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Binu Nair talks about Rafi Sahab

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Binu Nair, The founder of The Rafi Foundation
Binu Nair, The founder of The Rafi Foundation

Watch Binu Nair, the founder of The Rafi Foundation speak about Rafi Sahab, Rafi’s First Song, Rafi as an actor, Rafi’s Baiju Bawra break, Rafi’s english and regional songs, Rafi’s favourite song etc., Courtesy:

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Following is the article on Rafi Sahab that was featured on

Was Mohd Rafi truly a genius?

Thousands gather at Mohammed Rafi’s tomb in Santa Cruz, Mumbai to pay homage to one of the greatest singers of India, and undoubtedly one of the best in the 20th century. People from all over the world, of many nationalities and religions though mainly Indian, flock to their sacred place.

This year on July 31, Mohd Rafi’s death anniversary will see the same phenomenon. But you know what, this adulation is not limited to July 31st or December 24th (his birthday). There are people who put flowers on the legend’s tomb every day!

What is it about Rafi that pulls people 27 years after his death? Surely not just his singing — but also something deeper, sublime, spiritual to his melodious and mellifluous voice. That voice which strikes a chord with millions even today, young and old, and is claimed to be divine.

Maybe it has something to do with Rafi’s beginnings as a singer.

From the fakir to Bollywood

Born in a small town Kotla Sultan Singh (also called Kotla Sultanpur) near Amritsar in 1924, young Rafi was drawn to the chants of a fakir in his village and imitated them. That was his basic training. No wonder then, that his voice had a spiritual quality to it, especially reflected in tragic songs.

Rafi learnt Hindustani classical music from a very young age under none other than Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Abdul Wahid Khan, Pandit Jiwanlal Matto and Firoz Nizami.

Mohd Rafi in the song - Vo Apni Yaad Dilane Ko
Mohd Rafi in the song – Vo Apni Yaad Dilane Ko

Music director Shyam Sunder gave Rafi his first break in the early 1940s in the film Gul Baloch for a Punjabi song, Soniye hiriye, teri yaad ne bahut sataya, which was released on February 28, 1944. Shyam Sunder later signed Rafi for all his future films, including Gaon ki gori.

Rafi landed with a recommendation letter at music director Naushad’s, who first took him on for the chorus. But impressed with his style, Naushad imposed full faith in Rafi and they delivered the superhit Baiju Bawra. The song O Duniya Ke Rakhwale made Rafi famous all over India and brought him what he was waiting for.

But Rafi’s debut was Pehle Aap, though he was recognised in Mehboob’s Anmol Ghadi, where he got the opportunity to sing with Noorjehan. Such was his success, that he soon overtook contemporaries Manna Dey, Talat Mahmood, Hemant Kumar and Mukesh.

More on Rafi’s Bollywood career

And yet, Manna Dey had only kind words to say for him. He has said in the past, “He was a wonderful human being, and a great singer. I’ve been a fan of his right from the beginning. I’d taken it for granted that he was a better singer than me. No artiste has ever been able to modulate his voice according to the words like Rafi saab did.”

Mohd Rafi had the longest career spanning four decades, between the 1940s to the 1980s, singing in Hindi and many Indian regional languages, including Marathi and Gujarati. But not many know that he had also recorded two English albums with English translations of his hits Hum kale hai to kya hua dilwale hai and Bahaaron phool barsao.

Rafi is said to have sung for nearly 100 actors. Some of the Hindi actors he has sung for are: Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor (although Mukesh sang most of his songs), Rajendra Kumar, Guru Dutt, Biswajeet, Joy Mukherjee, Shammi Kapoor, Dharmendra, Jeetendra, Johnny Walker, Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna, Pradeep Kumar, Raj Kumar, Shashi Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, Manoj Kumar, Navin Nischol among others.

With equal ease, Rafi sang ghazals, bhajans, classical, folk and qawwalis. When he had to sing a bhajan, he would do the namaaz and ask God to give him the strength to sing it well. And surely so, his bhajans make you feel God resides within him, and within you.

But towards the late 1970s, his career started spiralling downwards and he lost out to Kishore Kumar. At some point, Rafi was so dejected that he went off to London for a few months, turning into a recluse. But that did not mean he had bitter feelings towards Kishore. They remained friends.

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39 Blog Comments to “Binu Nair talks about Rafi Sahab”

  1. Sunita shatms says:

    Binu Nair bhaiya u have donr super excellent job

  2. Raj says:

    How do we support Raffi saab’s nomination for Bharat Ratna. If there is one singer who deserves this prestigious award is Raffi Saab. Anyone has idea. There are enough Raffi Saab supporters to convince any government body……..

  3. Anit Chand says:

    Hi Binu ji –

    Mesmerizing thoughts ran through my mind thinking about this great personality who I started hearing and drawing inspiration only several years after his death.

    My surroundings would resonate only with Kishore Da’s songs and I as a young teen picked up Kishore Da’s songs..only to realize later in life that Rafi Sahab’s songs were there to guide me as a mentor even though he was no more.

    Truly, I owe my small bit of singing ability to the greatest man and singer on earth – Rafi Sahab

    Mohammad Rafi — tu bahot yaad aaya
    There is a great tribute to Mohd Rafi sahab in the movie Kroadh starring Amitabh Bacchan ji and sung by Mohd. Aziz

  4. jayashree banerjee says:

    md. rafi always stay with music lovers……………………..thanks binu ji

  5. Binu Nair says:

    Post 12 Jyoti.. Ur golden thoughts for the master and divine singer mohd rafi can nly be weighed in platinum.

    thanks Jyoti ji.

    your point is quite true. angels like Rafi never die. they live in peoples hearts for the good of human society. forever.

    thank you.

  6. Binu Nair says:

    One comon point my friends-lost-found say when they find me Is : u were a rafi lover some three decades back and even today. I found u in the google or in rafi foundation or in

    it gladdens me that rafi lovers hasn’t changed. in fact rafi-ism has only grown with the years, times and maturity.

    thanks friends who find me through the godly mentor for many of us truly – mohd rafi saaheb : the emperor and sage singer – of all times.

  7. Binu Nair says:

    Thanx a Trillion..Madhu. Old friends are coming back due to Rafi saaheb first and then the internet.
    We had a nice time in Dubai. We met Yesudas chettan together at Abu dhabi.Many times. Lets continue this worship of music in a bigger and better way.

    thanx once again

    the rafi foundation, mumbai

  8. MADHUSUDAN says:

    Hey Binu, What a surprise this is & how incredible is the power of the net !!! Wonder if you remember me..this is your good old pal, Madhu.. ex-Jumbo, Dubai.
    I just happened to bump into your Rafi Foundation blog, while combing the net for something else, and your photograph appeared on my screen, out of the blue. That’s when it struck me that you are the same old Binu, whom i knew about 2 decades ago.
    Here are my contact details in Dubai. Mob 97150-5536970. email :

  9. Thomas D'Cruz says:

    Binu U have done an excelent zoj … thenks… and keep it up…

  10. Binu Nair says:

    ajay saaheb and ismail saaheb… we are all trying to do out bits for the god of singing – Mohd Rafi and great musicians.

    We have a one point programme.
    we want that rafi foundation should become the largest music club in the world.

    ur support is needed – in ur area.

    all the best…
    if the music is good the heart will sing…..

  11. Ajay Sharma says:

    lagta nahin hai dil mera ujray dayar main
    kis kee banee hai aalam-e-na paedaar main

    kitna hai badnaseeb zafar dafn ke liye
    do gaz zameen bhi na mili koo-e-yaar main

    Bahadur Shah Zafar and Rafi Saab bahut saal pahle se jante the is phani duniya ko aur ab is duniya ne prove kar diya hai ki duniya wale beraham aur swarthi he aur isiliye Rafi Saab ki kabra ko unke intkal ke 30 saal bad bhi nahi baksha.

  12. Ajay Sharma says:

    I came to know your name from News in TOI about “Rafi can’t rest in peace” due to removal of his tomb where he was interred. You very well protested against this removal. Rafi saab, Sahir, Madhubala, Janisar Akhtar, Naushad saab are like god to all music lovers of India. We waste acres of land for Politicians who do nothing for society and these god like figures who has given so much to the world thru music are ignored, insulted without any notice and care about feelings and respect of others. I request u Binuji thru this communique to take up the matter with authorities.

    Kudos for great work u are doing for Rafi saab.

    Ajay Sharma, Ahmedabad



  14. sandesh madhukar shinde says:

    he was the greatest singer in the world.

  15. Tarunrana says:

    Main Ek Chota sa gavaeya hun!
    Sub ne etna sub keh diya main kya kahoon,
    Bus Etna He
    Kaas Main Rafi Sahab Ke Paer Chu Pata !!
    Bus UparWale Say Etne Dua Etne Arzz Hai Ke Lata Ji Kay Paer Chu Paoo.

    App Ka Bahut Bahut Dhnywaad Es Website Ko Bunane ka.


  16. binus2000 says:

    Yes there are bits and pieces of immortal rafi saabs live recordings with
    many individuals and with the doordarshan.

    Binu Nair.

  17. V Hariharan says:

    Simply put , he is the most powerful example of immortality . How can I believe that he is not around us when atleast an hour each day he fills my life with joy?

    I would like to know if there is any live concert recording of Rafi ? Kindly advise



  18. Recently i had an opportunity to hear Rafi Sahabs marathi song ” Shodashi manava”. His diction, pronounciation and sincerity for his craft simply dazzled me. Rafi Sahab is really a jewel in the crown of singing. Jai Rafi Sahab! Every time i listen to him, i crave for more. Will this thirst ever quench?

  19. sangeetvishwa says:

    Thanks Binuji for a nice article



  20. neemartist says:

    Thank u BINU NAIRJI, i`m from Mauritius .pls let me mention here that rafi saab had visited the island of Mauritius and sing a song in creole ” ayaya to bien joli (U r very beautiful)soukou soukou.”

  21. RAMAKRISHNA says:

    Got some more information. Thanks.

  22. binus2000 says:

    Dear Murthy ji.. thanx..

    I spoke to the cnn ibn for about 15 minutes which is recorded and
    you can see in the video if you download. In 15 minutes : ur scope
    becomes limited when you talk of the greatest singer the world has seen.
    But I tried it.. and only a part of rafi saab the genious was revealed.

    binu nair.

  23. A S MURTY says:

    Fine article Mr. Binu Nair, in fact you have presented to all of us many of the events in the life and times of Mohd. Rafi Sahab not know earlier to us. Thanks for the compilation and we have benefited with this knowledge. While going thru some of the comments appended to your column, I found that some songs in other languages which were rendered by Mohd. Rafi are mentioned. True they did not find a place in your article, but perhaps it was not intentional and the theme was different. For information of all RAFIANS, Mohd. Rafi has sung even in Telugu for atleast four or five movies and believe me, he has done a better job at rendition even than most Telugu singers of that era. Good article once again.

  24. H.V.GURU MURTHY says:

    Rafiji also sang a Kannada song in the sixties, a very serious song slightly philosophical – “Neenelli Nadeve Doora, Yellelu Shokave”. IAs usual Rafiji sang it beautifully and the song became a big hit in those days. I just wanted to stress one thing. By all accounts the langauge was not familiar to Rafiji, but still the pronounciation / diction was almost as good as any other Kannada singer. Also like any other hindi song, Rafiji put feelings into each and every word of the song.

  25. binus2000 says:

    Jyoti ji… and above Rafi lovers thanx a trillion.
    Rafi ji was not an ordinary human being . He was appointed and sent
    by the gods to enlighten us and to regale us… Nothing less if not more.

    Now a request : The Rafi Foundation : wishes to build a permanent
    yaad g a a r : in the city of Bombay for rafi saab.. A Museum-cum-library

    Please send in ur suggestions: My suggestion is : each Rafi lover will
    pay rs.100 towards a fund… If Rafi lovers around the world donates
    this small amount, the Museum will be a reality. Please write : Mumbai…

  26. unknow1 says:

    Thanks u sir we hope more from u

  27. ATM SALIM says:




  28. jyoti says:

    thnx binu ji, i wish u had more to say abt him

    but i have jst one question, can anybody on earth answer dis question of mine. what ws RAFI? ws he really a human like us or some supernatural power? i dont know & i think none of u know. it remains a mystery. may b d answr lies only wid god & we shud ask god ke apne kis divine mitti se unhe banaya tha, definitely not wid d mitti jisse hum sabko banaya hai. rafi sahab aise farishte hai jinhone bine kuch kie apni awaaz se hi karishma kar dikhaya. unke bare mei sochte hi ankhen bhar aati hai, rongte khare ho jate hai, wo kya hai ye shayad hum kabhi samjh na paye, par jo bhi ho tum khuda ki kasam lahjawab ho. i love u rafi sahab

  29. Narayanan says:

    Well done Binu n ur hardworking team.

  30. Anmol Singh says:

    Dear Binu,

    Great article, very informative in terms of Rafi’s over all ability as an artist.

  31. Chandra Sekhar Mani says:

    a fine article. I was equally dejected during the 70’s when Rafi saheb went through a lean period and used to switch off the radio rather than listen to other songs. No other Indian singer has such a mesmerising effect on the listeners.

  32. Abhishek says:

    Great article, very informative, but yeh dil mange more.

  33. akmal jangvi says:

    dear kb
    tell us some more about those recordings?
    discussion ways?his singing style on mike etcc please.duets style along lata?

  34. k b iyer says:

    Good. I have attended so many of his recordings in 75-80 at FAMOUS CINELAB with Laxmikant Pyarelal. he always had a smile fixed on his face. Mastro Naushad sab says that a playback singer should have seven qualities, and he adds that Rafi possessed an eighth quality- He was a good humn being. I have sceen Kishore Kumar’s recordings also. For K.k, singing is profession, but for Rafi sab it was divine.

  35. DR Nikhil Joshi says:

    Gr8 work, Mr. Binu Nair!!
    Keep it up!!

  36. mohamed parvez says:

    very informative very nice thanx binu nair ji

  37. Nair says:

    Abhinandanangal Sir!

  38. Harvinder says:

    Thanks Binu Nair ji,
    Thank you for your narration of our beloved Rafi Saheb’s personality. You have spoken with sincereity and from the heart.


  39. javed fazal says:

    thanx binu nir ji

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