The Magic of Rafi with the Melody of Ravi
Written by Bina Krishna
The month of December has always been a month for celebration and anticipation for Rafi Bhakts, as it is his birthday month.
This year, with just days to go for the 85th birthday of the Master of Sur, our beloved Rafi Saab, his worshippers from the Baar Baar Rafi Fan Club of Bangalore had geared themselves up on December 19, 2009 to transform a cold winter weekend into a warm and cozy one. On that beautiful winter evening, all roads led to Dr. Ambedkar Bhavan on Miller’s Road. Rafi Bhakts who had converged from all corners of Bangalore, not to mention from Hyderabad, Mumbai and Chennai, and, indeed, from several corners of the world (Toronto and Dubai), to hear The Magic of Rafi Saab, and soak in the fire of Srikant’s voice, had the added honor of being in the presence of one of the most celebrated Hindi Film Music Directors of all times, the living legend, “Chaudavin Ka Chand” Shri Ravi Shankar Sharma.
Entering a hall buzzing with people eagerly waiting to get in, I could feel the palpable excitement among the crowd. And as we, Rafi Bhakts, settled ourselves snugly into the seats in anticipation, the curtains parted revealing a beautifully-lit stage in the backdrop of the majestic photographs of Rafi Saab and Ravi Jee that was completely and gorgeously primed up with an 18-piece beautifully arranged orchestra – all eager to give their rhythmic best to the 1200-strong audience…The aura of Rafi Saab’s presence was already there! And it reminded me of my first tryst with Rafi Intense night from BAAR BAAR RAFI on August 17, 2008, of which I still carry very pleasant memories.
Right from the first song, as Srikant welcomed the audience with gusto with Rafi Saab’s Aaja Tujhko Pukare Mere Geet Re from Geet until the curtains reluctantly dropped down with Din Saara Guzara Tore Angana Mere Yaar Shabba Khair on an audience very unwilling to get up from their seats, except for tumultuous standing ovations, the atmosphere was one of thunderous claps and boisterous ‘once more’ cries!
We Bangloreans had the marvelous fortune of having the haloed presence of Ravi Jee in our midst on that eventful Saturday evening. Ravi Jee, who was present with his daughters and granddaughter, regaled the audience with anecdotes of his interactions with Rafi Saab. He even sang the mukhda of ‘Door Rehkar Na Karo Baat’’ one of his best and most popular compositions, which made many a heart stop for an instant or made many a pulse race, depending upon which affected you most, the singer or the song..!!
Srikant then beautifully sang some behtareen gems tuned by Ravi Saab to perfection.. Chaudvin Ka Chand Ho, Jaane Bahar Husn Tera Bemisaal Hai, and Choo Lene Do Naazuk Honton Ko..
Ravi Saab was felicitated by the President and Committee Members of the BAAR BAAR RAFI FAN Club who expressed their gratefulness to Ravi Saab for accepting our invitation and coming all the way to Bangalore. At the ripe old age of 83 years, his youthful attitude and the enthusiasm in his voice when talking about his songs and Rafi Saab was marvelous to behold and he is an inspiration for all us! We were thrilled when he created a jingle and dedicated to all at Baar Baar Rafi!
Nagachandrika and Sinchan, the dulcet-voiced female playbacks accompanied Srikant, Raj and Hemanth for some awesome duets like Bekhudi Mein Sanam, Woh Jab Yaad Aaye, Tujhe Jeevan Ki Dor Se, Jo Wada Kiya Woh, Tumhari Nazar Kyon Khafa Ho Gayi.
Musicians ke baare mein kuch khaas bolna chahti hoon….The Sound of Music orchestra performed in an outstanding manner, the percussionists were in their element, the female artiste on the mandolin and sitar was exceptional, the notes of the flute and the saxophone were superb…all this led by a zealous conductor who even did a little jig with Snigdha Kemkar in Aaja Aaja Main Hoon Pyaar Tera….not to talk of the impromptu performers doing the twist, the cha cha cha, the jive combined with Shammi Kapoor antics…
Aur Snigdha ki toh baat hi kuch aur…Fresh from interviewing Ravi Saab on the radio, she was dazzling, at her talkative and informative best that prompted the twinkle-eyed Ravi Saab to say an impromptu shayari on her!!
Ab thoda un laajawaab gaanon ke baare mein bata doon jinhe sunkar hum jhoom uthe the…Bahosh-o-hawaas was mindblowing, had the audience thirsting for a repeat and Srikant-don’t-go-away shouts…melancholy melted the awestruck crowd with Sau Baar Janam Lenge, Woh Jab Yaad Aaye, Ab Kya Misaal Doon, Jaag Dile Deewana, Kya Se Kya Hogaya, and Babul Ki Duayen…and songs like Ishaaron Ishaaron, Baar Baar Dekho, Nain Lad Jayi Hain, Main Kahin Kavi Na Ban Jaaun, Dil Pukare Aa Re Aa Re Aa Re, and the Qawalli, Shirdi Waale Sai Baba had the foot tappers going wild. Exhibiting his repertoire, Srikant was particularly awesome in two songs, the wistful and intense Yeh Mehelon Yeh Takhton and Oh Duniya Ke Rakhwaale, the true test of pitch and octave…and Srikant shone through in both songs. In fact towards the end, with the audience’s demand for their favorite songs escalating, Srikant could manage to sing a few lines only of more than 6-7 songs, due to paucity of time..
This is what one zabardast fan has written in a feedback to Baar Baar Rafi within hours of the conclusion of the program:
“There are concerts and there are concerts. Dissect the Rafi / Ravi nite conducted by Baar Baar Rafi Bangalore on the 19th December, and you’ll not find anything more than just one more great concert – great singing, screaming fans, good orchestra.
But dissecting is not how you’d analyze what happened that day. It was a tribute to one of the greatest singers, and one of the greatest composers of our time. The whole atmosphere was charged with the pulse of what the music of the 50s and 60s represented; an amalgamation of the great poetry of the time, music that was scored to bring alive those lyrics, and Rafi saab’s singing that converted songs into a means of nourishing the soul.
Srikanth’s delivery, stage presence, and humility was the foundation on which the night was built, compered by the charming Snigdha, whose gentle questions made Ravi Saab tell the story of how some of these songs were created. The end result was much more than the sum of its parts – it made us reach for our handkerchiefs as much as lent us wings to fly into that magical world where art became the food that 1200 people shared while bonding as one.
Ask not who sobbed that day: every tear came from a collective eye, every sigh from a single heart, every exclamation from a fused togetherness. It mattered not which song was sung; the feeling was exactly the same. It was a night that allowed us to feel that we are one if we wished to be and never alone, and that unity transcends the duality of the nayyah and the toofan; of the milan and the judaai – there was no telling who the singer was and who the listener. The observer and the observed were the same.
We are still at Ambedkar Auditorium. Our bodies returned home, though.”
Need we say more?
TU HI TU KI HAI SADAA…LAAKH MEIN HAZAAR MEIN..
And while still submerged in the Rafi/Ravi nasha, we celebrated the Farishta’s birthday on Dec 24th, with the same devotion that we do every year. The highlight of our celebrations this year was the program for the evening where 35 children from a charitable trust along with their staff members were invited and all of us at BBR thoroughly enjoyed their time with us…it gave us an opportunity to become children ourselves….hum bhi agar bacche hote….playing “passing the parcel” and “musical chairs” along with them. We decorated the stage with kites of various colors, including black kites (Rafi Saab’s favorite color for kites,) and balloons, and all the members who attended contributed generously. The gift corner was overflowing with the love shown by each and every member. The goodies were distributed to these adorable little children aged between 4 and 11. A lovely large cake was cut by the children to the singing of Baar Baar Din Yeh Aaye…Members sang some peppy numbers enjoyed by all..and after a hearty dinner, the children were transported back safely to their home..
HAPPY BIRTHDAY RAFI SAAB!