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He lingers on, like the proverbial flower. His fragrance stays.

By Achal Rangaswamy

He lingers on, like the proverbial flower. His fragrance stays.

This happened a few years ago but I suddenly remembered the entire discussion.

The family was driving long distance and we would suddenly find on the highway some radio station that was playing songs randomly. When the family travels together, I don’t necessarily get the freedom to play just my own favourites only. Quite often, my son seeks his own collections via CDs or MP3 options.

On impulse, 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 Joh Tera Chakraaye, or Main Gaaon Tum So Jaao, or even Baar Baar Dekho Hazaar Baar Dekho, or Yeh Chaand sa Roshan Chehra.

TV serials and movies 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. And of course Karan Johar made a perfect faux- pas when he inserted the infamous dialogue of Anushka Sharma, irreverently referring to Rafi Sahab in the easily forgettable movie- Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. He needed the powerful opening lines of Rafi Sahab’s wonderful song to give his movie a title.

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 (without much success of course) 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.

How can you go to sleep, as I have for so many years, without listening to “Main Gaaoon Tum So Jaao Sukh sapnon me kho jaao”, Rafi Sahab sings to us, as well as descend into a calm that only he could create, enriching our lives and adding that solace and peace to our lives.

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One Comment to “He lingers on, like the proverbial flower. His fragrance stays.”

  1. N.G.RAMASWAMY says:

    Excellent. What a tribute to the Farishta. Wah! wah!

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