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Rafi: Golden voice of the silver screen

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Mohammed Rafi, veteran Indian vocalist, is ranked as one of the greatest and most influential singers in the subcontinent
Image Credit: PTI files

Rafi is to playback singing what Shakespeare is to literature, Mozart to music and Da Vinci to painting. Maybe more!

From his childhood days of following a crooning fakir, Mohammad Rafi’s destiny as a singer was chiselled. He knew all he wanted to do in life was sing.

And as if — in Paulo Coelho’s words — the universe was conspiring in helping him achieve his dream, an opportunity presented itself from nowhere.

Music director Shyam Sunder spotted him at a stage show in Lahore where the legendary KL Saigal was to perform.

As the universe kept conspiring, there was a power failure and Saigal refused to sing without a mic. A 13-year old Rafi got a chance to perform and mesmerised everyone — none more than Shyam Sunder.

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Apart from Hindi, Rafi sang some songs in English, Arabic and Persian
Image Credit: Gulf News

Sunder gave Rafi his first Punjabi film song in 1941 followed by first Hindi film song in 1944, before the singing prodigy came under Indian cinema’s grand music mogul Naushad Ali’s wing.

Naushad knew he had hit upon a precious stone that he had to finesse into a cameo. In the subsequent years, the Rafi-Naushad combine went on to give a flurry of super melodies, enthralling both masses and classes with their musical mastery and ethereal renditions, mostly picturised on Dilip Kumar.

Madhuban mein Radhika nache, aaj ki raat mere dil ki salami lele and many other gems are a testimony to how easily Rafi captured the gravitas and understated body language of Dilip Kumar.

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