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Mohammed Rafi

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Mohammed Rafi was born on 24 December 1924 at Kotla Sultanpur, which is a town near Amritsar in undivided region of Punjab. Mohammed Rafi was the son of Hajji Ali Mohammad and was the youngest of his five brothers. Rafi loved singing from a young age and used to imitate the chants of fakirs near his house. The family moved to Lahore during the 1920s. It was in Lahore that Rafi’s elder brother’s friend, Abdul Hameed recognized the young boy’s talent and encouraged him to sing. He learnt classical music from Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan and Firoze Nizami. Rafi started giving public performances as a teenager; his first performance was as a 13 year old.


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In 1941, Rafi made his debut in Lahore as a playback singer with the duet, ‘Soniye Nee, Heeriye Nee’ with Zeenat Begum in the Punjabi film “Gul Baloch’. However, the film was released only in 1944. He then moved to Bombay to try for a singing career in the Hindi film industry. He made his Hindi film debut with the movie, ‘Gaon Ki Gori’ in 1945. ‘Aji Dil Ho Kaaboo Mein’ from this movie is considered his first Hindi song. During this time he also appeared on the screen in two movies. He appeared on the song ‘Tera Jalwa Jis Ne Dekha’ in the movie ‘Laila Majnu’ in 1945. He also made an appearance in ‘Shahjahan’ in 1946, a movie for which he sang a number of songs. His popularity began to soar during the late 1940s. He sang the song ‘Tera Khilona Toota Balak’ from the movie ‘Anmol Ghadi in 1946 and ‘Yahan Badla Wafa Ka’ in the 1947 film, ‘Jugnu’. He decided to stay in India after the partition and made Mumbai his home. It was a very good decision as his Hindi film career was going great and would help him touch newer heights. During the 1950s and 1960s, Rafi enjoyed great fame and glory as he became the undisputed voice of the super stars Dev Anand and Guru Dutt. It was the songs for movies like ‘Pyaasa’ (1957) and ‘Guide’ (1965) that made Rafi a celebrity. He formed a very successful partnership with Shankar Jaikishan which produced many melodious and super hit songs. Some of the partnership’s most successful songs are ‘Teri Pyari Pyari Surat Ko’, ‘Baharon Phool Bharsao’ and ‘Dil Ke Jharokhe Mein’. Rafi’s talents and his versatility to adjust his voice to suit any actor he sang for made him an extremely popular playback singer. However, during the 1970s he faced stiff competition from the new singer on the block, Kishore Kumar. But professional rivalry apart, the two singers also produced many duets. He also formed successful collaborations with the leading female singers of his times, the sisters Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle with whom he sang a number of super hit duets that are popular even today.


Personal life

Rafi married twice; his first marriage was to his cousin; Bashira and took place in his ancestral village. The marriage ended when his first wife refused to live in India following the killing of her parents during the riots of the Partition of India and moved to Lahore, Pakistan. Rafi had four sons and three daughters; his first son Saeed was from his first marriage.


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He died suddenly of a heart attack on 31 July, 1980 at the age of 55. His death came as a shock to the nation as he was a teetotaler with clean habits.



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