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The enduring Rafi-Naushad magic

UNMATCHED REPERTOIRE: Mohammed Rafi

UNMATCHED REPERTOIRE: Mohammed Rafi  

The guru-disciple musical chemistry provided uplifting, spiritual intoxication that continues to soothe souls

That Mohammed Rafi created magic with his singing is an old age truth. Unlike others, Rafi’s versatility was never curbed by the contours of his personal remuneration nor did his individual equations dictate the quality of his renditions. So be it songs with eminent stalwarts like Sachin Dev Burman or Shankar Jaikishan or with little heralded Iqbal Qureshi or Sardar Malik, Rafi’s vocals always provided delectable knock outs for our ears! The recent Google Doodle on Rafi Sahab’s birthday is a magnificent reiteration of the fact that his mellifluous renditions of the intricate musical patterns are still the top favourite of millions.

Though Rafi mania continues unabated across the world and there is no dispute about Rafi’s dedication to every vocal outpouring with numerous composers, yet it seems that his songs rendered under the guidance of master composer Naushad have a special earthy fragrance and appeal. Of course, Rafi poured his soul into every musical composition but for Naushad’s songs, it is like a devout pupil is displaying his finest craft under a caring yet uncompromising teacher. It is to Naushad’s credit that he honed and polished Rafi’s talent to such a sublime level that their combined efforts (along with Shakeel Badayuni on most occasions) became like sacred offerings at the altar of a musical sanctum sanctorum. So finely tuned are these Rafi-Naushad “whirring” that their musical incense provides not just an uplifting, spiritual intoxication but also the rare fragrance and nobility of our mother earth; a magnificent expanse of the infinite within the span and space of our mortal confines.

Moreover, check any Rafi-Naushad composition and you’ll discern a certain rhythm, colour and feel of the Indian milieu.

Indian connect

The enduring Rafi-Naushad magic

It is not as if other composers did not provide glimpses from Indian life but their creations had impressions from various sources while Naushad’s raga based classical (“shastriya sangeet”) compositions were deeply and strictly steeped in sounds of Indian ethos and environment. So be it “Nain Lad Jayee He” (“Gunga Jamuna”), “Nadiya Mein Utha Hai Shor” (“Babul”) or “Tu Ganga Ki Mauj” (“Baiju Bawra”), Naushad’s rural and folk tunes helped Rafi become the voice of the common man in India much before he ultimately became the voice of humanity. In other words, the genius of Naushad not only sensed Rafi’s incomparable singing skills much earlier but also catapulted his prowess beyond imagination. Listen, and you’ll find each Rafi-Naushad song has the feel and fragrance of the earth, thus giving us serene and unadulterated joy . Unlike other recordings where Rafi could sometimes take liberty with his throw and expression, Naushad’s gentle leash only allowed Rafi to tread notes which Naushad guided. That is why in each Naushad composition, Rafi appears a devout disciple who executes each note to perfection as per dictates of his compassionate Guru. The blockbuster songs of Rafi-Naushad combine like “O Duniya Ke Rakhwale” and “Man Tadpat Hari Darshan Ko Aaj” (both from “Baiju Bawra”), “Suhani Raat Dhal Chuki” (“Dulari”), “Hue Hum Jinke Liye Barbaad” (“Deedar”), “O Door Ke Musafir” (“Udan Khatola”), “Madhuban Mein Radhika Naache Re” (“Kohinoor”) and several others need no elaboration but a cursory glance at some lesser discussed songs too confirm them as gems extraordinaire of film music. “Mohabbat Chume Jinke Haath” (“Aan”), “Tere Kooche Mein Armanon Ki Duniya” (“Dillagi”), “Dil Ho Unhein Mubarak” (“Chandni Raat”), “Teri Mehfil Tera Jalwa” (Sohni Mahiwal”), “Zara Man Ki Kiwadiya Khol” (“Kohinoor”), “Koi Sagar Dil Ko Behlata Nahin”(“Dil Diya Dard Liya”) or “Ae Husn Zara Jaag” (“Mere Mehboob”) and “Mujhe Duniya Walon Sharabi Na Samjho” (“Leader”) too bring alive the film scenes while establishing the duo’s ability to deliver hits of various genres without giving up their classical traditions.

Even in group songs like “Gaadi Waale Gadi Dheere Haank Re”, “Dukh Bhare Din Beete Re Bhaiyya” (both from “Mother India”) when Naushad brings alive the Indian villages with his brilliant fusion of rural instruments, it is through Rafi that he establishes the grit and determination of the perfect Indian rural citizen.

Unforgettable bhajans

But to me personally, what resonates through the Rafi-Naushad combine (along with Shakeel Badayuni) is their immortal heritage of bhajans. Nowhere in the whole world has a combination provided such unadulterated joy of sublime bliss to millions for decades with their divinely crafted melodies as these three have done. Listen to just one bhajan “Insaaf Ka Mandir Hai Ye Bhagwan Ka Ghar Hai” (“Amar”) out of the many to understand that such soul stirring musical creations come only once in years. And so come what may, the nefarious designs to destroy the secular fabric of India will never fructify because Rafi-Naushad songs are there to inspire compassion within the hearts and minds of all. This Rafi Naushad legacy can help us surmount all assaults on humanity.

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 2:45:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/friday-review/article22326180.ece

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