Birthday Legend Mohd Rafi Was As Vintage As He Was Hip

The maestro remains incomparable in Hindi film music.

2 min read
Birthday Legend Mohd Rafi Was As Vintage  As He Was Hip

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Tum Mujhe Yun Bhula Na Paaoge
Jab Kabhi Bhi, Sunoge Geet Mere
Sang Sang Tum Bhi Gungunaaoge

I think there comes a moment in every artist’s life when he/she pauses to realise that ‘Yes, this is what I’ll be remembered for’. I wonder if these lyrics from Pagla Kahin Ka (1970) made Rafi saab feel the same way. But honestly, an artist of his calibre would probably have had a zillion such moments. There was literally no vocal stunt that the legendary playback singer, who would have turned 92 today, could not achieve. And there was no actor whose persona he couldn’t match with his grand voice. The timeless melodies that Rafi left behind, can never fit into a listicle, but we try, just so that our hearts fill up with all the emotions, that this miracle singer still evokes.

Madhuban Mein Radhika Nache Re from Kohinoor (1960) is one such song. Incredible is an understatement for what Rafi has done here. This classical number can bring even the most seasoned artists to their knees, but Rafi creates effortless magic with his roller coaster aalaaps.

Who can forget this lovely title track from Chaudhvin Ka Chand Ho (1960). Mohd Rafi’s soothing voice was, and still is, the epitome of romance. Stalwarts like Guru Dutt and Waheeda Rehman wouldn’t have had the careers they did, if it wasn’t for this mega Rafi hit. It also got Rafi his first Filmfare award.

And this Dev Anand number from Hum Dono (1961) needs no introduction.

Rafi’s partnership with music directors Shankar-Jaikishen, was the most famous and successful pairing of the Hindi film industry. He sang about 341 songs composed by the duo, 216 of which were Rafi’s solo numbers. Here’s one of the many gems, that’ll get you humming along for sure!

Hindi cinema’s iconic music director O.P. Nayyar once said- “If there had been no Mohd. Rafi, there would have been no O. P. Nayyar”. One of their most popular tunes featuring the demure Sharmila Tagore and the boisterous Shammi Kapoor, always completes a game of Antakshari.

Rafi was vintage and hip, with equal charm! No wonder he appeals to the young and old alike. Actor Rishi Kapoor shared a personal memory of Rafi saab on Twitter today.

He even gave eve teasers and road-side romeos something to hum. Who would’ve thought!

Mohd Rafi sang most of his duets with Asha Bhonsle, Lata Mangeshkar and Manna Dey. In fact, apart from singing in Hindi and other Indian languages, he even sung in Persian, Dutch, Spanish, English and Creole! His music will make us smile and tear up for years to come, and that’s the greatest gift an artist can give his fans. No wonder his funeral procession on July 31st 1980, was one of the biggest gatherings the city has ever witnessed with over 10,000 people attending his burial at the Juhu Muslim cemetery.

Rafi saab, you are deeply missed.

(This story is from The Quint’s archives and was first published on 31 July 2015, and is being republished to mark Mohammed Rafi’s birth anniversary.)

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