The interesting history behind Mohammed Rafi’s re-creations

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Sunny Deol, Dharmendra and Bobby Deol all enacted the iconic Main jat yamla song in Yamla Pagla Deewana. photo: Trailer Video Grab

Mohammed Rafi, who passed away 42 years ago in July 31, remains the most recorded male playback singer in Hindi cinema. Ever since he left this world, a plethora of voices—Anwar, Shabbir Kumar, Mohammed Aziz and Sonu Nigam leading the list—have earned their living and given chartbusters by emulating his singing style because of their vocal resemblances.

Udit Narayan, another frontline singer, has openly admitted to following Rafi’s footsteps in terms of singing style despite having a different and distinct voice. Javed Ali, Jaspal Singh, Debashish Dasgupta, Vipin Sachdeva, Gurcharan, Mangal Singh and even big names like Roopkumar Rathod and Sukhwinder Singh have followed on the Rafi terrain for decades after his death. And there have been umpteen Rafi sound-alikes in every stage orchestra worth its name.

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But there is another piquant shade to everlasting fame nowadays, and that is songs that are re-created and used in new films. It is here that Rafi has 10 of his stunners under four different composing entities re-done, each with a different history behind them. And it is this unique facet of Mohammed Rafi, Hindi cinema’s finest and most revered singer (who has sung for artistes from Prithviraj Kapoor to Raj Babbar and even for Govinda and Kishore Kumar!) that I will focus on.

Aaj mausam beimaan hai (Music: Laxmikant-Pyarelal  Lyrics: Anand Bakshi)

This Rafi classic for Dharmendra from the 1973 Loafer was taken in toto for Mira Nair’s 2001 crossover hit, Monsoon Wedding and filmed as a background number on the then-unknown Vijay Raaz, shown as a lovelorn wedding caterer. The song was used with permission from copyright holders Saregama (as HMV is known now).

Main jat yamla pagla deewana (Laxmikant-Pyarelal / Anand Bakshi)

This iconic 1975 Dharmendra hit was to be used by the three Deols in their 2011 home production Yamla Pagla Deewana. But because the music rights for the new film were with T-Series and not with the original’s rights holders Saregama, the song had to be re-created by Sonu Nigam under the baton of RDB, who added his own two-bits of “creativity”. Of course, license had to be taken from Saregama again, and for the first time ever in a re-creation, the original music directors and lyricist got top billing over the other names in the film’s music inlays and hoardings.

The original Main jat yamla song from Pratiggya. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

Dard-e-dil (Laxmikant-Pyarelal / Anand Bakshi)

This song was not re-created, but composer-singer-turned-leading man Himesh Reshammiya was seen reciting the mukhda of this 1980 all-timer in his acting debut film, Aap Ka Surroor (2007). Himesh, quite frequently, has declared that his inspirations are L-P (and Shankar-Jaikishan) and this was an open tribute to their genius.

Taiyab Ali pyar ka dushmun (Laxmikant-Pyarelal / Anand Bakshi)

This 1977 Amar Akbar Anthony super-hit was filmed on Imran Khan and Sonakshi Sinha in Milan Luthria’s Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai Dobaara. It was sung by Javed Ali with modified words in the antara. The music was by Pritam, then reeling under the allegations of being a habitual copycat. So the song was credited to Anupam Amod, Pritam’s assistant, as well as L-P!

Khoya khoya chand (S.D. Burman / Shailendra)

This 1960 Kala Bazar and Dev Anand gem was literally marauded and murdered in the deviant 2015 film Shaitan. It was…Er…’re-created’  by Mikey McCleary and ..Um…Aah!…‘rendered’ by Suman Sridhar. Yes! Not deterred by its meaningful and poetic lyrics and their meaning, the song underwent a sex-change, and the atrocious singing as well as situation (the main characters are running from the cops instead of the intense romantic mood of the original!) did the rest. Ouch!

O haseena zulfon wali, Yaadon ki baraat &Tum bin jaoon kahaan  (R.D. Burman / Majrooh)

These three R.D. Burman classics, the first a Rafi-Asha duet from Teesri Manzil, the second a Rafi-Kishore duet from Yaadon Ki Baraat, and the third a lovely solo from Pyar Ka Mausam (all coincidentally movies made by hit filmmaker Nasir Husain), found their way as three of the 14 re-creations that made up the complete score of the 2002 potboiler, Dil Vil Pyar Vyar, directed by Ananth Narayan Mahadevan.

This re-creation “pioneer” of a film (billed as a “retro-musical”) incredibly had these lovelies sung, minus any change in lyrics and in totally incongruous situations, by Abhijeet with Sunidhi Chauhan, Kumar Sanu alone for the all-male duet, and Hariharan respectively. The spurious “novelty” never caught on. The music was credited to Babloo Chakravorty, who had been one of R.D.’s musicians and arrangers.

Badan pe sitare (Shankar-Jaikishan / Hasrat Jaipuri)

The Shammi Kapoor chartbuster from the 1969 Prince was tepidly re-created in the 2018 Anil Kapoor flop. With a cosmetic change in the lyrics at a point or two and a flat metamorphosis of a forceful composition into a dullish track recorded with ridiculous musical and vocal “improvisations” from Sonu Nigam, the re-creation was credited to Amit Trivedi.

O meri mehbooba (Laxmikant-Pyarelal / Anand Bakshi)

The third Dharmendra mega-hit, this time from the 1977 Dharam-Veer, was used with a difference: technology was harnessed to re-create the song in part in Fukrey 2 (2017). Neha Kakkar, Raftaar and Yasser Desai sang this Kumaar-written, Prem-Hardeep creation, titled simply as Mehbooba. Samples of the original song’s mukhda and a musical riff in the end were blended at crucial points in this new party song, with Rafi sitting vocally pat on Pulkit Samrat!

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