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Mohammed Rafi: Remembering the legendary singer
31st July marks the death anniversary of India's legendary voice, Mohammed Rafi.

Mumbai based Klub Nostalgia has been in the forefront of keeping the 'Golden Oldies' of yesteryears, very much alive.

V Venkitachalam the moving spirit behind the Klub, has also spearheaded the establishment of a Rafi Music Academy and a Rafi museum. Once on, 31st July the Klub presented the blockbuster, 'Yahoo ….Rafi sings for Shammi', where the families of Mohammed Rafi and Shammi Kapoor were present as chief guests.

Great music transcends borders, cultures, languages and religions. Rafi's memory lives on. Once when in Muscat, Oman we attended a musical evening to celebrate the birthday of Mohammed Rafi. His fans in India celebrate it every year, but what was remarkable about this evening was that the star singer was an Arab Omani national, named Haitam Mohammed Rafi, who rendered Rafi songs flawlessly to much applause.

Omani Rafi's father was a fan of Hindi music. While hearing the real Rafi at an evening in Abu Dhabi, he decided to name his son after Rafi Saheb. Apart from becoming a singing sensation in Oman, the young boy did justice to his name, when this year he was crowned the winner the Star Plus show, 'Dil hai Hindustani'.

My own recollection of Rafi goes back to 1948, when I first heard a song by Rafi, namely: ' Suno suno ae duniya walo Bapu ji ki amar kahani', which moved Pandit Nehru to tears. As did Lata Mangeshkar's, 'Aai mere watan ke logon, zara aankh mein bhar lo paani.'!

Rafi's repertoire, like a rainbow, ranges from ghazals, bhajans to the rebellious, 'Yahoo ….. Chahe koi mujhe jungli kahe'. While volumes can be written and have been written about Rafi as a human being and as a singer of all faiths, I would like to close with a survey done a few years ago:

Outlook magazine had carried out a poll among 30 leading lights of Bollywood's top music fraternity, ie singers, lyric writers and music composers. Among themselves, they had to name the top 20 songs, during the years of playback music. The magazine not only published the results, but also a CD of these songs came with the issue.

I was happy to find that my favourite song of Rafi – 'Man re tu kaahe naa dheer dhare' from 'Chitralekha', was voted the best of all the playback years!

For full details of the 20 songs, please see postscript. Even in these, Rafi's name occurs quite a few times!

Post Script:

OUTLOOK – Best 20 Hindi Film songs

1.     Man re, tu kaahe na dheer dhare
Singer: Mohammed Rafi
Film: Chitralekha (1964)


2.     Three songs tied for the second position
Tere mere sapne ab ek rang hain
Singer: Mohammed Rafi
Film: Guide (1965)

Din dhal jaaye, hai raat na jaaye
Singer: Mohammed Rafi
Film: Guide (1965)

Kuch to log kahenge logon ka kaam hai kehna

Singer: Kishore Kumar

Film: Amar Prem (1971)

3. Three songs tied for the third position

Waqt ne kiya kya haseen sitam
Singer: Geeta Dutt
Film: Kaagaz ke phool (1959)

Jo vaada kiya woh nibhana padega
Singers: Rafi-Lata
Film: Taj Mahal (1963)

Pyar kiya to darna kya
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
Film: Mughal-e-Azam (1960)

4. Thirteen songs tied for the fourth position

Ai qaatib-e-taqdeer mujhe itna bata de
Singer: K.L. Saigal
Film: My Sister (1944)

Ayega, ayega, ayega ayega aane wala
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
Film: Mahal (1949)

Piya tose naina lage re
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
Film: Guide (1965)

Mai ye sochkar uske dar se
Singer: Mohammed Rafi
Film: Haqeeqat (1964)

O sajna, barkha bahar ayee
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
Film: Parakh (1960)

Kuch dil ne kaha, kuch bhi nahin
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
Film: Anupama (1966)

Zindagi ke safar me guzar jate hain jo makam
Singer: Kishore Kumar
Film: Aap ki kasam (1974)

Tum jo mil gaye ho to ye lagta hai, ke jahan mil gaya
Singer: Mohammed Rafi
Film: Hanste zakhm (1973)

Dil cheez kya hai aap meri jaan lijiye
Singer: Asha Bhonsle
Film: Umrao Jaan (1981)

Chura liya hai tumne jo dil ko
Singers: Asha Bhonsle-Mohammed Rafi
Film: Yaadon ki baraat (1973)

Tum pukar lo
Singer: Hemant Kumar
Film: Khamoshi (1969)
Music: Hemant Kumar Lyrics Gulzar

Har ghadi badal rahi hai roop zindagi
Singer: Sonu Nigam
Film: Kal ho naa ho (2003)

Poocho na kaise maine rain bitayi
Singer: Manna Dey
Film: Meri soorat teri aankhen (1963)

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