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What is it that Rafi has that make people want him more?

The Excerpts of the interview on Radio Farishta on Saturday, June 18 2005, 1400 hrs, on Farishta Guftagu with RJ Mash. This was shared by Mohan Flora.

The great maestro of the South music industry, Ilyaraja, fell short of saying that Yesudas and S.P. Balasubramaniam were the best singers ever when he added that Mohammed Rafi Saheb was supreme and none can go beyond him. S.P.Balasubramaniam’s childhood hero was Rafi and remains his all-time idol. Yesudas admires Rafi and counts him as his hero among musicians. Mukesh loved Rafi Saab’s voice and believed that nobody could replace him.Rafi was also Kishore Kumar’s favourite after K.L.Saigal.The following is an interview of Jayanto Mukherji, son of the gentleman singer and music director Hemanta Mukherji. Please note what he has to say about Rafi Saab throughot the interview.

June 16 marks the birth anniversary of the music director and gentle singer Hemant Kumar. On this occasion, Jayanto Mukherjee talks to RJ Mash about his father Hemant Kumar as a singer and music director ! in an exclusive interview on Radio Farishta. Excerpts from the interview..

Mash: Now, first thing Jayanto.. your parents have been singers, then both you and your sister are into music … So when one comes from a musical family, is there a pressure to carry on the legacy?

Jayanto: No. Because you seeÂ… are you talking as a music director or as a singer?

Mash: See your family was steeped in music…

Jayanto: I have music in my blood, but I dont have a voice. That is why, it is said that voice is a God’s gift. I dont have a voice, so I did not try. A person who does not have a voiceÂ… Mohammed Rafi in my opinion is and was India’s best singer.

Mash: Yeah

Jayanto: Even if he teaches you, you cannot learn singing if you dont have a voice. And Mohammed Rafi has three sonsÂ… I am the only son to Hemant Kumar but Mohammed Rafi has three and none of them are anywhere in singing. It is your voice.

Mash: So there is no such pressure to carry on the legacy…

Jayanto: No, not at all.

Mash: Jayanto, from Hemant das voice and style of singing, one has always got the impression that he must have been a very gentle and warm person. Can you tell us a little aboutÂ…

Jayanto: Actually, you have hit such a note. There are many people who know him closely, they find it difficult to figure out whether he was greater as a talented person or greater as a human being.

Mash: I dont know… somehow from his voice… after all, we have only his music to listen to.

Jayanto: Mash it is a privilege to be born as his son… and if like we Hindus believe that we have to be born again. If I am born again, I do not care if Hemant Kumar is the poorest man on this earth; I want to be born as his son.

Mash: Oh God! Thats so touching Â…

Jayanto: YeahÂ…

Mash: So… how was he! as a human being?

Jayanto: He was Gods kind soul.. anybody could approach him anytime and he would talk to them.

Mash: Did Hemant da believe that classical training was essential for success in the film industry?

Jayanto: Well, not that way, but one thing Hemant da believed was that .. if you have a voice, you have to do riyaz (practice). It is a God given gift, thats fine but you have to cultivate that gift. All these people Manna DaÂ… I have never seen my father do riyaz, but Rafi saab I know, Manna da I know, Talat saab, Lata didi also used to do riyaz, Asha didi used to do riyazÂ… you have to do riyaz Mash to cultivate your voice and to make your voice stronger and go to a higher range.

Mash: Otherwise you cant quite…

Jayanto: Otherwise you cant … specially the high range.. the top range

Mash: So he did not believe that classical training was essentialÂ…

Jayanto: No. But he did not disbelieve that also. But to have a classical training you have to have a classical voice. Like, Kishore da did not have a classical voice. The only classical voice with training was Manna da.

Mash: Yeah

Jayanto: But ofcourse, Rafi saab could sing any song. Even Madhuban Mein Radhika is a classical song. You know… how well Rafi saab has sung it. Rafi saab Â… is like …No 1 to 10 is Mohammed Rafi. My fathers forte, again that was a God given giftÂ… that romance and bass nobody had. Till today nobody has, because when my father sings you can actually make out his voice is coming from his abdomen not from his throat.

Mash: Yes.. I think it came very naturally to him.

Jayanto: Yes, because that bass you cannot cultivate. If you have a voice, you can cultivate your voice but the bass is inborn.

Mash: Jayanto, it is believed that Hemant da was greatly influenced by Rabindra Sangeet and this I think showed in his style of singing.

Jayanto: See I will tell you one sentence. When my father died, you know the shradh (a ceremony held after death) we have in Calcutta…

Mash: Correct

Jayanto: Now in Bengalis, it is on the 11th day. Mr Satyajit Ray had also attended that shradh and he said one sentence to my wife. It will answer your question definitely. He said Rabindranath Tagore died the second time.. So now you understand to what extent he had taken Rabindra SangeetÂ… nobody.. You know my father started Rabindra Sangeet.. Everybody would say Oh! Rabindranath TagoreÂ… Oh! geniusÂ… genius.. genius.. Nobody would sing his songs. My father sang, sang and sang… So many recordings in cassettes he has made of Rabindra Sangeet.

Mash: But apart from Rabindra Sangeet was there any other influence?

Jayanto: Not that I can think or talk about… But Rabindra Sangeet yes! Nothing else as such.

Mash: Jayanto, Hemant da seemed to have had a long association with one other person, thats Salil Chowdhary.

Jayanto: (interrupts) They were a superhit in Calcutta!

Mash: Together I think the result of their association was…

Jayanto: (interrupts again) unbelievable! and most of their work .. By the way Mash, all their hit songs are all non-film songs!

Mash: Yes.. are you talking about Kavyageeti?

Jayanto: No, I am talking about Ranar, and many other songs of Salil Chowdhary are not film songs. Ranar is one, Ganyer Bhoju is one, then Palki Chale is another

Mash: But together what kind of work did…?

Jayanto: My father used to sing and Salil da used to compose and write also. He was a very good writer… Bengali songs. Most of his compositions have his own lyrics. In my opinion a genius he was, Salil da.. a genius .. the melody, the lilt and the rhythm.. he was terrific.

Mash: Jayanto, Hemant da has got Lata di to sing a lot of songs.! . so how was his association with Lata Mangeshkar as a singer ?

Jayanto: Listen to me, when he made Bees Saal Baad, Lata at that time was going through some vocal sickness. She thought she had lost her voice. This is a fact. For months and months, she would not sing for anybody. She was very fond of my father. She used to call him dada, and I think she has tied rakhi to him also.. and she really thought she could never sing in her life.

Mash: When was this?

Jayanto: This was in 1961. So my father said Lata, Gaana hai, gaana hai (you have to sing, you have to sing) and she would say dada nahi dada nahi (no dada no dada). My voice is gone.. I cannot sing. I think I will never be able to sing. My father after six monthsÂ… fortunately for him he did not have to pay any interest because he was not borrowing money; the cash which came from mothers savings was handy. One fine day he told Lata, we have a recording scheduled on the day after at the Film Centre, I will go for the recording, musicians will be there, if you feel you can come.. then do come, incase you feel you cant come.. then dont. But I am going, the musicians will be around and everything is ready for the recording. If you do not come I wont feel anything. Lata came. Lata sang after a year or 10 months and she also got the filmfare award for the song she sang Kahin Deep Jale Kahin Dil. That was Latas come back point. And again Mash, these are not made up stories, these are facts.

Mash: How old were you then?

Jayanto: It was in 1961, because Bees Saal Baad was released in 1962. So this was in 1961. I am born in 1942.. and I am very bad in maths.. so 1961 is what.. I was 14, 15 I thinkÂ…

Mash: So you have a faint memory of thisÂ…

Jayanto: No no.. these facts are told to me by my father. And we were sitting outside and he was thinking, he composed the mukhda (sings Kahin Deep Jale) in two minutes. He was sitting at the table and I was sitting opposite him .. he started singingÂ… thoda thoda (bits)Â… My pet name is Babu.. this tune came in his mind, he ran to the music room. Now I can give theka (give beats on the tabla) and play a little bit of tabla. Not tabla! Actually I can play on the table because I have a sense of rhythm. So he said, “Babu babu come here, what he meant was come before I forget! I want to record this piece before I forget.” So he recorded on his tape recorder in front of me …

Mash: You know, you said you cannot sing but I figure you can…

Jayanto: Mash, listen to me, you know I have sung in clubs and I have got appreciation. I was given a prize in St. Xavier’s college as they say in hindi “andho mein kanha raja”. I know I don’t have a voice for the audience, I know my voice is in tune and has the rhythm, but quality of voice is zero Mash… I know it.

Mash: Jayanto, in your personal opinion, as Hemant da’s son what aspect of Hemant da’s career do you think reflected his style better.. his compositions or his singing?

Jayanto: This is a very Catch 22 situation. It’s a very tricky question because …

Mash: No I’m not trying to trick you at all…

Jayanto: No, please don’t misunderstand me. I didn’t mean that at all. I said it was a difficult question to answer. You know all those films which had bombed, also had great music. Films like Champakali. What music he had given! (sings a line of Chup Gaya Koi Re I am sure you have heard this song.

Mash: Yes I have

Jayanto: But the films bombed.. but his music was never bad… Jagriti ofcourse ran; it did very well, and he did not have a hang up that, “Oh! Only I have to sing”… because Jagriti had songs by Mohammed Rafi and hit songs like Hum Laye Hain Toofan Se Kashti. Then again Miss Mary had hit music, songs by Kishore Kumar.I don’t know, I find all his songs good.

Mash: Do you think that Hemant da had any prefered playback singers for his compositions .. did he..

Jayanto: Where the female singers are concerned I know. (Thinks for a moment) For Nagin, he especially insisted on Lata. I know this for a fact. Now in Anandmath and Sharth there were no Lata songs. No..I think Sharth may have had.. oh sorry Anandmath had one.. the best song Vande Mataram. But in Nagin he gave all songs to Lata.

Mash: So, when it came to female playback singers.. he surely preferred Lata.

Jayanto: Lata… yes! But he gave many songs to Geeta (Dutt) also like Guru Dutt’s film Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam had all songs by Geeta.

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7 Blog Comments to “What is it that Rafi has that make people want him more?”

  1. shammi says:

    These comments are for those who mantain this site, I just wondered why a lot of my comments are not published, it’s very frustrating as I take a lot of time and effort to write them ?????????????????????????????

  2. shammi says:

    If you have the artist themselves like Yesudas and S P saying that Mohd Rafi is a better singer than them and stating the obvious, then why and how can anyone argue with that when it is fact regardless whether the two artists would have confirmed it or not.

    Mohd Rafi is not only a legend but the legend of all legends and I totally agree that no one has that beautiful soft sweetness in their voice and I know that I speak on behalf of millions of women like myself that say just listening to his voice gives me goosebumps and his ability to touch the emotions whether they be sad or happy through his songs has often left me in tears with his sad songs and at other times lifted my mood through is joyful songs.

    If I’m listening to the radio most songs just play in the background but as soon as a Mohd Rafi song is played that’s when my attention is grabbed as his ability to stir feelings and connect with the audience is undeniably not on the same level as any other artist so please let’s not compare him with others as Mohd Rafi is in another league and that is one well above anyone else!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Ahamed Kutty says:

    In high pitch no singer is there to keep the sweetness like
    Rafi Saab.Also while singing high pitch songs we can feel
    from the face of the singers how much they are struggling
    to cop up with the songs but Rafi Saab used to be very cool
    and it is astonishing as told by SPB.

    Also as told by Music Director duo Anand Milind,in the post
    recording session very little work will be there for Sound
    Engineers.In each and every aspect it is difficult to find a
    singer like Rafi Saab all over the world.

  4. rafik says:

    Yesudas cant be compared to Rafi Saab. Rafi par a head of him. SP and Yesu is far behind then Great Kishore, Maestro Classic Manney, Soul Soothing Mahendra and Melodies Mukesh.

    Rating should be as follows for hindi songs:

    1) Mohammed Rafi
    2) Kishore Kumar
    3) Mukesh
    4) Manney Dey
    5) Mahendra Kapoor
    6) Talat Mehmood
    7) Amit Kumar
    8) Shailendra Singh
    9) Aziz Nazan

    Yesu and SP had few hindi songs and the accents of tamil is still there. So please do not included non hindi singer in the list and there is no way Kishore the great is in the middle. None of them can challenge Kishore !

  5. rafik says:

    Yesudas cant be compared to Rafi Saab. Rafi par a head of him. SP and Yesu is far than Kishore Manney Mahendra and Mukesh.

    Rating should be as follows for hindi songs:

    1) Mohammed Rafi
    2) Kishore Kumar
    3) Mukesh
    4) Manney Dey
    5) Mahendra Kapoor
    6) Talat Mehmood
    7) Amit Kumar
    8) Shailendra Singh
    9) Aziz Nazan

    Yesu and SP had few hindi songs and the accents of tamil is still there. So please do not included non hindi singer in the list

  6. Pankaj Tripathi says:

    Rafi sahab is the ultimate singer our country has produced.His songs would be remembered after hundred of years had past.His voice,so soft so sweet and moreover a great human being.I simply adore the simplicity of the man inspite of him being a legend.

  7. chikkupukku says:

    see, it is about the time you belong to. yesudas and spb are only trying to be humble by saying rafi is better than them. yesudas has the best voice in the country and may be in the world. rafi creates melody in a range where there is high bass and high treble ( when his voice pitch is raised ). high bass ( base voice ) and high treble ( high pitch ) are melody zones if you have studied equalization in sound engineering. and these frequencies are typical of the singers who have persian origin. Yesudas’s voice along the equalization scale shifts slightly ahead of rafi’s bass and has a few high frequency components in it at the bass level ( which makes his voice more open and sweeter ). spb too uses a good range of bass but his high pitch swings into a higher treble range. kishore primarily relies on a middle to high treble which is why his voice has strength and power. Kumar sanu adds a nasal tone to kishore’s frequencies ( in a way, it is like mukesh’s frequency zone being merged with kishore’s ). So, it is not exactly about which singer is best. it is the voice range they adapt that becomes their signature ultimately.

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