Bhubaneswar: His was the voice that suited every mood and occasion. A pioneer of Hindi film music, Mohd Rafi is a genius who live on for eternity. On his 93rd birthday anniversary today, Odisha Sun Times pays tribute to the legendary Bollywood singer, whom Google also celebrated with a doodle.
In his career spanning almost five decades, he sang in 14 Indian languages, which includes two songs in Odia.
“He was roped in by Dhiren Patnaik, producer of the movie ‘Arundhati’, for two songs. Patnaik along with lyricist Jibanananda Pani and music director Shantanu Mohapatra, besides Pranab Patnaik, had travelled to Mumbai to get those songs, ‘Mayuri Go Tuma Chandrika’ and ‘Tumaku Paruni Ta Bhuli’ recorded in Rafi’s voice,” said film historian Surya Deo.
Rafi then charged Rs 1000 per song. “Rafi had sittings with them and learnt the songs. Later, Patnaik told him that they will be recording only one song as he cannot afford his fees for two. Rafi asked him to record both the songs in one take and pay his secretary for one song,” Deo said.
Rafi suggested Patnaik this idea since his secretary didn’t understand Odia and wouldn’t know whether they recorded one or two songs, he added.
These two songs went on to become big hits. However, these were not the only Odia songs that Rafi recorded. “He had recorded a song for the unreleased movie, ‘Jharana’. The song ‘Chuilu Mate Tu Toh Rana Delu’ was composed by Duttaram and the lyrics was penned by Harihar Mishra. Prafula Kar was then an assistant to Duttaram. Unfortunately, the song too was never released,” said Deo.
One of the greatest playback singers of India, Rafi was born on December 24, 1924, in a village near Amritsar in Punjab. Nicknamed Pheeko, he started singing by imitating chants of a saint in his village. Rafi’s first public performance was in Lahore at the age of 13, when he got a chance to sing at a concert featuring the legendary KL Saigal.
After the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948, the team of Husanlal Bhagatarm-Rajendra Krishan-Rafi had overnight created the song ‘Sun Suno Aye Duniya Walon Bapuji Ki Amar Kahani’. He was invited by the then Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, to sing at the latter’s house.
The heaven opened up to welcome the celestial voice and Mumbai soaked to bones when Rafi breathed his last on July 31, 1980, following a massive heart attack. The recording of Rafi’s funeral procession, which was attended by over 10,000 people, was used in one the Hindi movies.