Rajesh Khanna – The first superstar of Indian cinema started off his Bollywood career in 1966. Though Raaz (1967) was his first signed film, Aakhri Khat got released in 1966. He was only 5 films old (excluding one special appearance) when he was named as ‘First Superstar of Indian Cinema’ by film critics and media in 1969 soon after the release of Aradhana – the movie which changed the destiny of Khanna, Kishore Kumar and of course, the course of journey of Bollywood film industry too. Among those 5 releases in four years before Aradhana happened, only three had Khanna as solo hero, he played guest role in Shrimanji and supporting role in Aurat. Though voices of Mohammed Rafi, Manna Dey and Mukesh were alternately used in his early releases, Kishore Kumar became Khanna’s trademark voice since the release of Aradhana. In fact, Aradhana was the first movie for which Kishore Kumar rendered his voice for Rajesh Khanna. Quite surprising but true!
Rafi was the most sought male voice of Bollywood in the 1950s and 1960s followed by Mukesh, and both these doyens of Indian film music sang the lion share of songs in both these decades. With the release of Aradhana, Kishore became the leading male voice of Bollywood. It was for the first time since mid-1950s, a new brand voice emerged in Bollywood who sang for lead heroes, mostly romantic songs. Though Rafi lost his supreme power in Bollywood music by early 1970s so unexpected, he gave some significant contributions to Bollywood music industry in the 1970s till his death.
Though Kishore Kumar’s voice was first preferred by R. D for Khanna’s voice, he used Rafi’s voice for chartbuster songs like Gulabi Aakhein for The Train. In fact Rafi’s voice was used by Burman Da for both the songs featuring Rajesh Khanna – Ne Soniye and Julabi Aakhein of the same film. There are several instances where Rafi and Mukesh’s voices matched perfectly with Khanna’s mannerisms. Read more to know Mukesh’s songs for Rajesh Khanna
Top solos of Mohammed Rafi for Rajesh Khanna
Aur Kuch Der Thahar from Aakri Khat – First hit song of Rajesh Khanna
In the glorious era of Rafi in the 1960s, he rendered his voice for Khanna’s first release – Aakhri Khat. Music composed by Khayyam had 5 tracks and Rafi sang the solo romantic track – Aur Kuchh Der Thahar. This evergreen track also featured Indrani Mukherji aside Rajesh Khanna. Raaz – Khanna’s second film was his first colour release. The movie included two Rafi songs – Sochta Hoon Ke Tumhe Maine (a duet with Lata Mangeshkar) and haunting Akele Hain Chale Aao. Akele Hain Chale Aao composed by Kalyanji-Anandji can be regarded as the first top chartbuster song of Rajesh Khanna. Since then how many memorable songs have been born in Bollywood featuring Rajesh Khanna! Also read: Top 10 films of Rajesh Khanna
Rafi’s voice was used by R. D. Burman to record the emotional track – Zamane Ne Maare Jawan for Baharon Ke Sapne, one of the best early works of the composer. In fact it’s not a hidden truth, R. D used Kishore’s voice to record a couple of songs of Aradhana, which were originally reserved for Rafi by his father. But he preferred Rafi’s voice to record both the songs of The Train featuring Rajesh Khanna. The solo track – Ghulabi Aakhen and the duet Ne Soniye were popular. He recorded the solo track – Ho Tere Atharoo Chun Levaan Main for the movie, Shehzada, though four songs were recorded in Kishore Kumar’s voice.
Yeh Reshmi Zulfen – This solo romantic track still stays in millions of hearts
Laxmikant Pyarelal recorded the popular romantic solo track – Yeh Reshmi Zulfen for the super hit film Do Raaste in 1969, when Kishore had already became the trademark voice of Rajesh Khanna. The song became extremely popular. They also recorded the popular duet – Chup Gaye Saare Nazaare for the movie. Since then he has recorded many popular solos and duets with Rafi for Rajesh Khanna movies. Nafrat Ki Duniya Ko Chhod Ke from Haathi Mere Saathi and Koi Nazrana Lekar Aaya Hu from Aan Milo Sajna are a few more.Yet similar to Pancham Da, Laxmikant Pyarelal too preferred Kishore Kumar’s voice for their later works for Khanna movies.
Rafi’s maximum duets with Asha, but less for Khanna movies
Gun Guna Rahe Hain from Aradhana – The first hit of Khanna-Rafi-Asha combination
“Shola Ulfat Ka” for 1967 movie – Aurat featuring Rajesh Khanna and Nazima was the first duet for this combination. But this song went unnoticed. The first hit duet of this jodi was Gun Guna Rahe Hai Bhanvare composed by S. D. Burman for Aradhana. The songs played a significant role in establishing Rajesh Khanna as the first superstar of Bollywood, and also the hit pair – Rajesh Khanna-Sharmila Tagore. Also read Top 15 songs of Asha Bhosle
. Same year they sang the popular duet – Sajna Sath Nibhana for the movie Doli. Babita was seen romancing Prem Chopra in this song. The movie also included a solo track of Rafi – Danto Tale Daba Kar Honth. They got only less combination songs for Rajesh Khanna. They sang the song – Ye Gotedar Lehenga for Dharamkanta after a long break, the movie released after Rafi’s death. The song was composed by Naushad.
Baagom Mein Bahaar Hai – The first recorded duet of Rafi & Lata for a Khanna movie
S. D. Burman recorded two duets with Rafi for the movie Aradhana before he became ill and handed over the work to his son. S. D is credited to recording Baagom Mein Bahaar Hai – the first duet of Mohammed Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar for a song featuring Rajesh Khanna. The song also featured Farida Jalal as Rajesh Khanna’s love interest. He also recorded Gun Guna Rahe Hai Bhanvare for movie, the first hit duet of Rafi & Lata featuring Rajesh Khanna.
Baahon Mein Bahaar Hai – The first recorded song of Rajesh Khanna-Rafi-Lata Combination
Do Raaste became a huge hit after Aradhana, and the movie included an evergreen romantic track – Chup Gaye Saare Nazaare sung by Lata and Rafi. Ne Soniye of The Train, Yunhi Tum Mujhse Baat Karti Ho of Sacha Jhoota, Itna To Yaad Hai Mujhe of Mehboob Ki Mehndi, Kaheko Bulaya Mujhe of Humshakal etc are a few more.
Though several composers have made Mohd Rafi sung for Rajesh Khanna in the late 1960s and first half of 1970s, R. D. Burman composed almost all his films in 1970s except Baharon Ke Sapne. Rafi sang around 15 solos and 15 duets for Khanna. Thus the total count of this combination is around 30. Most of the songs met with success as well. Yet the charm of Rafi songs for Khanna was overridden by those countless songs sung by Kishore for Khanna, mostly composed by R. D. Burman, followed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal. When a small drift occurred between Rajesh Khanna and Pancham Da in the late 1970s, Laxmikanth-Pyarelal filled the gap. In most these cases, Kishore Kumar became the voice of Rajesh Khanna in the 1970s, similar to Mukesh’s voice for Raj Kapoor in the 1950s and 1960s and Mohammed Rafi’s voice for Shammi Kapoor in the 1960s. Read top solo tracks of Rafi for Shammi.
Before I conclude I would like to list top 10 songs of Rajesh Khanna – Mohd Rafi combination.
1. Gunguna Rahe Hain – Aradhana
2. Baagom Mein Bahar Hai – Aradhana
3. Yeh Reshmi Zulfein – Do Raaste
4. Yunhi Tum Mujhse Baat Karti Ho – Sacha Jhoota
5. Akele Hain Chale Aao – Raaz
6. Gulabi Aakhein – The Train
7. Chup Gaye Saare Nazare – Do Raste
8. Aur Kuchh Der Thahar – Aakhri Khat
9. Itna To Yaad Hai Mujhe – Mehmood Ki Mehndi
10. Nafrat Ki Duniya Ko Chhod Ke – Haathi Mere Saathi
It’s pretty clear music composers of yesterdays have less used this amazing combination which gave some extremely romantic popular songs like Gulabi Aakhein, Yeh Reshmi Zulfein, Gunguna Rahe Hain etc. Unfortunately an era of highly demanding Kishore-Khanna songs couldn’t foresee the popularity of Rafi-Khanna songs received over the years. Only we have a few music gems we can cherish forever, and let us hold them close to our hearts.
Read a few more topics on Rajesh Khanna, the charismatic hero and the first super star of Indian cinema