No shortcuts to success: Kerala’s ‘Chhota Rafi’

Published: Sep 22, 2020, 6:03 pm IST

Kozhikode (Kerala): Saurav Kishan has earned the unique distinction of having made people happy when the entire world leads a troubled existence.

Indeed, the heavens too have opened up, as if this young musical wonder has beckoned them to do so with a perfect rendition of the ‘Megh Malhaar’.

It is as if he, with his soulful voice is attempting to reach out to his icon Mohammad Rafi to guide him and take him through his long musical journey, one that he knows is riddled with trials and tribulations.

It has been almost a month since Saurav’s voice was discovered as the next best thing that happened since the legendary Mohammed Rafi. Or so tweeted noted industrialist Anand Mahindra who called him “the new Mohammad Rafi, the world has been waiting for”, after Saurav posted his rendition of Rafi’s popular retro song “Teri Aaankhon ke siva duniya me rakha kya hai.”

Mahindra went on to tweet “We have been waiting for decades for a new Mohammad Rafi. It sounds as if we may have to wait no longer. I just couldn’t switch the clip off.”

Though social media has gone into an absolute tizzy over his voice which bears a striking resemblance to Rafi, this 23-year-old prefers to remain grounded. “Rafi Saab has his own uniqueness but I want to be me.” He asserts that though he has been tagged as ‘Chhota Rafi’ ever since he was 10 years old, he hates emulating any singer. “I believe I have my own vocal texture and am nothing compared to the great Mohammad Rafi. I am still learning and have very long way to go”, Saurav told IANS.

Inspiration from Rafi, for this Kozhikode-based youth, comes not just from his music. He quotes Rafi’s humility and care for the lesser privileged as a motivating factor in his life. “It is perhaps Rafi Saab’s ability to understand human beings and particularly the needy that brought about the feel in his songs. He was a wonderful human being and I have heard several stories of his kind bearing. Though I can never touch the pinnacle of music that Rafi Saab touched, I would like to learn from his life in all aspects. I am trying hard and perhaps this is bringing out a little bit of Rafi Saab in me.”

Demonstrating this in his mellifluous voice Saurav sings “Jaane bahar husn tera bemisaal hai”, a Rafi number in his favourite raag ‘Malkauns’. This raag is perhaps the most ancient and beautiful of raagas in Hindustani classical music and one cannot miss his unmistakable attempt at perfection like Rafi, who did so, with “Man tadpat Hari darshan ko aaj” in the yesteryear’s hit musical film “Baiju Bawra.”

At the Xin Jiang Medical University, China, where Saurav is into his fifth year, he was fortunate to be spotted by music loving fellow Chinese students, who taught him the art of perfection in voice modulation. “They also taught me to play the Chinese violin or ‘Erhu’ and helped me perform in a lot of shows within the University. Surprisingly they loved Hindi songs too and even taught me the technicalities when I went wrong. I have constantly incorporated these techniques into my music. In fact, I never imagined I would gain so much knowledge about music away from home,” he adds.

Although he has hogged the limelight recently for his rendition of Rafi songs, Saurav follows several other genres of music like contemporary Rhythm and Blues too. His perfect vibrato while crooning the Elvis Presley number “Can’t help falling in love” justifies his statements on the finer aspects of music.

An ardent follower of Sadhguru, Saurav firmly believes that one’s character defines everything in life. “This excitement and public attention will dwindle soon. Tomorrow everything might go against me, but I am prepared because as Sadhguru says, life is just a bubble. But as long as I have the support of my parents, grandparents and all those who have taught and guided me, I will come out strong even in adversities,” says Saurav.

“Thirty seconds is all Pablo Picasso needed to complete an admirer’s painting with absolute finesse, but it took him over 30 years of practice to get there,” points out Saurav citing Picasso on his famous 30-second masterpiece. “My masterpiece too will be born in time. Practice makes a man perfect and I’m sure Rafi Saab did just that to become the legend he was. Geniuses are born thus, and some day when I follow these principles I may get somewhere close. Till then I just have to wait, learn and practise,” he says.