Article Hindi

The mini-war between Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar for Gambler

On the eve of  Rafi's 37th death anniversary (31 July), a look at the battle between the two top artistes to sing for Dev Anand in the 1971 film.

Kishore Kumar and Mohammed Rafi

Sonal Pandya

Back in the 1960s, there was fierce competition between singers Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar. Kishore Kumar was becoming the preferred voice for leading actors. He was already established as the voice of Dev Anand and from 1969 onwards was identified as the voice of emerging superstar Rajesh Khanna.

For Amarjeet's Gambler, starring Dev Anand, SD Burman brought both Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar on board to lend their voices for Anand. In particular, the song 'Mera Mann Tera Pyaasa' stands out as an earnest imploration of love and longing.

Mohammed Rafi had already lost out to Kishore Kumar on 'Dil Aaj Shayar Hai Gham Aaj Nagma Hai' as he missed the recording. Therefore, for the recording of 'Mera Mann Tera Pyaasa', Rafi arrived at Burman's bungalow to take him in his limousine to Famous Labs in Mahalaxmi, Mumbai.

However, SD Burman insisted that they travel in his simple Fiat. This way, he could correct any mistakes in the song without Rafi's driver being present. Luckily, the rehearsal was okayed in one take in the car. It was the only song sung by Rafi for the film. This incident was relayed in the book, A Journey Down Melody Lane, by Raju Bharatan.

Dev Anand's romantic entreaty, voiced by Rafi, got a fresh lease of life in 2004 when it was prominently featured in Michel Gondry's cult film, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. The song, along with others from Nagin (1976) and Dil Tujhko Diya (1987), played in the background as Jim Carrey's Joel visits the apartment of Kate Winslet's Clementine. The songs are used as a foreshadowing device for events to come later in the film.

While Kishore Kumar was the marked singer for Dev Anand on the Gambler soundtrack, it was Rafi's rendition that survived the test of time.