Mohammad Rafi
(December 24, 1924 to July 31, 1980), was a popular Indian playback singer. He was awarded the National Film Award and 6 Filmfare Awards. In 1967, he was honoured with the Padma Shri award by the Government of India. Rafi sang 4,516 Hindi film songs, 112 non Hindi film songs, and 328 private (nonvfilm) songs from 1945 to 1980. His singing career spanned about 35 years, and he is noted for his ability to sing songs of different moods and varities: his ...

It just so happened that the great composer and music director Shyam Sunder was in the audience.  He was very impressed by the young Rafi.  Shyam Sundar invited Mohammed Rafi to sing for one of his films.  So it was in 1944 at the age of 20, that Rafi sang for his first film.  It was the song Soniye Hiriye, Teri Yaad Ne Bahut Sataya, for the Punjabi film Gul Baloch.  This brought Mohd. Rafi to the attention of other music directors.

In 1944, he moved to Bombay to further his career.  There he sang for Shyam Sundar in his film Gaon Ki Gori, and Naushad in his film Pehele Aap.  He very quickly went on to sing for several other music directors, but his first real hit was with Noor Jahan singing Yahaan Badla Wafa Ka in the film Jugnu (1947).His personal life was also developing in this period.  In 1945, he married his cousin Bashira.  But his personal life was placed under stress in 1947 by the partition.  At that point he decided to remain in India whereupon he shifted his remaining family from Pakistan to India.Rafis early forays into Bollywood were not limited just to playback singing, for he also acted in a few films.  He acted in Laila Majnu (1945) and Jugnu (1947).There is an interesting anecdote concerning Mohd. Rafi and the film Baiju Bawra.  It is said that originally the songs were going to go to Talat Mehmood.  However Naushad caught Talat smoking and this annoyed him greatly, whereupon he gave the songs to Mohd. Rafi.  These songs became very popular, and are even today considered to be classics.  The Naushad Rafi collaboration turned out to be a very successful one.  In all Mohd Rafi sang 149 songs for Naushad

Mohammed Rafi was the second youngest of six brothers. His father, Hajji Ali Mohammad and family lived in  Kotla Sultan Singh, a village near  Amritsar in Punjab (British India). Rafi, whose nickname was Pheeko, began singing by imitating the chants of a fakir in his village. Rafis father moved to LAHORE in the 1920s where he ran a mens salon in Noor Mohalla in Bhatti Gate Lahore. His elder brother, Mohammad Deen, had a friend, Abdul Hameed, (future brother in law), who spotted the talent in Rafi in Lahore and encouraged him to sing. Abdul Hameed later convinced the family elders to let Rafi move to Mumbai and he accompanied him in 1944.

Rafi learnt classical music fromUstad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan, Pandit Jiwanlal Matto and Firoze Nizami. His first public performance came at the age of 13, when he sang in Lahore featuring K. L. SAIQUAL . In 1941, Rafi, under Shyam Sunder, made his debut in Lahore as a playback singer in the duet Soniye Nee, Heeriye Nee with Zeenat Begum in the PUNJABI film Gul Baloch (the film was released in 1944) In that same year, Rafi was invited by  All India Radio Lahore station to sing for them. He made his professional debut in the Shyam Sunder directed 1941 Punjabi film Gul Baloch and the earliest debut in Mumbai film was Gaon Ki Gori in 1945.

Royalty issue

In 1962-1963, the popular female playback singer  Lata Mangeshkar raised the issue of playback singers' share in the ROYALITES. Recognizing Rafis position as the leading male playback singer, she wanted him to back her in demanding a half share from the 5 percent song royalty that the films producer conceded to select composers. Latas contention was that, there was no way producers and music directors could deny this singing duo, one-half share in that 5 percent song royalty to the composer. Rafis stated that his claim on the filmmaker ended with his being paid his agreed fee for the song. After that, if the film proved a hit, the filmmaker was welcome to keep the Gramco (HMV) royalty he earned from it. If the film did not prove to be a hit, argued Rafi, that he had already been paid the same fees for his song; so later the situation is resolved

Guiness World Records

During his last years, Rafi was involved in a controversy over Lata Mangeshkars introduction in to the Guinness Book of World Records. In a letter dated June 11, 1977 to the Guinness Book of World Records.


On Thursday, 31 July 1980, Rafi died at 10:50 p.m., following heart attack. His last song was Shaam phir kyun udaas hai dost (Aas pas) , which he had recorded with Laxmikant Pyarelal few hours before his death. Rafi was buried at the jahu Muslim cemetery. It was one of the biggest funeral processions Mumbai had ever witnessed, with over 10,000 people attending. In 2010, his tomb was demolished to make space for new burials. Fans of Mohammed Rafi who arrive twice a year at his tomb, on 24 December and 31 July, to mark his birth and death anniversary, use the coconut tree nearest to his grave as a marke.


  • 1948 - Rafi received a silver medal from the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, on the first anniversary of the Indian Independence Day.
  • 1967 - Honoured with the  Padma Shri by the Government of India.
  • 1974 - Film World magazine Best Singer Award for the song Teree Galiyon Mein Na Rakhenge Qadam Aaj Ke Baad (Hawas, 1974).
  • 2001 - Rafi was honored with the Best Singer of the Millennium by Hero Honda and Stardust magazine. Rafi won with 70% of the votes