Five songs that the legend Mohammad Rafi rated as his best


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July 31 is Mohammad Rafi’s 39th loss of life anniversary. (Source: Express Archives)

Written by Sumit Paul

Sukoon-e-dil ke liye kuchh to ehtemaam karoon
Zara nazar jo mile, phir unhein salaam karoon
Mujhe toh hosh nahin, aap mashvara deejiye
Kahaan se chhedoon fasana, kahaan tamaam karoon

—Shakeel Badayuni

(Let me do one thing worthwhile for the peace of coronary heart/When I get to see her, I greet silently/I’m clueless, you’d higher advise/Where to start out it from and the place to finish).

The final line of Shakeel Badayuni’s immortal quatrain appears apt to outline the boundless musical greatness of the one and solely Mohammad Rafi, who breathed his final 39 years in the past on Friday, July 31, 1980. Even after nearly 4 many years, the genius of Rafi continues to be mentioned and deified. The cause is clear. He was born to sing. Ek maamooli mutrib hoon, faqat gaana jaanta hoon (I’m however an extraordinary singer; I do know simply to sing), he had as soon as stated. That was his disarming humility.

Out of the 7,405 songs (not 26,000; that’s an exaggeration by hardcore Rafi followers) in a number of Indian languages, Rafi sang 4,334 Hindi songs. Nearly 70 songs haven’t any official LP information and have been by no means uploaded on YouTube. All India Radio, Urdu Service and Vividh Bharati additionally don’t have many songs that the stalwart sang in his distinguished profession. I’m afraid, even author Raju Bhartan’s Rafi Geet Kosh doesn’t have these songs like, Ae meri jaane-tamanna, meri jaan-e-ghazal….‘ (Film Sundari, 1950), Ek jaam pila de saaqi, raat abhi hai baaqi  (Tere Do Nain, 1951), amongst others.

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Mohammad Rafi with former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. (Source: Express Archives)

When it involves choosing up Rafi’s 5 best songs, one actually will get confounded as a result of the man sang so many fabulous songs that selecting simply 5 best is akin to on the lookout for a needle in the haystack. Way again in 1961, when Vimala and Kamini Ganjwar of Radio Ceylon interviewed him for a Hindi journal and requested Rafi about his best songs, the singer replied, “Muhabbat zinda rahti hai, muhabbat mar nahin sakti (Changez Khan, Qamar Jalalabadi; Hansraj Bahal, 1956), Maine chaand aur sitaron ki tamanna ki thi (Film: Chandrakanta, Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianavi, Music: Dutta Naik aka N Dutta, 1956) and Aaye bahaar ban ke lubhaye chale gaye (Film: Raajhath, Lyricist: Hasrat Jaipuri, Music: Shankar-Jaikishan, 1958).”

But, when late Sadiq Ali of BBC interviewed him in 1979 and later for The Jung Group of Newspapers in Pakistan, Rafi chosen some amazingly lovely, however very uncommon songs as his best and didn’t point out any of the three songs that he appreciated in 1961. This proves that a artistic particular person’s perceptions dramatically endure a sea-change to just accept one thing altogether new and novel.

Well, after I met Sadiq Ali in Sargodha, Punjab-Pakistan for my second Doctorate on ‘Rafi ki aawaaz ki naghmai baareekiyan‘ (the musical nuances of Rafi’s voice), he supplied uncommon insights into the songs which Rafi shared with him. To begin with, the first track that Rafi all the time thought of as his best was: Kaise kategi zindagi tere baghair (Film: Kaise kategi zindagi, unreleased, 1963). This track was the closest to the nice man’s coronary heart as it was to be picturised on his best buddy Uttam Kumar, the icon of Bengali cinema. Had it occurred, it will have been Uttam’s maiden foray into Hindi cinema. The movie needed to be shelved owing to lack of funds. But its track ‘Kaise kategi zindagi….’ survived and was delivered to listeners’ discover solely after the demise of Rafi in 1980. This track has the longest prelude — one minute and 16 seconds — in the historical past of movie music and it’s on the Stradivarius violin, first and final time utilized in Indian movie or fashionable music, performed by Kunwar Mahendra Pratap Singh, the scion of a royal household in Rajasthan.

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Playback singer Mohammad Rafi had many songs which have been unreleased. (Source: Express Archives)

The track, which he thought of to be his second-best, was: ‘Gham-e-hasti se bas begana hota, khudaya kaash fundamental deewana hota‘ (Film: Wallah Kya Baat Hai, Lyrics: Anand Bakhshi, Composer: Roshan Lal Nagarath, 1962). In this movie, Rafi jokingly nudged Shammi Kapoor that, ‘Parde pe aapko ye naghma zara sanjeedgi se gaana hai‘ (You’re imagined to lip-synch on celluloid with managed feelings). Contrary to Shammi’s flamboyant picture, that is one track which could be very sombre. Rarely performed these days, Shammi Kapoor cried after listening to this track and Roshan Lal Nagrath requested Anand Bakshi after its recording, “Recording room mein koi farishta gaa raha tha kya?” (Was there an angel singing this track in the recording room?). Rafi didn’t take any cash for this track.

Now comes his third best: Mujhe tumse muhabbat hai magar fundamental kah (not ‘keh’, that is faulty English transliteration of Hindi/Urdu phrases) nahin sakta (Film: Bachpan, Lyrics: Hasrat Jaipuri, Music: Sardar Malik, 1963, print and video unavailable). This magnificently romantic quantity was filmed on Salim Khan, the good-looking father of Salman Khan, who got here to Bombay from Indore to grow to be a hero. Sadiq Ali added that Rafi requested Hasrat: “Parde pe kaun hoga?” When he got here to know that a younger man was the hero, he sang extra-soulfully so as to ascertain the younger Salim Khan. Music critics Rustom Irani, Malika Rastogi and Ravindra Kapoor are of the view that this track is the epitome of romanticism with its phrases and Sardar Malik’s wonderful composition. Rafi’s rendition was the icing on the cake. Hasrat shared that Rafi requested to make a couple of alterations to the track they usually have been duly included, however the unassuming nice stated, “Mujhe kahaan shayari aati hai?” (I don’t know something of poetry). It was Navin Nishchal’s favorite track and each time the actor met up with Rafi, he requested him to sing it. Rafi all the time obliged.

The fourth track was Kahin se maut ko laao ke gham ki raat kate (Film: Mera Qusoor Kya Hai, Lyrics: Rajendra Krishna, Music: Chitragupt Srivastav, 1964). This is taken into account to be the depressingly most lovely quantity ever recorded in Indian cinema. Picturised on Dharmendra, Rafi was not very proud of the lyrics and requested the lyricist to make it much less miserable. “Ye kuchh zyada hello ghamgeen hai...” he stated. But on that very day, he obtained the information about the passing away of his childhood buddy Darshan Singh at a hospital in Lahore. He cried and phoned Chitragupt and lyricist Rajendra Krishna that he’d sing the track sans any change as a tribute to his buddy, who Rafi had helped financially and in addition obtained him admitted to the Military Hospital, Lahore Cantonment. The track exudes ache and pathos in such a fashion that except you take heed to it, admiration will likely be akin to describing a rainbow to a blind man. The director R Krishnan and S Panju cried hysterically after watching and listening to it on the display.

The final track that he selected was the most interesting nazm: ‘Kahin ek maasoom nazuk-si ladki‘ (Film: Shankar-Hussain, Lyrics: Kamaal Amrohi, Music: Muhammad Zahoor Khayyam Hashmi aka Khyyaam). This is an extended nazm (not a ghazal, it’s usually mistaken for a ghazal by the uninitiated announcers and listeners). Rafi was very pleased after recording this track and the taciturn legend hugged Kamaal Amrohi and stated, “Aap likhte kyon nahin?” (Why don’t you write extra?). He corrected a phrase grammatically on this track. The phrase was ‘qalam‘, utilized in Urdu as a female gender (muannas) and in Persian as a masculine gender (muzakkar). Rafi prompt that ‘Qalam haath se chhoot jaata (not jaati)’ will sound higher as a result of we regularly say in Persian: Qalam goyad ke man shah-e-jahanam…Qalam kahta, not kahti, hai ke fundamental duniya ka baadshah hoon: (The quill proclaims that I’m the Emperor of the world). Rafi fell in love with the imagery utilized by Amrohi and complimented Khyyam on his lilting composition.

In that longest interview of his life, Rafi shared some uncommon gems and even admitted that he ought to not have sung songs like Savere wali gaadi se chale jayenge, ‘Main jatti yamla pagla deewana’ or ‘John-jaani janardan.’ Yet the humble man added: “Mujhe zindagi aur kisi shakhs se koi shikayat nahin rahi” (I’ve no grievances in anyway).

He additionally talked about that there have been fairly a couple of songs that have been near his coronary heart like “Mujhe dard-e-dil ka pata na tha” (Akashdeep, 1965, Lyricist: Majrooh Sultanpuri and music: Chitragupt), ‘Jaag dil-e-deewana rut jaagi‘ (Oonche Log, Majrooh Sutanpuri and Chitragupt, 1965), ‘Zindagi ke safar mein akele thay hum‘ (Film: Nartaki, Music: Ravishankar Sharma, Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni, 1963) and so on. Sadiq instructed me that Rafi had a premonition of his loss of life throughout the interview in December 1979 and January 1980. He shuffled off the mortal coil after a couple of months. The posterity will endlessly keep in mind you, Rafi sahab. Some people are merely indelible. His incandescent recollections can by no means be erased.

Sumit Paul is a sophisticated analysis scholar of Semitic languages, civilisations and religions.

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