Rafi Saab taught us many lessons but left behind the most difficult question paper
By Achal Rangaswamy
Allah e Allah kar pyaare bhai Allah e Allah sang the fakir who kept appearing in the movie Pavitra Paapi, a film marked by the appearance of the father-son duo of the great Balraj Sahni and the debutant Parikshit Sahni. Every time there was a crucial scene in the film it would end with the fakir walking by singing to himself, oblivious of the worldly happenings.
Was this by any chance, the portrayal of the fakir who used to walk the streets of Kotla Sultan Singh as the young Pheeko would follow him all over the village almost till the border, marveling the voice of the mendicant as he sang Khedande din char ek malk, khedande din char. It may have been, it may not have been. But whenever I think of the song from the film Pavitra Paapi , the image of this young boy running after the fakir comes to my mind.
We all grow up dreaming of things to do. At times we are left with a few regrets about unaccomplished goals and unreached summits in our life. On my last day on this earth I shall have only one regret. For I have got in abundance everything else in life. And that regret would be that I could not meet Rafi Saab in person and couldn’t touch his feet.
Apart from not having given me the gift of a personal meeting, Rafi Saab has given me everything else. He has given me the pleasure of his visits in my dreams every day for a full year before my beginning to write on the pages of this forum. He has given me the gift of his treasury of marvelous songs and stories that abound about the simple unassuming god-fearing man who was so gentle that his son had to strain his ears to listen to him when he called for him.
I have a large circle of friends from so many different walks of life that I am thankful to God and Rafi Saab, because many of these friends have come into my life because of this forum and some of the Rafi fan groups that have been formed on this earth.
On his death anniversary in 2009 I wrote that I missed him terribly. The subsequent year on the same day I wrote that I no longer miss him because he is always with me in the form of the CDs and audio gadgets that I travel with all the time. Last year I wrote about his coming down to earth and sitting with me and singing for me.
This year all I want to do is dedicate to my idol what I consider the result of my most difficult and challenging examination or test. And that test is, a list of ten songs that I feel Rafi Saab came down on earth to sing, only as an offering from the gods to us mortals. And why I say challenging and difficult is because anybody else reading this article could perhaps conjure up another list of ten absolutely different songs !
The songs have been selected without any kind of favour to a particular actor or music director or even era. The only factor that I may perhaps have considered would be the mood, the occasion or the sheer reason for it being different from any of the other songs in the list.
Here they are:
- Main Zindagi Ka Saath Nibhaata Chala Gaya– oozing optimism, inspirational and my own personal favourite.
- Tere Bin Soone Nayan Hamaare– pathos, emptiness, longing, and painful yearning.
- Kahaan jaa rahaa hai tu ae jaaney waaley– soul searching, hauntingly halting one in his track
- Tere Mere Sapne ab ek rang hain– perhaps the most romantic song ever sung by a lover for his beloved. If I could sing this would be the only song I would sing.
- Radhike tune bansuri churaayi– devotional yet playfully simple song, the singer loses himself in this song as if being a witness to the goings on in Brij
- Main Gaaon tum so jaao– a perfect lullaby, a song that would lull me to sleep on many a summer night on the terrace of our house in New Delhi
- Main tere dar pe aaya hoon kucch karke jaaonga– a prayer, a supplication, a seeker who will not leave the precincts of the shrine until his wish is fulfilled. Determination to be rewarded writ in every word uttered In the song.
- Jaata hoon main mujhe ab na bulaana– severance of all relationships, a departure, a shunning of everything that one had possessed earlier.
- Meri awaaz suno pyaar ka raaz suno– never before and never after would a tribute to a single human being be found of such high order and with such understanding of a person’s traits.
- Kar chale hum fida jaan o tan saathiyon– the most patriotic and powerful song that I have heard in my life. Every time I would hear it, I would want to don the olive green uniform and rush to the border to protect the motherland.
I know there will be arguments and counter arguments. I know there will be countless other lists that will be compiled. I also know that many readers on this forum would say that it would be most irreverent to try and compile a list of 100 tops songs of Rafi Saab, leave alone 10.
Yes, I did begin by saying this was challenging and perhaps the most difficult exam of my life.
For Rafi Saab was a great teacher. He gave us many lessons, he taught us many things. But presented to us the most difficult question paper to try and answer.
If he, sitting up there in the heavens, smiles back at me and says, bus 10 pe hi ruk gaya, aur aagey badh, I would tell him – Rafi Saab ab aap mujhe ek hi baat bataayie, main toh 1000 gaanon ki fahrist tayyar kar doonga, kya aap mere liye ek din ke liye yahaan zameen par aayenge ?
I wait for your reply, Rafi Saab… I have been waiting…