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Inducted Greats - Rafi







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Saatwan Sur

Mohammad. Rafi was born on the 24th of September 1924 at Kotla Sultanpur (Pakistan). At a very young age Rafi learnt Indian classical music with dedication from the renowned master Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. Later, he took classes from Pandit Jawaharlal Mathu and Firoze Nizami. He was greatly influenced and encouraged by Ustad Abdul Waheed Khan.

He made his film debut at Lahore as a singer in Punjabi film Gul Baloch, released on February 28, 1944, for the duet with Zeenat Begum " Soniye ni heeriye ni teri yaad ne bahut sataya" under the music direction of Syam Sunder. The song became very popular and he was invited by the Lahore radio station to be a permanent singer with it. He soon moved to Bombay and made his first Hindi song debut with music director Naushad in film Pehle Aap (1944) in a chorus "Hindustan ke hum hain Hindustan hamara" along with Allauddin and others. He had recorded another song around the same time for the film Gaon ki Gori (1944) under the music direction of Shyam Sunder "aji dil ho kaaboo mein to dildaar ki aisi taisi " with G. M. Durrani and chorus which Rafi considered his first Hindi song. Reviewing 78 RPM records the number of Gaon ki Gori song is GE3596 while the record number of his Pehle Aap chorus number for Naushad is GE3416. This records release numbers establish his Pehle Aap song as the first Hindi song released.

Rafi too momentarily enjoyed with the idea of becoming a singing star. In a famous number from the Swarnalata-Nazir starrer Laila Majnu (1945) Rafi made a personal appearance on the screen for the song "tera jalwa jis ne dekha who diwana ho geya " with S. D. Batish and chorus tuned by music director Pandit Gobindram. He had once in lifetime opportunity to sing a line with K. L. Saigal in Shahjehan (1946) for the song "roohi roohi mere sapnon ki rani ". Rafi sang his first solo in Anmol Ghadi (1946) "tera khilona toota balak tera khilona toota". At the same time, he had given three solos with music director Firoze Nizami in Sharbati Ankhen (1946) and two solos and a competition song in Amar Raj. His first step for a giant leap towards becoming a great singer came with the duet with Noorjehan, "yahan badla wafa ka bewafai ke siwa keya hai ", in Jugnu (1947) under the music direction of Firoze Nizami. He also made screen appearance in the movie in a chorus song "woh apni yaad dilane ko". He gave a solo for S. D.. Burman in Do Bhai (1947) and a hit solo for Naushad in Mela (1948). Big break for Rafi came in 1949 with Chandni Raat, Dillagi and Dulari under Naushad, and with seven solos in Bazaar under Shyam Sunder. Then it was Husnlal Bhagatram who gave this colt bred to stay, his head, for Rafi to go on to make every post a winning one. Rafi's breakthrough film with Huslal Bhagatram was the Nargis-Shyam starrer Meena Bazaar. His first solo with Madan Mohan in Ankhen (1950) "hum  ishq mein barbad hain barbad rahenge " was a great hit. Rafi was a singer in demand with every major music director of the time. Then Naushad put him on the peak for that singer finally to clinch the issue as the number one playback singer with Baiju Bawra (1952) when Rafi established himself as the 'Saatwan Sur' of film music.

Rafi was the voice of film's story, script and characters. Almost all music directors used Rafi's voice to give life and a magical quality to their tunes. Rafi used to build concept about the actors for whom the songs were recorded and went to great lengths to change his style to suit the actor and the scene. He dubbed his voice as emotion that the song was expected to present in character, story and situation. It was said in the world of Bombay's film industry that no one had ever heard of a music director saying that a particular song was not Rafi's type. From classical tunes, gazals, quawalis to the wild 'yaahoo' style songs, Rafi's range was fantastic

Most importantly, it was his association with Naushad that produced some of his greatest songs. Rafi was a devout Muslim refrained from smoking and drinking alcohol. His neat appearance, mild manners, timely arrival at recording studios endeared him to Naushad who was instrumental in grooming this highly talented singer, although he modestly says that he "merely showed Rafi the right direction".

He earned popularity, respect and honor in every arena but never lost the integrity of his morale. His heart was filled with fear of God and the love for truth. Generosity and altruism were part of his system. God and truth were the only sources of inspiration for him. And he always used to say "Tum yahan jaisa karoge waisa bharoge, yeh duniya ek mandir hai."


Rafi - Awards - Images - Video - Song Collections - Audio Tributes