Legendary playback singer Mohammed Rafi was born near Amritsar, reigned in Bombay, but it is in Kozhikode in the deep south that a museum dedicated to him is coming up in the new year.
Thirty-six years after his death aged only 55, Rafi’s fans in Kozhikode have decided to build a museum to display his rare photos, albums and LP records and showcase his entire collection of songs.
The project is being taken up by the Mohammed Rafi Foundation based in Kozhikode. The museum will open to the public by July 31, Rafi's death anniversary.
The project, which is likely to cost Rs 25 lakh, would be the first of its kind to commemorate Rafi. The building for the museum has been pledged by the heirs of the late Jaffer Khan, a businessman and philanthropist.
But how come Kozhikode beat Mumbai to the idea? People in the city of half a million on the Malabar coast have an abiding passion for the legendary singer's songs although he is known to have visited only twice, in 1966 and 1973.
His fans in the city set up the Mohammed Rafi Foundation, which organises concerts to commemorate the singer on his birth [24 December] and death anniversaries. They boast that the concerts, called Rafi Nites attract the largest gathering of Rafin fans anywhere in India.
The most recent Rafi Nite was held last Saturday on Kozhikode's beach, not far from the place on the coast where Vasco da Gama touched down on voyage round the Cape of Good Hope back in 1498.
Prakash P, the general secretary of the Mohammed Rafi Foundation said, "The idea of a museum has been at the back of our mind for quite some time. But now we have an appropriate space to house the museum.”
That space, on the top floor of the Zainaba Arcade at Gandhi Nagar, was provided by the heirs of the late Jaffer Khan.
The money for the project is going to be raised through crowd-funding. “We are confident as contributions have started pouring in soon after we made the announcement,” said Prakash.
The foundation has requested Rafi’s family to donate some memorabilia.