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Playback from the Past

By Anmol Singh

Playback from the past

In the present times we see a lot of biopic films being produced, where the era of 1950s to 1970s is portrayed on screen. Going back in time means highlighting the fashion of that era. We see characters wearing bell bottom trousers with high heel shoes; printed shirts with large round collars along with specific 70s era hair style with covered ears. To an extend the popular cars and trucks of that era along with steam locomotives become part of the biopic. Majority steam locomotives have been phased out by the Indian Railways, only a few are currently maintained at the Rewari rail workshop near Delhi. Most of these incredible machines see their role in the current biopics and earn good revenue for the Indian Railways.

But despite achieving such level of perfection in getting the feel of that era, there appears to be something missing. We are not able to do complete justice to the music and songs. In a biopic there is scope to use the unreleased sound tracks sung by Rafi Sahab. These were tracks which couldn’t be included in the films released in the past or half produced films which couldn’t be completed. Some time back an album ‘Tere Bagair’, was released which had the unreleased songs sung by Rafi Sahab and other singers. These were songs recorded by Madan Mohan Ji in the era of 60s and 70s. Using Rafi’s voice the songs in the album were modernized as per current musical trend. Now the question is, whether these songs could have made a place in the current biopic films. Then the answer is ‘YES’.

Let’s try to analyze a few examples. The film ‘Om Shanti Om’ portraying the era of 70s, could have easily found a place for the song from the above album “Mera Paigham to Mohabbat Ke Siva Kuch Bhi Nahi”. Rafi Sahab could have given a playback for current actor Shah Rukh Khan. Similarly there is another song from the same album “Kaise Kategi Zindagi Tere Bagair”, which could have very easily found a place in the biopic film “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag”, where Rafi Sahab could have given playback for Farhan Akhtar. Even the films like “Jodha Akbar”, “Guru”or “Paan Singh Tomar” could have seen the inclusion on unreleased songs.

The current generation may not be aware of the singers from the golden era, but can connect from the present to past if we include the unreleased soundtracks in current films. Madan Mohan Ji’s unused tunes were used in the film “Veer Zaara” without any modification in the basic tunes, which has been very well highlighted in the album ‘Tere Bagair’. Now we can go ahead a step further by using the Rafi’s original unreleased soundtrack. Apart from this we can also use a portion of Rafi’s original track (either the MUKHDA or the ANTARAA) and synchronize it with current generation female singers to create a duet. With advancement in playback recording technology, singers and musicians work independently and later their individual song tracks are synchronized to form a song sequence.

In order words if we are looking forward to duets of Rafi-Alka Yagnik or Rafi-Shreya Ghoshal or Rafi-Sunidhi Chauhan, it can be made possible through technology. Not only that if there is an unreleased Qawalli there is a possibly to sync Rafi Sahab with Rahat Fateh Ali Khan recreating the magic of Rafi-Manna Dey Qawwalis from golden era “Na To Karwan Ki Talash Hai” & “Ye Ishq Ishq Hai”. If there is any unreleased Bhangra folk song, then there is an opportunity to sync Rafi Sahab with Sukhwinder Singh to recreate the magic of Rafi-Balbir folk songs like “Ke Jee Main Jhooth Boliya” & “Yeh Maana Meri Jaan”. Perhaps Rafi’s voice blends with singers of any age and era.

Today’s Music Composers like A R Rahman, Shankar Ehsaan Loy or Pritam may not have had the opportunity or the privilege to work with Rafi Sahab in person, but would certainly love to experiment with his voice with the latest music. Current filmmakers certainly need to give a thought on this approach.

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4 Blog Comments to “Playback from the Past”

  1. shammi says:

    Dear Anmolji, I agree that all the films that are being made today and that are set in the era when Mohd Rafi was singing can benefit greatly from including some of his soundtracks even if they are just playing in the background. This would definitely allow the younger generation who are not too familiar with the great mans singing to take notice and to find out more about Mohd Rafi and I’m sure before long they too will become fans. I think the film makers would also benefit greatly because at least the’d be some decent music in the film which is so lacking today.

    Let’s hope someone takes note!



  3. Asif says:

    If movies like Don can be re made Rafi songs can be re-written using new lyrics. I have attempted to re-write a Rafi Song. I don’t know what to do with it if any one can advise.

  4. Dear Anmol ji truely said rafi saab ke bagair sangeet ki duniya adhuri hai aur rahegi. Rafi saab ke khali jagah ko koi nahi bhar sakta.
    Long Live Rafi Saab.
    Birendra Singh Bisht

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