Rafisaab has sung so many songs that epitomise various moods, from rakishness to romance, sadness to spirituality and everything in between. This was an unmatched ability to bring in every conceivable mood into his unique voice. His voice was unfortunately exploited by composers who just wanted to make a quick buck out of a saleable brand. This led to a proliferation of Rafisaab songs with little attention to the quality.
He did leave us a large number of utterly unforgettable numbers, though.
None better to show a dreamy romanticism than this song from Kala Bazar, with Devsaab and Wahida Rehman in the lead. Devsaab, the quintessential patron saint of all wannabe romeos, starts in the movie as a bus conductor who gets fired for being argumentative, gets reduced to being a hungry and uneducated person with an ailing mother (Leela Chitnis in her patented role, its tough to imagine her as the romantic leading lady with Ashok Kumar), then changes to a black-marketer selling Mother India tickets to a gang leader who beats up his rival Madan Puri (and later employs him in his own gang), falls in love with a lady who is going steady with a guy who is headed for England for his higher studies (a recurrent theme in Bollywood movies those days, with everyone from Arts graduates, Lawyers and Doctors invariably headed for “Vilayat” for their higher education) and smitten by the love for a woman with a strong sense of right and wrong, reforms to face a court trial. His former gang members now come and testify for him and he is absolved and freed to romancer the lady love of his life.
Sachin Dev Burman, Dev Anand, Waheeda Rehman and Shailendra together again… are irresistibly romantic in this number too.
Vijay Anand shot the songs with Devsaab in a giddy state of lovelorn euphoria running across a meadow in the throes of love. How can a man run at that speed sing so beautifully without getting breathless? When you are Dev Anand you can do anything.
When you have Rafisaab singing for you, you can scale the moon.
This is a rare Navketan movie (the only one actually) which stars all three Anand Brothers. Vijay Anand wrote the script and directed the movie, his second after Nau Do Gyarah. He also acts the role of the man Waheeda Rehman is going steady with before he goes abroad. Dev Anand romances her on the train and in Ooty with songs like these. Waheeda looks sublime and elegant oozing charm and grace as she did in movies made in this period. Many of Dev Anand’s mannerisms including his rag doll impersonation are on view.
Chetan Anand is the lawyer whose pocket is picked by Dev Anand at the very beginning (to bankroll his ticket blackmarketing business) and who later defends Devsaab in the court case (and gets him out of the cooler too). Sublime music by S D Burmanda, and great lyrics by Shailendra and great, incomparable vocals by Rafisaab give the right dreamy and romantic feel. Remember there was no echo effect that could be introduced by electronic circuitry that time. The modulation and effects were achieved by changes in the volume and distance from the microphone. Human ingenuity topping the ease of technology. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbS9jAPl3xU
Vijay Anand also very intelligently incorporated the real-life premiere footage of the film Mother India in the initial reels of Kala Bazar, to launch Dev Anand’s career as a ticket black-marketer with his sidekick Kanu (Rashid Khan, a constant in a number of Devsaab and Gurudutt movies) thereby adding immense (cameo) star value to the film, showing the likes of Dilip Kumar, Geeta Dutt, Guru Dutt, Kishore Kumar, Raaj Kumar, Rajendra Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Sohrab Modi, Mohammed Rafi, Nargis, Nadira and Nimmi. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvyUL7rFL6E
Interesting to see Jagdish Raj the man who acted the greatest number of times in a single role (Police Inspector) is seen as a small time criminal in this sequence.
Although the movie was digitally colorised later and rereleased, I feel the beauty is in the original monochrome movie. The charm is distinctly lacking in the colorised version. Rafisaab’s voice could thankfully not be tinkered with and remained unsullied and pristine.
Have a great Sunday, folks, stay happy…. Stay safe.. Beat the second surge of the Wuhan Virus with the three W’s