Mujhko Mere Baad Zamana Dhundega……This was the words of his song which will remain the ultimate truth till the end of this film industry’s existence. Mohd. Rafi was the legend singer of Indian Film industry born on 24th December 1924 in Lahore Pakistan. Mohammed Rafi was the fifth youngest of six brothers. The sixth youngest Mohammad Siddique is still alive and lives in Lahore, Pakistan in their ancestral house. His father was Hajji Ali Mohammad. The family originally belonged to Kotla Sultan Singh, a village near present-day Amritsar in Punjab, India. Rafi, whose nickname was Pheeko, began singing by imitating the chants of a fakir in the streets of Bhati gate Lahore where his family lived. Rafi’s father moved to Lahore in the 1920s. His elder brother, Mohammad Deen, had a friend, Abdul Hameed, (future brother-in-law), who recognized the talent in Rafi in Lahore and encouraged him to sing. Abdul Hameed later convinced the family elders to let Rafi move to Mumbai; he accompanied him in 1944.
Rafi learnt classical music from Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan, Pandit Jiwan Lal Mattoo and Firoze Nizami. His first public performance came at the age of 13, when he sang in Lahore featuring K. L. Saigal. In 1941, Rafi, under Shyam Sundar, made his debut in Lahore as a playback singer in the duet “Soniye Nee, Heeriye Nee” with Zeenat Begum in the Punjabi film Gul Baloch (released in 1944). In that same year, Rafi was invited by All India Radio Lahore station to sing for them.
In 1944, Rafi moved to Bombay. He and Hameed Sahab rented a ten-by-ten-foot room in the crowded downtown Bhendi Bazar area. Poet Tanvir Naqvi introduced him to film producers including Abdur Rashid Kardar, Mehboob Khan and actor-director Nazeer. Shyam Sunder was in Mumbai and provided the opportunity to Rafi to sing a duet with GM Durrani, “Aji dil ho qaabu mein to dildar ki aisi taisi…,” for Gaon Ki Gori, which became Rafi’s first recorded song in a Hindi film. Other songs followed. Mohd Rafi’s first song with Naushad was “Hindustan Ke Hum Hain” with Shyam Kumar, Alauddin and others, from A. R. Kardar’s Pehle Aap (1944). Around the same time, Rafi recorded another song for the 1945 film Gaon Ki Gori, “Aji Dil Ho Kaaboo Mein”. He considered this song his first Hindi language song.
Rafi is primarily noted for his songs in Hindi, over which he had a strong command. He sang in other Indian languages including Assamese, Konkani, Bhojpuri, Oriya, Punjabi, Bengali, Marathi, Sindhi, Kannada, Gujarati, Telugu, Maghi, Maithili and Urdu. He also recorded a few songs in English, Persian, Spanish and Dutch. From available figures, Rafi sang 4,516 Hindi film songs, 112 non-Hindi film songs, and 328 private (non-film) songs from 1945 to 1980. He made his Hindi film debut in Gaon Ki Gori in 1945.
Rafi appeared in two movies. In 1945, he appeared on the screen for the song “Tera Jalwa Jis Ne Dekha” in the film Laila Majnu. He sang a number of songs for Naushad as part of the chorus, including “Mere Sapnon Ki Rani, Roohi Roohi” with K. L. Saigal from the film Shahjahan (1946). Rafi sang “Tera Khilona Toota Balak” from Mehboob Khan’s Anmol Ghadi (1946) and a duet with Noor Jehan in the 1947 film Jugnu, “Yahan Badla Wafa Ka”. After partition, Rafi decided to stay back in India and had the rest of his family flown to Mumbai. Noor Jehan migrated to Pakistan and made a pair with playback singer Ahmed Rushdi. In 1949, Rafi was given solo songs by music directors such as Naushad (Chandni Raat, Dillagi and Dulari) Shyam Sunder (Bazaar) and Husnalal Bhagatram (Meena Bazaar). Rafi was influenced by the singers of that time like K. L Saigal and, most notably, by G. M. Durrani on whose style he based his singing. He sang with his idol in some of the songs such as “Humko Hanste Dekh Zamana Jalta Hai” and “Khabar Kisi Ko Nahiin, Woh Kidhar Dekhte” (Beqasoor, 1950).
His singing career spanned about 35 years. Rafi is noted for his ability to sing songs of different moods and varieties. They ranged from classical numbers to patriotic songs, sad lamentations to highly romantic numbers, qawwalis to ghazals and bhajans. He is best known for romantic and duet songs and, as a playback singer, his ability to mould his voice to the persona of the actor lip-synching the song. In his lifetime, he was awarded the National Film Award, Best National Singer Award and six Filmfare Awards. In 1967, he was honoured with the Padma Shri award by the Government of India.
In early 1970s, Rafi recorded fewer songs. At the same period Kishore Kumar’s popularity increased due to the songs he sang for the film Aradhana. The music for Aradhana was composed by S. D. Burman, and he had used Rafi as the male playback voice for the first two recorded duets, “Baaghon Mein Bahaar Hai” and “Gunguna Rahen Hain Bhanwre”. After these two recordings, S. D. Burman fell ill and his son and assistant, R.D. Burman, took over the recordings. R. D. Burman got Kishore Kumar to sing the solos “Roop Tera Mastana” and “Mere Sapnon Ki Rani”.
During 1971-1973, Rafi’s musical output decreased; however, he did sing several songs. Some of Rafi’s songs of the early 1970s were with music directors like Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Madan Mohan, R.D. Burman and S. D. Burman. These include “Tum Mujhe Yun Bhula Na Paoge” (a signature song of Rafi in 1971) from Pagla Kahin Ka, “Yeh Duniya Yeh Mehfil” from Heer Ranjha (1970), “Jhilmil Sitaron ka” from Jeevan Mrityu (a duet with Lata Mangeshkar, 1970), “Gulabi Aankhen” from The Train (1970), “Yeh Jo Chilman Hain” and “Itna to Yaad Hain Mujhe” from Mehboob Ki Mehndi (1971), “Mera Mann Tera Pyasa” Gambler, “Chalo Dildar Chalo” from 1972 released Pakeezah, “Chura Liya Hain Tumne” from Yaadon Ki Baarat (a duet with Asha Bhosle, 1973), “Na tu Zameen Ke liye” from 1973 released Dilip Kumar movie Dastan, “Tum Jo Mil Gaye Ho” from Hanste Zakhm (1973), “teri bindiya re”, from Abhimaan (1973) and “Aaj Mausam Bada Beimaan Hai” from Loafer (1973.) Also in this period Rafi saab sang for some Punjabi films for music directors like S.Mohinder.
Rafi made a comeback as a leading singer in 1974. That year, he won the Film World magazine Best Singer Award for the song “Teree Galiyon Mein Na Rakhenge Qadam Aaj Ke Baad” (Hawas, 1974) composed by Usha Khanna. In 1977, he won both Filmfare Award and the National Award for the song “Kya Hua Tera Wada” from the movie Hum Kisise Kum Naheen, composed by R.D. Burman. Rafi sang for Rishi Kapoor in films like Laila Majnu (for which music was given by two composers Madan Mohan, and after his death by Jaidev), Amar Akbar Anthony (1977), Sargam (1979) and Karz (1980). The qawwali “Pardah Hai Pardah” from Amar Akbar Anthony (1977) was a superhit. Rafi’s notable renderings in the late 1970s and early 1980s include Bairaag (1976), Laila Majnu (1976), Apnapan (1978), Suhaag (1979), Qurbani, Dostana (1980), The Burning Train (1980), Naseeb (1981), Abdullah (1980), Shaan (1980), Asha (1980), Aap To Aise Na The (1980), and Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai (1982).
Rafi died at 10:50 p.m. on 31 July 1980, following a heart attack. His last song was “Shaam phir kyun udaas hai dost” (Aas Paas), which he had recorded with Laxmikant-Pyarelal a few hours before his death. Rafi was buried at the Juhu Muslim cemetery. His was one of the biggest funeral processions Mumbai had ever witnessed, with over 10,000 people attending. In 2010, Rafi’s tomb was demolished to make space for new burials. Fans of Mohammed Rafi, who visit his tomb twice a year to mark his birth and death anniversary use the coconut tree nearest to his grave as a marker.
Artist like Rafi never dies; they remain alive in their work. Mohd Rafi has many followers and his legacy being carried forward by many singers mainly Shabbir Kumar, Mohd. Aziz and latest is Sonu Nigam. He is alive amongst us with his songs. Mujhko Mere Baad Zamana Dhundega……This is our tribute to the Legendary Indian singer.