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Remembering Mohammad Rafi on his death anniversary

By Souvik Chatterji

Remembering Mohammed Rafi on his 34th Death Anniversary

The listeners of music all over the world remember the all-time great singer Mohammad Rafi on 31st July, 2014. The noble soul had left his admirers 34 years ago. Yet he is alive in numerous everlasting hit songs which are heard and cherished for generations.

The Poll in History TV relating to 100 years of Indian cinema was erroneous. Mohammad Rafi got the maximum amount of votes yet he was adjudicated as best singer jointly with Kishore Kumar. Firstly those admirers of Mohammed Rafi who had listened to his great songs in the 1940s and 1950s, may not have voted at all, because many of them were not computer-friendly. Otherwise he would have received 10 crores votes more from across the world. The bigger factor is the musical giants in the form of composers of 1940s, 1950s and 1960s had expired. So the view of Naushad Ali, or Shankar Jaikishan, or Madan Mohan Kohli or Roshanlal Nagrath or OP Nayyar had not been taken. Neither the view of lyricists Sahir Ludhianvi, Shailendra and others were taken. All of them would have unanimously said Mohammed Rafi was the greatest singer ever to have graced Indian soil.

A Mohammad Rafi Musical Academy should be opened in Mumbai. The aim and objective of the Academy should be to train singers in the art of playback singing. The way Pune Film and Development Institute had created acting talents like Om Puri, Shabana Azmi and others, in the same way Mohammed Rafi Academy and appoint singers of repute from different parts of the world to train young singers in the art of playback singing.
Mohammad Rafi had been the greatest playback singer ever to have been graced the Indian soil. No other singer can even imagine about visualizing the emotions of Dilip Kumar, Shammi Kapoor, Bharat Bhushan, Pradip Kumar, Johnny Walker, all together in the same voice. After bringing about the acting quotients of the legendary actors Mohammad Rafi went one step further to fulfill the requirements of the best composers of the country like Naushad Ali, Shankar Jaikishan, Ghulam Mohammad, Roshan Lal Nagrath, Madan Mohan Kohli, OP Nayyar, to name a few, and the greatest lyricists like Shakeel Badayuni, Hasrat Jaipuri, Shailendra, Sahir Ludhianvi, Majrooh Sultanpuri, and others. Rafi’s 26000 songs are invaluable musical treasure by listening to which any singer can improve his style of singing.

It is a huge question as to how can the singing parameters of Mohammad Rafi can be instilled in the new singers, because playback singing cannot be grammatically taught. But at least the new singers can be trained in classical singing, ghazals, qawwalis and may be western style of singing also. The biggest thing is they can be made to listen to Rafi’s singing different types of songs. Few of the Indian classical singers like Suresh Wadkar, Yesudas, Hariharan, can be few names who can regularly give training to new singers.

One big requirement for the present generation is to actually listen to the wide range of songs Mohammad Rafi had sung including the non-filmi albums. With the media shifting focus towards the new generation music of modern day giants like Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Mohit Chauhan, Shreya Ghoshal, there is every possible chance of Rafi’s works not gaining media attention as majority of the works were during 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. The young generations hardly know the grand compositions of Naushad Ali, or Shankar Jaikishan; nor the urdu-based poetry of Raja Mehendi Ali Khan or Sahir Ludhianvi. So the great works of Mohammad Rafi’s generation require very strong publicity and restoration. By better knowing Mohammad Rafi’s works, Indian music can be improved, because no other playback singer in India had given adequate expression to folk songs, pure classical songs, bhajans, rock and roll songs, soft music, ghazals and other forms of Indian music the way Mohammad Rafi had done over a span of 35 years.

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23 Blog Comments to “Remembering Mohammad Rafi on his death anniversary”

  1. anurag malhotra says:

    Can any other singer sing ” Nache man mora”?….. Answer is NO. Is there a song sung by Kishore Manna De, Asha, Lata which Rafi can not sing? Again answer is NO. There is no film song which Rafi can not sing. Rather if Rafi sang songs of others, it would have some added value. He did lip singing for Mukesh because Mukesh was out of country. Mukesh returned and listened the song to re-sing. He refused to sing the song saying- I can not sing like this. Song was ” Tum hi tum ho mere jivan mein…”

  2. Mukhtar says:

    Muhammad Rafi was the best singer in the Indian music and Film Industries
    actually he was being acted on his voice, as sang the song for Jhoni Walker the voice looks like the actor the song is filmed, even Dlip Kumar, Sunil Dutt., Shammi Kapur, Dev Ananad, Rajandara Kumar, Dharmandara, Jitandar , Raj Kumar, every actors on which the songs sung by Muhammad Rafi fit on the actors.
    He sang more than 26,000 songs, but no any song matches any other song, every song having its own melody, every song has a new test. Muhammad Rafi sahib was singing the song considering the actor”s acting styles. His song for Shammi Kapur were very very stylish, as two things is doing one job one actor acting by the actions and voice of Muhammad Radi acting on best voice.

  3. M. Hussain says:

    I agree the above mentioned comments on the SHAHANSHAN E MELODY = MUHAMMAD RAFI , I would like to add the words The voices of Lata Manghashkar and Asha Bhosly became widow, as no pair male voice is not in the world of Indian music as male voice.

  4. Roy says:

    Rafi is my favourite singing idol. Lyrics are soothing and fits the mood. I would like to get the English translations though. Please facilitate at least with the popular songs and a web site.

  5. mfazam says:

    My Dear Loving fans,

    Its absolutely sinful for us muslims to hang on a picture of grave-person which is must be done by our respectable non-muslim hindutani bhai for his enormous, dedicated,deeply love-care of
    our ‘Grr8’ singer. Murhoom Rafi Saheb. If you really love so much
    until today,one should help poor families along with the children,
    orphans,destitutes,widows, handicap and muhtaj around you.I am
    sincerely sure,GOD Almighty would always Bless his ghush-haal
    life before death.We muslims should recite ‘Qul’ after every prayers
    for every muslim’s Eisaal-e-sawab without any hesitation. Blessings, Azam, Copenhagen

  6. shammi says:

    It is very true that lots of songs sung by Kishore Kumar can easily be imagined to be taken to another level and sung miuch better by Mohd Rafi but in all honesty I think very few people can even imagine kishore Kumar singing any of the great Mohd Rafi songs and there’s no way in the world he could have sung any of the songs better because after all you can’t improve on perfection which is what Mohd Rafi is all about.

    I keep saying it but you just can’t compare the two as Mohd Rafi is in a league of his own and that way above any one else.

  7. Ahamed Kutty says:

    Dear Santanu ji,
    From duet songs we cannot compare Rafi Saab with KK and
    if the sound of KK is better it is not the way to ascertain the
    capability of a singer.Even Bachanji sung well in the song
    “Chal mere bhai” from the film Naseeb with Rafi Saab.It
    is a fact in everything Rafi Saab is the best – low pitch,
    high pitch,expression and in the versatality.This is
    accepted by vetrerans like Mannadey,Mahendra Kapoor,
    Yesudas,S P Balasubrahmaniam etc.Can any KK fan
    imagine KK sung the Rafi Saab song “Oh duniyaa ke”.
    Even a low pitch as well as a simple song of KK with
    Lataji in the film “Muqaddar ka sikendar” ‘Salaami ishque’
    how Lataji beautifully rendered her lines and how KK spoiled
    the lines?The songs of KK sung for Bachan ji can be sung by
    Bachan ji himself but can we image Rishi Kapoor to sing the
    song “Pardha hai pardha”?In another duet song in the film
    Amar Akbar Antony “hum ko tum se pyaar” sung by Rafi Saab,
    Mukesh ji KK and Lataji, Rafi Saab is entering in the last part
    and we can see how his voice changes the song and what a
    Golden Voice?

  8. Santanu Bandyopadhyay says:

    There are some Kishore Kumar fans who site two songs ( duets ) of Md Rafi-Kishore duets recorded in the 1970s ( 1. Bane chahe dushman … recorded by LP and Yadoon ki barat nikli haye aaj recorded by RD, Lataji was also there ) and try to reveal that in those 2 songs KK sang better than Md Rafi sahab, or KK had sounded better. What was the reality ? First of all the LP composed one stuctured on a worst kind of tune, whih one would hardly want to listen twice, and Yadoon ki barat song ( composed by RD Burman) was no doubt a midiocre one. Yes, I admit Kishoreji’s voice sounded stronger than Md Rafi in those two ordinary songs, but never sweeter. Why? since in the 1970s great Md Rafi’s voice lost soe of its divine jingle and mesmerizing melody, if compared to his voice of 1950s and 1960s, while KK having a thiker voice copared to Md Rafi in those two songs. But if you listen to KK-Md Rafi duets in the 50s ( in OP Nayar’s Begam Bhagg) or Do akalmand (1960s), Md Rafi’s voice will never sound weaker compared to KK, and readers pl remember all these duets of KK-Md Rafi were so poorly tuned and sans melody and classical touch, Md Rafi had no scope to reveal his edge over Kishore kumar, and he never sounded weaker. Md Rafi in the upper octave had a sharp and piercing metallic range, from which KK was 1000 miles away. Secondly, in the 50s and 60s KK could only sing with Md Rafi, since being hero of the film he sang for himself and Md Rafi sang for some other actor. We should not be oblivious of the fact that in the 1950s and 60s Md Rafi sahab had ousted every great singer in the fray of becoming No.1 singer of playback singing, when Manna Dey, Talatji, Hemant Kumar, Kishore Kumar and Mukeshji all great singers were in their prime and their voice quality being at pick at that point of time. Which why Md Rafi was the most favourite of all great MDs in 50s and 60s, be it is Shankar-Jaikishan, Naushad, Roshan, Madanmohan, Ravi, Chitragupta, V.Desai, OP Nayar or even SD Burman. The latter (SD ) shifted from KK and Hemant kumar in the year 57-58 to 1965 to Md Rafi, and till Talash (1070),Md Rafi was SD Burman’s most favourite singer. SJ, OP Nayar, Ravi and Naushad were so mesmerized by his voice, that they looked upon great Md Rafi’s voice as the voice of God. To Laxmikant – Payerelal Md Rafi and Lataji were the last word of modern singing. And K-A’s Career had initially blosomed due to Md Rafi’s great rendering in Jab Jab Phool Khile. Any music lover can perceive in terms of Melody, bhajan and classical touch and sad songs, Md Rafi was far ahead of Kishore kumar. Yes, KK too, was a great singer, his depth in rendering sad songs is worth listening, but he was only capable of singing straight songs, having no subtle nuances that Md Rafi had. He had strength in his baritone voice, but strength of voice only does not make a singer greatest. In sad songs KK did make a remarkable signature, but there too he sang from his throat and timbre, not from the space of a tormenting heart, which make the listners cry, which the greatest male playback singer of India Md Rafi did. Actually, in my opinion, if Md Rafi has any real cometiter in modern music it was neither Kishore Kumar or Manna Dey, it was none other than the great Lata Mangeshkar. In terms of Romantic ‘Harkate’ Md Rafi was ahead but in the realm of melody and classical touch ? who was ahead of whom, is a million dollar question. Well, in terms of Rock and commedy songs, Md Rafi was ahead of Lataji, but that cannot be the principle signature of a great singer. I sometimes wonder why KK fans do not understand that Kishore kumar cannot be put in the same league with the greatest Md Rafi. Manna Dey understood this, he declared Md Rafi to be no. 1 singer any time, SJ understood this, Ravi, Naushad, Khayyam and even SD Burman understood this at the back of his mind, KK having been invited in Md Rafi sahab’s London Flat, had given this allusion while conversing with Md Rafi sahab that he adores his singing quality better than himself, as has been recorded by Md Rafi’s daughter-in-law in a recently written biography on Md Rafi, then why crazy fans of Kishore kumar fail to comprehend this simple fact. Thanks

  9. Shakeel Ahmed says:

    Iam speech less.I have no words.Iam poorer in words to write any thing praiseworthy about Rafi sahab.I find solace and comfort in others writing.It gives me so much pleasure reading others writeup on Rafi sahab.Rafi sahab is no more withus today but no day is passed without hearing his voice which itself is proud of Rafi saheb.Rafi saheb this is for you the letter of love is all I have no wealth have I nor fame But iam richer than a millionaire Each time I speak your name.

  10. u.k.achan says:

    It is totally unacceptable to tie Rafi Saab with any other voice.No other voice comes within the vast range;the singer in q along with his fav md who was always biased against Rafi saab (unlike his father sdb,who anyday chose Rafi
    Saab always)was always overestimated wrt quality;that guy stands nowhere in comparison with naushad/roshan/madan mohan/ravi/sapan jagan mohan….even rafi-saabs’ contemporay singers ,who got lot of hits because of Rafi saab are jealous and avoid mentioning him in interviews….though it hurt we Rafi fans understand the low mindedness of such subhumans;Rafi Saab is the only one for us.

  11. amin says:

    Even if kishore kumar would have been alive today he would have voted to Rafi sahib as best singer. Long live Rafi sahib.

  12. Dr Souvik Chatterji says:

    Dear Sudarshanji,
    thanks for the beautiful comments.
    The Poll on bollywood personalities were absolutely wrong. Superiority relating to singers especially of the classic films of 1940s, 1950s and 1960s could not be proved without the approval of the composers and lyricists and directors who had used them. Public love and affection has importance, but technical knowledge was there with the composers.

    If any composer of the golden age would have been interviewed, whether Shankar Jaikishan, or Naushad Ali, or Roshanlal Nagrath, or Madanmohan Kohli, the answer would have been the same, the versatility of singing was maximum in Rafisahab.

    These days even PhD degrees are given by certain universities on doing research on Rafisahab.

    An academy is required because there are lot of informations, evidence relating to Rafi sahab. Strong restoration and preservation is required.

    Warm regards

  13. Raj says:

    Call me elitist, but if anyone says there is any other singer who is even close to Mohd Raffi does not understand or know music. One may like other singers more than Raffi Saab and that is a pure personal choice and I respect that. However when you are comparing singing as a skill and then deciding who is the best singer of all time, you have to consider ease, comfort and mastery over singing of all types of songs. could sing in any mood, suite so many actors personas, mold your voice to needs of the music directors and actors and go above and beyond what the music director is asking you to do. I have heard more than numerous music directors who have admitted that Raffi saab sang better than what I was composing. And that is the hallmark of a great singer. And there has been only one and that is RAFFI SAAB.

  14. Ali says:

    There is no Mohd Rafi death anniversary because Nohd Rafi with us still and will be till end of the earth…………

  15. Asif says:

    In England in the city of Birmingham every week we gather in a music academy and perform live music singing Mohd Rafi songs. We have a singer here who has been singing Rafi Songs for over 40 years. For more information email or call 07837303198. ENGLAND.

  16. Dear Souvik,
    Thought provoking feature.
    The men behind the so called ‘POLL’ showed their actual face when despite of Rafi Sahab getting the highest number of votes, announced Kishore Kumar as co-winner. No hard feeling for Kishore Kumar or any other contemporary singers, but the Poll-Persons would have not thought that during an era when only Kishore Kumar and RDB are being projected as the only singer and only music director in Hindi Cinema, Rafi Sahab’s popularity would fetch him that number of votes. Even SJ were to defeat ARR after crossing RD’s votes, but in the meantime intentionally the website became totally defunct.
    However, no matter, Neither Rafi Sahab nor SJ or anyone require approval or support of such biased campaign.
    I think time has come to think over the suggestions made by you and make it happen. Second thing, SJ fans were toying idea of having one Radio station which would play not only SJ’s songs, but songs composed by other MDs too, but we are less in numbers.

  17. Nice write up Souvik ji and really need to set up a rafi academy to forward rafi saab’s legacy.
    Long live rafi saab.
    Birendra Singh Bisht

  18. jyoti mohanty says:

    Long live Rafisaab;the world listen to you every moment!!

  19. rajagopal says:

    the voice of god, great rafi saab….

  20. SABNAVEES says:

    34th death anniversary of a legend whom i always address as FARISHTON KA FARISHTA. A singer of the HIMALAYAN Order & a human being par excellence. I salute his Personality from all the angles. he is the Bread earner for so many singers who simply imitate his DIVINE VOICE. The Pacific Ocean Calm, Deep & Beautiful & thats our RAFI SAHAB is ! ! ! ………………





  22. Dr Souvik Chatterji says:

    Dear Jasbirji,
    Thanks for the comments.
    As long as music will survive in the world Rafisahab’s divine voice will remain in the hearts of music lovers all across the world.

  23. jasbir singh says:

    today is rafsaab’s 34th death anniversary,but his golden voice lives forever to the future generations….immortal,evergreen,forever…..will live on….no body could so far touch his quality of his singing….since his entry in films in 1942 upto now that is 2014….for the last 72 yrs we r listening to his songs relayed by radio n tv…nowadays we can find n listen to any song on you tube……

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