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Thank you for the music, Rafi Saheb

By Ramesh Babu for Hindustan Times. Source : Mohammed, Sheik & Ashok Harkara

Hero worshipper: Kunjli Soppy

P.M. KUNJLI Soppy’s life revolves around the legendary Hindi playback singer Mohammed Rafi. Soppy’s home is named Rafi Manzil. His son is named Mohammed Rafi. Soppy’s instruction to the teenaged Mohammed Rafi is: “At my funeral, you must play Janewalle kabhi nahin ate … my all-time Rafi favourite.”

Forty-four-year-old Soppy is a coolie at Alapuzha’s Zackaria Bazar. Every July 31, he holds a lavish Rafi Nite in this south Kerala city to mark the death anniversary of the King of Melody.

Kunjil Spooy, A Rafi Fan“I hold Rafi Nite annually with my own funds,” says Soppy, who has steadfastly refused to accept contribution in the name of his idol. Aap bus, Rafi Saheb ki awaz suno (Just enjoy Rafi Saheb’s mellifluous voice), I can take care of the money needed, so long as my health permits me to so,” he tells us, as he hoists a sack of rice on his back.

Soppy does not even touch the money generated by the show. All of it goes for charity. “I had to overcome several hurdles. Initially, almost everyone laughed at me. But they gradually saw my absolute devotion to Rafi saheb, and became very supportive,” he recalls.

The first ‘converts’ were Soppy’s own and extended family. Every year, the entire clan – comprising his six sisters, 21 nephews and 16 nieces – gets together to help out with the Rafi Nite. Such is Soppy’s devotion to the late singer, he has even built a unique bus shelter in Kallupalam to commemorate the memory of his Rafi saheb.

Last year, this Good Samaritan donated Rs 3,001 each to five persons of his locality to pay part of their wedding celebrations. He also arranged for a special Rafi Nite to collect funds for soldiers who served in the Kargil last year.

Ironically, Soppy doesn’t know much Hindi. But ask him to sing a Rafi number and he’ll surprise you. Soppy met The Man himself in Ernakulam in the early 1970s. “I met Rafi saheb at a concert. After his death, I became a good friend of his son Shahid, who sought me out after he heard I was a great fan of his father,” Soppy recalls.

Not surprisingly, Soppy is a storehouse of anecdotes about the legendary singer. “I probably know so much about the life and times of Rafi saheb, I could write a multi-volume book,” he says. Soppy’s only regret is that Mohammed Rafi’s memory has not been commemorated with a Bharat Ratna. “He was a giant. Only a Bharat Ratna could do justice to his memory.”

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2 Blog Comments to “Thank you for the music, Rafi Saheb”

  1. mohanflora says:

    Salute to this guy!
    Laanat hai hampe!
    We can only talk big but do nothing!
    People like Kunjli Soppy,
    Make us feel so puny,
    Hats off man, I salute thee!
    I wouldn’t mind being in your company,
    Kuch atta patta aur lagayen aapse matha!
    Anyone having more details/address.

  2. Bonifacius says:

    Great article. I am just sad I dont know how to reply properly, though, since I want to show my appreciation like many other.

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