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Rafi versus Kishore- The Rivalry That Never Was

By: Jagat Kant Choudhary

Kishore Kumar and Mohd Rafi

Kishore Kumar and Mohd Rafi

It was inevitable. The Comparison. With two phenomenal singers like Mohd Rafi and Kishore Kumar dividing the lion’s share of the male playback music industry between themselves, it was only a matter of time before the big question would crop up- who is the better singer?

The huge fan following, bordering on reverence for the two singers coupled with the alleged preferences of certain music directors for one over the other, often triggered this question. However and fortunately so, while the fans swore by their respective idols, and still do, there has never been a clear polarization either in the fan following or the music industry as a whole. Both were geniuses and produced one hit after the other. A listener could not completely side with one, without sacrificing gems of songs produced by the other. On the other hand a music director or a music company could fully side with either of them only at his or its own peril.

Rafi and Kishore share the microphone:

For all the debate that went around in the outside world, the relationship between Mohd Rafi and Kishore Kumar was amazingly healthy at professional level. In an era where some of the biggest stars of the film industry were hesitating or even refusing to stand in the same frame with each other, the Rafi-Kishore duo never hesitated to share the mike with each other.

The song “Bane chahhe dushman zamana hamara, salamat rahe dostana hamara” from the film Dostana in the year 1980, turned out to be a great hit. The song provided the film script with a perfect background to weave a story of fallout between the on screen characters played by Amitabh Bachchan and Shartughan Sinha.

Earlier in 1975 Rafi and Kishore produced the boyish and pacy duet “Chal Shuru Ho Ja…Sa Re Ga Ma” in the film “ Chupke Chupke”. The song was picturised beautifully by Hrishikesh Mukherjee on Amitabh and Dharmendra. The same stars were a hit together once again in Ram Balram in 1980, with the song “Ek rasta Aha Aha”, sung by Kishore and Rafi.

The K.L.Saigal influence

If there was one most important similarity between the two great singers, it was the fact that both were originals to the core. During the four decade long career neither singer was ever accused of imitation, nor did they ever cross into each other’s territories. This did not mean that they were never influenced by any singer, contemporary or otherwise. Like most singers of that time, this duo was also greatly influenced by the legendary Kundan Lal Saigal, who had already passed away by the time the two came to terms with the microphone.

While Mohd Rafi considered himself fortunate to sing just a couple of lines with Saigal, Kishore Kumar referred to Saigal as ‘guruji’ and would never sing his songs. Rafi for one, had a voice of his own and the little influence that Saigal had on him, showed only in the first few songs that he recorded. Very soon he would break away from the mould and take playback singing to a higher octave.

Kishore was younger of the two, born on 4th August, 1929 almost 5 years after Mohd Rafi. He, however, started his career as an actor in 1946, almost at the same time as Mohd Rafi launched his singing career. By the time Kishore Kumar recorded his first song in 1948 for Ziddi, Mohd Rafi had already established himself as an upcoming singer of great merit.

The maverick that he was, Kishore Kumar dabbled between singing, acting, writing and producing films and yet managed to keep himself aloft as a singer of great caliber and promise. Kishore Kumar tasted early success with “Qusoor Aapka” in 1951 with S.D.Burman. The song was a hit and was marked with the characteristic ” He He, Aha Aha, Ho Ho” that was to later become the Kishore Kumar trademark.

The Popularity Charts: Together on Top:

At a time when the radio was the king of entertainment, Radio Ceylon came up with the first ever countdown show of Hindi film songs titled  “Binaca Geetmala” with Ameen Sayani as the first and the most popular ‘Radio Jockey’ ever in India. The methodology of selecting the songs was quite transparent in the sense that the programme would take into consideration the sale of records of the song and also the number of requests by ‘listener clubs’ or the ‘shrota sanghs’. And week after week ,close to a million people would sit around their radio sets even as Ameen Sayani would take off with his customary “behnon aur bhaiyon….” No doubt, Binaca Geetmala was a pioneer in ranking the popular Hindi songs and therefore the popularity of the singers as well.

Between 1954 and 1976 a string of  Rafi/Kishore songs (solo/duet)  topped the charts.

Year Song Singer
1956 Aye dil hai mushkil Mohd Rafi
1957 Zara samne to aao chhaliye Mohd Rafi
1959 Haal kaisa hai janab ka Kishore Kumar
1960 Zindgi bhar nahi bhoolegi Mohd Rafi
1961 Teri pyari pyari surat ko Mohd Rafi
1962 Ehsaan tera hoga mujh par Mohd Rafi
1963 Jo vaada kiya woh nibhana padega Mohd Rafi & Lata
1966 Baharon phool barsao Mohd Rafi
1971 Zindagi ek safar hai suhana Kishore Kumar
1974 Mera jiwan kora kagaz Kishore Kumar
1979 Khaike paan banaraswala Kishore Kumar
1980 Dafliwale dafli baja Mohd Rafi & Lata

If popular choice was any indication, the playback industry was ruled by these two prolific singers throughout the sixties and the seventies. Mohd Rafi stood the podium 8 times against the 4 by Kishore Kumar.

When it came to awards, and there were only a few in those times, the Filmfare Awards was the most coveted. It was instituted by the Filmfare magazine and had a mix of popular and critical flavor in it.

The category for Filmfare best male playback singer was introduced only in 1959 and upto 1968 it used to be a single award for both male and female singers.

Year Song Film Singer
1960 Chaudhvin ka chand ho Chaudhvin ka chand Mohd Rafi
1961 Teri pyari pyari surat Sasural Mohd Rafi
1964 Chahoonga main tujhe Dosti Mohd Rafi
1966 Baharon phool barsao Suraj Mohd Rafi
1968 Dil ke jharokhe mein Brahmchari Mohd Rafi
1969 Roop tera mastana Aradhana Kishore Kumar
1975 Dil aisa Kisine mera toda Amanush Kishore Kumar
1977 Kya hua tera vaada Hum kisi se kam nahin Mohd Rafi
1978 Khaike paan banaraswala Don Kishore Kumar
1980 Hazar Rahen mud ke dekhi Thodi si Bewafai Kishore Kumar
1983 Pag ghungroo baandh Namak Halal Kishore Kumar
1984 Hamein aur jeene ki Agar tum na hote Kishore Kumar
1985 Manzile apni jagah Sharabi Kishore Kumar
1986 Sagar kinare dil ye pukare Sagar Kishore Kumar

Again, between 1960 and 1980, Rafi bagged 6 awards against 4 by Kishore. In fact such was the rate at which Mohd Rafi was producing hits, that his own songs competed with each other at many annual awards.

Besides, with the exception of probably ‘Sagar Kinare’, the award winning songs between 1981 and 1985 were pedestrian by Kishore Kumar’s standards. Clearly the golden era of Hindi music was behind KK and in a world without Mukesh and Mohd Rafi, there was virtually no competition worth its name for Kishore Kumar to deal with.

Different Personalities:

At personal level, the two singers were very different people if not exactly the opposite. Kishore Kumar had the reputation of doing the unthinkable. He would tease a journalist by talking to the trees and plants, drive to a producer’s house and then shout at the top of his voice for the money that was due to him. He would invite a producer to have a chat with him inside a cupboard and then lock him inside because the producer had something to do with his income tax mess. In effect, he was such a busy man that one wondered as to how on earth he got the time to record those wonderful songs.

Kishore Kumar married four times and each one had a story of its own. Despite his so called miser and eccentric ways, the industry never doubted his tremendous potential to create hits out of the ordinary and to create master pieces out of the seriously good stuff. As many were the stories about him, name, fame and money came in equally good measure and Kishore lived life the way he liked and on his own terms.

Kishore Kumar and Mohd Rafi

Kishore Kumar and Mohd Rafi

Mohd Rafi in contrast, was all dedicated to his singing career. Life for him was limited, from home to the studios and back to home. He had an impeccable reputation in the industry and people swore by his name. He was known to sing for a token amount of one rupee for the producers who could not afford to pay his fees. Rafi was a happily married man with beautiful children in whose company he spent all the time outside of the studios.

As One King Treats The Other:

If Rafi and Kishore were the Lions of the music industry, they behaved like ones. Not only they respected each other but also never crossed into each others’ territory. Both were versatile and there were no limitations to their range and ability. While the producers and music directors did have their preferences for a particular singer, neither of them was ever accused of lobbying with them for work. Far from the one-upmanship norm of the industry, Kishore Kumar invited Mohd Rafi to sing for his directorial venture “Chalti Ka Naam Zindagi” and Rafi reciprocated the fraternal gesture by charging just a token rupee for the two songs that he sang for the film.

Interestingly, Mohd Rafi sang many songs for Kishore Kumar the actor. One of the most popular of these was the song Ajab hai dastaan teri aye zindgi from the film ‘Shararat’ wherein the music was scored by Shankar Jaikishan. The song which had two versions in the film became a huge hit and it once again underscored the superb control that Rafi had when he suddenly moved from the low to the high pitch.

When Rafi heard the song “Dukhi man mere sun mera kahna” he is said to have congratulated Kishore Kumar for doing such a fine job. Kishore Kumar was equally candid when it came to accepting his competitor’s prowess. On a number of occasions he is said to have remarked that only Rafi could sing the song. For instance, he sang all the songs for the film ‘Hathi Mere Sathi’, but when the climax song “nafrat ki duniya ko” came up for recording, Kishore Kumar put his hands up. “ Only Mohd Rafi and nobody else can sing this song”. So the song went to Rafi and it turned out to be the outstanding song of the film. In fact it was this climax song that gave the story line a meaning and offered Rajesh Khanna the opportunity to test his histrionics. The gentleman Mohd Rafi on his part, did not bother to know as to why only one song was given to him.

Rafi, the Yodeler

Kishore Kumar was a natural yodeler, having picked up the art as a growing-up boy, by listening to the Austrian records owned by his brother Anup Kumar. When he entered the arena of playback singing the music directors were quick to discover his potential and utilized it to the hilt. Kishore yodeled in the song “Piya Piya Piya Mora Jiya Pukare”  from “Baap Re Baap(1955)” under music director O.P.Nayyar and then in a number of songs from his home production” Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi” (1958), under S.D.Burman. Kishore went overboard with his yodeling in another of his home production Jhumroo (1961), for which he was the lyricist and music director and his fans loved it.

By this time he was established as the official yodeler of Bollywood not only because he was very good at it but because in most cases the songs were picturised on himself and he had no problems giving perfect lip service to his own songs, both comical and romantic. It is unlikely that any other established actor would have risked this much of yodeling lest he got typed. But Kishore was Kishore and he did what he liked.

Yet again, and as it would come as a surprise to many, if there was any competition to Kishore Kumar at yodeling, it was from Mohd Rafi. Mohd Rafi exhibited his yodeling skill in a playful song “unse rippy tippy ho gayee” with Geeta Dutt in “Agra Road” (1957). He then yodeled in a style of his own in few films including “hello sweety seventeen” (1959) with Asha Bhosle in the film Doctro Z.

If yodeling was an art, Rafi had a perfect hold on it. Take for instance the 1962 film “Reporter Raju” produced by Homi Wadia and music scored by S.Mohinder. The young khan, Feroze does a la-Shammi Kapoor as he jumps all over the heroine wooing her with the beautifully sung “Chale ho kahan kaho kuchh to meri jaan kaho”. Many more songs of Rafi in the same mood would follow in the next two decades but this was a very special song. Rafi does a wonderful yodeling in the song and when he ends the song with the yodel he sounds exactly like Kishore Kumar. The natural ease with which Rafi has yodeled in this song is marvellous.

It is strange indeed, that Rafi did not choose to yodel in more of his songs which had plenty of scope and situation to do so. Whether it was his own decision or the restraint put by the music directors, his fans definitely were deprived of a very interesting facet of this endlessly versatile singer. Or was it the “territory” that he willingly left for the others to explore and benefit from? The inimitable Rafi had a hundred different shades to add to the colour of his songs and yodeling was only one such shade which he used with brevity.

With Rafi opting not to, Kishore made yodeling his second nature and his fans loved it. Through the sixties and the seventies, Kishore Kumar moderated his yodeling and the actual “Yudl – Ay – EEE – Ooooo” was often replaced by yodeling of the lyrics itself. The result was magical and the fans were eating out of his hand. The yodeling start to the song ‘Ye dil, na hotaa bechara‘ from Jewel Thief (1967) ” gave Dev Anand just the right mood to create a perfect net for his lady love who drives the car slow enough to let him catch up with her, even as he merrily walks through the song.

Kitne Sapne Kitne Arman“, ‘Chala Jata Hoon‘ from Mere Jeevan Saathi (1972), and  ‘Zindagi Ek Safar Hai Suhana‘ from Andaz (1971) gave Rajesh Khanna the perfect platform to generate a mass hysteria that swept the country and crowned him the first super star of Bollywood.

If Rafi gave up some ground to Kishore Kumar in yodeling, he more than made up else where. Quawwali for instance was Mohd Rafi’s forte. Rafi teamed up with his contemporaries like Manna Dey, to create the unforgettable “Na to Karwan ki Talash Hai”. And then came the ultimate grosser of all times “ Parda Hai Parda Hai” from Amar Akbar Anthony. From the word go, Rafi is all magic in this quawwali and the energetic and dashing Rishi Kapoor takes it to greater heights with his splendid performance on screen. No wonder when mid way through the song, Amitabh Bachchan pulls out  currency notes from under his jacket, many in the audience in cinema halls are said to have followed suit. Despite the presence of two other stalwarts like Kishore Kumar and Mukesh in the film, ‘Akbar’ walked away with most memorable song of the film.

The Charismatic Duo:

Kishore Kumar was a complete entertainer. He had a persona that the media loved to write about. He was a hit with his stage shows, not just for his songs but for his witty manners and the way he interacted with the audience. Rafi too drew huge crowds wherever he went. Only in his case, the greater reason for which people flocked from all over the place was slightly different. They came to ‘see’ him and to believe for themselves, that a man with the voice of God, actually existed on this earth!!!

Sri Pervez, the son-in-law of Mohd Rafi Sahab, narrated an interesting incident that occurred at a stage show of Rafi in Lucknow in the late sixties. Rafi was put up in the Clarke hotel there and when he came on stage, the crowd went berserk. One song after the other, and yet the appetite of the crowd was only growing. By the time the show came to an end the police had to resort to a mild lathi charge. Despite the lathi charge, however, the fans somehow managed to come up to the stage and mobbed a bewildered Mohd. Rafi. Suddenly a number of hands lifted Rafi in the air and for a while he literally floated in the air from one set of hands into another set of hands and he virtually went out of the hands of the organizers !

Fraternity wins over Competition:

The blank faced Kishore Kumar at the funeral of Mohd Rafi said the story of a lifetime bonding between the two legends of the music industry. For the pen crazy media that often mocked at his miser ways, Kishore Kumar was magnanimous with words when he paid tribute to his fellow singer. “ Rafi Sahab was a great singer. I stood no competition with him, he was a much better artiste than me. I sing in a couple of ways but he used to sing in hundreds of ways, that is why he will always be with us”.

His own sky high reputation as one of the best singers in the industry not withstanding, it needed a lot of courage to say what Kishore Kumar said. His words reflected the genuine appreciation that one great artiste had for another, irrespective of the portrayal by the media and the fans.

In the so called lean phase of Mohd Rafi during the early seventies and when much was being seen into his non-existing rivalry with Kishore Kumar, the father-son duo of Kishore and Amit were on a singing tour to London. Incidentally, Mohd Rafi was also in London at that time with his son who used to live there. Rafi invited Kishore and Amit to his house there and served them an exotic home made dinner. Throughout the evening Rafi and Kishore sang and recalled their initial days in the industry. Two of the best singers and two of the most wonderful human beings had crossed close to three decades in the music industry in admiration of each other.

The seventies belonged to Kishore just the way the 50s and 60s belonged to Rafi. But the Hindi Film Industry has always had room for more than one, even if the top slot has often been restricted. So when Rafi was on top there still were equally great names like Mukesh, Talat, Kishore Kumar and Mahendra Kapoor contributing handsomely to the rich oeuvre of Hindi film music. The same was true when Kishore Kumar hit it big time in the 70s.

There is an interesting story that the industry people have to say and which scoffs at all the stories about so called rivalry between the two giants of playback singing. During the 70s when Kishore was going great guns, emergency was clamped in the country and unfortunately he fell out with the powers that be on the issue of stage performances. As a result, Kishore Kumar was banned at the Radio and Doordarshan and not only Kishore but the producers and music directors were also hurt very badly.

At the same time, the stars were turning favourable for Rafi and he started giving hits. As an exemplary gesture, Rafi offered to take the cause of Kishore Kumar to the powers at the centre and even offered to do stage shows on his behalf. The Industry was stunned. Rafi was asked as to why was he doing such a thing, when suddenly the wave was going in his favour. The innocent and gentle soul that he was, Rafi is supposed to have said “ he (KIshore) is a fellow singer, it is his profession to sing and so why should he be punished for no fault of his “

And just because for a while, one of them was singing a few songs less than the other, some people unhesitatingly chose to give it the name of rivalry.

Competition yes, and it ought to be, in order to bring out the best, even if the names in question are as big as Mohd Rafi and Kishore Kumar.

Rivalry, NO WAY, NEVER.

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148 Blog Comments to “Rafi versus Kishore- The Rivalry That Never Was”

  1. Siraj Baug says:

    This article Mr. Choudhary is soul stirring. As rightly mentioned by him both were genius in their own ways. THERE WAS NO RIVALRY BETWEEN THE THEY.

  2. Farrukhjaved says:

    Kishore song chal shuru hoja agains shows that he lacks depth and maturity, which is the characteristic feature of Mohammd Rafi Sahib songs.
    Noise is not music , music is in inspiring souls which only Mohammad Rafi Sahib can do.

  3. Farrukhjaved says:

    When people believe that kishore was as great a singer as Mohammad Rafi Sahib they make an forgivable mistake. Rafi sahib was infact a real and pure singer as Allah(God) had made him but kishore was a joker as many (bhaands ) promoted him for hala…gula………

  4. Sharan Kandhai says:

    I myself am a fan of Rafi but a “bhakt” of Kishore Kumar. Both were teriffic but my opinion or preference is Kishore Kumar . one point… “Chal Shuru Ho Ja” is from the film Humjoli picturised on jeetendra and Mahmood

  5. FA Mattoo says:

    Rafi and Kishor both were really great and talented singers of their times-I still listen their songs from the TV and radio-No body at present times can replace them-My children also love to listen old songs , and say these are appealing and heart piercing.Even after 40 years the duo is a source of great entertainment for young oldies.May rest their soul in peace

  6. BOBY says:

    Rafi sahab died at 10:50 p.m. on 31 July 1980, following a heart attack.[32] His last song was “Shaam phir kyun udaas hai dost” (Aas Paas), which he had recorded with Laxmikant-Pyarelal a few hours before his death.[20][33]

    Rafi sahab was buried at the Juhu Muslim cemetery.[34] His was one of the biggest funeral processions Mumbai had ever witnessed, with over 10,000 people attending.[35][36]

    In 2010, Rafi’s tomb was demolished to make space for new burials. Fans of Mohammed Rafi, who visit his tomb twice a year to mark his birth and death anniversary use the coconut tree nearest to his grave as a marker.[37]

  7. BOBY says:

    ख्याति[संपादित करें]नौशाद द्वारा सुरबद्ध गीत तेरा खिलौना टूटा (फ़िल्म अनमोल घड़ी, 1946) से रफ़ी को प्रथम बार हिन्दी जगत में ख्याति मिली। इसके बाद शहीद, मेला तथा दुलारी में भी रफ़ी ने गाने गाए जो बहुत प्रसिद्ध हुए। 1951 में जब नौशाद फ़िल्म बैजू बावरा के लिए गाने बना रहे थे तो उन्होने अपने पसंदीदा गायक तलत महमूद से गवाने की सोची थी। कहा जाता है कि उन्होने एक बार तलत महमूद को धूम्रपान करते देखकर अपना मन बदल लिया और रफ़ी से गाने को कहा। बैजू बावरा के गानों ने रफ़ी को मुख्यधारा गायक के रूप में स्थापित किया। इसके बाद नौशाद ने रफ़ी को अपने निर्देशन में कई गीत गाने को दिए। लगभग इसी समय संगीतकार जोड़ी शंकर-जयकिशन को उनकी आवाज पसंद आयी और उन्होंने भी रफ़ी से गाने गवाना आरंभ किया। शंकर जयकिशन उस समय राज कपूर के पसंदीदा संगीतकार थे, पर राज कपूर अपने लिए सिर्फ मुकेश की आवाज पसन्द करते थे। बाद में जब शंकर जयकिशन के गानों की मांग बढ़ी तो उन्होंने लगभग हर जगह रफ़ी साहब का प्रयोग किया। यहाँ तक की कई बार राज कपूर के लिए रफी साहब ने गाया। जल्द ही संगीतकार सचिन देव बर्मन तथा उल्लेखनीय रूप से ओ पी नैय्यर को रफ़ी की आवाज़ बहुत रास आयी और उन्होने रफ़ी से गवाना आरंभ किया। ओ पी नैय्यर का नाम इसमें स्मरणीय रहेगा क्योंकि उन्होने अपने निराले अंदाज में रफ़ी-आशा की जोड़ी का काफी प्रयोग किया और उनकी खनकती धुनें आज भी उस जमाने के अन्य संगीतकारों से अलग प्रतीत होती हैं। उनके निर्देशन में गाए गानो से रफ़ी को बहुत ख्याति मिली और फिर रवि, मदन मोहन, गुलाम हैदर, जयदेव, सलिल चौधरी इत्यादि संगीतकारों की पहली पसंद रफ़ी साहब बन गए।

    दिलीप कुमार, भारत भूषण तथा देवानंद जैसे कलाकारों के लिए गाने के बाद उनके गानों पर अभिनय करने वालो कलाकारों की सूची बढ़ती गई। शम्मी कपूर, राजेन्द्र कुमार, जॉय मुखर्जी, विश्वजीत, राजेश खन्ना, धर्मेन्द्र इत्यादि कलाकारों के लिए रफ़ी की आवाज पृष्ठभूमि में गूंजने लगी। शम्मी कपूर तो रफ़ी की आवाज से इतने प्रभावित हुए कि उन्होने अपने हर गाने में रफ़ी का इस्तेमाल किया। उनके लिए संगीत कभी ओ पी नैय्यर ने दिया तो कभी शंकर जयकिशन ने पर आवाज रफ़ी की ही रही। चाहे कोई मुझे जंगली कहे (जंगली), एहसान तेरा होगा मुझपर (जंगली), ये चांद सा रोशन चेहरा (कश्मीर की कली), दीवाना हुआ बादल (आशा भोंसले के साथ, कश्मीर की कली) शम्मी कपूर के ऊपर फिल्माए गए लोकप्रिय गानों में शामिल हैं। धीरे-धीरे इनकी ख्याति इतनी बढ़ गयी कि अभिनेता इन्हीं से गाना गवाने का आग्रह करने लगे। राजेन्द्र कुमार, दिलीप कुमार और धर्मेन्द्र तो मानते ही नहीं थे कि कोई और गायक उनके लिए गाए।।[4]

  8. BOBY says:

    मोहम्मद रफ़ी (24दिसंबर 1924-31 जुलाई 1980) जिन्हें दुनिया रफ़ी या रफ़ी साहब[1] के नाम से बुलाती है, हिन्दी सिनेमा के श्रेष्ठतम पार्श्व गायकों में से एक थे। अपनी आवाज की मधुरता और परास की अधिकता के लिए इन्होंने अपने समकालीन गायकों के बीच अलग पहचान बनाई। इन्हें शहंशाह-ए-तरन्नुम भी कहा जाता था।[2] मोदम्मद रफ़ी की आवाज़ ने अपने आगामी दिनों में कई गायकों को प्रेरित किया। इनमें सोनू निगम, मुहम्मद अज़ीज़ तथा उदित नारायण का नाम उल्लेखनीय है – यद्यपि इनमें से कइयों की अब अपनी अलग पहचान है। 1940 के दशक से आरंभ कर 1980 तक इन्होने कुल 26,000 गाने गाए।[2] इनमें मुख्य धारा हिन्दी गानों के अतिरिक्त ग़ज़ल, भजन, देशभक्ति गीत, क़व्वाली तथा अन्य भाषाओं में गाए गीत शामिल हैं। जिन अभिनेताओं पर उनके गाने फिल्माए गए उनमें गुरु दत्त, दिलीप कुमार, देव आनंद, भारत भूषण, जॉनी वॉकर, जॉय मुखर्जी, शम्मी कपूर, राजेन्द्र कुमार, राजेश खन्ना, अमिताभ बच्चन, धर्मेन्द्र, जीतेन्द्र तथा ऋषि कपूर के अलावे गायक अभिनेता किशोर कुमार का नाम भी शामिल है। [3]

  9. BOBY says:

    1950 के दशक में शंकर जयकिशन, नौशाद तथा सचिनदेव बर्मन ने रफ़ी से उस समय के बहुत लोकप्रिय गीत गवाए। यह सिलसिला 1960 के दशक में भी चलता रहा। संगीतकार रवि ने मोहम्मद रफ़ी का इस्तेमाल 1960 के दशक में किया। 1960 में फ़िल्म चौदहवीं का चांद के शीर्षक गीत के लिए रफ़ी को अपना पहला फ़िल्म फेयर पुरस्कार मिला। इसके बाद घराना (1961), काजल (1965), दो बदन (1966) तथा नीलकमल (1968) जैसी फिल्मो में इन दोनो की जोड़ी ने कई यादगार नगमें दिए। 1961 में रफ़ी को अपना दूसरा फ़िल्मफेयर आवार्ड फ़िल्म ससुराल के गीत तेरी प्यारी प्यारी सूरत को के लिए मिला। संगीतकार जोड़ी लक्ष्मीकांत प्यारेलाल ने अपना आगाज़ ही रफ़ी के स्वर से किया और 1963 में फ़िल्म पारसमणि के लिए बहुत सुन्दर गीत बनाए। इनमें सलामत रहो तथा वो जब याद आये (लता मंगेशकर के साथ) उल्लेखनीय है। 1965 में ही लक्ष्मी-प्यारे के संगीत निर्देशन में फ़िल्म दोस्ती के लिए गाए गीत चाहूंगा मै तुझे सांझ सवेरे के लिए रफ़ी को तीसरा फ़िल्मफेयर पुरस्कार मिला। 1965 में उन्हें भारत सरकार ने पद्मश्री पुरस्कार से नवाजा।

    1965 में संगीतकार जोड़ी कल्याणजी-आनंदजी द्वारा फ़िल्म जब जब फूल खिले के लिए संगीतबद्ध गीत परदेसियों से ना अखियां मिलाना लोकप्रियता के शीर्ष पर पहुंच गया था। 1966 में फ़िल्म सूरज के गीत बहारों फूल बरसाओ बहुत प्रसिद्ध हुआ और इसके लिए उन्हें चौथा फ़िल्मफेयर अवार्ड मिला। इसका संगीत शंकर जयकिशन ने दिया था। 1968 में शंकर जयकिशन के संगीत निर्देशन में फ़िल्म ब्रह्मचारी के गीत दिल के झरोखे में तुझको बिठाकर के लिए उन्हें पाचवां फ़िल्मफेयर अवार्ड मिला।

  10. BOBY says:

    1960 के दशक में अपने करियर के शीर्ष पर पहुंचने के बाद दशक का अन्त उनके लिए सुखद नहीं रहा। 1969 में शक्ति सामंत अपनी एक फ़िल्म आराधना का निर्माण करवा रहे थे जिसके लिए उन्होने सचिन देव बर्मन (जिन्हे दादा नाम से भी जाना जाता था) को संगीतकार चुना। इसी साल दादा बीमार पड़ गए और उन्होने अपने पुत्र राहुल देव बर्मन= अवरोहन == 1960 के दशक में अपने करियर के शीर्ष पर पहुंचने के बाद दशक का अन्त उनके लिए सुखद नहीं रहा। उस समय रफ़ी हज के लिए गए हुए थे। पंचमदा को अपने प्रिय गायक किशोर कुमार से गवाने का मौका मिला और उन्होने रूप तेरा मस्ताना तथा मेरे सपनों की रानी गाने किशोर दा की आवाज में रेकॉर्ड करवाया। ये दोनो गाने बहुत ही लोकप्रिय हुए और इस गाने के अभिनेता राजेश खन्ना निर्देशकों तथा जनता के बीच अपार लोकप्रिय हुए। साथ ही गायक किशोर कुमार भी जनता तथा संगीत निर्देशकों की पहली पसन्द बन गए। इसके बाद रफ़ी के गायक जीवन का अवसान आरंभ हुआ। हँलांकि इसके बाद भी उन्होने कई हिट गाने दिये, जैसे ये दुनिया ये महफिल, ये जो चिलमन है, तुम जो मिल गए हो। 1977 में फ़िल्म हम किसी से कम नहीं के गीत क्या हुआ तेरा वादा के लिए उन्हे अपने जीवन का छठा तथा अन्तिम फ़िल्म फेयर एवॉर्ड मिला।

  11. BOBY says:

    मोहम्मद रफ़ी एक बहुत ही समर्पित मुस्लिम, व्यसनों से दूर रहने वाले तथा शर्मीले स्वभाव के आदमी थे। आजादी के समय विभाजन के दौरान उन्होने भारत में रहना पसन्द किया। उन्होने बेगम विक़लिस से शादी की और उनकी सात संतान हुईं-चार बेटे तथा तीन बेटियां।

    मोहम्मद रफ़ी को उनके परमार्थो के लिए भी जाना जाता है। अपने शुरुआती दिनों में संगीतकार जोड़ी लक्ष्मीकांत-प्यारेलाल (लक्ष्मीप्यारे के नाम से जाने जाते थे) के लिए उन्होने बहुत कम पैसों में गाया था। गानों की रॉयल्टी को लेकर लता मंगेशकर के साथ उनका विवाद भी उनकी दरियादिली का सूचक है। उस समय लताजी का कहना था कि गाने गाने के बाद भी उन गानों से होने वाली आमदनी का एक अंश (रॉयल्टी) गायकों तथा गायिकाओं को मिलना चाहिए। रफ़ी साहब इसके ख़िलाफ़ थे और उनका कहना था कि एक बार गाने रिकॉर्ड हो गए और गायक-गायिकाओं को उनकी फीस का भुगतान कर दिया गया हो तो उनको और पैसों की आशा नहीं करनी चाहिए। इस बात को लेकर दोनो महान कलाकारों के बीच मनमुटाव हो गया। लता ने रफ़ी के साथ सेट पर गाने से मना कर दिया और बरसों तक दोनो का कोई युगल गीत नहीं आया।[5] बाद में अभिनेत्री नरगिस के कहने पर ही दोनो ने साथ गाना चालू किया और ज्वैल थीफ फ़िल्म में दिल पुकारे गाना गाया।

    उनका देहान्त 31 जुलाई 1980 को हृदयगति रुक जानेके कारण हुआ।

  12. BOBY says:

    Rafi is primarily noted for his songs in Hindi, over which he had a strong command. He sang in other Indian languages including Assamese, Konkani, Bhojpuri, Oriya, Punjabi, Bengali, Marathi, Sindhi, Kannada, Gujarati, Telugu, Maghi, Maithili and Urdu. Apart from Indian languages, he also sang songs in English, Persian, Spanish, and Dutch.

  13. BOBY says:


  14. BOBY says:


  15. BOBY says:

    you know the favorite song of rafi shab is SUHANI RAAT DHAL CHUKI NA JAANE TUM KAB AAYOGE.

  16. BOBY says:

    Rafi Saab, is indeed the best singer of all times. Today, 34 years after his death, he lives on eternally. His songs today are just as popular as they were during his lifetime. name of MohdRafi that can not be die in this world.he is a legned amd remeber will be till of this world.

  17. Abdul Khaliq says:

    No doubt that Mohammad Rafi is one and only the singer who proved himself a jack of all trade in musical industry. The comparison of any singer with Mohammad Rafi is actually the insult of this great legend.

  18. Dear fans of mohamed RAfi Sahel,
    I am one of the fans of md Rafi Saheb.He is the best Hindi songs singer can modulate the voice as Rafi Saheb does.for the past ten days I have been very much attracted towards his songs that I don’t go to my bed with out listening his songs at least for three hours.i feel very much and some times I do cry that such a highly versatile singer is not with us.But his songs reveal that he is living with us for ever.OH!Mohamed rafi Saheb there is no substitute for you.Realy we are missing you.

  19. Mankeerat says:

    while no vocalist from any era can be compared with Rafi, I find it amusing that some people try comparing Kishore with any singer. He had a great voice, but almost all his songs post 1970 were all rendered for pitch, making his voice a higher pitch. He was a great crooner, but not a real singer.

  20. Ramesh Jain says:

    The Blog is finely knitted keeping the balance of both the great singers in their qualities. The work is not less than doing a thesis in this regard.

    Heartiest congratulations

  21. Ahamed Kutty says:

    There is another duet of Rafi saab with Lataji “Chaman ke
    phool bhi tujko gulaab kahte hai, hamee nahee he sabee
    la jawab kahte hai” in the same style of “Salami ishque
    meri jaan” and how beautifully both the singers rendered
    the lines.If we watch carefully Rafi Saab’s rendition is
    better than Lata ji.The golden voice of Rafi Saab is

  22. Sarwat Baig says:

    Ahamed Kutty Bhai, I second the facts narrated by you. Please listen to songs from Honeymoon (1973). Three songs by KK with Ms. Asha and one song by Mohd Rafi Sahib feature in the movie. I heard Mohd Rafi’s song on Mohd Rafi Radio and browsed for the movie. The song O Saathi O Saathi is an effortless whisper. Everyone will know why KK wasn’t given that song. Has anyone sung something so audible and with such clarity? The learned fans (or detractors) can perhaps enlighten me. As I was typing the radio was playing another song that was new for me. Seemed to reflect the mood as some of the lines were to the effect: adawat ka kiya faida/nafrat ka kiya faida/takrar ka kiya faida… I want to apologise for calling the radio, Radio Rafi in one of my comments.

  23. Sarwat Baig says:

    Is it possible to send in requests that could be added to the repertoire of songs with Radio Rafi? Binu Sahib kindly consider my request for interviews with Rafi Sahib’s heroes. Thank you for this wonderful site. God Bless You!

  24. Sarwat Baig says:

    Versatile singers don’t go around yodeling in every other song.

  25. Sarwat Baig says:

    After subscribing to this website my curiosity grew and I started searching for the songs’ videos. There were so many Punjabi songs that I discovered here. Another thing I want to share is that I now come across songs on the net that unfortunately AIR or music sellers don’t bother to air. For example, please search for the songs of Piyasi Sham and Yeh Zindagi Kitni Hassen Hai. The former features Biswajeet Sahib and Mala Sinha Sahiba. The latter features Joy Mukherjee Sahib and Saira Banu Sahiba. The point that I am trying to make is that there were more songs than the duration of any programme that’s why we are not familiar with so many many many songs.

  26. Binu Nair says:

    The fact remain that Kishore Kumar initially refused to sing for Rajesh Khanna in Aradhana.

    Rafi saaheb was on tour and Shakti Samanta wanted the film to be ‘completed’ soon – due to pressure from the financers. He asked SDB to talk to Kishore – who said : he sang only for Dev Anand .

    ON SDB’s insistence – KK sang the songs which Rafi saaheb was to Sing initially as per the contract given to the financers.

    This was told to me by Shakti Samanta himself.

  27. Binu Nair says:

    Rafi saahebs close friend Ahmed bhai stays in Calicut. He is an avid music lover and song collector.

    Ahmed bhai told me last week over the phone: ” I am listening to Rafi saaheb Radio Now and so many songs I have’nt heard.

    Another friend showed me about 900 rare unheard songs in his computer – which was given to him by a Pakistani music lover.

    There are hundreds of songs recored but Not Released….

    At a music show on Madan Mohan the Anchor said Rafi Saaheb recorded 165 songs with MM and Kishore Kumar recorded 38 songs with MM. See the huge difference.

    and, the song presented was “Zaroorat hai Zaroorat hai ” of KK and many many timeless hits of Rafi saaheb.

    “Tum jo mil gaye ho ” which madan mohan ji rehearsed for six months – was the topper – and this song goes in to any list of grand musicals.

    also Oh duniya ke rakhwale.

    no comparison please here.

  28. Ahamed Kutty says:

    KK was not a versatile singer.The people who are of the opinion
    should hear the duet song of ‘Muqaddar ka Sikkender’ “Salaami
    ishque meri jaa” KK with Lataji.We can see he cannot sing low
    pitch songs after hearing the song.How Lataji beautifully rendered
    her lines and how KK made his lines very badly.Even Amithabji
    could have sung the songs sung by KK for him like “kaike paan
    bana raswaala (it is a filmfare award winner song!) or “My name
    is Antony Godsalvis” from the film Amar Akber Antony. We
    cannot even imagin Rishi Kapoor to sing “Pardha hei pardha”.

  29. shammi says:

    Samrat, I have to say that I couldn’t agree more with what Baig sir has said and as usual he makes his point really well. After all the legacy that both these artists have left behind speaks volumes . Most people would agree that Mohd Rafi was definitely more versatile than Kishore Kumar. You have to remember that Kishore Kumar had been singing since 1948 if his singing was that great I’m sure there would have been a queue of music directors waiting to sign him to do the playback singing in their films. The fact is the songs in the 1950’s and 60’s were and still are memorable and classic and Mohd Rafi dominated that era and the decade Kishore Kumar dominated the songs unfortunately speak for themselves as most of them are already forgotten.

  30. Sarwat Baig says:

    Mr. Jagat Kant Choudry has said it all and we know that Rafi Sahib sang for KK as well. What greater tribute or acceptance of another singer’s prowess can be shown in comparison. KK always hgrtesrespect for him as he had a portrait of Rahis room. Otherwise we all know of KK’s idiosyncrasies when it came to other people around him. Who are we to argue. In your defense of KK never forget the crutches that he finally found in the last decade of his life. As they say: what is popular is not always right and what is right is not always popular. Since the seventies the world of showbiz is on a decline because it was important to be popular no matter at what cost.

  31. samrat says:

    dear ,shammi you have all rights to disagree with me but as i have already said kishore da was always been a good option to sing any kind of song. as i was not insulting rafi saheb and i don’t have the power to insult him .i was only admiring kishore da and suggesting you and all to not write wrong things about him if youall don’t know in a perfect manner .as i am also a fan of rafi so you don,t have any rights to not permitting me to enter in this site.and one thing more if somebody is saying wrong about kishore da as many of the bloggers so i will always enter and let them the right thing about kishore da.i would also suggest you one thing that you should clean from your mind that kk was first time noticed after singing the aradhna songs but he was already been started to be noticed from 1950s after singing many crazy songs but the difference was at the time of 70s he cleared his line by getting a chance and made public mad by his most valuable singing. the thing that the superstars of that time like rajesh khanna ,amitabh bachchan etc only want him to be their voice is the madness of the public towards him . people at that time also want kk to sing every song as rajesh khanna was also a superfan of him wants all of the kk sung songs to be picturised on rajesh khanna . and after that the era turns into kishore da’s era .so don,t rwrite wrong things.

  32. Sarwat Baig says:

    Thank you for this article. I have,always believed and have even posted a comment to this eftect that KK was never responsible for the harm inflicted to Rafi Sahib’s career. That is why even after his death, he is being imposed upon the public through fake votes etc.

  33. Sarwat Baig says:

    KK belonged to the same era as of the other greats. The only difference is that he was a jack of all trades. He was a late bloomer who got his lucky break in the last de ade of his life when most of the greats were leaving the scene. Now how he got his luck is any body’s guess. That is why when his godfather was sinking into oblivion, KK sang free for him, a gesture that was isolated in its nature I am sure. Thus site is Rafi Sahib’s temple. Please do not enter if you doubt his greatness and accept that he stands above the rest. Thank you, Shammi Sahiba. I couldn’t have said it better.

  34. shammi says:

    I disagree with Samrat and don’t think Kishore Kumar was a better option for singing any type of song he just fortunately for himself had the backing of Rajesh khanna who was a so called super star at that time and he influenced the film producers to take Kishore Kumar.
    I think Samrat should follower Kishore on his website as should Mr prakash who seems to take pride in calling people who don’t share his view ‘idiots’. This a a site for fans of Mohd Rafi and if you don’t like Mohd Rafi there’s no reason for you to be abusive let alone be using this site!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  35. samrat says:

    to mr anand shankar
    it seems that you are of rafi’s era as you are saying that people of ages between 35 to 55 would only listen kishoreda songs as well as rafi sahab songs and the thing you are saying is akind of the statement of an stupid person
    and i forgot the very talented “sahil ganga sirsa” who doesn’t have any sense of giving a right example he has given that rafi has given songs on two different modes and kishore da have never sang that kind of two different songs .so i am suggesting you that dont tell these things again because for a completely emotional and for a completely full of fun kind of song kishore da is a better option always he fully enters in the emotion of the actor and also touches the core of the peoples heart.

  36. vedant prakash says:

    dear friends even we all know that rafi and kishore were that kind of persona’s of whom’ no body can take place so why we are comparing them even we dont have that kind of talent to judge them as stated by many judges in these blogs .
    somebody was saying that kishore da doesn’t have control in its low notes by giving an example of “fiza ke phool se aati hai bahar nhi” as the only song sung by him perfectly in low notes . i am asking who is that person trying to judge him he doesnt have that limit as he has talked about if this song which i have stated above is the only song than where is the phenomenon”yeh jeevan hai” and choo kar mere man ko ” on listning to thee songs if anyone says that kishore da was not able to sing the low notes well so that person is a “super idiot” person .and we also dont have that “aukaad” to judge that kind of music maestro’s . so don’t try to compare such big persons we are idiot’s if we are comparing them .comparison comes either we are a die hard fan of one of them or the other.

  37. Jay says:

    Dear Rajan Singh,

    One more thing to be noted is that till 1967 there was only one filmfare award for playback singer (either male or female). Also if you check the list, whenever the female won, the next best was Rafi, and more importantly the years when Rafi won, the competition was always with his own songs.

    That shows the calibre of his singing. Truly the greatest ever.

  38. rajan singh says:

    rafi has a great sound variation quality..he sung desh bhakti, qwallies, bhajans , ghazals with perfection ..kishore kumar has limitation in these fields.. Rafi great sound quality can be observed between 1952 to 1970.. Rafi got lesser filmfare awards than kishore because.. These awards started in 1959 the time rafi had already given superhit songs right from baiju bawra 1952 up to kagaz kay phool.. Upto 1969, there was single best playbacksingeraward d kishore kumar got 4 awards after rafi death..

  39. Jay says:

    Further to my above comments, I listened to Rafi and Kishore songs a bit more deeply and found there is a marginal difference in their singing.

    First, Kishore mostly sings in loud pitch. He struggles when it comes to low pitch numbers, except a very few like – Khiza Ke Phool Pe Aati Kabhi Bahaar Nahin (I rate this as Kishore’s best ever).

    If you guys listen to even sad or slow numbers, the pitch he keeps is high. This is because he is natural in loud singing and hence even in sad numbers, he maintains a bid louder pitch, so that the song doesn’t slip in to sounding bad.

    This is like an attacking cricket player who is natural attacker and when faced with the situation to slow down struggles a bit, and finally he opts to attack than defend. A bit like Sehwag.

    So, if he gets his way he scores a century or gets out in a zero. However, even in getting century his style is flawed and awkard, which can only be seen by an expert. But, to the local crowd the fours and sixes mattered.

    Hence, in most slow numbers, Kishore pitched in louder and while most have went on to become huge hits, the experts find the flaw in sound variations, or say, the experts feels it is not perfect, but the what matters is that the song is a hit.

    Rafi on the other hand can raise and modulate his voice in any pitch. This is the major difference and here Rafi wins hands down. Some of his songs are so brilliantly sung that if you listen carefully, you will stand up and salute.

    Just like a great player like Sachin who adjust his stand and can play/score any mode as per the requirement- slow, fast, superfast. Whatever.

    Rafi can be thus be said to be the Sachin and Kishore the Sehwag of Indian music.

    At the end of the day, I listen and enjoy both, just as a i watched Sachin and still watch Sehwag.

  40. Andrea Correa says:

    what is your age Ganesh Sharma and how many songs of Kishore Kumar have you heard . And how many songs of Rafi saaheb you heard – to make comparisons.

    To us Mohd Rafi is the Biggest singer and Asha Bhonsle Never lost an opportunity to sing with Rafi Saaheb. Asha herself said recently that Sanjay Dutt sings like Kishore Kumar.

    So Sanjay Dutta is a powerful singer vis-a-vis Kishore Kumar.

    By the sale of cd’s, songs on radios, music events – mohammad rafi “Outsells” every one and the day will not be far off when he is declared the Greatest Singer of All Times.

    Youngsters listen to Rafi Saaheb and polish their singing as the other singers song anyone can easily sing. Try singing them. You may succeed.

    Mean time live in an imaginary pond and listen to your favourite singers.

  41. sharma ganesh says:

    no doubt kishore kumar is a better signer. the songs he sung for rajesh khanna, dev anand and bachan saab are un matchable.

  42. Jay Subramanyam says:

    If you ask for an honest opinion, Rafi was surpassingly brilliant till 1966. After that his voice somehow began to lose that impeccable quality and kind of, opened out. Kishore came in at the right time when Rafi was going a bit stale in 1969-70. Later, Rafi made a comeback of sorts but I still feel Kishore remained the No.1 singer through the decade. Rafi had begun to assert himself,yes, by 1977 but right until his demise in 1980, it was a protracted battle for him to reclaim the No. 1 slot from Kishore, which sadly did not happen. The Emergency bit about Kishore getting banned is nothing but hyped for soon after, the Mumbai producer fraternity approached the powers-that-be and got the ban lifted. Losing out on Kishore’s voice was something they could ill-afford at that stage.

    Of course, all of this does not take away the fact that Rafi was one of the greatest voices ever heard not just in India but the world over. Kishore too was brilliant in his own right. Who was best of the two is hard to tell for each of them qualified to being so, when judged on different parameters. Like Rafi had the range & versatiltity while Kishore had the power & command of voice.

  43. Bruce Lee says:

    Most says even ( Lata, Sonu Nigam etc) Mohammed Rafi is the best singer. I am sure they know what thy talking about. They know the tune of music. But for me I find Kishore voice is more loving. Kishore could sing any type of sings. He born with talent unlike Mohammed Rafi. Mohammed seem to me very good only sad songs. Funny Song does not go for Mohammed Rafi. Kishore was good any kind of songs. In the end it all comes to what each of our ears like. I love voice of Kishore da more than Mohammed Rafi. To me one Kishore da song = 1000 songs of other singers.

  44. sahil ganga sirsa says:

    iam completely agree with my friends from those who give their articles.
    there is no comparision b/w rafi sahab and kishore da.rafi is a great singer. the voice quality of rafi sahab has no comparission .rafi sahab is a complete singer. nobody from past, present,or even future will able to touch the singing level of this great singer. there is only one complete singer whatever its classical, folk or any other thing only rafi sahab could sing that.
    when we take two songs sing by rafi sahab ‘first chahe koi mujhe junglee kahe’ from film junglee and other from film abdullah 1980‘maine poocha chand se’are quite can any singer like kishore kumar can sings those two complete different type of songs. i don’t says kishore is a bad singer but he cannot touch rafi sahab. kishore couldnot sing classical i requested please never compare rafi sahab from any other singer.

  45. Anand Shankar says:

    How some people say that Kishore da was a better singer than Rafi sahab. These people have actually not heard top numbers of Rafi sahab from 50s and 60s. Kishore da was a very good singer, but behind Rafi sahab.

    People, who are between 35 and 55 have seen Kishore Kumar era. Rafi sang less songs in 70s and died in 1980. Kishore sang more songs in 70s and continued singing till his death in 1987. So Kishore da is fresh in the memory of large number of people. But if we talk to the people who are 60 or above, we see most of them prefering to listen Rafi Sahab numbers.

    Rafi sahab was the most verstile singer. He had got the most melodious voice. So far ‘sur’ and expression is concerned, he was ahead of even great Lata ji. Can we imagine Kishore da singing Suhani raat dhal chuki, O duniyan ke rakhwale, Tu ganga ki mauj, Chal ud jaa re panchhi, Khoya khoya chand, Husnwale tera jawab nahin, Janebahar husn tera, Fir miloge kabhi, Abhi na jao chhodkar, Tujhe jivan ki dor se, Tere bin suni nain humare, Madhuban me Radhika, Din dhal jaaye and Saathi na koi manzil the way Rafi sahab has sung these numbers ?

  46. Mumbaikar8 says:

    Very good article.
    Must read for all Rafi”s and kishore”s fan.

  47. Jay says:

    What a brilliant article. It covers each and everything perfectly.

    Guys, check out the link on the interview with OP Nayyar, it is brilliant on Rafi, Kishore, Lata and Asha, and others…….what a guy, who speaks directly on the egos and fighting that happened, along with his own ego…..check it out –

  48. sur samrat says:

    How can a super legend like Rafi have a rival. The bottom line is the success of kk was good for his bank balance (ask the tax office who kept approaching him for tax evasion) and nor for hfm. Rafi was the key building block of hfm, an evergreen legend that reigns supreme to date.

    If making lots of money is a benchmark for competition then surely kishore upstaged Rafi but if quality was the benchmark then kishore was a non starter.

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