shammi and a stunning Sharmila Tagore in her Hindi debut) have been caught in a storm in the night and have taken shelter in an old woman's hut; the morning after, the storm has passed, leaving only the mist behind. There is a hint of the emotional storm that they have undergone, and the quieter, deeper love they now feel in this song. 

Shammi Kapoor narrates an interesting anecdote about Yeh chand sa roshan chehra. By this time, singer and actor had a very close relationship and discussed their songs between themselves. And so Shammi wanted that the song end with  the lines 'Tareef karoon kya uski...' repeated, but OP Nayyar brushed off the suggestion because he felt that the song would be too long and too boring. An obstinate Shammi got Rafisaab to plead his case. 

Rafisaab told OP Nayyar that he would sing the song the way Shammi suggested, and if he (Nayyar) did not like it, he could snip the repetitive parts off or re-record it the way he originally intended. OP Nayyar could not resist the actor-singer-duo and reluctantly consented, and the song was rendered the way Shammi Kapoor wanted - the word 'tareef' was also to be enunciated in different ways each time it was sung. When OP Nayyar heard the recording, he hugged Shammi Kapoor to him, and admitted that the repetition of the lines added a certain edge to the original song.  

9. Is rang badalti duniya mein
Rajkumar (1964)
Music: Shankar-Jaikishen 
Another film where I was hard put to choose *one* song - it was such a temptation to list Tumne kisi ki jaan ko jaate hue dekha hai,  and if I weren't restricting myself to one song per film, I might have added both. One is a masterly example of just *how* to manaofy an angry girlfriend; the other is an honest admission (and a warning) of how her proximity is causing him to forget his honour - itra na karo tum saj-dhajkar, imaan ki neeyat theek nahi... At the risk of repeating myself, God, who can resist!! And I love, love, love the cadences of Rafisaab's voice; that and a dropdead gorgeous Shammi Kapoor and a darkened theatre... magic is happening right there. 

And this is a score that has such gems: Lata's Aaja aayi bahaar, the seductive Asha-Rafi duet Dilruba dil pe tu, the romantic Suman Kalyanpur-Rafi number Tumne pukaara aur hum chale aaye... the Lata-Asha jugalbandi in Naach re man badkamma before some supposed tribal god was the weakest track followed by Rafisaab's Hum hain Rajkumar - which was just so-so. 

You know this is a South production - from the many dancers on flower decorated rafts in Aaja aayi bahaar to the same set (I assume) of extras with candles on their heads (really!) and what looked like umbrellas that had lost their cloth coverings. And it exposed the fact that Sadhana was totally (and I mean *totally*) graceless when it came to dance. But she looked so exquisite, a lot could be (and was) forgiven.  

10. Meri mohabbat jawan rahegi
Janwar (1965)
Music: Shankar-Jaikishen 
A tale of star-crossed lovers; sons pitted against father (Question: Wasn't Prithviraj Kapoor tired of being cast as Love's Enemy No:1?), misunderstandings galore, and an airport climax which, thankfully, did not get too complicated. Rehman and Shammi play the sons who want to marry the girls of their choice.

Why I like Meri mohabath jawan rahegi? Context. Rajshree has, after their initial setbacks, fallen in love with Shammi (Of course. Who wouldn't?), but she is an orphan, and poor (are there any other kind?), and doesn't think the relationship will work. And he wants to reassure her - with Rafi's sublime voice, who can resist??

Other songs include: Lal chadi maidan khadi (this is one of the Rafi-Shammi songs that I actually hate), Mere sang gaa, gunguna (where Rajshri, in spite of being a trained dancer managed to look like she was brushing bugs off her back), Tumse acha kaun hai (where Shammi shows off new ways to use a blanket), and Dekho ab toh (where Shankar-Jaikishen would have us believe that the Beatles got their idea for "I wanna hold your hand" from SJ). I will give the director brownie points though - even if they did not credit the original song, Bhappie Sonie carried the 'inspiration' all the way through - Shammi was dressed to look like the Beatles. 

My favourite number from Jaanwar is the recitation of Faiz Ahmed Faiz's Raat yun dil mein teri khoya hai.

Teesri Manzil
Music: RD Burman 
A beautiful whodunnit with an unexpected ending, director Vijay Anand kept the suspense going right through. This was a film that got everything right - the story, the script, the direction, the music, the casting.... Shammi and Asha reunited, RD Burman was roped in to provide a rollicking sound track, but Shammi was not the original choice.   

Teesri Manzil was another Nasir Hussain movie that was to star Dev Anand. But he and Nasir had a spat and Dev walked out almost at the last minute. Nasir Hussain pulled in a favour and pleaded with Shammi to take his place. Shammi agreed, provided Dev Anand would personally tell him that he was not doing the film of his own free will, and that it was okay with him that Shammi take his place. Dev did, and we know the rest.
This song was chosen both for its context, and its background. Rocky, alias Anil, has had enough of the deception, and has 'told all' in a letter which he hands to a waiter to give to Sunita (Asha). And he begs her to come to his show only if she is willing to forgive him for the charade. She comes, but the letter has been mislaid, and she does not know the truth. He, of course, does not know that *she* does not know (complicated?) the truth, and is ecstatic to see her.  

Tumne mujhe dekha  was a difficult song for Shammi to perform; this was the first time he was facing the camera after the untimely death of Geeta Bali. 

Pancham's chartbusting score (the Anand brothers always had an ear for music) included the classic Aaja aaja main hoon pyar tera (though the sight of a buxom Asha Parekh in black tights and shimmering pink short top always makes me close my eyes in pain), O haseena zulfonwali (a woefully under-utilised Helen; and please watch Salim Khan who plays Shammi's friend and drummer), O mere sona re  (with its comic flavour), Deewana mujhsa nahin (poor Laxmi Chhaya (?), locked in the trunk), and a classic Shammi Dekhiye sahibon woh koyi aur thi (which was probably there just so they could have the requisite number of songs. 

12. Akele akele
An Evening in Paris
Music: Shankar-Jaikishen 
I love how the song starts off on such a high octave, and then Rafisaab drops atleast two octaves; he moves so unexpectedly and so effortlessly between high and low, his vocal calisthenics are sheer delight. 

And who would have dreamt that the naive Kashmir ki Kali
would turn into a Parisienne sophisticate? 

The Bengal tigress teams up with her first co-star in this shot-entirely-in-Paris movie, and in a double role to boot. She also scandalised the industry by showing off her enviable figure in a bikini, and a costume that Helen would have envied. As a nightclub dancer, she got to wear feathers and sparkles and sheer tights. And yes, the 'bad' Sharmila is bad all through, though she does show the good sense to fall in love with Shammi Kapoor too.

I really did not like the rest of the songs except for Raat ke humsafar, thak ke ghar ko chaley, which really resonated with me. 

13. Aaj kal tere mere pyar ke charche
Music: Shankar-Jaikishen
What's not to like about this? A young and vivacious Mumu shimmying alongside a bulkier but still graceful Shammi, a tune that is guaranteed to make you dust off your dancing shoes, and Rafi at his mischievous best. 

Shammi plays a bachelor who rescues every orphan he can find, though he is hard put to make ends meet (shades of Mr India, anyone?) And so he rescues Rajshri too, and promises to help her get Pran back - only to fall in love with her himself. But his commitment to his children is greater and he is forced to pretend that he was only fooling around. While Dil ke jharoke mein tujhko bithakar is wonderfully orchestrated and choreographed (I loved the dancers in black and white), and the lyrics are so heartfelt, it is heavily repetitive in its antaras. 

Rafi also gives his emotional best in this lori, which also has a happy version earlier in the movie. Add the lively Mohabbat ke khuda and a children's song and SJ have covered all possible situations.  

14. Janam janam ka saath hai
Tumse Acha Kaun Hai
Music: Shankar-Jaiskishen
My only problem? I have to watch Babita. And the movie is goddawful. It may help to have selective vision, where one can watch only Shammi, but hey, in its absence, shut your eyes and just listen to the song. 

This is not one of my favourite soundtracks, but I do like this duet.  

15. Dil use do jo jaan de de
Music: Shankar-Jaikishen

Oh, how I wish Sulakshana Pandit had stuck to singing! She was a far better singer than she was actress. 

I began with a duet, I end with one. This is one of Shammi Kapoor's later movies that I thoroughly enjoyed. For the simple reason, that it was a very mature role, and Shammi was subtle and understated throughout. It also had a strong female role for Hema, and didn't she look gorgeous??

© Anuradha Warrier


  1. Oh, lord. This is CREEPY. Last night, after lights out, I was lying in bed and thinking up a 'ten favourite Shammi Kapoor songs' post (it's still a long way to being published - more than two months away). My long list included six of the songs you've listed here (I nearly typed 'lusted' there; just shows what thinking about Shammi Kapoor is liable to do!!). It is SO difficult to restrict oneself to just 10 great Shammi Kapoor songs - there are so many of them that I completely adore.

  2. Anuradha Warrier4 August 2011 at 08:23

    Madhu, LOL. That *is* CREEPY! You know, I think we are carrying this 'two-minds-one-thought-' thing a bit too far... can you imagine what a great suspense thriller could be made out of us? I am glad you liked the list - and yes, 'lusted' is the right word!! (And that's what I meant when I wrote "...a dropdead gorgeous Shammi Kapoor and a darkened theatre..." Of course, I wrote 'magic' but I think everyone knew what I meant! :) )

  3. Dear Friends ,KIndly Visit Each And Every Page Of Rafi Saab"s Blog,Total Over 700 Pages Are There,Kindly Visit This Link,Take Care



    Mohamed Parvez

  4. I did, Mohamed; and found that you had posted this whole post on your blog.

  5. Superb review fit to be published in any national news paper... Also if possible post it in the website of Rafi fans www.mohdrafi.com if possible madam..
    thanks loved it..
    Rafi sahab's devotee

  6. Narayan, thank you for dropping in *and* for the nice compliment. I have visited the website before, but I am not too sure about how I would post anything there. I would not mind if you wanted to link this post to the site.

  7. Dear Madam Thanx For Visiting The Rafi Saab"s Blog,I suggest you to Visit Each And Every page Of Rafi saab"s Blog,keep It Up,Take Care

  8. Hi, loved reading your entry here! I am a newbie on the blog scene and I love black and white films. I hunt for trivia about them and I was doing that for Tumsa nahi dekha when I came across this post and was delighted to read that particular entry by you! I hope it's ok if I borrow it from you (of course I will credit ya).. And I love all the songs you have listed here.. Shammi was just magnifique.. i don't think there ever was an actor that could lend so much panache, fun and life to songs as he did, pure uninhibited joy! :)

  9. PS: my blog: www.nehamalude.wordpress.com

  10. Hi Neha, Welcome. Both to blogging *and* my blog. I am always happy to welcome another Shammi Kapoor fan. Sure you can borrow any trivia I post - as long as you credit it :)

    I will go off to take a look at your site in a bit. Again, welcome to blogging.

  11. Anuradha, this is an incredible list of songs! And I like that you have gone past the usual Rafi-Shammi numbers for this post. Thank you so much from a Shammi Kapoor, Mohammed Rafi fan. I noticed that you had another post on Rafi Saab. Also, many reviews. I will definitely visit again. If I stay to browse any longer, I won't have a job.

    Thanks for an interesting read.

  12. Glad you liked them, Sridhar. And thanks for the compliment. Please visit often!

  13. Hey Anuradha! You have a great fan, Ruhi Krishnan, on my blog. Do read her comment, i think you will like it :)


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