With Rafisaab it was like with every breath â€˜sur’ was coming out
By Mr. Ashok Parekh – I read a nice article on our Rafisaab in today’s Mumbai Gujarati Daily ‘Mumbai Samachar’ and have made an attempt to translate as my tribute to Rafisaab on his death anniversary.
31st July is amidst us. It was on this day, Rafisaab left all of us for heavenly abode. Media has started to pay tributes to him. Few days back a Gujarati daily in Mumbai, “Mumbai Samachar” had published an article in which musician Dilip Dholakia has narrated his association and experiences with Rafisaab. While Dilip Dholakia has independently given in few Hindi films in name of D. Dilip, he worked as assistant with Chitragupta and Lakshmikant Pyarelal. Following is my humble attempt for English translation which might not be error free but will definitely provide us all in general and Gujarati fans in particular a new angle of knowing our beloved Rafisaab:
I composed the first Gujarati gazal by Mohammed Rafi, “Milan na dipak sau buzai gaya chhe, abhagi nayan vat koni juve chhe…” penned by Barkat Virani for the film “Mota Ghar Ni Dikri”. Albeit, earlier I had composed a solo “Mithadi Najaru Laagi” two duets with Lataji, “O Naholia Re Nen Parovi” and “Avi Rasili Chandni Vanvagado Relavati” in the film “Satyavan Savitri” released in 1963. I just cannot say that I had decided for Rafisaab’s playback. His choice was automatic. Whatever tune he was given, he used to bring cent percent perfection in it. He gave total attention to words. Gujarati was not his language even so, his attempt to bring prominence of Urdu words in Gujarati accent in such a way that it could bring the weightage in the ghazal.
I had told producers of “Satyavan Savitri” that I will have only Rafisaab and Lataji as singers. My association with Rafisaab was so old that we were co-chorus singers when Rafisaab came in Mumbai. Our relations were such that I had took him with me to sing in my community’s programme. He was singer and we were technicians. So he became star but he maintained his friendship with till the end. I worked as assistant with Chitragupta and later on with Lakshmikant Pyarelal and recorded many songs with him so his choice was obvious for “Satyavan Savitri” and “Mota Ghar Ni Dikri”. But I have done a wonderful work with Rafisaab. H.M.V. at that time told me to make Guajarati ghazal album with Rafisaab. I told them that for this Purushottam Upadhyay (another noted Gujarati singer cum music director) should be the right person. H.M.V.’s Dubey agreed with me. Â Rafisaab sung “divso judai na jay chhe” after four days’ rehearsal. Rafisaab wanted to understand how Purushottam was singing. He exactly caught how Purshottam was singing and sung only after he knew it after four days. Rafisaab was giving much attention for expression. Not a single word should hurt. With Rafisaab it was like with every breath â€˜sur’ was coming out. His expression with word, voice and music was complete. We completed “Milan na dipak sau buzai gaya chhe” in one day only. It was based on raag bageshari. The original written by Barkatbhai was changed for the film. I was with Purushottam when Rafisaab were singing â€˜divso judaai na jay chhe‘. There is no singer like Purushottam in Gujarati. Rafisaab said, I wanted to sing the way Purushottam sings.
Recording with Rafisaab was such that during rehearsal if his attention was elsewhere, he would say, â€˜please sing this again’. Manna Dey and Rafisaab would have sung 50 songs together. Mannada is technically much powerful. If Rafisaab was singing with him and was unhappy for something, would say Mannada, â€˜please sing this’. Thereafter Rafisaab would sing even better. Mannada often told me, â€˜he sings much better than me after learning from me!’. When Rafisaab signed in English, he used to take 30-45 seconds to write each letter because he was not much educated. But as a playback singer he was master. Mannada and Lataji were fast in picking up the composition. Rafisaab took longer but once he picked up, oh, just nobody could touch him. Great singers do not become great just like that. Singing became his nature which always seen on his face. When we were recording â€˜milan na Deepak sau buzai gaya chhe..’ in Bombay Lab, his throw for each word and the way it was composed, both became meaningful.
My association with him was 29 years long. The songs I composed with him for Hindi films (Dilipbhai gave music independently under the name D. Dilip) were not much popular but â€˜pyar ka mara hun main Julie, o Julie jaane de adayen ab jaane de‘ in 1962 film â€˜private secretary’ was quite popular. But All India Radio had banned it. A duet in bagdad ki raten’, â€˜zulfowalense na bhulke bhi pyar kijiye‘ by Rafisaaab and Shamshad Begum was also quite popular. I have substantial experience of Rafisaab approach in producing each song during my 16 years association with Lakshmikant Pyarelal. Even during long duration in picking up a composition, it was continually churning within him and once he picked, he picked it totally. Rafisaab and Lataji were asking before singing on whom the song was going to be picturised and after knowing they would sing exactly like the actors were singing themselves. It is different matter that we know who sung the song! They very well knew that while singing, they had to project the actors on the screen and not themselves. This way the association of each song with Rafisaab is important for its tale of birth but now â€˜milan na Deepak sau buzai gaya chhe…’ (all lamps our meeting are extinguished…’). Â Â Â Â Â Â Â