Remembering the legendary duo-Dilip Kumar and Mohammed Rafi

Naveen Zalpuri-

Naveen Zalpuri

Dilip Kumar, widely regarded as the finest Indian actor, passed away on July 7th exactly forty-one summers after his singing voice Mohammed Rafi, India’s greatest playback singer left his mortal frame on July 31st,1980. Coincidently both these legends shared their birth months too, Dilip Kumar (Mohammed Yusuf Khan) two years older, was born on December 11th, 1922, and Rafi on Dec 24, 1924. Their journey in Hindi Films started around the same time in the mid-forties.

Dilip Kumar’s first major success came with Jugnu, a 1947 movie opposite singing star Noorjehan. Jugnu also marked the first time Rafi sang for Dilip Kumar in a duet “Yahan Badla Wafa Ka Bewafai ” with Noorjehan. Interestingly in Jugnu, Rafi also did a cameo sharing screen space with Dilip Kumar in one of his songs “Woh Apni Yaad Dilane Ko ”. Thus began a very long and successful association of these legends that proved to be one of the best actor-singer partnerships Hindi Filmdom knows of. This article gives a glimpse into the collaboration of this illustrious pair right from their first song in Jugnu to their swan song in 1981 blockbuster Kranti that released after Rafi Sahab’s demise.

  1. The First Song “Yahan Badla Wafa ka Bewafai”

Following Jugnu came another superhit Shaheed in 1948 with a patriotic chartbuster “Watan ki Raah Mein watan ke Naujawan Shaheed Ho ”. This song is one of earliest patriotic songs in films setting a precedent for many such songs that followed over the decades.

  1. The Patriotic song from Shaheed, a 1948 movie

In the forties decade Rafi was one of the two prominent playback voices for Dilip Kumar, the other singer that sang for Kumar was legendary Mukesh. Mukesh sang some notable hits for Dilip Kumar in the 1948 movie Mela and in Andaz, a 1949 Nargis-Raj Kapoor-Dilip Kumar film. In Andaz, Mukesh sang for Dilip Kumar while Rafi sang for Raj Kapoor.

The first Indian movie in technicolor the 1952 blockbuster Aan had slew of Rafi hits for Dilip Kumar, these songs were first recorded in Hemant Kumar’s voice by composer Naushad Ali, however movie distributors insisted on Rafi to be the playback voice for Dilip Kumar for this landmark movie.

  1. Song from 1952s Aan “Maan Mere Ehsan Are Naadan”

In the first half of the fifties decade, it was primarily Talat Mahmood and Rafi who established themselves as the singing voices for Dilip Kumar. Talat sung many ghazals for Dilip Kumar in movies Sangdil, Daag, Footpath, Babul while Rafi rendered hits in Deedar, Amar, Udan Khatola among others during that time. Talat’s collaboration with Dilip Kumar ended after Devdas in 1955, while Rafi continued as Kumar’s permanent voice till the former’s untimely demise in 1980.

  1. O P Nayyar composed song from 1957 film Naya Daur “Uday Jab Jab Zulfei Teri”

In 1958 movies Madhumati and Yahudi , Mukesh sang some superhit melodies for Dilip Kumar for the last time. Rafi’s only song in Madhumati lip-synced by Dilip Kumar “Toote Huve Khwabon Mein ” became a big hit.

Onset of the sixties decade saw many important Dilip Kumar films such as Mughal-e-Azam, Kohinoor. In Kohinoor, Dilip Kumar learned to play “sitar” for months in order to enact the Rafi sung classical Bhajan “Madhuban Mein Radhika Nache” perfectly onscreen showcasing his commitment to perfection.

  1. Madhuban Mein Radhika from Kohinoor, 1960.


In 1961, Dilip Kumar went on to produce Ganga Jamuna with his real life brother Nasir Khan as one of the leads. Ganga Jamuna besides becoming a huge hit won him various national and international accolades. The song from the movie “Naina Lad Jaye haee” depicts the perfect harmony between Rafi’s voice and Kumar’s acting. This song perhaps became the signature song of the duo.

  1. “Nain Lad Jaye Hae” song in a Bhojpuri dialect from Ganga Jamuna, 1961

The decade of sixties continued to see Dilip Kumar lip-syncing several Rafi melodies composed by Naushad Ali, and written by Shakeel Badayuni. The body of their work included some of the best folk songs, ghazals, patriotic songs, romantic songs, bhajans in movies such as Leader, Ram Aur Shyam, Dil Diya Dard Liya, Aadmi, Sangarsh.

  1. “Aaj Ki Raat Mere Dil Ki” from Ram Aur Shyam, 1967

In the seventies, Dilip Kumar’s output declined. In the four major releases in this decade excluding the guest appearances in couple of other movies, Rafi gave voice to Dilip in a 1970 “hit” Gopi in a soulful bhajan “Sukh Ke Sab Saathi” and then in 1972 release B R Chopra’s Dastaan “Na Tu Zameen Ke Liye”

  1. “Na Tu Zameen Ke Liye” from Dastaan, 1972

His last movie as a typical Hindi Film hero was Bairaag, a 1976 release where he donned a triple role. Rafi sang several hit songs in Bairaag. Besides Rafi, Mahender Kapoor’s voice was also used for Dilip Kumar in these aforementioned movies.

  1. Sare Shaher Mein Aapsa Koi Nahi” from Bairaag, 1976

The only Dilip Kumar films that missed a Rafi song from 1957 through 1980 were Musafir in 1957 where Kumar himself sang a duet with Lata Mangeshkar “Laagi Nahi Chhute Rama” and in Sagina, a 1974 flick where Kishore Kumar became his playback voice. Sagina was a remake of Sagina Mahato, a Bengali movie that Dilip Kumar acted in 1970.

Dilip Kumar took a hiatus of five years from films to make a magnificent comeback in a pivotal role in Manoj Kumar’s magnum opus Kranti, 1981. Kranti had Rafi-Dilip Kumar swan song.

  1. “Mera Chana Hai Apni Marzi Ka” from Kranti, 1981

Dilip Kumar continued to appear in central roles in landmark movies of the eighties decade such as Shakti, Karma, Meri Jung, Mashal all the way to Saudagar 1991 where singers in Rafi mold such as Anwar, Mahindra Kapoor and Mohammed Aziz were often recruited to sing for him.

In his entire career, the tragedy king, the thespian Dilip Kumar, perhaps “the first perfectionist” in the Hindi films, did fewer than 65 movies, most of his films not only were huge box office successes but drew critical acclaim noted for his acting and inspired generation of actors to follow the craft. And in most of these movies, his constant companion was the golden voice of Rafi Sahab that ably supported him in their nearly 77 collaborations which happen to be among the finest in the annals of the Hindi Film song.