In an interview that I conducted several years ago, sitar maestro Abdul Halim Jaffar Khan mentioned his experience of working with music director Rafiq Ghaznavi. Khan described Ghaznavi as a vichitra veena or batta been player, a singer and harmonium player. In the eleventh episode of our series on Hindustani music practitioners working as composers for Hindi cinema, we will listen to songs composed by Rafiq Ghaznavi.
According to the biographical information provided by Ghaznavi, his ancestors hailed from Ghazni in Afghanistan, but he spent his childhood in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, and later moved to Lahore. He did not belong to a family of hereditary musicians, but he learnt from several musicians while in Lahore.
When he moved to Bombay, he worked as an actor and music director for Hindi cinema. But he also broadcast his vocal recitals on All India Radio. Vol.1 No.23 of The Indian Listener published by All-India Radio dated November 22, 1936, carries mention of his broadcast of “Light Classical Music” with sarangi, harmonium and tabla accompaniment.
Ghaznavi evidently was multi-faceted in his engagement with music, as the same issue also mentions a talk by him delivered in Hindustani entitled “Foundations of Indian Music”. Since the talk is numbered 7 with a sub-heading “Conclusions”, one would assume that this was a series that had been broadcast on the All India Radio over a period.
One does not know if Ghaznavi taught himself the vichitra veena, as his interview does not find mention of any formal training for the instrument. But we have a short illustration of his vichitra veena recital recorded for Radio Pakistan. He presents a composition in raag Kirvani set to the 16-matra Teentaal.
Here are some film songs composed by Rafiq Ghaznavi.
One of India’s leading tabla players, Aneesh Pradhan is a widely recognised performer, teacher, composer and scholar of Hindustani music. Visit his website here.