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This article is written by Sajdah @ HF

Mohd Rafi is a name to reckon with in Hindi film music, both now as well as before. That’s hardly surprising, when a good number of today’s playback singers owe their inspiration as well as their career, to this gentle giant of the music world. Most people just aren’t fortunate enough to discover their vocation at a young age. Rafi Saab did, and aren’t we grateful that he did so! The Hindi movie industry in post independence India was clearly in a renaissance mode, and saw the birth of what’s now called the ‘Golden Age’ of Hindi film music. And Mohd Rafi, acknowledge it or not, was an integral part of it all!

It wasn’t easy for Rafi Saab. But he had faith in himself and a God gifted Voice that was pure magic to the ears. The first years were tough. A stray line here and there, most times with chorus–but no lead songs. But fortune was slowly opening its doors to the young Rafi, when he got to sing an independent line with none other than his idol – K.L.Saigal, for the movie ‘Shahjehan’, which also happened to be KL.Sehgal’s last movie. The song Roohi Roohi Roohi Mere Sapnon Ki Rani, brought two legends together for the first and last time – one a living legend, and the other a future legend in the making! Was music composer Naushad aware atall that he was making history happen that day? Doubtful! Not Mukesh, nor Talat Mahmood or even Kishore Kumar got this singular honour. This was followed by a duet with the ‘Mallika-e-Tarannum’ – Noor Jehan for the movie ‘Jugnu’. The song Yahan Badla Wafa Kaa made Rafi a household name, throughout India. To sing with Noor Jehan, must have been a proud moment for the young Rafi, which none of his contemporaries got to do.

Next he was chosen to sing, the ballad on the life and times of Mahatma Gandhi, penned by Rajendra Krishan and set to tune by the Pandit Husnlal Bhagatram brothers, which took India by storm. Thereafter, the flood gates of success opened up to Mohd Rafi. Lead songs in Anmol Ghadi, Mela, Dulaari, Bazaar, Chandni Raat, Shaheed, Dillagi, Barsat, Pyar ki jeet, Baiju Bawra, Udan Khatola, Amar….and the list goes on, established him as a singer par excellence.

Mohd Rafi was undoubtedly a phenomenon, to ever grace the music world. In him, music composers could imagine their unbridled creative possibilities! What was most special about him, was his unique voice, which could span any octave, effortlessly. It wasn’t exactly bass, baritone or tenor – it had the best of everything.

It’s enough to say that his voice is a sheer delight to the ear! What’s also unusual, is that, the higher you turn up the music, his voice NEVER seems to jar; it tends to sound even more pleasing! Incredulous?

Listen to Khoya Khoya Chaand and then you’ll know what I mean. The song ‘Is Duniya Mein Ai Dil Waalon’, from Dillagi, has very low notes, but Rafi carried it off with poise. What a tenor could do, he did one better in Subah Na Aayi. That was Rafi. It would take more than a lifetime, to discuss his awesome voice range, and what he could do with it, given the enormous amount of work he produced.

It is generally agreed that Rafi reached the zenith of his career in the 60’s. His songs were featured on almost ALL actors { lead, character, comedian, and others } in Bollywood. Even background situations, where the story demanded used his magnificent voice. Sample some of these songs; Muhobbat zinda rehti hai, Sau Baar Janam Lenge, Dil Jo Na Keh Saka, Aaj Purani Raahon Se, Mana Tarapata Hari Darshan, Aapke Pehelu Mein Aakar, Mein Nigahen Tere Chehere Se, Baahosh-o-Hawaas, Jahan Daal Daal Par, Jaane Bahaar Husn….. Most of these compositions would never have been BORN if Rafi hadn’t been around!

Enough has been said and written about his ‘versatility’, as if he had carefully gone about CULTIVATING such a title, to stand out from his other contemporaries! IT ISN’T SO! Rafi Saab was just BLESSED with an exceptional voice that he polished with his own hard work or ‘riyaaz’, so that he was able to carry off any song, whether it was – romantic, devotional, sad, peppy, philosophical, semi-classical, patriotic or even comedy. Or for that matter any genre – geet, ghazal, naat, bhajan, shabad, or qawwali.

TIMELESS is just one word to describe the voice and songs of Mohd Rafi.

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