Mohammed Shafi is basically a dealer in musical antiques who runs a small shop by name ‘Gramophone world’ in the city of Calicut(Kozhikode) in Kerala. Hailing from Kallai adjoining Kozhikode town he had in his younger years worked in several parts of the country like Calcutta, Delhi, Bombay and, being fond of travelling and seeing places, had travelled through the length and breadth of the country as well as the Gulf and has a network of friends and contacts in all these places. Even as a child he was fond of musical equipments like harmonium and record players, clocks, radios and had keen interest in learning how they worked. He continued this interest later also and he was collecting these items during all his travels and life in North India and also acquired a fair knowledge in repairing and servicing them. He later decided that music, musical equipments and antiques will be his field and coupled with his natural desire to come back to his home town, he left his job in Calcutta and returned to Calicut.
By then there was a revival of interest among people for gramophones and record players and for collecting old gramophone records. More and more people were taking this up as a hobby and the only difficulty for them was getting the right equipments and servicing them. It was here that the role of persons like Mohammed Shafi proved important. With his large collection of these items and ability to get more of them through his large network of friends and contacts he created a space for himself in the field. Besides he is one of the very few people who can and is willing to repair gramophones, record players,amplifiers, loud speakers and so on. Apart from a good stock of equipments and records of all speeds for sale he also stocks adequate quantity of spare parts like cartridges, stylus of all varieties, gramophone needles, L.P.records, valves for radios, belts for the players and so on which are in good demand because of their short supply as many of them are presently not in production.In short his shop THE GRAMOPHONE WORLD is a centre of attraction and meeting place for hobbyists from all walks of life. In fact Shafi says that meeting people from various fields, big and small, and interacting with them has been an enriching experience for him. He owns a website http://www.gramophoneworld.com/ and has an email address viz., firstname.lastname@example.org. through which people from several parts of the country contact him and he is able to send them their requirements.
But what makes Shafi different from the normal antique dealer is his love for music and the fact that collection of gramophone records and musical antiques has been his hobby as well. He has with him a big collection of gramophone records from the earliest 16rpm, 78rpm, EPs and LPs covering all genres of Indian music.There are a large number of LPs of Hindustani and Carnatic classical music, ghazals and English albums.The first edition of the record of Vande Mataram, speeches of Mahatma Gandhi, Subhas Chandra Bose, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, and recorded voice of several national leaders and so on form part of the collection.A variety of gramophones and record players from the earliest like Columbia, Victor, RCA, Deca to the popular HMV and Philips models including those with magnetic cartridges and magnetic coil catridges are also there. Valve radios like Philips( Holland)and their famous stereo radios and the nostalgic Murphy radios are there. The most coveted items are the 19th century metal record playing 'Symphonion’ and the first portable hand wound record player Mikky Phone of the size of a school boy's lunch box when closed.The three arms serving as the turn table, the sound box, the winding lever etc. are removable and can be kept in the compact box when not in use or when transported. A table fan operating on kerosene, like the one seen used by the protagonist in the Malayalam film Salt and Pepper, is a coveted item in his collection.It is a delight to see them still functioning. A still immaculate Philips(Holland)Radiogram with its changer which can hold six records and play them continuously one after the other greeted the visitors of his house and an enthusiastic Shafi explaining its working. The sound quality of the radiogram is amazing. There is also a beautiful Foot Harmonium in very good working condition.A spool tape recorder in a compact wooden box is another attraction.The famous Gipsy gramophone is also there. There are many more invaluable items offering a feast to the eyes and hearts of enthusiasts. Many of these equipments were acquired by him in a state of disrepair and they are in the present working condition only after long painstaking efforts at collecting original spares and reconstructing broken parts. Any other person could have sold them off and earned a fortune as there are several hobbyists who are prepared to pay anything to possess them. But not for Shafi and that is what makes him different.
Mohammed shafi still travels a lot to all parts of the country and his family consisting of wife and two children often accompanies him.