His Voice Can Change A Terrorist Into An Apostle Of Peace

God, if he has a conscience cannot forget and must always be grateful to the humble but great Mohammad Rafi for singing his praises like

By Team Bollyy
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His Voice Can Change A Terrorist Into An Apostle Of Peace

Ali Peter John

God, if he has a conscience cannot forget and must always be grateful to the humble but great Mohammad Rafi for singing his praises like no other singer or any holy or unholy man can or could. Every rock, stone and mountain cannot be cruel enough to forget Mohammad Rafi because the way he sang about them gave them life and made them immortal. Every river, lake and even the ocean cannot be lost in their own worlds and forget the soothing voice of Mohammad Rafi which made them more beautiful and mysterious than when God had created them. Every flower, every tree, the earth below and the sky, the stars and the moon above can never forget the voice of Mohammad Rafi which made them more immortal than they were with his soothing voice. And above all, no human being can forget to be grateful to the man who gave every human emotion and feeling a new life which he still enjoys because he understood the real meaning of his feelings only after Mohammad Rafi sang about those feelings and made them a treasure for humanity. It is indeed extremely difficult for anyone who has had the privilege of listening to the voice of Mohammad Rafi to write him off as the past as he is the past, the present and the future of time (waqt), the same time that should also be grateful to a saint who by some chance was turned into a singer so that he could be of greater use to like as a singer than as a prophet or a saint who could go wrong, but Mohammad Rafi never could because a Mohammad Rafi is born only once and lives a thousand lives. We are all fortunate that we had a singer during our lifetime who was destined to live for all time, because all his lives were in his voice blessed in a very special way, blessed only once....

Mohammad Rafi could have been born in any other place, but he was born in a village where he had to listen to the haunting voice of a fakeer who had to pass by his house singing in a voice that couldn't keep the little boy in Mohammad Rafi from following the fakeer and following every word and nuance of the way he was singing without caring for what the world said or felt about him. The little boy, Rafi came back after the fakeer had vanished from sight and came back to his village and sang exactly look how the unknown fakeer sang and the elders and the entire village discovered some unusual talent in the boy.

It was one of his friends, Hameed who took him to a concert where K.L Saigal was to sing. There was some technical and electrical glitch and Saigal had to go back to his hotel, it was the young Rafi's friend Hameed who suggested to the organisers that they make the little Rafi sing till things were set right. And it was in that short time that Rafi could make people realise his God-gifted talent and versatility. In that audience was the notable composer, Shyam Sunder who was so mesmerised that he asked Hameed to bring the child prodigy to Bombay. It was the beginning of a struggle that was to end only with unlimited success which would ultimately lead to eternal success.

It took Mohammad Rafi very little time to attract success at success was only too willing to follow him as if it knew that this time success was not going to be any kind of ordinary success.

Mohammad Rafi was a name that first grew popular soon after the partition and his family had luckily for us opted for India and had left Lahore to make India and particularly Bombay their home from where Mohammad Rafi was to soar to unprecedented heights and beyond.

Very soon, Mohammad Rafi was the voice of every leading star and among the endless names for whom he sang were Prithviraj Kapoor and his sons, Shammi, Shashi and his grandsons, Randhir, Rishi and even a failed Kapoor like Rajiv Kapoor, surprisingly be did not sing any song for Raj Kapoor who had Mukesh as his voice till the end, except for a few times when Manna Dey sang for him. And then there was no hero who could think of pursuing his career without the voice of Rafi and the long list is almost unending, Dev Anand, Dilip Kumar, Rajendra Kumar, Dharmendra, Sanjeev Kumar, Manoj Kumar, Jeetendra, Amitabh Bachchan, Biswajeet, all the senior Khans, Sanjay Khan, Feroz Khan, Akbar Khan and even Sameer Khan who quit films after doing just two flop films. Among the newer stars he sang for were Vinod Mehra, Navin Nischol, Anil Dhawan, Anil Kapoor, Sunny Deol and I am sorry if I have missed out some names, but that is what happens when writing about a legend beyond legends like Mohammad Rafi. However, the interesting thing about Rafi was that he could sing even for comedians like Johnny Walker and Mehmood and even for characters playing fakeers, beggars and the voice in the background before the start of a film which told the story of the film in a song. But the most surprising thing was that he was even the voice of Kishore Kumar as an actor and neither he nor Kishore had any ego problems.

And it is very difficult to put down the name of all the composers he sang for. From Shyam Sunder to Anu Malik and from Shanker-Jaikishen and Laxmikant-Pyarelal and Kalyanji-Anandji to Jatin Lalit and from Naushad and Khayyam and Iqbal Quereshi to S.D Burman and R.D Burman he sang for all of them.

The greatest strong point about Mohammad Rafi was how he sang exactly according to the mood of the feeling and the situation in a song. And more than that, it was his speciality to mould his voice according to the stars he was singing for. If there was one star for whom he put his whole life into, it was Shammi Kapoor who said that he would never be a star without the voice of Muhammad Rafi. Shammi used to sit at all the recordings of the songs Mohammad Rafi was to sing for him which was beneficial for both. The only time Shammi couldn't make it to a recording was when Shammi had gone to his annual darshan of Baba in Vrindavan. But when he heard the song Rafi had sung for him for the film “An evening in Paris", he couldn't believe how Rafi could exactly imagine how he would perform to the song Rafi had sung for him. Dharmendra always said he believed Rafi had a very great actor in him and could be so many actors in one man.

Mohammad Rafi would have been the richest singer in India, if he had cared for money like his contemporary, Kishore Kumar and he charged twenty thousand rupees for a song when Rafi was charging only four thousand rupees. One of the last songs he sang was a duet between him and Kishore Kumar for Jeetendra's most ambitious film, “Deedar-E-Yaar". Jeetendra asked his production manager to pay both twenty thousand rupees each. Kishore kept the money. Rafi sent his brother-in-law who was also his manager to Jeetendra to return the sixteen thousand rupees extra that he had paid him. He was a very benevolent man who gave away most of his money in charity and did not even let his family know.

Rafi must have sung thousands of songs, but the maximum number of songs he sang for was for the duo Laxmikant-Pyarelal (169 films). Strangely, he recorded both the first and the last songs of the duo who considered him to be a Khara Devmanoos (man of God).

He couldn’t believe he had met Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who had called him to thank him for singing the song, "Sunno sunno Bapu ki amar kahani" which was written by Rajendar Krishan a few days after Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by Nathuram Godse. A year later Nehru presented him with a medal which he treasured till the end of his life. He received the Padmashri very late in his life. He wanted some publicity for it, but no leading paper was willing to publish the photograph of the medal he had received and he was very upset.

Shammi Kapoor was in Vrindavan on the morning of July 31 with his wife, Neela Devi. They were travelling in an autorikshaw to reach the reach the temple of Shammi's Baba. The young man kept cycling to catch up with the auto with Shammi Kapoor in it. He finally caught up with the auto and screamed out, “Shammi Sahab aapki awaaz chali gayi". Shammi couldn't make sense of what the boy was saying and the boy kept screaming till he finally told Shammi that Mohammad Rafi who was his voice in all his films had died of a heart attack early that morning. Shammi Kapoor cried the whole day....

And in Bombay, the sky was crying, the air and atmosphere were crying, the big and the small, the stars and the junior artists and technicians were all crying as lakhs of people walked in the very heavy rain from his house in Rafi Mansion to the Bada Kabrastaan in South Bombay where the grave dug for him was reluctant to accept him and singing out, “jaanewale kidhar jaa rahe ho, hum aapke bina kidhar jayenge" and I could hear Mohammad Rafi singing back, “main aapko chhodkar kahi nahi jaaunga", Zara apne apne dilon mein jhaankhar dekho, main wohi hoon,wohi hoon aur hamesha aapke dilon Ko mera ghar banaker rahunga.


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