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True Voice – Mohd Rafi

The following article was brought to my notice when Sharad posted it on MAS. The article has been trimmed down a bit keeping afloat Rafi details. However, anyone interested can go visit the source at

I am Swaminatha Iyer and I am 78 years old. I hail from Tiruchi and I am a part of music associations in Tiruchi, M’as as well as in West Bengal and Maharashtra.

I think it is wrong to condemn music or artists on either side of Vindhyas. Our Indian music is one of the few which has not been cleaned off by the western music though there has always been a influence. It speaks a lot of the richness of our music. Sometime back director of MTV had said that MTV westernized the music wherever it went but in India , MTV had to be Indianized for it to be accepted. A lot of this credit goes to the Indian film music.

I have been fortunate to have close personal association with Rafi, Sirkali, TMS, Dr. BMK, Kishore, SPB & KJY, PS, Mannadey and the one and only Lata Mangeshkar.

Comparisons are bound to come, but almost every artist or I have met considers Lata to be beyond comparison. Her talents are beyond anyone’s reach. Even Sirkazi used to talk of her singing like a die-hard fan as do countless others.

Now coming to the Rafi-SPB discussion. It might be difficult to convince an South Indian to believe Rafi is the better and at the same time Rafi crowd will never believe any other male singer comes anywhere nearer. There is one more mobile crowd, which is well conversant with Hindi and some south Indian language. Majority of them tilt to either Rafi or Kishore.

During one of my stays in M’as I had stayed with SPB. While talking of true voices he said, I don’t feel like half a singer when listening to Rafi. True voice is not a tech term but many in circle use it. Perfect example would be lata, but to understand consider our own PS who within her range is superb. People who do not have such true voices can never do justice to original. They generally underplay many parts of the song or fake it with bass/superficial singing. True voices make people like Sirkazi, Nusrat Fateh Ali khan, Lata… Inimitable. However since Sirkazi and Nusrat did not have the filmy voices their “real” following is limited to their local arena.

In addition to the true voice if the singer has a very good voice then in “most” cases he/she can better songs of others. It is this combination which makes Rafi stand out among the other male singers. There are many here who seem to have mistaken notions on a good bass and also on high pitch.

Bryan Adams does not require a monster bass in “Summer of 69” to sound real manly. It is the punch which gives that feel and that is decided only by the comfort level in most ranges (that is by what your throat can support). This you CAN never disguise with bass. Since people have talked about lack of manly voice viz. a viz. Rafi it was necessary to bring this point out. I have had the fortune of listening to most singers in studio and some times without a mike, practicing with MD’s.When Lata or Rafi do, the level is so high that people hesitate to even hum. It felt silly to sing in their presence (and it feels silly when someone says his voice isn’t manly).

In RD’s tribute when SPB sang “Aaja Aaja mein hoon” or “Chaand mera dil” it sounded only sweet and lacked punch if you compare with Rafi’s original.

Yesu once told me God has been partial to Rafi. He said “god gift term anavasyamaa romba common aa ippo use aardu”.. but idu Rafi kee thaan 100% porundu”. This person could sing “as intricately as a lady without sounding thin”, “cover any mood”, “versatility odey perfect example Rafi”. Yesu said most important is the comfort level over ranges which makes you feel God has been partial to Rafi. (But Of course in Rafi’s early career (1950’s) the voice was relatively feeble).

To people exposed to Rafi’s talent, these or any amount of praise can only seem less. I just wish he was alive and you people could get a live chance to hear him. Probably you can get hold of the DD album for the Geet Gaata Chal series where the first four episodes were dedicated to Rafi. Rafi is on camera singing “O Duniya Ke Rakwaaley” and many other songs. If you see and hear the last part you will realize why SPB said “impossible”. I think particularly those people who have talked about scales w.r.t Rafi should see this album. Its a known fact in industry that Rafi ruled high pitch and there is no male singer better in switching notes so easily. There are artists who can go beyond but then they sound strained or they don’t have pleasant voices when they venture into those territories.

Many singers of today are his compulsive followers. But they end up inheriting only part of his quality. Md. Aziz ended up with a sad voice. Mahendra Kapoor with a thick nasal voice. Anwar with a nasal voice. Sonu Nigam with a feminine voice. Rafi neither had a soft voice nor a heavy (bass) voice he had a good voice. Importantly did not strain at high notes, and voice if at all only became better at higher notes. If you see him singing it will remind you of Janaki. However diff the song is or the note is he will be smiling and singing. It is unthinkable that he cannot sing something.

There seems to be lot of talk about “Shankara Bharanamo” song. SPB has sung many a great numbers and things being said about this song in this forum are rather amusing, particularly b’cos 3 out of 4 people who can be called as singers will be able sing it and at least one out of 10 will sing it with the same effect. There are lot of other songs of SPB where this great singer has played with songs in total control. You will find most south Indian singers who have had a good exposure say that it is beneficial to learn Hindustani as it gives better breath control and improves expression.

Rafi was not only able to glide over a song, the important thing was that he could express each word/sound when singing. It is one thing to hold your breath, start and reach a crescendo (high note), as like in “Shankara”, “Anbey (Yennai kaan villaye)” it is different ballgame if you have to do it from low notes or suddenly switch notes. With practice the former can be done, latter requires a special gift. Rafi had a natural ability to do the latter. In “Tum joh mil gaye ho” there is such a transition in the “karwaan mil gaya” part. I have never seen anyone do justice to most of his songs in my life time. In “parda hai parda” quawaali the similar part is “kar doon to, Akbar mera naam”. In fact most of his songs will have these specialty as it was his natural ability to sing freely in a wide range at the same time giving that extra expression.

Whereas SPB takes us to heavens with “Idu oru pon maali”,”Ilaya nila” “bisiladarenu”(kannada), when he sings Rafi’s song it lacks the punch or expression, though it has the bass. But at least most agree that SPB does some justice to original, whereas most others murder the original.

One trivial point I would like to add is that singing in Hindi is harder. There are more “JHA”,”CHA”,”HA”,”THA”, “KHA”,”JA”,”FA”. These take away the breath faster. The more expressive you are the more air you are using up. Just singing from Nabhi will not help, your throat also needs to do a lot, for singing in Hindi, Bengali etc. SPB makes you fall in love with his south Indian songs but same cannot be said about his Hindi songs. If you just glide through words having these sounds, you will never be expressive. Doing this as well as reaching high notes is not easy. Rafi had this gift and that’s why it is difficult to imagine anyone else in his shoes. Song “Chalkaaye jaam” has so much expression that it is unthinkable how anyone can sing it. When Rafi switches to a high note with “Mitwaa” in the song “Chaahunga mein tughey” you cannot replicate it with bass. Most others will sound as if they are shouting in such cases. That man’s throat had the ability to freely sing at such levels.

Versatility is not just the ability to sing in various styles, more important is how good you are singing in those styles. You have lot of Ghazal singers today but when Rafi sings a Ghazal you will sit up and take notice. You don’t have to be part of the Ghazal listeners crowd. This is one important aspect. Whatever style you sing you should be able to pull the common man to listen and not just a particular crowd. Pick “parda hai parda” or any qawalli and it will stand tall among other qawalli’s.

Variety is amazing :

songs of Guru Dutt’s Khagaz key phool or songs like abhi naa jao chod key, Aaja teri yaad aayi, Aaj kal mein dhal gaya, Aaj kal terey merey pyaar, Aasmaan sey aaya farishta, Dil ney pyaar kiya hai, Deewana mujh saa nahi, Din dhal jaaye, Duniya paagal hai, Jaane walon jara, Dil joh na kaha saka, Dil key jharokon mein, Dil kaa bhavar, Chalkey teri aakkhon sey, Kar chaley hum fida, khilona jaan kar tum, Woh jab yaad aay, Woh hain jara khafa, Vaadian mera daaman, Pathar key sanam, Chaand mera dil, Main zindagi kaa saath, Mainey poocha chaand sey, sun sun jaalima, Koi jab raah na paay, hum to chaley pardes, badan pey sitaarey, laal chadi maidaan, Tum jo mil gaye, O meri shaahey, Sau baar janam lengey, Tum mujhey yoon bhula, Tumney mujhey dekha, Terey merey sapney, Tumny pukaara hum chaley aay

Name a situation/mood and Rafi’s song will be there on the top.


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3,776 Blog Comments to “True Voice – Mohd Rafi”

  1. Vishal says:

    Ali – 3648

    I do not know why lata said this as unparalleled contribution to music “after 26 years of the passing away of the singer

  2. Vishal says:

    Dear Mohan – Badi der bhai nandlala by rafi was from the film khandan, the sanskrit sloka in the beginning was sung by ghantasala in telugu film which is retained in hindi film khandan. Ghantasala has not sung it in hindi. Rafi fans, I believe, know this.

  3. Ali says:

    Sir mohan,I don’t know the singer ,no one can be compare with mohd rafi that said even by lata ji,

  4. Mohan says:

    having followed the comparisons between ghantasala and rafi, i couldn’t resist suggesting the following youtube link to ‘badi der bhai nandlala’. needless to mention who the singer is, but listen to the shloka in the beginning. any guesses who the singer is !!!

  5. Hans says:

    song ‘mooli ram aur bhindimal ka’, film dulhan – 1959, music ravi.

  6. Hans says:

    listen to this song ‘ghame hasti se bas begana hota’ which is lesser known but beats the best in rendition and melody and lyrics and setting fits the situation marvellously.

    the song is from a flop film ‘vallah kya baat hai’ (1962) and music was given by roshan. he is known for his sublime music. but he introduced some western tunes in this film. there was a highly popular rafi-asha duet in the film ‘khanke to khanke kyun khanke’ which reminds you of op nayyar music.

  7. Hans says:

    rafi’s messege to rafi-jalans (jinhen baar baar khujli shuru ho jati hai).

    ‘man ke khajane men maya hi maya’ from film ‘teen chor’ (1973) music sonik omi.

    rafi se jalnewalo suno shayad tumhari khujli shant ho jaye.

  8. andrea correa says:

    3641..Kishore fan:

    Pls do your homework and come here. KK has not sung more that 1685 songs.

    u must give the listed 3000 songs of KK or else must be called the Barking dog from now on.

    prove it first .

  9. Kishorefan says:

    3641 – Andrea Correa

    Rafi has sung close to 5000 songs and kishore 3000 plus songs, you people are addicted of telling lies at which you are all expert. The so called mr. Hans is expert in garnering all false and foolish information in the name of research and starts getting caught at all times, it has become a routine thing for him. it happened earlier when some wrong and foolish research on ghantasala he has brought and when ghantasala fans put some facts, Mr. hans had no replies. OK leave ghantasala, when some true facts of kishore were presented by none other than esteemed Rafi fan Shri Musharaff ji, again Mr. Hans comes with some foolish silly points. It has become a habit for this Mr. Hans, bringing all false points and speaking lies in the name of rafi as rafi fan. Now when Mr. Bhattacharya ji has supported the same, you have come now again with some expert lies saying rafi has sung 4 times more than kishore. Enough of your false propogation about rafi , rafi fans, wake up. Know rafi was just a singer like other playback singers in hindi film world, rafi had his own place and kishore had his own place, this fact cannot be and will not be changed, courtesy any barking by so called rafians.

  10. andrea correa says:

    Mr Bhattta charya ji : Post 3640…. U may write about Kishore Kumar in the deserted Kishore Kumar forum.

    aaj ka baat karo pls……….. Mohd rafi has sung four times the songs than kk.

    and hits and amar songs which have “no expiry dates” .

    Many vacancies exist in k k forum. u are “urgently” needed there.

  11. Bhattacharya says:

    3626 : Musharaff ji is correct. I have information from seniors about kishore kumar’s popularity and increase in songs in broadcasting as well as fan following from 69 onwards. I was in mumbai in 1978 and kishore’s popularity was well known, never was lesser than rafi, even in late 70’s : first half of 70’s kishore was more popular beyond dispute, even post half 70’s had kishore not engulfed in that politics issue, the trend would have surely increased.

    3627 Mr, Hans, whoever has written about kishore’s popularity they were all young people in age in 70’s , in large numbers they were in their 30’s in their age and hence their rememberance cannot be faulted.

  12. Maha Devika says:

    mohd rafi has the purest voice among all singers, i call it just,


    Maha Devika

  13. P. Haldar says:

    post 3637:

    Baig saab, here’s the commercial you referred to you in your post:

    the king of rock ‘n roll keeps rocking even now.

  14. Mirza Irfan Baig says:

    I was watching a sporting event here in the u.s.a. when during the break a commercial, filled with action, was shown. It showed a singer performing on the stage. Guess what song was being lip-synched? Jaan Pehchan Ho! Jeena Aasan Ho!

    Thirty-some years after his death – in a non-Urdu/Hindi speaking country – his songs are considered attractive enough for the audience. What a magical voice. We are proud to be Rafi-fans.

  15. Musharraf says:


    I am too surprised with the comments of Ashutoshji. In both jo wada kiya and paon chchu le do phoolon ko enayet hogi of the film Taajmahal rafi had a clear edge over lata. Not only in these two songs, in most of the duets that Rafi sang either with lata or any other singer it was Rafi who dominated his co-singer.



    to give credit to Kishore that he deserves for coming in to limelight in the early seventies does not in any way effect the highest position that Rafi holds as a play back singer. If you analyze the awards that each of them got you will observe from their respective Wikipedia, Kishore could not bag a single awards for more than twenty years during the fifties and sixties. However from the early seventies awards came pouring for Kishore which is a clear indication of a change of situation. These are all historical facts which can not be denied or changed. If you still want to insist that Kishore’s position remained the same as in the fifties and sixties that is up to you. You are free to hold your views.



  16. Maha Devika says:

    yesterday one of my friends came to my house with a dvd collection of the best ghazals & songs from the subcontinent & requested me to listen to these. Though i usually listen to rafi sahab voice only, but on her request we listened to all those gems all the night, but while i was trying to sleep in my bed at night the song which sounded in my mind was none other than,
    ”jo baat honi hey”
    never heard this before, i searched for the link for that song, and here it is,

    i am amazed what an impact rafi sahab voice has on its listeners, no voice can have that sweetness, charm & melody of rafi sahab.

    Maha Devika

  17. Maha Devika says:






  18. Maha Devika says:


    With due regards,

    lata better than Rafi Sahab,

    strange comments!

    Maha Devika

  19. Ashutosh says:


    Just heard 3 songs now for rafi teri pyaari pyaari soorat, ehsaan tera hoga mujh par, two beautiful songs of rafi. Also jo wada kiya woh nibhana padega, in you tube rafi was good, but lata seems to have a edge with her nightingale lke voice, perhaps due to the video might be, as in earlier one record rafi appeared as good as lata.

  20. Binu Nair says:

    If any composer wants to record an amar song, the first choice was mohd rafi.

    yes from fifties to the eighties.

    songs such as : Kahin Bekhayal Hokar Mujhe choo liya usine, (sd burman),
    Koi sagar dil ko behlata nahin : (Naushad)
    Rang aur noor ki baarat kise pesh karu (madan mohan)
    Aaj ki raat mere dil ki salami le le……

    fans of other singers cannnot seee the success of mohd rafi songs. the author of this article true voice himself has said unique things of Rafi songs.

    the rafi voice “will Make” a passer-by to stop and listen to the song. the voice flows like an unstoppable river in all its glory. the rafi voice travels like the moving clouds – effortlessly in perfect harmony.

    many in the polluted industry “tried” to undermine mohd rafi. every one knows about the prime actors of this stage. they are biting their fingers in their failed attempts :
    because the masses carry mohd rafi songs in their hearts. they, failed in piercing the hearts of the common man.

    and today, mohd rafi songs sails like the unstoppable flowing river in all its splendour or like the dancing and singing clouds effortlessly gliding over – to its destination and fate.

    this, in fact is the reality of the fakir singer called mohamad rafi sahib.

    the rafi foundation, mumbai
    cell : 9833 250 701

  21. subhajit says:

    hi,i m subhajit i m nothing to write anything about the personality.i know he is my god and i just take my life breath from the all songs of rafi saheb .rafi saheb app amar rahe

  22. Ganesh says:

    Music directors like Ravi, Shankar, Madan Mohan, Jaidev and OP did try out Kishore during the early seventees but all of them came back to Rafi once they figured out that he couldn’t deliver on what they were used to on a routine basis from Rafi. Sonik-Omi and Usha Khanna always stuck with Rafi.

  23. Hans says:



    sdb was no relation of manna dey so far as my knowledge goes and their age difference was less than 14 years, so taking him as uncle otherwise also seems not possible and in bollywood manna dey came earlier than sdb. if you think sdb was a pro-rafi man, you are mistaken. in fact he snubbed rafi, the facts i have brought earlier in the thread on dilip kumar, naushad, shakeel and rafi in post no 100. you can find that thread in january 2011 archives of this site.


    i have made clear in my earlier posts, which you may not have read, that i was in college (from 1970-74). so i was in the thick and thin of hindi film world in those days. and i know that rafi ruled that era also and his hits surpassed kk by a big margin. even in binaca geet mala, despite the prejudice of amin sayani which is well known, rafi songs matched those of kk. bgm was not the only yardstick of popularity. there were other farmaishy programmes on radio, where rafi ruled. rafians have wrongly been taken in by false and fraudulent claims of kk fans with suble support from some kk fans disguised as rafi fans. if there is any truth in their claims, why dont kk fans come up with list of hits of kk.

  24. Hans says:

    musharrafji —contd—

    there can not be any sure shot formula on which kind of songs become hits or flops. ‘roop tera mastana’ was never a top hit, it was just so so. even sdbs own song ‘kahe ko roye’ was more popular than ‘roop tera’. of aradhana songs the top most hit was ‘baghon men bahar hai’ then came ‘mere sapnon ki rani’ then ‘kora kagaz tha ye man’ then ‘gunguna rahe hai bhawar’. in my view ‘mere sapnon ki rani’ became a hit because of its picturisation – the hero singing in jeep moving alongside the train where the heroine was giving cosy dimpled smiles – which caught the imagination of the youth. i dont think the western tune was anything new, because rafi had by then sung hundreds of western type songs.

    these vagaries of box-office were no less complicated in the case of rafi. in amanat ‘matlab nikal gaya hai’ and ‘teri jawani tapta mahina’ were much bigger hits than ‘door rehkar na karo baat’ and in mere sanam ‘hamdam mere maan bhi jao’ and ‘hue hain tumpe ashiq ham’ were bigger hits than ‘pukarta chala hoon main’. so dont look for any set formula for hits.

    can you give me the names of mds who left rafi and went to kk, except sdb and rdb.

    rajesh khanna – kk factor is also a hype. ‘do raaste’ was released just two months after aradhana and it did much better than aradhana on box-office. and which songs were hits in this. ‘ye reshmi zulfen’, ‘bindiya chamkegi’ and ‘chhup gaye sare nazare’. so the status rajesh khanna got was on the basis of both films and more from ‘do raaste’. kk-rdb hyped the aradhana impact for their own benefit. rafi’s share in making rajesh khanna was more than kk and he duly continued singing in his films regularly till 1972. after that rajesh khanna’s downslide began. joru ka ghulam(72) and roti(74) were major hits while daag(73) and aap ki kasam (74) were semi-hits. he totally flopped after roti.

  25. Musharraf says:


    I think I could not make myself clear. As an artist KK could not overtake overtake Rafi or surpass him at any point of time because he lacked that versatility. I think that is what Lataji meant. What I mean to say that is in early seventies broadcasting of KK’s songs suddenly increased surpassing his contemporary singers that I and those in my age group witnessed although as I said was short lived. And this is a matter of record which you can yourself substantiate by asking your seniors if you were not born at that time.But quality-wise he never could match Rafi.

  26. Musharraf says:


    you are right K.C. was the uncle of Manna Dey. But I think Manana had some sort of relation with SD or he looked upon him as his uncle. But the fact with SD that I narrated is correct that has been stated by Manna Dey himself.


  27. Hans says:

    musharrafji – 3608

    your statement that sdb was uncle of manna dey is factually wrong. his uncle was kc dey, a famous singer of the 30s and early 40s. kc dey was also md and since he was blind he needed the help of manna dey. the incident you reported relates to kc dey, so far as my information goes.

    regarding rafi-kk i was not referring to their rivalry in my post. i was talking about the problems faced by rafi and mention of kk was incidental to that. i have a firm belief that rafi was never surpassed by kk and i have shown figures in support of my view. i also listed the hits of rafi for 1970 and there was no response from kk fans and i know that they cannot list even 1/4th hits for kk. if even after my stats you hold the view that rafi was surpassed by kk, then you are free to do so. kk fans have been making unsubstantiated claims regarding this and many rafians have indirectly agreed that rafi was surpassed for some time. to me that is wrong. here is a link where lata said the same thing and you were active when this link was posted.

    i am pasting the relevant portion

    “It is very wrong to say that Kishore Kumar overtook Rafi bhaiya in the early 1970s.Kishore was no doubt at his peak, but Rafi bhaiya was equally effective with Tere naam ka diwana, Gulabi aankhen, Yeh duniya yeh mehfiland Tum jo mil gaye ho. Even Kishore bhaiya never felt he was ahead of Rafi.”

    still you are free to hold your opinion.

  28. Shardool says:

    This Forum is a truly sacred Forum as it refers to THE VOICE …… RAFI ! We should therefore respect its sanctity, its holiness and its sacredness ! So please do not talk anything but THE VOICE ….. RAFI and for THE VOICE’s sake, do not bring any other person, singer etc. and commit a sin of comparing THE VOICE with other singers (?) ….

    I happened to read comments on this comparison stuff and was literally pained to see that people are comparing THE VOICE to other singers ! This is nothing but sacrilege, a great sin !

    Let people sing praise to singers of their choice but let us not (We true RAFI Fans) stoop to such a low level as to defend THE VOICE against other singers.

    THE VOICE does not need a lawyer to defend him …. GOD exists and one who denies HIM is at best can be said as a lunatic ! Same can be said about THE VOICE !

    And come tho think of it, I heard Lata Mageshkar proposing a Bharat Ratna for Amitabh Bachchan ! I saw recently on the T.V. She conveniently forgot her Rakhi – brother the LEGEND Dilip Kumar ! All right ! At least she should have proposed THE VOICE for Bharat Ratna when she was bestowed with it way back in 2001 ! How very ungrateful of her ! It shows her inner feelings and how selfish and calculating she is ! She in fact, should have refused the award and should have put to shame the authorities who selected her for the award by saying that THE VOICE deserved the RATNA more than she deserved ! IT would have made the whole world really like and adore her for this gesture ! But no …. why would she say ? She ought to be as noble as THE VOICE to say the truth !

    The authorities have denied BHARAT RATNA to THE VOICE why ? Was it because he was born in Kotla Sultan Singh which is now unfortuantely in Pakistan ? We say India is a secular country then why this rabid communalism, why this naked parochialism and crooked bias ? By denying this award to ONE who deserved it the most, we have exposed our hypocrisy our dual – mindedness and our ignominous thought – process !

  29. Kishore Kumar says:

    Amazing work
    shows your love for the greatest singer of india, rafi sahab

  30. Musharraf says:

    Thank you Bhagchandaniji for bringing in to light many incidents that took place during the early 70s.

    I echo with you, Rafi is Rafi. None can be compared with him.


  31. M.Vijayan says:

    Dear Rafians
    Please open this link and see the work done by me

  32. Ganesh says:

    A lot is made of Kishore not trained in classical. The fact is he did not have an aptitude for classsical stuff. One can excel in a field only if the interest exists. I am sure he had a lot of opportunities to get classical training but opted not to. That is the bottom line. Also, if you carefully listen to Rafi Kishore duets, you can easliy note that Kishore more than often sings at a lower octave. The music directors do adjust the scale based on the range capabilities of singers. Kishore usually does good justice within his scale but the effect can never be the same as when the song is sung at the range it was designed for.

  33. Binu Nair says:

    BHATTACHARYAJI : YOUR SECTARIAN BENGALI ROOTS make it a little difficult to you to accept the many dimensional attributes of mohd rafi – in playback singing and otherwise.

    people are now also debating whether mohd rafi was a better human being or a great singer.

    and in your home state bengal and kerala, we have the highest number of rafi fans.

    as they say, sach kadwaaaa hotaaaa hai. this kadwahat can indeed be removed if one removes the blinkers and listen to the “sweet” songs of rafi saaheb.

  34. J.K. Bhagchandani says:

    Musharraf ji (Post 3607):

    I almost entirely agree with your analysis. The factors you pointed out for the so-called partial eclipse of Rafi saab in early 70s were the major reasons, but there were other factors also with varying degree of impact which resulted in those 5-6 years.

    One such factor was Rajesh Khanna. Having attained the super stardom through the vocals of Kishore Kumar, he dictated terms, one of them being to use KK for all his songs. I read it somewhere that for the song ‘Nafrat ki dunuya ko chhod ke…’ (Haathi Mere saathi) he had very reluctantly agreed for Rafi saab when LP explained him how KK will not be able to do justice to the song. Film industry is a cruel place. Once the KK formula clicked, all other producers, music directors followed suit, though many of them only briefly.

    Another factor was Asha Bhonsle. Having broken up with O.P. Nayyar and cosying up with R.D. Burman (later going on to marry her) she supported and campaigned for R.D.B’s best friend Kishore Kumar. Supporting him also gave her (and to her more illustrious elder sister) some sort of ‘mental satisfaction’ as Rafi saab would outshine both of them in most of the duets and other songs, and that they could equate some one with Rafi saab further inflated their egos. I am of firm opinion that R.D. Burman under-utilized his immense talent by over-utilizing Kishore Kumar, which ultimately wrote his own doom-story. The moment he fully utilized Kishore’s range in early 1970s (agreed he created some brilliant compositions in this period) his quality later suffered. Listlessness factor got into his compositions.

    If you consider R.D.B.- Rafi gems like ‘Maine poochha chand se…’, Hai agar dushman dushman…’, ‘Waadiyan mera daaman..’, ‘Gulabi aankhen jo teri dekhin..’ etc. and all songs of Teesri Manzil that he created with Rafi saab, his shunning of Rafi saab in early 1970s can not be attributed to musical reasons. These Rafi songs present R.D.B. in a totally different mould, of a highly ‘innovative’ music director. The ‘Hum Kisi se kam nahin’ qawali is a masterpiece and is comparable with Rashan saab qawali composing skills. Similarly ‘Maine poochha chand se..’ is a ghazal par excellence.

    Other factors contributed were untimely death of music mastroes like Jaikishan, Roshan etc. while other music directors like Naushad, O.P. Nayyar etc. were past their prime. S.D. Burman fell sick and by the time he recovered, his son had already done the damage. He only followed the wind direction and even in film like Mili where Rafi would have elevated the songs to altogether at different level, he opted for Kishore. Especially the song ‘Badi suni hai…’ should have gone to Rafi.

    But Rafi was Rafi. He made a stunning come back in later half of the decade. The momentum after 1977 was with Rafi. Had he lived for another 4-5 years, Rafi’s no. 1 position would never have been questioned again.

    It is fact that Kishore could not sustain his no. 1 position beyond 5 or 6 years. Rafi was unchallenged for more than 20 continuous years in an era of, what Anu Malik calls as, ‘spring of hindi film music’ (50s and 60s) and also made a late-seventies come back. Kishore’s no.1 position in 80s has to be kept out of the scope of this discussion as his challenger Rafi had passed away. So between 1950 and 1980, 24 years belonged to Rafi and 6 years to Kishore. So bringing Kishore on the same platform as Rafi saab is out of place. But dethroning a giant like Rafi (even for 5-6 years) is huge achievement. And that must be given to Kishore.

    Is it not a fact during 5-6 years of Kishore’s time, genres like bhajans, qawalis, patriotic songs, classical based songs became almost extinct?

    It is strange some ignorant fans of Kishore Kumar choose to ignore these facts and present half truths and even falsehoods.

    -J.K. Bhagchandani

  35. Musharraf says:

    Bhattacharyaji, Post- 3609,3610.

    Thanks for your comments. I know whom you are referring to. But you see a champion in Bollywood, the national forum is like the champion of Harvard, Oxford or Cambridge the places of highest level of competition. Rafi did not earn this position through any charity or grace, but by his exceptional talent and versatility. And the unprecedented popularity, fame and recognition that he earned transcended the national borders into the international arena. No other play back singer, not only in India but in this whole sub-continent has been been able to achieve such a position.
    I hope you understand what I mean. Regards.

  36. Binu Nair says:

    Post 3590 & Post 3592…. good analysis by hans. pls keep it up. i would like to correspond with you hans ji more about rafi saaheb.

    my id is i am a small time rafi saahib lover “now” trying to present the great songs sung by our modern day tansen and spread the secular and human qualities of rafi saheb -as told by rafi friends and his now surviving colleagues.

    some rafi lovers have told me that rafi sahib could be an incarnation of mian tansen.

    “the rafi tide strikes everytime music is heard or spoken.” Jai rafi saheb.

  37. andrea correa says:

    re the female singer mohd rafi had said once to a confidante : i only have one detractor. she would suggest composers to take other singers (in duets) with me.

    was she insecure with the numero uno male singer mohd rafi saheb?
    all her efforts to sing the same songs as rafi too did’nt take off and boomeranged as the male version became huge hits.

    she wanted all the songs of the industry, she wanted to dominate and remain numero uno (any how ). rafi liked competition and encouraged it in his life time. he pushed singer anwar for a few songs . the lady never “did”.

    ultimately – kavita, anuradha and alka dethroned her. she became then upset with composers “who” gave these singers songs.

  38. Bhattacharya says:

    Rafi fan 1 – OK agreed, I do not have any wish to interfere in discussion on rafi by rafi fans, let them continue. I just saw one post of rafi vs kishore and wanted to convey that views are not acceptable. Hope you understand things correctly.

  39. Rafifan1 says:

    and Bhattacharya ji, so far your post is decent and no issues and please do not try to further augment the issue, as some good discussion on rafi is going on by his fans. Hope, you understand and take things in right spirit.

  40. Rafifan1 says:


    Rafi’s peak period was un-matched in hindi playback singing. Kishore did had a peak period, but that pales before rafi’s period, many of points put by Musharaff ji are hence valid – rafi’s era is called golden era in bollywood, it was a versatile era and hence rafi was greatest ever in hindi playback singing. Nothing to do anything with ghantasala and agreed, he had a peak period and undisputed dominance throughout his career in his industry, – rafi and ghantasala were two different greats, each great in his own way in indian playback singing.

  41. Bhattacharya says:

    contd… musharaff ji and the life long peak period was due to sheer talent and skills and versatality and not by luck or any other reason.

  42. Bhattacharya says:

    Musharaff ji

    A subjective post on rafi – kishore. Anyhow, I do not want to comment on it, as I do not feel that is correct and I do not want to again argue over points which are not valid. One more point, you said every singer has his peak period or lean period well that was applicable to rafi and kishore. You know a versatile playback singer of the south, who had only peak period without any competition for decades in indian playback singing as long as he lived, and I need not mention that.

  43. Musharraf says:

    Dear Hansji post 3592 and Maha behna 3597,

    Relating to SD /Rafi relations, I would like to quote manna Dey that will reflect how SD, Uncle of manna Dey evaluated Rafi. Manna Dey narrated this in an interview with a Bengali magazine of Kolkata that I myself read. He told that when SD made a super composition he called nephew Manna to ask Rafi to sing the song. Manna made a humble attempt and asked his uncle “what if I sing the song’? SD answered “Rafi will sing it better’. Continued Manna Dey” At first I felt sad but when later I heard the song in the voice of Rafi I understood how perfect judgement of SD was. Actually Rafi was a gem that no experienced Jeweler failed to recognize.
    Now as regards the Rafi-Kishore dichotomy in the post 70 era I have my own observations and will request Hansji, Bhagchndaniji and Maha Behna to kindly correct me if I am wrong anywhere.
    Firstly all will agree here that as an artist Rafi was miles ahead of Kishore. Kishore did not possess that versatility or that exceptional voice range that Rafi had that enabled him to sing all types of songs. That made Rafi the greatest playback singer Bollywood ever produced.
    Now let us analyze the situation that arose after the film “Aradhana’ was released. SD composed two beautiful duets “Gunguna rahen hai bhamre” and “bagho mein bahar hai” with Asha and Lata respectively that were qualitatively better than”Mere sapno ke rani” and “Roop tera mastana” of Kishore. But the natural question arises why these two songs of Kishore became super hits in spite of the superior songs of Rafi. The answer is that the songs of Kishore was a major shift from the traditional and existing style of singing that attracted the audience. Most of the MDs who so long were utilizing Rafi for all these years , from that point of time tilted towards Kishore, I think with the exception of Madanmohan and Naushad, and started composing songs for Kishore that suited his voice. If I remember, since I was a college student at that time “Binaca Geet Mala” of Radio Ceylon which broadcasted hit songs mostly played kishore’s song during the early seventies. Not that Kishore sang better than Rafi but these songs had a westernized flavor that were new to the audience and for sometime they held to it. But this honeymoon was short lived and Rafi became a bit hit again by ” Tere galiyon mein” and “Kya hua tera wada” etc.
    However, I think Kishore did not have an uninterrupted dominance as Rafi had during more than two decades. And in the long run in the final judgment we see Kishore’s songs simply fade away in front of Rafi’s song from any perspective of comparison. Specially rafi’s songs of 50′ and 60’s are incomparable and were the best songs of his lifetime. Every singer may have his peak period or lean period. But it does not effect his status. Rafi undoubtedly is the greatest playback singer of the millennium.


  44. Musharraf says:


    My post 3601 is still under moderation for more than twenty four hours.

  45. Musharraf says:


    My earlier post of 3601 addressed to hansji and mahadevika ji has not been posted whereas my second post is visible. please look into it.


  46. Hans says:

    maha devika

    here is a duet from 1960 film saranga (famous for two mukesh solos ‘saranga teri yaad men’ and ‘haan deewana hoon main’), where lata is not flat and sings beautifully. she also sings an alaap. song is ‘piya kaise miloon tujhse’.

  47. Hans says:


    kindly read posts 1921 and 1932 posted in this thread earlier. there lata talks about the greatness of rafi. tribute at 1932 was paid just after the death of rafi ji, so it must be heartfelt. in the post at 1921, in the third para from the last, she talks about the recording of the duet tere ghar ke samne. read that and you will know how concious she would become when singing with rafi. she progressively became more and more conscious of the fact that rafi is far ahead of her in singing abilities. in her earlier duets she was not so flat, when she was less conscious and thus more natural. another reason was that rafi never missed rehearsals even when he became famous, while lata started to show her importance.

    lata was natural with other singers, so she was better placed.

  48. Khaja Aliuddin, MD says:

    Janab Musharraf Sahab, ASA
    Here is my e-mail address.

    Dr. Khaja Aliuddin

  49. Musharraf says:

    Dear Khaja sahab,

    Good to learn that you are in Chicago. I stay in Michigan, not very far from you, only five hours drive. I frequently avail flights originating from Chicago on my way to Dhaka. I am flying for Dhaka on 14th October from Chicago Inshallah.



  50. Musharraf says:


    Thanks for the song of the film Rakhee. Beautiful song indeed. I am sure Maha Behna has also liked it.
    There is no doubt that Rafi outclassed Lata not only in duets but individual songs too that both of them sang. Example ‘Mere mehboob tujhe”, Ehsaan tera hoga mujh par”, “Tere ankho ke seva dunuyan mein” etc. etc.


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