You're browsing: Home / Meri awaaz suno / Phoolon Ki Narmi, Sholon Ki Garmi

Phoolon Ki Narmi, Sholon Ki Garmi

This article is written by Mr. Anwar-ul-Haque

Mohd Rafi

Mohd Rafi

All the words and terms have different level of significance associated with them. Take any term and you will find that same term has different levels for different things or situations. A man with fever is hot, fire in stove is hot and the sun is also hot. All these things are hot, but level of hotness is different for all of them. This is the reason why we use comparative degrees of words. For our example, it would be hot, hotter and hottest.

We used the term “versatile” for many singers, but who is the most versatile of them; like the sun is the hottest thing (probably) of our universe. To decide the same, let us review the term itself. The word “versatile” came from the Latin word versātilis which is derived from versārÄ« means “to turn”. So versatile means, “Capable of turning competently from one task, subject or occupation to another.”

From the meaning or definition, notice the word “competently”. For being versatile, one should be competent (properly equipped, capable) in turning from one task to another. If simply turning from one task to another would be the versatility, then even I would also be versatile singer; after all I can sing any type of song in my bath room.

So the one, who is most competent in singing any type of song or any form of music, will be the most versatile singer.

Muhammad Rafi was first recognized as the singer who can sing high-pitched songs very well. This specialty of Rafi Sahab’s singing was noticed and appreciated during initial decades (40’s) of his singing. In fact according to the legendary musician Naushad, music directors of that time were instructed by film producers that every film should be contained at least one high-pitched song in Rafi Sahab’s voice. So it is evident that Rafi Sahab was the best choice amongst all singers in high pitch songs. And this fact is established well before Rafi Sahab shown his true potential in high pitch singing.

During next decades, Rafi Sahab sang songs in very high notes beautifully with ease and comfort. How any one can forget many songs from films like Baiju Bawra, Mughl-e-Azam, Mere Huzoor, Hathi Mere Sathi etc? These songs are the classical example of Rafi Sahab’s ability of singing in extreme high notes. These songs show, how one can sing high pitch songs effortlessly without deterioration of voice. In fact, Rafi Sahab reached few steps further; he can not only save his voice from any sort of deterioration during high notes, but also he can control his voice and even show his emotions during these high notes. This is the unique ability of Rafi Sahab’s singing. Many singers can sing high-pitch songs well, many can save their voices from distortion; but how many can control their voices as Rafi Sahab did.

Mohd Rafi and Suman Kalyanpur during the recording of song for film Bombay Lab in 1973. Courtesy: Suman Sugand Book

Mohd Rafi and Suman Kalyanpur during the recording of song for film "Bombay Lab" in 1973. Courtesy: Suman Sugand Book

Take example of song Ae muhabbat zinda baad from the film Mughl-e-Azam. The song is composed by Naushad and the lyrics are penned by Shakil Badayoni. In last stanza, there is a line Jis ke dil mein piyar na ho, wo patther hai insaan kahan, which is sung twice. Listen the second time Rafi Sahab sang insaan kahan. It is on extreme high note that any one can achieve. Furthermore at the end of song, the chorus of hundred peoples singing Ae muhabbat zinda baad and Rafi Sahab’s voice is amazingly higher than all those hundred voices. It can be considered as the highest level of voice achieved by any singer.

Take example of song Keh do koi na kare yahan piyar from the film Goonj Uthi Shehnayi. The song is written by Bharat Vyas and beautifully composed by Vasant Desai. The same line (Keh do koi na…) is sung on very high note at the end of song. Listen the word piyar at the end and feel that how astonishingly, Rafi Sahab is able to express his emotions and feelings in this word piyar (love). In addition to this, the last aar in the word piyar is awesome. Rafi Sahab amazingly sweetened / softened his voice as the last aar progresses. This is the highest control any one can achieve on his voice.

In performing arts when any one capability or specialty of some body is highlighted, it is often seen that that capability is stamped on the person and that person does not able to emit from this stamp. This is true for both actors and singers, but it was not the case with Rafi Sahab. After his fame as high-pitched singer, soon he was able to convince the musicians that he can sing the low-pitched songs too very well. And then he showed how the lowest possible singing can be done.

The voice control and showing emotions in very low notes is also as difficult as in high notes and Rafi Sahab posses this capability too. The songs from Guide, Dastak, Intiqam, Jaal etc. are the examples of extreme low-pitches that can be sung. Rafi Sahab sang these songs with great voice control and showing his emotions effortlessly in them. He, again, moved a step forward and be able to sing high notes with low voice! This is the most unique ability of Rafi Sahab which can not be shown by any other singer.

Mohd Rafi on Stage

Mohd Rafi on Stage

Take the example of a lovely duet Meri dunya mein tum aayeen from the film Heer Ranjha with another great singer Lata Mangeshker. The song is written by Kaifi Aazmi and composed by Madan Mohan. The song is in very low pitch and demands very low voice, as two lovers are meeting in night and do not want to make any noise so that no one can know about their meeting. Both singers sung the song greatly showing their abilities of singing in extreme low notes. However by careful listening of song, one can easily track-out a fact. Both singers started the song with very low voice. Rafi Sahab used his low voice through-out the song; whereas Lata ji, at some places, raised her voice which is against the requirement of song. In my opinion, this was not intentionally, but it is with the momentum or thrust of song that Lata ji could not keep her voice lower at some places.

Furthermore, there are some high notes in the song. The tune of words sath liye, raat liye, baat liye is in higher notes. Listen carefully how these words are sung by both the singers and you will be amazed. Lata ji sang the tune as is without attempted to keep her voice low during these high notes; whereas Rafi Sahab amazingly sang these high notes in lower voice. Lata ji is also an expert of low-pitch singing, but Rafi Sahab sung this song in a voice lower than even Lata ji’s. This shows that Rafi Sahab has lowest voice that any one can have.

Forget about ghazal singing; forget about classical singing; forget about fast-paced singing; forget about qawwali singing; forget about comic singing; forget about folk singing; forget about any other style of singing; Rafi Sahab is the most versatile singer considering only the high-pitched and low-pitched singing. And there is no doubt about that…

In the words of Sahir, the low-pitch singing of Rafi Sahab can be considered as Phoolon ki narmi and the high-pitch singing can be thought as Sholon ki garmi. Then we can say that (sorry from Sahir Ludhianvi to amend his words):

Teri sada mein phoolon ki narmi, sholon ki garmi

Tujh sa nahin koi fankar hi, Muhammad Rafi

Or in the words of Hasrat Jaipuri, same can be considered as Shabnam and Shola:

Ae Saqi-e-mae khana, shola bhi ho shabnam bhi

But our paimana is not khali from beautiful songs and we have no any shikayet from Rafi Sahab.

Proclaim your love for Rafi Sahab on twitter

Post your Comment on this Blog

If your comments hit the moderation queue, comments will be moderated within 7 days.

17 Blog Comments to “Phoolon Ki Narmi, Sholon Ki Garmi”

  1. biman baruah says:

    respected anwar ji

    thanks for a great topic with instance of great songs well defining rafi saheb’s versatility. He was the only versatile singer of HFM with real “phoolon ki narmi and sholon ki garmi. great job anwar saheb. we expect more lines from you in future.

    with thanks & regards

  2. Bina says:

    Anwar jer:

    Only today I was listening to Aaj Ki Raat badi Shokh and was reminded of your article. Rafi Saab ki aawaaz ke liye jo phoolon ki narmi aap keh rahe the woh is gaane mein khoob dikhayi deta hai. Your article highlights that aspect of rafi saab’s singing that no one can ever argue against.

    Guruji and Narayanji, your inputs of Rafi Saab’s 70s period are very well researched and intense and delightful for us Bhakts. I think you are right in saying that Binaca Geet Mala n Aap Ki Farmaish played a big hand in KK’s rise to stardom as did Rafi’s becoming a Haji.

    KK got his due because he is a very good singer himself, and as in the well known line that luck favors the brave, Rafi Saab too proved it in his outstanding songs of the 70s. Who can forget tum jo and apni aankhon mein basakar sung during this period.


  3. Utthara says:

    Anwarji, you have chosen a really hatke topic. Great sir. Like you said Rafi is a very versatile singer. He could singer both high octaves and low-pitched songs without any effort. And you have brought out this magic of his with several examples. For the high-pitched song, there is Subha na aayi wherein the end he says Aajao aajao…Rafi saab is splendid here.

    Thank you for a fine article



  4. unknow says:

    Sir Satyajit
    There was anti mohd rafi groups in Bollywood
    People like Dilip Kummar,Dev Ananad,Dharam ji ,RD,SD and many more who was hit because of Mohd Rafi they switch to KK(KK was great singer).
    If we make the list of songs from 1970 to 1980 we will see that Mohd Rafi sang more than any other male singer,In 1980 Mohd Rafi sang only for 8 months but he sang more songs than KK and others singers….
    Only in 1970’s there was only Madan Mohan was with mohd Rafi and naushand was not giving music…also LP used Mohd Rafi whenever other singer was not able to sing that song..O P Nayar said in 1970’s give me one film I will show you who is Mohd rafi!!!!
    Media play the biggest role to side line Mohd Rafi but they was not able as they did with Mr Bachchan…..
    when KK asked by media that you are in Mohd rafi place now,The KK answer was that you don’t know about music I am Mohd Rafi fan..
    Please Make list of songs sang by mohd rafi from 1970 to 1975 you will see that mohd rafi was the top.
    1970’s the top actor was Rajesh Khanna and Mr Bachchan that help KK but when ever there was mohd Rafi song was hit also Mohd Rafi sang for B grade,C grade films and none filmi songs that was his greatness
    Mohd Rafi was there in 1970’s ,1980’s 1990’s and will be for ever

  5. Mohammed Irfan says:

    A very nice article explaining in simple words and nice examples of the intricacies of High and low notes.

    Be it any note and any octate, rafisaab’s voice had it enveloped in the emotions that were demaded by the characteristic of the song.

    To start on a low note and reach a crescendo is a skill that is aspired by all singers and few achieve it but it was only Rafisaab who could do that without sounding hoarse even for a fraction of second.

    Another point I would like to mention is how difficult it might be to start a song at a higher scale, maintain it for a period keeping the voice quality intact as well as emoting the feelings before descending to a lower note.

    No one can better Rafisaab.Subhan Allah

    Listen to this song

  6. binu nair says:

    is this satyaji a bachha to say – some say, some say and some others say. what you think and what your ears hear – is the truth.

    dont ever depend on some say and others said stuff. please believe in your ears.

    binu nair… mumbai rafi foundatiion…

  7. Manish Kumar says:

    that question has been beaten to death and grown like a weed in so many articles. if you are so anxious to know about it – just check the true voice or rd burman thread and you’ll get all the different angles possible.

  8. Narayan says:

    Dear Satyajit,
    In the 70s like any devout Musalaman Rafi sahab went to holy pilgrimage to the pure n revered holy place Mecca n Madina.. and became a Hajiyaar.
    There few clergy priests referred to him that singing is un islamic and Rafi sahab got misguided by the views. At the same time many producers like Shakti Samanta wanted to finish the film Aradhana very soon and the music director Sachinda was ill. It is believed that Panchamda his son was un officially given the responsiblity and since Rafi sahab was not available n keen KK got the offer. After that in the 4-5 years of 70s also Rafi sahab was busy in his family settings in London and not very keen do playback ,the hit songs got reduced compared to his 60s,
    But later from advise of Naushad saab and other wellwishers he began to sing like before and hence made a glorious comeback in the 76/77 which no one had done in the film industry, Maybe Amitabh will be the 2nd person to emulate Rafi sahab

  9. AHAMED KUTTY says:

    dear anwarji,
    nice article indeed.for music lovers,rafi saab’s each quality
    is an open book to study and to make a study
    easily but to practice it is very difficult.we have singers
    with very sweet voices but in low pitches the voice
    of mahendra kapoor is changing in high pitches.veteran singer
    yesudas have very attractive sound.he had sung a song in a
    malayalam movie “aaraam thampuran” and song is a typical
    one and treasure for malayalm that song when it
    reaches high pitch,the sweetness of his voice is changing.

  10. pmc thangal says:

    hi sajit, nothing happened to rafi in 1970’s. he live calmly and peacefully as before.remember the fact that rafi saab was the undisputed master singer for 3 decades ie in 1940’s,50’s and 60’s. the lovers of other singers were envious to rafi as for his superb position in the field of singing.they got a great chance when the kishore songs of “aradhana”become super hit.they create a duplicate type of popularity to kishore kumar’s songs in major cities of india .to some extand anti rafi groups got much support from the mds,producers ,heroes this stage rafi saab’s chances had fallen much . but he had not ready to “ding” those who keep aloof him . he cocentrate his time to sing non filim songs and live programmes at abroad.thank you anwar sab for presenting this wonderful article . expecting much more this type from you in future.

  11. Dear Anwar Ul Haque,
    Adaab Rafi,
    Thanks for writing the extraordinary article ” Phoolon Ki Narmi – Sholon Ki Garmi ” . Really no doubt Rafi Sahib was the versatile singer in that universe.
    The high pitch song which is sung by rafi sahib very comfortable and low pitch song is also sung by very super power. The song which is sung by rafi sahib
    ” Man Re Tu Kaahe Na Dhir Dhare Tu Nirmohi Moh Naa Jaane Jinka Moah Kare” that bhajan is sung by rafi sahib in very low pitch so tough for any singer. I always comparison the Rafi Sahib singing with the Sangeet Samrat
    TANSEN & BAIJU BAWRA, because rafi sahib is capable to sing all variety song. God has specially sent the rafi sahib on that universe for serving the music and spread the Indian classical music, Western music, pop music all the world. I request all the singer those who think that they are versatile singer firstly they try to become a true human being after that they become a great singer as like as Legendary RAfI SAHIB.
    Thanks & Regards,
    Suresh Chauhan

  12. H.V.GURU MURTHY says:


    The reasons were many. As one of the Rafi fans who experienced that period with utter disappointment and having read so many articles on the subject, I deduce the following.

    1. Rafi was told during one of his visits to Haj that singing is not permitted religiously. Rafi, the religious, took it seriously and went to London and stayed there for nearly 8 months and did not come to India to record any songs. Meanwhile KK took over in Rafi’s absence. Otherwise, Rafi, who had already recorded two songs for Aradhana was suppose to record all the songs of the movie but Rafi’s loss was KK’s gain. The songs became hits, making KK the voice of the then heart-throb Rajesh Khanna and KK’s career graph zoomed.
    2. KK already had his backers in SDB, RDB, etc. who after this period for quite some time completely turned to KK and ignored Rafi. Incidentally songs of KK started zooming in hit song parades like Binaca Geet Mala and Aap Ki Farmaish in Radio Ceylon further increasing the popularity of KK.
    3. Perhaps the audience also wanted a change and they found KK’s voice fresh. Even established Rafi heroes like Jeetendra, Dharmendra, Sanjay, Shashi, etc. turned to KK.
    4. When Rafi came back and was ready for recording, KK had become no. 1 sought after singer, and Rafi took some time to make up.
    5. But the quality of his songs never suffered and in fact, I have listed his quality songs during that operiod in two of my artticles in the same web site, i.e. “Quality songs from Rafi’s so called lean period” and “Those five years”, links for which are given below.

    It is clear from a glance of Rafi songs during those 5 years that there was nothing wrong with either his voice or his singing capability, but a combination of events, luck, politics, etc. played their part. However, after 1976, Rafi again came back to the place where he belonged, i.e. ‘the top’.

  13. Dr. Khaja Aliuddin says:

    Janab Anwar-ul-Haque Saheb,
    As usual great article with a great title. Congratulations. It is always pleasure and interesting to read your “tahreer”.
    With referance to post#1. As per Mr. Saleem-ul-Haq’s “Biography of Mohd. Rafi”, Rafi Sahab had Insulin dependant diabetes mellitus and obesity. He never had lung problems. In 70’s, I don’t think anything happened to his voice.Actually he came with a big roar in 70’s in the movies like Laila Majnu, Sargam etc. Janab Gurumurthy wrote a nice article about this. Please read this article in this forum.
    With regards to all Rafi lovers,
    Long live Rafi Sahab,
    Dr. Khaja Aliuddin

  14. mani kumar pandey says:

    I really liked this one this artical shared me the knowledge I required. About high pitch singing and low pitch singing, my profuse thanks to Mr. Anwar ul Haque for this tretise. I this would be helpfull to all readers too.

  15. mohamed parvez says:


  16. Anil Cherian says:

    Here’s a song in which Rafi sahab goes even higher than ‘Mohabbat zindabad’:
    ‘Mohabbat zindabad’ is a stupendous song song too, (very well described by Anwarji), here it is:

  17. satyajit swadi says:

    these articles interest me a lot! But I really fail to understand as to WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENNED TO RAFI SAAB’S VOICE IN THE 70’S. Some say he had ‘lung’ problems; some say he was busy doing shows abroad; some say that his career was almost on the verge of decline on account of Kishore Kumar! Please… somebody tell me the exact reason! I am quiet anxious to know about this!

Post your Comment on Facebook

Receive updates in your inbox. Enter your email address:

Other Writeups

Social Collaboration