It has become a cliche to say that music is timeless, but when you listen to Mohammad Rafi’s songs, you know that, cliche or not, it is true. With a range as varied as bhajans to qawwalis to ghazals to romantic songs, Rafi explored every music genre under the sky and with absolute perfection. He was not the jack of all trades, not even the master of one. With a voice that the Gods did not give to angels, Rafi was the master of all trades! Even today, 37 years after Rafi left us for his heavenly abode, his songs resonate with us. You can see even millennials listening to his romantic songs and his bhajans like ‘Shirdi Wale Sai Baba’ sounding off in temples. So what makes Rafi so relevant half a century after he was in his prime? Why does his voice still reverberates in our ears? I explain through his top five songs. This is a personal list and it was supremely difficult to select these songs. But, well, here we go:
1. Kya Hua Tera Wada
Mohammad Rafi won a National Award for this one, and it is easy to see why. Although not the best Rafi song in my opinion, “Kya Hua Tera Wada” is probably his most recognisable song. It perfectly captures the pain of unrequited love and you don’t have to be one to feel the pang – such is the power of Rafi’s voice.
2. Ye Duniya Ye Mahfil
You could listen to this song whole day and will still be left wanting for more. The lyrics by Kaifi Azmi nicelt complement Rafi’s voice and so does Raj Kumar’s acting in the music video.
3. Yeh Chand Sa Roshan Chehra
Shammi Kapoor was the public face of Mohammar Rafi in those days when singers were recluse. Some of the most popular songs were pictured on Shammi Kapoor and probably the most popular one was “Yeh Chand Sa Roshan Chehra” from Kashmir Ki Kali. Set in the picturesque setting of Dal Lake, the beautiful, soothing song makes you nostalgic about the time when Kashmir was really the heaven it now only pretends to be.
4. Teri Bindiya Re
This song has one of the best pairings of both actors and singers in the form of Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan and Mohammad Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar. And you can see why this song is as pleasing as it is. Because it reminds you of the time when romance was subtler and sweeter.
5. Gulabi Aankhein Jo Teri
The tempo of this song is very fast, and it reinforces my belief that Rafi was the master of all trades. He could do anything you threw at him and perfectly. The singing prowess of this legendary artist is apparent here and shows Rafi at top of his game.
Of course, I still think I might have missed something. If you wish to add to this list, let me know in the comments section below.