Art & Architecture
Lifestyle & People
South Asian Memories
the-south-asian.com 7 August 2000
Page 3 of
Shop No. 256, Meena Bazaar, Old Delhi
By Sharad K. Soni
One of the most unique features of his collection is that he
One of the most unique features of his collection is that hehas records of Mohammad Rafi sung in 20 different languages. Says Zafar, " I have every single song of Rafi. And I can say with some amount of certainty that we are the only people who have all the eight songs that Master Madan rendered in his brief life including two ghazals, two Punjabi songs and two ragas."
Besides, he has practically all the film and non-film songs of Mukesh, Talat Mahmood, Lata Mangeshkar, Mahender Kapoor, Kishore Kumar and many others. He has a number of private albums of many leading singers. Among the ghazals, he possesses those of Begum Akhtar, Malika Pukhraj, Kamla Jharia, Shanta Apte, Naseem Bano [Saira Bano's mother] and Shamshad Bai [Saira Bano's grandmother] who used to sing in the 1930s.
The qawwali collection has works of great qawwal of yesteryears like Habib Painter, Mumtaz Shabbir, Ismail Azad, Kalwa Banne, Abdur Rahman Kanchawala, Kallan Khan Secunderabadi and more. Most of these records went out of circulation decades ago.
The collection includes Suraiya's songs from her first film Natak, Naushad's first film Prem Nagar, O.P. Nayyar's first film Aasman, Ravi's first film Vachan, Dilip Kumar’s first film Jawahar Bhata and the first Raj Kapoor-Madhubala starrer Neel Kamal.
Zafar Shah is the proud possessor of songs from the film Saiyaan  which did not hire a music company and whose songs were recorded directly from the soundtrack. " It is impossible to find this song anywhere. Even His Master's Voice (HMV), the company that produced it, doesn't possess a copy of it," says Zafar who is an equally zealous collector.
" Though my father catalogued the initial collection, the job has become virtually impossible. I have almost lost count of the number of records I have.' As he is now planning to apply to the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest private vinyl collection he would soon be listing every record he has. " I will have to close shop for several weeks to do that," says Zafar Shah.
Zafar Shah has in his possession songs of some films which even the oldtimers have not heard of. These include films like Ha Ha Hi Hi Hu Hu, Tin Tin Tin, Dr. Z, Dr. Shaitan, Rocket Girl, Rocket Tarzan and Murde Ki Jaan Khatre Mein.. The songs have been sung by leading singers like Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Mahender Kapoor and Mohammad Rafi.
He has catalogued the collection rather simply. Songs or records which are easily available are put in a category called Chalu, those which have gone out of circulation are titled Cancelled, and those which belong to the pre-partition era, that is before 1947, are categorised as Khandani.
" Nobody has this kind of record collection," says Zafar Shah and adds, " if I do not have a record, chances are no one has it. I possess records that even All India Radio doesn't have. In fact if they require an out of circulation record they come to me. Time and again, he has lent records from his collection to several music companies. In 1991-92 HMV re-copied 80 songs that the company didn't have in its library. That's because the Shah family has preserved a copy of every disc HMV has ever produced. Due credit was given to Akbar Shah on there-copied records.
For true-blue music lovers Shah has acquired a legendary status. Interestingly his shop is the only one which still repairs old gramophones. And the business is booming. This has largely got to do with gramophones becoming antique pieces in elite drawing rooms. But he also sells records. " If I have two copies of a record, one is up for sale. And there is no dearth of buyers," says Zafar Shah. Most of the records are still available between a reasonable Rs. 20 and Rs. 150.
The only regret Zafar Shah has, is that he has not been able to lay hands on the 1972 Feroz Khan-Mumtaz starrer ‘Apradh’. "Curiously that has been eluding me. And that's the only thing which is stopping me from staking a claim in the Guinness Book of World Records."
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