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Why I see Rafi Sahab as a role model?

By Achal Rangaswamy

Why I see Rafi Sahab as a role model?

This time I am not going to fantasise. No stories about concerts in heaven, no tales of dreams that I saw. No narration of a motorcycle journey reminiscing a hundred songs.

I just want to share with you all why I consider Rafi Sahab to be the ultimate role model, for anybody.

First of all, Rafi Sahab was a great student. He went running behind a wandering fakir in his village, running after him till the end of the village, listening with rapt attention to the wandering mendicant singing a soulful philosophical number. As a young boy he listened to the old man and noted very carefully how he sang and what he sang. The hallmark of a great student, someone who was willing to learn from anybody, irrespective of the person’s calling.

Secondly, Rafi Sahab was full of determination. Once he had decided that he wanted to sing, and make singing his career, he stuck to the decision. He coaxed, cajoled, used his best allies, and ensured that his father and other members of the family were convinced that this was what he wanted to do and this was what would give him peace, solace, fame and respect. The latter two benefits may have accrued over a period of time, and he may not have clamored them early in his career. But he surely got them in abundance, more than most other people.

Rafi Sahab had tremendous respect for elders, his peers and his teachers. He always remembered his ustads and his teachers with very high respect and reverence. And he always made sure they were mentioned, whenever he was asked who had taught him. He also displayed great respect for people who were associated with him. Music directors were plainly told by him that he would sing the way they wanted, not the other way around where singers would ask for tunes or lines to be modified to suit their convenience or confidence.

Rafi Sahab worshipped his craft. He always thought it was an act of godliness to sing and whenever he delivered a great piece he would attribute it to the great force above, by simply pointing upwards and saying, main kab gaata, mere swar mein pyaar kisika gaata hai. This respect and reverence on his part ensured his durability and longevity in the business, and he sounded as fresh and strong as he did when he had begun singing, in spite of over three decades of singing.

He did his homework very well. After asking who he was singing for, he would work at the song in such a way that over the radio the song would waft towards us, but we pictured a Dev Saab or a Rajesh Khanna or a Raj Kumar or a Dilip Saab mouthing the lines. For years I didn’t even know what a Mohd Rafi looked like. In fact, I thought it was someone who looked like Dev Anand!!!

Rafi Sahab was a strict disciplinarian. He woke up early, practiced regularly, his riyaaz being very early in the morning. He would arrive for rehearsals and recordings on the dot, a fact vouched for by many composers and technicians, some who said they set their watches to his time. He never fussed during recordings because he was always well prepared. His habits were Spartan and he lived a very structured life. The signs of a very disciplined professional who respected his profession. He worked very hard at this.

Rafi Sahab lived and died by his family. His family was everything to him and he was never seen without them when not recording. At the same time, he kept his family at an arm’s length from the glamour, glitz and showbiz of the film world and that is why his family remained as simple as ever and never drew the attention of the media or the public for any publicity. In fact Rafi Sahab almost shunned the over the top kind of publicity.

He stood strong. He smiled in spite of reverses and he remained faithful to his profession, his family, his craft and his mentors. He had great faith in God’s will and that is probably why, even during those low times that he faced, he still delivered some great songs some of which gained laurels and are remembered fondly even today, over three decades after his passing on.

If all these aspects of his personality are not the signs of a great professionals then what is the sign? I would like all human beings, and all practitioners of any art or craft or science to think about this and wonder- why look elsewhere for another role model !?

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22 Blog Comments to “Why I see Rafi Sahab as a role model?”


    Binu Nair ji,
    I am emailing to you( those letters which were sent to me by our heart RAFI SAHAB in 1975 &1979 and also the article on me my association with RAFI sahab.I am smallest fan of our beloved jadugar RAFIsahab.Sir,i am a small shayar (geetkar) of Mushairas and Kavisammelan.
    S.M. SAQLAIN-9997477330

  2. Sumit Jangid says:

    Dear Sir,
    Rafi Saab ek naam jis se sangeet simat ke ek word me aa jata hai…rafi saab hamesha mere best hai or rahenge…@@ bas afsos ye hai ki ab bhi hamari govt. jane kaha so rhi hai..rafi saab ko bharat ratna milna chahiye..or wo is se kai guna jada kabil hai..hamari sarkar so rhi hai pls ise jagao…@@
    jai Rafi Saab
    Regards Sumit

  3. J.K. Bhagchandani says:

    Achal Bhai, sorry I missed this and some other articles on this site as last one month had been very hectic. Just read this one now… simply brilliant. Adding another point:

    Rafi saab possessed another rare quality. He was a complete anti-thesis to the vice of jealousy. His respect for other fellow singers and artistes was something that was ultimate in ‘honest professionalism’. I cannot recall a single instance when he uttered a single word against anyone in the industry or outside it, not even against those who were (and still are) lobbying against him.

    His worship for his art and craft was totally detached from worldly considerations of monetary benefits, size of the banner, status of music directors etc. It was divine.

    Long live Rafi saab, a true role model for the entire human race..

    -J.K. Bhagchandani

  4. jayesh says:

    If I were the prime minister of India, I would first of all have proposed the name of Rafi saheb for Bharat Ratna. The present prime minister also failed on this count, which is unfortunate. This proves that Bharat Ratna is given to a person who is either a politician or has political connections.

  5. Mohd Rafi sahab ki tareef hum sab karte hai lekin mera ye manna hai k Rafi sab k tareef na mumkin hai Rafi sahab ZINDABAD

  6. These were the qualities rafi saab has had and that’s why even after 3.5 decades of his passing away rafi saab has millions of million fans. And I believe rafi saab is a role model to all his fans world over.

    Thank you very much Achal Sir for sharing unknown facts about rafi saab.
    Happy birthday Rafi saab. Rafi Amar rahen.

    Birendra Singh Bisht

  7. Mohammed Ameen says:

    Very Nice write up on Rafi Sab.. Thanks so much Achalji. His versatility as a singer is undeniable… From a very sensitive Lagta nahin hai dil mera (Lal Qila) to playful Alif Zabar Aa (Loke in Simla) and hundreds of his finely tuned numbers enthralls us till date… Sadly he is always underplayed compared to his other contemporaries…

  8. saleem says:

    good knowledge feeding article….

    God bless u…

    Thanks a lot Rangaswamy….

    Expecting more informations on Rafi Saab…

  9. Muslim Saleem says:

    Very elaborate and good article. accept congratulations for such a writing

  10. Yateesh says:

    The comments reflect my feelings.

    But I ask this: why are singers/composers/musicians today allowed to destroy the greatest culture on earth by imitating blacks (and the songs sound like a pack of wild dogs fighting over a carcass)?

    My fore-parents are from India and I consider myself Indian.

  11. Thank you so much, dear friends for your warm and kind feedback.

    Rafi Sahab inspires me to write all this. He is truly my role model for life

    Warm Regards

    Achal Rangaswamy

  12. Ahamed Kutty says:

    Dear Rafians,

    Can I suggest a different thing about our Rafi Saab?

    To find a person who is more resembling to Rafi Saab.

  13. Ahamed Kutty says:

    Great narration Achal ji.Like any other Rafian I am very
    eager to know more and more about Rafi Saab.Your
    article gives me some more information.Thank you
    and best Regards.

  14. rl arora says:

    Dear Achal Rangaswamy
    Truly what you hv written about our beloved Rafi Saab is the life-reality about him. He was an an angel and not an ordinary person. He was very kind by nature and helpful to all whomever found in trouble.I hv been listening him daily from my age of 10 and now I am 68+. So unique is his voice that it becomes a daily-necessity for a lover of music.

    I hv perfect knowledge that there was no song which he cud not sing. Rather singers like Kishore Kumar, Mukesh ji could not sing some songs which finally were offered to Rafi Saab and he did the needful to the satisfaction of all. What i wish to stress is that he was not unmatchalbe whether singing or kindness. He never preferred money to his kindness. He alteast sang 100 songs with no price or little price. Singing was his passion.

    Thanks for sharing your article which is a good boost to our Rafian Fans.

    My rich regards,

    r l arora

  15. Ali says:

    One earth one sun and one mohdraf rafi

  16. Sreejith says:

    Love you Rafi Sahab. Always and Forever……..

  17. SHAMMI says:



  18. shammi says:

    I totally agree a great model for everyone to look up to, so sad that stars like this hardly exist these days. Infact the tide has changed so much that the public love stars nower days that are the other extreme.

    Mohd Rafi is still so much in our minds and hearts even after over three decades because of exactly all these qualities and thats why his name is synonymous with not only being the best singer ever but also being a great human being and how many stars can boast of that?

    Great article!

  19. shammi says:

    I totally agree a great model for everyone to look up to, so sad that stars like this hardly exist these days. Infact the tide has changed so much that the public love stars nower days that are the other extreme.

    Mohd Rafi is still so much in our minds and hearts even after over three decades because of exactly all these qualities and thats why his name is synonymous with not only being the best singer ever but also being a great human being and how many stars can boast of that?

    Great article!

  20. Anonymous says:

    rafi. sahab. is unique.

  21. Uday says:

    Very very true dear author. What a wonderful human being? It is amazing to see how every song becomes full of life as you listen to this soothing, perfect, melodious voice of Rafiji. Every time i thought there is no God, Rafi Saab ka voice made me believe there is a God..

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