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Art is not a luxury, but a necessity.



I dont believe in a soul, but that Sunday morning when l heard some singers singing the songs of Mohammad Rafi as their tribute to him on his 41st anniversary at a musical event organised by the group called Soulful Saturdays , l felt the first hints of there being a soul within my body – Ali Peter John

The way Rajesh Subramanian and his team of singers sang out their hearts with a wide variety of pulsating , soulful , swinging , divine and entertaining songs for five long hours was a treat to my soul , mind and heart which l dont think l will ever forget .

I had attended an earlier event of Soulful Saturdays which attracted me to be a part of the celebration of the life and work of Mohammad Rafi, who l believe was less of a human being or saint , but god himself who has come to earth in the guise of a singer .

I have seen the smiling face of Rafi Sahaab from the time l was born , but that morning l saw him smile like he had not smiled at anytime before .

To prove the absolute magic of Rafi Sahaab , l had a sweet and young guest of the new generation who knows very little or nothing about the gloroius past , an aspiring and trained actress , Aarti Mishra with me .

She was a non believer before the show , but had turned a believer when the show was over , and she was yearning to be present at another show of ‘Soulful Saturdays ‘ ( the lockdown has made “Soulful Saturdays” have their shows on Sundays , what a triumph for Madam Covid and her cruel ways! )

Rajesh who is the mind and heart behind Soulful Saturday’s was in his elements when he started off the show with some amazing songs from the amazing armour of the peaceful-loving warrior, Rafi Sahaab.

I had promise myself that l would sit for 2 hours and leave , but the singers and the songs of Rafi Sahaab chosen by Rajesh kept me glued to my chair without moving even once and with one of the team members keeping me energised with my favourite ‘nashaa’ , a stainless steel glass of hot tea .

The passion and the tenacity of the singers to breadth life into every song was the kind of experience that has grown so were these days when noise has taken over from melody and when naach ganaa has stolen the thunder from singers who can sing , but are not even enough opportunities to show their talent.

The team was so charged that even some of the seniors , especially Mr and Mrs Homi Panthaki danced rigorously and to the waltz whenever they were inspired and there were many opportunities for them and for others to be inspired and to go back to the past which many are trying to forget , but the past can never be forgotten because it is the past which has helped in shaping the present and the present will shape the future. Isn’t that how the cycle of life keeps moving ?

The madness for Rafi was everywhere in the air that Sunday morning. And was just felt when even some of the female singers sang the songs of Rafi Sahaab and did full justice to the Rafian songs they sang .

It could also be seen in the way some in the rapt audience tried to hum or sing with the singers on stage .

It was five hours of Jashn E Mohammad Rafi at the Pravodhai Thackarey Auditorium ( named after the Hindu Hriday Samrat Balasahaab Thackeray.

It was not just another show like they have been having shows for years in Mumbai and many other cities in the country and even abroad .

It was a feast to remember a singer who didnt die on July 31 , 1981 , but who was alive then and is alive now and will be alive even after time .

Dilip Kumar ( I hate to call him the late DilipKumar) once said that there was place for only one at the top and the others could be runners up or also rans , but there could only be one real winner .

But , the singers of ‘Soulful Saturdays’ put me in a strange dilemma. They were all good and at any other time and any other place , they could all be winners .

But , for me , every singer was a winner that morning . I have never been a judge of talent and l have not been an enlightened critic like many others , but l have always believed in my heart and l go with the decisions taken by my heart .

And that Sunday morning my heart told me that l couldnt be partial to any one singer , because all the singers together had made the morning memorable.

To give credit to every singer is the only wise and rightful thing to do for me. And so l thank all the singers of ‘Soulful Saturdays”, Kumar Subramanian( he had the experience and the privilege of knowing Mohammad Rafi well ) ,Narayan( it was his birthday that day and what a way he celebrated his birthday with his wife Jyoti) , J Subbu( if l was a judge at the show l would have declared him the msn of the melodious moments ) , Sonam Dharod, Ashok Dusija, Sanjay Gopalkrishnan, Dr Heena Mhatre( the female doctor who can sing the songs of Rafi Sahaab was a healer in more ways than one ) Shraddha Wagaralkar( a great singer for the futureand a great entertainer too ) , Avinash Mishra, Shankar Subramaniam, Sachin Ughade, Prakash Lulla( a good and talented singer knows no age ) , Pallavi Bhave, Satish Nair, Pervin Kotwa( it is a misconception that Parsis cannot speak Hindi the right way , she not only knows the nuances of the language , but can put life into every word and even sing so mellifluously ,) Prakash Bhavsar, Jyothi Hariharan, Umesh Vasishth, Rahul Krishanchand ,Manish Doshi, Satish Nair and  Kashinath. Who was the better devotee of Mohammad Rafi? I will not tell , only time will tell.

Down the years , there have been many singers who have tried to sing like Rafi Sahaab, but on that morning , there was Sarvesh Mishra who has been the voice of Rafi Sahaab in different parts of the world and is a success story in himself , but he also had the humility and simplicity of Rafi Sahaab.

I liked everything about his personality accept for the pointed leather shoes that he was wearing . I was all the time worried about his boots touching my foot because if they had , l would not only be able to attend the future

At the end of five hectic hours , every singer was still as fresh as he or she was in the morning .

What is that energy that keeps such dedicated singers forever young and full of the joie de vivre?

Is it just their talent , is it just their dedication , is just their hard work and passion ? It is all these qualities and that spirit that keeps them going and should never stop .

It was four in the evening and when the show over Aarti Mishra , who is as young as my grand daughter was eager to know when the next show of’ Soulful Saturdays ‘ would be .

And when l told her that it would be a show on Kishore Kumar the following Sunday , she told me that she would do anything to be a part of the show and her final declaration was ,” humlog ko ye sab pataa hi nahi , ab mai mere doston ko bataayungi ki peechhe mud kar dekhaa kitnaa zaroori hai .

That Aarti danced the waltz with the septuazenarian Homi Pantakhi was a soulful comment on ‘Soulful Saturdays ‘

I hope Soulful Sundays turn back to the original Soulful Saturdays . It will be one good way of defeating Covid and ask her to keep away from this world and especially from the world of music which is incomplete without “Soulful Saturdays ”