Mohammed Rafi was an Indian playback singer and is widely regarded as one of the greatest singers in India. He has recorded more than 7400 songs in various languages, from which about 4,516 are Hindi songs and rest are in Assamese, Konkani, Bhojpuri, English, Persian, Dutch, Spanish, Telugu, Maithili, Urdu, Gujarati, Punjabi, Marathi, Bengali, etc.
Mohammed Rafi 24 December 1924 (age 55 years; at the time of death) in the Kotla Sultan Singh village (near Amritsar) of Punjab. His zodiac sign is Capricorn.
He did his schooling from a local school in his village. He did not study much because he was interested in singing. He received his classical training in music from Ustad Barkat Ali Khan and Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan. He was also trained under Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. He used to work in his relative’s barbershop where he would sing while working. Customer’s and his brother noticed his talent. Thereafter, his brother sent him to train under Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan.
Family, Caste & Wife
Mohammed Rafi was born to Haji Ali Mohammed and Allah Rakhi.
He had five brothers named Mohammed Safi, Mohammed Deen, Mohammed Ismail, Mohammed Ibrahim, and Mohammed Siddique. He was the second eldest amongst all of his brothers.
He had two sisters named Chirag Bibi and Reshma Bibi. He got married for the first time to Bashira Bibi. Rafi has a son from his first wife named Sayeed. He got married again to Bilquis Bano in 1943. He had three sons named Khalid, Hamid, and Sahid and three daughters named Parveen, Yashmin, and Nashrin from his second wife.
He made his debut as a playback singer with the song “Soniye Nee, Heeriye Nee” from the Punjabi film “Gul Baloch (1944),” in which he sang along with Zeenat Begum. He made his Bollywood debut as a playback singer with the song ‘Aji Dil Ho Kaabu Me’ from the film “Gaon Ki Gori (1945).”
He had worked with several music composers such as Naushad, S. D. Burman, Shankar-Jaikishan, O. P. Nayyar, Ravi, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, and many more.
- Dekhi Zamaney Ki Yaari
- Kya Hua Tera Vada
- Maine Poocha Chaand Se
- Khoya Khoya Chaand
- Aye Watan
- Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna
- Baney Chahe Dushman
- Chura Liya
- Jaanu Meri Jaan
- Humko Tumse Ho Gaya Hai Pyaar
- Bahaaron Phool Barsao
- Chaudhvin Ka Chand
- Yeh Chand Sa Roshan Chehra
- In the early 1960s, there was a fallout between Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi. Lata demanded for the royalty for the songs they sing and asked Rafi to support her opinion. Instead of supporting her, Rafi went the other way. Rafi said that when producers pay the fees, a singer demand for a song, the singer would not have a share in the royalties. As a result, Lata and Rafi did not sing for about 2-3 years together after this. The veteran music director, Jaikishan finally helped them to reconcile.
- In 2012, Lata Mangeshkar in an interview stated that she had only decided to sing with Rafi after he wrote an apology letter to her. After this incident, Rafi’s son Shahid called her action as an act to dishonour his father. He further added that if it were true then she should produce that letter in front of everyone and if she failed to do so, Shahid would file a case against her.
- Lata Mangeshkar and Rafi were involved in a controversy over Lata’s entry into Guinness Book of World Records. In a letter, dated 11 June 1977, he challenged that the number of songs he had recorded was more than that of Lata’s. After Rafi’s death, Guinness clarified the fact and named her for the ‘Most Recorded Songs’ in 1991, the Guinness book entry of both Lata and Rafi were later deleted.
- Honoured with a silver medal from Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru (first Prime Minister of independent India) on the first anniversary of India’s Independence Day in 1948.
- Padma Shri in 1967
- National Award for the song “Kya Hua Tera Wada” from the film “Hum Kisise Kum Naheen” in 1977
- Best Playback Singer for the song “Chaudhvin Ka Chand Ho” from the film “Chaudhvin Ka Chand” in 1960
- Best Playback Singer for the song “Teri Pyaari Pyaari Surat Ko” from the film “Sasural” in 1961
- Best Playback Singer for the song “Chahunga Main Tujhe” from the film “Dosti” in 1964
- Best Playback Singer for the song “Baharo Phool Barsao” from the film “Suraj” in 1966
- Best Playback Singer for the song “Dil Ke Jharoke Mein” from the film “Brahmachari” in 1968
- Best Playback Singer for the song “Kya Hua Tera Wada” from the film “Hum Kisise Kum Naheen” in 1977
- Films: Mughal-E-Azam, Aradhna, Guide, An Evening In Paris
- Colour: Brown, Red, White
He owned Fiat Padmini and Impala.
He had an estimated net worth of $20-30 million (Rs. 139- 208 crores).
Mohammed Rafi died on 31 July 1980 because of a heart attack in Mumbai. He was buried in Juhu Muslim Cemetery and nearly 10,000 people attended his funeral. The government of India announced two-day public mourning in his honour. In 2010, his tomb was demolished to make room for the new burials. His fans have marked a coconut tree, which was nearest to his grave to pay their tribute to the legend and visit him twice a year on his birth and death anniversaries.
- He learned classical music from Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan, Pandit Jeevan Lal Mattoo, and Feroz Nizami.
- Rafi was invited by All India Radio Station to sing in 1941.
- Apart from singing in Indian languages, he had also sung in foreign languages such as English, Farsi, Arabic, Sinhalese, Creole, and Dutch.
- He moved to Mumbai in 1944 and lived there with Hameed Sahab in a rented ten-by-ten feet room in Bhendi Bazar area.
- Rafi appeared on the screen for the song “Tera Jalwa Jis Ne Dekha” from the movie “Laila Majnu (1976)” and “Wo Apni Yaad Dilane Ko” from the movie “Jugnu (1973).”
- Rafi considered K. L. Saigal as his idol and was influenced by G. M. Durrani. He even followed their singing style during the initial days of his career.
- After the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948, the team of Husanlal Bhagatram-Rajendra Krishnan and Rafi created a song titled, “Suno Suno Ae Duniyawalon, Bapuji Ki Amar Kahaani” overnight. Rafi was then invited by Jawaharlal Nehru, to sing at his house.
- His song “Tu Kahin Aas Paas Hai Dost” for the composer Laxmikant-Pyarelal was recorded just hours before his death.
- Rafi along with Lata Mangeshkar was voted the most popular playback singer in a poll conducted by Outlook Magazine in 2010. The same survey voted “Man Re Tu Kahe Na (Chitralekha (1964)),” as number one song and “Tere Mere Sapne Ab Ek Rang Hai(Guide (1965)),” and “Din Dhal Jaye Haye,” as the second.
- Numerous Indian playback singers such as Sonu Nigam, Abhijeet, Armaan Malik, Udit Narayan, Arijit Singh, and many more consider Rafi as their inspiration.
- The ‘Padma Shri Mohammed Rafi Chowk’ in the Bandra suburbs of Mumbai is named after him.
- The official biography tilted, ‘Mohammed Rafi: Golden Voice of the Silver Screen’ was written by Shahid Rafi and Sujata Dev and was launched on his 91st birth anniversary.
- Mohammed Rafi’s nickname is Pheeko.
- At the age of 13, Rafi made his first public appearance in Lahore where he sang a song by K. L. Saigal.
- When he was 10 years old, there used to be a fakir (a Muslim (or, loosely, a Hindu) religious ascetic who lives solely on alms) who would roam in his village and sing. Being fascinated by Fakir’s singing, Mohammed used to follow the Fakir and listen to him sing. The fakir was a great influence on his singing.
- Rafi’s father was against his singing and would often beat him when Rafi talked about becoming a singer.
- According to Naushad, Rafi came to him with a letter of recommendation from his father. The first time Rafi worked for Naushad was “Hindustan Ke Hum Hain” from the film “Pehle Aap (1944).”
- Naushad was Rafi’s mentor and was the one who helped Rafi to establish himself as one of the prominent singers of the Indian film industry.
- According to Rafi, one of his favourite songs is “Suhani Raat Dhal Chuki,” which was sung by him.
- According to the poll conducted by BBC Asia Network , ‘Bahaaron Phool Barsao’ was voted as the most popular Hindi song.
- In an interview with BBC, Rafi admitted that he had cried during the recording of the song ‘Babul Ki Duaen Leti Ja.’
- On 31 July 2010, his son Shahid Rafi launched Mohammed Rafi Academy on the occasion of his father’s 30th death anniversary. It imparts training to individuals in Indian classical and contemporary music.
- On his 93rd birthday, Google showed a commemorative doodle on its homepage.
- He liked to play badminton and carrom.