Tag Archives: mohd.rafi

Love is in the air (Part 1) – A selection of romantic songs from old Hindi movies

Valentine’s Day is around the corner. More importantly, the weather outside is awesome enough that there is a need for good music to keep us snuggled in until Spring comes along. Over the next few weeks, I am hoping to put together a set of good songs that are romantic by definition, but really are a set of wonderfully composed and well sung pieces that are well worth revisiting. One really big caveat for all these posts-they are incredibly personal and my own view of things. Your set of best songs of this era might not match mine and that is definitely expected. Music is as subjective as any other art form. Its joy is in the ear of the listener. One other note before we kick things off, this set is what came to my head when I put this list together. I am sure I missed some of my own personal favorites. It happens all the time. With that out of the way, let us get to the music.

I am kicking off this series of posts with some classics from old Hindi movies. The list is in no particular order and if you have songs to add, please add them in the Comments section or in the social networks where this post is syndicated.

1. Aaja Sanam from Chori Chori
I have listened to this song a few hundred times and I never get tired of it. The music by Shankar-Jaikishan is outstanding. Lata and Manna Dey offer their vocals to lyrics by Hasrat Jaipuri. Manna Dey’s voice comes through when he opens up with “Bheegi Bheegi raat mein.” Note the lyrics from Hasrat Saab, “Zindagi hai ik safar, kaun jaane kal kidhar…”

2. Chaudvin ka Chand from Chaudvin ka chand

Chances are, if you have ever listened to this song, you would share my take on its sheer brilliance. A gentle composition that is as paean to the woman in his heart (in this case, the gorgeous Waheeda Rahman in the mind of Guru Dutt), it boasts lyrics unlike most other. And the pace is languidly romantic. Lyricist Shakeel Badayuni weaves a tune for the ages, set to the tune by Ravi. And yes, the golden voice of Rafi saab makes it the piece that it is. Sample this- “Jaane bahaar tum kisi shayar ka khwab ho…”

3. Jo vaada kiya oh from Taj Mahal

Celebrating the immortal love story of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal, Taj Mahal boasts fabulous songs composed by Roshan saab. None more romantic than this classic piece boasting the classic romantic vocal pairing of Rafi and Lata. The song is relatively short by 1963 standards but leaves a lasting impact, thanks to the wonderful lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi.

4. Aadha hai chandrama from Navrang

What a composition by C.Ramachandra. This gorgeous song from the movie Navrang directed by V.Shantaram features the nimble Sa
ndhya (his wife) dancing to the wonderful piece. Definitely stay on for the whole song. The last portion features some great dancing by Sandhya. As a big fan of Malkauns (Hindolam) , this song sung by Mahendra Kapoor and Asha Bhonsle has been a lifelong favorite of mine. The lyrics by Bharat Vyas are wonderfully romantic. Sample the start of the song, “Aadha hai chandrama raat aadhi, rehna jaaye teri meri baat aadhi, mulaqaat aadhi”

5. Abhi na jao chod kar from Hum Dono

A young and dashing Dev Anand romancing the gorgeous Sadhana is all one needs to get going with this song. Throw in the voices of Asha Bhonsle and Rafi singing a gentle and teasing piece by music director Jaidev with lyrics by the inimitable Sahir Ludhianvi saab, this song is pure gold. “Yehi kahoge tum sadaa, ke dil abhi bara nahin…” for sure.

6. Hum Aap ki Ankhon mein from Pyaasa

Another personal favorite featuring an all star crew. A young and vibrant Guru Dutt romances Mala Sinha to a peppy romantic number set to tune by S.D.Burman saab. The lyrics by Ludhianvi saab sets a benchmark. This movie boasts a soundtrack that is as good as it gets. Rafi saab and Geeta Dutt do full justice and much more to the song in a way that just warrants multiple listens.

7. Yeh Raatein yeh mausam from Dilli Ka Thug

I was starting to worry that I had front loaded this collection with very many Rafi saab songs. Then I remembered this wonderful piece by Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhonsle from Dilli Ka Thug. Featuring Kishore Kumar romancing a young and beautiful Nutan, the song just tantalises.  The composition by Ravi glows with the lyrics by Shailendra. Sample this- “Yeh kya baat hai aaj ki chandni mein, ke hum khogaye pyaar ki raagni mein”

8. Pyaar Hua from Shree 420

Iconic imagery. Superstars. Epic music by Shankar Jaikishan. A song for the ages featuring the so-much-in-love Raj Kapoor and Nargis. The vocals of Manna Dey and Lata that make it special. A complete experience for the hopeless romantic in you. I want that rain and the tea that goes with it. Oh, the umbrella too.

9. Dil kya kare from Julie

I was definitely leaning towards an all black and white collection. That would seriously date me (IMHO, not in a bad way). So I figured a few hits from the 70s might be worth inclusion here. The first and foremost of that lot is the evergreen romantic  piece from Julie. Rajesh Roshan scores music set to the lyrics of Harindranath Chattopadhyay. The song belongs to Kishore Kumar. He conveys all the romance and so much more.

10. Jaane Jaan from Jawaani Diwani

A classic composition by R.D.Burman for the movie Jawaani Diwani, this is just one heck of a number. R.D’s expertise in crafting a completely unique take on romance is fully evident here. Featuring a young Randhir Kapoor and a gorgeous Jaya Bhaduri, the romantic piece is sung with gusto by Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhonsle. The pitch variations on this song are just epic.


11. Teri Bindiya Re from Abhimaan

What do I say about this song that hasnt been already said? An onscreen romantic song that reflected the offscreen romance of the leading couple – Amitabh and Jaya, this song is just so beautiful. Written to perfection by Majrooh Sultanpuri saab and set to a great tune by S.D.Burman, this song is the definition of love, as good a combination of lyrics, tune and vocals can deliver. The entire album features some fabulous music worth many listens. As a counterpoint to this young romantic piece, “Tere Mere Milan” offers a more mature take on the same romance. I had a hard time picking “Teri Bindiya Re” over “Tere milan”

12. Dekha Ek Khwab from Silsila

As I was typing my text for the previous song from Abhimaan, my thoughts naturally drifted to this song from Silsila. There is so much history here in real and reel life that I will let you, the reader and listener debate that with your spouse 🙂

I will just wax eloquent about how wonderful a piece this one is- a composition by the Hindustani giants Shiv-Hari that boasts some fabulous visuals and actor eye candy in the form of Amitabh and Rekha. You throw in the lyrics, nay, poetry of Javed Akhtar and romance as seen by one of the greatest romanticists of our era, the late Yash Chopra, and you have romantic gold.

13. Kabhi Kabhi from Kabhi Kabhi

To finish the triumvirate of Amitabh Bachchan romantic movies that were box office and music gold from the era, here is another magical piece from Kabhi Kabhi. The real star in this song is the lyricist, Sahir Ludhianvi saab and the music director, Khayyam. Mukesh does the singing honors. An evergreen song that reverberates even today.

14. Mere Sapnon Ki Rani from Aradhana

I debated long and hard between this song and “Roop Tera Mastana” It is hard to pick one over the other. Both are the epitome of romance with the former more playful while the latter is sensual. In the end, I went with the playful version of love.

S.D.Burman creates a fast paced tune set to the lyrics of Anand Bakshi and leave the rest to Kishore Kumar and Rajesh Khanna. A smiling Rajesh Khanna woos Sharmila Tagore in a song that brings an instant smile to the viewer. The ultimate song to woo your woman!


15. Chura Liya Hai from Yaadon ki baaraat

And to wrap up this list that I never want to conclude, the romantic song of a complete generation of lovers. Is the magic because of Asha’s sultry rendition of the song or is it the way Mohd. Rafi jumps in mid way and just takes it to a whole another level or is it the composition by R.D.Burman or Majrooh saab’s lyrics? Is it the incredibly gorgeous Zeenat Aman who seals the deal? Or maybe, just maybe, everything came together in a package that will be remembered as a definitive love song for the ages.


I had a difficult time not including so many songs because I didn’t want this list to be never-ending. The point was to let you revel in romantic thoughts while listening to this small collection. There are so many more fabulous songs from the era that it deserves a new set every year.

Until then, have a great Valentine’s Day.

As always, the entire playlist (and many more songs) can be found here for your listening enjoyment.

The voices of devotion – Part 1

I recently started a Facebook group dedicated to Tamizh Isai (tamil music) where members post interesting Tamil songs based on a specific theme every day. A few weeks ago, the theme was devotional music. That got me thinking. Some voices and artists are just brilliant as devotional singers. It is almost as if they were placed in this Earth to eloquently deliver God’s music. A few of these are equally adept at Carnatic music. Others not so much. But the thread that connects them is the sheer devotion their voices inspire in listeners. Here is the first of a two part series that looks at the small list of such artists with a sampling of their music. This is by no means a comprehensive list nor is it objective. If you the reader feels that more artists need to be featured here, feel free to drop me a line and I will do my best to profile them too. Music by nature is subjective and a topic like this is even more so. With that minor caveat, here we go.

M.S.Subbulakshmi:

Any devotional list has to start with MS amma. Many of us woke up to her Venkatesa Suprabhatam or Vishnu Sahasranamam and heard Bhaja Govindam following one or both of them. It was the staple morning piece in most houses in our neighborhood. If someone kept track of how many tapes of the Sahasranamam and Suprabhatam were sold, I am sure it would warrant a place in the record books. Many artists have tried to release tapes of  the aforementioned shlokas but M.S.S voice is the only one lodged firmly in our brains.

When it came to Bhajans, M.S amma was extraordinary. There are innumerable bhajan pieces – compositions of Tulsidas, Meera, and many others where her utter devotion elevated the listener’s experience. Some of the pieces that come to mind are Sri Rangapura Vihara in Brindavana Saranga, Annamacharya’s Dolayam and Srimannarayana, Meera Bai’s Giridhara Gopala in Mohanam, Meera Bai’s  More To Giridhara in Behaag, the spectacular Hari Tum Haro composed by Meera in Darbari Kanada, Rajaji’s tamil composition Kurai Ondrum Illai, Tulsi Das’s Shri Ramachandra Kripalu in Sindhu Bhairavi and Shri Kanchi Periyavar’s Maitreem Bhajata. There are countless others but this small list gives you an idea of the breadth of composers M.S amma covered.

M.L.Vasanthakumari

It would be unfair to compare MLV with MSS and there is a good reason for it. They were both incomparable peers who pioneered the way for classical music singing by women in the mid 20th century along with D.K.Pattammal. It can be argued that MLV had a wider carnatic repertoire compared to MSS amma but that doesnt take away the fact that MLV also did wonders with some devotional pieces. On top of that list is MLV’s definitive rendition of Sri Andal’s Thiruppavai. There is a Thiruppavai version by everybody today but none so that matches MLV’s version. Ariyakudi’s version is more elaborate and is less devotional and more carnatic music. MLV makes it more accessible to the common man and it is a joy to hear. It is my go-to version every Margazhi. Listen to the entire album here

She also had a wide repertoire of Purandaradasar Krithis and some of them standout for the depth and devotion they offer. Here is MLV singing the Dasar krithi “Venkatachala Nilayam” in Sindhu Bhairavi. Here is MLV using the same wondrous Sindhu Bhairavi on a Swathi Thirunal composition, “Vishweshwar Darshan Kar”. 

Here is a song on Murugan in Behag that a much older MLV sings with a young Sudha. And then there were the movies. MLV was the voice du jour for all the wonderful dance pieces in old tamil movies. They were steeped in Carnatic ethos with the lyrics praising the glory of the Gods. 

K.J.Yesudas:

K.J.Yesudas is best known for his contributions to Malayalam and Tamil cinema but his devotional songs should very much be a part of any conversation of great devotional singers. While he made his chops with Hindu and Christian religious music, his collection for Lord Ayyappa are quite special. And it all starts with “Harivarasanam”.

Harivarasanam is probably the most heard and most loved Ayyappan song and Yesudas’s voice is inextricably linked to it. I have heard a few other versions of the song but nothing comes even close. Here is another piece from the 1972 movie Chembaruthi – Saranamayyappa worth a good listen. Yesudas has sung a lot of Lord Ayyappa’s songs over the years and I remember hearing them every November and December as friends prepared to go to Sabarimala. The devotional fervor whipped up in the evenings at Ayyappan Puja Sangham in Coimbatore is something I will remember all my life. 

Outside of Ayyappan songs, KJY did very well with popular devotional songs in Sanskrit, Tamil and Malayalam. Here is a beautiful rendition of Venkata Kavi’s “Swagatham Krishna”. Youtube offers very many devotional songs of Yesudas that have moved devotees over the decades.

Mohd. Rafi

Here is my outside pick for voices of devotion. If you are a fan of Rafi saab, you know why he is here. We live in a world torn by religious conflict. But music has no barriers, no boundaries. A.R.Rahman is an excellent example of that. ARR has composed some wonderful Bhajans in the last few years. But Rafi saab was the first in that list to make music universal. And his bhajans are a testimony. Here is my small pick of Rafi songs that deliver a devotional punch unlike any other. 

1. Man Tarpat Hari dhar – Baiju Bawra. This song will move you. You have my word for it. The Malkauns/Hindolam is gorgeous and Rafi’s voice just wafts like a breeze at the temple. I am transported. Simple as that. And if you wanted more secularism in music- this gorgeous Hari bhajan was written by Shakeel Badayuni and set to tune by Naushad saab. 

2. O Duniya ke Rakhwale – Baiju Bawra. Another classic piece composed by Naushad for the same movie and Rafi saab makes you feel every word of it. The Darbari Kanada is phenomenal and the song makes a strong impact.

3. Madhuban mein radhika – Kohinoor. What a song. The listener is transported to Brindavan on Rafi saab’s voice, Naushad saab’s tune and the wonderful lyrics of Shakeel saab. The song is set in Hameer and how lovely it sounds 53 years later. 

4. Badi der bhai nanda lala– Khandaan. Rafi saab does this Krishna bhajan beautifully.

5. Mujhe Apni Sharan – Tulsidas. Rafi again does a wonderful rendering of this Ram bhajan set to tune by Chandragupt. 

I have a different set of artists lined up for the next part of this musical journey on the voices that inspire devotion in us. Until then, enjoy the wonderful songs in this post and here is the public Youtube playlist with most of the songs

Isayil Thodangudhamma

Yes, it all starts with music. I grew up with music around me, all the time. I wanted to make sure my son would get the same treatment. I was willing to be flexible with the kind of music he wanted to hear- and let the gene pool do the rest. Thankfully, the boy does have a ear for good music.

We experimented with all kinds of music to see what worked for him- ranging from “Maitreem” by M.S.S to “Bhogindra Sayinam” by T.M.K and from “Rakkamma Kaiya Thattu” by Ilayaraja to “Tarif Karoon Kya Uski” by Mohd. Rafi. And the toddler boy has lapped up most of the music he has been offered- quickly with some and taking his time with others. But here was the interesting part- contrary to my preconceived notion of kids taking to fast paced and beats oriented music, the boy took more to Mohd.Rafi and Kishore Kumar. And this fills my heart with a sense of joy, hitherto unknown. 

Why is this important, you may ask?. I grew up listening to the voice of Rafi saab, Kishoreda, Lata and Asha. When we weren’t doing that, it was MDR, SSI, DKJ and MSS. The music still echoes in my ears. I continue to listen to them almost everyday. And this is why it matters that my son appreciates similar music. It makes for a bonding experience over music that reminds of my own childhood with my parents and subsequently with my brother. The ties of music bind a family wonderfully well. And if the music interests are alike, it makes for some wonderful drives and pleasant listening sessions at home. 

Are we having such long hours of musical bliss together- not yet. But we are able to appreciate songs together for 20-30 minutes at a stretch and that is a start- one that fills me with a lot of hope for the coming years.

And to the doyens of music who have been instrumental in this- thank you. 

P.S. The title of the post refers to an excellent song in Hey Ram, composed by the inimitable Ilayaraja. See and listen to the song here. It is worth your time.

The train song

My 3 yr old loves trains. It started with Thomas the Tank Engine and has morphed into an obsession with all things trains. I had shown him “Chaiyya Chaiyya” a long time ago and he remember itso well that it has become his new go to song. For the last three months, we have listened to the song in the car, again and again and again. In the quest to expand his playlist and make the car drive more pleasant for us, I took it upon myself to introduce new songs that have a train theme to it.

Here is what I came up with. Maybe some of you can help me add more to this list and thus save us!

1. Chaiyya Chaiyya – Composer: A.R.Rahman, Movie: Dil Se – best train song, period.

2. Mere Sapnon Ki Rani – Composer: S.D.Burman, Movie: Aradhana – I grew up loving this evergreen classic.

3. Chikku bukku Raile – Composer: A.R.Rahman, Movie: Gentleman – This was a rage when it came out. Continues to be a fun listen.

4. Main hoon jhumroo– Composer: Kishore Kumar, Movie: Jhumroo – Kishoreda weaves magic with his own composition. The yodeling in this song is pure gold.

5. Hum dono do premi– Composer: R.D.Burman, Movie: Ajnabee – A R.D hit piece with Rajesh Khanna and Zeenat Aman frolicking on top of the train. This is one of those songs where the innocence of the kid kinda helps if you know what I mean 🙂

6. Hoga Tumse Pyaara Kaun– Composer: R.D.Burman, Movie: Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai. Pamchamda gives this youthful movie some bubbly music. This song on top of a train (canned in the studio of course) is a favorite. Of course, there is a different song that earns bigger raves in this movie.

7. Hai Apna Dil To Awara– Composer: S.D.Burman , Movie: Solva Saal. A debonair Dev Anand and a gorgeous Waheeda Rehman elevate an awesome Hemant’da song to an even higher level. What a wonderful piece.

8. Jiya o jiya– Composer: Shankar-Jaikishan , Movie: Jab Pyaar Kisi se hota hai. Another Dev Anand classic. This time with Asha Parekh. Rafi shines like a star in this one.

Thanks to a google search, I found some interesting and wonderful Hindi songs from the golden era to pad up my list (songs 4-8)[link1][link2].

I introduced the full set a week ago and the the little guy fell hook line and sinker. Isn’t music wonderful?. Now we have lots more music to listen to in the car and introduce the voices of Hemant’da, Kishore Kumar and Mohd.Rafi to a whole new generation.