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Romanticism… in the way of poets and literary writers of yore.. Followed thereafter by Mohd Rafi Sahab

Article written by Maaz Shaikh, a young fan and ardent follower of the great man

Sunil Dutt - Mohd Rafi

Sunil Dutt – Mohd Rafi

Greetings to the Rafi community.

Keeping in mind the need for a proper introduction, I’ve decided to begin this article with a brief overview of… well, myself!

My name is Maaz Shaikh and this is my very FIRST article since the emergence of this fantastic site. Over the past 4 years now (2009-2013… and running), I’ve been diligently reading all of the brilliant pieces of literary praise, appreciation and approval that have been bestowed upon this noble soul and his amazing body of work… both, inside the recording studio and outside it.

As a member of Gen-X (I’m currently 19 years of age and have adored the master’s voice since I was 12; 2006 being the year from which I actually started my journey as a real fan of the legend), I feel somewhat proud and also nervous whilst writing this little piece.

(PS: I hope that my words reflect my respect towards the opinions of all of the other esteemed members of this community.) 

Okay, let’s begin then.

It was when I was a little chap (approx. 5-6 years of age), that I first came into contact with this magical voice. Ironically though (if one could put it that way), the song that I often loved to listen to (atleast, until the time that I was 10 or so) was the title song from the 1968 film, “Mere Huzoor”.

I still, until my early teens, could recall the words present in the very first verse… 

“Rukh se, zara naqaab utha do… mere huzoor!”

It was superb, superlative and absolutely mood-lifting in nature. Words often fall short whenever I begin to describe the nuances, additions as well as extraordinary motions present within any of the songs rendered by this god-gifted man. It’s almost as if the Almighty had made him at his own pace… probably to be set as an example for the other mortals of this world as to the wonders that the former is capable of performing.

Rafi Sahab is timeless, incomparable and utterly peerless… in any given debate and till any measurable amount. Whether it be his sheer ability of clarity, diction, melody, modulation or even his occasional moments of mind-numbing sweetness and shocking maturity… through his vocals. It’s obviously quite impossible to even fathom just how much of versatility the great artiste possessed. Why, the way he sang his songs alone signifies the term ‘versatile’.

Indian cinema, as well as India on a wholesome level, had been blessed with writers, poets, authors, composers and musicians (classical and otherwise) of the highest degree. From the times of the mysterious and unheard (atleast by us and our forefathers) Tansen… all the way till the boyishness and youthful charm of Sonu Nigam (although I personally feel that he has not followed the path that he COULD have as a singer, particularly in recent times where he has been given the tag of a ‘versatile’ artiste when its blatantly clear that he should have only focused upon his singing alone), India has been the home ground of some supremely talented individuals.

Rafi Sahab, however, came into the equation at a time when lyricists focused more upon the dignity of the noble emotion (love, romance… whatever you’d like to refer to it as) and its purity and innocence… as compared to today’s ‘modern’ times where every single emotion, feeling, situational quirk (sometimes even ordinary reactions to an event!) possible is being blared out at full force from every tom, dick and harry who believe themselves to be singers.

Not that the master himself hadn’t done the very same (conveying boundless energy as well as occasional ‘yells’) for Shammi Kapoor, Shashi Kapoor, Joy Mukherjee and Jeetendra… among others.

The simple point put forth by me, however, is this…

Romance flowed in the form of a vast sea of various stages and phases throughout India’s rich musical and literary history, whether it be plays, films, novels, stories, epics, etc. It began from humble gestures, moments of brief eye-contact and demure (even coy) waves between two lovers… and then subsequently evolved to the era where holding the hands of a beloved, whispering sweet nothings into their ear and sporting a playful attitude around them became quite common, even turning into a trend of sorts.

Call it the ‘western influence’ if you must, but my personal opinion is that India simply did not have the right ambassadors to carry it’s illustrious culture and honest heritage forward… particularly in the past couple of decades.

During Rafi Sahab’s time however, things were quite basic, even simple yet still classy in their execution.

Be it movies, songs, dance sequences, intense moments on the silver screen or even the magical events of allure (Madhubala’s mischievous and teasing smile comes to mind) that occurred upon it, the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s (and to a fair degree, the good amount of the 70’s) belonged to the age of romance, drama and overall raw emotion.

Although, as far as songs, ballads, ghazals, geets, naghme etc. were concerned, there was no real need for them to be overtly catchy or too complicated in their structure. India’s cultural scenario at that time was such that the common public knew what to expect and loved every available moment of it.

Kishore Kumar’s rise to the top is proof of this phenomenon since it was his ‘running song’ genre that helped him greatly in sustaining his heavyweight position during the mid-late 70’s and early 80’s… waaay after Rajesh Khanna’s superstar persona had faded away.

Returning to my topic, Rafi Sahab worked his magic to an extreme level in terms of romantic tracks. One simply needs to have an observant ear to understand what I mean.

  1. For the lover who is making an eternal promise to his beloved – “Tere mere sapne, ab ek rang hain…”
  2. For the romantic who simply cannot stop his tongue from praising his lady-love’s attributes – “Tu bemisaal hai teri taarif kya karoon…”
  3. For a man who’s in pursuit of the one who has stolen his heart from a simple gaze alone – “Mere mehboob tujhe, meri mohabbat ki kasam…”
  4. For the evergreen romantic who wants nothing more than to spend the evening in the lap of the maiden who has ‘gifted’ him with sleepless nights – “Tumhari zulf ke saaye mein shaam, kar loonga…”
  5. For the young man who doesn’doesn’t trust the other offerings of the world yet holds a firm belief upon the fact that his lady-love is different from the rest – “Bade bewafaa hai yeh, husn waale…”
  6. For the soft-spoken pilgrim who has finally reached his destination… his own personal heaven – “Tumhein dekha hai maine, gulsitaan main…”

And finally, the undisputed mother of all those songs that border upon sheer appreciation of a woman’s eyes… those windows that hold the answer to the enamored lover’s destiny.

“Teri aankhon ke siva duniya mein rakha kya hai…”

On an ending note, I would like to bring to attention the fact that even though Rafi Sahab may have proven his ability of capturing such a vast cluster of varied moods and emotions through his renditions alone, it was his unrivalled talent of being able to bring out a universal reaction (along the lines of) “Aah…!” “Brilliant! What a way of delivery!” “Superb… kya baat hai!” and “Uff! Maan gaye Rafi Sahab!” from the listeners of his songs at certain ‘special moments’ that intrigues me the most.

The very BEST example of this occurrence is present in the last song that I have mentioned above.

Simply pay close attention (although most ardent admirers won’t really need to, in my humble opinion) to the way that the colossus talent of the man allowed him to touch the very pinnacle of ardent romanticism… all through his voice alone,; melodious violins and composition of another unparalleled legend, Shri Madan Mohanji assisting him in his ‘5-second journey’ to the very top of the known universe of filmy sangeet.

This is not a mere exaggeration from my side. No, definitely not. I know what I hear every time that the song enters its second antara… the feeling of exuberant joy that one feels every time that one particular segment of the song comes up, when that one line is uttered. Mohammad Rafi manages to reach the very height of vocal expression.

“Inme mere aane vale, zamaane ki tasveer hai…”

Here we go…

“Chaahat ke kaajal se likhi hui meri taqdeer hai… (Ho-o-o…)

Wait for it…

“(1st line is repeated)”

Here it is!

“Yeh uthe su-hu-ba (the way this ONE word has been rendered makes the entire song worth it) chale… (matchless violin cue follows, one that makes all others PALE in comparison… till date.) yeh uthe sham dhale-e-e…

Mera jeenaa… mera marnaaa (notice the effect induced through ‘marna’ alone) inhi pal-kon ke tale…”

 There you are my friends, it’s quite amazing to note that it was while listening to this wondrous track today that I decided to pen down my thoughts in the form of this debut article.

I’m extremely thankful to all those who have spent their valuable time in going through this little observation that I managed to make (although, I’m certain that several others may have made a similar one in the past).

Good day to you all…

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28 Blog Comments to “Romanticism… in the way of poets and literary writers of yore.. Followed thereafter by Mohd Rafi Sahab”

  1. Anonymous says:

    An extremely heartfelt thanks to all who have accepting me into this prestigious community with open arms. I’m truly falling short of words to describe my joy at discovering just how much people have ‘enjoyed’ reading my article.

    I hope that I haven’t managed to offend anybody’s personal opinions (or ideals) through this tiny segment of my ‘Rafian’ mind.

    Humble apologies for the late response from my side, hopefully I shall write again in future.

    Good day –

  2. shammi says:

    I agree Audhoji there is so much rubbish in todays songs with meaningless lyrics where the content is the same few words being repeated over and over again, and the music in the background being blasted is enough to give anyone a headache, but then again the scenes the songs are picturised on and the overall films are not any better! There will never be another singer like Mohd Rafi, he’s simply the best.

    It’s nice that the younger generations are appreciating the great talent of the legend of all legends too.

  3. Yateesh Audho says:

    I am really happy that a young person like you likes old songs. Today’s songs are garbage and I never listen to them The music directors should be charged/fined/jailed for trying a destroy the greatest culture in the world. My rand-parents are from India and I am from Guyana, South America.

  4. khaja Aliuddin, MD says:

    Salaam, Dear Maaz,
    Bahut khoob, beautiful write up on our beloved Rafi Sahab.
    ” Khuda kare zore khalam aur ziyada”
    InsA, looking forward to see more write ups in future.

    Dr. Khaja Aliuddin

  5. J.K. Bhagchandani says:

    Maaz Shaikh,

    Accept my heartiest congratulations and compliments for this very well written article on one and only Rafi saab. Your narrations are splendid and express the true nuance of the songs that you picked up. Keep it up dear. Welcome to this Rafi family. It gives all of us an immense pleasure to learn about the young Rafi fans of GenX like you. We expect more such essays from you.

    -J.K. Bhagchandani

  6. shakeel ahmed says:

    A fine article from an young fan of rafi saheb.Ii is like saying a thing of beauty is a joy for ever.Your article should find place in leading newspapers and magazines

  7. Ahamed Kutty says:

    Dear Maaz ji,
    Congradulations to write such an article about Rafi Saab in
    such an age.Keep it up.

    I think all the Artists or famous personalities are Great since
    they are above ordinary people.People are interested to read
    about them,write about them but the only Artist who is being
    adored by the fans is Mohamed Rafi Saab.

  8. amin says:

    Great article. Rafi sahib is great

  9. ib says:

    Well written. I also know some youngsters who in fact prefer to listen to the amazing variety of Rafi song!! There is no age bar when it comes to quality of voice!!

  10. Trent O. Pearson says:

    The voice of Kishore Kumar, Hemant Kumar and Talat Mehmood has been used for playback of Dev Anand’s for hit songs in his initial films. Dev Anand came to stardom with Prabhat Talkies Hum Ek Hain (1946), which was directed by P.L. Santhosi (father of Rajkumar Santhosi), then Bombay Talkies Ziddi (1948), where voice of Kishore Kumar used for the song “Marne Ki Duaen Kyon Manguâ€, which was the Kishore’s first film as a singer. The songs “Soon Ja Dil Ki Dastan†sung by Hemant Kumar and “Jayen To Jayen Kahan†sung by Talat Mahmood for Dev Anand in the films Jaal (1951) and Taxi Driver (1954) respectively which were produced under Dev’s own banner Navaketaan.

  11. achal rangaswamy says:

    Dear Maaz

    Very well written, young man!!

    I am very glad to see youngsters as fans of Rafi Sahab. He shall remain evergreen.

    Look forward to reading more from your side


    Achal Rangaswamy

  12. Ali says:

    Just I like to add one thing that Mohd Rafi is real gift of God of US .

  13. kamran says:

    “Tum mere paas hote ho koi doosra nahi hota”
    This happens when i listen Rafi sahab.

  14. shammi says:

    A well written article, and it’s a joy to read a lovely article from a great young many who apart from being very articulate has the ability to draw readers into his thoughts and memories. I hope young man this will not be the last piece you write on the great man as the piece was a joy to read, well done!!!!!!!!

  15. K P Hassan says:

    An excellent article.

  16. jayaprakash says:

    Dear Mr. shaikh, YOU are RIGHTtttttttt. Only Rafi can replace Rafi. HE still live with us with


  17. Shekhar Bopardikar says:

    Hi Maaz,
    I am extremely thrilled by reading your article and while going through the paras for a moment I traveled back in time to my good old days of 60’s & 70’s when I was a school going kid (Born in the year 1957), and is fortunate to belong to the golden era of Indian Music. During 60’s and 70’s Rafi Saab attained the pinnacle of glory in playback singing. That was an era of Radio and Transistor & and All India Radio (AIR) was the only source of listening to the songs. The other source of listening to one’s own choice of songs was Record Player followed by Spool tape deck & later Cassette deck. I used to listen to only Mohd.Rafi Saab’s songs. Those were the days of HMV & Polydor copyright era of Music records and coping music from records on cassette was banned. I used to search Rafi Saab’s songs in all possible places in Mumbai. Had a huge collection of his songs which all my friends used to envy. Many of his rendered songs were difficult to procure from the market, only in some grey market zones we occasionally used to come across such songs. But procuring them and then listening to Rafi Saab’s songs on my own player was such an ultimate pleasure beyond any words.
    When I read your current age, I am more delighted and elated because even after more than 5 decades more and younger Gen-x are yearning for this great man’s voice only to prove as you rightly said that “Rafi Saab’s songs are timeless”, that the true geniuses never die. Not to mention anything more of Rafi Saab, who was blessed with the voice of God, one may say, his voice was the integral part of Lyricist who penned the songs, the Music composers who composed & the actors who equally contributed to compliment the song on the celluloid. Rafi Saab epitomized the Art of Playback singing in India and is perhaps one of the finest playback singer (Either Sex) of all times in the entire world.
    My friend you are the true representative of the future generation of the aficionados of Music and admirer of this great soul to carry it forward for the next century.
    All the best for boundless listening.
    Shekhar Bopardikar
    (Rafi Saab’s Fan forever)

  18. ravi kumar says:

    Very good boy!
    I am delighted to read an article by a teenager, his desire and ability to express his feelings in words, listening to rafi saab songs.
    Your article will throw another feather into the big cap of rafi saab and explain his skill. He is successful to please youngsters after 33 years.

    I am 52 and when I was your current age the immortal had parted. Listen more and more….

  19. VEERANKOYA C says:

    Rafi is an immortal singer.

  20. VEERANKOYA C says:

    Muhammad Rafi is an immortal singer of India.

  21. Nasreen says:

    Dear Maaz

    (I take the privilege of calling you by your first name as you are a young man of 19 only).

    It is pleasing to see someone young write about the great Rafi Sb. It gives older fans like us hope that the chiraag will never die. One can see from your writing that you have paid close attention to the songs you have heard, and felt strongly and deeply enough to write about them. As we all should, because that is the way to keep all this alive. And it is heartening to see that you recognise the songs for what they are, dissecting them word by word and noting the flavour that this greatest of singers imparted to each one. This is what makes listening to a Rafi song such a rich experience. I am so glad to see that it is not only us slightly older people who can appreciate this richness.

    Please keep listening to Rafi Sb, organise programs if you can, and share your thoughts about him with your friends and on this forum. Become an important Rafian for your generation. You have already started – please keep going forward.

    God Bless.


  22. SalRafi says:

    Brilliant writing. Are you really 19 years old?!

  23. Anonymous says:

    Brilliantly written about Mohd.Rafi sahab (RIP).His voice to imagine and to describe is beyond imagination.we are fortunate to hear this unique voice which is pure and devine.

  24. Anwar-ul-Haque says:

    Dear Maaz Shaikh Sb,

    A really beautiful article! I like your humbleness (the Rafi Sahab’s property) the most. If you haven’t mentioned that it is your first article, I couldn’t figure it out. A marvellous theme, Brilliant thoughts, mesmerising words with appealing phrasing; Every thing required for a perfect article!

    Congratulations on such beautiful write-up; and expecting more from you.

    Thanks and best regards.


  25. r l arora says:

    Absolutely a great article to begin with on our beloved Rafi Saab. My congratulations as well as best wishes to the writer for all times to come on this subject.

    It is unexplainable pleasure as words fall short of it. I may tell here that I hv been fan of beloved Rafi Saab right from the age of 7 while today i an 67 plus.

    Every morning i hear the versatile voice of Rafi Saab and get immense immense pleasure of it.

    Keep it up with writing such soul pleasing articles.

    my rich regards,

    r l arora

  26. Binu Nair says:

    Great and good attempt.

    Beautiful………..Love you all.

    The Magic Never Will Stop for our Bharat Ka Ratna – Rafi Saaheb.

    From the Rafi Foundation Trust.

  27. c k vasudevan says:

    Brilliant article my friend, i cherish and drank each and every word written in this column, kudos and cheers for more offerings to the Great Man from your generation my dear-Blessings to You and BestWishes

  28. u.k.achan says:

    Welcome to the exclusive “Rafi Community” as you aptly named our wast,wide spread,timeless fan club.The “Master” is indeed one of a kind,probably a non repeatable creation of the almighty.
    Recall how he rendered “Tum chalee jaogi to parchaiyan rah jayegi”..reflecting future pain of the separation……or Dharmendra’s pure love in “kaajal waale nain
    churake”….or Sunil Dutt’s acceptance in “Zindagi ke safar main akele the hum”..
    ..or..Dilip Kumar’ sudued anger in “guzare hain ishque main “.Long live the master/ustad/shehanshah/badshah…..

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