Mohammed Rafi was an Indian playback singer in Bollywood. He sang a wide variety of songs including patriotic songs, ghazals, bhajans and romantic melodies. Though Rafi sang most of his songs in Hindi, but the other languages in which he tried his hands were Assamese, Konkani, Bhojpuri, Odia, Punjabi, Bengali, Marathi, Sindhi, Kannada, Gujarati, Telugu, Magahi, Maithili and Urdu, and even English, Farsi, Arabic, Sinhalese, Creole and Dutch.
Mohammed Rafi was born in the Indian state of Punjab on 24 December 1924 in an orthodox Muslim family. His music teachers were Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan, Pandit Jiwan Lal Mattoo and Firoze Nizami. Rafi married twice and has four sons and three daughters from both the marriages.
Rafi's first song was in Punjabi for the film 'Gul Baloch'. In 1945, he made his Hindi film debut with Gaon ki Gori.
Music composer Naushad gave him a Bollywood break in 'Pehle Aap'. Naushad also gave Rafi a chance to sing in a chorus of the song sung by the legendary K.L Saigal- 'Mere Sapnon Ki Rani' of the film 'Shahjahan' (1946). Rafi achieved early success with 'Tera Khilona Toota Balak' in the film 'Anmol Ghadi'.
He became the playback singer of choice for other composers like O.P Nayyar, Shankar Jaikishan and Sachin Dev Burman. Rafi and S.D. Burman produced soulful songs for Guru Dutt's films like 'Pyaasa' and 'Kaagaz Ka Phool'.
O.P Nayyar employed Rafi for a majority of his songs in the 1950's and 1960's. Rafi performed mainly in live music shows in the 1970's. The live shows were huge hits.
Some of his famous songs are "Yeh Duniya Yeh Mehfil" from Heer Ranjha, "Tum Mujhe Yun Bhula Na Paoge" from Pagla Kahin Ka, "Kaan Mein Jhumka" from Sawan Bhadon; "Itna to Yaad Hain Mujhe" from Mehboob Ki Mehndi, "Chalo Dildar Chalo" from Pakeezah, etc.
- He won National Film Awards in 1977.
- He won Filmfare Awards in 1960, 1961, 1964, 1966,1968 and 1977.
- He won Bengal Film Journalists' Association Awards in 1957,1966,1967.
- He won Sur Sringar Award in 1964.
- He received a silver medal from the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, on the first anniversary of the Indian Independence Day in 1948.
- He was honoured with the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1967.
- Hero Honda and Stardust magazine honoured him with the "Best Singer of the Millennium" in 2001.
- Rafi won the CNN-IBN poll for the Greatest Voice in Hindi Cinema in 2013.