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Why Mohd Rafi Sahab is Even More Relevant in Today’s Times of Discord and Intolerance

By Achal Rangaswamy

Mohammed Rafi

When we see around ourselves, today’s world is highly disturbed. There is far more violence, far more intolerance and far more noise than ever before.

People have no time for each other, are insensitive to the needs and emotions of others and are quick to lose their temper and their mental composure. Aggression is often misunderstood as a sign of valour or courage and being impatient is seen as a sign of hustle and result orientation.

In such a background, the life, the times and the myriad songs of Mohd Rafi Sahab stand out in sharp contrast. From the way he lived his life, simple, austere and at peace with himself, to the songs he rendered that talked of peace, friendship, warmth, affection, love and equanimity as well as equality, Rafi Sahab symbolized exactly what we seem to be missing in today’s times.

His total dedication to his craft and his vocation, his complete surrender to the force above and his dedication to rehearsing every song to perfection exemplified the unhurried nature of a man who felt that he must deliver the best if at all it needed to be delivered. This is precisely what the world misses today. We are living in a world where attention spans are diminishing rapidly, people take their work absolutely lightly even while wasting their time and energy on distractions that are abundant and abounding, and there is very little attention being paid to sublime delivery of any art, craft or finished work.

His attitude towards his brethren, fellow artistes and the people around him always reminds me of the song he rendered so soulfully- Tu Hindu Banega Na Mussalman Banega, Insaan Ki Aulaad Hai Insaan Banega. Unity, peace and harmony reigned supreme in many of his songs and were clearly visible in each of his devotional songs, whether in the form of Bhajans, or Quawwalis or Gurbani.

The world shall never tire of talking about the depth in his voice and total involvement in rendering the magical songs of Baiju Baawraa where he took the notes to unprecedented levels without losing control or composure. It could he the peaceful and calm Man Tadpat Hari Darshan Ko Aaaj or the song of the seeker Oh Duniya Ke Rakhwale or even the imploring beseeching lover in Tu Ganga Ki Mauj Main Jamuna Ka Dhara.

Optimism has deserted the world today. Despair and indifference rule the roost. Rafi Sahab gave us hope with such great songs as Subah Zaroor Aayegi, Subah ka Intezar Kar. Or the simply superb and reassuring Main Gaoon Tum So Jaao which even I used to peacefully go to sleep listening, as a young kid. Of course Rafi Sahab was always highly appreciated for his fine handling of the song Asli Kya Hai Naqli Kya Hai Poocho Dil Se Mere.

The world has stopped talking in simple, sweet, polite and friendly ways. There is aggression everywhere. Even sales and marketing people, who are expected to be pioneers in polite and respectful conversation have started slipping badly at etiquette and good manners.  In such times we must keep listening to Zindagi Hai Kya Sun Mere Jaan Pyaar Bhara Dil Meethi Zubaan. Or Logon ka Dil agar Jeetne tumko hai toh Bus Meetha meetha bolo.

Patriotism and love for one’s country is either at a nadir or has reached such levels of fanaticism that it borders on ugly intolerance and impatience. Rafi Sahab delivered a huge number of songs that remind us to be proud of our land, its culture, its heritage and its richness in terms of humanity, simplicity and brotherhood. Jahaan Daal Daal Par Soney Ki Chidiyaan Karti Hai Baseraa tops my list of such songs. And at a very high level is another song Mere Des Mein Pavan Chale Purvaai,  Meri aawaaz Suno, the song dedicated to Pt Jawahrlal Nehru so tellingly describes the life and times of a peace loving, patriotic son of the soil. And implores youngsters to follow his example.

Respect and love for one’s elders, parents and kin have also stooped to low levels today. We hear more and more of discord, strife and total apathy. Rafi Sahab was excellent when he sang Le Lo Le Lo Duvaayen Maa Baap ki or Mere Dost Kissa Yeh Kya Ho Gaya or Meri Dosti Mera Pyaar. An insignificant film from the 70s had a wonderful song Pyaar Ka Rishta Sachha Rishta, Baaki rishtey Jhoothe.

Music art and everything has stooped to unprecedented low levels with noise, bawdy lyrics and cheap gimmicry. At such times I can’t help recall Teen Kanastar Peet Peet Kar gala Phaad Kar Chillana Yaar mere Mat Bura Man Yeh Gaana Hai na Bajaana hai. Or the funnily serious Sa Re Gama duet with Kishore Da.

I can go on and on about the depth, total dedication and devotion of Rafi Sahab to the wellbeing of his fellow men and his county via his songs. But in his own life too he demonstrated the same quality. He was focussed on his work, his family, and society at large. He had no time for political games, petty squabbles and rabble rousing. He set a fine example for all of us to follow.

Sadly, we have very few people who seem to understand this. By way of this write up I wish to let our younger generations know how life should be truly lived.

The way Rafi Sahab did. The way the world needs today. More than ever before.

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4 Blog Comments to “Why Mohd Rafi Sahab is Even More Relevant in Today’s Times of Discord and Intolerance”

  1. B.R.sarvankar says:

    Dear Sir,
    What a true things had you put along with songs example.

  2. n.g.ramaswamy says:

    WAH! WAH! ALL CLEAR. SALAAM AAPKO

  3. yasmin banu says:

    Music had always played a dominant role in the lives of people. The language that dissolved borders and for centuries, the role of singers, and poets had adorned the courts of Palaces; enthralling royalty and common person in unanimity.

    With the advent of celluloid marked the beginning of film music. It influenced the confluence of excellent composition, meaningful lyrics and mellifluous voices. Even a mediocre film became a money-spinner at the box office if the music charts get public approval.

    Today, we are paying tribute to one such voice called Mohamed Rafi that dominated the Hindi film industry for three decades. What was the unique quality that made him distinct from his peers? People reminiscent his rendition, many imitate his voice, anecdote were narrated of his humility, next generation consider him an institution of learning.

    The generation that produced their craft competed for posterity and there was no shortcoming from any quarters, propelling to give the best. Rafi Sahab’s unique quality for his diction and versatility in singing; his singing replicated the style of the actor on the silver screen. His voice transformer to their histrionics whether it is the ebullient Shammi Kapoor, debonair Dev Anand, Tragic King Dilip Kumar, mild mannered Rajendra Kumar, handsome Dharmendra, Jumping Jack Jeetendra or comedian Johnny Walker the list goes on.

    As the nation is paying tribute to the voice that we lost decades prior, as a music aficionado, I am impoverished of the bygone era. Rafi Sahab was affirmative that is the reason he sang ‘Tum Mujhe Yun Bhula Na Paoge.
    We are unable to forget the human being and the singer that left us on this day

  4. Dr. A. N. Bhadalkar says:

    Cannot agree more to your write up. Waah… How beautifully have you analysed the crisis of present situation and so truly, the way shown by our beloved Rafi Saab through an example setting life…
    ‘Yog Karmeshu kaushalam’ exhorts the Lord, Rafi Saab exemplified it as a loving Master would… No preaching… No talk claims, No aggression… Simple living … high thinking…!!
    Thank you sir… Pl keep writing…!! And keep loving our Rafi Saab…!!

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