You hum the old Mohammad Rafi song, hui shaam un ka khayal aa gaya / wohi zindagi ka sawal aa gaya. He was a maestro, in that true sense of the meaning. Think of Radhike tu ne bansri churai; or dwell on hue hum jin ke liye barbaad.
Rafi's versatility said it all. Remember that spiritually uplifting parwardigar-e-alam tera hi hai sahara / tere siwa jahan mein koi nahi hamara? There will come into you a true light of God as you have never experienced it before. Listen to Rafi's love songs. The heart stops in a woman when he sings mohabbat choome jinke haath /jawani paaon parhe din raat. Or maybe she and you will recreate the old Rafi-Lata duet, kabhi raat din hum dur thhe / din raat ka ab saath hai / wo bhi ittefaq ki baat thi / ye bhi ittefaq ki baat hai? Or perhaps you will recall that scene where Dilip Kumar sings for Waheeda Rehman: tu hai saqi / main hoon sharabi.
Tragedy characterised Rafi's songs. Think of the sadly lilting koi saghar dil ko behlata nahi / bekhudi mein bhi qarar aata nahi. Or the heart-breaking toote hue khwabon ne / hum ko ye sikhaya hai / dil ne jise chaha tha ankhon ne ganwaya hai. In main zindagi ka saath nibhata chala gaya / har fikr ko dhuen mein urhata chala gaya, you see not worry but a world burning up in the cigarette smoke rising from Dev Anand's lips.
Rafi could easily slip into singing light, even comical numbers. In kanto mein phansa anchal / zulfon mein phansa ye dil, it is a frivolous Rafi you run into. There is also lal chharhi maidan khari or ae dil hai mushkil jina yahan /zara hat ke zara bach ke / ye hai Bombay meri jaan.
In the movie Aan, the passionate dil mein chhupa ke pyar ka toofan le chale is soon replaced by the calmer takra gaya tum se dil hi to hai roye na ye kyun ghayel hi to hai. And just as you begin to think that no song could beat that one, you remember the epical tere mere sapne ab ek rang hai.
Love finds its ways into the heart, as in chhalkaye jaam aaiye aap ki / ankhon ke naam honton ke naam. In Teri Surat Meri Ankhon, a lonely Ashok Kumar sings, in murderous gloom, tere bin soone nayan hamare. Such a sense of gloom you find in maine chand aur sitaron ki tamanna ki thi / mujhko raaton ki siahi ke siwa kuch na mila; and in the duet, again with Lata Mangeshkar, dekh liya main ne / qismat ka tamasha dekh liya.
Rafi was of a class. If he danced his way through hum tum ye bahar dekho rang laya pyar / barsat ke mahine mein, he also made his way ponderously through dil jo na kahe saka / wohi raaz-e-dil kahne ki raat aayi.
Rafi's music transports you to the stars --- chalo dildar chalo chand ke paar chalo. In yaad na jaaye beete dino ki / jaa ke na aaye jo din / dil kyun bulaye unhen, it is old world romance you get once again.
The writer is Executive Editor, The Daily Star