Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tribute to Mohammed Rafi the Maestro

On this fateful day, 31st of July in the year of 1980 God seemed to have had a selfish motive...
He wanted the silky-golden voice of Mohammed Rafi all to himself...
That day he might have taken away Rafi Sahab from us, but The Voice (as he was referred to) will always remain immortal within us.

Mohammed Rafi (Mohd. Rafi, Rafi Sahab) born on 24th of Dec 1924, was a man of utmost integrity: gifted with unarguably *the best* voice in mainstream Indian musical history and yet had the heart of a common bystander. Out of his singing career that spanned four decades, he ruled the arena of playback singing for well over two decades, which, incidentally, is also right in middle of what is considered to be the Golden Era of Hindi Film Music (1940s - 1980s). And yet his unprecedented success never got better of him. Through the peak of his career, he was NEVER late to studio for his recordings, he NEVER did a retake out his fault, he was NEVER arrogant of his momentous achievements and above all, he NEVER stopped his Riyaaz (practice, for Urdu). Indeed mark of a true Master.

He remains an inspiration to me for his simplicity, dedication and passion. And, to me, his humility is far more overarching achievement than all of his topmost accolades put together. A veritable king at heart with a golden voice, altruistic, utterly soft spoken, he was (and in my view will remain) *the* most versatile, BEST'est and DARLING'est of the singers. PERIOD. No one was, is and will ever be able to dislodge this position of his from my heart.

At the peak of his career, where movie directors and producers would kill just to have him sing for their movies, this altruistic singer would often sing for free or ridiculously minuscule token payment for people who couldn't afford his actual fees. I know of no singer of his caliber (actually, I am kind of lying here, there *is no* singer of his caliber in existence!) capable doing such a deed. I believe that it was this goodness in his heart that trickled into his songs which made it difficult to dislike them!

I'm greatly indebted to him for his songs, on some occasions, have made my life a little more bearable, few minutes at a time. I have grown up listening his songs and I will grow old listening his songs. While the credit of impeccably good songs is to be rightfully shared with Lyricists and Music Directors who made amazing numbers, it was Rafi, the instrument, the master, who can rightfully be credited with putting life into those compositions. He could command his voice to suit any situation, mood and actor on the screen. If composers could whip out something outta nowhere, Rafi had no difficulty enlivening it through the gift of his voice. He simply had the power to mesmerize millions the moment he opened his mouth.

In the process of giving his golden silky and versatile voice to many great music directors like Naushad, O.P. Nayyar, S.D. Burman, R.D. Burman, C. Ramachandra, Ravindra Jain, Shankar-Jaikishen, Madan Mohan, Kalyanji-Anadji, Rakesh Roshan (and many more) he literally put life into beautiful lyrics penned by the likes of Hasrat Jaipuri, Sahir Ludhianvi, Ravindra Jain, Shailendra, Majrooh Sultanpuri and bajilions more. As a byproduct of this, many actors of that era got catapulted into stardom overnight with a push as little as that of just one song sung by Rafi! Such was the magic of his voice. ~~~muah~~~

Vividh Bharati, in his honor, is playing only Rafi's songs today for 24hrs. Get an earful if you want a taste of his voice. As a homage to this humble maestro, I earnestly urge you guys to REFRAIN from listening any bull-crap royally-raped remakes of his songs, otherwise widely known as remixes, at least for today. Not even the ones re-sung by anyone else. No one can replace the voice of a True Master himself, please pay due respect to maestro: Mohammed Rafi.

He might be no more with us, but his voice will always be with us.
Some people might be thinking, "but it is just a song", "he was just a singer", "you didn't even know him" ...
I cannot argue with those people, but you might have realized by now that I am serious even about fun and entertainment I have! (in short, KMA!)

I would love to share one, no, two, no wait a few songs from each one of his masterful categories. Be it romantic, classical, sad, serious, patriotic, flirting, or any other genre you can think of, and Rafi could sing it with no difficulty in one take. Each one better than the other.
These songs are some of my favorites, but I believe every one of them was super-duper-tuper hit!

Take your time as you listen through the list, but meanwhile... a minute's silence for greatest of singers of all time: darling Rafi Sahab.

We will always miss you Rafi. May God bless his soul.

0. Mohammed Rafi (wikipedia)
1. Mohammed Rafi (website dedicated to Rafi)
2. Vividh Bharati (wikipedia)


Ganesh Jaju said...

He's my favorite too! A great great singer! It's interesting to see your list of songs of him!

Two songs which I would like to add to the list are

1) Ehsaan tera hoga mujh par -

2) Mere mehboob tujhe -

Siddharth Shukla said...

Brilliant tribute..i share the same views as yours..what a human being Rafi saab was..he still remains my idol even though i am no singer.I believe he was God's reincarnation kind enuf to have stayed with us lesser mortals for 55 years.

Indrani said...

so true... every bit of what you ve written.. :)

this one's one of my personal favourites..

Thusha v said...

What are great thought!!! Rafi sahab is the best signer and will be in heart's of people.. the feelings in his songs just drills into heart. may god rest his soul in peace.. hat's off to rafi sahab to his contribution.. and hat's off to you too for revoking his memories:-)

thank you:-) !!

The Shaolin said...

@All: Great to know there are other Rafi fans around me who share a similar sentiment :)

@Ganesh: Actually I'm working on a MUCH MUCH longer list, which as both of these songs! I spent well over 3 hours choosing songs from a HUGE list!
The list is coming out soon, watch the space for that :)

@Siddarth: Thanks. Neither am I connected to music industry in any way, yet he's an inspiration to me.
As you said, I believe: God himself sang through Rafi's voice! I think Rafi himself said that in his interview and he said that is _why_ he treats his gift with utmost respect and altruism.

@Indy: Your song's in that BIG list too!

@Thusha: Thanks

@God: May his soul rest in peace!

Sagar Bhanagay said...

Hehehe... Cannot forget the radio playing at Nevis lab!!! :-D

The Shaolin said...

@Saggy: Shh... that story is up for another post coming soon :) Draft is already up! But I didn't expect anyone to remember it :)

John said...

Great post!

The body of work that Rafi has left behind is simply beyond any comparison, so there is no wonder that Rafi is widely regarded as the greatest ever playback singer from India, and even the great Lata says so in her personal tribute to Rafi on his 30th death anniversary:

Some excerpts:

"Rafi bhaiya was not only India's greatest playback singer but also a wonderful person. I am yet to come across another artist so modest, dignified and unassuming. The blessings of Goddess Saraswati were with him and this was responsible to a great extent for his iconic success and he believed in true sadhna."

"He was one singer whose vocal range could outclass any other singer, whether it was me, Asha, Mannada or Kishore bhaiya."

"It is very wrong to say that Kishore Kumar overtook Rafi bhaiya in the early 1970s.Kishore was no doubt at his peak, but Rafi bhaiya was equally effective with Tere naam ka diwana, Gulabi aankhen, Yeh duniya yeh mehfil and Tum jo mil gaye ho. Even Kishore bhaiya never felt he was ahead of Rafi."

The Shaolin said...

Thanks John for sharing wonderful excerpts about Rafi Sahab. I'm glad you enjoyed this post.