Mohammed Rafi was born on December 24, 1924 at Kotla Sultan Singh, a town near Amritsar in Punjab. That Rafi was gifted with precious vocal talents became evident at a tender age and his elder brother Hamid took upon himself the onus of grooming Rafi's budding career. On Hamid's insistence, Mohammed Rafi made his first public performance at the age of 13 and the young lad's melodious voice immediately struck a chord with noted Bollywood composer Shyam Sunder who was present in the audience.
Shyam Sunder invited Rafi to Bombay and at the age of 20, Rafi made his
debut as a playback singer with the Punjabi song, Soniye Hiriye, teri
yaad ne bahut sataya composed by Shyam Sunder for the movie Gul Baloch.
Rafi's virtuosity reaffirmed the composer's faith in him and he was soon
swarmed with offers to work with top-notch Bollywood composers. He got
the opportunity to work with composer Naushad in the 1944 film Pehle
This association spawned the birth one of Bollywood's most successful
singer-composer pairs as the Rafi-Naushad duo went on to deliver some
memorable numbers. The song Tera Khilona Toota Balak in Anmol Ghadi
(1946) was their first hit. Mohd Rafi then teamed up with Sachin De
Burman to produce some soulful renditions for Dev Anand's films. The S.
D. Burman-Rafi duo also delivered classic numbers in films such as
Aradhana, Abhimaan, Pyaasa, C.I.D. and Kaagaz ke Phool.
Riding on a string of massive hits, Mohammed Rafi ascended to the acme
of playback singing in Bollywood and his status as the numero uno
crooner stood unrivaled for two decades. Rafi enjoyed tremendous success
with other composers like O. P. Nayyar, Ravi, Madan Mohan and the duo of
Laxmikant-Pyarelal. Mohamed Rafi's vocal talents also played a big role
in the successful careers of film icons such as Dev Anand, Dilip Kumar,
Guru Dutt, Shammi Kapoor and Rajesh Khanna.
In 1969, the superhit movie Aradhana resulted in Mohd Rafi's stature as
Bollywood's lead singer being eclipsed by the emergence of Kishore
Kumar. After a lean phase, Mohammed Rafi was back with a bang in 1977
when he bagged the Filmfare Award and the National Award for the song
Kya Hua Tera Vaada in the film 'Hum Kissise Kum Nahin.' He also
performed a number of memorable duets with Kishore Kumar. An epoch in
Indian music came to an end with Mohammed Rafi's demise on July 31,