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Rafi Sahab- The Ultimate Romantic

By Achal Rangaswamy

A handsome hero sings and woos his lady love. An indifferent looking man sings about the lady who has besotted him. A wooden-faced middle aged man croons about the one who has stolen his heart. And a matinee idol belts out a romantic number.

And we enjoy each of these songs. Unmindful of the looks, the theatrics and the acting ability or even disability of the actor involved.

There is only one reason for us to enjoy, and sing along, and celebrate the song, years after it had been composed, acted out and shown to us on the silver screen.

Rafi Sahab, and his magical, romantic and heart-warming voice.

Never ever in history have we all, and I have a hundred friends to vouch for this, many of them ladies, felt absolutely in love with that moment when the song is sung for a lady. We have all imagined ourselves in the place of the protagonist as he croons, sometimes with a guitar in hand, sometimes a glass of wine, and at times with the heroine herself in his grasp. We have all wanted to be part of that scene, that occasion and that absolutely delightful moment when the voice of the hero makes the heroine’s heart melt and she swoons at his very presence. Never mind the wooden-faced hero, or the totally non-romantic looks of the man in that spot.

Take any of his romantic songs, and Rafi Sahab has sung a thousand, easily, and you will forgive an apologetic looking Rajeev in AAJ KI RAAT BADI SHOKH BADI NATKHAT HAI in Nayi Umar Ki Nayi Fasal. You either want to be there in the garden, waiting for the lady to arrive, or you would want someone to sing it for you, if you are a lady.


MAINE SHAYAD TUMHE PEHLE BHI KAHIN DEKHA HAI, is an oft spoken, cliched approach thousands of men have tried in a bit to woo a young lady, and failed. But not Bharat Bhushan in Barsaat Ki Raat, where he simply murmurs the lines. No expression on the face, but the heroine simply melts.

A rumbustious Shammi Kapoor belts out TAREEF KAROON KYA USKI JISNE TUMHE BANAYA, in Kashmir Ki Kali, and the native girl Sharmila has no option but to smile coyly and accept the compliments. What energy, what passion, and what authority in the way the hero professes his love for the lady! Again, thanks to Rafi Sahab.

Another great statement of eternal love is the impish and charming Shashi Kapoor telling the village lass about all the letters he wrote to her confessing his love. LIKHE JOH KHAT TUJHE WOH TEREI YAAD MEIN, in Kanyaadaan. What a lovely rendering of some magical lyrics by Neeraj ji. Ultimately everyone forgets everything, including Shashi Kapoor’s almost non-graceful prancing around the trees in the garden. All is forgiven, including the overly done shyness of an Asha Parekh. We all carry only the memories of a super duper number that was composed way back in the late 60s. The song remains a super hit till today.


A confused looking, yes he did look that way at times, Rajendra Kumar says TERA MUSKURANA GAZAB HO GAYA, AE PHOOLON KI RANI BAAARON KI MALLIKA in Aarzoo. And what else can Sadhana do but smile, look down at the ground, and accept the accolades that actually Rafi Sahab has been mouthing all the while! Rajendra Kumar must have been one of the luckiest actors to make it Jubilee after Jubilee, and you will agree with me that the playback singer played a huge role in the Jubilee Kumar’s success.

One actor who has openly confessed that Rafi Sahab had a tremendous role to play in the success of his films, was Jeetendra.

And when you listen to RUKH SE ZARA NAQAAB UTHAA DO, MERE HUZOOR, in the film by the same name, you realize that Jeetendra is speaking the absolute truth, and nothing but the truth. The absolutely magical and lyrical number has a major role to play in the success of that film.

Even an absolutely terribly incapable hero of an actor called Feroz Khan must thank Rafi Sahab for that superlative song  JAAG DIL E DEEWANA RUT JAAGI VASLE YAAR KI in Oonche Log. But for that song, Feroz Khan would have just not even be visible in the movie that had Ashok Kumar, Raaj Kumar and an unobtrusive Tarun. An easily forgettable acting job by Feroz Khan, and an easily memorable song by Rafi Sahab mark the movie.

Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman

We can go on and on about songs that bewitched the heroines in the movies but if we don’t dwell on TERE MERE SAPNE AB EK RANG HAIN in Guide, we would be doing injustice to the real genius called Mohammed Rafi Sahab. Dev Saab had flair, he had style, he had panache, but the soulful rendering could only be provided by Rafi Sahab, with the guidance of the great Burman Dada. Tell me about one lady who would not want her man to sing this song for her, anywhere, anytime, any number of times. And I will change my name.

Mesmerizing, lilting, soft and oh so sweet is TUMSE KAHOON EK BAAT PARON SI HALKI HALKI HALKI HALKI….

And Halki is the word that creates a totally magical impact on the lady listening to the song.

Show me a man who has been so romantic in what he had been doing all his great life, singing. He has sung patriotic sungs with fervour, devotional songs with total surrender to the man above, songs for kids full of love and affection, and songs for sad occasions with absolute pathos.

But for me Rafi Sahab is the ultimate romantic. He turned wooden, frozen, stiff and dull and boring men into entities that enraptured women on the silver screen.

Yes, Rafi Sahab is indeed the ultimate romantic.

I rest my case. And I wish my idol a Very Happy Birth Anniversary.

Pyaar ka Saaz bhi Hai. Dil ki awaaz bhi.  That’s it.

I could also have mentioned numerous other actors whose careers got a huge lift through the songs sung by Rafi Sahab. Be it Rajesh Khanna, Joy Mukherjee or even a Johnny Walker. Or even maybe a Chandrashekar. Some may not acknowledge this fact, others will readily agree.

I leave it up to you readers to add your songs to my list.

Jai Rafi Sahab!

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7 Blog Comments to “Rafi Sahab- The Ultimate Romantic”

  1. Sivanandam Palamadai says:

    Good write up Achal Ji….and nice to see this site up. In between I couldn’t view this …don’t know what was the issue.

  2. Rajiv Sachdeva says:

    All the praise you have bestowed upon the great Rafi Sahab is entirely and aptly justified. Yes, there is no doubt that he played a major role in shaping the careers of many stars. However, there was certainly no need to use harsh words to criticize some of the stars and run them down. Each one of them had a charm and style of his own.
    By lowering the abilities of the actors, you do not end up raising the status of Rafi Sahab. He was simply too great and never needed negative support. Moreover, the saintly man was beyond all this and would never have appreciated the unwarranted criticism against the stars for whom he had sung so beautifully and lovingly.

  3. Achal Rangaswamy says:

    Thank you very mucch, Vasudevan ji, Habeeb Sahab, MurtyGaru and Ramaswamy ji
    for your very kind words and your beautiful thoughts. Rafi Sahab fed thousands of people directly or indirectly with this versatile genius. He still does that. So many people earn a living today because of his magic.

  4. R Vasudevan says:

    A good write-up.
    In many, heroes success, there is Rafi sahib’s hand as his singing was one of the main reason.

    For quite some there has not been an article in this blog and I was wondering why. Now it has come and I am happy.

  5. Great. Still miss him after 41 years but, we all have thousands of renditions to keep us happy. Thanks for your insights and thoughts.

  6. A S MURTY says:

    Fabulous description of Rafi Sahab. Achalbhai, after a long time I have read a beautiful piece on our legend.

  7. N.G.Ramaswamy says:

    Achalji, great insight into the romantic mood of Rafi saheb. He is the ultimate for any mood. Hats off to you for this one.

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