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Book Review: Mohammed Rafi – My Abba A Mémoire

By Mohammed F.Taj, London.

Mohammed Rafi - My Abba A Memoire

Having just finished reading “Mohammed Rafi – My Abba A Mémoire” I must admit I am some what disappointed. What I expected to be anecdotes and insight into the life of the greatest Hindi playback singer in Bollywood history turned out to be far from that. An analogy would be that you buy Chicken burgers from the super market only to find that it only contains 20% chicken.

While the book does talk about some information about Rafi Saab that relies on inside information it is however very much in his later years. The book is more about Mrs Yasmeen Khalid herself and her family with about 30% about Rafi Saab. It begins and dwells, I believe, too long on his death and how she her husband found out about it. The information about his songs and Music directors used in the book is, to a certain extent, common knowledge already available on the Internet and did not represent anything new.

All in all I must admit it was very much an Anti Climax having to laboriously read through page after page of Yasmeen’s own life and that of her family. No disrespect that’s not why I purchased the book. It would have been OK say for Yasmeen to talk about herself and her Family (her side) for 30% and then Rafi saab for 70% but it does the opposite. In truth the book should have been written by Rafi Saab’s wife or her brother who was Rafi saab’s manager using a ghostwriter who would have got a narrative from them. Yasmeen Khalid spent only a short time (in the span of 4 decades in the industry) with Rafi Saab as she and her husband Khalid Rafi lived in the UK most of the time after she was married into the Rafi household.

Even though Rafi saab was a family man (i.e. after recordings he was straight home and not out in the Bollywood scene of the time) he never the less attended award ceremonies and gala nights with SJ, Madan Mohan, LP, Naushad etc.. There is nothing about those. There is nothing about his great working relationship with some of the finest MD’s and actors of the time (Shammi, Dharmendra, Rajendra, Dilip Kumar and many others) instead we are told about Indore and where Yasmeen grew up – all well and good but Ma’am I bought the book to read about where Rafi Saab grew up and how he came to Bombay and his struggles in the early years, his interaction with the stars that he moulded his voice to suit etc..

So alas I still await a proper biography of the true Legend that was Rafi Saab.

My score on the Book: 4 / 10 – and that’s being generous.

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10 Blog Comments to “Book Review: Mohammed Rafi – My Abba A Mémoire”

  1. kn kumar says:

    I was disappointed with the book. It does not do justice to the great man. There is hardly any news on Rafi Saab’s interaction with the Music Directors, lyricists and singers both male and female. He was a very private person and it is up to the family members to bring out more information about this genius into public domain. Hope his son will do it for posterity’s sake.

  2. Binu Nair says:

    I agreee with you Sir about the Book…Its More about the writer than the Main Subject. The book was Not given to the Rafi Family Prior to the Release and this had Upset the family members.

    I was given the book to read prior to the release which the family bought from a shop in Bandra. I represented – the family at the inauguration and I had also put few questions to the author prior to the inauguration and during it.

    I also pointed out the issue to Shri Amitabh Bachchan ji by a written note.

    The points made by the author on the ROYALTY ISSUE had upset the family and Nasreen Rafi ji had told me in the meeting that :”for us LOYALTY is Much More Important than ROYALTIES……” Who is she to talk of Royalties – when Rafi saab Never Seeked Royalties.

    You are right Sir. Nasreen ji should have written the Book. It would have been wonderfully authentic.

    Thanks for calling a SPADE A SPADE. Objective Indeed.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I read the English version of the book. (Purchased it on Amazon). I too thought it was a little heavy on the author’s life. If I remember correctly, the description of the book did say it is about the personal experiences of a daughter in law who, incidentally, considered herself the biggest fan of Mohd. Rafi from her childhood on. There was no claim of this book being a biography of Rafi. So it is with that understanding that I read the book and was able to really enjoy it from that perspective. There were anecdotes only a family member would be able to give, like Rafi’s reluctance to play badminton in his own yard because of ogling by neighbors from their balconies. There are also some nice photographs in the book. I hope somebody will do a biography or documentary on Rafi’s life but it might be difficult since most of his contemporaries have either passed on or are too old to take on that task. Hopefully some organization can try to get oral recording from the surviving associates before long. Otherwise we will only have bits and pieces of anecdotes. That will be a shame.

  4. shammi says:

    I absolutely love Mohd Rafi and have to say that I am one of his biggest fans but have to agree with the writer of this article. I too was disappointed with the book and one of the reasons being that most fans want to know more about the legend and the book gave us very little information or insight into his life. However, for me personally I would still recommend it as I simply adore this legend and would have purchased it regardless of any negative comments. I would have loved a book that was a true tribute to him and I’m afraid this doesn’t do the great man the justice he deserves. May his memory life on forever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. K P Hassan says:

    I agree with your remarks on the contents of Book which was published in the name of MOHD RAFI sahab by Mrs. Yasmin Khalid Rafi.

  6. Fazia says:

    Completely agree with this post. Very little relevant information on Rafi Saheb but mostly about the writer and her side of the family. Disappointed with the book.

  7. SHAMMI says:

    It is great to release book on RAFI Saheb , no matter if the contents of Rafi Saheb may be less, but the impact of the book will only increase the curiousness and anxiety to know more about RAFI only and his greatness will only multiply because he is like Oxygen to all true music lovers and also to those who do not understand music but love very much music.

    I hope in future some great and pure lover of RAFI will come up with more Books on RAFI SAHEB with maximum available details of the Great Rafi.

    We always miss you Rafi Saheb, You pure smile and smiling voice is matchless in this material world.

  8. Jawahar N Suvarnakar says:

    were can i get this book ?

  9. Ali says:

    For us as Mohd Rafi fan we don’t need any book on Mohd Rafi because we alll know what music directors and actors what they said about the greatness of Mohd Rafi…Great name like Shammi ji and OPN said they are because of mohd Rafi”””””

  10. Ali says:

    Hi friends..
    I think we all Mohd Rafi should be under one account at Facebookand what’s up and this should run by Mohd Rafi fan club or one of Mohd Rafi family member……
    Ali Baluch

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