Discovering Rafi Sahab

Rafi Bhakts present new tales to the unending saga


Article by A S MURTY, Secretary, Rafi Foundation, Hyderabad Chapter  –

For the past several years now, I have had a very close interaction with many Rafi Bhakts, from across the globe.  Fans of Rafi Sahab,  like that of any other legend, come from all walks of life.  They have very varied lifestyles and come from different cultural backgrounds.  Yet they have many commonalities in them.  I have found some very dedicated Rafi Bhakts, who indulge in a wide spectrum of activities that spread the works of Rafi Sahab. All of them do it selflessly and purely out of their own personal passion for Rafi Sahab and his songs.  Most of them work ceaselessly, devoting a lot of time and money on their activities – unmindful of any rewards. Their only reward is their personal satisfaction of doing what they like most – spreading the fragrance of Rafi Sahab.  There are several communities of Rafi Sahab on social networking sites on the internet. Several groups exist in almost all the major cities. These groups conduct musical shows, musical sessions, get togethers, mehfils and so much more. They inter-act and discuss the movies for which Rafi Sahab has given his impeccable renditions and relive the magic of these immortal songs.

Rafi Sahab was a singer par excellence – he surpassed all the known playback singers with his outstanding ability to go into the soul of the song. Writers before me have commented that he actually enacted the songs and nothing could have been truer. This quality alone makes him unique in the large galaxy of some of the finest playback singers that our country has produced.  But beyond these extra-ordinary armory that Rafi Sahab possessed, he was a very down-to-earth person. Very modest in disposition and humble in nature. He lived a fairly simple life and had no vices. Foremost, he believed he had to spend quality time with his family. He played games with his children, sang songs for them all to hear and did his riyaz unfailingly. He was a very large hearted person and helped the needy, several times even without the needy seeking alms from him. He encouraged everyone in the industry – from musicians to film-makers to the co-singers.  Although Rafi Sahab was at the pinnacle of glory, his attitude was that of a commoner. He won the hearts of everyone in the film industry with his unimpeachable character and was therefore respected by the big and small alike.  He was always addressed as Rafi Sahab by not only his contemporaries and juniors, but by seniors and veterans.  Rafi Sahab learnt early in his life that respect begets respect and love.  His endearing charm lay in his smile as otherwise he was a man of few words.

I have discovered that, listening piously to Rafi Sahab songs for several decades now, his fan following not only has become countless – running into millions I presume. But more than this, his fans who often would like to call themselves as Rafi Bhakts – have themselves imbibed several qualities of their virtuous idol. Many are often seen doing charity services. Rafi Bhakts are  trying to become  role-models for future generations by their unstinted and selfless acts.  Many names crop up, but it would not be proper to name some and forget many and hence individual names are not being lined up. But the picture is very brightly lit before us.  Rafi Bhakts are not only earning a good reputation and name, but also enhancing the name of Rafi Sahab in whatever they do.  Pages after pages have been written on legendary idols by their fans, including on Rafi Sahab by the Rafi Bhakts.  Rich tributes have been paid to some of the very great Rafi Bhakts earlier too in various fora. I have seen youngsters, some of them still in their teens,  who worship Rafi Sahab as though they have grown up listening to his songs.  Most of these youngsters have been born several years after Rafi Sahab himself bid goodbye to this world.  How then this YOUNG RAFI BRIGADE came to be such staunch followers of a playback singer whose songs were recorded several decades earlier.  Awestruck, I tried to find answers to these perplexing questions.  Men would easily prefer male playback singers and often co-relate their own voices (and singing abilities sometimes) to the well known male playback singers. Their being Rafi Bhakts therefore is understandable. But we do have a very large distaff music lovers who besides being good music lovers and liking the songs of Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle, Geeta Dutt, Suman Kalyanpur, etc. have a very definite and strong leaning towards Rafi Sahab.  Their knowledge of the songs of Rafi Sahab is extra-ordinary again.  These female fans of Rafi Sahab show equal passion, sometimes more vocally than their male counterparts.

As I have been in close inter-action with such great Rafi Bhakts over the last several years it set me thinking – how they came to become Rafi Bhakts in the first place. What touched the emotional chord in them to be so vociferous in their piety towards Rafi Sahab ? And I set myself to discover their tryst with the one persona they admire and worship more than anyone else – Rafi Sahab.  I threw open a topic “HOW I BECAME A RAFI FAN” and within days, a plethora of short but well crafted true accounts of individual infatuations, emotions, convictions, etc. all started pouring in.  Careful analysis of most of them tells me one thing very clearly – these write ups are just as honest as ever there can be and have been narrated from the depth of individual hearts of Rafi Bhakts.  Just a week before I had asked friends – all staunch Rafi Bhakts – to narrate their story on what makes them a fan of Rafi Sahab.  From among the heaps of write-ups that I have already received, it was very difficult to choose one over the other. However, for various reasons I did find one very exceptional write up which I think all the Rafi Fans across the globe would like to read.  Perhaps many would see a piece of their own life in such a great essay which has been sent to me by Dr Vasudha Theeratharam.

Dr. Vasudha Theertharam is an Ayurvedic physician and a Nutritionist.She has her own private clinic at Bangalore.She is a senior faculty member in Information and Research centre where she teaches Health and Nutrition on a part-time basis.

Dr Vasudha has herself essayed a fine article on earlier, partnering Gan Sharma and the link to that article (A wide range of fans for one song!) is

Friends I would like you to analyse the following write up of Dr Vasudha on HOW I BECAME A RAFI FAN and co-relate the same with your own corresponding thoughts.


I am narrating a tale of untold bliss.

Beneath the layers of my heart lay a cache of images which sheltered millions of emotions.Here friends, take a peek into my heart.

My tryst with Rafi began when I was blossoming into a teenager.

Papa had a ear for good music and he played Baiju Bawra, Chori Chori, Barsaat among various other filmy, instrumental and classical numbers. As a kid I listened to these divine musical delights. Though unable to comprehend the meaning of the songs, the melody, the range, the cadence and the nuances of Man tarpat, Oh duniya ke rakhwaale, Jhoolen pavan ki aayee bahaar, Tu ganga ki mauj mein, Khuli palak mein jhoota gussa, Chupne waale saamne aa etc. touched my heart and Rafi left that indelible mark which till date no other singer has succeeded in erasing. Every note was ingrained in my gray matter.

I was on the threshold of teenage. I was a plain Jane whom nobody would want to give a second glance.

One day a cousin of mine came to stay with us. She had this ‘mane’ mania and the looks of my silky, brown hair caught her eye (That lux and lux alone was the secret of my brown hair is something I would like to share with you all). She loved my hair and made me aware of my asset, the beauty of which used to be camouflaged in a meandering plait or a bouncing pony until then.

She and I often listened to old Hindi songs, crooned and dreamt; though I did not have the necessary qualifications of a teenage dreamer.

It was one of those day dream sessions which was interrupted by Teri zulphonse judaai to nahin maangi thi – I was mesmerized by the melody of the song.

My dream boy was singing for me.

Every mind is fickle and carefree. It has the liberty to date Dev Anand, gaze at the full moon with Dharmendra and reach for the stars with the man of one’s choice. This unbridled exhilaration cannot be snatched from any mind.

But –

I took a tour of the universe with the man of my dreams-Mohommad Rafi.

Rafi’s voice held my mane, entangled it with his hands, lifted my drooping chin and pacified me with Maine kya zulm kiya aap khafa ho baite…

And in the breezy twilight sang Tumhaari zulf ki saayen mein shaam kar loonga… Wow! I had fallen in love with the voice. I did not care to see the face. I exulted in the tantalizingly ‘teenful’ years.

I did have few admirers for my eyes which were pronounced against the backdrop of my prominent cheekbones. I imagined Rafi looking into my eyes and singing Yeh aankhen uff yumma pyaar kyun na hoga and I looked into his eyes with the same level of intensity singing Yeh mausam uff yumma and thus began the journey of ishq, pyar, mohobbat- so exciting, so intoxicating.

Mujhe tumse mohobbat ho gayee hai mujhe palkonki chaao mein rehne do – reverberated in every cell of my body.

On one of my daily trips to school – I remember having told one of my friends – I want to marry Rafi – It was of course told in a lighter vein.

“Rafi? Have you seen him?” she shot back.

As a teenager pining from love, Rafi’s Choo lene do naazuk hotonko, Jaane chaman shola badan pehlu mein aa jao, Chalkaaye jam aayiye aapki, Tum kamsin ho naadan ho were some of the songs which served as an ambrosia and aroused the ‘Mohobbat’ in me.

It didn’t matter how old Rafi was or how he looked I was his ‘Radha’, Prem diwaani. ‘Everything is fair in love’, I told my friend.

I had no Rafi obsessions whatsoever. I loved his singing, that’s all and his songs took me to another land – Phiroo tujhe sang leke, naye naye rang leke sapnonki mehfil mein.

My teens were coming to an end. During my five and a half years of dissecting bodies, learning plant and human anatomy my emotional physiology took a backseat. During the cultural fest in my college I unconsciously sang Rafi songs for music competitions. Bahoaaro phool barsao, Woh jab yaad aaye and mitwa mere meet re. I won the first prize for Bahaaro, and 3rd for Mitwa; somehow woh jab yaad aaye didn’t make the necessary impact.

While practicing Mitwa mere meet re my better half ‘Chinnu’ as I lovingly call him had listened to the song and then said.- ‘You sang very well’. Little had I realized then that ‘Mere mitwa’ was complimenting me.

Today I am happily married and have two sons.

When my elder son who is a Downs baby listens to Oh duniya ke rakhwaale. Man tarpat hari darshan and many other songs in an absorbed manner I feel I have succeeded in transferring my music gene to my progeny.

Was it ‘that’ extra gene that made him a Downs baby? If the answer is in the affirmative I would somewhere, amidst all my sorrow of begetting such a child, feel happy too that an extra pair of genes that was the causative factor for the syndrome, has music in it.

My Papa and Amma are very fond of my son. He grew up listening to his Grandpa singing, among various other songs Raadhike tune bansari churaayi as well. It is sheer pleasure even now to listen to papa singing Bansari churaayi, and my son unfalteringly saying ‘KYA’ and the music session going on for hours.

Now in the transition period of my life I fly with the same gusto carrying lovely memories of my association with songs like Dil bekaraar saa hai, Raat suhaani jaag rahi hai, Aise toh na dekho, Yeh parbatonke daayre, Jaag dil e deewaana, Rhim jhim ke geet saawan gaaye, Yaad mein teri jag jag ke hum –the list is endless.

Rafi the sculptor, the man who kindled the flame of first love in me has succeeded in carrying it to this day with the same brightness making me live every moment, naughtily whispering into my ears—

Tumse kahoon ek baat paron se halki halki halki halki halki–



Many more of Rafi Bhakts have already sent in their write ups and many would do so for several months more.  The aim was to discover Rafi Sahab through the Rafi Bhakts and if write ups like the one above keep pouring in from all quarters, the dream of understanding Rafi Sahab better would become a reality for all of us.  Activities of these nature are not common and it is in this context that I have always felt that the Rafi Bhakts are just as unique as the master himself. The saga of Rafi Sahab continues therefore in the form of outpouring from the Rafi Bhakts themselves. Some of the experiences and thoughts of these Rafi Bhakts are so out of this world that they resemble fairly tales. But true they are and therein surfaces several aspects of Rafi Sahab that perhaps are yet to be discovered.  Go on Rafi Bhakts, narrate your own tryst with Rafi Sahab. Those of you who wish to write about your own personal experiences and thoughts on this subject, may please send me their essays to my personal email id given above, or else follow up this article by posting in your thoughts.

Discover Rafi Sahab, therefore, in the only way his true followers can – as unique and gifted as the master himself.