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Khushboo Hoon Main, Phool Nahin Hoon Joh Murjhaaoonga

By Achal Rangaswamy

Mohammed Rafi

Mohammed Rafi

The family was driving down the Expressway connecting Ahmadabad to Baroda and some radio station was playing songs randomly. When the family travels together, I don’t necessarily get the freedom to play just my own favourites only.

Suddenly my son, sitting behind us, asked a question.

Dad, would Mohd Rafi have been able to sing this song?

I just took a minute to listen with some patience to the noisy and somewhat jarring piece that was being dished out as a song.

I told my son- “Not only would Rafi Sahab have sung this song smoothly, he would have taught this young singer how to execute it even smoother, with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye!”

My son didn’t argue with me. He may not be a Rafi fan in the true sense or the way I worship him, but he does admit that songs like Tere Mere Sapne from guide or Kaarvaan Guzar Gaya from Nai Umar Ki Nai Fasal were difficult to sing. He also perhaps has a soft corner for the song Abhi Na Jaao from Hum Dono.

He only asked me one question- “Would he have sung almost all of today’s songs with ease?

My answer was, “I don’t know whether he would have sung all these songs with ease. He may have laughed at some of them. But he would surely have made the listener’s life and ears easy with his perfect rendering and total involvement. Marks of a great artiste, concern for the listener.”

I guess I thus brought Rafi Sahab on the same plane as all of us sales and marketing professionals, whose main goal in life should be to make their customers’ lives easier, not their own.

We continued driving down, and then I asked my son- “You know which song I would have always liked Rafi Sahab to have sung before he passed away?

My son was curious to know and so was my wife.

It would have to be Ae Ajnabi Tu Bhi Kabhi Aawaaz De Kahin Se from the film Dil Se”.

Yes, true” came the reply. “Udit Narayan seems to have sung the song as if Rafi Sahab was on the radio in that particular scene”, my son was quick to observe.

Now that is the point. There have been so many songs that we have appreciated and praised the composer or the lyricist or even the singer, that Rafi Sahab would have done tremendous justice to, yet not made the contemporary singer feel belittled, the greatest quality of Rafi Sahab. He treated everyone with love and respect.

The rest of the journey was quiet, not because the music was not playing or we were not talking. I was thinking of the songs that Rafi Sahab has sung which even today sound so fresh, as if recorded this morning! And mind you, the quality of equipment in the days he sang, the lack of great sound engineers or technicians did not prevent him from giving us umpteen evergreen hits.

Almost as if on cue, this song flowed from the speakers in the car- Khuhboo Hoon Main Phool Nahin Hoon, and that was it! I realized one very simple truth. Rafi Sahab’s songs will never go out of style, or fashion.

Just look at the number of TV ads today, and try and recall the number of them that have his songs playing. Whether it is Chakke pe Chakke , Chakke pe gaadi , or Sar Joh Tera Chakraaye, or Main Gaaon Tum So Jaao, or even Baar Baar Dekho Hazaar Baar Dekho, or Yeh Chaand sa Roshan Chehra.

TV serials carry titles based on his songs. Go to college cultural fests and you will find the youngsters there on the stage singing Hum Aapki Aankhon Mein Is Dil Ko Basa Dein Toh, or Dil Ka Bhanwar Karey Pukaar.

Every music- based TV reality show has the participants, the judges and the anchors just not being able to complete an episode without referring to the encyclopedia of playback singing in Hindi Films. Rafi Sahab is the first word and the last one too. Even the youngest of kids belts out a Kya Hua Tera Waada or Ehsaan Tera Hoga Mujhpar. He also challenges his rivals on the programme by singing Hai Agar Dushman, Hum Kisise Kam Nahin!

And elsewhere,whenever any rookie singer tries to make his mark, detractors ask him if he is trying to be a Mohd Rafi! What better tribute can be paid to him, thus?

Someone once told me, “Rafi couldn’t handle romantic songs, specially the ones bordering on the erotic.”

I scoffed at this somewhat hasty reference or comparison to perhaps a Roop Tera Mastana.

My retort was, “Who sang Aa Jaa Re Aa Zara in Love in Tokyo? Who sang Yeh Parbaton ke Daayre Yeh Shaam ka Dhuaan in Vaasna?  Or Akele Akele Kahan Ja Rahe Ho?

To add to my friend’s discomfiture I added, “Tumse Kahoon Ik Baat Paron Si Halki Halki” and that was it. The discussion ended there.

Discussions must end here. There is one Rafi. He wasn’t ,he will never be. He is.

And like that proverbial fragrance of the flower, he lingers, forever. All around us. He begins our day. He ends our day.

Bahut Shukriya, Rafi Sahab ke hamaari zindagi mein huzoor aap aaye.

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25 Blog Comments to “Khushboo Hoon Main, Phool Nahin Hoon Joh Murjhaaoonga”

  1. Great Rafi sahab my heart

  2. Mohammad Arsalan says:

    Some words about Rafi sab:There are so many stars on the sky but the Moon is One like that there are so many Great singers on the earth but MAOHAMMAD RAFI is ONE..

  3. M. S. Zaman says:

    I bet, no one has as many sensuous songs to his credit as Rafi Sahab…he was the only singer to have rendered so many sensuous (erotic) songs, yet without any offense to one’s sensibilities…not like those as saat saheliyan khadi khadi..

    I have great love to the lovers of Mohd. Rafi…..please be my guest whenever you are in Aligarh…we can talk about Rafi Sahab all day all night……relentlessly….please visit my page Rafi Sahab on FB

  4. Adarsh Kumar Mudgil says:

    Rafi Saheb would have been able to sing any song of these days in a better way,but modern day singers may not be able to match him in old song sung by him

  5. Chandru Khemani says:

    Dear Achal Ji,

    You did not mention the name of the song for which your son asked the question. But you did say noisy and jarring. Based on that I would like to ask your son to listen to and study the lyrics of the song (from Love Marriage):- Tin Kanastar Peet Peet Kar Galaa Phaad Kar Chilanaa

  6. vinod mehru says:

    dear achal ji,

    no word is available to me to express my thanks from the bottom of my heart to you, like my other some fellow follower i was able to visit on 31st july 2013 to holy place (graves of rafi sahab) as usual in past 5 years to pay floral tribute our idol rafi sahab. I still recalled the evening of july 1967 when i had opportunity to listen rafi sahab live with other singers, memories will remain for ever.

    vinod mehru
    09768245368 .

  7. sabnavees says:

    After going through the comment of sarwat baig sahab i have gone through the exhaustive write up of dinesh patel ji. he is so lucky to have seen rafi sahab & was able to talk to him. his last four lines are very true & i too experience it. i have never met rafi sahab in this life time. but his divine voice has always put a warmth like a fresh blossoming rose deep in my heart. the first song which i heard of rafi sahab during my childhood is ‘ chali chali re patang meri chali re ‘ . that was the start of my worship for rafi sahab followed by the songs ‘ sar jo tera chakaraye ‘ ye duniya agar milbhi jaye to kya hai ‘ ‘ o duniya ke rakhwale ‘ chanda ko dhoond ne sabhi tare nikal pade ‘ aaj kal main dhal gaya ‘ ‘ jab bhi ye dil udaas hota hai ‘ so on……………… i always envy GOD how can HE take away such great people so soon. The incarnation having no ego, no vanity , no false prestige but love, humility & kindness always for the man kind & a master of melody, diction, clarity & range.

  8. Sarwat Baig says:

    Achal Bhai, it is people like you and all the regular contributors to thid website not to mention the gentlemen such as Binu Sahib and Ahmed Kutty Sahib who believe are official custodians ot this site who are making all the difference. I am afraid I will have to agree with SalRafi and Santosh Sahibs that there is a deliberate attempt to sideline him especially on TV channels. The History Channel being one of them. Achal Bhai please carry on writing such heart warming pieces that carry a personal touch so that more beautiful responses such as Dinesh Bhai’s are elicited. Bless you all. Ameen (P.S. I agree completely with Meeruti Sahib)

  9. siraj baug says:

    you said it right my friend, no one can come close to this angel

  10. Abdul Sirkhot says:

    a great singer and a wonderful human being

    we in south africa we fottunate to hear him live and to meet him personally.

    that meeting was the greatest display of humility i have ever witnessed.

    as long as we rafi fans are around he will live forever.

  11. ravi kumar says:

    Yes Mr Achal !!! bahut shukriya … badi meharubani

    A person with commendable skill, ability and gifted vocal chord, cherished to do his karma without expecting anything in return and set an example for others to learn and follow

  12. Abdul Sirkhot says:

    Truly a remarkable human being blessed with a voice.

    As long as us his dedicated fans are around he will live forever.

    We in South Africa are pleased to have heard him and met him personally.

  13. Ali says:

    True that There is one Mohd Rafi. He wasn’t ,he will never be. He is.

  14. sabnavees says:

    Very aptly said Rangaswami ji, Khushboo hoon main, phool nahin jo murjhaoongaa……. rafi sahab is an unending divine khushboo which will encircle the entire mankind with his humanity, manners, kindness apart from being a singer of highest order. I have made this caption with the picture of rafi sahab as my desktop back ground.

  15. u k achan says:

    There is a song Hum main he kya ki hame koi hasina chahe and another one
    kaise kategi zindzgi tere bagair which gives us Rafi Worshipers an indication
    of our loss due to his transition at an early age.These are songs during his last

  16. JK Bhagchandani ji (jagdishbhai) , thank you so much for your warm feedback!

    SalRafi ji thanks for your feedback. i mentioned those ads that i have heard, thats all !!

    dr riaz sahab you are so right!

    warm regards

    achal rangaswamy

  17. SalRafi says:

    Good article. Let me add this
    AR Rahman mentioned in an interview that he had Mohd Rafi in mind composing the song Aey Ajnabi. Though done a fantastic job, on some notes you can feel the struggle of Udit Narayan.
    I disagree with you on the point about ads. Mostly it seems that there is a hidden effort NOT to have Rafi numbers played or used as title. Check out yourself.
    Take care.



  19. Ashok Parekh says:

    Kya kahene Achalaji aap ke is write up ka? You have made my day.

  20. J.K. Bhagchandani says:

    Achal ji,

    What a great write-up from you (as always), a very special one on the emperor’s death anniversary. While one issue on which I wanted to respond is already replied by Hans ji. This one-off nice KK song (Roop tera mastana…) is no match to the songs pointed out by Hans ji.

    There are some other recent songs that come to my mind that had they been sung by Rafi saab would have been at an altogether different level. Like ‘Tum se hi….’ (Jab we met), ‘Agar main kahoon…’ (Lakshya), ‘Har ghadi badal rahi hai..’ (Kal ho na ho) etc. And how about ‘Mauja hi mauja….’ (Jab we met). It might have been another ‘Nan lad jayee hai…’

    Coming to Dinesh Patel’s post, it is just beyond words. Lot of similarity with my condition except that I am settled in Delhi and not in London. The bhajan anology is ditto in my case. I am not greatly religious but I can be found listening to Rafi saab’s bhajans (tere bharose he nandlala, more shyaam…., paon padoon tore shyam…, bhajan bina bawre…, prabhu tere charan pade jahan jahan… etc.). That is the power of Rafi saab’s voice.

    Thanks Achal ji and Dinesh Patel ji for your brilliant essays.

    -J.K. Bhagchandani

  21. Hans says:


    you always come with something special. thanks.

    talking of romantic numbers can anyone even come near rafi. tell him about ‘tu mere samne hai’ from suhagan composed by madan mohan, which is the ultimate romantic song. or if hewants only rajesh khanna – sharmila tagore then listen to ‘ye raat hai pyasi pyasi’ from chhoti bahu which is infinitely better than ‘roop tera’. there are several other gems like ‘aaj ki raat ye kaisi raat (aman)’, ‘aaj ki raat badi shokh (nai umar ki nai fasal)’ ‘itni haseen itni jawan raat (aaj aur kal)’, paas baitho tabiat behal jayegi (punar milan)’, main nigahen tere chehre se (aap ki parchhaiyan)’ to name just a few.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Achalbhai, beju suu kem except I realise now that I
    may have added my comments in the wrong place, I
    should have acknowledged your fabulous story so I
    I’ve read comments on this site often but today was
    the first time I’ve added my experience, I was quite
    eager too. It’s amazing the effect someone can have
    due to his voice.

  23. shrirang nawathe says:


    Excellent….i hv no words wd me to express my emotions..just superb…Best tribute to Rafi sb….Jai Ho Rafi sb….

  24. Sarwat Baig says:

    You have driven away the depression caused by this sad date and of all those who are constantly trying to bring him down. If the youth is thinking then Mohd Rafi Sahib will always rule as he is blessed. Bless you.

  25. Dinesh Patel says:

    This is a bit lengthy but I hope you’ll understand, happy reading.
    Our home was probably just like any other Indian household
    around the world in the late 60’s I guess. Obviously, much more than 4 members living in that house, savoury/spicy food, trying to maintain our culture away from India but desperate to see & experience what the western world had to offer too and of course our Indian films & music. From 05:00 there would be bhajans to start the day (audio cassettes in those days), from about 10:00 its generally Indian music (radio, audio cassettes or LP’s/SP’s). In those days, songs were played by the film and not the singer & talented me (just joking), I managed to learn numerous songs (I’ve been told from the age of 3), but I couldn’t recognise who sang them. In our household there were often debates which singer was the best as well as actors. Baa, bapuji, mum, dad, eldest & middle mama were Rafi Saab fans, the youngest mama was a Mukesh fan. Youngest mama liked Raj Kapoor, the others were Dilip Kumar & Rajendra Kumar fans – you see the pattern now? There were also debates between my parents friends, other family members, mama’s friends and whoever wanted to have their input about Indian music/singers/actors. As mentioned earlier, I could only recognise the songs, not the singers but from 10 years old I started my own audio collection of songs – recording them from the radio. There were Rafi Saab, Mukesh, KK, Lata & Asha songs – I didn’t understand Hindi at the time but just sang them! In the mid 70’s I swayed towards KK due to Amitabh Bachchan! In my teens (mid 80’s) I swayed towards Rafi Saab for some reason – I really don’t know for sure but I think I recognised his voice from when I was
    younger. At this point I was also discovered that Rafi Saab & KK had sang the same song like, “Tum bin jawon kaha” and many duets. I wasn’t now interested in the actors songs but the singers and it’s at that point my Rafi Saab collection started. With the introduction of CD’s, I started my collection again and eventually transferred them to iTunes. As I got older my passion for Rafi Saab grew too, his voice is just phenomenal. With the www. I learnt more about Rafi Saabs’ songs, talent, ability, life, dedication, generosity, issues with Lata and his demise in the 70’s hurt & saddened me greatly. A few years ago my dad told me that in the 70’s he saw Rafi Saab at Heathrow airport. My dad said,”I saw him, I wanted to approach him and shake hands but I felt so below him. I smiled and said to myself at least I’ve seen him and continued walking. Whilst we were in a queue I heard, “Bhai, aap kese hai”? “I turned and it was Rafi Saab. Before I could reply he said, “Benji, aap teek hai”? to your mum”. “He shook our hands, gave us hugs and said, “Mujhe pata hai keh app ku chale gaye. Main be aap jesa hoon”. He asked if we had settled in the UK and if we needed any help. He provided his contact number, wished us well and left. We were absolutely shocked”. Since then, I’d often speak to my dad about meeting Rafi Saab and said, “I wish I could have met him”. “But you have”, said my dad! “What ….. when”? I said. “You were at the airport too, your mum was holding you. Rafi Saab stuck his index finger out and you grabbed it. He asked what your name was”. I felt a sudden chill and then I felt a tear running down my cheek. “Son, you okay”?, said my dad. “Dad, it’s not a good time to joke”, I said. “I wouldn’t joke about something like this, ask your mum”? So I did and what my dad said was confirmed! I had a good cry knowing I met Rafi Saab, Getting married to the girl I wanted was a highlight, seeing the birth of my children was the next highlight, being told I met Rafi Saab is the highlight of all! Surely the arrival of the grand children should top that? Lets wait and see. My wife summed it up once: “You kind of remind me of your mum during prays. She could be on her death bed but she’d be up at 04:30 to do her 05:00 lengthy prays. You listen to Mohd Rafi everyday, if not your laptop it’s your phone whilst ironing, cooking, in the shower, absolutely anywhere. If you can’t sleep you listen to Rafi & never get to sleep. Wherever we are you seem to hear Rafi’s voice from someones car, TV or radio before anyone recognises it’s Rafi. You’re totally dedicated, like a disciple, you won’t change his song half way, you finish it completely. You always spend one day a week on updating your Rafi collection. Your iTunes is meticulously detailed for Rafi but Manna Dey, Kishore, Mukesh etc don’t get the same privilege. You treat 24th Dec & 31July as ultimate holy days. You’re not religious but I’ve caught you listen to bhajans by Rafi, you’re behaviour towards Mohd Rafi is as if he’s your ….. god”! Fortunately, my wife & I are still happily together & madly in love, she & the children understand what Rafi Saab means to me. Prior to my wife telling me of the effect Rafi Saab has on me, I never thought of him as god. We’re fully aware of his capabilities as a singer but as an all round human Rafi Saab must surely be up there amongst the gods. An example, his take on the royalty issue with Lata showed money was not his motivator. Rafi Saab, you’ve given me so much pleasure and peace with your voice and at times guided me with your egoless personality, I thank you sincerely on your 33rd anniversary. Long live the King!

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