Rafi – the versatile maestro of Indian Music

“I am incomplete without Mohammad Rafi. I used to often go for the recoding of my song, which was sung by Rafi, only because I used to like telling him how I would perform on this song on screen so that he can sing it that way. Even he liked my involvement” ~ Shammi Kapoor

This is an understatement that Mohammed Rafi has left a lasting and permanent impression on the Indian music. In fact, Rafi and Indian film music are inseparable.

Just try to imagine the soulful and broken-heart songs from Guru Dutt without the playback voice of Rafi; or try imagining Dev Anand’s movies without Rafi’s songs – ranging from romantic to sad. Shammi Kapoor’s jumping-jack and light-hearted dance numbers are impossible without Rafi. It is inconceivable to think of Indian movies of 50s, 60s and 70s without Rafi’s melodies.

When it comes to the Indian Music, Rafi was a true genius. From classical to folk, from sad to romantic, from religious to dancing tunes – he was able to sing every genre with equal finesse. For every mood, for every occasion, you can always find memorable numbers from Rafi. The man could sing anything, and in any range of octaves.

“Chaudhvin Ka Chand Ho”(1960, Chaudhvin Ka Chand)
“Chahunga Main Tujhe” (1964, Dosti)
“Baharo Phool Barsao” (1966, Suraj)
“Dil Ke Jharoke Mein” (1968, Brahmachari)
“Kya Hua Tera Wada” (1977, Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahin)
“Maine Poocha Chand Se” (1980, Abdullah)
“Yeh Jo Chilman Hai” (1971, Mehboob Ki Mehandi)
“Khilona Jaan Kar” (1970, Khilona)
“Suhani Raat Dhal Chuki” (1949, Dulari)
“Bichhade sabhee baaree baaree” (1959, Kaagaz Ke Phool)
“O duniya ke rakhwale” (1952, Baiju Bawra)
“Aaj purani rahon se koi mujhe awaaz na de” (1968, Aadmi)
….. and so on….

In fact the list is more than 27000 songs long. This is in spite of the fact that he took a long break for Hajj pilgrimage at the top of his career and he only lived to be 55 years old.

Rafi has given us so many evergreen songs for all occasions. Be it a classical music director like Naushad and S D Burman  or modern trendsetters like O P Nayyar and Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Rafi collaborated with each and every one of them to produce some of the most memorable music of the era. Although most of his music is in Hindi or Urdu – as a playback singer to the Hindi movies, he has rerecorded music in many other languages. Punjabi being his mother-tongue, his contribution to the Punjabi folk music is equally unforgettable.

Now, which one is the best song from Rafi? This is like asking – ‘Pick the brightest star in the sky?’ There is always a debate about the so called ‘best ever’ song from Rafi. Based on your personal preference, base on the mood – the choices always vary. The fact is, Rafi has given too many ‘best’ songs for a variety of genres. Take your pick and enjoy, and then find another ‘best’! 🙂

According to a published story, a man sentenced to be hanged was asked his last wish. The condemned man requested that he be allowed to listen to “O duniya ke rakhwale, sun dard bare mere naale; jeewan apna wapas lele, jeewan dene wale!”

On jury 31, 1980, Rafi passed away when he was only 55, but his music lives on! Rafi is one of the most versatile singers of all times; his voice and his music is simply irreplaceable – today and tomorrow!

With all the fame and glory, Rafi was a very simple and very down-to-earth human being. He was a family man. He stayed away from the filmy party scene; a teetotaler who did not smoke or drink.

“Teree Galiyon Mein Na Rakhenge Qadam Aaj Ke Baad” may apply to his mortal existence, but his legend is immortal in the streets of every town and city of India; Rafi will always live in our hearts!

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One Reply to “Rafi – the versatile maestro of Indian Music”

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