Mohammed Rafi

Profession: Singer , Actor, Music Director, Supporting Actor
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Personal Details

  • Also Know as :- Mohammed Rafi
  • Profession:- Singer , Actor, Music Director, Supporting Actor
  • Gender :- male
  • Birthdate:- 24 Dec 1924
  • Status:- Married
  • Debut Year:- 1944
  • Active Years:- 31 Jul 1980

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Mohammed Rafi
Indian Film History
Mohammed Rafi
Indian Film History
Mohammed Rafi
Indian Film History

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Mohammed Rafi – The King of Playback Singing! 

Mujhko Mere Baad Zamana Dhoondega….

This song of Mohd Rafi suits to a perfect T to pay homage to Rafi Sahib because generations will come and generations will go but the world will never forget Mohd Rafi - Unarguably the King among Playback Singers!  Winner of 6 Filmfare Awards and one National Film Award, the government of India saluted his talent by honoring him with Padma Shri.


Mohd Rafi did his formal primary education (till class IV) from Government Elementary School, Kotla Sultan Singh in Urdu Medium. 

Musical training

Young Rafi took Hindustani Classical training from Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan, Pandit Jiwan Lal Mattoo, Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, and Firoze Nizami.


Mohd Rafi got married in 1937 at the young age of 13 to Bashira Banu, who was the daughter of his uncle. The marriage did not last long as due to Indo-Pak partition, Mohd Rafi came to India, while Bashira Banu declined to leave Lahore. From the first marriage, Rafi had a son Shaheed Rafi.

Later Mohd Rafi married Bilquis Banu in 1944 at the age of 20. He had 2 sons Hamid and Khalid and 2 daughters Parveen and Nasreen.

A fakir predicted a bright future in singing for Mohd Rafi

As a child, Mohd Rafi led the usual life of a village boy. He played in the fields of Kotla Sultan Singh village near Amritsar in Punjab and led a carefree life. The only difference that made Rafi different from other children was that since tender age Rafi was attracted to music. In his village, there was a Fakir, who would roam singing songs and little Rafi would be so mesmerized by his songs that he would follow him. One day, Rafi went out of the village limits following the fakir. The family was worried. Later the fakir brought Rafi to his house and told the family that the little boy has god gifted voice and he must be trained in music. The Fakir predicted that Rafi has a very bright future and would one day rule as a popular singer in the world. However, Rafi's father was furious and against music. But fortunately, Rafi's elder brother Abdul Hamid took Rafi under his wings and trained him in music.

Mohd Rafi gave his First Stage Performance at the age of 13 years!

Mohd Rafi displayed his genius as an excellent singer when in the absence of famous singer K.L. Saigal he got the opportunity to sing on stage. Rafi with his golden voice won the hearts of crowds and became instant popular!

According to lore Bollywood singer, K.L. Saigal was to give a public performance at Lahore. But due to power failure the sound system went dead. The restless audience started creating chaos. The organizers were in tight corner. Hence to save the organizers from the turmoil Abdul Hameed, Mohd Rafi's elder brother asked Mohd Rafi to jump on stage and entertain the audience! A 13-year old Mohd Rafi was excited and began singing without a mike!! However, Rafi's voice was so melodious that the crowds were overwhelmed and soon a pin drop silence assented as people were enchanted by Rafi golden voice!!


Mohd Rafi's made his debut as a singer in Punjabi film

The first stage performance of Mohd Rafi not only made him popular in his village but also won him his First Singing assignment in a Punjab Film. It so happened that when Mohd Rafi was performing on the stage he was noticed by popular Music director Shyam Sunder, who had specially arrived to listen K.L. Saigal but was left spellbound by Mohd Rafi's mellifluous voice. Soon after the stage performance, Shyam Sunder approached Rafi and signed him to sing-song in his Punjabi Film Gul Baloch. The song was Soniye ni Heeriye ni....

Mohd Rafi's first meeting with Music director Naushad

Impressed by Rafi's amazing talent Music Director Shyam Sunder asked him to move to Mumbai and try his luck in Bollywood. To boost Rafi's confidence Shyam Sunder gave him a recommendation letter addressed to music director Naushad. After a lot of struggle, Rafi was finally able to meet Naushad. On the request of Shyam Sunder, Naushad offered Rafi a chance to sing in a chorus in his film Pehle Aap (1944). The song was 'Hindostan Ke hum hai Hindostan Humara…"

Mohd Rafi's earned Rs 10/- for his first song in Bollywood

Readers would be surprised to know that Mohd Rafi was paid Rs 10/- for his first song 'Hindostan Ke hum hai Hindostan Humara… In those days it was equivalent to Rs 100/- Hence an excited Rafi rented a small house in a chawl at Dongri at Central Mumbai.

Naushad offered Rafi his First Solo Song

After employing Rafi as a chorus singer for many films, Naushad experimented solo song with Mohd Rafi. The song was Tera Khilauna Toota BalakTera Khilauna Toota… (Anmol Ghadi, 1946). The song was a hit. However, what impressed Naushad was Rafi’s ability to adapt to the artist singing on the screen. Rafi molded his voice with apt expression and emotions.

Mohd Rafi delivers his career's First Major Hit Song

Eminent Music Director and All India Radio (AIR) Lahore Music Division Producer, Feroz Nizami was the first music director who gave Rafi popularity in Lahore by offering him a chance to sing for AIR.

Interestingly, before partition, Feroz Nizami offered Rafi a duet with popular actress cum singer of the 40's Noor Jahan in the film Jugnu (1947) staring upcoming star Dilip Kumar and Noor Jahan. The song was `Yahan Badla Wafa Ka…' The song became a national craze and made Mohd Rafi a topmost singer!!

With Suno Suno Ae Duniyawalon Bapu Ki Amar Kahani …Rafi became a Star!

On January 30, 1948, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated sending shock wave in the country. To pay homage to the Father of the Nation, the Indian film industry recorded a song Suno Suno Ae Duniyawalon Bapu Ki Amar Kahani….sung with intense pathos and emotions by Mohd Rafi. The song was such a hit that it made Mohd Rafi a ‘Star Singer’ overnight. 


Naushad and Rafi became one-soul two lives!

Naushad played a lion share in making Mohd Rafi a star singer. In 1948, Naushad used Mohd Rafi for a tragic song Ye Zindagi Ke Mele, Duniyaa Men Kam Na Honge (Mela). Rafi sang the song with such sentiments that Naushad was overwhelmed by Rafi's talent. This boosted Naushad and he used Rafi for similar sad songs in his films like Tere Koche Mein Armaano Ki Duniya… (Dillagi- 1949) and the other timeless classic Suhani Raat Dhal Chuki.. (Dulari (1949). 

The success of these films brought Naushad and Rafi so close and the two became one soul and two lives. The association cemented with the huge success of musical hit Deedar (1951). For the first time, Naushad used Rafi for all the songs Remember hit songs like Meri Kahani Bhoolne Wale…. Bachpan Ke Din Bhoola Na Dena….. Hue Hum Jinke Liye Barbaad….

The next big hit was Mehboob Khan's Aan (1952). Songs like  Maan Mera Ehsan… Dil Mein Chhupake Pyar Ka…. Etc. The songs were chartbuster!

Naushad and Rafi created history with Baiju Bawra

In the early 50's filmmaker, Vijay Bhatt made Baiju Bawra a musical film based on Hindustani Classical music. Since the story demanded Classical music hence he selected Naushad to compose the music. Kudos to Naushad as he composed Classical music with such a skill that it had a mass appeal! Naushad explored Mohd Rafi's voice to maximum advantage and the duo created history! Each song composed was pure Gold. Who can forget hit songs like O Duniya Ke Rakhwale…, Tu Ganga Ki Mauj… and the all-time classic Bhajan Man Tadpat Hari Darshan Ko Aaj……..

The music of the film was such a hit that the film celebrated 100 weeks!! The sale of music records earned more than the box-office collection!!! Naushad won Best Music Director Filmfare Award. (In those days there was no award for Best Playback hence Rafi did not win award.) 

Naushad –Rafi –Dilip Kumar Ruled the 50's and 60's

After the stupendous success of Baiju Bawra, The Naushad –Rafi combination ruled the 50's and the 60's. The duo was joined by a third individual - the superstar – Dilip Kumar. The trio thus gave peerless melodies and umpteen hit films like O Door Ke Musafir…. (Udan Khatola), Madhuban Mein Radhika Naache Re… (Kohinoor), Zindabad Zindabad Ae Mohabbat …(Mughal - E – Azam), Naina Lad Jaihen…. (Gunga Jumna), Koi Sagar Dil Ko Behlata Nahin….(Dil Diya Dard Liya),  Mujhe Duniya Walon Sharabi Na Samjho… (Leader), Aaj Ki Raat Mere… (Ram Aur Shyam), Aaj Purani Raahon Se…. (Adami), etc.


Mohd Rafi became the most sought after the singer of every Music director

The '60s is regarded as the Golden Era of Bollywood because of its melodious music. The decade witnessed Mohd Rafi singing for almost all the top music directors of Bollywood like S D Burman in films Tere Ghar Ke Samne, Guide, Aradhana to Shankar-Jaikishan in films like Professor, Junglee, Suraj, Love in Tokyo to O. P. Nayyar  in films Naya Daur, Tumsa Nahin Dekha, Kashmir Ki Kali (1964). Madan Mohan in films like Ghazal, Mamta, Haqeeqat to Ravi in films Chaudhvin Ka Chand, Kaajal and Do Badan to Roshan in films like Barsaat Ki Raat, Taj Mahal, Chitralekha to Khayyam in films like Shola Aur Shabnam, Shagoon, Aakhri Khat

Mohd Rafi became Voice of Shammi Kapoor

The '60s was one decade when the playback of Mohd Rafi proved a catalyst in making the careers of many actors. This decade witnessed many chocolate actors who were wooden actors but thanks to Mohd Rafi’s songs their film proved hit and made them stars!

 For instance, Shammi Kapoor was discarded as flop star but with Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957 film) he became a hit star. The songs of the film were the real hero – songs like Tumsa Nahin Dekha ….Chhupnewale Samne Aa….After the success of this film, Rafi became the voice of Shammi Kapoor. The duo gave a string of hit films like An Evening In Paris, Kashmir Ki Kali, Janwar, Professor, Junglee, the list is long.

Rajendra Kumar too became a star due to Mohd Rafi

After Shammi Kapoor, the struggling actor Rajendra Kumar won success Goonj Uthi Shehnai (1959). The film was a hit pure for its hit songs like Jivan Men Piya Tera Sath Rahe…. Kah Do Koi Na Kare Yahan Pyaar…The next hit film was Gharana. Remember hit songs Husn Wale Tera Jawaab Nahin…….and Jabse Tumhe Dekha Hai… with these two films Rajendra Kumar became a star and the Rajendra Kumara and Rafi Jodi last till the end of the mid 70’s The gave many hit films like Sasural, Suraj, Mere Mehboob, Dil Ek Mandir etc.

Mohd Rafi made many chocolate heroes a Star!

Similarly, Shashi Kapoor was a struggling actor but after Jab Jab Phool Khile he became a star solely on the strength of hit songs. Same is the story of other chocolate actors like Dharmendra (Aya Sawan Jhoom Ke), Jeetendra (Farz),  Joy Mukherjee (Love In Tokyo), Manoj Kumar ( Sawan Ki Ghata), Biswajit ( Mere Sanam), etc.


The '70s saw a short decline of Rafi but he returned with a bang

Though Rafi ruled the 50's and 60's but the early '70s witnessed a decline of Rafi. The success of Aradhana (1969) made Rajesh Khanna a superstar and a new wave of Rajesh Khanna and Kishore Kumar took center stage. But the phase did not last long as soon Rafi made a comeback with a bang with the huge success of Laila Majnu (1976) and formed a new association of Rafi and Rishi Kapoor. In Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahin (1977) Rafi proved his genius winning his 6th Filmfare Best Singer Award for the song Kya Hua Tera Wada….

Filmmaker Manmohan Desai gave new life to Mohd Rafi in his films Amar Akbar Anthony, Dharam Veer, Naseeb, etc. From 1977 Rafi did not look back and won 6 Filmfare nomination for hit songs Parda Hai Parda …(Amar Akbar Anthony); Aadmi Musafir Hai…..(Apnapan), Chalo Re Doli Uthao Kahaar…. (Jaani Dushman), Dard-e-Dil Dard-e-Jigar… (Karz) and Maine Poocha Chand Se…(Abdullah).


Mohd Rafi left this world at the height of success

Mohammed Rafi was in his pink of health and his career was flourishing. He was back on the top. On 31 July 1980, he completed a song recording for music director Laxmikant–Pyarelal for the film Aas Paas and went home. But at night about 10:25 pm he suffered a massive heart attack and died.

Rafi's funeral procession is regarded as the funeral with largest mourners.

Rafi fans were devastated and thousands attended his funeral in Mumbai. It is reported more than 10,000 people attended his burial, who came from across Indian and aboard. Rafi's funeral procession is regarded as the funeral with largest mourners.

In a rare tribute, the government of India announced two-day public mourning in his honor.

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