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Clarion Call to Bollywood

Contributed by Administrator Monday, 20 August 2007

Mohammed Rafi, the Numero Uno among all the singers that our country has produced or would ever produce, ruled over Bollywood for close to four decades. He sang over 27000 songs in twelve different languages in every possible genre. Be it ghazals, geets, qawwallis, bhajans, romantic or tragic, patriotic or plain MESSAGE BOARD songs, Mohd. Rafi rendered them all with such subtle ease and passion that he has no parallels in the music industry. He worked with all the top film producers, directors, music directors, female lead singers, male lead singers and a host of chorus artists. Many a Music Directors owe their success to Mohd. Rafi sahib, for HE not just sang for them but raised the class of their compositions many times over. Mohd. Rafi was the soul of many all-time mega movies in the four decades that he was sitting at the altar of Bollywood’s music industry. Several hundreds of movies became instant hits and went on to celebrate Silver Jubilees and many a actor made their day by becoming romantic heroes. Such was the aura of the phenomenon called Mohd. Rafi that none could choose to find alternate singers. Producers, Directors, Heroes, Music Directors and even Female playback singers all made a beeline to the residence of Mohd. Rafi sahib – all because their individual and collective future depended on the greatest singer of our times. He shaped the destiny of several hundred artistes, music directors, actors, singers and many more in the industry. Mohd. Rafi saheb did not disappoint anyone of them. Each got more than what they had bargained for in the form of the best music rendering that Bollywood would offer to a cinema-crazy nation. Such was the impact of his magic that his fan following soon spread across nations – from the sub-continent to the great Americas and the Europe. The mid-1950s to late 1970s saw the versatility and the range that this humble and shy human being could produce – not only outsmarting the very best in the Indian film industry but also the likes of which has not been seen in any other part of the world. This arrangement continued until it came to a grinding and abrupt halt on that fateful day of July 1980. A whole nation was shell shocked to hear the unbelievable news that Mohd. Rafi was no more. People travelled from all corners of the country to Bombay (now Mumbai) to pay their last respects to a superlative artiste. Thousands braved the rains to attend the funeral of a man they had loved and respected. Radio stations broadcast the gloomy information and TV channels telecast the funeral procession and the musical sway that the great son of India had generated through his immortal songs. I had just then settled in Hyderabad after a long innings at Ahmedabad where we had a core-Rafi group. There were no mobiles then and no emails either. My Rafian-friends collected all the newspaper and magazine reports on the untimely death and the works of Mohd. Rafi saheb and mailed them to me. The tinge of grief and gloom loomed over our lives for many months to come. Rafi sahib worked with several hundreds of artistes from the film industry. Many a film critics and film journalists had known him from close quarters having studied his music and his life-style. Several of them had interviewed him too. Many of those artistes and media personnel are still alive reminiscing the times they had spent knowing the magic of Mohd. Rafi saheb. Musicians would know how they felt after the recording sessions and so too the Music Directors would be able to label Mohd. Rafi saheb as the top most singer. Film heroes of yesteryears for whom Rafi Saheb was an integral part of their careers would be able to tell us the impact that his songs had on their rise in the industry. Rafi saheb had contributed to the rise of each one of them. While many notable artistes, including many legendary music directors are no more, there are still quite a sizeable of them and their orchestra members who could shed light on the phenomenal presence of Mohd. Rafi saheb in the industry. Film critics and journalists can dig out their archives and present to the world the legacy Mohd. Rafi saheb by way of fresh articles. Today is the age of the internet and websites. Younger generation today does not read periodicals and newspapers. We Rafians have adapted to the changing times and made the internet our daily staple food. Let those in the Bollywood spare their memories and anecdotes and experiences with all music lovers through their columns – regular or occasional. It is the call of the hour that Bollywood pays back Mohd. Rafi saheb, in equal measure, in return for all that Mohd Rafi saheb had done in such a short span. Bollywood must also take the lead in the march for glorification of Mohd. Rafi saheb with the Bharat Ratna. Let this become the one-point agenda for all those who were associated with a great human being and the greatest singer of all times - MOHAMMED RAFI. Generations to come would thank Bollywood for their contribution to this most reasonable and justified cause. The media also should play a positive part in portraying the works of this wonderful artiste – both in the print and visual sectors – for HE remains an inseparable part of lives of millions of people still swearing by his name. Come on BOLLYWOOD. Your turn to do a noble duty. MEHFIL-E-MUSHAIRA AAJ BHI HO KAL BHI HO, RAFI SAHEB AAPKI AWAZ KA JAADO AAJ BHI HO KAL BHI HO. YEHI ARMAN LIYE JEETE HAIN, BUS TEENO JAHAN MEIN AAPKI CHHAYA AAJ BHI HO KAL BHI HO. Submitted by Rafian: A.S. Murthy