Mohammed Rafi: The voice of humanism

Lasting appeal: Mohammed Rafi The Hindu Archives

Lasting appeal: Mohammed Rafi The Hindu Archives  

When the world around us needs a big dose of human values, many melodies rendered by the legendary singer spring to mind

As I opened my wallet to pay for the 30-minute pleasant drive in Doha (Qatar), the Pakistani taxi driver refused to take the fare from me since. In his words, I was his respected guest! It took a while to understand that the honour was bestowed as I had lovingly referred to Mohammed Rafi as God’s Own Voice. Holding my hand, he said, “I can’t accept money from a brother, who like me, has found salvation in Rafi Sahab’s singing”. Affirming the sub-continent could be better if people learnt from humanism expounded in Rafi Sahab’s songs, the driver left after a hug and a prayer for greater kinship between Indians and Pakistanis!

It is such moments that make our lives memorable and though floored, I was not shocked by this recent happening as Rafi Sahab’s voice has been a long-standing passport to happy interactions with his fans. Ranging from stiff-lipped Englishmen to Egyptian calligraphers, people are willing to go miles for a rare song or anecdote of the maestro. In many cases, the foreign nationals don’t even understand the lyrics, yet are devout followers of Rafi Sahab’s incredible singing and one can certainly relate to such happenings as one has seen a friend shed tears every time he rewinds to his favourite “O Duniya Ke Rakhwale” from “Baiju Bawra”.

At a time when the world around us needs a big dose of tolerance and human values, many melodies rendered by Rafi spring to mind whose maxims teach us humanism is a trait of the heart. As faith dwindles in human virtues and institutions, there are numerous Rafi songs to guide, inspire and restore our belief in equality, goodness, and harmony.

Fervent plea

Long back, Rafi’s “Dekho Dil Na Kisi Ka Toote” (“Pyar Ka Rishta”) was a clarion call upholding friendship above blood relations just as he also made a fervent plea for uprightness with “Bhala Karne Wale, Bhalaayee Kiyeja, Buraayi Ke Badle, Duaayein Diye Jaa” (“Sansar”). Like a spiritual guru, Rafi Sahab elaborated not just the essence of every religion but also propounded goodness as the ultimate aim of every human being.

Life is an ephemeral bubble and Rafi Sahab drums sense about its mortality with his poignant appeal “Mat Bhool Arey Insaan, Teri Neki-Badee, Naheen Usse Chhupi” (“Mastana”). Time and time again, Rafi tugs the heart with nuggets like “Bhalayee Kar Bhala Hoga, Buraayee Kar Bura Hoga” (“Khul Ja Simsim”), “Daulat Ke Jhoothe Nashe Mein Ho Choor, Gareebon Ki Duniya Se Rahte Ho Door, Aji Ek Din Aisa Aayega, Jab Maati Mein Sab Mil Jayega” (“Oonchi Haveli”); songs that warn elitists to be humble and caring to their brethren.

Since Rafi pours his soul into every word, the message overwhelms the human psyche and that is why gems like “O Mati Ke Putle, Itna Na Kar Tu Gumaan, Pal Bhar Ka Tu Mehmaan” (“Sheroo”), “Aaj Gham Kal Khushi, Hai Yahee Zindagi, Sunle Pyaare, Aadmi Wo Jo Himmat Na Haare” (“Jawaab”) and “Waqt Se Din Aur Raat, Waqt Se Kal Aur Aaj, Waqt Ki Har Shae Ghulam, Waqt Har Shae Pe Raaj” (“Waqt”) find universal resonance.

Such is the magnificence of the outpouring and so sublime is the emotional intonation of every word that the essence and the purity of every line of the above-mentioned songs by lyricists Kaif Irani, Khumaar Barabankvi and Sahir Ludhianvi comes alive like an epic picture! Of course, the music and lyrics are outstanding but it is the extraordinary rendition by Rafi that moulds these songs into incomparable expressions of earnest prayer as well as eternal maxims of pearly wisdom.

Such is the maestro’s command over the lyric metre and expression that whenever he expostulates a divine law, it almost seems you are listening to a wandering Sufi saint. That is why the human heart, mind, and soul can imbibe what he sings, including some severe chidings like “Matlab Ke Liye Duniya Ne Paise Ko Banaya Khuda” (“Mohabbat Ki Koyee Dava Naheen”), “Do Din Ki Zindagi Hai Is Par Na Phool Pyaare, Rah Jayenge Yaheen Par Duniya Ke Thaath Saare” (“Gimbo Ki Beti”) and “Diwana Aadmi Ko Banati Hain Rotiyaan, Khud Naachti Hain Sabko Nachaati Hain Rotiyaan” (“Kali Topi Lal Rumaal”).

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 1:29:55 PM |

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