Why is Mohd Rafi the greatest singer?

This Mohd Rafi remember suit to a perfect ‘T’ to pay homage to the legendary singer on his 90th birth anniversary that falls today. Raaga.Com remembers the maestro and explores why Mohd Rafi is regarded as the greatest singer. 

Recently in CNN-IBN conducted a poll and took public opinion among the golden voices of Hindi cinema from the likes of Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Mukesh, Kishore Kumar and Mohammad Rafi and the people voted for Mohammad Rafi. He was thus crowned the greatest singer amongst the legends of Hindi cinema music.

Listen to Mohammad Rafi Songs on Raaga.com

A student of musical stalwarts like Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan, Pt Jiwan Lal Mattoo and Firoze Nizami at the tender age of 13 young Md Rafi proved his potential as a singer par excellence. 

Thus at an early age Rafi became a name to reckon. In Bollywood he ruled for three decades from 50’s to the 70’s .He sung for all top stars. In the 50’s he sung for Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand and Raj Kapoor, despite Mukesh was his favorite singer! 

In the 60’s he was at the peak of his career. In fact it was his matchless songs that set the box office ringing and turned many wooden actors like Rajendra Kumar, Pradeep Kumar, Manoj Kumar, Dharmendra, Joy Mukherjee, Biswajeet, etc into stars solely only the strength of Rafi Sahab’s songs. 

The 70 was his testing time and it was during this phase Rafi sahab witnessed a threat from his rival singer Kishore Kumar, who became a star singer thanks to his association with the superstar of that era Rajesh Khanna. As a result this was a lean phase of Rafi’s career while Kishore Kumar ruled. 

However it was this phase which brought on the horizon the true genius of Rafi. Though Kishore Kumar was the most sought after singer but whenever music directors stuck on difficult songs they had to rush for Rafi! A pointer to this is the best example of the Rajesh Khannna’s hit movie HATHI MERE SAATHI. All the songs are sung by Kishore Kumar except the super hit climax song Nafrat Ki Duniya Ko Chhod Ke….

According to Laxmikant (of music director duo Laxmikant-Pyarelal, who composed music for the film) initially the song was to be recorded in Kishore Kumar’s voice but despite several takes Kishore Kumar was not able to express the desired pathos and anguish required for song. Laxmikant suggested Rafi to sing the song but the producer insisted on Kishore Kumar, as he was the star singer. 

After a tussle between producers and music director duo Laxmikant-Pyarelal the song was decided to be deleted from the film. But Laxmikantji, director M.A. Thirumugam and Rajesh Khanna were against deleting the song. Finally Rafi sahab was called to sing the song.

He sang the song with such emotions that the audiences could not control their tears in cinema halls! Even today when you hear the song, eyes are filled with tears due to Rafi Sahab’s soul string and grief ridden voice!!!