Mohammed Rafi – A Legend of Contralto

‘Ek Dil ke Tukde Hazar Hue’ from the Suraiya-Rehman starrer Pyar ki Jeet (1948) is a good example of that indelible mark of GM. ‘Dulari’s’ famous song Suhani Raat Dhal Chuki gave his career a flying start with superb music by Naushad.

It would be no exaggeration to state that Mohammed Rafi was the most versatile singer in the history of Indian Cinema. He was capable to sing for anyone in any style. Rafi proved his versatility by singing for Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Shammi Kapoor, Rajendra Kumar, Johnny Walker, Sunil Dutt, Biswajeet, Joy Mukherjee, Dharmendra, Shashi Kapoor,  Raaj Kumar and Amitabh; and many more.

Can any music lover forget  the classical “ Madhuban Mein Radhika Nachi Re ?” Some believe that ‘Oh Duniya Ke Rakhwale..Sun Dard Bharey” is the greatest song of Indian films till date.

Rafi was born in Kotla Sultan village, about 30 kms from Amritsar in Punjab on December 24, 1924. He died on July 31, 1980. Rafi was a very simple man, who would talk straight from his heart and used to help everyone in need. Rafi moved to Lahore at the unripe age of 14.

In Lahore, he studied music under Khan Abdul Waheed Khan, Jeevanlal Matto and Ghulam Ali Khan. He was introduced to Radio Lahore by composer Feroz Nizami and made his film debut as playback singer in the Punjabi film Gul Baloch (1944) singing for  composer Shyam Sunder.

In 1944, Rafi landed in Mumbai (then Bombay). His  first  break was with Naushad in Pehle Aap (1944). Naushad gave him more chances in Anmol Ghadi (1946), Tera Khilona Toota Balak and in Shah Jehan (1946) where he sang only few lines in a duet with K L Saigal. Only few remember the maestro GM Durrani, whose singing had influenced Rafi.

“Ek Dil ke Tukde Hazar Hue” from the Suraiya-Rehman starrer Pyar ki Jeet (1948) is a good example of that indelible mark of GM.  “Dulari’s” famous song Suhani Raat Dhal Chuki gave his career a flying start with superb music by Naushad.  Thereafter, Rafi never looked back.

However, the first challenge to his singing came in 1971, when his popularity plummeted and Kishore Kumar took over.

He was a great human being as he did never lose his composure in prosperity or in adversity.  He remained humble and soft-spoken through every up and down.

He made a spectacular comeback with the Nasir Hussain musical Hum Kisi se Kum Nahin (1977) and Amar Akbar Anthony in the same year even winning the National Award for Kya Hua Tera Vada for the former. Unfortunately, he had left little time to enjoy the second phase of success. On 31st July,1980, Rafi died of  heart attack.

Rafi has left a vast treasure for every music lover for every occasion. May his soul rest in peace.

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

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