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Rafi’s magic endures 25 years after death

Article by IANS (New Delhi) published on July 31st 2005.

Tu kahin aas paas hai dost (You are some where around, my friend) – the last song sung by Mohammed Rafi sums up what millions of music lovers feel about the legendary playback singer even 25 years after his death.

Rafi, among the most imitated singers of Indian cinema, passed away on July 31, 1980 at the age of 56. Such has been the singer’s talent that even some of the other legendary singers like Mahendra Kapoor and the south’s K.J. Yesudas have said that Rafisaab – as he was fondly called – was the one artiste by whom they were inspired.

Much has been written about his versatility – his ability to sing peppy tunes to the most romance-soaked numbers – and the reported 26,000 songs that he rendered in his lifetime.

There was never a singer and never will there be another like him. I challenge any singer today to do a repeat of anything that Rafisaab did, music director Ravi told IANS. Ravi had brought out some of the most popular and melodious hits with Rafi like Chaudahvin Ka Chand (title song, 1960), Choo Lene Do Naazuk Hothon Ko (“Kajal”, 1965) and Bhari Duniya Mein Aa kar Dil (“Do Badan”, 1966).

Rafi began his career with a Punjabi film “Gul Baloch” in 1944 under music director Shyam Sunder. His strong command of Urdu as well as Hindi endeared him to most music directors of the 1940s till the 70s like Naushad Ali, O.P. Nayyar, Madan Mohan, S.D. Burman and R.D Burman.

The only disadvantage for some music directors was Rafi’s strong earthy Punjabi accent while what they wanted was a more refined Urdu, according to a fan. Perhaps the only great music director who did not make full use of Rafi was the legendary Anil Biswas, who is known to be responsible for the basic structure of film songs that we know today with its mukhra (opening that recurs as a refrain)-interlude-antara (main body of the song) format.

The only other controversy Rafi was involved in apart from the spat with Lata Mangeshkar was when Anil Biswas, after working with Rafi in a few forgettable projects, reportedly said, Rafi is not my kind of a singer at all, and a media report – inadvertently or otherwise – deleted the “my kind of” part from the quote.

Known to be soft-spoken, Rafi was one of the most humble and humane members of the film fraternity of that era. He was the most generous and most human of people I have ever met. He was a great friend. When he died I lost 50 percent of myself. I do not want to say much about his singing because his talent was above debates and discussions, Naushad said.

A glimpse of Rafi’s humility was seen during his long spat with melody queen Lata Mangeshkar over the issue of royalty to singers. While Lata contended that singers should also receive royalty on songs they have sung throughout their lives, Rafi took the stand that when singers do not share the losses of music companies, they should not look to share the profits either.

Basically Rafi’s point was that a singer should just sing for the love of singing and not be motivated by monetary benefits, said Manohar Iyyer of Keep Alive, a Mumbai-based organisation working to maintain the interest of the public in vintage Bollywoods’ legendary musical contribution.

The love for the singer was visible when the Shanmukhananda Hall (Mumbai’s biggest public concert hall) was packed for a concert held on the eve of Rafi’s 25th death anniversary despite the city just recovering from last week’s flash-foods, Iyyer said.

To be crowned greatest by music directors and fans is one thing. But to be given the same status by Manna Dey – a contemporary of Rafi and perhaps the only artiste who posed any competition to the former – proves the point.

Many may disagree with me. But I know for a fact that Rafi was not very well trained classically. Yet he was the greatest and there can be none like him, Dey had said.

Yet, no one else could have sung songs like Madhuban Mein Radhika Naache Rey (“Kohinoor”, 1960), Man Tadapata Hari Darshana Ko Aaj (“Baiju Bawra”, 1955) which are seeped in classical intonations. Dey claimed that Rafi had even sung under him when he was an assistant music director at the beginning of both their careers.

Though Rafi survived the Kishore Kumar onslaught post-“Aradhana” (1969) with some memorable numbers like Tum Jo Mil Gaye Ho (“Hanste Zakhm”, 1970), Teri Galiyon Mein (“Hawas”, 1974) and Kya Hua Tera Wada (“Hum Kisi Se Kam Nahin”, 1977), the musical language had changed beyond recognition by the late 70s.

The song that perhaps would have suited his mood best at the end of his career was Chal Ud Jaa Rey Panchi Ke Ab Yeh Des Hua Begaana (fly away o bird, this land is turned a stranger to you now) from the 1957 “Bhabhi”.

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7 Blog Comments to “Rafi’s magic endures 25 years after death”

  1. Sagar says:

    Debjyoti shut the crap and move to a KK Forum we already have JUNKS like u present here barking abt KK and his abilities we dont need you now.

  2. Debjyoti says:

    Most of the composers preferred Kishore to Rafi as he was,is & wiil remain as the greatest singer.

  3. Kuljeet says:

    It was just that rdb favoured kishore…moreover rafi sahab was again on comeback..with two filmfares…in late 70 and early eighty…remember karz…

  4. G.N.Ansari says:

    mai iss saal mohd rafi sahab par ek magzine realise kar raha hu.mujhe iss baat ki badi khushi hai ki,mai in ke liye kuch kar raha hu.

  5. Abhinav Gharat says:

    Mohd. Rafi is the only singer till date who stand out to be the successful in mixing his own voice with all of the Actors of that time. This ability makes him the most talented singer of all times.

  6. M. Natesan says:

    I am not agree that after the onslought of kishore kumar, Rafi era had come to an end. I t just happens that kishore kumar gave a tight competition to rafi sahen with his carefree voice. He has such a smoothy voice that no singer can copy his voice in pefect. But kishore kumars voice can be copied perfectly and this is what many bollywood singers like kishore kumanus have done.

  7. skverms says:

    I like one and only muslim that is Mohammasd Rafi a very very refined singer of the century

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