Muhammad Rafi as a human being


Every year on July 31, the music lovers and fans of Rafi remember him. Not that he's remembered only on July 31 because he breathed his last on this day 37 years ago, he's forever in the consciousness of all those who've listened to his immortal numbers. So much has been written on Rafi and his incredible singing prowess that his nobility as a human being is still to be explored. Rafi was a magnificent human being. Two instances highlight the magnanimity of this immortal singer and human being.

In 1962, Rafi sang a song penned by Anand Bakhshi. It was, 'Gham-e-hasti se bas begana hota, khudaya kaash main deewana hota.' The movie was 'Wallah, kya baat hai'. It was set to music by Roshan and Shammi Kapoor sang it on the marquee. Just before the recording, Anand Bakhshi and Shammi Kapoor came and sat outside the recording room. Roshan was inside the studio. Rafi requested Roshan to call both inside and said, 'In dono(n) ko dekhkar hi main ye behatareen naghma gaa paaoonga' (I'll be able to sing this song only while looking at them here). Rafi sang it so soulfully that Roshan, Anand Bakhshi and Shammi all three started crying. After the recording, Rafi politely refused to accept the cheque for the song and said, 'Itna sanjeeda gaana hi mere liye mehantana hai' (this very serious song itself is my remuneration).

The second episode happened in 1965. Rafi sang for Firoz Khan in the film 'Oonche log'. Majrooh Sultanpuri wrote an evergreen number: Jaag dil-e-deewana, rut jaagi, vasle-yaar ki. When Rafi got to know that it was to be picturised on an anglicised and philandering Firoz Khan, he asked him, 'Miyaan, bada rangeen gaana hai. Zara apna andaaz dikhaiyega' (Man, it's a very romantic song, display your charm onscreen). When the composer Chitragupt offered him Rs. 4,000 for the song, he said, 'Shukriya. Rooh ko sukoon mila. Mujhe aur kuchh nahin chahiye' (The soul got satisfaction. I don't want anything else).

Such was Rafi! He was not just a great singer, he was also an individual par excellence. Let's remember the great Rafi whom Mehdi Hasan of Pakistan called, 'Mutrib-e-azeemtareen' (the greatest singer). He was indeed a great singer in addition to being a great human being. 

We fondly remember you, Rafi sahab.

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