Rafi is Hindi Cinema’s greatest voice



While most music lovers in India have always known this but a CNN-IBN survey has further confirmed the belief that noted playback singer Mohammad Rafi was the greatest voice of Hindi Cinema.

The findings of the survey were revealed on the Independence Day and Rafi came out as the winner from a formidable field that comprised Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle, Kishore Kumar and Mukesh. In fact, the Survey put Rafi ahead of Lata Mangeskar by nearly 12 percent with Kishore Kumar coming second, with about five percent votes less than those secured by the winner.

It was also interesting that Asha and Mukesh polled nearly the same number of votes and if added to those polled by Lata Mangeskar, they were not enough to catch up with Rafi. This was indeed amazing stuff since all the five singers are legends in their own right and have a very strong fan following. And on top of that Lata is perhaps the most popular Indian who is alive today followed maybe by Amitabh Bacchan and Sachin Tendulkar in that order.

Another significant thing about the survey is that it was conducted more than 33 years after Rafi died and it is because of his great contribution to Indian cinema that he is remembered with as much love and affection today as he was during his life time.

Not many people would know that every year there are nearly 600 to 700 functions held to pay tributes to Rafi in different parts of the world on his death anniversary on July 31. In Delhi alone there are about a dozen functions held each year.

In comparison, no other singer including the talented Kishore Kumar has even one tenth of similar functions. This fact is being stated not to belittle others who have been very illustrious singers but to highlight how much Rafi is missed till this day. Obviously, no one has been able to replace him and this does not seem to be happening in the near future too.

Rafi was not only a singer par excellence but a great human being too. Music composer Pyarelal of the Laxmikant Pyarelal duo stated that he had charged them only Re one for the first song recorded by him for them and he returned the offered amount with his blessings.

Another producer who had run out of money was not charged even a penny as Rafi told him that he would need the moolah for his film.

There has been so much written about his songs that it is now a given that no one had a voice that could match his and the versatility and flexibility which enabled him to sing any kind of composition.

There is also this story of how he and Lata parted company for some years over their differences on the issue of royalty. Interestingly, most composers sided with Rafi and used either Suman Kalyanpur or Asha Bhonsle or some other singer in the duets.

Though Suman Kalyanpur and many other female singers were victims of Lata’s monopoly syndrome subsequently, Rafi reigned supreme. It was finally Jaikishen of the Shankar Jaikishan duo who brokered peace amongst the two genius singers and made them sing together once again.

Another aspect of Rafi’s voice was that he could replicate his studio recording even in a public function and sang exactly the same way as he done for a film. This was a unique trait since there has been no singer other than him who could sing exactly the same song in a public function as during the recording.

There are many clones of many singers including those of Rafi but no one has ever been able to imitate him fully. The voice of these clones becomes different once the notes change. Rafi was also a very humble person. He and another noted singer Manna Dey shared a very close bond. Manna Dey would compliment Rafi on his silken voice and Rafi would tell him that he would consider it a big accomplishment if he could do the murkis the way Manna Dey did.

Music composer O.P.Nayyar who had a feud with Rafi when he turned up late for his rehearsals since he was recording a song for Shankar Jaikishen had a very moving tale to narrate. Nayyar said that he had stopped using Rafi’s voice but one day, the singer turned up at his house and apologized for his late coming. Nayyar told him that he had always considered him (Rafi) as a very big singer but he had now gone up many more times in his esteem. The two became friends once again though they did not produce any other super hit after that.

Now since the stamp of approval has been put on Rafi’s musical contribution by a big channel, it is time for the government to think over the matter and consider Rafi for a Bharat Ratna for his immense contribution to the Indian Cinema and the world of entertainment. There is no one who deserves the award more than him.

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