Yesterday marked 30 years since the Hindi film industry lost legendary playback singer Mohammed Rafi. Sunday Mid Day gets his youngest son, Shahid Rafi, to flip through his father's photo album
In this photograph from a filmland function in the '50s, my father is
listening in while Lataji and (lyricist) Shakeel Badayuni saab engage in
conversation. The other lady is a guest. My dad had great regard for
Shakeel saab (who wrote some of his biggest hits such as Nain lad
jayee hai and O door ke musafir) and for Lataji, with whom he sang
some of his best-known duets over three decades.
Dad enjoyed a close understanding not only with Lataji but with all his
co-singers. But to be honest, there wasn't much aana jaana between
them. Dad used to keep his personal life separate from the industry.
In all these years, I have been to his recordings only three or four times.
The last recording I attended was when I was 18, and went to meet him
at Film Centre where he was singing a song for RD Burman for Zamaane
Ko Dikhana Hai. This was just a couple of months before he passed away.
This picture was clicked at a mushaira, where dad was asked to sing.
Mukeshji and Talat Mahmood saab can be seen on the extreme right,
while Shakeel saab is on the extreme left. Dad, of course, is on the
harmonium. "Dad would always play the harmonium while doing his
own rehearsals or practising for shows. And from the time I was a
child, I have seen him doing riyaz on his taanpura. He would get up
at 5 am every day for his riyaz.
There were some talented and well-known musicians who'd accompany
my father to his concerts saxophonist Narendra Singh Kaka, Leslie
Coutinho on the drums, Naidu saab on the dholak and Amirbhai on the
tabla. On the accordion, it would be Dhiraj or Amjad Ali."
As you can see in the picture above, the jawans turned up in full strength
to hear dad sing. They were thrilled because there was no source of
entertainment there no cinema halls, nothing. They felt no filmwalla
would ever come there.
Dad sang patriotic songs in his inimitable style. Some unforgettable
patriotic songs were Kar chale hum fida jaan-o-tan saathiyon, Watan
ki raah mein, Apni aazadi ko hum hargiz mita sakte nahin. Every time
I hear Watan pe jo fida hoga from Phool Bane Angaarey, I am moved.
Dad had gone to the Ladakh border with Yusuf saab and Agha saab to
entertain the troops. Dilip Kumar is standing to his right, and second from
left is a very young Jalal Agha.
"This photograph was shot in London when dad had visited the city for
a show. He is with his admirers and show organisers. Just behind dad is
my eldest brother, Saeed. London was our second home. My brothers
stayed there. My eldest brother was 16 when he was sent there to study.
The next went when he was 12, and the younger one when he was just seven.
They were all born in India but brought up in London. Amma would refrain
from saying anything; dil pe patthar rakhkar. Dad's reasoning was:
'Pehle padho'. Although mum and dad were not educated, they wanted
their kids to be well-educated. Dad never encouraged his kids to come
down to his music room.
We are a family of four brothers, and three sisters. Unfortunately,
all my brothers are no more. Two of my sisters and I stay in Mumbai.
This photograph with vice president Dr Zakir Hussain was taken in 1965,
when dad received the Padmashri from president Dr Radhakrishnan. My
father was very happy with the honour that arrived 15 years before he
passed away. Dad passed away on July 31, 1980. That very morning,
he had wrapped up a rehearsal of a Bengali song. In fact, during the
rehearsal, he experienced chest pain but insisted on completing the job.
When the music director left, the pain increased.
My mum was also running a temperature that day.
Our family doctor told us to rush him to hospital. My father's cardiologist
advised a pacemaker. In the ambulance, my dad suffered three more
attacks. We reached the hospital, he was rushed to the ICU, and the
surgery was done. But after half an hour, he was no more. I was with my
dad all day. When I hear Kar chale hum fida today, it brings back memories
of the song being played on television when dad's funeral procession
was being telecast.
In this photograph, famous boxer Mohammed Ali is flanked by my
parents. I am standing behind my father. Dad was very fond of sports.
Yusuf saab, Naushad saab and my dad were good friends, and they
would get together early every morning to play badminton. This was
their daily routine. My father and Naushad saab loved flying kites too.
In those days, there was a maidan at Carter Road where we would fly
kites. I would hold the charkha for daddy. My father would take child-like
joy in saying, 'Waah, Naushad saab, maine toh patang kaat diya.'
He was also good at carrom. Whenever he had some time, he would play
with my mama, and Zaheer, his secretary. Or he would round up the
children to play a game with him.
Bollywood News Service