Singer Mohammed Rafi cannot be forgotten. Sujata Dev makes sure that you don’t via her biography on Rafi – Mohammed Rafi: Golden Voice of the Silver Screen. Published by Om Books International, she speaks about writing his saga.
The name Mohammed Rafi just brings out nostalgia & love for good music. Though much is written about him, a authorized biography has hit the town - Mohammed Rafi: Golden Voice of the Silver Screen by Sujata Dev. Om Books International are the publishers. A Rafi fan, Dev is the Managing Director – Third Generation Mobile Pvt. Ltd, Co-chairperson – National Committee of M&E, ASSOCHAM, Founder Member-Senior Vice President – Indian Broadband Forum, Member of Executive Council – International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and Society Member of the Governing body, IIM, Shillong. She speaks about her reasons for choosing to write about Rafi and decodes the legend for the readers.
Mohammed Rafi is the stuff legends are made of. Was that the reason to write this biography?
Mohammed Rafi is one of the most versatile singers who left indelible impressions on the canvas of time with his melodious voice. In his four decades of outstanding career, he sang 5,063 songs with innumerable music directors whose careers were established because of him. The legendary music director Naushad, who was responsible for giving Rafi a foothold in the film industry, referred to him as the ‘Emperor of Playback Singing’. He is one such legend of the Golden Era who worked with the best singers, lyricists, musicians & music directors of his time without disappointing anyone. He was the voice for all the lead & lesser-known actors. A man who never restrained himself when it came to giving and helping people was fondly called ‘Rafi Sahab’ by the whole industry. What more can you ask of a legend?
For me, Rafi Sahab was a natural choice. My grandmother introduced me to the singing of Rafi in my early childhood, describing the soulful voice as God’s voice. I grew up listening to Rafi Sahab’s voice, and even without realising, I fell in love with his melodious voice. This book is not only a tribute to the ‘Immortal Singer’ but also my homage to my beloved grandmother.
What are the aspects of Rafi’s life & music covered in the book?
The book answers everything that you would like to know about Mohammed Rafi; his childhood, family, family-life, career, relationship with his co-singers, controversies, mysteries surrounding his death, his fan following, the ‘Farishta’ that he was known as and much more. The book covers the essence of that period and the industry in which Rafi struggled, flourished and ultimately ruled. The book is accompanied with a DVD, which captures footsteps of Rafi & what went into the making of this book.
A lot is already out in the public domain about Rafi. How is this book different?
Life of a great legend like Rafi obviously has been talked about in media in the last many years. What intrigues me the most is his illustrious career that stretched almost for four decades and so I dove deep into it. This was the toughest part of the research, as those days had no computers or records. Many stories & figures came to me from different sources like existing books, blogs and Internet at large but to authenticate them was not easy. For eg., the number of songs Rafi Sahab had sung...
Discovering Siddique Chacha who continues to live in Lahore (now in Pakistan) and interviewing him. It is he who gave lot of insight into Rafi’s childhood and his first marriage to Basheera Bibi. The facts about the legend’s death and the prevailing circumstances were enigmatic and I tried my best to unravel it. That meant meeting Doctor Chandiramani, who attended Rafi Sahab on that fateful day. Besides the family, a few close associates recounted the last few hours of Rafi Sahab’s life.
The controversies that the 2 great singers Lata Mangeshkar & Mohammed Rafi had over royalty and Guinness book have been detailed, by taking into account the existent situation that could have lead to these controversies. I met over hundred people from the industry before I could complete this book. The accompanying DVD has many of these interviews and stands as testimony to incidents in the book.
You are a Rafi fan. What is it about his voice that makes you want to listen to him?
The ‘Soulfulness’ in his voice is so profound. There is something mesmerising in that melodious voice. He has sung songs of varied genres. Rafi could just set the right tone and draw s listeners into it. Rafi had a tonal range like no other. Music directors created compositions especially for him and lyricists believed their words created magic only when Rafi sung. Truly, his voice is the one that conquers every heart.
Your professional background is quite different from a writer. Are they intertwined?
The researcher in me always dominated over the ‘Rafi fan’ that I am. The logical mind always questioned every data or figure that I came across and the resultant is an analytical approach of Rafi’s illustrious career. As a Rafi fan, I often came across statements like ‘Rafi Sahab’ has sung about 30,000 songs in his career' and then some other source would say 26,000 but logically I found these numbers to be unrealistic. Mathematically, with five major studios, even considering two shifts a day for 365 days (which is humanly impossible), one cannot sing that many songs. This process of authentication & validation of facts was a contribution of professional background. The research & analysis of his vast repertoire itself took two long years and finally the biography was completed in four and half years.
On a last note, why should the readers buy this biography?
I tried to address many aspects of Mohammed Rafi’s life, besides his talent as a singer. This book will help every Rafi fan to know their idol better. Besides, anyone with interest in the evolution of the Indian film industry, playback industry or the Indian music industry at large could find this book worth reading.
Mohammed Rafi: Golden Voice of the Silver Screen
AUTHOR: Sujata Dev
PUBLISHER: Om Books International
PUBLISHED: May 28, 2015
· PRICE: Rs 595