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Mohammed Rafi – The Universal RATNA: setting the records straight once and for all

By Salim K

Mohd Rafi

Mohd Rafi

Mohammed Rafi is a name that takes a few seconds to pronounce but the unmatched talent, achievement, success and grace of the man is so large, diverse and unique that it would take a lifetime to appreciate the miracle of God. Yes Mohammed Rafi is nothing less than a miracle and miracles are rare and do not come cheap, nor they are a daily affair and nor they have any limitations.

When Mohammed Rafi sang as a young boy in a show without a microphone in front of the legendry, Saigal, it prompted Saigal Sahab to say that Rafi would reach the pinnacle of singing and stardom. He was correct and the greatest singer was on his journey to write history, a history where he would be the only king with millions of fans all over the world beyond boundaries of nations, language, religion and color, all would form an inherent part of his “singing palace” where every word he sang would be sublime and cherished.

After nearly 4 decades of him leaving us, the king’s singing palace is still very much there and his grandeur and life is still cherished and admired as during his lifetime. The king still rules and the kings courtyard is still in attendance with millions of admirers. No one else has or ever will reside on the throne of this singing palace. He is the trendsetter and he is the conqueror, a miracle of God that still shines with all glory and brilliance. He is a Universal Ratna whose brilliance and shine is as pure as the warm sunlight on the beautiful blue ocean. The silken touch of the purest silk and the innocence of a child and the vocal beauty where nightingales envy what they have not. He was truly a royal but not a slave of royalties . He did not depend on anyone, musicians, producers or other singers. His character and persona was also beyond the ordinary. He was above petty politics, coteries, jealousy, music charts, number game and other petty issues. His brilliance could not be stopped by the forces of darkness that has tried for many years hopelessly to tar the shine of these brilliant phenomena called Mohammed Rafi.

These forces of darkness are again in action with their cowardly accusations. These mongrels have failed in the past and they will fail now and they will keep failing in future for darkness of lies, jealousy and ignorance is short lived. Mohammed Rafi was a man of God, soft, gentle and an absolute gentleman. However as Rajesh Roshan once said,” with all his softness and gentleness, he was full of passion when it came to singing, he was very passionate in his heart about his work “. It was this passion and unmatched talent that led to a revolution in the world of playback singing. Every sur, every range, every scale, every mood, every genre, every melody, every emotion and every heart was conquered in this revolution that continues to today and will continue as long as there is singing in this world. As Naushad rightly said, the unmatched skills of Mohammed Rafi allowed music directors to go beyond the ordinary to greater creativity, they had now more liberty to break the chains of mediocrity and deliver great and challenging compositions for they had the only complete singer to deliver the un-deliverable. One of the key features of songs of Mohammed Rafi is his ability to take the song to an all new level, a level that was beyond all singers who looked upon him as their Guru and inspiration.

The voice of Mohammed Rafi has played a significant role in the success of many music directors, actors, writers , producers and music companies. It helped them to launch their careers the most notable modern day music director whose career was built due to the contribution of Mohammed Rafi was Rahul Dev Burman, how ironic this fact is no easily ignored when the so called well wishers and so called fans of Rahul Dev Burman spell out the greatness of RD Burman. It is also a known fact that a handful of those music directors who had bias against Mohammed Rafi had their careers curtailed due to their naïve and bias attitude. It is well documented that the success of many across the bollywood industry has Mohammed Rafi as the common factor of their success. I cannot think of anyone having such an impact across the board and across such a long span of time.

Mohammed Rafi sang for all stars, big or small, he blessed the music of all types of music directors and even play-backed for other singers, a true testimony of his unmatched greatness and respect and reverence he had from his peers. He mentored many of the singers and provided opportunities for them compared to other so called great singer who was threatened by every new singer that came along.

He never differentiated between anyone like some singers who used to not sing for lesser known music directors . He never sold his art for money like some singers did, and we all know who they are. He never cared where his name came in the list of playback singers in movie titles when other singers used to not sing unless they got the highest billing. This shows how confident and secured he was compared to other singers one of who has got the Bharat Ratna but still suffers from insecurity.

Mohammed Rafi did not claim anything, he did not have to for a true king does not claim. People who claim are the ones suffering from insecurity and inferiority complex. They claim all sorts of things that may or may not have happened. It is sad to see some past singers are still in a dark frame of mind and are insulting their own achievements. The current disgraceful outburst of the so called nightingale is an example of this darkness that I am hinting to. Titles like “nightingale and bharat ratna” are meaningless when they do not demonstrated in actions. Even a genuine nightingale would envy the melody that came from the vocals of Mohammed Rafi. Even the most desired ratna would feel incomplete until it was linked to the voice of Mohammed Rafi. Hence Mohammed Rafi is beyond all these titles and the number game. No Guinness book of world record can measure the happiness, peace and serenity that the voice of Mohammed Rafi has and is giving to the hearts of millions all over the world. No Guinness book of world record can measure the unmatched beauty, talent and brilliance of the unmatched singing quality of Mohammed Rafi and no Guinness book of world record can count the number of times Mohammed Rafi smiled and the number of times he made difference in the lives of people. Any author who links Mohammed Rafi with the number game is speaking falsehood.

It is sad to see how the so called nightingale and her unsecured sister, who has officially become a self appointed mouth piece for Kishore Kumar, the actor-singer who himself accepted with modesty and grace that Mohammed Rafi is the benchmark of singing and had tremendous respect for the king just like all this peers, juniors and seniors all along these years. Mukesh, Hemant Kumar, Talat Mahmood, Mahendra Kapoor, Yesudas, Shailendra, Jaspal Singh, Shabbir Kumar, Mana da, Kishore Kumar, Udit Narayan , Sonu Nigam and all others have one thing in common and that is they all regard Mohammed Rafi as the benchmark, a source of inspiration, a teacher. The same consensus is between all the great music directors and governments of several countries who have acknowledged and bestowed special rewards in the name of Mohammed Rafi. Hence Mohammed Rafi is a universal icon, a universal ratna.

Hence there is a consensus across the board whether one likes it or not. Hence any attempt to change this fact is an act of desperation and ignorance. Any such futile attempt to change the truth would appear as desperate, mischievous and reflects volumes of the darkness that I have hinted in this article. Shailendra Singh, a great admirer of Mohammed Rafi said lately, he learnt from Mohammed Rafi not only the nuances of singing but also to be a truly great singer, one has to be also a truly good and decent person and that’s where these so called legendry singers in question have failed miserably. Here is one incident that I am privy of. Mohammed Rafi was once coming from a recording and he saw a struggling singer of yesteryears walking on the street looking in not a good shape. Mohammed Rafi stopped the car and asked him to enter, he then quietly put the 10,000 rupees he got from the recording in the carry bag of the singer. All this was seen by my uncle who was in the car too. He asked Rafisahab, why he did that and why not give the money in his hands. Rafisahab said, :if I had given him the money near you, I would have embarrassed him and hence I put the money quietly in his bag”.

Mohammed Rafi is not just a singer but a universal ratna, a universal singing school, a gharana that created and strengthened the foundations of HFM and through this made his voice the anthem for the singing world, An anthem of beautiful notes, incredible melody, unmatched variety, unmatched success and unmatched achievements, unmatched inspiration for others, unmatched love and peace through his voice in hearts of real people and unmatched modesty and respect, this is Mohammed Rafi, an unmatched phenomena.

Come to the world of Mohammed Rafi, sit back and enjoy the purity and brilliance of this great voice, a voice that is an anthem for the all singers past, present and future.

(*Please note through this article I am not only echoing my views but views of many Rafians who are very passionate and rightly upset and disgusted by the recent developments)

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31 Blog Comments to “Mohammed Rafi – The Universal RATNA: setting the records straight once and for all”

  1. shakel ahmed says:

    Men will come and men will go but not rafi saheb not a single day passes with out listening to him his voice is like basic needs such as air and water

  2. shammi says:

    dear salimji,
    I totally agree with all your article and feel that mohd rafi was not recognised for bringing decades of joy to millions through his music the people in india who make these decisions should feel ashamed of themselves for honouring people who in most peoples minds are not worthy of bharat ratna and leaving mohd rafi the god of music out. Sunny leone gets more praise and attention and judging by the tastes of the people who make the decisions on the awards she is more likely to get one than people who really deserve them!

    Lata has most definately not done herself any favours lately she may be described as having a nightingales voice but obviously her heart is ugly.

  3. Santanu Banerji says:

    Md Rafi is the greatest play male playback singer till date. There is no doubt about it absolutely. We all urge upon the Govt of india to confer him with the honour of bharat ratna as soon as possible. However, it remains intriguing and obscure how could kishore kumar surpass him lfor 5 or 6 years in the early 70? How one person, RD Burman could turn the table in favour of Kishore kumar, all by himself? What other MDs were doing ( of course Madan mohun was an exception)? What role did Jeetendra, Dharmendra Sashi and Sanjeev kumar were playing, whose carear hogged the lime light only with the help of the great singer singing for them throughout the 1960s? What actually happened to the great SD Burman, who called kishoreji to sing for him only on 2 or 3 occasions till 1969, ( since his preference to Md Rafi since 1957) suddenly sidelined great Md Rafi and shifted altogether towards Kishore kumar after Aradhan? How RD, his son, could influence him so heavily that he was compelled to renounce Md Rafi altogether in early 70s?

  4. Ahamed Kutty says:

    my humble request to govt.of india or the authorities who
    are the body to select the highest civilian award “Bharath
    ratna” that before conferring to anybody we should see
    the culture or habits of the person otherwise it will
    degrade the prestigious award.

    if a person is great in his performances and if he/she
    is very bad in dealing with others – always quarrelling
    with others,what is the use of giving such awards to
    such persons?

  5. Prem Sagar says:

    I am currently listening to “Kya hua tera waada” have heard this song 1000s of times. its always so soothing to ears. whenever i feel stressed, i listen to his songs. his voice, his songs give peace to soul.

  6. salimk says:

    post 17, 18, 19 – thank you for your feedback.

  7. Andrea Correa says:

    The Day Lata bai told lies about Jaikishan, SD Burman and Mohd Rafi – her misfortune began.

    Shahid Rafi has promised to take her to court and Lata bai will take Bhupen Hazarikas wife to court.

    So, the Bharat Ratna will be in the courts at age 82 fighting Legal Battle which she began.

    The govt must take Note of this and decide whether she can Keep the title of Bharat Ratna with her pending her cases.

  8. salimk says:

    post 19 and 20, thanks and i agree with both of you.

    Post 17, binu bhai it just shows how foolish and desperate people are. There is something called as logic and it seems to be missing.

  9. Salrafi says:

    Very well written Saleembhai,
    A divine talent would show divinity in everything they do. Rafi Saab did that. He is the only divine singer, a god sent. As said god was so overwhelmed by his own creation he called Rafi back early. Our loss is gods gain, he would be enjoying Rafi Voice in heaven.

  10. r l arora says:

    Dear Salim ji

    Truly speaking there has not been any playback singer in the whole bollywood who can be compared with our beloved Mohd. Rafi Saab. He was not only the super-best in singing but he was thoroughly a genle, soft-spoken, kind-hearted,cultured and a best human being. He had all the qualities which almighty God gives to a best humanbeing and whom God truly loves.

    Those who are jealous of him they are just speaking the bull-shit. actually they know Rafi Saab’s superiority over them. these people are only jealous of his best quality as a singer and as a best human being.They are grumbling now.

    You wont believe that I like to listen only those songs which hv our greatest Rafi Saab’s voice. yes i dont mind if there is some other singher’s voice with Rafi Saab’s voice but Rafi Saab’s voice in the song is a must.

    My best regars to you sir,

    r l arora

  11. Binu Nair says:

    Due to delay in Moderation, comments are held up and lost……

    Editor pls note this Urgently.

  12. Binu Nair says:

    One More Lie……………

    Screen dated Nov 2….Page 15 creates a big record for Lata Mangeshkar.

    It says she has sung 50,000 songs……..whereas the number may not cross even the 6000 mark.

    If lata didi has indeed sung 50 K songs then for 40 years continuously, she has to sing about 3 songs daily.
    no sundays, no holidays, no foreign tours, no interviews, no rehearsals, hardly time for riyaaz, no eating out etc etc etc……

    Indian express and Screen owners to note how capable their editor is …. or how incapable they are professionally.

  13. kamini says:

    Salim bhai

    You have written a very beautiful piece with so much love and dedication. Mohd Rafi is a shinning star in many ways. I remember how he used to smile and sing with so much passion and love.

    Lata is very good in many songs but not all songs and ditto for her nutty sister. We used to hear stories about how these sisters were jealous of Mod Rafi and it seems all those urban legends were in fact the truth.

    Thank you, no other website of any singer has such quality and active participation so why worry about a few ignorant radio channels when there are millions of hits on Mohd Rafi songs on you tube. Go to any village or town and ask anyone who is the best singer, 99% will say Mohd Rafi and 1% Kumar Sanu.

  14. AKHTAR says:

    Status or no status, can anyone produce a singer like our Rafi Saab, he was the true gift that was sent to this world. even after all our passing, the world will still look back and reflect on that voice he/she hears on the radio and sit back and listen with an attentive ear to that magical voice coming from the speakers. At some point they will ask. “who is this beautiful voice am i listening to”.

    Without Rafi saab,s voice, life itself would be empty, life will be like a mistake.
    Rafi saab will remain the BEST SINGER EVER.

  15. Pravin B Dave says:

    A very appropriate article for the anger caused by the supposedly great singer’s interview. Rafi saab is God’s voice. Full stop.

  16. salimk says:

    Thank you all, it is very humbling to read all the wonderful comments and emotions.

    To be honest at no stage i thought i was writing something, it simply poured out the way it really is.

    Nasreen Sister, thank you for reading and giving your views, it is really wonderful to have you here along with all these wonderful people.

    Bhagchandani bhai ,thank you, you are yourself a very astute writer and very knowledgable so I really appreciate what you say.

    Irfan bhai, you are correct in your observations, thank you. Javed bhai, Hassan Bhai and others thank you.

    No earthly gloss can match up to the pure brightness and majesty of the sun, Rafisaab’s class and brilliance is like the sun whereas others in questions are just like an artificial gloss that is exposed with time.

    To be honest, i have been listening to music for over 40 years and i knew the first time i heard many singers, both here and overseas that Rafisaab was unique, an incredible phenomena and that view i still hold to date.

    I like many other singers for various reasons but I love Rafisaab for all reason. My father loved Talat and Suriyaa but he had a special corner for Rafisaab. My mother liked Talat too but always used to say, Rafisaab ki baat aur hai!!!

    My sister has many songs of Kishore Kumar who she really enjoys hearing but she says, Rafisaab is Rafisaab.

  17. Mohammed Irfan says:

    Thanks a lot Salim Saahab for your article that ‘just as Rafi Saab’s nature’ makes a point without stooping low.A factor most of the so called greats have shown doesn’t exist in them.They are so insecured by RafiSaab’s legacy of songs that by their acts and words they themselves are doing deeds which will remove their artificial masks that they have put on themselves since decades.

    As Rafi saab had so rightly sung long back.

    “Dekhe in nakli chehro ki , kab tak jai jai kar chale
    ujale kapdo ki teh mein , kab tak kala sansar chale
    kab tak logon ki nazron se, chhupi haqeeqat chhupi rahe
    nakli chehra samne aaye , asli surat chhupi rahe ”

    Just Today I read an article about the legendary Bhupen Hazarika and the Nightingale.Although I felt bad that at such an age her character would come under cloud, I sense it is nature’s way of providing justice to those who had been wronged by her.

  18. Ali says:

    Even after 32 years of his demise,we could not find a singer like him I think this is the best award to Mohd Rafi by God,yes Mohd Rafi is the Universal RATNA and will be for ever Inshallah………………….

  19. J.K. Bhagchandani says:

    Dear Salim Bhai,

    A very nice article you have written, coming straight from the bottom of your heart, though at places hard hitting, which was absolutely apt and was very much required in the circumstances of last couple of weeks. I have often maintained that the lady has maa saraswati residing in her throat… but only when she is singing… other times… well I leave it for the readers to conclude.

    Rafi saab was the most complete package of music, of humanity, of true and honest professionalism, of camaraderie, of peace and tranquility.

    Looking forward to more write-ups from your pen.

    -J.K. Bhagchandani

  20. Nasreen says:

    Dear Salim Sahab

    I read your article just now and every line in it brims with love and adoration for our great Rafi Sahab, who, as you so aptly described, is a universal ratna. So what if they won’t give him a Bharat Ratna, how does that matter to him. The real achievement, even without trying on his part, is that billions of people are listening to him every day and realiising his greatness. Rafi shows are held in every part of the globe. They will never stop as long as this world exists.

    As Mr. U. K. Achan says in post 3, he has passed on his love of Rafi Sb. to his son born in 1992. Imagine. This is proof that Rafi Sahab’s voice will live on eternally. I myself have discovered his greatness more in recent years, i.e. after his death than when he was alive. And the Rafi show that we held here was a kind of shraddhanjali to him. Many people have told me that they found themselves crying while the show was going on, they loved the simplicity and the deep love we felt for Rafi Sahab came through. Your article is like that, it does not mention any songs of Rafi Sahab – because after all, every song is great ! We are all his fans, we know that it’s his voice rather than the song itself. In many instances, the same song has been sung by two singers. “Mere Mehboob tujhe” is one example. Lata did her best and sounds very good, but which one would we choose to listen to ? Which voice do we think of straightaway when someone mentions this song? I rest my case.

    However, the main thing is this: we keep our love for Rafi Sahab going, we let others know, especially the younger generation – otherwise they will be missing out on something really beautiful and their lives will be that much emptier.

    Thank you for the article, you are right, all Rafi Sb. lovers feel the same things about him, but only some can express it appropriately. So thanks for people like you who can.

    Salaam – Nasreen

  21. salimk says:

    thanks everyone for their kind words, like i said enjoy the Rafisaab experience and ignore the unwanted loud distractions.

    Post 6, I am humbled thank you.

  22. Jawad Rana says:

    Dear salimji,
    Excellent write up, you have stated facts and nothing else, but due to your name people will say its biased, as you know that Sonu Niigaam who praises him a lot and calls him his mentor but when it came to the crunch he paid a tribute to him by naming it “Rafi Resurrected” ensuing as if people had forgotten him and only due him singing his songs that Rafi saab has has been resurrected, and in the booklet the main emphasis was to declare that with Kishore Kumar’s ascendancy Rafi’s dominance came to an end, this is the tribute they are paying to the greatest singer ever, if Sonu was his true disciple then he should have objected to all the crap written, that shows how small these singers are as human being in comparison with Rafi saab, as you know when ever Asha je has to praise Rafi jee she reminds everyone how she defeated rafi jee in a competition among-st the music director her and rafi jee, no matter what they say rafi saab is and will remain the greatest singer to be born in India full stop.

  23. Binu Nair says:

    Very nicely summed up – salim ji.

    The Passion for Rafi Saaheb songs and his personae remain Unsurpassed.

    While millions love Rafi Saaheb, there are few who are jealous of his rising and growing popularity.

    The Bharat Ratna awardee tried to slander Rafi saaheb along with Jaikishan and SD Burman on her 88th birthday and see what has happened to her. Music lovers are up against her slandering habit and petty politicking.

    The author must be thinking of the above issue i suppose in the ending lines – about recent developments.

    The latest development is reported on 4th Nov in hindustan times and in DNA and some channels about the person in discussion.

    Thanks for a neat write-up on Rafi Saaheb Salim bhai.

  24. K P Hassan says:

    Dear Salimji,
    Your article itself illustrate the image of our legendary singer RAFI SAHEB. Besides his lovely voice, everybody praises his simplicity and generosity also. In my opinion, RAFI SAHEB was actually deserved for the highest civilian award ‘BHARAT RATNA’ or the title as ‘SANGEET SAMRAT’ for his contribution to Indian music, but he deprived of it. Don’t mind. Now our RAFI SAHEB’ is the UNIVERSAL ICON and UNIVERSAL RATNA in the eyes of millions of music lovers around the World.
    Hope we can read more attractive article about RAFI SAHEB in future also

  25. Ahamed Kutty says:

    dear salimji,
    it was very interesting to read the article.after 32 years of his
    demise,we could not find a singer like this modern era
    of changes in each and every seconds,it is not a small thing
    to be number one in singing as well as keeping the personality the whole world of art it is rafi saab.we cannot think
    for a substitute.

    singers who know about music and the ranges will always with
    rafi saab since they know their limitations.that is why mannada
    told he will be happy if he could achieve 50% of what rafi saab
    achieved and the lists are so many.i must say the singer about
    whom some of his fans are saying popular singer is existing
    because of rafi saab since these dirty people are sleepless
    to make their singer number one.only one word for that

  26. A S MURTY says:

    Salimji. this is straight from your heart and how telling. you have writen one of the finest articles – pure, simple and yet comprehensive. No one could have described the persona of Rafi Sahab as you have done. This made a very good reading.


    Great work. It is indeed desperate attempts by the non-believers.Our king will always remain a king, no matter what others have to say, for god knows what unbelievable reasons.

  28. Champaka Megharaj says:

    well said & beautifully written, Salim bhai !! yes, Art & Music are beyond religion, caste & creed. beyond everything. Its the purest of pure !! Love Rafi sab for being the ultimate in music. more so in being pure! long live rafi sab.

  29. u k achan says:

    I ,like billion others,am lucky to have been in the same time period when Rafi Saab was alive.I have passed on this immense wealth to my son who was born
    in 1992.Rafi saab is beyond any measure to grade him.I was born in 1953 and have been listening to his songs since the age of three….even now I come across songs I have not heard before……so where does records come in?.Rafi
    Saab is really gift of god to mankind.He is beyond titles and judgements.When he is cheaply criticized it hurts badly…but since dawn dogs have always barked at the Sun

  30. snehal says:

    Salim ji, what an excellent write up, so factual and hard hitting, well done. I agree Lata may be famous but she is not great.

  31. umesh says:

    wah bhai, very passionate and inspired piece and with beautiful use of words to describe the legend who seems to be the right candidate for bharat ratna.

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