Earlier this month, I published a post on a rarely remembered lyricist, Asad Bhopali. I was planning a post on Raja Mehdi Ali Khan for a long time. Last year I’d planned it, but at the last moment I cancelled the plan and instead went for duets of Rafi and Geeta Dutt. So I was determined to fulfill my wish this year. Today let’s remember him on the occasion of his 46th death anniversary.
He was born on 25th June 1915 at Karimabad (now in Pakistan). Having lost his father at a tender age of 4, he was educated by his mother, who was a poetess herself. It’s said that he could not complete studies due to financial constraints. He was influenced by the popular shair, Alamma Mohammad Iqbal in his formative years. His inclination towards literary works brought him to the editor post of magazines, like Phool and Tehzeeb e niswaan, two popular Urdu magazines from Lahore. In 1942, when he was working at AIR Delhi, he got acquainted with Saadat Hasan Manto. Later Manto shifted to Bombay (now Mumbai) and called Raja there. On his recommendation, Raja Mehdi Ali Khan was engaged as a dialogue writer and he did a bit of acting as well in the Ashok Kumar starrer Aath Din (1946). The film was produced by Filmistan.
It was Filmistan again who helped him. Raja Mehdi Ali Khan started his journey as a lyricist with S D Burman for the film Do Bhai which was released in 1947. He penned a couple of songs and incidentally those songs became roaringly popular and helped Geeta Dutt reach every nook and corner of the nation. Later he wrote for a couple of films for S D Burman. The films were, Vidya (1948) where he wrote two songs and Kamal (1949) where he penned three songs. Later Raja Mehdi Ali Khan never got to write songs for S D Burman.
Let’s listen to a couple of songs from these films.
Mera Sundar Sapna Beet Gaya – Do Bhai (1947) Geeta Dutt / Composer – S D Burman
It was the first big break for Geeta Dutt, who became popular overnight. Both the songs penned by Raja Mehdi Ali Khan were popular. The most notable feature of this song was the word ‘Beet’. Instead of using the cliché word ‘Toot’, the word ‘beet’ conveyed the emotions more aptly. And a long pronunciation of the word very effectively portrayed the helplessness of the character.
Meri Muniya Ki Ankhiyan Mein – Vidya (1948) Amirbai Karnataki / Composer – S D Burman
Though not very popular, it’s a good lullaby. Amirbai with her expressive voice offers full justice to the song.
In the same year, he also wrote for the stalwarts, Ghulam Haider (Shaheed) and Khemchand Prakash (Ziddi). His songs from the former were hits. The choice is too obvious!
Watan Ki Raah Mein – Shaheed (1948) Rafi, Khan Mastana & Chorus / Composer – Ghulam Haider
A popular patriotic song, with an enthusiastic marching rhythm. The song has a fast and a slow (sad) version. I’m adding the fast version.
When we think of Raja Mehdi Ali Khan, it’s the composer Madan Mohan that we remember. It’s very obvious as their association was the most popular and successful association of Raja Mehdi Ali Khan.
He wrote for Madan Mohan’s very first film, Aankhen (1950). Though he wasn’t the only lyricist, he penned a maximum number of songs (4) for the film. Madan Mohan was S D Burman’s assistant during Do Bhai. Filmistan’s film Shaheed (1948) also had songs by Raja Mehdi Ali Khan and Madan Mohan’s father, Rai Bahadur Chunnilal was one of the producers. So perhaps during these films, they could connect with each other.
After Aankhen, Ada (1951) had just one song by Khan while Madhosh (1951) had all (9) songs penned by him. After these films, they didn’t work together for 7 to 8 years, when Madan Mohan had a successful and popular association with Rajendra Krishan. Their next film together was Jagir (1959). So we can say, their association in the 50s was for a short period though the songs were memorable. It was in the 60s that their association bloomed.
Before we move forward, let’s have a look at a few songs from the 50s where Madan Mohan and Khan were together.
Hum Se Nain Milana – Aankhen (1950) Mukesh & Shamshad Begum / Composer – Madan Mohan
Raja Mehdi Ali Khan wrote four songs for the movie. I could have selected the sad, soulful songs for their rich, meaningful lyrics. But I chose a light hearted song picturised on a character artist, Yakub. What a cute song! The lady wants him to pass B A and that’s it. It’s her one and only criteria for eligibility. Of course it was a big deal in the 50s. A good and enjoyable stage performance. Nalini Jaywant and Shekhar were watching and enjoying the show.
Preetam Meri Duniya Mein – Ada (1951) Lata Mangeshkar / Composer – Madan Mohan
It was his only song for the movie and still it has left an impact on the lovers of Hindi film songs. The pathos laden memory is well written and so well set to tune.
Meri Yaad Mein Tum Na – Madhosh (1951) Talat Mahmood / Composer – Madan Mohan
I consider it the most popular song of the movie. All the nine songs were penned by Raja Mehdi Ali Khan. Talat Mahmood sang it with perfect expressions and made it one of his most remembered songs. Of course the lyrics were good too.
It won’t be out of place if at this point, I mention a few of his songs with other composers as well. We generally tend to relate him with soulful songs and sad songs. But he has penned a few Comedy songs as well, which I intend to highlight now. I know the more popular songs of these movies are getting sidetracked, but nevertheless the segment would still have enjoyable fun songs.
Tera Gora Gora Gaal – Gumashta (1950) Shamshad Begum & G M Durrani / Composer – K Datta
What a wonderful, fun song it is! And the singers sing it with such apt expressions! Listen to the funny lyrics, most unexpected from Raja Mehdi Ali Khan, as we tend to relate him to some serious stuff.
Baithe Raho Joru Ke Paas – Bhai Behen (1950) Shamshad Begum & Satish Batra / Composer – Shyam Sunder
Another song with hilarious lyrics. Cute conversation between husband and wife. The song mentions the name, Gope. Perhaps the song was picturised on him too.
Raja Mehdi Ali Khan’s lesser talked about association was with O P Nayyar. They worked together for seven films. Their first film was Mr Cartoon M A (1958) where he wrote just one song. Their prominent films together were, Jaali Note (1960), Kalpana (1960) , Mitti Mein Sona (1960), Ek Musafir Ek Haseena (1962), Hongkong (1962). In none of these films, was Raja Mehdi Ali Khan, the sole lyricist.
Let’s listen to a few of my favourites from these films,
Chand Zard Zard Hai – Jaali Note (1960) Asha Bhosle & Rafi / Composer – O P Nayyar
A typical O P Nayyar melody. If I remember correctly, there is another version of the song that goes, Raat Sard Sard Hai, and has different verses too. Don’t know why was it so? At any rate, the song is extremely romantic and melodious.
Puchho Na Humen Hum Unke Liye – Mitti Mein Sona (1960) Asha Bhosle / Composer – O P Nayyar
पूछो ना हमें, हम उनके लिए क्या क्या नज़राने लाए हैं
देने को मुबारकबाद उन्हें, ऑंखों में ये ऑंसू आए हैं
The beautiful piano backed song is extremely melodious and perfectly rendered by Asha Bhosle. It has only one verse and that has good lyrics too.
फुलों की तरह मुस्काए थे हम
कलियों की तरह मुरझाए है
Raja Mehdi Ali Khan had written four songs for the movie.
Aap Yunhi Agar Humse Milte Rahe – Ek Musafir Ek Haseena (1962) Asha Bhosle & Rafi / Composer – O P Nayyar
The song is very popular, but it’s not usually linked to Raja Mehdi Ali Khan. He penned three songs for the movie and all had meaningful and good lyrics. Raja Mehdi Ali Khan was so good in romantic songs. What a beautiful song it is!
In the early years to the decade of the 60s, the combination of Madan Mohan and Raja Mehdi Ali Khan created immortal melodies. The saga started with the film, Anapadh (1962) which had all the seven songs penned by Raja Mehdi Ali Khan.
Woh Dekho Jala Ghar Kisi Ka – Anpadh (1962) Lata Mangeshkar / Composer – Madan Mohan
What a composition! The song has a deep pathos and good lyrics. The film had seven songs, all penned by Raja ji. It had five solos by Lata Mangeshkar and one duet by Asha Bhosle and Rafi. The only male solo of the song was picturised on Mohan choti and was sung by Mahendra Kapoor.
Lag Ja Gale – Woh Kaun Thi (1964) Lata Mangeshkar / Composer – Madan Mohan
Lag Ja Gale was the peak of the combination. Great lyrics, excellent tune and perfect rendition by Lata Mangeshkar. Nothing much needs to be said . Experience the song!
Woh Kaun Thi was one of the few films of Madan Mohan that were successful at the box office. He was one of the unfortunate composers who faced box office failures despite composing excellent and popular songs for many films.
Main Nigahen Tere Chehre Se – Aap Ki Parchhaiyan (1964) Rafi / Composer – Madan Mohan
What a beautiful song in the praise of a lady! Very beautiful lyrics. Woven in a simple yet attractive ghazal like melody, the song creates a perfect aura of romance.
The film had only one solo by Lata Mangeshkar and three solos by Rafi. Rafi’s other solo, an energetic number, is good too. In this film as well, Raja Mehdi Ali Khan wrote all the six songs.
Aap Ko Pyar Chhupane Ki – Neela Aakash (1965) Asha Bhosle & Rafi / Composer – Madan Mohan
For this film as well, Raja Mehdi Ali Khan penned all the songs. The film had popular duets by Asha Bhosle and Rafi. I’ve chosen one of the duets, where the couple teases each other. She blames him for being possessive and while he complains to her for hiding her feelings. Shot against the background of World Heritage monuments, the song is easy on the ears and beautifully romantic. The film is also remembered for a soulful solo by Rafi.
Tu Jahan Jahan Chalega – Mera Saaya (1966) Lata Mangeshkar / Composer – Madan Mohan
The song was used as a theme song and had a slow and a relatively fast version. The song has been extremely popular and is the most cherished song of the movie. The song describes dedication par excellence, of a spouse. The thoughts and feelings are so well woven in the song and equally well composed in Raag Nand (नंद). Those were the early days of Sadhana ‘s thyroid disease and she was slowly losing her looks.
Sapnon Mein Agar Mere – Dulhan Ek Raat Ki (1967) Lata Mangeshkar / Composer – Madan Mohan
There are a lot of songs based on the theme of dreams. But this one’s surely different. Haven’t ever heard of calling your beloved in dreams and after enjoying his company, falling asleep peacefully. And what beautiful verses! To top it all Lata’s excellent rendition has further added to the charm of the song. The film couldn’t perform well at the box office despite having a bunch of excellent songs including Lata’s four solos and Rafi’s romantic solo. The film was released posthumously in 1967. The film also had Bhupendra Singh’s soulful, Zindagi Dulhan Hai Ek Raat Ki.
Kyun Mere Dil Ko Qaraar Aata Nahi – Jab Yaad Kisiki Aati Hai (1967) Lata Mangeshkar & Mahendra Kapoor / Composer – Madan Mohan
The film was also released posthumously in 1967 and had all the songs written by Raja Mehdi Ali Khan. Madan Mohan offered all the songs to Mahendra Kapoor, who sang a couple of solos and three duets with Lata Mangeshkar. I chose this particular song for its unconventional composition. It starts with a verse and mukhda is sung later. Good lyrics and tune.
Their last association was for the film Nawab Sirajuddaula which was released posthumously in 1968. All the songs were penned by Raja Mehdi Ali Khan and solos by Asha Bhosle and Manna Dey. The songs were not popular and it’s more of a forgotten film.
Before I end the post, I couldn’t restrain myself from adding a few of my favourites with other composers. It’s mainly to highlight his versatility as a lyricist as he could write songs on any topic very easily. The segment also throws light on some of his associations other than the popular ones. (Please follow the link in the video in case it doesn’t open on the blog page)
Tere Dil Pe Jadu Kar Gaya – Ustad Pedro (1951) Lata Mangeshkar & Chitalkar / Composer – C Ramchandra
What a delicacy her Paan proves to be! She has enriched the Paan with her affection, her soul. Her नखरे adds spice to the Paan. It creates magic for the consumer. The cute rhythm of Chinese blocks makes it more enjoyable. Though Raja Mehdi Ali Khan couldn’t form a long successful association with Chitalkar, he is spot on with his funny side of lyrics. Usually Khan Sahab is considered a serious kind of lyricist, writing soulful, heart touching ghazals for Madan Mohan. But we get to know his lighter side in this film. He also wrote a couple of songs for Sangram (1950).
Bhagwan Tujhe Main Khat Likhta – Manchala (1953) / Composer & Singer – Chitragupt
Chitragupt has sung a few songs for his mentor, S N Tripathi and a few for his own films. Though he wasn’t impressive as a playback singer, he manages to impress in this song. The song was picturised on Agha. It talks about the unfair ways of the world and the woe of a dismal.
Ae Saba Unse Keh Zara – Ali Baba and 40 Thieves (1954) Asha Bhosle & Rafi / Composer – S N Tripathi
What a soothing and peaceful melody! And the tune and orchestration is so wonderful, a perfect aura for a romantic rendezvous. I won’t call it a lyrically great song, but still I love it. Absolutely pleasant to listen to!
Duniya Ki Haalat Naram Naram – Guzara (1954) Rafi / Composer – Ghulam Mohammad
It’s a catchy peppy number, with a foot tapping rhythm. It must have been written according to the economic situation of the period. The character singing the song, probably sells pakodas, on the streets. He says, you can enjoy hot pakodas even if your pocket is near empty. It does spread the message of being self-sufficient, working for your survival (like pulling a rickshaw), but never begging for money. And to be honest to yourself, to your country. Never go for easy money, never be dishonest and disloyal. Great message conveyed with a touch of humour. I can call it a philosophical song.
Humein Haal e Dil Tumse – Chaubees Ghante (1958) Asha Bhosle & Talat Mahmood / Composer – Bipin Babul
What a delightful song it is! The couple wants to be with each other forever and they’re ready to oblige the other by doing so. A good example of a pleasant expression of ‘haal e dil’. It’s one of my favourite romantic duets. Later when Babul started composing independently, Raja Mehdi Ali Khan was again his choice. The prominent films include, Reshami Roomal (1961), where he wrote all the songs of and a couple of songs for Naqli Nawab (1962).
Tum Bin Jeevan Kaise Beeta – Anita (1967) Mukesh / Composer – Laxmikant Pyarelal
He wrote all the songs for the movie, including a few memorable solos by Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar. All of the songs, this soulful song by Mukesh is my most favourite. Raja Mehdi Ali Khan could have had a long association with Laxmikant Pyarelal, but he succumbed to death too early. Otherwise the songs of Anita were very popular and continue to be.
In 1970, an obscure film, Kaun Ho Tum had a couple of his songs with the composer, Usha Khanna. In 2009, a set of 15+ songs by Madan Mohan were released with the name Tere Baghair. It had all the unreleased songs of Madan Mohan. It had one song by Raja Mehdi Ali Khan.
Kaise Kategi Zindagi – Tere Baghair (2009) Rafi / Composer – Madan Mohan
Nothing much is known about his personal life. His wife’s name was Tahira and the couple had no children.
Even after 45 years, he is remembered for his songs. He penned around 450+ songs for 125 films. His meaningful songs have made him immortal. In addition to the film songs, he wrote other poems that talked about a variety of subjects. We can see the sarcastic and witty angle of his personality from those poems. He never allowed bitterness to enter his poetry and presented his poems in a satirical way. He also parodied a few of Ghalib’s ghazals.
He died in the last week of July 1966. Again there’s confusion as to the date. Some sources mention 27th July, others 29th July 1966.
Please add your favourite by Raja Mehdi Ali Khan.
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 convenience of music lovers. The copyright of these songs rests with the respective owners, producers and music companies.