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Fan ho to Aisa

Article By Pallavi Srivastava. Source:

New Delhi, August 8: As a schoolkid, he boarded a goods train and travelled in the guard’s compartment to watch Mohammed Rafi sing at a concert in Bareilly. Decades later, G.B. Mathur has made it his mission to see the late playback singer honoured with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award or the Bharat Ratna.

Mathur, the vice president, law, and company secretary at Escorts Limited, recently inserted an obituary in an English daily, which said, “Body having been laid to rest 23 years ago, the immortal songs still entertain millions of hearts world over… Yet, denied Dada Sahib Phalke Award and Bharat Ratan, while his contemporary Lata/Asha have already been bestowed. Hope it will not be too late..” The obit was intended to mark the singer’s death anniversary on July 31.

Mathur, a Delhiite in his early 50s, has raised the issue in the past with Information and Broadcasting Ministry officials. “When I went to the ministry three years back, I was told that the Phalke award is given only to living persons, but rules can be amended. Let them begin with K.L. Saigal, I’ve no problems.” A trained singer himself, Mathur says, “I don’t know why I am so attached to Rafi. His death was like that of a family member to me. I used to keep his picture in my wallet.” Mathur’s wife and children gush about his knowledge of Rafi songs, including the lyrics, names of those he sang with, composers and lyricists, and even the orchestra music. He has been getting Rafi’s obituaries published in newspapers since the 1980s. But it’s only this year that he thought of highlighting the award issue through an ad. About five years back, Mathur went on a pilgrimage to Shirdi in Maharashtra and prayed for a chance to visit the singer’s house in Mumbai. A few days later, he reached Mumbai and his taxi driver turned out to be a Rafi fan too. “I asked him if he knew the singer’s address. He took me there,” he recalls. Mathur met Rafi’s wife and other family members. “His wife said, ‘maybe we belong to a different caste, that’s why we have been discriminated against’,’’ he says. He is full of stories about Rafi that he has read and heard from people. Like this one, which he says was narrated to him by Rafi’s wife. “On the day of Rafi’s daughter’s marriage, music composer Ravi persuaded him to record a song, saying that such intense feelings will not be reflected in his voice again. The song was Babul ki duaein leti ja.” Mathur says he has got many supportive e-mails after the ad last week. And so, the mission continues.

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One Comment to “Fan ho to Aisa”

  1. Bonifacius says:

    Great article. I am just sad I dont know how to reply properly, though, since I want to show my appreciation like many other.

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