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2024 Marks Mohammad Rafi’s Birth Centennial. We Need to Memorialize His Mumbai Home

2024 Marks Mohammad Rafi’s Birth Centennial. We Need to Memorialize His Mumbai Home

  • Tucked away in the by lanes of this dense city, the late Bollywood Singer’s home is a haven for legions of his fans and enthusiasts.

Born in 1924 in the small village of Kotla Sultan Singh in undivided Punjab, Mohammad Rafi became a legend of the Hindi music Industry. His career spanned from 1944 to 1980 but his legacy lives on forever. Rafi sahab was destined for greatness. 

The story goes that he was fascinated by the voice of a fakir at a young age and was inspired to sing like him. Known as the Tansen of Bollywood, he sang over 25,000 songs. His versatility and voice were a boon to the film industry and his millions of fans.

Who can forget the romance in “Abhi na jao chhod kar,” the pain in “Babul ki duayen leti jaa,” or the strength in “Watan ki rah mein” … his voice could emulate the onscreen hero so effortlessly. That was Rafi sahab’s charisma. 

The highlight of my recent visit to Mumbai was visiting the Rafi Mansion. Tucked away in the bylanes of this dense city, this place is a haven for all Mohammad Rafi fans and enthusiasts like me. 

The visit was made even more memorable as Firdaus Rafi, the youngest and lovely daughter-in-law of Rafi sahab greeted us and showed us around this small but treasured room that held the legendary singer’s innumerable personal belongings and thousands of original record collections. 

My eyes teared up as I paused to feel the presence of the singer I grew up admiring and listening to. His six Filmfare awards and a National Award, hundreds of silver and golden jubilee film mementos, and lifetime achievement awards were all there.

I felt nostalgic to see the unassuming desk and a small chair he sat on, the instruments he practiced with. The tanpura and harmonium were silent but I could hear his song “Tum mujhe yun bhoola na paoge”… playing in my mind. 

Even Rafi sahab’s special tea flask was there. He enjoyed homemade tea. He was also a foodie who loved a good meal. His family can vouch for his humility and generosity. He helped numerous people in need quietly and led a simple life. 

My deepest gratitude to the Rafi family for opening this small museum in his memory to the public. It’s a must to preserve this artist’s legacy. I only wish the Rafi family would get the support to have his memorabilia placed in a place where more people can come and re-live the nostalgia. 

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The reverence for Rafi sahab is global, we need to give him and other legendary singers more visibility and a bigger platform. Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar and Rafi sahab are the royalty of Bollywood Hindi film music. 

I hope we acknowledge their contribution to the industry by making a space where millions of their fans can enjoy and salute these legends. Rafi sahab’s birth centennial is coming up next year. Let’s all come together to celebrate this incredible artist. The man with a golden voice will stay forever in our hearts. As I stepped outside the memorabilia room, this kept playing in my mind ‘Tum mujhe yun bhoola na paoge.”

((Photos by Namrita Yuhanna.)

Namrita Yuhanna is a poet and San Francisco Bay Area-based host of the radio talk show “Off the Cuff with Namrita” on Bolly 92.3fm. Her recent book, “Bolti Tanhaiyan,” is available on Amazon. She believes everyone has a story to tell and the potential to enrich others through their actions.

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