Recalling Our Mohd Rafi through Naushad Sahib
An unpublished interview of Naushad Sahib by Mehtab-Ud-Din
I had an interview of Naushad Sahib, the Great Music Composer of the Bollywood. I wanted to publish it in my book about all time Great our Mohd. Rafi Sahib. But my dream couldn’t be a reality only due to some unavoidable circumstances in my family. But, now I want to share my feelings about our Rafi Sahib & Naushad Sahib after 10½ years, as I am still not able to publish such a book. I hope, the fans of Rafi Sahib and the readers of Mohd Rafi.com ’ll surely forgive me for the delay in presenting the precious information.
It was an occasion of the annual Mohd. Rafi Award Function of Yaadgar-e-Rafi Society, Chandigarh (Regd.). The day was 12th November, 2000. Naushad Sahib, the foremost music composer of the Bollywood & the Chief Guest for the Award Function had come in Chandigarh on 11th Nov. Then, I was working as News-Editor in a Punjabi Daily ‘Desh Sewak’ (Chandigarh) & I managed to meet Naushad Sahib especially alongwith Mr. Sardul Singh Abravan, my colleague and the Cultural Representative of the vernacular daily. We reached the Room No. 319, 3rd Floor, U. T. Guest House, Sector-6; where Naushad Sahib was officially staying.
Only a couple of other Journalists including Mr. Anup Kumar of ‘Dainik Tribune’, were present there, means, I was free to talk about Rafi Sahib with my all time favourite Music Copmoser. We waited for a while outside the room. There, Mr. B. D. Kalia (+91-98147 31112) of Yaadgar-e-Rafi Society told us that Naushad Sahib had gone for dinner with an acquaintance previous night. He returned at 1:30 am and the lift of the Guest House was out of order. That is why, Naushad Sahib had to come at 3rd Floor through the stairs. He had undergone Byepass Surgery twice and that is why, he felt unwell. Mr. Kalia asked us not to talk with Naushad Sahib more than 10 or 15 minutes. We were called in at 12:20 pm. Naushad Sahib was laying in the bed as he was preparing himself for the Awards’ event, which was going to be held at 6:00 pm.
We wished him and he went in half-lying position after seeing us. He was looking extraordinarily peaceful. He seemed me like an angel. I did not believe that I had been before real Naushad Sahib. We all sat near the bed and I was the closest of all. …..And then none knew when one and a half hour had gone. Naushad Sahib shared a lot of his memoies about our Rafi Sahib. I remember that while talking with us, he touched me many times and I feel his touch even today. I asked him the questions only about Rafi Sahib. Naushad Sahib stated that he had remembered a lot about Mohd. Rafi. “When the marriage of the daughter of Rafi Sahib was going to be solemnized. I also got the Wedding Card. The marriage ceremony was going to be held at the Hotel Horizon, Bombay. I inquired and the Personal Secretary of Rafi Sahib i.e. Mr. Zahir, who was the real brother-in-law of Rafi, confirmed that Mr. Mohd. Rafi himself had planned the wedding programme at the Hotel. Then I met Rafi Sahib and asked him if his daughter was born in a hotel. I suggested him that the daughter must be bidden farewell from the house, where she had born. Rafi Sahib was so sensitive that he instantaneously changed the whole programme of the wedding of his daughter. His daughter was bidden farewell from Rafi Mansion, Bandra.” Naushad Sahib further stated,”When Rafi met me first time, he had a letter of my father, which he got from Lucknow. I asked him to sing for a short while. He sang very well. I told him that ‘At present, I have no singing work for you. Well, if you want, you may perform in a chorus song “Hindustan ke hum hain hindustan hamara” for Film ‘Pehle Aap’. Various people are singing the chorus and you ’ll get only a single line to sing.’ He got ready to perform in a chorus.
I didn’t remember the exact year, but it was the time of the 2nd World War, perhaps 1944. The sounds of the heavy shoes of the soldiers were needed for the song as it was to be shot upon the soldiers but then, there was not any facility for the sound-mixing available. The heavy military-shoes were bought from the ‘Chor Bazar’ (Thieves’ Market) of Bombay (now Mumbai) and they were given to wear by all the singers of the chorus of ‘Pehle Aap’. The singers, including Rafi Sahib, were singing during rehearsal as well as they were striking their feet with the sounds of ‘thud’. The idea was only to record the sounds of the heavy shoes with the song simultaneously. But there were sores upon the soles of Rafi Sahib even during the rehearsal. The song was recorded and became hit. Mohd. Rafi got Rupees 10/- as remuneration and he was very happy. Here, I would also like to share another memorable utterance with you, but please don’t publish it. After the recording, I asked all the young singers to go to Mir Sahib at Hotel Minerva. They all went except Rafi. I asked the reason. He told that he had not any money even for bus-fare. I gave him some money for the fare.” Really, it was the greatness of Naushad sahib as even after 55-56 years, he forbade the media persons to publish it. But, I have written it only for the lovers/fans of Rafi Sahib and for the new generation, so that they can get inspiration. Perhaps, such type of struggles had made Rafi Sahib a great person.
Naushad Sahib said again recalling about the untarnished, transparent and distinctive personality of Rafi Sahib,“Rafi came to Bombay after duly learning the music. He didn’t think to become a singer only after hearing some songs, just like the so-called modern singers are doing. He was taught music by Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Sahib’s younger brother. Rafi never had wine, pan, cigarette or bidi. To help others, was his religion. Once, Rafi asked me before going to USA for a stage show, what should he bring from that country, which might be helpful for the public. I suggested him to bring a Dialysis machine from USA. A Dialysis machine is used to purify/change the blood of the patients, mainly suffering from cancer and some other serious maladies. Rafi sahib did the same. He brought the Dialysis Machine and donated it to a local hospital. He never donated himself but only through others, so that people might not know that Rafi donated something. He always believed in anonymous charity. He was so religious that he always donated through his brother-in-law and his secretary Mr. Mohd. Zahir. Once, he donated 300 mats for the Muslim devotees, which were supposed to be used during Namaz-e-Eid in the Danda Ground, Mumbai. Rafi Sahib wished that the the Namaz-e-Eid of the year 1980 might be performed upon the same mats. But it was the destiny that Rafi Sahib died on 16th or 17th Roza i.e. Fast and the prayer of his funeral (Namaz-e-Janaza) was performed upon the same 300 mats.”
Naushad sahib was really sentimental during his recall about Rafi Sahib. I was sitting the nearest to his bed and he was touching me again and again during the interview, and I was feeling very much honoured/proud by his Midas Touch. Naushad sahib went to his down memory lanes and said,“It was rainy season, when Rafi died. There was a great multitude with his funeral inspite of heavy rain. The people of every sect, religion, class, race and sphere of life were present there. The graveyard was at some distance. The dead body of Rafi Sahib had been placed upon an open truck, so that all the people might see his face for the last time. The truck covered only a little distance, when some youth came forth and offered that they would take the funeral of Rafi Sahib upon their own shoulders to the graveyard. All had gone emotional to see the public-love towards Rafi Sahib. Bollywood Stars like Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor, Vinod Khanna, Amjad Khan, BR Chopra, Yash Chopra and Rajendra Kumar were also present. Everyone felt that it was the wisdom of Rafi Sahib, which forced the laymen to come during the funeral of their favourite Rafi Sahib even during heavy rains. Some ladies, youth and veterans were weeping. People were throwing flowers upon the funeral from the roof-tops/balconies of their houses. Actually, Rafi was a crownless King of the popular Bollywood Music. He was and still lives in the hearts of the millions. The graveyard was too short for such a huge mob. The keepers of the graveyard urged that the mob must be stopped, so that there must not be any disrespect to any other grave. But how could such a mob be controlled? Then, the doors of the graveyard were shut, but the people then started to jump over the walls of the graveyard. They didn’t even care of the pieces of glasses and the barbed fences. So, in the process, numerous people were wounded but they didn’t heed. I didn’t forget so touchy scenes even today. Those moments will be remembered for ever.”
Naushad Sahib continued,“Rafi Sahib helped everyone. He never thought the Artist/Director is newcomer or old. Any new Producer/Director would say ‘Rafi Sahib, a song has been prepared only for your good-self, but we have a low budget…. We can’t afford your price.’ Then Rafi Sahib would ask,‘How much will you afford?’ The Producer/Director were mostly mute before him. Then Rafi Sahib would say,“You may give me Rs. 500/- only for a song.” And the deal used to get struck, Zaheer would note the date of recording. After the recording, Rafi Sahib often returned those Rs. 500/- to the same Producer/Director and would say,‘Your children ’ll use the money for sweets.’”
Naushad Sahib criticized the so-called Pop Music and said,“If Daler Mehndi would sing without the semi-nude women, he might seem good in singing.” Naushad Sahib was disheartened and worried by the ‘clumsy’ Pop Music. He said that such songs can never have long life. He again recalled,“Once I called Rafi Sahib to sing a Ghazal “Jis Raat Ko Khaab Aye, Un Khaabon Ki Raat Aayi.” for the film ‘Habba Khatoon’ I had composed the Ghazal in Raga Patdeep. When Rafi Sahib heard the whole Ghazal and the composition, he began to weep. He said,“Where such music has gone? Today, we are often being forced to scream like dogs or cats.” I asked a question that how much reality in a claim that Sahir Ludhianvi wrote the song “Ae Mohabbat Zindabad” (Mughal-e-Azam) for Shakeel Badayuni. The background of such an awkward question was that a senior Urdu/Punjabi writer Mr. Mushtaq Warsi of Malerkotla (Punjab) had told me that ‘A lyricist of Bollywood, Prem Varbartani (film ‘Ek Din Ka Badshah’ fame, which has the song of Rafi Sahib “Bulbul ko gul pasand hai, teri pasand kya hai, yeh mujh ko khabar nahin.”) told that Shakeel Sahib was a romantic lyricist and the song of ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ was a revolutionary one and which was the field of Sahir Sahib. Prem Varbartani even claimed that Shakeel was unable to create such revolutionary tone in his lyrics.’ Naushad Sahib replied that the a lyricist always writes the same as he/she is directed. “Shakeel never touched alcohol, yet he wrote the song ‘Mujhe Duniya Walo, Sharabi Na Samjho’ for the film ‘Leader’ and it became the Superhit number of Rafi Sahib. Sahir Ludhianvi had written a Ghazal “Ik Shahnshah Ne Banva Ke Hasin Taj Mahal, Hum Gharibon Ki Mohabbat Ka Urraya Hai Mazak, Meri Mehboob Kahin Aur Mila Kar Mujhse”, but we thought that Taj Mahal is such a huge monument and one of the seven wonders of the world, why should we not reply Sahir Sahib’s Ghazal? Then, Shakeel Sahib wrote for the same Film ‘Leader’ i.e. “Ik Shahnshah Ne Banva Ke Hasin Taj Mahal, Sari Duniya Ko Mohabbat Ki Nishani Di Hai.” Rafi Sahib & Lata Mangeshkar again made it eternal and everlasting.”
Naushad Sahib had some grievance against the Union Govt. also as his proposal to make a TV Serial ‘Sangeet Samrat Tansen’ for Doordarshan was not given weight as it should be. Doordarshan had been agreed to pay only Rs. 2.5 Lakh per episode. But Naushad Sahib told the scribes that he met Mr. Ajit Kumar Panja, the then Union Minister for Information, but in vain. He told Mr. Panja that Rs. 2.5 Lakh will be enough only for a single shot of an episode, because “all the Ragas are to be transformed into the visual shots. We want to show, how a Raga has its effects upon the environment. Such scenes are really difficult to shoot. I have the full script and ’ll make my dream true at the right time.”
We were getting such rare & precious information about our Rafi Sahib and Naushad Sahib himself. Our conversation might be a little bit more long, if Mr. B. D. Kalia had not reminded Naushad Sahib about the lunch time. The interview was really memorable one.
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