Mohammad Rafi: A Great Singer, a Humble Man -Part 1
31st July happens to be the 40th death anniversary of Mohammed Rafi. Here is a look at some of the things not many people may know about the legendary singer.
 
Rafi was the second of six sons born to Haji Ali Mohammad. The family belonged to Amritsar. His nickname was Pheeko. He made his debut in the Punjabi film Gul Baloch (1944). Shyam Sunder was the music director.
 
Rafi made his Hindi film debut in Gaon Ki Gori in 1945. When he moved to Mumbai, he initially lived in the Bhendi Bazaar area. He was a chorus singer in the movie Shahjahan (1946) that featured the then tragedy king (Devdas) KL Saigal. Rafi then got an opportunity to sing in Anmol Ghadi (1946), a Mehboob Khan film that starred Surendra, Noor Jehan and Suraiyya.
 
It was only in 1949 that Rafi began getting solos (Dillagi, Dulari, Chandni Raat, Meena Bazaar).
 
Rafi was greatly inspired by KL Saigal and GM Durrani. After Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated, Rafi teamed up with Husanlal Bhagatram and Rajendra Krishan to create the song “Suno Suno Ae Duniyawalon Bapuji Ki Amar Kahani”. India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru invited Rafi to his house to sing.
 
Rafi worked with many music directors (including the lesser known ones) such as Naushad, SD Burman, RD Burman, Roshan, Sardar Malik, Sapan Jagmohan, Sonik Omi,  OP Nayyar, Chitragupt, Shankar Jaikishan, Kalyanji Anandji, Jaidev and Lakshmikant Pyarelal.
 
Rafi shared a special rapport with Usha Khanna – one of the first female music directors in Bollywood. He sang for her the songs of Dil Deke Dekho (1959). Fifteen years later, when Rafi sang for her in Hawas (“Teri galiyon Mein Na Aayenge Sanam”), Ms Khanna wasn’t too happy about a few nuances in his singing but felt inhibited to say so to the singer. When Rafi came to know this, he was upset and gently chided Usha Khanna, reminding her that as a music director she had every right to correct him. Such was the humility of the legend!
 
No other playback singer has mentored so many other singers as Rafi has had. Mahendra Kapoor was always proud of the fact that he was Rafi’s protégé. Usha Timothy, Suman Kalyanpur, Kamal Barot and Sudha Malhotra were singers with whom Rafi shared a great rapport. Ironically, Lata Mangeshkar is the only playback singer with whom he had a huge tiff – the scar that it left in his soul was immense. Rafi was at ease singing with Sulakshana Pandit (“Sona Re Tujhe Kaise Miloon” from the 1978 film Aankhon Dekhi) and with music director Shankar’s protégé Sharda.
 
When the Lata-Rafi team broke up, it was Suman Kalyanpur who benefited the most. In the 1966 release Mamta, there were two versions of the immortal song – “Rahen Na Rahen Hum Mehka Karenge” – one sung by Lata and the other a duet by Rafi and Suman. Among the many gems that Rafi and Suman co-created is (Jab Se Hum Tum Baharon Mein – from the 1962 release Main Shaadi Karne Chala that starred IS Johar and Saeeda Khan in the lead with Feroze Khan, Tabassum, Mumtaz and Parveen Choudhury forming part of the supporting cast). Produced by Wadia brothers and directed by Roop K Shorey, the film—a rib-tickling comedy—was a moderate success at the box office. Chitragupta was the music director.
 
The 1952 release Baiju Bawra established the careers of music director Naushad, actress Meena Kumari, actor Bharat Bhushan and singer Rafi. The heart-rending tale of Baiju who challenges the court singer Tansen to avenge his father’s death was a golden jubilee hit.
 
Rafi was the voice of Dev Anand until the actor took a special liking to Kishore Kumar. Unfortunately, music director Jaidev’s wavelength did not match with that of the Anand brothers and so Bollywood lost a great talent. Jaidev never composed music for the Anands after the 1961 release Hum Dono. (Rafi’s songs “Abhi Na Jao Chhodkar” and “Main Zindagi Ka Saath Nibhata Chala Gaya”) need no introduction.
 
Rafi and Hemant Kumar were the voices of Guru Dutt. Rafi shared a great rapport with SD Burman due to which even in an era when Kishore Kumar reigned as the king in playback singing, Burman never forgot to give Rafi what he deserved (Aradhana, Abhimaan). RD Burman had a distinct bias towards Kishore but he did use Rafi for Yaadon Ki Baraat the 1973 box-office hit directed by Nasir Hussain that gave a new lease of life to Zeenat Aman’s fledgling career in Bollywood.
 
Shammi Kapoor and Rafi created magic on screen. Rafi would put himself in the shoes of Kapoor when he sang for him. Kapoor would diligently visit the recordings of his songs by Rafi.
 
In the film Shararat Rafi gave his voice to Kishore Kumar on screen! But the film tanked at the box-office.
 
Rafi also sang for Rajendra Kumar, Dharmendra, Biswajeet, Navin Nischol, Shashi Kapoor and Manoj Kumar. Contrary to what the media keeps writing, Rafi produced some of his best songs even after 1969 when Kishore Kumar was riding high on the success of Aradhana. That Rajesh Khanna favoured Kishore Kumar over Rafi was a kind of a blow to Rafi but he accepted it with grace.
 
His song – “Apni Aankhon Mein Basakar” for the 1974 release Thokar is a case in point. The film was a B-grade venture starring Baldev Kosa (actor turned politician and Sunil Dutt’s cousin), Shiv Kumar and Alka and the music was composed by Shyamji-Ghanshyamji. This is an example of how humility won and Rafi never allowed the ignominy of being ignored by a superstar come in the way of his singing.
 
(This is first part of a three-part series)
 
 
(After working in the corporate world for close to two decades, Bhagyalakshmi Seshachalam started her second career innings as a head-hunter. She is passionate about Hindi movies and loves retro music. When her family shifted to Chennai in the 80s, Bhagya had a taste of Tamil cinema too. In the long term, she plans a book on two of her favourite directors – Guru Dutt and K Balachander. She travels across the country on work and is based in Mysore.)
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    COMMENTS

    Ramesh Popat

    2 months ago

    Great! Rafi also sung for Kishor in Ragini(Man mora bawara..).
    in non-filmy, i remember, 'tere bharose, a nandlala...

    s5rwav

    2 months ago

    Respect the Great Singer and the Great Person India is Proud of.

    Ankahee-1985: Powerful Plot, Sterling Performances Weave a Hypnotic Milieu
    Dr Shreeram Lagoo, who had mostly played avuncular characters on the screen, passed away last December at the ripe old age of 92 years. An ear-nose-throat (ENT) surgeon by profession, he drifted onto the stage which finally led him into accepting roles in innumerable Bollywood flicks and stabilising as a character artiste.  He became a full-time drama actor in 1969 with VV Shirwadkar’s play Natasamrat, which won him tremendous recognition. His stint in Marathi cinema that began with V Shantaram’s Pinjara (1972) consists of several successful and path breaking films like Sinhasan and Mukta. In his later years, he had moved to Pune and chose to stay away from the limelight.
     
    Here is a look at Ankahee, one of his releases where he played an unconventional role of an astrologer: the more special because in real life he had been an ardent campaigner against superstition and had advocated rationalism and scientific outlook with a missionary zeal.
    Ankahee was directed by Amol Palekar with ample support from his first wife, director and stage actor Chitra Palekar. 
     
    Ankahaee received critical acclaim, thanks to a taut and engaging screen play. The noteworthy performances of all the lead actors in this low-budget film were well appreciated. The film’s sound track by legendary composer Jaidev won him a National Award. Pandit Bhimsen Joshi won the award for the best male playback singer for “Raghubar tumko meri laaj” and “Thumak Thumak Pag Dumak”. Asha Bhosle sang “Mujhko Radha bana lo Nandlal” and Kabir’s famous nirguni bhajan “Kauno Thagwa Nagariya” in her dulcet voice, making the music a treat for all music lovers.
     
    Well known astrologer Jyotirbhaskar Pandit Satyanarayan Chaturvedi tells a doctor (Vinod Mehra) that the patient on whom he is about to perform a minor surgery will not survive. The doctor scoffs at this but the patient dies, leaving her husband (Vidhu Vinod Chopra) devastated. 
     
    The astrologer lives with his wife, Devaki (Dina Pathak) and their only son Nandu (Amol Palekar). Nandu and Sushama, who works on projects on astronomy at the Nehru Planetarium, are deeply in love and wish to get married soon. But when Nandu takes her home to meet his parents, his astrologer father bluntly declares that as per Nandu’s horoscope, he is destined to have two wives and that his first wife would die during childbirth after 11 months of marriage. 
     
    Sushama is unperturbed as she is a non-believer in astrology and says she is in any case willing to die for the sake of her love, should the prophesy come true. Nandu, however, has more respect for his father’s acumen and long experience, and tells her that he has never known his father’s predictions to have not come true. He is torn with anxiety and apprehension for the future. At this point, Indu (Deepti Naval) walks into Nandu’s life.
     
    Indu is the beautiful but mentally deficient daughter of Mishra, Panditji’s childhood friend and an accomplished classical singer who lives in a village. He arrives with Indu into Panditji’s home and arrangements are made to get her treated by a psychiatrist  (Anant Bhave, well known TV news reader) who advises marriage for her as he believes that Indu, disdained and deprived of love all her life, would surely respond positively to marital love and would get cured after she gets married.  
     
    This puts an idea into Nandu’s mind. He would marry Indu, ostensibly to aid her recovery, but in reality, to get the coast clear, after her predicted death, for his second marriage to Sushama.
     
    Sushama is shocked at this devious plan of sacrificing an innocent girl and says so, and tries to dissuade Nandu but he is desperate and unheeding. He persuades Indu’s hapless father and shares this plan with his parents who are flabbergasted, as Indu has by now won their hearts with her guilelessness, gentle ways and caring nature, and the singing talent that she has inherited from her father. 
     
    The marriage takes place under a cloud of sombre foreboding, with Panditji fervently praying to the Almighty for his own forecast to fail. Nandu, distraught but focused on his goal, accomplishes the task of impregnating Indu in time for her to deliver in the eleventh month of their marriage. 
     
    As per the psychiatrist’s prognosis, Indu is healed by the love she receives in abundance from this household and blossoms to her true potential of an age-appropriate, compassionate and mature woman. Torn by guilt and shame and by now in love with Indu, Nandu confesses the truth to her, who accepts the deception with composure, gratitude and dignity. She pays a surprise visit to Sushama and implores her to take care of her child after her death. 
     
     
    What happens next? Does Indu survive childbirth? How does Sushama deal with this unsolicited burden of guilt imposed on her?
     
    The film’s nail biting climax is worth a watch and I do not wish to post a spoiler by revealing the end here. The film was based on the Marathi play – Kalay Tasmai Namah by C T Khanolkar.
     
    If Deepti Naval’s portrayal of Indu is heart rending, debutante Devika Mukherjee also brilliantly portrays the dilemma of a conscientious young woman who must watch helplessly while another woman is being made into a scapegoat by the man who loves her. Amol Palekar is far removed from his familiar comic roles and delivers a punch as the distressed and frustrated Nandu who develops a soft corner for the woman he has married. 
     
    Ankahee is a must-watch for all the connoisseurs of good cinema.
     
    (After working in the corporate world for close to two decades, Bhagyalakshmi Seshachalam started her second career innings as a head-hunter. She is passionate about Hindi movies and loves retro music. When her family shifted to Chennai in the 80s, Bhagya had a taste of Tamil cinema too. In the long term, she plans a book on two of her favourite directors – Guru Dutt and K Balachander. She travels across the country on work and is based in Mysore.)
     
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    COMMENTS

    r_ashok41

    2 months ago

    I do not know how i missed this great movie and thanks for the same.After reading your story will definitely see the same to visualise the effect of it.thanks for bringing out such gems of our culture and hope we hear more of the same in days to come.I also hail from mysore and keep coming there and reside in saraswatipuram.

    Ramesh Popat

    2 months ago

    vow! superb! pl. write more about off-beat movies like Ankahee.

    DineshA

    2 months ago

    Watched this movie after ages on you tube. Excellent not be missed, especially for younger generation. Some other names I would suggest Ijaazat, Saath Saath.

    Bipin Chougule

    2 months ago

    Natsamrat was not written by Vasant Kanetkar. It was written by V. V. Shirwadkar (Known as Kusumagraj)

    The growth of cloud kitchens in India
    There is a certain distinction in the concept and coinage of the term 'cloud kitchen'; the concept of takeaway or delivery only, without dining, has been around for over half a century globally. While pizza and burger delivery points were prevalent in the West, in India we have the long standing tradition of tiffin/dabba services; these are essentially cloud kitchens and have been around for decades.
     
    However, the term 'cloud kitchen' was coined about a decade and a half ago, and new terms like virtual kitchens, ghost kitchens or invisible kitchens which essential mean the same meaning have been coined later.
     
    Most research and consulting reports on Indian cloud kitchens suggest that market size is expected to be about $1 billion by 2023 with a healthy double-digit growth rate every year, points out Narendra Singh Dahiya, Founder and Director, Homefoodi, a mobile application for home food made by home chefs.
     
    "Earlier, the contribution by cloud kitchens was estimated to be 20 percent of the food delivery market. However, this percentage is changing and will undergo drastic changes in the favour of cloud kitchens," he adds.
     
    The Indian F&B industry is witnessing a major drift from dine in to delivery business and the pandemic has worked as a "catalyst" in the growth story.
     
    The closure of restaurants due to the lockdown has pushed a majority of the population to opt for either home cooked meals or depend on food brought in through deliveries.
     
    Hence, the food delivery industry is witnessing an upward facing graph with a surge in the number of orders and customer awareness around food safety and hygiene is increasing. Increased work-life participation of more members and the resultant paucity of time has made home cooking activity to avoid. The convenience of ordering through apps without the drudgery of going out to eat has driven the demand.
     
    "We recorded our highest ever sales in the month of March (saw peak after the lockdown was announced). Though last two months have been a slightly dull period of the entire industry as people were scared to order in, however, we managed to sail through it owing to our extremely loyal customer base that trusted our level of hygiene. Hygiene is a very important trust-building factor. We are at 70-75 percent of our pre Covid-19 sales and it is growing week on week, but we expect it to pick up as and when the curve flattens," inform Sehaj Singh Kukreja and Tushar Anand, co-founders of Cheferd Foods- parent company of Pizza On My Plate, Burger In My Box and Deli Salad Company.
     
    Considering the fact that setting up a cloud kitchen comes with a low capex as compared to setting up a restaurant, it catches eyes of new players. The set-up cost for a medium-sized cloud kitchen falls around Rs 5 lakh.
     
    "Setting up a cloud kitchen typically requires 1/3rd of the investment required to set up a restaurant on account of lower rental costs. Profit margins are usually in the range of 10-15 percent as opposed to 5-10 percent as compared to restaurants," informs Dahiya.
     
    However, people who want to enter the space should not look at low capex as a motivator, warn Kukreja and Anand.
     
    "They should try and workout the fund requirement and cash burn for at least 5-6 months as that is the usual time that it takes for customers to start noticing a new listing on aggregator apps as compared to a head-on-visibility in a brick and mortar store," they say.
     
    Also, a recent research report called 'Future of Food: Covid-19 Survival Plan' by Indian Federation of Culinary Associations and Tagtaste says that based on the analysis and extrapolation of last available profit and loss statements and balance sheet, and subsequent interactions, an estimated 18 percent single-unit restaurants won't be able to re-start their units. Chain-brands too run the risk of shutting down 12-15 percent of their restaurants by December 2020, it said.
     
    With dine-in being hit badly during the lockdown, delivery is the only way to keep the brand alive for existing players, says Gautam Kumar, co-founder Keystone Solutions, a boutique turnkey contracting company, which also does complete set-up of cloud kitchen.
     
    He reveals: "We have a lot of queries from existing restaurant operators and new players. Competition is tough generally in F&B business which has a high failure rate, however, your product will always be the winner for you."
     
    He adds: "The hospitality industry is at the cusp of a revolution and the fear psychosis and the spike in the cases is motivating the entrepreneurs to adapt to the changes."
     
    But everything comes with its own shares of challenges. The major challenge for newer players will be to create organic demand. There are various checkpoints that players consider before setting up the cloud kitchen which are:
     
    Choosing the right location for the kitchen so that one has access to good demand from customers in the catchment area.
     
    Deciding the right menu and pricing depending on the customer needs and preferences living in the area that one wishes to service.
     
    Hiring trained chef/cook and experienced helpers who will ensure that food cooked is healthy, fresh, and delicious and kitchen has high cleanliness standards.
     
    Selection of good quality and eco-friendly packaging containers so that customers get to appreciate not just the food but packaging standards.
     
    Opting to partner with a trusted food delivery application that charges a fair commission with optimal food orders and a reliable delivery mechanism.
     
    Cost associated with approvals and license.
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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    COMMENTS

    vydehi.ramamirtham

    2 months ago

    The pandemic should expose people to the perils of relying too much on outside food. I am not against food delivery service providers. After all, they are only filling a market gap. But over reliance on outside food items can prove to be costly in the long run. Look, we have no control on how the items are being cooked. My husband shouted at me when there was a streak of hair in the subjee (last week) and I apologized to him. If this can happen at home, then imagine - we have no idea of the quality of ingredients that go into the making of food items. For people who have no other choice, I agree that it is not easy to change. But we can at least reduce our dependence. At least - for the sake of our health. Let us say no to junk food and embrace healthier options. God knows - when we Indians are going to stop running behind Western items...To quote a cliche - anything that is very tasty is not healthy... and anything that is healthy may not be tasty all the time. So, it is your choice - do you seek health or taste?

    Makarand Joshi

    2 months ago

    A well known food delivery app decided to curtail it\'s cloud kitchen business in April this year.

    tillan2k

    2 months ago

    problem is diversity of Indian taste buds , Jain food, brahmin food , spicy food, bland food.. fried food boiled food baked food. Cloud kitchen should do some research how to make some ingredient as add on feature like spice by the side add as per ur taste ... in short make ingredients a la carte system and different for different region etc..

    Ramesh Popat

    2 months ago

    growth of cloud kitchen, fruitful ground for pharma, doctors.

    food bench marking/quality audit- much needed immediately .

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