Atul’s Song A Day- A choice collection of Hindi Film & Non-Film Songs

O o aajaa panchhi akelaa hai

Posted on: July 31, 2011

This article is written by Raja, a fellow enthusiast of Hindi movie music and a regular contributor to this blog.

Today, 31st July, is Rafi saab’s death anniversary. It is a date that evokes emotions in many Rafi saab fans even thirty years after his death. Many of them, especially if they are in their 50s or more, will remember the 31st of July 1980 as one of those “where were you on that day?” events, associated in the past with JFK’s assassination in 1963 and the successful moon-landing in 1969, and more recently with 9/11 or India’s own 26/11.

Shammi Kapoor has talked about his 31st July 1980 memories, saying he was not in Bombay at that time (he was on his annual visit to his guru in North India) and only got the news from somebody who stopped his vehicle and said “Shammi saab, aapki awaaz chali gayi” (Shammi saab, you’ve lost your voice). At first Shammi was puzzled – his voice was ok, wasn’t it? But then the person clarified to him that Rafi saab was no more. Shammi was stunned and cried and cried. He could not make it to Bombay for Rafi saab’s last rites (one of Shammi’s biggest regrets). Millions must have mourned that day as India lost not just one of its finest singers ever but also one, who by all accounts, was a wonderful human being.

I will admit, ashamedly, that my memories of 31st July 1980 are hardly dramatic. I was in college then and I did hear the news soon enough. But I will admit that the full import of the news did not quite hit me at that time. I obviously knew who Rafi saab was, I was sad that he had died but I did not then realize what a colossus he had been for Hindi music. I most certainly did not realize that his death would leave a void in music that would not be filled even thirty years later. And that does not look like it will be filled for many years to come.

As I read obituaries on him, as I listened more and more to his songs, I began realizing what a special voice he had had. There were Rafi clones at that time coming up – I remember Anwar and Suresh Wadkar in particular. But somehow, though they were good in their own right, they could just not come close to matching Rafi saab. For his voice was divine and their voices were good – but human.

I’ve written at length elsewhere about how I got to learn about and appreciate Rafi saab’s songs. I will not repeat myself but I will say that though the realization of his quality started late in my life (I was a product of the Kishore era), once I did realize it, it was an overwhelming experience, my catching-up for lost time was frenetic, and my love and respect for Rafi saab has since only grown with every song of his that I discover every other day.

Many of Rafi saab’s songs have already been posted here on this blog. Only recently we celebrated his 1000th song here. But there are thankfully many more songs still to find their way here and I am happy to talk about one of them on this post.

This is a lovely, really sweet Rafi–Asha duet for SD Burman.

Digressing a bit from the song itself, I’d like to talk about SD Burman and his relationship with Rafi saab. There are some out there who think SD Burman preferred Kishore to Rafi saab and use that as an argument to state that Kishore must have been better than Rafi saab. And though I’ve always steered clear of “who’s better” discussions because I feel they belittle one singer in an attempt to prove the other better, I’d like to challenge this line of thinking.

It is true that SD Burman had a very special relationship with Kishore da. He was the one who took Kishore under his wings, he treated him like his own son, he encouraged him, supported him, corrected him and was one to whom Kishore owed a lot of his early success. Kishore has acknowledged as much.

But that does not mean that SD Burman preferred Kishore to Rafi saab. He was just a brilliant music composer who knew what voice he wanted, for what mood or situation. Just like Lata and Asha were often used for different types of songs, SD used Kishore and Rafi saab for his different situations. Thus he had Kishore singing a breezy “gaata rahe mera dil” but Rafi saab singing “tere mere sapne, ab ek rang hain”, “kya se kya ho gaya” and “din dhal jaaye”. (When SD Burman received several accolades for Guide’s stupendous music success, he magnanimously attributed most of the success to Rafi saab).

Again, in Jewel Thief, SD used Kishore for the breezy “ye dil na hota bechaara” or the catchy duet “aasmaan ke neeche” but switched to Rafi saab for the melodious pahadi song “dil pukaare, aa re aa re aa re”.

In Teen Deviyaan, similarly, SD used Kishore for “khwaab ho tum, ya koi haqeeqat” and “yaar meri tum bhi ho ghazab” but Rafi saab came in for the classic “aise to na dekho”.

SD Burman’s partnership with Rafi saab has given us many classic songs to enjoy. From Kaala Paani to Kaala Bazaar to Bambai Ka Babu to Tere Ghar Ke Saamne to the unforgettable songs of Pyaasa.

So where is the question of SD preferring Kishore to Rafi saab? Even towards the fag end of his career, with Aradhana, Anuraag, Abhimaan and Chupke Chupke, we see both Kishore and Rafi saab being used by SD.

So I conclude my argument by saying that, in my humble opinion, SD was just brilliant in using both these singers exceedingly well, often in the same film, depending on situation.

As he did in Nau Do Gyarah (1957). Which brings me right back to my song. See, I always come back to the point even if I sometimes travel from Virar to Churchgate via Thane. 😉

Nau Do Gyarah is a delightful film from the Navketan banner. It was Vijay Anand’s directorial debut and I think he did an absolutely outstanding job with it. The long drawn out climax scene is one of Hindi movie’s classic climaxes.

The movie features a debonair Dev Anand and a beautiful Kalpana Kartik, with wonderful chemistry. It is remembered by some for featuring a road journey from Delhi to Bombay, not very common in those days. Needless to mention, this road journey has interesting experiences and lovely songs too.

The best-known song of the film is probably “hum hain raahi pyaar ke” by Kishore da. Another lovely Kishore song (this time a duet with Asha) is “aankhon mein kya ji”. But the film has space enough for a Rafi-Asha duet too. And this one turned out to be a lovely song in its own right.

“Aaja panchhi akela hai” is a mischievous, light-hearted number, written by Majrooh Sultanpuri and picturised on Dev Anand and Kalpana Kartik. It is a while since I saw the movie but if I remember right, the scene is that the two are posing as a married couple, though in reality they are not married yet. They have been allotted a room but obviously (in those days at least!) they wouldn’t sleep in the same room. So Dev sleeps somewhere else (in the bathroom?) and Kalpana gets the room. Dev then mischievously sings “aaja panchhi akela hai” and Kalpana joins in, teasing him, telling him to go to sleep.

Even without the picturisation, the song is lovely. With it, it is even better. Rafi saab and Asha Bhosle are both in form, as if teasing each other. I always felt the two had great chemistry, their songs are invariably a delight to listen to. I am reminded of another SD classic duet from these two – “deewaana mastaana hua dil” from Bambai Ka Babu.

On this occasion of Rafi saab’s anniversary, this song is my humble tribute to him. He may be long gone from this world but he will never be gone from our hearts.



Song-O o aaja panchhi akela hai (Nau Do Gyaarah) (1957) Singers-Rafi, Asha Bhonsle, Lyrics-Majrooh Sultanpuri, MD-S D Burman


o o aajaa panchhi akelaa hai
o o so jaa nindiyaa ki belaa hai
o o aajaa panchhi akelaa hai
o o so jaa nindiyaa ki belaa hai
o o aajaa panchhi akelaa hai

ud gayi neend yahaan mere nain se
bas karo yoonhi padey raho chain se
ud gayi neend yahaan mere nain se
bas karo yoonhi padey raho chain se
laage re dar mohey laage re
o o ye kyaa darne ki belaa hai
o o aajaa panchhi akelaa hai
o o so jaa nindiyaa ki belaa hai
o o aajaa panchhi akelaa hai

o ho ho kitni ghuti si hai ye fizaa
aa ahaa haa kitni suhaaniI hai ye hawaa
oho ho kitni ghuti si hai ye fizaa
aa ahaa haa kitni suhaaniI hai ye hawaa
mar gaye ham niklaa dam mar gaye ham
o ho ho
mausam kitnaa albelaa hai
o ho ho aajaa panchhi akelaa hai
o o so jaa nindiyaa ki belaa hai
o o aajaa panchhi akelaa hai

bin tere kaisi andheri ye raat hai
dil meraa dhadkan meri tere saath hai
bin tere kaisi andheri ye raat hai
dil meraa dhadkan meri tere saath hai
tanhaa hai phir bhi dil tanhaa hai
ho o laagaa sapnon kaa melaa hai
o o aajaa panchhi akelaa hai
o o so jaa nindiyaa ki belaa hai
o o aajaa panchhi akelaa hai
o o so jaa nindiyaa ki belaa hai
o o aajaa panchhi akelaa hai
o o so jaa nindiyaa ki belaa hai
o o aajaa panchhi akelaa hai

11 Responses to "O o aajaa panchhi akelaa hai"

Raja ji,

Yes, he will never be gone from our hearts.

I really enjoyed reading this write up. I remember, the day of Rafi Saab’s passing away, I was in Madras. Once again, too young to start appreciating the singing capabilities of different singers, and just liked to listen to any and all good songs. When I read the news, it did stir my heart and my first reaction was – no, not yet the time to go. . .

Wonderful song, and a wonderful reminder of SD Burman’s songs.

Best regards and thanks


Raja ji,
What an excellent write up on the’ Voice of India’ singer.Thanks for refreshing our memories of that era.
As you rightly said,S.D.Burman knew exactly where who will fit.For that matter,he was a good Manager knowing well how to optimise the use of resources.
That fateful day,I was very much passing thru Bandra,in Bombay,and was in the vicinity of Bandra Masjid,when suddenly crowds started moving towards Pali Hill side.I knew as a Bombayite that something unusual must have happened.On enquiry,I learnt that Rafi has was impossible to move an inch on the road.Not knowing what to do we waited,waited and waited till eternity.
When I reached the offie in Worli,it was time to actually leave,but knew that it was not possible to pass thru Bandra again.We took the W.E.Highway to reach home.
As pointed out by you,the feeling of a great Void dawned upon the people slowly and in course of time only.
This is one loss,which is irreplaceable.


Excellent write up on Rafi.

I am a fan of all good singers – old as well as the current ones. Of the current male singers, I like some songs of Sonu Nigam, KK, Kunal Ganjawala, Neeraj Sridhar and many more but none of them come close to Rafi’s versatility in singing. In my view, Sonu Nigam is the only singer who come closest to Rafi’s singing but still miles away.

In my view, Rafi was the only male singer of the olden days who could easily adjust his vocal chord depending upon as to which actors he was required to give play back singing.


hi friends
gr8 write up by Rajaji. one that tells the rxn of the 1970s kids who were just in their teens when Rafi passed away. on a personal front i did not realise at that time what was the hue and cry with the passing away of Rafi saab. but i felt a similar pang a few years later when 1st Sanjeev Kumar passed away and then Kishore Kumar died. at that time i thought it was probably bcoz i was partial towards Kishore kumar. its only now i realise that i miss the whole set of that era viz: Mukesh, Rafi Kishore Kumar as also Geetha Dutt.
anyways i might be able to relive that period this evening as i am off to a “Meri Awaz Suno Nite” in memory of Rafisaab by the Rotary Club here.
long live Rafisaab’s songs.


I am so jealous of you, Peevesie’s mom! How I wish I could attend such programs, filled with songs from my younger days – the best I can do is sit beside the computer and open this site, or surf Youtube! How was the program, anyway?


oh i thoroughly enjoyed myself at the programme with my family and my childhood friend an his family for company
anyways mission accomplished. i got atleast one rxn!!!!!


Raja ji,

A very warm and heartfelt article. It does invoke memories of the day that was 31st July, 1980. I was barely 11 years old, and it being a Thursday it was the day of “Chhayageet” on Bombay Doordarshan. We all kids will be glued to the T. V. as soon as play time was over. For chhayageet, i used to wait all week. The news of the death came in the 10 o’clock English news, if i recall correctly. The next day was a friday, and the coverage of the funeral in Bandra-Juhu was the focal point of that day’s news on T. V. I learnt later that this was the largest funeral procession Bombay had ever seen. It rained so heavlly that day and still the people it seems kept coming to join the funeral.

Mohammed Rafi is a true phenomena which happened in our life time and our lives are touched by his voice, i feel just fortunate. His voice made many actors antics, actions and dances on screen plausible. His mass apeal is the humility with which he sang. For he had no notion of his own greatness.


Wonderful post, Raja! This song has always been one of my favorites – and why? It has my favorite Dev Anand, and then Rafi is singing it, and the lyrics add to the charm of the song – what more could a besotted teenager ask for in those days? I am no longer that besotted teenager and yet this song brings back those carefree days whenever I listen to it, and my hubby thinks the same, so I am glad you picked this song for your post on Rafi, especially because i am also a Rafi devotee. I remember coming home from work and my mother telling me that Rafi had passed away, but it didn’t have much of an impact on me at that time, probably because I was busy with work and family and a young baby. It was only later that it dawned on me that I wouldn’t be hearing his songs any more, and I bought some cassettes of his to bring along with me when I came to this country. Those cassettes are totally worn out now after being played so often during those early years here, when I would listen to old songs to combat my homesickness. Anyway, I am digressing here – so let me just thank Raja and Atul for this wonderful song. It seems like all the songs here are Rafi songs, so I need to listen to all before I turn in to bed.


Yesterday on “Times now” channel, the weekly programme “Total Recall”, was dedicated to Rafi. In the programme, Pyarelal ji of L-P duo referred to the SDB songs for Dev Anand alternately sung by Rafi and Kishore, and said that SDB was having both Rafi and Kishore sing to him and occassionally Mukesh too, but the songs which kept coming of Rafi-SDB-Dev, were considered as bench marks. So there goes the theory of SDB preferring kishore. I would give just one example which is “Mera man tera pyaasa” in “Gambler”.

Another example is (though this is not for Dev Anand) the lata-rafi duet in ‘Abhimaan” (Teri bindiya re).



nahm ji, i tell people the same song from Gambler too. I think it is one of the best Rafi / Dev Anand combination songs. I can never get tired listening to the song :). Same pinch :D.


What a write up this is. You made me cry. This blog and the people who are part of it are the best thing that exists on the internet. Thank you.


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