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The Immortal Rafi

This article is from on the Immortal Rafi Sahab by Pavan Kumar Desikan.

Rafi saab’s speciality was his versatility and a very vast range. In his 38-year career,he rendered more than 28,000 songs, which include the whole range sung in Hindi films. Take the classicals like O Duniya Ke Rakhwale, Madhuban Mein Radhika Naache Re, or thumris like Aye Na Baalam Wada Karke and Gori Tere Nainva Kajra Ban. There were folk songs like Nain Lad Jai Hain and Tan Rang Lo Ji Aaj Man Rang Lo, bhajans like Mujhko Shiv Shankar Mil Gaye and Duniya Na Bhaaye Mujhe, and geets and ghazals like Suhani Raat Dhal Chuki, Abhi Na Jao Chhod Kar, Chaudvin Ka Chand Ho and Ai Mere Shah-e-Khooban.

The incredible variety of the man encompasses ghazals like Tere Kooche Mein Armanon Ki Duniya, Teri Zulfon Se Judaai To Nahin Maangi Thi, and the evergreen Tumse Se Izhaar-e-haal Kar Baithe, patriotic songs like Watan Ki Raah Mein Watan Ke Naujawan Shaheed Ho, sentimental songs like Mayoos To Hoon Wade Se Tere and Tukde Hain Mere Dil Ke. There were light songs like Sar Jo Tera Chakraye, Aye Dil Hai Mushkil Jeena Yahan, and Jangal Mein Mor Naacha Kisi Ne Na Dekha, and non-filmi ghazals like Na Kisi Ki Aankh Ka Noor Hoon and Lagta Nahin Hai Dil Mera. He sang fast numbers like Chahe Koi Mujhe Junglee Kahe, Aji Aisa Mouka Phir Kahan Milega, and qawwalis like Meri Tasveer Leke Kya Karoge, Chaandi Ka Badan and Yeh Ishq Ishq Hai…

The list is practically endless and to include every variety of song that Rafi saab sang would be a Herculean task if not exactly an impossible ne. There probably wasn’t a single hero through almost three decades for whom Rafi saab did not playback. From Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor, Biswajit, Joy Mukherjee, Rajendra Kumar, Raj Kumar, Guru Dutt, Dharmendra, Sashi Kapoor, Sunil Dutt, Sanjeev Kumar, down the ages to Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor and other youngsters, the list of heroes for whom Rafi Saab sang is virtually endless. Then there were others like Johnny Walker, I.S. Johar and Mehmood. The vast variety of songs that Rafi saab sang can well be imagined.

I still remeber, as if it were yesterday, meeting him backstage for an interview during one of his last performances in Bombay. That was in May 1980. He seemed greatly disillusioned with the deteriorating standards of film music. He seemed visibly pained that the emerging trend among music directors of signing films by the dozen — and at the overwork contributing towards deteriorating the quality of the music in films.

Lapsing into a flashback, Rafi saab had said Film-making wasn’t merely a business proposition during those days when institutions reigned supreme and freelancing hadn’t become popular in the film industry. Believe it or not, I used to be paid Rs.75/- in those days for a song! That was a fortune in those days. When I entered the line, there were, of course, popular singers like Saigal saab, G.M. Durrani and Khan Mastana. Instead of considering me as competition, they encouraged me to give my best.

In fact the first time I met Saigal saab was at Lahore, where he had come to give a concert. The mike had failed at the last minute. While it was being set right, I was asked to keep the audience engaged by singing a couple of songs. I was only 15 then. I had not yet met Nasir Khan or Shyam Sunder. Saigal saab blessed me that day and predicted that a day would come when I would be a much sought-after singer.

How true Saigal’s prediction came to be! Mohammed Rafi was one of the most popular playback singers for Hindi films till he breathed his last.

From: (Pavan Kumar Desikan)
Subject: Re: The immortal Rafi
Date: 23 Sep 1994 22:58:15 GMT
Organization: Duke University Department of Computer Science
MOHAMMED RAFI: THE SONG GOES ON Part II Masood Ansari, Deccan Chronicle

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2 Blog Comments to “The Immortal Rafi”

  1. mohamed parvez says:

    dear pavan kumar desikan thanks for this article it is very informative

  2. 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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