Golden Era

Mohd. (Mohammed) Rafi – The Legend (part I)

Tere aane ki aas hai dost,
sham phir kyon udas hai dost,
mehki-mehki fiza yeh keh rahi hai,
tu kahin aas paas hai dost…

Rafi Saab, is indeed the best singer of all times. Today, 25 years after his death, he lives on eternally. His songs today are just as popular as they were during his lifetime. Mohammed Rafi sung over 26,000 songs in a career spanning 40 years, most of those spent as the undisputed King of Bollywood playback singers.

When Mohammed Rafi was a little boy, a fakir used to wander by his house in Lahore singing songs. Captivated by the beautiful sounds, the little boy would follow the holy man and sing along. So began the musical journey of Rafi, a magical trip that would lead him to Bombay, the blossoming Bollywood film industry and immortality as, arguably, the greatest ever male Hindi playback singer.

Born on 24th December 1924 in a middle class Muslim family, Mohd. Rafi started his career at the age of 20, with a punjabi song, Soniye Hiriye, teri yaad ne bahut sataya.. for the movie Gul Baloch, which was released on 28th February, 1944.

Rafi was invited by Nasir, a well-known actor of those times to Bombay. Rafi sang for Shamji Sundarji’s production Gaon Ki Gori. This movie was a hit. But his real mentor in music was legendary music director Naushad who gave him his break when Rafi arrived in Bombay (now Mumbai), in Pehle Aap in 1944 itself.

Naushad still remembers how Rafi looked when he first came to see him. A skimpy little boy in a white shirt came to see me with a reference some one I knew. A little nervous, he confided that his greatest ambition was to sing with K L Saigal. Naushad did not disappoint the skimpy little boy. He got him to sing two lines with Saigal. The lines are Ruhi Ruhi Mere Sapnon Ki Rani for the film Shahjehan.

Not many people know that had acted in couple of films Laila Majnu (1945) and Jugnu (1947). Initial days in film industry were very difficult for Rafi. Music lovers did not take much notice of him as a second stringer after Mukesh and Talat Mahmood in Mela and Babul.

But who can deny a really gifted singer of its place in the film industry. Rafi made his mark with Tera Khilona Toota Balak in Anmol Ghari. From then on there was no looking back. His fantastic duet with Noor Jehan, Yahan Badla Wafa Ka Bewafaai Ke Siwa Kya Hai in Sajan film made him a force to reckon with. With this hit, Rafi was called Play Back Singer. From this point, there was no turning back. He was famous and settled play back singer by late 1947.

In 1947, the Shankar-Jaikishan team was given its first job, composing the music for Barsaat. Their first composition was Main Zindagi Mein Hardam Rota Hi Raha Hun, which required a singer with an extremely wide vocal range. Being new in the field, they were afraid that Rafi, whom they had been told was the only one who could sing it, would refuse to sing for them. When he came to see them, they were very nervous, and said,

“Please listen to the tune and sing it as you would like to. ”

Rafi smiled and replied, “You are the composers. I will sing the way you tell me to.”

From that time, Shankar and Jaikishan quickly climbed the ladder of success, and Rafi became the soul of their music.

But if any body can be credited with making Rafi what he was it would certainly be Naushad. Who can forget Suno Suno Ae Duniyan Walon Bapu Ki Ye Amar Kahani or Yoon To Hamne Lakh Haseen Dekhe Hain Tumsa Nahin Dekha.

The Legend continues with two other episodes …

Mohd. Rafi – Mere Awaaz Suno (The Legend – Part II)
Mohd. Rafi – Awaaz Mein Na Doonga… (The Legend – Part III)


You May Also Like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *