Mohammed Rafi was born in December 24, 1924. Mohammed Rafi’s father Hajji Ali Mohammed and family lived in Kotla Sultan in Punjab. He began singing by imitating the chants of Fakir since his earlier age. He learned classical music from Ustad Bade Gulam Ali Khan, Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan, Pandit Jiwanlal Matto and so forth. His first public performance came at the age of 13 when he sang in Lahore. Rafi was married twice. He died on July 31, 1980, following a heart attack.
Mohammed Rafi was one of the most renowned and legendary playback singers of Indian film industry. His versatile music ranged from sad to amorous, ghazals to qawwalis and patriotic to classical songs. One of his greatest strengths was his ability to sing according to the voice of various artists and actors. Starting around early 1950s, Mohammed Rafi ruled the entire music industry for two long decades. After receiving one National Film Award and 6 other Filmfares, Rafi was honored with the fourth highest civilian award Padma Shri, by the Govt. of India. Apart from a great fan following for his Hindi songs in India, Rafi went on to perform in many other languages such as Odia, Sindhi, Kannada, Assamese, Punjabi, Konkani, Dutch, Farsi, English, Urdu, Creole, Gujarati, Magahi, Telugu and Arabic.
Rafi was a family man who did not indulge in drinking or smoking at all rather he was a keen player of badminton and carom. His first wife Bashira (also his first cousin) decided to stay in Lahore after the partition and sad demise of her parents in the riots. Rafi was blessed with seven children.
Singing Career of Rafi:
Muhammad Rafi was a tremendously blessed singer. He had the ability to become the voice of every generation. Rafi was influenced by singers like GM Durrani and KL Seigal.
His first public performance came at the age of 13 when he sang in Lahore. Rafi sang some of the classical songs of his career with the music directors like Naushad, OP Nayyar, Shankar Jaikishen, Roshan, SD Burman, Madan Mohan and Laxmikant Pyarelal. OP Nayyar was once quoted as saying, “If there had been no Mohammed Rafi, there would have been no OP Nayyar.” Rafi sang maximum number of duets with Asha Bhosle, Lata Mangeshkar and Manna Dey. In 1941 he made his debut in Lahore as a playback singer in the film “Gul Baloch”. His earliest debut in Mumbai was in the film “Gaon ki Gori” in 1945. While in the film industry Rafi also did brief roles in the film “Laila Majnu” and “Jugnu”.
In 196-63 Lata Mangeshkar raised the issue of royalty of playback singer’s shares. There occurred a contradiction of views between the two singers regarding the royalty issue. After the song “Tasveer teri dil me” in the film “Maya” Lata decided not to work with Rafi. Later at the insistence of SD Burman the two decided to sing. Rafi lent his golden voice for several films. A mention of a few include “Baiju Bawra”, “Mughal-E-Azam”, “Pyasa”, “Kagaz ke phool”, “Tere ghar ke samne”, “Guide”, “Aradhna”, “Abhiman”, “Basant Bahar”, “Professor”, “Junglee”, “Brahmachari”,“An evening in Paris”, “Love in Tokyo”, “jab pyar kisi se hota he”,“Chaudhvi ka chand”, “Neel kamal”, “Naya daur”,“Kashmir ki kali”, “Parasmani”, “dosti”, “Maya”, “pagla kahi ka” and so forth.
Rafi has sung innumerable songs that have attained the repute of classics. Some notable songs of Rafi are “Tum bin jau kaha”, “Chura lia he tum ne jo dil ko”, “”Kya hua tera wada”, “O dunia ke rakhwale”, “Man tarpat hari darshan ko aaj”, “Ae mohabbat Zindabad”, “Baharo fool barsao”, “Dil ke jharoke me”, “Yahoo ! chahe koi mujhe jungle kahe”, “Chaudhvi ka chand”, “tum jo mil gaye ho”,“teri ankhon ke siva”, “Yeh duniya yeh mehfil”, “Babul ki duaen leti ja”,“Ye he Bombay meri jaan”, “Tareef karu kya uski”, “Chahoonga me tujhe sanjh savere”, “ Tasveer teri dil me”, “Tum mujhe yu bhula na paoge”.
On a fateful day of 31st July 1980, Mohammed Rafi breathed his last following a heart attack. In his honor a two day public holiday was announced by the Govt. of India. His funeral procession was attended by more than 10 thousand people who took to streets to bid their favorite singer their last goodbyes. Even though his tomb was demolished in 2010, fans still visit the place and offer their condolences to a coconut tree nearby as a token of remembrance.
Awards and Recognition of Rafi:
Mohammed Rafi was awarded six filmfare awards. He was also awarded the best singer of the millennium. The government of India honored him with the Padma Shri Award in 1967. He received a silver medal from Jawaharlal Nehru in the first anniversary of the Independence day. He received National Award for the song “Kya hua tera wada” from the film “Hum kisi se kam nahi”. He received filmfare Award for the song “Chaudvi ka chand”, “Teri pyari pyari surat ko”, “Chahunga me tujhe”, “Baharo fool barsau”, “Dil ke jharoke me”, “Kya hua tera wada”.
Seven critically acclaimed movies were dedicated to Mohammed Rafi after his death. They are Naseeb, Aas Paas, Coolie, Alla Rakha, Heeralal-Pannalal, Desh-Premee and Mard. Rafi's son Sahid, inaugurated the “Mohammed Rafi Academy” to impart classical music training to students. He was mentioned in the song Brimful of Asha as a recording artist. Ghost World, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Guru and Monsoon Wedding are some of the movies which featured Rafi's songs.
Words and Wishes:
"Rafi and I could sing everything, and he was such a gentleman. He was a better singer than me, and I will say this – that no one came even close to him! He deserved everything he got! We had a great understanding and it was never about one-upmanship"
Times of India
"a versatile singer, who could render classical, rock and roll, indeed any kind of song with ease, he was Hindi film's, favourite male voice through the 1950s and 1960s"
"I am incomplete without Mohammed Rafi. I used to often go for the recording of my song, which was sung by Mohammed Rafi, only because I used to like telling him how I would perform on this song on screen so that he can sing it that way. Even he liked my involvement"
"a warm-hearted simple person with no ego"
Children: Saeed Rafi, Yasmin Rafi, Hamid Rafi, Khalid Rafi, Shahid Rafi, Parveen Rafi, Nasreen Rafi
Along with the entire nation.
(FAN OF Mr. MOHAMMED RAFI)
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