Mumbai: For million of music lovers, it was the voice that epitomized music, born on December 24, 1924, nicknamed Pheeko, Rafi initially imitated the chants of a fakir in his village, as no one knew that this imitation will make a singer that will be a monopoly when it came to singing for many years as Rafi went on to become the greatest singer of the country. Today on his death anniversary we throw light on the carrier of this legend.
Rafi learnt classical music from Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan, Pandit Jiwanlal Matto and Firoze Nizami. His first public performance came at the age of 13, when he sang in Lahore featuring KL Saigal. In 1941, Rafi, under Shyam Sunder, made his debut in Lahore as a playback singer in the duet Soniye Nee, Heeriye Nee
with Zeenat Begum in the Punjabi film Gul Baloch. In that same year, Rafi was invited by All India Radio Lahore station to sing for them. He marked hos place in Bollywood while singing for the film Gaon Ki Gori
Rafi moved to Bombay in 1944. He rented a ten-by-ten-feet room in the Bhendi Bazar area. During this time, poet Tanvir Naqvi introduced him to film producers including Abdur Rashid Kardar, Mehboob Khan and actor-director Nazeer. Shyam Sunder provided the opportunity to Rafi to sing a duet with GM Durrani, Aji dil ho qaabu mein to dildar ki aisi taisi
, for the movie Gaon Ki Gori, which became Rafi's first recorded song in a Hindi films. Rafi also had brief roles in movies like Laila-Majnu
(1945) and Jugnu
. In Laila-Majnu, he sang Tera Jalwa as a part of the chorus.
Rafi's first song with Naushad was Hindustan Ke Hum Hain
with Shyam Kumar, Alauddin and others, from AR Kardar's Pehle Aap
in the year 1944. He sang a number of songs for Naushad as part of the chorus, including Mere Sapnon Ki Rani, Roohi Roohi
with KL Saigal from the film Shahjahan
. In 1949, Rafi was given solo songs by music directors such as Naushad, influenced by the singers of that time like KL Saigal and, most notably, by GM Durrani, on whose style he based his singing. He sung with his idol in some of the songs such as Humko Hanste Dekh Zamana Jalta Hai
and Khabar Kisi Ko Nahiin, Woh Kidhar Dekhte
Rafi's association with Naushad helped the former establish himself as one of the most prominent playback singers in Hindi Cinema. Songs from Baiju Bawra
like O duniya ke rakhwale
and Man tarpat hari darshan ko aaj
furthered Rafi's credentials. Rafi ended up singing a total of 149 songs (81 of them solo) for Naushad.
With Shankar-Jaikishan he went on to become a voice that everyone wanted to imitate, with songs lije Teri Pyari Pyari Soorat Ko
, Baharon Phool Barsao
, and Dil Ke Jharokhe Mein
. The song Yahoo! Chahe Koi Mujhe Junglee Kahe
was sung by Rafi, only to be matched a fast-paced orchestra and a composition by Shankar Jaikishan.
OP Nayyar once quoted "If there had been no Mohd. Rafi, there would have been no OP Nayyar".
On Thursday, 31 July, 1980, Rafi died at 10:50 pm, following a heart attack. His last song was Shaam phir kyun udaas hai dost
from the movie Aas Paas
, which he had recorded with Laxmikant-Pyarelal few hours before his death. Rafi was buried at the Juhu Muslim cemetery. It was one of the biggest funeral processions Mumbai had ever witnessed, with over 10,000 people attending and the skies even shedding tears in form of rain.
Singers like Shabbir Kumar, Mohammed Aziz, and more recently, Sonu Nigam, made their names by adopting Rafi's style, and perhaps owe their entire careers to Rafi.
There have been appeals to the Government of India to honour the singer, posthumously, with the Bharat Ratna (India's Highest Civilian Award)
Awards & Honorary
.1948 - Rafi received a silver medal from the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, on the first anniversary of the Indian Independence Day.
.1967 - Honoured with the Padma Shri by the Government of India.
.1974 - Film World magazine Best Singer Award for the song "Teree Galiyon Mein Na Rakhenge Qadam Aaj Ke Baad".
.2001 - Rafi was honored with the "Best Singer of the Millennium" by Hero Honda and Stardust magazine. Rafi won with 70% of the votes.
.1960 - Chaudhvin Ka Chand Ho - Filmfare Award for best singer
.1961 - Teri Pyaari Pyaari Surat Ko - Filmfare Award for best singer
.1964 - Chahunga Main Tujhe - Filmfare Award for best singer
.1966 - Baharo Phool Barsao - Filmfare Award for best singer
.1968 - Dil Ke Jharoke Mein - Filmfare Award for best singer
.1977 - Kya Hua Tera Wada - Filmfare Award for best singer
Team Pardaphash pays its sincere gratitude to Mohd Rafi as his vocal magic goes on.