Recording Career in The 1950s and 1960s
In his early career, Rafi associated with many contemporary music directors, most notably Naushad. In the late 1950s and 1960s, he worked with other composers of the era such as O. P. Nayyar, Shankar Jaikishan, S.D. Burman and Roshan.
- Association with Naushad
As per Naushad, Rafi came to him with a letter of recommendation from Naushad's father. Rafi’s first song for Naushad was "Hindustan Ke Hum Hain" ("We belong to Hindustan") for the film Pehle Aap in 1944. The first song for the duo was the soundtrack of the movie Anmol Ghadi (1946). Before Rafi, Naushad’s favorite singer was Talat Mahmood. Once Naushad found Talat smoking during a recording. He was annoyed and hired Rafi to sing all the songs of the movie Baiju Bawra.
Rafi's association with Naushad helped the former establish himself as one of the most prominent playback singers in Hindi Cinema. Songs from Baiju Bawra (1952) like "O duniya ke rakhwale" and "Man tarpat hari darshan ko aaj" furthered Rafi's credentials. Rafi ended up singing a total of 149 songs (81 of them solo) for Naushad.
In the 1960 film Mughal-E-Azam, Mohammed Rafi sang the song "Ae Mohabbat Zindabad", composed by Naushad, with a chorus of 100 singers.
- Association with S D Burman
S. D. Burman patronized Rafi as the singing voice of Dev Anand and Guru Dutt. Rafi worked with Burman in movies like Pyaasa (1957), Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959), Tere Ghar Ke Samne (1963), Guide (1965), Aradhana (1969), and Abhimaan (1973). S. D. Burman was also another music director besides Naushad who used Rafi prolifically to sing for most of his songs.
- Association with Shankar-Jaikishan
Rafi and Shankar Jaikishan was a very famous and successful partnership in the Hindi film industry. Under Shankar-Jaikishan, Rafi produced some of his songs for actors like Shammi Kapoor and Rajendra Kumar. Out of six Filmfare awards, Rafi won three for S-J songs, viz., "Teri Pyari Pyari Soorat Ko", "Baharon Phool Barsao", and "Dil Ke Jharokhe Mein". The song "Yahoo! Chahe Koi Mujhe Junglee Kahe" was sung by Rafi, only to be matched a fast-paced orchestra and a composition by Shankar Jaikishan. S-J made Rafi give playback for Kishore Kumar in the film Shararat ("Ajab hai daastan teri yeh zindagi"). Rafi sang a total of 341 numbers (216 solo) for Shankar-Jaikishan. Among the films of this combination, are Basant Bahar, Professor, Junglee, Suraj, Brahmachari, An Evening in Paris, Dil Tera Deewana, Yakeen, Prince, Love in Tokyo, Beti Bete, Dil Ek Mandir, Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai, Gaban and Jab Pyar Kisi Se Hota Hai.
- Association with Ravi
Rafi got his first Filmfare Award for the title song of Chaudhvin Ka Chand (1960), composed by Ravi. He got National Award for the song "Babul Ki Duaen Leti Ja" from the film Neel Kamal (1968), also composed by Ravi. Rafi actually wept during the recording of this song. He, himself, admitted this in his interview to BBC in 1977.
Ravi and Rafi produced several other songs, in the films China Town (1962), Kaajal (1965), and Do Badan (1966).
- Association with Madan Mohan
Madan Mohan was another composer whose favorite singer was Rafi. Rafi's first solo with Madan Mohan in Ankhen (1950), "Hum Ishq Mein Barbad Hain Barbad Rahenge". They teamed up to produce many songs including "Teri Aankhon Ke Siva", "Yeh Duniya Yeh Mehfil" and "Tum Jo Mil Gaye Ho".
- Association with O. P. Nayyar
Rafi and O. P. Nayyar created music in the 1950s and 1960s. O. P. Nayyar was once quoted as saying "If there had been no Mohd. Rafi, there would have been no O. P. Nayyar". He and Rafi created many songs together including "Yeh hai Bombay meri jaan". He got Rafi to sing for singer-actor Kishore Kumar – "Man Mora Baawara" for the movie Raagini. Later, Rafi sang for Kishore Kumar in movies such as Baaghi, Shehzaada and Shararat. O. P. Nayyar used Rafi and Asha Bhosle for most of his songs. The team created many songs in early 1950s and 1960s for movies such as Naya Daur (1957), Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957), and Kashmir Ki Kali (1964). Rafi sang a total of 197 numbers (56 solo) for Nayyar. The song "Jawaaniyan yeh mast mast" and the title song "Yun to humne lakh hansee dekhe hain, tumsa nahin dekha" of the film Tumsa Nahin Dekha. They were followed by songs like "Taareef karoon kya uski jisne tumhe banaya" from Kashmir ki Kali.
Rafi and OP had a fallout during the recording for movie "Sawan ki Ghata", as disclosed by OP during one of his interviews.
- Association with Laxmikant-Pyarelal
The composer duo Laxmikant-Pyarelal (L-P) also patronized Rafi as one of their singers, right from their very first song by him from the film, Chaila Babu-1967 Rafi honoured the affection and committment of the duo by accepting no payment for the song "Tere pyaar ne mujhe gham diya" . Both Rafi and L-P won the Filmfare Awards for the song "Chahoonga Main Tujhe Saanjh Savere" from Dosti (1964). Rafi rendered the maximum number of songs for the music director duo Laxmikant-Pyarelal: a total of 369 numbers (186 solo) for L-P.
Once, when composer Nisar Bazmi (who had migrated to Pakistan) didn’t have enough money to pay him, Rafi charged a fee of one rupee and sang for him. He also helped producers financially. As Laxmikant (of the Laxmikant-Pyarelal duo) once observed – “He always gave without thinking of the returns”.
Between 1950 and 1970, Rafi was the most sought after singer in Bollywood. He sang for many male stars in Hindi films. In 1965, he was honoured by the Government of India with the Padma Sri award. Rafi recorded two Hindi songs in English on 7" release in 1968. He also sang a song in Creole while on his visit to Mauritius in the late 1960s. Rafi recorded two English albums as well. One of them is Pop Hits.
- Association with his Contemporary Singers
Rafi associated with several of his contemporaries, singing duets with them and sometimes for them (as in case of Kishore Kumar who was also an actor). Rafi sang the maximum number of duets with Asha Bhonsle (female), Manna Dey (male) and Lata Mangeshkar (female).
In the song "Humko Tumse Ho Gaya Hai Pyaar Kya Karein" (Amar, Akbar, Anthony), Mohd Rafi sang with Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh - all in one song. This was probably the only time that all of them rendered their voices for one song.
- Singing career in other languages
Rafi sang several hit songs in Chris Perry's Konkani album Golden Hits with Lorna Cordeiro.
Read more about this topic: Mohammed Rafi
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