Kaif Irfani – A Forgotten name

The situation today is really very challenging, more so for we, doctors. We are continuously working under stressful situations, and we are taking our duties very sincerely and caring for the patients. We doctors work continuously for 6 hours in a PPE kit wearing N 95 masks. We are supposed to take every possible precaution to prevent the spread of covid. Can’t we expect the same from the society? Isn’t it a duty of a responsible citizen to abide strictly to the precautions of covid like proper use of sanitizer, social distancing and wearing a mask? If we all follow it strictly, wouldn’t we be in a safer situation? Sometimes I do struggle with these thoughts. Anyways, let’s move on to today’s topic!

Today I’m presenting a lesser known lyricist (or even unknown to some of the readers), Kaif Irfani. I’m sure, it won’t ring a bell for many of you. Nothing is known about his personal life, where he came from etc. But he was active in the 50s and 60s as a lyricist in the Hindi film industry. While he has written very meaningful and magnificent songs, he only occasionally wrote for popular banners or popular composers. So he was never in the limelight, and many of his songs remained in the dark. Thanks to the YouTube up-loaders, who brought many of his songs to the light. I’m sure at least some of the songs on the list would be well known, but as usual we don’t connect those songs to a particular lyricist. And as I always say, very few of the listeners care for a lyricist.

collagw kaif Irfani

Nothing is known about his birth date or whether he is still alive or not. I couldn’t get his photo also. Sometimes, people have confused him with Kaif Bhopali, who I think, was a different person. He suddenly vanished in the 60s, never to be heard again. He penned songs for around 50 films. In the early 50s, some of his songs attained popularity, otherwise many of his songs got neglected or couldn’t reach the masses and were never talked about. He otherwise wrote for Anil Biswas, Roshan, Husnalal Bhagatram, Madan Mohan, Vinod etc. But barring a few films, his songs never became popular. The songs are now appreciated, but it’s too late. I particularly feel that he was at his best writing songs of pathos. Majority of his songs belong to the sad category and his imagery is very impressive in these songs. He of course also wrote romantic and lighthearted songs, but their number is small in comparison. So you will find more songs of sorrow on today’s list. When it comes to choosing songs for a lyricist’s list, I always tend to choose sad songs as we find some of the best metaphors or similes or unconventional ideation in such songs. After going through the list, I’m sure you will agree with me.

So let’s start the journey.

In 1949, he wrote for Husnalal Bhagatram. It was for the movie, Naach, which was most probably his first Hindi film as a lyricist. He penned three songs, including a couple of solos by Suraiya and a duet by Rafi and Suraiya.
Let’s start with one of his songs from Naach.

Tere Gham Ke Sahare – Naach (1949) Suraiya / Music – Husnalal Bhagatram
A song full of pathos. Suraiya did sing a lot of sad songs in her entire career. At least those will outnumber the ones in a happy or romantic mood. Anyways, the song has good lyrics, especially the first verse. The concept of life trying to stitch the wounds of the mind is something that I heard for the first time.
मेरे सीने पे ऐसे तीर छोड़े हैं ज़माने ने,
के दिल के जख्म अब तक सी रही हैं जिंदगी मेरी

The same year saw him writing again for Husnalal Bhagatram. The movie was Jal Tarang.

Zara Tum Ne Dekha – Jal Tarang (1949) Lata Mangeshkar & Rafi / Music – Husnalal Bhagatram
A very sweet and very popular song from the movie. It’s full of freshness. It’s not a lyrically great song, though I’m very much fond of it.

In 1951, a couple of films were released that initiated his association with two maestros. We will consider them one by one. Also he tasted success for the first time, but still he wasn’t among the first class lyricists, though he certainly deserved to be. He was one of the lyricists for Dilip Kumar, Madhubala starrer Tarana. He had a couple of songs to his credit, one solo each by Talat Mahmood and Lata Mangeshkar. The songs were set to tune by Anil Biswas and the soulful songs are still remembered for their lyrics.

Ek Main Hoon Ek Meri Bekasi – Tarana (1951) Talat Mahmood / Music – Anil Biswas
As I said earlier, most of his songs were full of pathos. Both the songs he wrote for the movie, Tarana were sad songs. This one’s a popular song of Talat Mahmood.
जली जो शाखें चमन, बागबान भी जला
जलाकर मेरे नशेमन को आसमां भी जला
He is alone, only his helpless empty evening accompanying him. Life without his beloved is like a curse to him. I think here the word इल्ज़ाम means कलंक or लांछन than दोष.

After a long gap, Kaif Irfani again penned songs for Anil Biswas for the movie, Jasoos. The film however was never released. And I found such a light hearted song from the movie, no one would associate it with Kaif Irfani.

Yeh Hi Anjam Hum Jaison Ka – Jasoos (unreleased) Asha Bhosle & Manna Dey
/ Music – Anil Biswas
A fun song, perhaps it was a street performance. The story of a pickpocketer is depicted in a funny way. The tune is inspired by ‘Suno Suno Ae Duniya Walo Bapu Ki Amar Kahani’. I was used to Kaif Irfani’s sad songs, it was like a surprise to me. Very light hearted, fun song! Listen how easily Manna Dey rendered the funny song, equally well supported by Asha Bhosle.

Now, let’s discuss his second association. In 1951, his songs for the movie Malhar were also released and were very much appreciated. The movie however failed commercially. But it started his melodious association with Roshan. He penned three songs for Malhar, and I’m inclined to add a couple of songs. All the songs are sad ones. A solo each by Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh, with a duet between the two.

Mohabbat Ki Qismat Banane Se Pehle – Malhar (1951) Lata Mangeshkar / Music – Roshan
Again a sad song, very heart touching melody and lyrics. The lady dares to confront the almighty God to ask him whether he himself was disturbed to assign the misfortune to the loving couples. She thinks the twinkling stars laugh at her misfortune and that they represent God himself. Didn’t he himself cry before making fun of her situation? I haven’t come across similar lyrics (at least I don’t remember offhand) and concept before. So it touched me.

Dil Tujhe Diya Tha Rakhane Ko – Malhar (1951) Mukesh / Music – Roshan
I haven’t found an average song in Malhar. All songs are good and some are exceptionally well. I like this one a lot, except the onscreen couple, Arjun and Shammi. Shammi was very good in her later films, I know. But Arjun just can’t act. Anyways, enjoy the song.

Later, he also wrote songs for at least three movies for Roshan. The movie Raag Rang had 4 to 5 songs penned by him, whereas the movies, Aagosh and Sheesham had only one song each.

Dil e Beqarar Soja – Raag Rang (1952) Lata Mangeshkar & Talat Mahmood / Music – Roshan
Raag Rang was Geeta Bali’s home production. She also chose Kaif Irfani for the movie, he wrote the majority of the songs for it. While all the songs of the movie are wonderful, this one’s my most favourite. The hero is immersed in his sorrows, his eyes weep. He imagines as if the twinkling stars are heading to their destination, while he is tearful in his lost destination. The heroine on the other hand tries to pacify him with her reassuring words. The lyrics are good, so is the tune and so are the singer’s renditions. I would have loved to watch the video of this Ashok Kumar, Geeta Bali starrer movie song.

Banai Hai Itni Badi Jisne Duniya – Sheesham (1952) Lata Mangeshkar / Music – Roshan
Kaif Irfani seemed to be unhappy with God. He asks God if he was able to create the whole world, why couldn’t he mend a broken heart? If he could separate the two lovers, why couldn’t he reunite them?
सुना हैं के उसने सितारे बनाए
दिये सैकड़ों आसमां पर जलाएं
बुझा जो हमारा चराग़ ए तमन्ना
उसे ये दिया तो जलाना ना आया
He then compares his unfulfilled desires to an extinguished lamp and asks God if he ignited so many stars in the sky, why couldn’t he light his unfulfilled desires. Usually such songs are full of requests to the god, but here Kaif Irfani puts it directly, as if he questions the existence of God.

It’s worth noting that Malhar was produced by Mukesh himself and when he again ventured into production with the film, Anurag, he again signed Kaif Irfani as one of the lyricists where he teamed with Indeevar. Also Kaif Irfani wrote a couple of Non film songs (NFS), that were sung by Mukesh.

Kise Yaad Rakhoon – Auraag (1956) Mukesh / Music – Mukesh
Kaif Irfani shared this film with Indeevar as a lyricist. While the former got four songs, the latter wrote five. And I like all the songs written by Kaif Irfani. I chose the one which is very much popular. It’s one of the few songs with a single line mukhda, and it starts with antara. I’m curious about the dilemma the gentleman in the song faces! Is he talking about the two women in his life? (The film had two heroines, Usha Kiran and Mridula) Anyway the lyrics are good.

Jiyenge Magar Muskura Na Sakenge – NFS by Mukesh / Music – Murli Manohar Swarup
Very popular NFS by Mukesh. The gentleman has lost his love, he mourns it. He will continue living, but will not be able to smile ever. He has lost all the interest in his life. A well written song, sung with a subtle instrumental support and a befitting tune.

Do Zulmi Naina Hum Pe – NFS by Mukesh / Music – Mukesh
Though the song seems romantic on the face of it, it’s not. The heart broken lover is actually cursing himself for getting involved with the lady. There is a touch of repentance as well. His love story is left incomplete. Good lyrics and very simple composition by Mukesh himself.

Meanwhile, in 1953, his songs for the movie, Dhoon, under Madan Mohan‘s baton were released. He wrote four songs for the movie, all sung by Lata Mangeshkar. It was difficult to choose, but in the end I plumped for the better known one. Otherwise all the songs are worth mentioning in my opinion.

Badi Barbadiyan Lekar Meri Duniya Mein – Dhoon (1953) Lata Mangeshkar / Music – Madan Mohan
Another song dipped in great pathos. Love is expected to bring happiness and joy in one’s life. But the lady experienced only misfortunes after falling in love. Her dreams were shattered, happiness suffered, she bellowed with the agony. Lata Mangeshkar has sung with great expressions and it touches the soul.

While he wrote four songs for Dhoon, his contribution to the film, Chhote Babu was limited to just a single song! Nevertheless it’s one of the memorable songs by Talat Mahmood for Madan Mohan.

Do Din Ki Mohabbat Mein – Chhote Babu (1957) Talat Mahmood / Music – Madan Mohan
Did this man ever write happy songs?
ए दिल तू हमें तड़पाता था, ले हमने रुलाया हैं तुमको
ए दिल की लगी तू जलाती थी, ले हमने जलाया हैं तुझको
It sounds almost like a curse, that too for ownself. Kaif Irfani indeed had a different imagery.

But for the film, Sheroo, he wrote all the songs. Perhaps it was the only film where he had the opportunity to write all the songs. The film unfortunately didn’t do well and the majority of the songs were also forgotten.

O Mati Ke Putle – Sheroo (1957) Rafi / Music – Madan Mohan
Though we may not call it a Bhajan, it sounds like one. Here Kaif Irfani describes what God actually is! Man tries to find him everywhere, except in his own soul. God demands love, while man offers money to him. After coming across various songs by Irfani, I wasn’t certainly expecting a song like this! But he did write it well too.

Agar Teri Duniya Mein Yeh Gham Rahenge – Sheroo (1957) Rafi / Music – Madan Mohan
The song opens with the lines that somewhat fit in with today’s situation.

‘जिधर देखता हूॅं उधर हैं अंधेरे
सवेरा कहाँ हैं ओ भगवान मेरे’

If Irfani had been praising God in the song above, now he again demands clarification from God. In fact he warns God about his reputation. If the untoward circumstances don’t end soon, people would not have faith in God. Again I can’t remember offhand any song that addresses God in this way.

His association with Hemant Kumar was perhaps only for a couple of films, namely, Daku Ki Ladki (1954) and Laalten (1956). While the songs from the former would be perhaps more popular, I am going to highlight my favourite from the latter.

Agar Pyar Mein Muskuraye Na Hote – Laalten (1956) Geeta Dutt / Music – Hemant Kumar
A song of repentance, I would call it. Only if she wouldn’t have fallen in love…

Till now I’ve discussed Kaif Irfani’s association with popular composers. Let’s have a look at a few of his songs with the second and third rung composers.

In the late 1950s, he disappeared suddenly only to reappear in the 1960s. However, only three of his films were released in the 1960s, Diamond King (1961), Naqli Nawab (1962) and Awara Ladki (1967). The latter was perhaps his last Hindi film as a lyricist.

Pyar Ki Ye Talkhiyan – Sardar (1955) Lata Mangeshkar / Music – Jagmohan Sursagar
One of my great favourites. I had included it in one of the posts covering Lata’s association with lesser known composers. Though it’s the only film Jagmohan Sursagar composed for, the song’s sufficient to remember him forever.
दिल का क़रार लेके सनम तुम जो चल दिए
आज मेरे ग़म पे ये आँसू भी हंस दिए
Her sorrow is so deep, even tears now laugh at it. What a different thought! Also the rarely used word तल्ख़ियाॅं. It means unpleasant feelings or bitterness. I think it can be taken as the pain or discomfort due to separation from a beloved.

Ise Aur Na Lootiye Ye Dil Bahut Gharib Hai – Gul Sanobar (1953) Lata Mangeshkar / Music – Bulo C Rani
What can one say to destiny? We have to accept it, willingly or otherwise! I like a couple of songs from this movie, the mentioned one and Kai Aise Bhi Aansoo Hai.

Ae Ishq Mujhe Aur To Kuchh Yaad Nahi – Daana Pani (1953) Begum Akhtar / Music – Mohan Junior
An excellent ghazal, perfectly sung by Begum Akhtar. I otherwise haven’t heard of the film or the composer.

ये दिल की लगी हैं तो कोई ख़ाक जिएगा
अब नाम भी जीने का मुझे याद नहीं हैं

दुनिया को मुबारक हो ये आज़ाद जमाने
जो प्यार का क़ैदी हैं वो आज़ाद नहीं हैं

Khwab Mein Hum Ko Bulate Ho – Toofan (1954) Lata Mangeshkar / Music – S D Batish
And if you are waiting for a romantic song, here I’m! This song was also a part of one of the parts of the series covering Lata’s association with lesser known composers. It’s a different kind of song. All stanzas are not in the same meter, still it’s very good and melodious to listen to.

Raste Pe Hum Khade Hai – Rajput (1951) Suraiya / Music – Hansraj Behl
While he was very stern in his songs addressing God, he is equally soft, almost dreamy in this one. Woven in a slightly slow melody with a non stop foot tapping rhythm, it’s a delight to listen to with Suraiya’s cute rendition.

Pyar Nahi Chhupta Chhupane Se – Laadla (1954) Talat Mahmood & Asha Bhosle / Music – Vinod
Not a great song, I agree, though pleasant to listen to. But one of few romantic songs penned by Kaif Irfani. Very attractive tune and good orchestration. I like the part where Talat Mahmood sings, ‘देख लिया सुना था, देख लिया सुना था ज़माने से’.

Mast Aankhen Hai Ke Paimane Do – Naqli Nawab (1962) Asha Bhosle & Talat Mahmood / Music – Babul
And before I think of ending today’s list, a fully romantic song. Though it doesn’t say anything spectacular, it says it with simplicity. All the verses are very much romantic, and sung with apt expressions.

दिल की हर जीत में इक हार भी हैं
प्यार आसाॅं भी हैं दुश्वार भी हैं
हर क़दम पर कोई दीवार भी हैं
मिलने पाते नहीं दिवाने दो

And, I would like to mention a magnificent Qawwali from the same movie. Couldn’t help adding it. Good lyrics, good tune and it creates an Intoxicating aura, typical of a good Qawwali. We can see, Manoj Kumar, Shakila, Kamal Kapoor, Indira on the stage, while Ashok Kumar and K N Singh are in the audience. Now I’m very curious about the film. I thought of it as a b grade obscure movie, but the star cast does evoke a curiosity. Has anyone watched it?

Hum Deewane Tere Dar Se Nahin Talane Wale – Naqli Nawab (1962) Asha Bhosle, Rafi & Chorus / Music – Babul

I think I should conclude today’s post now. I hope I was able to highlight his talent through a few of his songs. We all tend to remember popular songs by their tunes, but when the lyrics are meaningful and memorable, the song is cherished forever. This holds true for at least a few of the songs on today’s list.

Please share your thoughts about the songs. Please add your favourite songs by Kaif Irfani if you wish.

Disclaimer –
Mehfil Mein Meri, claims no credit for any image, screenshots or songs posted on this site. Images on this blog are posted to make the text interesting. The images and screenshots are the copyright of their original owners. The song links are shared from YouTube, only for the listening convenience of music lovers. The copyright of these songs rests with the respective owners, producers and music companies.

23 Replies to “Kaif Irfani – A Forgotten name”

  1. Anup ji,

    Mere words will belittle the gigantic work being carried out by doctors, nurses, associated staff, policemen, government officials etc. in tackling the ill effects of pandemic.

    Your concern reading lack of discipline amongst countrymen in effectively following protocols is true.

    Coming to the lyricist, I came here to comment since you have highlighted the couplet in the Talat solo in Madan Mohan’s Chhote Babu (1957).

    It is one of my favourite songs of Talat saab. Now, I have this haunting feeling since you have singled out the couplet. Even otherwise, the other verses in the solo and also in general many songs of his have this self-inflicting curses.

    Now, I too wonder why.

    You have added many songs of Mukesh who seems to have special bond with him as he used him for his own productions and even for non film songs that he himself composed.

    I have one more to add from a 1955 film called Maano Na Maano / Andhkaar’.

    Thanks.

    Like

    1. Maheshji,
      I absolutely agree. All the frontline corona warriors should be saluted. All of them are doing their best for the country.

      “Even otherwise, the other verses in the solo and also in general many songs of his have this self-inflicting curses”

      Yes, that’s true. And that gives me goosebumps.
      Even the song added by you shares the same feeling. It’s spooky. Here’s a better audio track.

      It was a part of my older post on Hansraj Behl. You can see that post.

      https://mehfilmeinmeri.wordpress.com/2020/05/20/part-1-hansraj-behl-a-forgotten-composer/

      Visit it if you get time.

      Like

  2. Anup ji,
    I appreciate that you are trying to bring a focus on Lyricists – a tribe generally relegated to the back when songs are discussed. Actually, their contribution to the song in totality is surely worth their recognition.
    His best song, to me, was from film Malhar….Kahan ho tum, zara aawaz do, hum yaad karte hain….Lata.

    -AD

    Like

    1. Arunji,
      Thank you for your appreciation. I fully agree with your opinions about the lyricists.
      I was sure one of the readers would add the third song from Malhar. It’s a beautiful song. Thanks for the addition.
      🙂

      Like

  3. This lyrist is really an enigma. Surprised there are no vital statistics about him. He must really have been operating on the fringes of Bollywood. I find that he has written songs for 53 films and total songs are 121. This goes to show he has been sharing platform with other song writers in very many movies. You have done a very good job to collect some details from obscure sources. I am hardly familiar with three or four songs from what you had portrayed. Here is a nice Talat Mohammad piece from Zamana ki Hawa (1952), music Gulshan Sufi.
    Tadat Jate Hai Ab Wo Abhi

    Like

    1. Thank you Ranganji for the appreciation.
      You are correct, Sheroo was the only film, he wrote all the songs for. He otherwise always shared thd platform.
      Thank you for sharing the song, I wasn’t aware of it.
      🙂

      Like

  4. Anup,
    We have to salute all the doctors and the frontline workers who are fighting the war on pandemic.

    You have done a great job on focussing on an obscure lyricist who wrote some of the best songs for Mukesh. Arunji has rightly said we generally do not acknowledge lyricists enough. Yours is a valuable summary.

    AK

    Like

  5. Anupji, it is because of doctors and the paramedics that lives are being saved. It is also true that if the citizens were more diligent, the situation would not have been this grim. Anyway, common sense, it is said, is uncommon!
    Your post has helped me to learn about a lyricist whom I had never heard of. Some of the songs are completely new to me.
    While it is true that music has no language, one engages with music at a very different level if one is able to appreciate the lyrics. It is the voice, the instrumental music and the lyrics that together make a song great.
    I saw that you have mentioned quite a few established composers who worked with Kaif Irfani. Here is one with Chitragupt from the movie Hamara Adhikaar(1970) which I found when I searched for his songs.
    Jhalak Dikhla De Sanam

    This link carries a picture of Kaif Irfani.
    http://onlymukesh.org/lyrics_hindi.aspx?id=S00000007

    Like

    1. Thank you Anitaji for the appreciation. Kaif irfani was a lesser known lyricist. Glad I could introduce his songs to you.
      Thank you for sharing his picture, don’t know if we can take it as true. And thank you for adding the song from a Chitragupta movie. I was under impression that his last movie was released in 1967. Thank you for the correction.
      🙂

      Like

      1. Anup ji,
        The songs of film Hamara Adhikar-1970 were written by KAIFI AZMI and NOT Kaif Irfani-who ended his career in 1967 only.
        -AD

        Like

  6. Dr. Anup,

    The pandemic period is indeed challenging for every one today, especially for clinicians who not only have to see and treat patients but also take care of themselves. Despite vaccination, the risk of infection still persists.

    It is indeed commendable that you are able to bring out a post regularly during this period.

    Equally impressive is that the fact that you done a nice post on a lyricist who is or was hardly known. I was familiar with the name of Kaif Irfani as a lyricist for songs in Taraana, Anurag and Naqli Nawab. I believed to be one of the many lyricists who wrote beautifully yet occasionally and remained at the fringes of the film industry. It is unfortunate that we still know very little about him.

    Couple of months ago, I was surfing the YT for Tipu Sultan serial and came across a song written by him for film Tipu Sultan. Nothing exceptional, I would say, about the lyrics but I was drawn to the song by the opening line – Kabhi hun karke kabhi ha karke. The music is inspired from OPN and CID and seems to be a dance number. So, it is a change for Kaiif Irfani from his usual pathos filled songs.
    Here it is:
    Tipu Sultan 1959
    SD Batish – Kaif Irfani – Asha

    Like

    1. Dr Rajesh,
      Thank you for your appreciation. The blog is actually a stress buster for me. During isolation when there’s nothing to be done, I opt for new posts. So I am able to be regular here.
      Kaif Irfani seems really an unknown name to many music lovers of HFM. But at least some of his songs are really outstanding.
      Thank you for sharing the song from Tipu Sultan, I wasn’t aware of it.
      🙂

      Like

  7. Hope all’s well and safe at your end. Was concerned since you mentioned the word isolation.

    Ironically, a lyricist is the one who writes the song but he/she is the least known or recognized among the entire team who creates the song. The film, the singer, the actor who lip syncs the song and the music director all become known whenever a song becomes popular, but not the lyricist..

    There are some middle-order lyricists who did not get the recognition and fame that they deserved – Raja Mehdi Ali Khan, Qamar Jalalabadi, S H Bihari, Yogesh.

    Going forward, it would be great if you could do posts on these!!

    Like

    1. Oh! I’m okay. I meant during the covid duty and one week thereafter I isolate myself in a room at home.
      And so when I want to do something creative. What else could be the best than my own blog!

      About the lyricists, you mentioned, Raja Mehdi Ali Khan is on my radar. Mostly I’ll write about him this year itself. And others as well. They deserve a post. All were great in their own way.
      Let’s see.

      Like

  8. This is a song from the film film sheroo 1957 , the prints of this film are not available luckily the songs got saved . This song written by kaif irfani
    and sung by Lata is beautifully composed by Madan mohan .
    NAINO MEIN PYAR DOLE SINGER LATA MANGESHKAR FILM SHEROO 1957
    YOUTUBE.COM
    NAINO MEIN PYAR DOLE SINGER LATA MANGESHKAR FILM SHEROO 1957

    Like

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