MD. RAFI HAD PROMISED ALL OF US
As I was listening in a state of trance Md Rafi songs at a Chennai auditorium my mobile phone beeped. An sms disturbed me with a joke. I shot back a reply ‘Listening to some wonderful Rafi songs by Anil Vajpayee—brilliant ‘ Promptly came the reply ‘You can’t be in Chennai where few would have heard about Rafi’.
I shot back ‘Time to shed old stereotypes’.
I was at a concert last evening at Chennai—the theme ‘classical music based songs of MD RAFI’ featuring Anil Vajpayee and Nilima Gokhale.To my mind this is one of the finest such Rafi concerts I have ever attended especially because the songs were an exquisite collection of the very best that the immortal Rafi has left for us to cherish.
What can be a better start than Chaudavin ka chand? When rendered feelingly as Anil did it set the tone for the rest of the evening.If Jab jab bahaar aai set our hearts into a flutter with its invocation of a beloved, the next song Din dhal jaye had us swooning as Anil looked at the audience and sweetly sang yaad sataye in a style that can recall all our memories of lost love.
Nilima was not to be left behind as she sang that Lata -Madan immortal Nainon mein bhadra chaaye a song that even many music lovers under estimate for its sheer sparkle. Nilima was visibly moved when she said at the end of her rendition that she has rarely found anyone sing this song along with her and was amazed when a certain elderly lady in the Chennai audience actually ‘ accompanied’ the artist!
A dulcet duet in Teri bindiya re from Abhimaan set a romantic mood which was consolidated by Anil singing Tere mere sapne from Guide . This song brought tears of joy to my eyes as he sang tere dukh ab mere, mere sukh ab tere – a sentiment that we reserve for our most loved ones.
At this stage Anil came up with that Dosti marvel Chahoonga main tujhe that sent us into raptures . Mitva cried Anil as if he were singing to each one of us individually. What can be more delightful than to hear a long forgotten song from a long forgotten composer from an unknown film Suvarnasundari? Kuhoo kuhoo bole koyaliya was one song that deserves far more prominence than it has so far received.
Adi Narayana Rao may not have been as prolific as many others but even if this were the only song he ever composed he deserves a place among the immortals. Anil and Nilima did ample justice to this song that had incorporated several ragas.
Melody followed melody—Mere mehmboob tujhe, Madhuban mein radhika, Piya tose , Dil jo na kah saka, but none of this readied us for another surprise of the evening– a song that when seen on the screen is a minor atrocity but shall rank among the finest that Rafi and Suman had rendered. I could not believe my ears as Anil began with that complex hum that precedes that masterpiece from Saanjh aur Savera—Ajhoon ja aiye baalama. At this point I noticed that a lady neighbour of mine at the hall wept uncontrollably . I later asked her what her feelings were and she gave me an answer that I shall revert to soon.
If Yesudas’s Surmiye akhiyon mein is often rated as one of the best loris in Hindi songs the Anil rendered Rafi lori from Brahmachari is not far behind—main gaoon tum so jao. He sung this number so soothingly one was moved.
In such a selection can Jo vaada kiya ho be left out ?Sure enough the duo on stage rent the air with fine melody though I felt Nilima was not quite as melodious as Lata but who can ever measure up to Rafi and Lata?
The next song had sections of the crowd not just rollicking but joining in as well in full throated singing in a way that only Shammi Kapoor can enact on screen. The song was Deewana hua paagal from Kashmir ki kali. The finale came with that ultimate proof of Rafi’s vocal virtuosity –Duniya ke rakhwale .Anil justifiably received a standing applause as he effortlessly reached its pinnacle set by Naushad.
Now back to the lady in tears. I started by telling her that one of the major satisfactions of my life was that I spent my boyhood in Mumbai and felt pride that I was breathing the same air that was breathed –in the 1960’s and after—by Rafi, Lata, Hemant Kumar.
Talat Mahmood , Kishore, Madan Mohan etc. I also told her that over the years right upto this day whenever I am in the vicinity of Bandra I never fail to walk past Rafi’s house and look up at the first floor hoping to catch a glimpse of the greatest singer the world has known .The lady again broke down and told me that her teenage kids just did not care for melody. ‘Do you think Rafi and melody will die with us ?’ she asked plaintively. ‘Will a singer like Rafi be ever born again?” I had no answer but I told her that Rafi had made a promise to all those who love him .
He sang in 1963
Sau baar janam lenge
Sau baar fanaa lenge
Ae jaan- e -wafaa phir bhi
Hum tum na judaa honge
Sau baar janam lenge
Sau baar janam lenge