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When Shammi Kapoor, Mohd Rafi teamed up to create ‘Taarif Karoon Kya Uski’

On the singer’s 92nd birth anniversary, a look at the lively number from Kashmir Ki Kali (1964) which he and Kapoor worked on together to produce a classic.

Sonal Pandya

Mohammed Rafi and Shammi Kapoor’s association goes back to the actor’s second film Rail Ka Dibba (1953) in which Rafi sang for the upcoming star. The legendary singer went on to become Kapoor's voice in several hit films from Junglee (1961) to Teesri Manzil (1966). The two became fast friends and many a time Kapoor would be present at the recording to support Rafi.

In Kuldeep Sinha’s documentary on the singer, Rafi – We Remember You (2009), Kapoor spoke about the understanding the two had to add nuances to the songs that were being recorded on the films they worked together on.

For Shakti Samanta’s Kashmir Ki Kali (1964), which featured Sharmila Tagore in her first Hindi film, Kapoor was present during the recording of ‘Taarif Karoon Kya Uski (Yeh Chand Sa Roshan Chehra)’. The music was composed by OP Nayyar, who joined the production at Kapoor’s behest. The original music composers were supposed to be Shankar-Jaikishan, but Nayyar convinced Kapoor when he made him listen to his compositions.

Rafi was an intuitive singer who would ask which hero he was singing for before any recording and alter his style to suit the actor on screen. The actor Biswajeet said in Sinha’s documentary that when one saw the song on screen, it actually seemed as if the actor was singing it himself. “Even the acting Rafi saheb used to do,” he said.

For ‘Yeh Chand Sa Roshan Chehra’, Shammi Kapoor had a sudden thought and asked Rafi to repeat the last line seven to eight times, ‘Taarif karoon kya uski’ in a growing crescendo as that’s how he thought he would play it later in the film. Rafi agreed, but OP Nayyar was angered by the two changing the song. Nayyar thought it would get boring and asked to cut it.

Rafi intervened, saying, “Aap ko kya takleef hoti hai? Gaane wala main hoon, nachne wala woh hai, agar aap ko pasand nahi aya, kaat dena. Abhi se aap use dukhi kyon karte hain? Usne kuch socha hai, ab woh kya karne wala hai, na aap ko maloom hai na mujhe maloom [How are you troubled? I’m the one singing, he will be the one dancing. If you don’t like it, cut it later. Why reject his suggestion at this stage? He must have thought of something that neither of us knows.]”

The song was eventually recorded as per Kapoor's suggestion. After it was picturised, the star showed Rafi and Nayyar the finished version. Rafi kissed Kapoor and Nayyar admitted his mistake. The result, an exuberant number filmed on a shikara on Srinagar's Dal lake, where Kapoor woos Tagore and ends up plunging into the water, was pure magic!

Watch the song below