Living the dream

LAKSHMI KOTHANETH –

Haitham Mohammed Rafi’s rise to fame has been unprecedented. For weeks now, he has been the talk on social media after winning one of India’s popular reality competitions.
We invited Haitham for a feature on our social media platform. Our goal was to do a live interview session on Facebook and thus, let Oman know a little bit more about him. It was also our way of checking how massive his following has become after winning the show.
He arrived at the Oman Observer Lounge clothed in his Omani national clothes. He looked exactly just like he has been on the screen of Star Plus channel’s Dil Hai Hindustani.
Upon meeting Haitham, it was easy to see why the fans of the channel loved him — he is humble and conducts himself with grace. He is also a very happy person.
We would come to discover that Haitham’s musical journey did not happen overnight. Prior to his joining the show, he has already been composing music and has in fact, work in different projects for television in Oman.
Within the midst of the Observer staff, it was easy to spot Haitham’s contentment. He was a young guy living his ultimate dream and reaching that dream makes him the jovial, lively person that he is.
Haitham would soon share with us and our online followers that he was a part of a band. Admitted that he was more of an instrumentalist. His musical journey eventually grew becoming a soloist on the process. Although he loved and enjoyed playing the guitar and organ, being a self-taught musician, he soon realized that he also enjoyed singing.
“For some reason I always wanted to sing in Hindi films,” in his lovable demeanor Haitham shared.
“I found Bollywood music attractive and I used to always tell my family that I wanted to be there,” he said.
That dream of working in Bollywood didn’t stop despite Haitham landing a job in the banking industry. He shared that his heart continued to stray towards music. And with that much passion, he eventually decided to take the plunge.
“My mother was sad,” he narrated.
“She asked me if I was sure. Once I explained to my mother how much music meant to me she was fine. She became my biggest supporter.”
Asked how the whole experience was of joining the reality competition, Haitham said, “It was amazing how it all happened. Every time I stood there in front of the judges, I would tell myself – ‘Do not worry, Haitham. We’ll just sing this song and go back to Muscat.”
“Then the best thing happened. I get through the next round. I was out of the competition at one point but I was thrilled when I got to be the wild card,” he said.
From there, Haitham’s charm did magic. He continued to gain fans and became one of the most popular participants of the show.
If his diction in Hindi and Urdu was an issue, it soon became a charming accent and equally an asset. With the texture and the feel in his voice, he became a strong contender. On the show, Haitham demonstrated how he can gracefully move from Arabic to Indian musical scales. It became apparent to all that it was not just the languages, he was doing very well with the scales of his voice as well.
“In Arabic, we call it Salam Sharqi. I learnt more about Raagas at Dil Hai Hindustani. It was a learning experience in every way. They trained me about Raagas, stage presence and most importantly helped me overcome stage fear. Before I used to perform on stage, I used to be worried about my singing and people’s perception. Now I am ready to perform! Ready to go!”
Haitham thinks he won because of the support from people everywhere.
“SMSs voting came from all over from India, GCC and Europe,” he shared.
As testament to the fame he enjoys now, Haitham has also gotten busy. He confirmed that he has a show happening in Oman on April 14, 2017.
After the said show, he’ll be back in Mumbai for action pack weeks. He will also be going to Europe to do more shows.
Haitham also shared that there are many collaborations being looked into. Haitham already had albums before but he is currently working on a new one combining both Arabic and Hindi songs on the album.
Despite the quick changes, Haithan shared that he finds strength in knowing that he has the support of “My God, my mother, Dil Hai Hindustani, the judges and the fans and supporters.”
After our interview, it became apparent to me why Haitham enjoyed popularity amongst the show’s audience and continues to win hearts. He is an artist who crossed barriers of languages and borders as well as nationalities. He also does not forget.
For this writer, one of the most beautiful moments for his fans was when he took the trophy, knelled in front of his mother and handed her the trophy. It resonated well and showed why he deserved the love he is enjoying now. A mother myself, he won my heart too with such simple gesture of love and dedication.

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