Born in December 1924 in Kotla Sultan Singh, present-day Pakistan, Mohd. Rafi
took classical music lessons as a boy, learning from the musical masters Abdul
Waheed Khan and Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. Attending classical concerts he learned
the grammar and syntax of Hindustani classical music that later would allow him
to escape any difficult situation whilst leaving his three-octave range and
musical wit to do the rest. Gravitating to Lahore, Rafi took his first steps
into the motion-picture industry in 1944, singing for the music director Shyam
Sundar in Gul Baloch. That same year he moved to Bombay (Mumbai) and had the
good fortune to obtain an introduction to Naushad Ali. Five years his senior,
the rising music director took to Rafi?s classically turned, trained voice.
Rafi became the music director?s musical mouthpiece and with Naushad?s backing
Rafi broke through into the wider national consciousness with Baiju Bawra
(1952). Over the years his phenomenal interpretative skills were applied across
a wide range of styles including regional folk, classical, literary forms
(particularly ghazal), devotional, romantic and the tasteful end of pop music.
His output was staggering and runs into thousands of tracks.
Mohd. Rafi performed some magnificent duets with the playback divas Asha Bhosle and Lata Mangeshkar. Although Lata Mangeshkar and Rafi had not always seen eye to eye, by the early 1970s they were creating magic together again in songs like ?Rut Hai Milan Ki? from the film Mela (1971). Asha Bhosle first sang with Mohd. Rafi around 1947, and R. D. Burman?s composition ?Yeh Ladka Hai Allah? from the film Hum Kisise Kum Naheen (1977) shows the composer?s trademark flare.