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India did not give Mohammed Rafi his due

Indo-Asian News Service

A Bangladeshi newspaper has raked up an old controversy by saying that singer Mohammed Rafi was not given his due by the government of India. Paying rich tributes to Rafi in the the Daily Star, Bakul Sultan, a columnist asks why Rafi was given only a Padma Shri while some of his contemporaries received higher honours. Lata Mangeshkar received a Bharat Ratna.

Irrespective of the honours Rafi will remain immortal in the hearts of music lovers of the subcontinent, wrote Sultan. Rafi, who died 26 years ago on July 31, remains popular in South Asia and even distant climes such as the UK, Kenya and West Indies that have a large Indian expatriate community, he wrote.

Disagreeing that Rafi was at par with Mukesh and Kishore Kumar, Sultan quotes Manna Dey, another great singer, who often said that Rafi was by far the most versatile and gifted singer among his contemporaries. Sultan points out that although Kishore Kumar sang all the songs in the films he acted in, music maestro OP Nayyar preferred Rafi’s voice for the classical song Man mora bawra in the Kumar starrer “Ragini”.

Nayyar knew that only a singer of Rafi’s calibre with a classical background could fully justify his songs, he wrote. Rafi has left a rich legacy that is kept alive by new Bollywood singers Mohammad Aziz, Shabbir Kumar, Anwar and the current sensation Sonu Nigam, he added.

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24 Blog Comments to “India did not give Mohammed Rafi his due”

  1. Prem Kant Jha says:

    Yes, I agree that Rafi Sahab didn’t get his deserved honor. He was a noble singer. Every award is less for him. We are fortunate to have records of his songs to hear even after he is not with us now.

  2. SUDHEER says:


  3. Q. D. S. Hussain says:

    Here i too want to say some thing about rafi sahab. I am one of those lucky persons who had congratulated him on his birthday in dec. 1975. He was kind enough to send an autographed photograph.
    Regarding his music talent, He was the sun among the the musical stars of the world including lata mangheshkar though she got bharat ratna is very small infront of the legend Mohd. Rafi sahab. Time can not decrease his shine.

  4. Nasir says:

    Ref. Mr. Binu Nair Post 19: “the higher rungs you climb, you will find more singers whose voices are soulful, divine and of 24 carat gold variety. the names of talat mahmud and k.l. saighal and their beautiful songs comes to my mind as I write these lines.”

    When we speak about the greatness of Rafi Sahaab as the playback singer don’t we mean that he has surpassed all the other playback singers? Now saying this, does not tantamount to denying the qualities of other singers – whether K.L. Saigal or Talat Mehmood. Rafi Sahaab himself has sung hymns to K.L. Saigal: MAR KE AMAR HAI SAIGAL JIS KA HAR KOI DEEWAANA. But we know it as a fact that as early as the mid-Fifties, Rafi Sahaab very competently filled in the void that had been created with the untimely demise of the legendary K.L. Saigal. As times were changing, Rafi Sahaab also left Talat Mehmood far behind since the latter got stuck into acting and one genres of Ghazal singing and light melodies.

    Regarding your comments: “Coming back to awards, almost all awards are manipulated. not getting an award proves the fact that mohd rafi was a very poor “manipulator”.”

    I agree with you.

    You’ve pointed out how a singer backed by certain politicians won awards, etc. Here I would like to point out that Rafi Sahaab must have faced the greatest of political hurdles beginning 1967 while some other singers must have got a great boost on the other hand. Word to the wise is enough and I need not dwell on this aspect. But some good writer for filmy critic can take a hint and devote himself to this study. But despite this, Rafi Sahaab held his ground and this is the reason why I say that the magic and hold of Rafi Sahaab on people’s mind is much more than we Rafians ourselves realise.

  5. mahmood hafeez says:

    it is not question of who is big or great then whom it the question of who sings the quality songs at given time.Here Rafi Sahab scores higher then the so called good singers,yes they are good but when we talk about the GREAT then it RAFI RAFI AND RAFI sahab ,dont ask for awards he was above these things we love the singer and more n more people are followers of the great soul

  6. Binu Nair says:

    mr. nasir : post 18 : the higher rungs you climb, you will find more singers whose voices are soulful, divine and of 24 carat gold variety. the names of talat mahmud and k.l. saighal and their beautiful songs comes to my mind as I write these lines.

    but, mohd rafi excels – for he is a singer of the classes as well as the masses. coming to your point of lower rung of music experts or singers, may i tell you that these elements will “not” be able to sing mohd rafi songs ” fluently “. but, almost all of them attribute mohd rafi’s class – as the best singer ever. u cannot miss mohd rafi as the greatest singer; he is there for all seasons , 12 months and he is an industry by himself.
    one can never miss a season ever and one will never be able to miss the ” mohd rafi season of songs ” for whatever reasons.
    coming back to awards, almost all awards are manipulated. not getting an award proves the fact that mohd rafi was a very poor “manipulator”.
    i know of a award winner who has sung just below 6000 songs but chamchas say the singer has sung 35000 songs. this singer runs away with the highest award of the land – owing to political manipulations which most of the people know. the award was given during the tenure of the “india shining” government at the helm in 2001.
    coming back to mohd rafi and awards, let me say that people has kept mohd rafi in their musical thoughts and hearts and this is the highest award one can get. all other awards pale in significance when compared to the “peoples award for mohd rafi saaheb”.

    binu nair, mumbai, rafi foundation,

  7. Nasir says:

    Value of Rafi Sahaab’s singing prowess can only be evident to those who have climbed up the higher wrung of musical appreciation. The higher one goes, the better and positive impression one gets about Rafi Sahaab. There will always be those who are at the lower rung of the ladder who are unaware of the might of Rafi Sahaab’s singing voice, his hold over the musical compositions and lyrics and his place in the filmy music. So why worry when we know the mighty position of Rafi Sahaab in the field of playback singing and humanity?

  8. In my opinion Rafi Sahab is the greatest male singer to have ever lived and can never be replaced..Rafi Sahab was god gifted in this unscrupulous world where the truth never gets portrayed right. As Modan Mohan Sahab said, God took him so early so that not only he himself could enjoy his voice, but so that those bias people felt the loss…India has over half billion males and counting, and none will ever be able to produce a single male singer who can come close to Rafi Sahab unique voice..
    No wonder those new comers imitate Rafi Sabab Songs before they resume their singing career..
    I request those who feel the real rhythmic touch within their souls listen to some of Rafi Sahab songs like.. E WADIWA E FIZAYE..TU HINDU BONEGA NA MUSALMAN BONEGA..E KISKI AKHON KA NOOR HO TUM..Truth always stand out from error..

  9. Rajesh Joshi says:

    I think Kishore kumar was the best singer. without basic knowledge in the music he sang with ease each and every song. Maximium of his songs were hits. He was a gem. Rafi too was a good singer but Kishore Kumar was the best and had no comparison what so ever.

  10. Rafistar says:

    Mohammad Rafi was the sunshine of planet music. With his parting music industry’s lustre has tarnished a great deal.

    On one hand he was a victim of jealousy, but on the other he was selective in choosing his songs in order to give his best, rather than mass production of the kind which renders an artiste not doing justice. If he was money greedy he would have gone for quantity rather than quality, because music directors/producers were willing to offer him huge sums.

    Rafi (bless him) adored his art and music and not wealth.

    Rafi Saheb was a prophet , he was a godfather and a super heavy weight of music. Rafi was unique.

    Unfortunately world will never ever see one like him. With his passing away a huge and significant portion of the world of music has become barren.

    His songs will live till the day of judgement and keep irrigating the planet music, will keep listeners blissful and invigorate them, last but not least the top notch and comprehensive school of music/art he established would continue to provide invaluable guidance and support to those who want to learn musical expertise and skill.

  11. unknow1 says:

    Who knows why Lata Mangeshkar received a Bharat Ratna?maybe because she never singed for free!!!!I think mr Bachchan is better from Lata 2 get award but !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!???????????or SJ or Naushand Ali or Madan Mohan or Dada saheb or Raj kapoor or Dilip Kummar.

  12. mohanflora says:

    Charismatic Rafi still lives among his fans – THE BIGGEST AWARD!
    Staff Reporter / Bhopal
    Eight out of the ten requests received for the phone in live programme on AIR Bhopal were those sung by Mohammed Rafi on July 31, the 25th anniversary of the legendary singer.
    But the day was not an exception for the radio station, which broadcasts many of his songs almost everyday.
    Farzana Khan, an anchorperson with the youth section of the radio station said, “When most of my colleagues give new songs preference over the old melodies I generally try to serve the old collection and all through these years I have noticed that nearly 60 per cent of the requested songs are from Rafi.”
    Rafi’s songs are a rage with the Bhopali youth and a group of collegians have even formed a sort of a club here. Dhirendra, a student pursuing his post graduation in journalism said, “We have a group of 4-5 friends, all ardent Rafi fans and simultaneously radio is our only source of entertainment so we make it a point to send requests for Rafi’s songs in the radio programmes that we regularly listen to.”
    Rajan Pathak, working with a private firm and another member of the group said, “The depth in his songs is something that is unmatched and the charisma of his voice is something that lures people even today and the instance is people like us.”

    from The Pioneer

  13. unknow1 says:

    Dear fans
    why we want Bharat Ratna and Dada saheb award for Mohd rafi?As I think mohd Rafi is more greater than these awards.Mohd Rafi is world ratna not bharat Ratna only,

  14. kalyani says:

    dear friends,
    yes we should all be in but there are crores of fans of Rafi sahab who do not even have the computer facility. In fact there are dedicated fans even in Kolkata who regularly organise shows in memory of the greatest legend Rafi Sahab.
    I fully agree with Nair sirs comment that due to longivity factor only Rafi Sahab did not get the Bharat Ratna and Dada saheb Phalke awards. In fact there is another dedicated group trying to make a live film On everyones favourite Rafi sahab containing important events and then plan to show it to the political HIGHER UPS.

  15. picco says:

    Hi i am Picco,

    I certainly agree with “rafimylife” and “chamanbagga”.i am probably the biggest person who hates Kishore Kumar.

    I live in Kolkata which is city containing mainly KK fans.I hate those persons who argues that KK was much better singer than Rafi.I feel like beating them up.I am just 15 yrs old which is the only cause which stops me from hurting elder ones.i agree with chamanbagga that KK’s hit songs are from R.D burman.i just want to say one thing Kishore’s songs always
    contained a chorus voice,echoes,many kinds of music so that no one could hear his original GOATLY voice.


    if u want 2 contact me plz mail me at:


  16. divyeshgmehta says:

    I believe the Govt honors are a pittance compared to the esteem and love his fans have showered on him…My children who are born when the Rafi era had ended list him as their fav…comparison with KK is like comparing Rose to Rose ..both had their great moments and gave countless hours of entertainment to millions…Having met him,I can assure you he would have humbly laughed away the controversy..Noble and simple soul ,he wore his genius effortlessly …In his departure,Suhani raat did not end as his his rich voice and magnificent talent tower over South Asia for all times to come..

  17. venkat_brahma says:

    I fully agree with our unknown friend. Rafi Saab is indeed getting his due from successive generations by way of their adoration of the unparalleled work he had done during his lifetime. Successive generations of music lovers are readily accepting him as the all-time great, even after a full 26 years after his death and even after a full 36 years after his peak career ended!

    Hence, why care for the authorities who were never known for their objectivity and fairness?

    Gentlemen, can any of you send me any of the following songs? my email

    1.Gustaakh Nazar Chehere Se Hataa (Rafi-Asha, OPN, Jaali Note)
    2.Mera Dil Ghabhraaye Teri Aankh Sharmaaye (Rafi-Asha, OPN, Mr.Qartoon, MA)
    3.Tere Is Pyaar Ka Shukriya Mere Mehabooba (Rafi, N.Datta, Aag Aur Daag)
    4.Naqab Rukh Se Hataaye Mere Nasseb Kahaan(Rafi, Probably non-filmi Gahazal)
    5.Teer Pe Teer Khaayeja Julmon Sitam Uthaaye Ja(Rafi, Sajjad Hussain, RoopLekha)

    Thanks indeed,

  18. chamanbagga says:

    Kishore Kumar has sung songs which are more relevant today compared to Rafi. R D Burman’s favourism has also helped him, because by enlarge, KK’s songs that are biggest hits are from Pancham.

    No doubt Rafi is the best singer ever, but why do you want to explain this to KK followers?

  19. Nair says:

    The reason why Rafi could not get a much higher civilian honour is simple – longevity. He was the first playback singer to receive Padmasree in 1965 (also the first national award in 1958, although not a civilian award). Lata Mangeshkar was awarded Padmabhushan in 1969 and she had to wait for the next 30 years to get Padma Vibhushan (too late). Bharat Ratna came for her in 2001. Talat Mehmood received Padmabhushan in 1998 and Manna Dey in 2006. During the last years of Rafi, when he was climbing heights, Padma Vibhushan was suspended (1977-80). None of the Civilian awards, with the exception of Bharat Ratna, to my knowledge, is awarded posthumously. Had Rafi Sahab been alive, he would have received all the honours including Bharat Ratna much earlier.

  20. emdad says:

    It is very strange to me that Rafi was not even awarded Padmabhusan. Talat received Padamabhusan in his life time. Lata/Asha received Dada Shaheb. But Rafi had to leave with only Padma sree. Can any body explain the real reasons for Rafi not receving higher honours? Was Rafi’s name ever considered for higher honours? Can this forrum bring this issue to the notice of Indian Government and then follow up?

  21. unknow1 says:

    dear Rafimylife,
    I think we can’t compare mohd rafi with any one because God made one Sun one earth and one Mohd Rafi also KK fans know that,No way to lose from KK.

  22. rafimylife says:

    i recently got membership in but i was astonished to see kishore kumar ommunity is greTER Iin size than mohd rafi community of which i am a member. all of u who is reading this one plz enrol in mohd rafi community. we simply cant lose to kishore kumar. mohd rafi is the numero uno and so should we be, his followers.

  23. unknow1 says:

    Lata Mangeshkar received a Bharat Ratna and Mohd Rafi didn’t!!!!!!!!!!who can answer this?????as I know as singer Mohd rafi is greater singer than Lata Mangeshker also was great human,there are none Indain they got this award(Bharat Ratna) but Mohd Rafi!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I think Mohd Rafi has biger than Bharat Ratna award because after 26 years ago we remmber him and we cry and all beleave that he is still no 1,Mohd Rafi was not Bharat Ratna but mohd rafi is World Ratna

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