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Mohammed Rafi

Mohammed Rafi December 24, 1924 July 31, 1980) was an Indian playback singer.He was one of the greatest Indian playback singers in Bollywood. Rafi still remains popular in India and in many other parts of the world with people of Indian origin. His voice is referred to as "the voice of god". He continues to inspire new Bollywood playback singers like Sonu Nigam, Mohammed Aziz, Shabbir Kumar and Anwar. Rafi sang many well known duets with Lata Mangeshkar, Geeta Dutt and Lata's sister Asha Bhosle. He has sung in many Indian languages like Hindi, Urdu, Marathi and Telugu, but he is chiefly remembered for his songs from Hindi cinema (also known as Bollywood). His songs are widely popular in the Indian subcontinent. Along with Mukesh and Kishore Kumar, he was one of the three leading male Bollywood playback singers from the 1950s to the 1970s.

Rise to fame

Rafi established himself as the number one playback singer in Bollywood with the songs of Baiju Bawra (1952). The songs from Baiju Bawra, O duniya ke rakhwale and Man tarpat Hari darshan ko aaj established Rafi's credentials. The newly-started radio program Binaca Geetmala also played the songs, leading to an increase in their popularity. It is said that Talat Mahmood used to be Naushad's favorite singer. Once Naushad found Talat smoking during a recording. Annoyed, he hired Rafi to sing for Baiju Bawra[citation needed]. Rafi was a devout Muslim refrained from smoking and drinking alcohol. Later, Naushad started using Rafi as the male voice in almost every song composed by him. Rafi sang a total of 149 songs (81 of them solo) for Naushad.

In 1950s and 1960s, Rafi became the favorite singer of other composers too, notably O. P. Nayyar, Shankar Jaikishan and Sachin Dev Burman. S D Burman patronized Rafi as the singing voice of Dev Anand in 1950s and 1960s. Rafi's notable songs with S. D. Burman included songs from the movies Tere Ghar ke Saamne (1957), Pyaasa (1957), Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959), Guide (1965), Aradhana (1969) and Abhimaan (1973). O P Nayyar was so impressed with Rafi that he got Rafi to sing a song Man mora baawara for singer-actor Kishore Kumar, in the movie Raagini. Rafi sang for Kishore Kumar in many other movies such as Baaghi, Shehzaada and Shararat. O. P. Nayyar used Rafi and Asha Bhosle for most of his songs. The team created many hit songs in early 1950s and 1960s for movies such as Naya Daur (1957), Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957) and Kashmir Ki Kali (1964). Rafi sang a total of 197 numbers (56 solo) for O P Nayyar.[10] The team of Shankar Jaikishan and Rafi is noted for the songs picturized on Rajendra Kumar. Rafi sang a total of 341 numbers (216 solo) for Shankar-Jaikishan.

Rafi got his first Filmfare Award for the title song of Chaudhvin Ka Chand (1960), composed by Ravi. He got his first National Award for the song Babul Ki Duaen Leti Ja from the film Neel Kamal (1968), also composed by Ravi. Ravi and Rafi produced several other hit songs, in the films such as China Town (1962), Kaajal (1965), and Do Badan (1966). Madan Mohan was another composer whose favorite singer was Rafi. Rafi's first solo with Madan Mohan in Ankhen (1950) "Hum ishq mein barbad hain barbad rahenge" was a great hit. They teamed up to produce many hit songs including Teri Aankhon ke Siva, Yeh Duniya Yeh Mehfil and Tum Jo Mil Gaye Ho. The composer duo Laxmikant-Pyarelal ("L-P") also patronized Rafi as one of their leading singers since their first released film, Parasmani (1963). Both Rafi and L-P won the Filmfare Awards for the song Chahoonga main tujhe saanjh savere from Dosti. Rafi sang a total of 369 numbers (186 solo) for LP. Rafi sang for many lesser-known composers as well. Once, when a minor composer, Nisar Bazmi (who migrated to Pakistan in early 1960s), did not have enough money to pay him, Rafi charged a fee of one rupee and sang for him.

In the 1960s, Rafi was not on good terms with Lata Mangeshkar, the most sought-after female playback singer in Bollywood, over royalty issues. Lata wanted Rafi to back her in demanding a half-share from the five percent song royalty that the film's producer conceded to select composers. But Rafi took a diametrically opposite view, and believed that a playback singer's claim on the filmmaker ended with the payment of agreed fee for the song. During the recording of Tasveer Teri Dil Mein (Maya, 1961), Lata lost her cool with Rafi in a certain passage of the song. Rafi felt belittled, as music director Salil Chowdhury sided with Lata. The situation worsened when Lata Mangeshkar declared that she would no longer sing with Rafi. Rafi stated that he was only so keen to sing with Lata as she was with him.] Later, at the insistence of S.D.Burman, the two decided to make up and sing duets, but on a personal level, they were not on good terms.

Between 1950 and 1970, Rafi was the most sought after singer in Bollywood, some say, at the expense of the careers of contemporaries like Manna Dey, Talat Mahmood, and Hemant Kumar. He did playback singing for all the major male stars in Hindi films until his death. In 1965, he was honoured by the Government of India with the Padma Sri award. Rafi recorded two hindi songs in English on 7" release in 1968. He also sang a song in Creole language, while his visit to Mauritius in the late 1960s.

Rafi recorded two English albums. One of them is Pop Hits. In Bollywood, yodeling is generally associated with Kishore Kumar. But Rafi also used yodeling in some of old songs, such as Hello sweety seventeen (duet with Asha Bhosle), O Chale ho kaha, Dilke Aine main, Unse Rippy Tippy Ho gayee (duet with Geeta Dutt).

Last years
In his last years, Rafi was involved in controversy over Lata Mangeshkar's entry in the Guinness Book of World Records. In a letter dated June 11, 1977 to the Guinness Book of World Records, Rafi had challenged the claim that Lata Mangeshkar has recorded the maximum number of songs ("not less than 25,000" according to Guinness). After receiving a rather escapist reply from Guinness, in a letter dated November 20, 1979, he wrote: "I am disappointed that my request for a reassessment vis-a-vis Ms Mangeshkar's reported world record has gone unheeded.". After Rafi's death, in its 1984 edition, the Guinness Book of Word Records stated Lata Mangeshkar's name for the "Most Recordings" but also stated: "Mohammad Rafi (d 1 Aug 1980) [sic] claimed to have recorded 28,000 songs in 11 Indian languages between 1944 and April 1980.". Many fans of Rafi state that he has sung over 28,000 songs. However, according to the available figures, Rafi has sung 4,516 Hindi film songs, 112 non-Hindi film songs, and 328 private (non-film) songs from 1945 to 1980.The Guinness Book entries for both Rafi and Lata were later removed in 1991.
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