MALACCA: The late Hindi singer Mohd Rafi Saab still continues to mesmerise fans through the world with his songs. The 1924-born singing sensation in the northern Indian state of Punjab first gained a break in Punjabi films in 1947 and then on Lahore radio in the early 70s. Subsequently, he went on to steal the hearts of millions in the Indian sub-continent, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Now a quarter of a century after his death, Rafi who recorded more than 26,000 songs in his illustrious musical career spanning over 35 years, still commands a following particularly among the Malaysian Punjabi community.
In this respect, Malacca’s Hardeep Singh ranks as the most true blue fan in the country
Popularly dubbed as a ‘one-man fan club’, the 68-year-old retired bank clerk possesses around 3000 gramaphone records of the 78’ rpm type of Rafi’s songs with the oldest dating back to 1940 from the film Jhansi Ki Rani.
Apart from priceless records, Hardeep has dedicated a whole room in his Bukit Senjuang apartment home to his prized Rafi collection. They comprise a host of memorabilia, photographs, entertainment magazine and newspaper clippings, posters, the singer’s autograph and a couple of personal handwritten letters, music cassettes, videos, compact discs as well as 45’ and 35’ rpm records numbering over 2000.
Explained Hardeep proudly “It was destined that I should like and then love Mohd Rafi the singer.
“At the age of 17 and when still in school, I saw an old black and white Hindi film. The songs were simply melodious and laced with emotions.
“And it so happened that they were sung by Mohd Rafi. From then on, I made it point to buy his records which were then selling at around three Malayan dollars each.
When Rafi started singing in the late 40s, there were only 78rpm record types. The 45’ and 35’rpm extended and long playing records wee unheard of then.
Plastic records only came on the scene in the 60’s and as such his song were only available on 78’ rpm records.
Describing Rafi as a soft spoken but blessed man with a glorious voice, Hardeep met up with his idol up close and personal in 1972 in Kuala Lumpur at Rafi’s concert at Stadium Negara.
“That’s where I obtained his autograph and had a photograph taken with him.
“I also have the concert’s first class ticket stub then priced at RM10” said the beaming Hardeep.
He also remarked that Rafi has earned a place in his heart forever. If his love for the late Hindi singing sensation is that deep, why not set up a local fan club?
Hardeep who finds much solace in the numerous Rafi numbers along with wife Suvindur Kaur said “Not at this time. By the way, I am not computer savy.
“There has been much requests from a number of die-hard fans and community members from all over Malaysia and Singapore to initiate a fan club.
“Until I become computer literate, maybe I will consider the prospect. Till then listening to Rafi’s songs are for my family pleasure and that of my very close friends”.