|Biographical detail : ||A man who sang for the soul.
Muhammad Rafi a playback singer in India’s Bollywood films with his mellifluous and catharsis-inducting songs continue to provide succour to millions of his ardent fans in and around Indian sub-continent with broken hearts.
It is impossible to conceive of another singer ever attaining such height of his awesome voice.
In 1941, when Rafi was barely 17, an illiterate who had to commit the words to memory before going to the microphone, he sang his first playback song for a Punjabi film, ‘Gul Baloch’. Following the popularity of his Punjabi song he took the final big step of his life by going to Bombay, in 1942, and there he sang for the movie, ‘Gaon Ki Gauri’. After his successful debut in Bombay Rafi approached the renowned maestro music director, Naushad, who did not disappoint the rising star of the playback singer – ‘Baiju Bawra’ was the stormy start of his career in Bollywood.
‘Bapu Ki Amar Kahani’, a poignant song dedicated to the Mahatma Gandhi, recorded just after a month following Mahatma’s assassination, in January 1948, had Pundit Nehru shedding tears at the emotional voice of Muhammad Rafi.
Rafi sang over 26,000 songs in all the Indian national languages in his 40-year career. He was honoured with Padma Shree Award, in 1965, Rajat Kamal Award, in 1977 as well as Sri Sanjiva Reddy at the 25th National Film Festival Awards.
Rafi received his training from prominent classical Ustads like Abdul Wahid Khan, Pundit Jiwanlal Matto, Ghulam Ali Khan and Firoz Nizami – all doyens and devotees of music. Rafi scaled heights of fame and popularity that no other Indian singer ever has or perhaps ever will come close to his melodies that enchanted lovers of music in South Asia.
A sort of genius, Rafi, a deeply religious, dignified, humble and soft-spoken gentleman in, Bollywood, an industry usually known for its vices than virtues remains something outstanding.
Muhammad Rafi was born in Kotla Sultansingh, a village near Amritsar, in Punjab (India). Though he was born with a gift for music in his heart his father did not look favourably upon his singing.
His ‘last journey’ though commenced from ‘Rafi Villa’ in Bandra, Bombay, on that sad and wet day, 31st July, but The Voice – immortal – has not left his fans.