Monday, March 20, 2006

Mohammad Rafi: India's greatest playback singer, the man with the golden voice

Rafi: An Indian Muslim role model

One of my friends who is a committed Jan Sanghi*, recently said in an argument that Muhammad Rafi was a man he always idolised despite his own distaste towards Muslims in his teenage years.

'I don't think any other Muslim has been loved, admired and heard so much in this country', he said and I couldn't agree more.

Among umpteen Indian Muslim role models, Rafi's stardom is unique.

When we talk about Muslims who were and are role models, we hardly remember Rafi these days.

The most popular playback singer ever, Rafi's melodious voice has enchanted, enamoured countless Indians.

Rafi sahab lifted the moods of millions everday for the last five decades. From 1946 to 1980 Rafi Sahab reigned over the Bombay film industry.

Across the vast landscape of this country, wherever you go you will surely hear Rafi's voice from radios at the streetside shops and homes.

It is generally believed that there can never be a second Rafi. A great singer and a great human being, Rafi Sahab helped innumerable needy persons.

There used to be a queue outside his house and he handed over the envelopes containing Rs 100 or Rs 200 without asking anybody's name.

Rafi was born in 1924 in Punjab and passed away in 1980.When he passed away, Gulzar wrote a verse that was recently republished in some Urdu magazines, titled 'Ba-yaad-e-Haji Mohammad Rafi'

Read the Nazm:

Kahta hai koi
Dil gaya, Dilbar chala gaya
Sahil hai pukarta
Samandar chala gaya
Jo baat sach hai kahta nahin koi
Ki is dunia se mauseequi ka payambar chala gaya

[*Jansanghi is a word still used often for a hardcore right-wing man. The person I describe here is a right-wing Hindutva follower, more because of his family's association with BJP, RSS and Jana Sangh than his own conviction]