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Bringing Generations Together – Rafi Sahab’s Magic

By Achal Rangaswamy

Mohammed Rafi Sahab's melodies in car

The family was driving down the Expressway connecting Ahmedabad to Baroda and some radio station was playing songs randomly. When the family travels together, I don’t necessarily get the freedom to play just my own favourites only.

Suddenly my son, sitting behind us, asked a question.

“Dad, would Mohd Rafi have been able to sing this song?”

I just took a minute to listen with some patience to the noisy and somewhat jarring piece that was being dished out as a song.

I told my son- “Not only would Rafi Sahab have sung this song smoothly, he would have taught this young singer how to execute it even smoother, with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye!”

My son didn’t argue with me. He may not be a Rafi fan in the true sense or the way I worship him, but he does admit that songs like Tere Mere Sapne from Guide or Kaarvaan Guzar Gaya from Nai Umar ki Nai Fasal were difficult to sing. He also perhaps has a soft corner for the song Abhi Na Jaao from Hum Dono.

He only asked me one question- “Would he have sung almost all of today’s songs with ease?”

My answer was, “I don’t know whether he would have sung all these songs with ease. He may have laughed at some of them. But he would surely have made the listener’s life and ears easy with his perfect rendering and total involvement. Marks of a great artiste, concern for the listener.”

I guess I thus brought Rafi Sahab on the same plane as all of us sales and marketing professionals, whose main goal in life should be to make their customers’ lives easier, not their own.

We continued driving down, and then I asked my son- “You know which song I would have always liked Rafi Sahab to have sung before he passed away?”

My son was curious to know and so was my wife.

“It would have to be Ae Ajnabi Tu Bhi Kabhi Aawaaz De Kahin Se from the film Dil Se”.

“Yes, true” came the reply. “Udit Narayan seems to have sung the song as if Rafi Sahab was on the radio in that particular scene”, my son was quick to observe.

Now that is the point. There have been so many songs that we have appreciated and praised the composer or the lyricist or even the singer, that Rafi Sahab would have done tremendous justice to, yet not made the contemporary singer feel belittled, the greatest quality of Rafi Sahab. He treated everyone with love and respect.

The rest of the journey was quiet, not because the music was not playing or we were not talking. I was thinking of the songs that Rafi Sahab has sung which even today sound so fresh, as if recorded this morning! And mind you, the quality of equipment in the days he sang, the lack of great sound engineers or technicians did not prevent him from giving us umpteen evergreen hits.

Almost as if on cue, this song flowed from the speakers in the car- Khuhboo Hoon Main Phool Nahin Hoon, and that was it! I realized one very simple truth. Rafi Sahab’s songs will never go out of style, or fashion.

Just look at the number of TV ads today, and try and recall the number of them that have his songs playing. Whether it is Chakke pe Chakke , Chakke pe gaadi , or Sar Jo Tera Chakraye, or Main Gaaon Tum So Jaao, or even Baar Baar Dekho Hazaar Baar Dekho, or Yeh Chaand sa Roshan Chehra.

TV serials carry titles based on his songs. Go to college cultural fests and you will find the youngsters there on the stage singing Hum Aapki Aankhon Mein Is Dil Ko Basa Dein Toh, or Dil Ka Bhanwar Karey Pukaar.

Every music- based TV reality show has the participants, the judges and the anchors just not being able to complete an episode without referring to the encyclopedia of playback singing in Hindi Films. Rafi Sahab is the first word and the last one too. Even the youngest of kids belts out a Kya Hua Tera Waada or Ehsaan Tera Hoga Mujhpar. He also challenges his rivals on the programme by singing Hai Agar Dushman, Hum Kisise Kam Nahin! 

And elsewhere,whenever any rookie singer tries to make his mark, detractors ask him if he is trying to be a Mohd Rafi! What better tribute can be paid to him, thus?

Someone once told me, “Rafi couldn’t handle romantic songs, specially the ones bordering on the erotic.”

I scoffed at this somewhat hasty reference or comparison to perhaps a Roop Tera Mastana.

My retort was, “Who sang Aa Jaa Re Aa Zara in Love in Tokyo? Who sang Yeh Parbaton ke Daayre Yeh Shaam ka Dhuaan in Vaasna?  Or Akele Akele Kahan Ja Rahe Ho?”

To add to my friend’s discomfiture I added, “Tumse Kahoon Ik Baat Paron Si Halki Halki” and that was it. The discussion ended there.

Discussions must end here. There is one Rafi. He wasn’t ,he will never be. He is.

And like that proverbial fragrance of the flower, he lingers, forever. All around us. He begins our day. He ends our day.

Bahut Shukriya, Rafi Sahab ke hamaari zindagi mein huzoor aap aaye.

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15 Blog Comments to “Bringing Generations Together – Rafi Sahab’s Magic”

  1. Gopan Joshi says:

    1. Tu mere saamne hai, teri zulfe hai khuli, tera achal hai dhala, mai bhala hosh me kaise rahu….
    2. O my love… aye meri haseen dilruba, mere dil me chup ke baith ja… tujhme mujhme fark na rahe… aa karib aa… tu kho na jaaye…
    3. Aja re aa zara… lehra ke aa zara… aakho se dil me samaa…

    These are just top of the mind… There are so many more… In so many more languages… Across so less years… 🙂

  2. Ahamed Kutty says:

    Is there any body from any form of art all over the world is
    being treated like this?…..

  3. Ahamed Kutty says:

    People around the globe is mad about Rafi Saab.
    They forget everything,avoid everything even their
    beloved ones for the cause of Rafi Saab.Some
    enjoying,some celebrating,some living – all for
    Rafi saab.This is happening not only when he
    was alive but after 36 years of his heavenly abode.
    Is there anybody from any form of art who is so
    much loving their idols like this.This will continue
    for ever…

  4. Ahamed Kutty says:

    Ref : Comment by Mr.SalRafi.
    The thing is that all most all singers treat Rafi Saab is the
    best in each category of singing.Also for millions around
    the world there is no other choice.Rafi Saab is the inspiration
    and lively hood for so many.No body can replace him as long
    as the world exist.The one and only complete singer and the
    extra ordinary worshipful personality – it is RAFI SAAB.

    I used to have contacts with so many hard core Rafi Saab
    fans through Face Book and other means.My habit is
    whenever I have a new Rafi Saab fan the same time I used
    to hear at least one of his songs.Just to know immediately
    the taste of his voice.LONG LIVE RAFI SAAB….

  5. Sreeram says:

    Hi,

    Nice Article. If you are thinking of a romantic song of Rafi, bordering on erotic, listen to “Door Rehkar Na Karo Baat, Qareeb Aa Jaao” from the film Amaanat. It’s way more romantic than “Roop Tera Mastana” and also has a very silken tocuh to it – totally Rafi.

  6. shammi says:

    Boston ji, I’ve have never ever heard that Mohd Rafi couldn’t handle romantic songs from anyone in fact even though he exceled in every type of song genre I think he did romantic/love songs the best. The fact that they are still so popular today especially the ones like you say that are picturised on the adorable Shammi Kapoor says it all

  7. shammi says:

    No one can ever replace the immense talent of Mohd Rafi and his incredible versatility. He really is the one and only and will be remembered for many generations to come, even songs he sang in the 1950’s sound as fresh and evergreen today as they did then. A lot of the songs he sang in the 1960’s went on to become my all time favourites and I never tire of listening to them, infact the days I don’t listen to them are the days when others will refer to me as being moody and irritable. I thoroughly recommend Mohd Rafi songs to anyone whose not well and feeling down he really is a magic tonic to well being. Long live his memory!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. siraj ray says:

    MD.RAFFI IS THE BEST SINGER OF ALL THE TIMES.

  9. Boston Sunil says:

    To all who say Rafi couldn’t handle Romantic songs, have them listen to these gems – “Jab Bhi Yeh Dil Udaas Hota Hai”, “Yeh Reshmi Zulfen”, “Likhe Jo Khat Tujhe” and many, many, many others.

    And of course, all the songs he sang for Shammi Kapoor!

    There is no one quite like him.

  10. SalRafi says:

    In fact I remembered AR Rahman said in an interview that he had Rafi Saab in mind while composing E Ajnabi! Udit gave his best to the number and made it a good one. But you can feel his struggle in some areas giving his best.

    I dispute your take on TV and media giving Rafi Saab his due. It is the other way round that most of the mentioned going to the “sisters” and KK as no one else has done anything great. Isn’t it? I request readers to provide their feedback on this.

    Thank you for the article.

  11. Dinesh says:

    No one take place of Rafi sahab,when he sings directly goes n touch our heart.Big Salute to Rafi sahab.

  12. Shachi says:

    Nicely written piece on Rafi Sahab. I remember when I was kid and one day was listening to radio, as TV was not working, I realized that every second song was of Some Rafi. I went straight to my dad and asked him who is this Rafi all most all I songs on Radio are of him. He replied kyonki Rafi jaisa koi nahi. That was the day when my journey with Rafi Sahab begun. After listening his songs of all the genres I realised that truly no singer was as versatile as Rafi was and Is.

  13. Amina Ajaheb says:

    As u say. There is one Rafi. He lingers forever

  14. Anonymous says:

    Speechless totally speechless
    JAI SHREE MOHAMMAD RAFI SAHEB JI

  15. shakeel Ahmed says:

    Good writeup.so much has been said and written about Rafi sahab there is hardly anything is left to be said.His songs are as fresh as ever guaranteed for million hearings. If one is listening to any of his song he ( listener) doesn’t want the song to end but wants the song to go on and on…..Rafi sahab and his songs are indispensable for his fans.Here I am as Rafian wants to emphasis upon his kind hearted nature and great human qualities of the highest order. There are number of antecedents indicating Rafi sahab’s soft nature .He was never after money non controversial non commercial away from all evils.one incedence which I heard today morning on doordarshan Rafi sahab returned the singing amount given to him after the recording of the song Babul ki duwayen leti ja for neel kamal saying for bidai song of daughter I will not take any fee.

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