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Excellence is Absolute

Written by Mr. Padmanabhan NR, President, Rafi Foundation, Hyderabad Chapter & member Baar Baar Rafi, Bangalore.

We often discuss on this forum as to how Rafi Saahab could emote so heartfully the different sentiments of human behavior in different sets of circumstances. We also come to the conclusion that he was a superhuman that was blessed with not only an expressive voice but also a keen understanding of the human nature itself.

Mohd Rafi

Mohd Rafi

We know of singers who specialize in different genre of songs; A Mukesh for sad romantics, a Kishore Kumar for those playful experimentations and also contemporary choices, a Hemant for serious romantic beltings, a Talat for ghazals and a Manna De for those classical based songs. Each had a particular constituency to service and it became his domain also.

Today we move with Rafi Sahab to a different space altogether ; to a place inhabitated by Heart but where Reason offers insight to its emotional malady. The song set in classical yaman, is composed by Sahir and set to tune by Madan Mohan. If ever there is a need to make a philosophical statement tunefully, this is the way to do it. It is excellence and absolute. Both.

Mohd Rafi

Mohd Rafi

Tarry a while, my dear Heart. Life is a continous stream of events. Some of the things happen as a matter of routine, others are unpredictable and some are even destined not to occur. Have patience. You are under a spell of illusory feelings where there is neither reciprocity nor acknowledgement. Do not try to be possessive of what you never had in the first place.  To you they seem invitingly friendly because of your passionate involvement.

That you could savour a moment or two out of this tragedy is an obligation enough. Thus far and no further, my friend. Come out of the grief and slumber that you have had to endure. Life, after all, is nothing but a precursor to death and these two are as illusory as dreams. Why cannot you visualize the inevitable?

Try not to look at Pradeep Kumar. He is a great failure. But keep your eyes open. Zeb Rehman has emoted far, far better. The full goblet hurriedly emptied says it all in the end.

Zindagi shuru hui ya khatm ? If Rafi saahab can offer such philosphical insights, who will not enjoy life to its fullness and who would be afraid of death?

Man re tu kaahe na dheer dhare….

Watch Man Re Tu Kahe Na from Chitralekha – Courtesy: spcspc1654 @ Youtube

Somehow, I have a feeling that Rafi Sahab was a superhuman who understood the inner truths of such complex emotions.  Each time he sang those songs, he has tried to demistify the aura around it with his melodious renditions. Only he had that captivating power to take us along with him.

This song is a favourite of mine in the sense that whenever it is being attempted, it appears to reciprocate the feelings of the singer towards Rafi Sahab. What can a true bhakt give to his Guru as dakshina except perhaps reverentially remembering him through the Guru’s own creation ?

It is a song of longing, a one-sided infatuation. An ugly face but a divine singer – he has only seen her. He also feels that once she meets him, her crush for him as a singer would collapse on seeing his face. Yet, he is unable to come to terms with his own realizations and silently longs for her. The deep desire only stokes further yearning of that unexpressed love. It is a heartrending outcry of a lonely soul unable to come to terms with himself.

How distinctly the maestro brings out the pathos of these moments, one has to listen to this song to feel it. The aalaap that he takes before the song is the meter on which the song gets its footing. Do not miss it.  Shailendra, SD Burman and even Lataji would testify that. Absolute excellence.

Tere bin soone nain hamare….

Watch Tere Bin Soone Naian Hamaare from Meri Surat Teri Ankhen – Courtesy: suhailhmd05 @ Youtube

To me these two songs represent Rafi Saahab in totality. I have quoted his contemporary’s name earlier. Could anyone of them would have been able to render these songs as effectively? In fact these are not simple songs at all; these are melodious philosophical statements. And therein lies the difference.

It is impossible to emotionalize a song unless you understand the lyrics and its underlying meaning. For that, one has to be very sensitive to imbibe the true meaning. This again is not possible unless one is open, receptive and behaves constantly as a learner. You could be modest about your achievements or capabilities. It just holds you a tad back from being eloquent in your utterances on achievements so far. But, humility is a greater realization. The last bastion conquered only indicates how much more there is to learn. It is this human aspect which Rafi Saahab enveloped in his entire life span. Not once has he underrated any of his contemporaries and had only good words for all of them.

That virtue afforded him a broad smile, a humane approach, a learner’s eagerness. That humility enabled him to be simple, receptive and sensitive. We all know that he never had a formal schooling nor was he a trained singer. He assimilated his virtues by observations, understanding and hard work. Small things like a kite or a carrom board or badminton would excite him as much as being with children. Singing was pooja/ ibaadat for him and therefore he gave everything to it. It was his way of thanking the God for the largesse endowed on him.

None of us will ever even dream of matching him in singing. But if at least some of us could try to be simple, open, humane and concerned towards our own fellow human beings, that would be the greatest tribute to him on his 85th birthday.

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14 Blog Comments to “Excellence is Absolute”

  1. rasila shah says:

    excellent tribute to the indian bharat ratan! how can you ever forget rafi sahab?
    what a great singer with such humble personality! long live rafisahab! your fans miss you , but you are with us live.

  2. Anwar-ul-Haque says:

    Dear Padmanabhan ji,

    Very brilliant article from you and great tribute to the legend on his birthday. Yes! You are right that these two songs represent Rafi Sahab in totality. But there are lot others also, as we all know. Both these songs are just marvellous (well, words are too short to convey the brilliance and genious of Rafi Sahab and his immortal renditions). Many congratulations for writing this beautiful piece of work.

    Thanks and best regards.


  3. achal rangaswamy says:

    nrp bhai

    you have written about two of the most beautiful renderings and extremely poignant songs of rafi saab. the second one in particular is something that forever appeals to me and every time i listen to it i feel the singer must have got under the skin of the actor to produce a gem of a song. when he says “hasne ke din bhi, rokey guzaare..” there is that touch of despondence and utter grief that only a man truly sensitive to the role being played could put forth.

    amazing songs and absoultey beautiful description of the songs, the moods and the great man who brought them to us, to enjoy.

    thank you nrp bhai

    achal rangaswamy

  4. Sanjeev Kumar Dixit says:

    Respected Padmnabhan jee,
    Veri nice article written by you. I am totally agree with you that only & only Rafi Sahab was able to sing the songs of any kind of mood & emotion.
    ARTHAT – Unke jaisa na koi hua hai aur na hi kabhi hoga, kyonki Un jaise insaan roz-2 nahi aate, un jaise FARISHTE kabhi sadiyon me janm lete hain.
    -Sanjeev Kumar Dixit
    Founder, Rafi foundation Lucknow chapter

  5. nrpbhai,

    as usual, your write ups on any subject raises the bar for all of us a few notches and from this piece on our avataar, i have picked your last little concluding para, and found it to be the most endearing, true, humane and most logical and practical, with respect to the present day humans which includes me.


    None of us will ever even dream of matching him in singing. But if at least some of us could try to be simple, open, humane and concerned towards our own fellow human beings, that would be the greatest tribute to him on his 85th birthday.


    nrpbhai – you just picked one leaf from the many which constituted in the creation of that most noble soul called ” rafi sahab “.

    probably, one starts searching all over the globe with a lamp and retire most down and dejected in none to come anywhere close to being a nice kind person without a tinge of artificiality apparently visible.

    as his bhakts, we all have it in us to imbibe his qualities one by one, but, are scared of unknown fears, which make us insecure.

    as they say – you cant shake a hand with someone with a close fist.

    there’s no point in leading a successfull life with a closed mind too.

    once we shake hands as rafi bhakts – our idea’s and minds and ideologies should automatically change to the nicities of rafi sahab.

    too very well written and a fitting one on the maestro’s 85th ” vaad divas “.


  6. bina says:


    That was heartfelt and a wonderful tribute to Rafi Saab..fresh from celebrating this wonderful human being, whom we call Rafi Saab, with little children, who were so dear to him, I want to say that your article really moved me..

    Thank you for these two very beautiful songs that exemplify Rafi Saab’s personality..

    Just one song comes to mind right now as I read your epistle..the very touching tune from Nausherwaan-e-adil tuned by C. Ramachandra that has all the pooja and ibaadat of Rafi Saab..

    tumhari yaad aa aakar mere nasthar chubhoti hai
    wagarna dil ke saare zakhm itne dil mein bhar jaate
    yeh hasrat thi ke is duniya mein bas do kaam kar jaate
    tumhari yaad mein jeete tumhare gum mein mar jaate..


  7. chandramohan says:

    Rafi’s voice is the voice of GOD. Long live Rafi saab

  8. Utthara says:

    NRP, I can sum up my reaction to your article with a bigh Wah! You have chosen two gems and beautifully analysed them. Man re is voted as one of the best songs in many polls. Though it is classified as bhajan, it is a lesson on life–philosophy of the highest order. Only Sahir Ludhianvi could have penned these profound lyrics. roshan, as usual, has given musical life to Sahir’s lyrics while Rafi saab proves why he is considerd the best.
    The second song, Tere bin sooni nain hamare, is a soul-stirring song, renderd very movingly by rafi saab.
    NRP, you have beautifully brought out the greatness of these two exquisite songs.

    trivia on Man re.

    Rajesh Roshan likes this song so much that a s a tribute to his father Roshan, he bravely attempted this tune. The song __ Ghar se nikalte hi kuch door chalte hi __ from pap kehte hain. The orchestration is inspired’ as also the tune.



  9. J.K. Bhagchandani says:

    First thing first. Happy Birthday to Rafi saab.

    Thanks to Rafi saab for giving us innumerable jewels of music for us to relish all our lives. Thanks God for giving us Rafi saab.

  10. Anoop says:

    Hello Rafian’s

    First of all, Happy Birthday to Rafi Saheb.
    I salute to the master because of his melodious voice, classical touch, versatality and soulful rendering. I always feel heavenly when I hear the songs of this maestro. He has alwyas been one of the most important reason for my life’s happiness.

    One important note for the writer of this article, The song “Man Re Tu Kahe Na Dheer Dhare” was not composed by Madan Mohan but by Roshan.

    Once again Happy Birthday Rafi Saheb.

  11. A S MURTY says:

    padmanabhan, you have come up yet again with some of the truest feelings that come engulfing us all whenever the name of rafi sahab is taken. it has been very difficult for most of us to convey those exact feelings when we listen to any of his songs – the two songs mentioned by you being of the tallest order – to say the least. Your summing up with :”n fact these are not simple songs at all; these are melodious philosophical statements. And therein lies the difference……..that would be the greatest tribute to him on his 85th birthday” is on a class by itself. This morning as I was talking to Ramesh Kurpad, author of yet another great article that has been posted simultaneously with yours, we discussed these very virtues of rafi sahab and that if we can imbibe even a small quantity of them in our lives, we would be blessed ourselves. rancor, ill-will or marauding comments on fellow human beings will only bring our own downfall – this is what we all learn from the humbleness and simplicity of rafi sahab. thanks for coming up with your wonderful thoughts in such masterly writing, as these are also the thoughts of most of us.

    a s murty
    rafi foundation,
    hyderabad chapter

  12. Priya Sanyal says:

    “baar baar din yeh aye baar bar dil yeh gaye tum jiyo hazaro shal hai yahi aarzoo….happy Birthday to u”…u r forever alive Rafi sahab….only person like u live for thousands of years…..u r eternal…u still live in us…u will keep on living with coming ages…..we r extremly thankful to God for this blessed day on which u were born…U r our Angel,our Farista…by ur voice we feel what we mean by divinity………..

    well said by Mr. Padmanabhan NR,,,Rafi sahab is a Super-Human………

    Happy Birth Day to you Mohammed Rafi sahab,the love n compassion of our life………….

  13. P. Haldar says:

    Mr. Padmanabhan,

    Very good article, but the Yaman tune was set by Roshan, not Madan Mohan.

    P. Haldar

  14. girish prahalad says:

    padmanabhan ji

    “man re tu kahe na” from Chitralekha is composed by Roshan & not Madan Mohan

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