From two rented rooms, he runs museum for Rafi

Bhopal : If following one’s passion could guarantee success, Mansoor Ahmad Farooqui would have been a multi-millionaire by now. The 47-year-old Bhopal resident is an ardent fan of Mohammad Rafi and has a collection of over 5,000 songs sung by the late singer, rare photographs, 15 books on Rafi and pages from his personal diary – all on display in a museum in his humble two-room rented house.

Mansoor is a verbal encyclopaedia on the playback singer.

Sample this — “When Rafi Sahab was 14, K.L. Sehgal was having a show in Lahore. Suddenly, the lights went off. In an effort to hold the audience’s attention, Rafi Sahab’s elder brother asked Sehgal if Rafi could sing. Rafi sang and got Sehgal’s blessings apart from a break in a Punjabi film.”

“Four years later, he sang for his first Hindi film “Pehle Aap”. Rafi Sahab sang 4,990 songs for 1,960 Hindi movies. He sang 88 songs during live concerts and did 31 concerts outside India,” Mansoor, who binds motors of fans for a living, told IANS.

Besides, he also runs the Mohammad Rafi Memorial Foundation and has been holding programmes on the Padma Bhushan awardee singer’s birth and death anniversary since last six years.

He has photographs of Rafi – ranging in size from half inch to five feet long, 13 pages of the personal dairy of the singer and several letters written to Rafi by his friends and different personalities.

“For someone like me, it was never easy to collect those rare songs, books, letters, audios of Rafi Sahab’s concerts, but I did not let any hurdle come in between my passion. My friends helped me a lot in collecting all these items and information,” Mansoor said.

And so did his wife, who takes home tuitions to support the family. The father of three has named his elder son after Rafi.

The bachelor degree-holder has been pursuing his passion since 1985 while his little-known museum, which is opened to public only twice a year during the birth and death anniversary of the singer, is some 10 years old.

To make sure his treasure remains intact, he keeps the cassettes in packets and uses briefcases, made in Taiwan, to keep all the other collections. After all, much of the preserve is a result of hectic work over the years.

Mansoor used to dig out contacts of people in possession of rare Rafi pictures, then post or physically go to their houses to strike a deal. The hard work paid off and today he’s in possession of 43 Rafi songs and gazals which have never been used in movies.

“He’s the only singer who sang 87 patriotic songs. He sang during the India-China war for soldiers on a mountain 1,400 ft above sea level. He raised funds during the India-Pakistan war and toured several cities, including Bhopal,” he says, doling out some more Rafi facts.

“Rafi Sahab was the only singer on whom three songs were written. One was sung by Md. Aziz, another by Milan Singh and the third one by Jaani Babu Qawwal.”

This incredible fan also wishes that the singing prodigy had won a Bharat Ratna.

“Rafi Sahab got two National Awards and six Filmfare awards for his immortal singing. But I strongly believe that he also deserves Bharat Ratna.”


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