Remembering Mohammad Rafi on his Death Anniversary
By Souvik Chatterji
Remembering Mohammad Rafi on his death anniversary and the challenge of continuing the Rafiana.
The entire world remembers great Mohammad Rafi on his death anniversary, on 31st July, 2012. It has been more than 30 years after his death that he still remains alive in the minds of numerous music lovers all across the world.
There are few unthinkable achievements of the immortal singer. Firstly he contributed in the 40s, 50s and 60s bollywood music in such a manner that 50% credit of the success of the films rested on the broad shoulders of Mohammad Rafi. The list of the films is very long. Baiju Bawra and Mohammad Rafi in “man tarpat hari darshan” cannot be separated. Pyasa and Mohammad Rafi in “yeh mehelon yeh takhton yeh taajon ki duniya” cannot be separated. Success of Dilip Kumar’s Kohinoor, Rajender Kumar’s Mere Mehboob, Raj Kumar’s Kajal, Shammi Kapoor’s Junglee, Joy Mukherjee’s Love In Tokyo, Biswajeet’s April Fool, rests on Mohammad Rafi. His contribution in low budget films with less-known actors did also create magic like Shagun, Boot Polish, Wapas, etc.
The popularity of the great singer had just increased and increased. The biggest challenge of continuing the Rafiana had not been met so far. Rafi Academy and other institutions related to the giant singer had done great activities for the last 10 years. But there are lot of things yet to be done.
Firstly composition and use of classical and eastern songs in bollywood films with the Rafi gharana is a challenge. With due respect to all the composers, lyricists and singers of the present age, it has to be said that, songs from the soil of India had reduced to minimum. Songs of the Rafi gharana namely bhajans “radheke tune bansuri churayi”, folk songs “nain lad jay hai”, pure classical “madhuban me radhika nachere”, qawalli “yeh ishq ishq hai ishq ishq”, are reducing to minimum. There are lot of classical singers in India like Ustad Rashid Khan and Pakistan like Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. But the tendency of composers in the present period is to Indianize western songs and compose them in bollywood films.
Mohammad Rafi did sing a lot of western songs during his lifetime including “aaj kal tere mere pyar ke charche” in Brahmchari, “aaja aaja mai hoon pyar tera”, in Teesri Manzil, “humdum mere” in Mere Sanam, etc. But the composition of OP Nayyar, composition of Shankar Jaikishan, composition of Salil Choudhury, composition of RD Burman had western blend with eastern back up. Rafi’s songs in majority of the films were multi-dimensional. There was huge lasting effect. The songs had lived more than 50 years. It is not happening with today’s songs.
There are a number of talented singers in the country like Sukhwinder Singh, Javed Ali, Benny Dayal, Sonu Nigam, but most of the compositions on which they are asked to perform are of western nature. The dominance of classical music and dominance of folk songs had withered away.
The other broad task of Rafi Academy and the Forum in different parts of the country should be to restore the epic films of the great singer. If the prints of brilliant films like Uran Khatola, Kagaz Ka Phool, Ek Musafir Ek Haseena, Dil Ek Mandir, are damaged, the new generation will never know the works of music giants Shankar Jaikishan, Roshanlal Nagrath, Naushad Ali, etc. and the great Mohammad Rafi. So big effort is required to restore them.