An endless feud between the fans of Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar..

Mohammed Rafi was born at Kotla Sultan Singh, near Amritsar . Rafi displayed his talent for singing at the tender age of 13. The lure of movies beckoned him to Bombay in 1944. His first hit was the Tera Khilona Toota Balak from Anmol Ghadi in 1946. India lost this jewel on July 31, 1980. […]

Mohammed Rafi was born at Kotla Sultan Singh, near Amritsar . Rafi displayed his talent for singing at the tender age of 13. The lure of movies beckoned him to Bombay in 1944. His first hit was the Tera Khilona Toota Balak from Anmol Ghadi in 1946. India lost this jewel on July 31, 1980.

Abhas Kumar Ganguly, better known as Kishore Kumar was born on August 4, 1929 in Kandwa. Following the footsteps of his elder brother Ashok Kumar he too ventured into movies. But he soon realised that his heart was in singing. Under the patronage of RD Burman he soon flourished. He would at times compose and write songs himself. Sadly he passed away in October,1987.

The debate as to who was the greater singer carries on even today, even decades after their death. Both of them left an indelible mark in the world of Indian film music, a void that still cannot be filled today. No wonder that their fans are at constant feud with one another trying to prove that their hero was better.

It is a no secret that Mohammed Rafi was a trained classical singer and that Kishore Kumar had a natural talent. Hence Rafi’s fans feel that he was the more accomplished and skilful of the two. Kishoreda’s fans are of the opinion that though he may not have been trained, he had purity and sheer quality of voice. The fact that he wasn’t trained, and could still sing anything, both classical and non classical songs with equal magic rendered him more superior than Rafi.

Fans claim that Rafi was the most favoured singer for many veteran composers while Kishore Kumar was preferred by few and was a playback mainly for Dev Anand and later for Rajesh Khanna. Rafi on the other hand balanced his melodious voice for diverse stars like Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Guru Dutt, Rajendra Kumar and Shammi Kapoor.

In support of Rafi’s greatness, many of his fans say Rafi sang for Kishore Kumar in films that Kishore himself acted. They also draw the attention to Rafi’s song Darde Dil in Karz which was based on a single note and proved that he was indeed blessed with God-gifted melody. Mohammed Rafi’s fans also claim that Sonu Nigam and Udit Narayan who belong to the Rafi school are technically better than Kumar Sanu, Babul Supriyo etc.

On the other hand, Kishore Kumar’s fans remind people of songs which he sang by melodiously incorporating his inimitable yodelling. Those numbers are extremely popular even today. They further claim that in the 70’s and 80’s, it was he who sang for a number of heroes.

This debate can go on endlessly. However it must be stated that both were great singers of their times and each had his own distinctive style.

There was no feud between the two and the immense respect that Kishore Kumar had for Mohammed Rafi is clearly seen in the photo during Rafi’s funeral. A silent, sad and grief-struck Kishore in the newspapers portrayed very well that no one except him understood what an irreparable loss had taken place in Indian film music.

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2,285 Blog Comments to “An endless feud between the fans of Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar..”

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  1. Manish Kumar says:

    So I just copied & pasted the entire debate on a word document for future use & reference – hahahaha. Do you guys realize that we did ~200 pages of text! Wow. Add a few photos and you’ve got yourself a book!

  2. Manish Kumar says:

    I wish Shankar Jaikishan had gotten the assignment for Sholay (if Jaikishan hadn’t died an untimely death of alcohol poisoning). Then we’d gotten to see the greatest song with Rafi on Dharmendra & Kishore on Amitabh. Too bad – at least we had Chupke Chupke on such a great movie.

  3. Joy says:

    Kishore s magic continues.. On 78th birthday of Kishore I salute the legend.. The only true test of greatnes is time and Kishore passes this with flying colours.. Magic as they say is eternal..

  4. Dominic Crasto says:

    Throughout my childhood right up to my graduation days i adored Rafi, it was only later as i grew older i turned wiser and began appreciating Kishore voice too having come to the conclusion that no one can do everything although some can do most things…both rafi and kishore put in the best at what they did. How much opportunity each got was a matter of luck.
    I have 2 sons the elder has a soft voice and loves Rafi…the younger loves and sounds like kishore and i call them Rafi & Kishore.
    This is my personal tribute to two great singers of all time.

  5. Manish Kumar says:

    I was talking about Rafi maybe not having a loud booming voice. How wrong! He chose not to sound like that. Check out this clip here – hilarious esp the end. Rafi holds his ground – sounds very powerful and assertive. Ajit was a GREAT actor – Kishore’s voice suit him very well.

  6. iam from egypt and i was 6 year when rafi died iam not speak ordo but i loved mohd rafi more than our singers here
    in egypt when you see mohd rafi smile i am very happy .
    no comparison at all between rafi and other singers not at india only but allover world and rafi was and still the best .

  7. Umang says:

    Kishoreda is Kishoreda, no doubt that Mohd. Rafi was a great singer but Kishoreda was one step ahead. Above sentence can be proved by comparing following songs which is sung by both.
    ‘janu meri jaan’, ‘tum bin jaoon kahan’, etc.
    Kishoreda was having natural voice n was a gr8 versatile singer, his yoodling is unforgetteble, eg – ‘main hoon jhumroo’, ‘tum bin”, ‘zindagi ek safar’, endless.
    the only legend in music industry according to me is KISHREDA N ONLY KISHOREDA

  8. AR says:

    Hi Folks

    Just to add to the endless controversy over the rafi-kishore issue:

    I was a die hard kishore fan till my 10th grade – SIMPLY loved nos like “chingari koi” and “panthi hoon main us path ki” ……

    Then I listened to “o duniya ke rakhwale” for the 1st time ever in 11th grade…….

    Do I still need to say anymore????

    BTW in my later yrs (especially after I came over to the US) I started listening to songs of the Hollywood genre and other country/folk western numbers – I found out that yodling is not uncommon in the western world and of course speaking of baritone voices there are people like Jim Reeves and Dick-Van-Dyke (listen to songs from Marry Poppins)…..and scores of others…….

    And yeah if people are looking for a true baritone voice – I’d suggest Ustd. Rashid Khan (he’s my favourite)…of course we aren’t even comparing a titan of his calibre to any others….but it’s still Rafi saab’s voice that has continued to enthrall me (and millions of others) for years……only a few days back I listened to a Rafi no after a very long time….”Mohabbat Zinda Rehti Hain”……I was simply left awestruck……

    (and yes, just for info sake…. I am a Bengali from Calcutta!)

  9. Manish Kumar says:

    Dear fello Kishore Fans: go to google and type in “musicindiaonline piya ka ghar (1972)”. The song “Yeh Jeevan Hai” from that movie is one of my favorites from Kishore. I really loved his voice when he made it soft and low. So full of emotion, clean yet with excellent tonal quality and enunication (clarity). Definitely top 30 of my Kishore songs (but I have a lot to hear from Kishore).

  10. binu nair says:

    dear Manish :

    A woman scorned is like a wounded TIGER : OLD WOUNDS WERE
    OPENED and OLD SCORES SETTLED when the opportunity
    came; they never missed them any time…. but GREAT men
    HAVE A LIFE OF THEIR OWN.. .. their great works will speak
    for them and live on for centuries.
    Selfish ones can do temporary harm ; in the long run they will be
    forgotten hastily, washed away – unwept and unsung.
    GREAT MEN NEVER DIE…. they live on..

    binu nair

  11. binu nair says:

    Dear Manish :
    u are taking names : u know these things , I am sure.

    I too love about 15 Indian vintage singers and I love Lata; but
    only as a singer. Nothing more than that. And I will not write about
    her in a public forum.. The world already knows about her and she
    is responsible for it. Lets not pull out things from under the carpet;
    and only enjoy the evergreen musicals.

    Shaminder jit ji..
    I love ur statement and we all should heed ur call and sentiments.
    binu nair.

  12. shaminder jit Singh says:

    Hey , Guys , Are u all Nuts , Why Arguing like , Both The Singers were great( Both of Them will never be Forgotten ) , and how can We judge that which song could have sung better ////, Forget It , and Please do not compare those Legends ///////////

    TAke Care U all ////

  13. Sunshine says:

    When you stand in the open, strech your arms and look above you can only hear one voice-kishore’s. its open, melodious and what not… its your heart singing and god listening!! who knows if god is singing by himself!!

  14. Manish Kumar says:

    Binu: Can you elaborate on the female singers taking sides or politics in general? You have me curious. When did Lata find out about Rafi’s letter to the Guiness Books – and how come she didn’t refuse to sing with Rafi Sahab in movies like Sargam and Kranti? lol. I like them both Rafi & Lata.

  15. binu nair says:

    Personall speaking I like Kishor da’s voice in few songs only
    they are very good in those few ones… in others it is quite
    He was a gifted singer and earned his place in the industry ..
    But, sadly there was lot of politicking with even the female singers
    taking sides post 1971- which was detrimental to good and variety
    Some of them were openly settling old scores which many insiders
    are aware and talk in private conversations.


  16. Pravin says:


    You are saying nothing new, its your view, need not be the truth, and in his case it isnt.

    If Rafi sahab dosent have variety then no one else does.

    You and your likes can harp about KK, but mate, winds cant move mountains.



  17. Manish Kumar says:

    Kishore dethroned Rafi for 7 years but Rafi made a grand comeback despite the Kishore wave and MDs used him more than Kishore from 1977-1980. That was based on merit but also a tendency from the public to accept a change after 20 years of dominance and a the emergence of new era of music. It was not based on Kishore being better but being different (obviously different and great). 30+ years overlap and Kishore only gets 7 of those years (and even that was temporary as Rafi recovered). That shows dominance right there.

    If you think Rafi’s voices all sound the same – than with that kind of unwillingnes to discern, one could say that Kishore’s songs sound all the same too (or at least just as “same” as Rafi).

    Not singing but for playback alone, Rafi was clearly the better as his voice could match many more actors than Kishore’s. Just look at the repertoire of actors for whom Rafi sang for (dozens) generation after generation and then Kishore (Dev Anand, Amitabh, Rajesh Khanna, himself, etc.). His voice fit mostly people with naturally deep voices / barritone like Amitabh whereas Rafi’s voice could fit just anyone. Name a single actor with whom Rafi could not credibly fit. Even Amitabh Bachchan (after Naseeb) (Kishore’s #1 patron) said that Rafi’s voice could suit him (not better than Kishore, but it did suit him) whereas with Kishore, his voice could not suit many actors because they’d look silly with a barritone voice.

    Mohd Rafi has been ranked #1 by many! Kishore is great within his limitations but you can’t compare him to a super singer like Mohd Rafi.

  18. Mahavir says:

    Well great discussion over the duo but i am a great fan of kk rather than Rafi simply because kk himself was actor and he mold himself totally which matches not only the voice but every action of the actor for which he did playback.

  19. Rishi says:

    I was going through the discussion above , i feel mohd. rafi had sweet voive and was trained well and was able to render songs. But we find very less variation in his songs. They are classically good but almost all sound same. He was on top till film industry was dominated by classical based MD.

    Whereas Kishore Kumar did not take any classical training but by sheet sheer hard work , practice he created his place in play back singing and look at the variation of songs he has sung.

    Dethroning someone who was no 1 for three decades is remarkable in itself and that to without any classical training. And till date he is the No 1 singer inspiration of crores of budding singers. No singer dead or alive has been ranked NO 1 singer even after 20 years of his death except for Kishore Kumar.

    He is the singer who changes our moods till date with his songs .

    For classical based music lover mohd rafi could be the best but for playback sing and variety of songs Kishore Kumar is the best. And will always remain one……..

    My salutes to the legendry singer.

  20. KRISHNA says:

    Dear All,

    Changes are always required in our lives and comparisons are there for everything. Its a natural human tendency.
    We compare bikes, cars, girls, actors, politicians, colours, old and remake movies etc., etc., but they are only our individual choices or opinions and then getting generalised or publicised. Rafi saab and Kishoreda were simply great in thier own ways and comparing them is totally wrong. In fact, they had so much of respects for each other that we need to understand the reality and move ahead with the times. Both are great in singing. Enjoy music and stop comparing. Not withstanding the fact that I am an ardent fan of MOHAMMED RAFI SAAB, I like Kishore Kumar too.

  21. Majid says:


    Can any of you tell me which movie has the song ‘Hoto se jaan chali jayengi’ by Kishore sahab..

    I am not finding this song. does this song has a diff tittle.


  22. Manish Kumar says:

    My only encounter with SPB is Hum Aapke Hain Koun and Mai Pyar Kiya. He did a “good” job and I suppose he is much much better in Tamil to receive the high acclaim that he gets. Pehli Pehli Pyar was a great song but his voice was too flavored and didn’t have the natural sound (then again, Hindi is not his first language but his diction was good).

    Now Yesudas I have seen several times and I absolutely loved him. Very impressed with his voice, melody, singing ability and best of all – playback – his voice suits many actors too IMO. Who can forget that great song from Trishul (Aapke Mehki Hui or something like that), the songs from Chitchor (search this one youtube) or the songs from Choti Si Baat. GREAT singer.

    In my experiences, I’ve liked Yesudas better. But the only languages I know are Hindi and English so clearly I haven’t seen the real ability of either two so my opinion is practically meaningless.

  23. viswan says:

    everybody says abot diction.they say yesudsa,SP failed due to their dicton.what is this thing?they all consider hindi is the only singable language in india.they just guage these great artists connected with hindionly.inother way they suggest that to be arated as abest singer one must be ahindi singer.kj is one of the best trained person in carnatic music.he is amaster in caranatic is not fair to rate an artist only on the basis of diction in relation to aparticular language.hindi singer means popularity throughout a wide part of india.carnatic music is deeper and wider than any musical system prevailing in the world, wider and deeper than the hindustani.kj has mastery over the subject.

  24. Vijendra says:

    Both singers were great in their own ways.
    I will really really appreciate if someone can send me or show me where to find the lyrics of “Kaun si hay cheez hay, yaha nahi milti, sab kuch mil jata hai lekin ha, maa nahi milti…”
    My email is
    Thank you.

  25. P. Haldar says:

    myk, I agree with what you’ve said. I didn’t complete my statement on the “copybook” part because I knew someone like you or Sudip would comment on it. Here it is: Those who know the rules of grammar can also break them. Many of you are too young to have seen Vishy executing one of his favourite square cuts at the Eden Gardens or Chepauk. You can play copybook cricket but it requires someone of the calibre of Vishy to take it to a higher or a more artistic level. Among the current players, Laxman is a real artist; ball pitched outside off-stump and he goes backfoot and drives it through midwicket. It’s actually cross-bat but you won’t notice because it’s so beautiful to watch.

    All the singers you’ve mentioned are great. To deny that will be tantamount to disrespecting the opinions of millions of music lovers. I am a fanatic as far as Rafi is concerned — there is no point in hiding that — but that doesn’t preclude me from appreciating the work of others. I enjoy listening to both Kishore and Mukesh. Listen to “Dost dost na raha” composed by Shankar for Mukesh and then “Yeh mera prempatra” composed by Jaikishan for Rafi in Sangam, and you’ll realise that they made the right choices. And the same applies to “Yeh jo mohabbat hai” composed by RD for Kishore in Kati Patang.

    From whatever little I’ve heard of Yesudas and SPB, let me say this. Both are exceptional talents and both are proficient in “taan and harkatein”. One is stronger — in relative terms — in melody and the other in rhythm and gimmicks (whose influence?). But they had problems with diction. Someone like Salil or Jaidev would have exploited Yesudas and someone like RD or LP would have exploited SPB much more if they had arrived earlier and if Rafi, Mukesh and Kishore were not around. From a playback standpoint, SPB is closer to Rafi but from a purely singing standpoint, Yesudas is closer. I shouldn’t have ventured into this area because I haven’t heard their best output in Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu, but what the heck, it’s worth a try given that so many people on this thread have mentioned these two great singers.

  26. sudip says:

    Missed an important one in the list “Akele hai chale aao”. That makes it 10!

    1. Mere mehboob tujhe
    2. Ehsaan tera hoga
    3. Jiya o jiya o zara kuch bol do
    4. Dil jo na keh saka wohi raaz-e-dil
    5. Gar tum bhoola na donge
    6. Kaali ghata chhayi
    7. Teri aakhon ke siva duniya mein rakha kya hai
    8. Pardesiyon se na aakhiyan milana
    9. Jab jab bahar aaye (Taqdeer)–>I think Lata could be slightly better in this one.
    10. Akele hai chale aao (I think Lata sang it beautifully, it is right there at the start of the movie, but somehow the Rafi version prevailed)

  27. sudip says:

    Manish wrote:
    “s a singer, it is silly to compare male and female but I’ll do anyway – Rafi sang the duets better than Lata on more occasions for me”

    –Interestingly (and I posted this in another forum), every single song that had a Rafi version and a Lata version, Rafi’s version prevailed and was qualitatively better.

    1. Mere mehboob tujhe
    2. Ehsaan tera hoga
    3. Jiya o jiya o zara kuch bol do
    4. Dil jo na keh saka wohi raaz-e-dil
    5. Gar tum bhoola na donge
    6. Kaali ghata chhayi
    7. Teri aakhon ke siva duniya mein rakha kya hai
    8. Pardesiyon se na aakhiyan milana
    9. Jab jab bahar aaye (Taqdeer)–>I think Lata could be slightly better in this one..

    I do not think it proves anything because songs are often composed for a male and then given to a female. Kishore fans can say the same about “O sathi re”.. But I really think the Lata version of “Mere Naina Sawaan bhado” was qualitatively much better. The barritone humming and youthful rendition did not match the haunting melody that Lata had punched into the song.

    Haldar wrote: “You can keep talking about “taan and harkatein”

    The reason I do this is to take away the wind out of the VOICE based argument. If one could somehow generate a machine that produced the same frequency and vocal quality as Kishore, they would be able to re-generate “Pal pal dil ke paas”. But no machine would be able to re-generate “Main kahi kavi na ban jayoon”.

  28. myk says:

    1.You can keep talking about “taan and harkatein” but playback singing requires other skills as well. Rafi wrote the copybook (a cricketing term that Ganguly fans will appreciate) for playback singing and Kishore executed that to perfection.

    I agree Rafi defined what playback singing is about, however no one reached that standard. Kishore was excellent within his range, but could not match what Rafi accomplished. I think Yesudas and SPB of the south are the most versatile singers after Rafi, however when it comes to HFM, along with Rafi and Kishore, I think Mukesh also was one of the greatest.

  29. Kishore fan says:

    Hey super-smart Monty, you don’t like attacking people on the basis of religion, at the same time choose to ignore when people are attacking others because of their race or language. What more can you expect from a “Rafi-fan”?

  30. viswan says:

    yesudas while delivering amemorial program on rafi said both had arehersal for a duet but the last minute he was dropped from that song for mannadey which he said pained him limitlessly the rason cited was clash of sound of rafi and jesudas.however kj was proud of that event which acknowledged his nearness to rafi as asinger.

  31. P. Haldar says:

    Mr. A. Singh,

    The tune that Pradeep Singhi mentioned in his article couldn’t have been “Teri bindiya re”, given that Abhiman came out much later. I think SD was talking about “Mehbooba teri tasveer”, the melodious Rafi solo from IPZN, which was released just before Amar Prem. That’s why he asked the boy whether he had heard the tune or not. Listen to the song carefully, especially the tabla beats, and you’ll see why the boy mixed it up with “Teri bindiya re”.

    In the second last paragraph of the article, there is a typo; it should be “Pandit Gyan Prakash Ghosh”, one of the greatest all-rounders of Hindustani classical music. He always considered Rafi to be the best exponent of semi-classical music, something that people on this forum may not be aware of.

  32. Manish Kumar says:

    btw…i definitely am a RAFIAN…i love and admire kishore kumar, lata mangeshkar, alka yagnik, udit narayan…but by far, mohd rafi is my favorite singer. I can listen to Rafi for hours. 90% of what i listen to is Rafi – every now and then i’ll take a break from him and resort to kishore or whoever is worthy enough.

    i’m a Rafi fan but also admirer of Kishore. like i said, when i dont’ see rafi’s name in the beginning of the movie, i get sad 🙁

  33. Manish Kumar says:

    Correction: taan and harkatein to the level of Rafi. Of course she had that quality herself!

  34. Manish Kumar says:

    “However one of the main things you ventured into as most Kishore fans have done here is compare the two on an overall basis which should never happen. No one is denying Kishore was a good singer, but trying to pit him up against Rafi is impossible. A better comparison would be Yesudas and Rafi even though Rafi again wins in that situation as well”

    Oh no, I agree with you. I knew right from the start that it was foolish to compare MOHD RAFI to KISHORE KUMAR on an overall level. In specific circumstances – yes but not overall. I did it anyway though to stir things up and try to make the debate more legitimate – it wasn’t and still isn’t.

    I think a better comparison would be Mohd Rafi to Lata Mangeshkar! Recency factor really kicks in for Lata. However, I’ll say this. Whereas Rafi & Kishore sometimes fought with each other for #1, Lata Mangeshkar always remained matchless CAREERWISE (as a singer, it is silly to compare male and female but I’ll do anyway – Rafi sang the duets better than Lata on more occasions for me – Teri Bindya Re – really shouldn’t have had the GREATEST PLAYBACK SINGER OF ALL TIME in MOHD RAFI for Amitabh is the female was supposed to be better). No one could contend with her – not even Asha Bhosle. She was highly skilled and had a supreme voice – but she had a stoic personality and didn’t have the taan and harkatein. I still pick Rafi over Lata but this is a more legitimate debate.

    Why don’t we ever have Lata versus Rafi debates? Proly because male female.

  35. P. Haldar says:

    Sudip, your theory on Dev is interesting but it’s a little too far-fetched. I think Dev genuinely liked Kishore’s voice and there was a lot of bonhomie between him and the Ganguly family (remember Ashok Kumar was a mentor and friend). Kishore’s innings with Dev also started earlier, perhaps before the rift with Surayya. Also, remember that Raj Kapoor had Mukesh as his voice, Dilip Kumar had settled for Rafi, and it was quite natural for the remaining star in the Big 3 galaxy to want to have his own voice. Kishore had been producing hits for Dev since the early 50s, so there was really no need to replace him with Rafi. But from 1958 till around 1964, Dada did not use Kishore on Dev. And from around 1958 till around 1963, Lata was out of his recording room. So in those six years, he primarily relied on two singers: Rafi and Asha. It’s only in Teen Deviyan that Dada brought back Kishore and, as usual, Kishore did a wonderful job. But for Guide he turned to Rafi again to deliver those timeless jewels. I’ve read somewhere that Dev insisted that Dada give a song to Kishore and that’s why you have “Gaata rahein mere dil” (in any case, Rafi couldn’t have sung that with Lata because they had not patched up by then). Post-Aradhana, Dada was fighting an uphill battle with not only Dev but also his own son who had no more time for Rafi. The son set a new trend with Kishore and the father was forced to follow suit. He used Rafi for Gambler, IPZN and Talash, but by then the partnership — one of the most illustrious in the annals of film music — was coming to an end. I’ve given several examples of how wonderfully Rafi modulated his voice for Guru Dutt and Dev under Dada’s baton and you can bet that it did not escape the attention of Rafi’s biggest fan, the one and only Kishore. You can keep talking about “taan and harkatein” but playback singing requires other skills as well. Rafi wrote the copybook (a cricketing term that Ganguly fans will appreciate) for playback singing and Kishore executed that to perfection. Their fans will keep fighting for another 25 years — a bloodbath is currently going on in the other forum — but these two are the best “playback” singers the film industry has ever produced. Each side will naturally say that their idol is the best. There is nothing wrong in that as long as the passion is restricted to using “bhodro” language. And guess who is enjoying the “divide and rule” policy?

  36. A Singh says:

    As far as SD Burman was concerned, he had a special liking for Rafi. There are many instances where he has even over ruled even Manna Dey for Rafi for many songs. The following are few references.

    Then he hummed a few more lines of another song and, as if to test my truthfulness, asked “Ei dhun ta sunechho?” (And have you heard this tune?). The tune did not sound familiar at all and I truthfully said “No.” He gave a short chuckle in his inimitable style and said, “Ei gaan ta akhonee toh compose hoyechhe. Rafi gaaibe” . (This song has just been composed!. Rafi will sing it.) He was pulling my leg! I can’t be totally sure which tune he hummed, but I have a strong feeling it was Teri bindiya re, which was sung by Rafi Saab for Abhimaan . If so, I wonder why he didn’t name Lata.

    A Tribute from S D Burman

    “Goldie’s Guide,” noted Dada, “offered me more scope to score than any other movie I had done through two decades in Hindi cinema. So that I have to concede that Rafi fulfilled my highest expectations in his rendition of Kya Se Kya Ho Gaya, Din Dhal Jaaye Haay and Tere Mere Sapne on Dev,” Dada had concluded

    SD Burman & Manna Dey – Love Hate relationship

    After rehearsing the song for days to SD’s satisfaction, there was often a thunder. “Now that you know the song well, guide Rafi to sing the number. I would like him to record it. I already told him that you would contact him!! “.

  37. sudip says:

    “Look at Dev Anand; he hardly ever mentions Rafi.”

    –Dev did think highly of Rafi. But he switched loyalties after 1969.. Here is my theory though (not validated): Rafi was always associated with the Naushad camp and there was a strong belief (possibly a fact) that Naushad was one of the people who dissuaded Suraiyya from Dev by influencing her grandmother. I think somewhere deep in his mind Dev could not dissocciate Naushad from Suraiyya and Rafi from Naushad. Again this is my theory.

    “The year also saw the rage of Laila Majnu (in which he sang all the songs of rising star Rishi Kapoor, too) under the baton of Madan Mohan and Jaidev; and the third and second ranking in Binaca’s finals that year were: meri mehbooba (Dharamveer; Laxmikant-Pyarelal)”

    –To me, THE SONG of Dharamveer was “Arey Maine tujhko chaha”..It somehow got submerged in the popularity of “O mere mehbooba” and “Saat Ajube”.. Listen to the song. If someone is looking for tonal quality and scale transitions, it is worth listening to:

    Listen to the harkatein. No one in this world can do this.

  38. sudip says:

    Sanjay aka Manish: Good one.. at times I also debate myself-thesis->antithesis->synthesis..

    “My final remark is that I genuinely fear we’ll lose both Rafi & Kishore. They are eternal singers getting more popular by the day – but today’s music is utter garbage and I get depressed being exposed to it.”

    –At some point they will just become proverbial. Has any of us listened to Tansen? But Tansen has become a name, a proverb, a benchmark..To me Lata (Pls no Lata-Asha debate here) and Rafi will possibly reach that Hall of Fame in filmy music.

    “- Kishore’s voice did prove superior in some specific situations – it is these specific situations that KK fans absolutel love”
    –Lot of my friends belong to the section that is intertested in this narrow band. To them, 70% of Rafi’s songs belong to genres that do not matter to their ears. But any logical person would know to distinguish between “favorite” versus “best”. Unfortunately majority of us do not know the line between these.
    To me, Kishore versus Rafi is not a function of generations, as some people pointed out. It is a function of age. Rafi’s songs had a sublime touch backed by profound lyrics that can be apreciated as one matures.

    “Sometimes I do have problems with Rafi when his voice is being too soft or gets fuzzy.”
    –The Karz song was rather a low pitch song (especially the “kur” portion). At high pitch Rafi sometime got fuzzy but that had more to do with technology of the times (even Himesh is clear at high pitch these days). But to me, it added that mystic touch that makes the song intriguing, beyond the obvious. Take “Ayi bahar banke lubha kar” (Rajhath, SJ). I often wondered why SJ and Rafi had to choose that high octave. It almost took the breath out of Rafi..But as I listened more to the song, the slow wine effect started. It is that fuzziness that made the song attractive and not an obviously attractive one (whisky).

  39. Manish Kumar says:

    I think Rafi’s voice is TOO MASCULINE for Shah Rukh Khan especially in Chura Liye. Look at the tonal quality in Dafli Wale.

    Feminine is a stupid word to describe his voice.

  40. Manish Kumar says:

    Anyone know the position of John Johnny Janardhan on the Binaca Geet list?

  41. myk says:


    I didn’t know you and Manish are the same person. Like Sudip, I meant you presented some good facts about Kishore and are more knoweldgeable about him than others here are, the first person from the Kishore side who did that.

    However one of the main things you ventured into as most Kishore fans have done here is compare the two on an overall basis which should never happen. No one is denying Kishore was a good singer, but trying to pit him up against Rafi is impossible. A better comparison would be Yesudas and Rafi even though Rafi again wins in that situation as well.

    Anyways Thanks for your writeups. I am a regular at HF, but I won’t give my identity away. For that you’ll have to find out on your own 🙂

  42. myk says:

    1. You talk about the greatness of Rafi’s voice. Of course it is GREAT. Think about it this way. A lot of Kishore fans don’t care for the kind of songs from the 50s and 60s. They only care for the kinds of songs in the 1970s and 1980s. The ones that demand a powerful barritone for strength. They care for sad and romantic songs too (we’ve seen this in the 70s) but don’t care for songs that require too much classical training.

    Well then those are their likes and dislikes. The problem with most Kishore fans is that they compare their favourite singer to Rafi. Not all songs in the 70’s and 80’s demanded peowersful barritone and strength. It depends on the composition. I would like to add that Rafi displayed excellent baritone in strength in his compositions, the depth of his tone was excellent. Also, not all Kishore powerful songs are hard on the ears, but I wouldn’t term that as such a great voice. Rafi had the ability to be powerful and meledious and sweet all at the SAME time, something which Kishore could not compete with him on that front.

    2. What kind of singer would such an audience like? Kishore Kumar. Whose voice would be BEST for this kind of genre? Kishore Kumar’s (before you argue this – I want that list). If you go for OVERALL SINGING with ALL KINDS of songs than I think Rafi wins easy – but it depends on the value of the fans. Lots of fans who grew up in the 70s are enchanted with that kind of music (and remember – the 70s 80s genre is big enough that it is a world of its own). This “limitation” is very broad one.

    That is fine, fans have their own particular favourites, however I don’t personally admire the majority of the 80’s decade, it wasn’t so great in terms of music IMO.

    3. If people don’t care for ghazals and qawwalis but are within certain limits (that are broad nevertheless) (and MILLIONS are) and it is just about voice and not training – then Kishore Kumar can truly contend to be #1 among those fans. Kishore’s setback in the early period was NEVER his amazing voice – it was training.

    His voice had a lot to do with it. Not quality wise but flexiblity wise, he could not cover alot of range or genres, simple as that. If you want to compare the sweetness and meledious factor, IMO Rafi wins hands down however everyone has their views. Even if he had training, it would not have helped him reach Rafi’s standard. He had a good voice, but it had its limitations, Rafi on the other hand had a voice that had multiple characteristics not just on the quality front but depth wise as well.

    4. You have to fit a singer for you purposes. Not everyone likes EVERY KIND of song. And fors specific categories – KK is #1. His voice is best. Even his limitations leave for a BIG WORLD – his great and vast career with many kinds of songs.

    Exactly, so why compare him to Rafi as many are doing here, when the comparison is not FAIR at all ?. Sanjay you are the first knowedgeable Kishore fan I have come across in this forum.

  43. myk says:

    Hi Sanjay:

    Thanks for your comments.


    1. Please do! List me AS MANY songs as you can think where Rafi has something close to the POWERFUL TONE of Kishore Kumar. I’m VERY interested.
    I predict you’ll give a list of strong tonal quality but it’ll never be quite as powerful as Kishore’s rendition. How can it? Barritone is a good thing and a bad thing. Someone with a baritone could never sing “Din Dhal Jaye.” Just as it allows you – it also limits you. It’s OK that Rafi didn’t have baritone. His HUSKY voice and his TONE were excellent even without.
    I anxiously wait for a list – make it as long as good as you can.

    It depends on how you define powerful tone. Powerful tone could be tone with great depth, with great feeling, not just loud. If you are referring to powerful as in hard on the ears, yes Kishore wins because although Rafi had songs which were POWERFUL, such as for example the western-type song she sang for SJ and RDB, he was never hard on the ears, and this is one aspect of Kishore that turns me away from him.

    2. He could change his voice to mellow and smooth to suite the an emotional or heartfelt number – Chingari Koi Badkhe (Amar Prem) or Aane Wala Pal (Golmal) sound very different from his trademark booming, powerful voice from say “Apni to Jaise Taise” from Laawaris. He could change his voice to match a drunk Amitabh in Sharabi. That’s undeniable modulation and versatility, for me.

    This was a cakewalk for Rafi. Modulation for a few actors is good, however to modulate for a variety of stars is something no singer but Rafi could do. I think true versatality is what Rafi accomplished, getting right into the character of the actor and covering a wide array of genres.

    3. If Kishore didn’t have the voice – then how could he reach such heights (and ONLY HE) to contend with Rafi? You can question anything about Kishore – his career or his training – but NOT his AMAZING VOICE.

    If you notice the songs he sang in the 70’s and 80’s were not in a wide variety of genres. If he did sing in them, it was not regular. Kishore could not succeed in ghazals, qawwali’s, classical songs, bhajans and other genres. When I mentioned voie I meant voice to cover genres, not quality voice. No one is saying Kishore didn’t have a good voice, he did, but the problem is comparing the felxibilty and quality to Rafi.

    4. True, compositions in the 50s were much more difficult. However, in an artistic sense, an easier composition is no less to me. I loved music from the 70s (and late 60s with Rafi gems – I CANNOT believe that Rafi declined in 1969 – I can think of a dozen Rafi FAVORITES from that year alone and the songs of Aradhana were different but not better). That is not entirely relevant to the value of the song.

    I also love the 70’s music as well, it is one of my favourite decades, however in general, music of the 70’s is not regarded as difficult as the previous two decades. Kishore succeeded at a time when compositions though high in artistic value were not really challenging. The types of songs he sang suited his range, it would have been a cakewalk for Rafi.

    5. My favorite Rafi-Lata duet is actually “Teri Bindiya Re” from 1973 – the “lowest” point of Rafi’s career. There’s pure magic in his voice in that song. The story of Abhimaan was completely ruined when they choose Rafi to do playback (I thought the female voice was supposed to be better in the movie than the males – certainly not in that song).

    True, however SDB went by his ‘click’ method and employed Kishore as his lead singer, and missed out more with Rafi even though they have gems to their credit in this decade.

    6. That should be told to people as a motivational period. Tell people, “even the great Kishore Kumar struggled and was about to give up. He never did though – kept persisting – and see what a rich career he had from 1969-1987” think how much he’d have missed had he given up.”

    The reason why Kishore never gave up is because of the Burmans. Originally Aradhana was supposed to be all in Rafi’s voice except probably Roop Tera Mastana which I think had a Bengali version sung by Kishore. It was his luck that the Burmans stayed behind him and Rafi went out of town so he could get a chance to sing the other songs. BUT I feel Kishore could have proved his talent anyways, however by 1970, Lata and Rafi had already set the benchmark of playback singing, and Kishore did good but never reached the standard set by Rafi.

    7. Yes that is true – but Kishore sang his own classics for Dev.

    Absolutely, and they are good as well, but as P. Haldar mentioned as an example is there a single movie in which Kishore sings for Dev in which he has three songs that can match in quality to the songs of Hum Dono. I can put Guide along with that as well.

    9. Just for my own curiosity – who sang more for Dev Anand (not that this means greatness – I don’t care for Dev Anand just curious). Rafi or Kishore?

    That’s a good question.

  44. P. Haldar says:

    On Rafi’s popularity in the late 70s:

    Here’s an excerpt from an article published in The Telegraph (Calcutta, August 17, 1980); this writer knows how to report the truth:


    And finally, in 1977, Rafi proved once again that Hum Kissi Se Kum Nahin. In the film, all four songs sung by Rafi became superhits: the title qawaali, Kya hua tera vaada (which fetched him the Filmfare Award after a break of nine long years), Chaand mera dil and Yeh ladka haaye Allah.

    The year also saw the rage of Laila Majnu (in which he sang all the songs of rising star Rishi Kapoor, too) under the baton of Madan Mohan and Jaidev; and the third and second ranking in Binaca’s finals that year were: meri mehbooba (Dharamveer; Laxmikant-Pyarelal) and Pardah hai pardah (Amar Akbar Anthony; Laxmikant-Pyarelal.) In 1978, LP’s Apnapan got Rafi a Filmfare nomination though eventually the song landed up with a lyric award (Anand Bakshi) instead ? Aadmi musaafir hai.

    And now look at 1979-80! Just when Rafi had made a complete comeback, he’s gone! Laxmikant-Pyarelal gave him all seven songs in Sargam (four solos, three duets with Lata) and walked away with the best music award, all seven being top of the pops. They gave him four out of six in Suhaag (the other two being Asha’s) and they have been raging through the Binaca Geet Mala. They gave him five out of six (the other being Lata) in Aasha and did well enough.

    Another indication of his sure return is the fact that Dev Anand who did not go in for Rafi ever since Gambler (1969) ? in which, too, he had just one ghazal ? returned to him after 10 years in the latest Man Pasand though in just one song, under the baton of Rajesh Roshan, with Tina Munim. The weekly Binaca Geet Malas in 1980 have clearly shown so far that Rafi is dominating, sometimes with as many as 10 songs as compared to Kishore’s two (on May 28) out of a total of 16 toppers!

    As Lata Mangeshkar said after his death: “The void that was created by Saigal’s death had been filled by Rafi Saab. He sang with me for 33 years. He was an exceptional singer.”

  45. anonymous great says:

    Comparisons are odious and to compare kishore and rafi is akin to comparing apples and Oranges, chalk and cheese etc.
    If KK had a strong Baritone voice, rafi had a weak feminine voice.
    KK was a eccentric extrovert while rafi was a shy modest introvert (again feminine qualities).
    KK remained untrained (thank god for that as too much of training can reduce the natural sweetness of the voice as can be confirmed by most of the MD) and rafi classically trained.
    KK appeals to the youth and appeal is universal and rafi to the elderly and esoteric few and appeal is quite narrow.
    To praise KK is to do the obvious and to praise rafi is similar to praising a classic which everyone appreciates in order to project as intellectual but no one reads.
    KK always sang all songs effortlessly while rafi tried to make simple songs difficult by unneccassarily adding harkatien and taan even when not required just to demonstrate his classical knowledge.
    KK sang with a certain spontaneity(akin to SRK) while rafi sang with a lot of method.
    India is great becoz that country is the greatest which has the greatest man or woman (kk and LM)

  46. P. Haldar says:

    Sudip, let me tell you why I mentioned the “popularity” factor. I know as a true music lover, you care much more about the quality of the song rather than its popularity. That’s fine, but Rafi is more than that; RAFIana is a movement, something that we who grew up in the 60s experienced first hand. It is difficult for some of you to even appreciate what it was like.

    Rafi never got the kind of publicity and support that some of the other singers have received. Look at Dev Anand; he hardly ever mentions Rafi. Look at all the big-time producers who not only benefited from his songs but also from the fact that he waived all the royalties. He made heroes out of zeroes. And then you saw how these same people treated him just because a couple of Kishore’s songs became major hits. Kishore’s time had come, no doubt about that. But why run away from Rafi who was producing 20 to 30 major hits every year? Do you really think he wouldn’t have produced hits if given the chance? Man, he could turn any decent tune into gold!

    It’s his fans who never let him fade. I have great respect for all my fellow RAFIans who stood by him during that lean period. And when they get unduly emotional, I understand. Look at all the garbage that is being spread in the name of music: Rafi had a thin voice, Rafi had a feminine voice, Rafi couldn’t sing energetic songs, Rafi’s voice did not have much bass, Rafi couldn’t sing rock ‘n roll, Rafi had problems with some of the fast-changing harmonics, so-and-so female singer surpassed him in some song or the other, Rafi is not that popular anymore, he was only popular in the 50s and the 60s because there was no one around…. What’s coming next? He could not sing, right?

    Here are some truths:

    The Baiju Bawra songs (semi-classical in nature) were immensely popular.
    “Nain Lad Jai Hain” was a major hit, although it didn’t have the frills of …
    Most of Naushad’s films were actually golden jubilee hits.
    People still love “Suhani raat dhal chuki” (1949).
    Rafi’s voice had shakti, bhakti and masti.
    Rafi defined what playback singing was all about; no one will ever reach that level.
    You can keep discussing voice quality (bass, tonal quality, force, etc., etc.), but what SPB said (He had the TRUE VOICE) and Yesudas said (God was partial to Rafi) are the actual truth. No amount of analysis will ever change that.

  47. Sanjay says:

    Shoot, I said I wouldn’t post again, but one last request.


    I wouldn’t call Rafi’s voice thin or feminine. It was was just right – but it wasn’t the manliest of voices (which is good – more versatility IMO).

    Greatest voice of all – MOHD RAFI.

    Everytime I watch a movie from the 70s, I get excited to read who the playback singers will be. When I don’t see Rafi’s name, I get very sad. Last night on (free classic Hindi movies with many Rafi numbers for free if you have high speed internet) I saw “Buddha Mil Gaya”. Disappointed in the movie (I love Hrishida), amazed with Manna Dey’s singing (but I stil like Rafi & KK better), but VERY SAD when I didn’t see “MOHD RAFI” in the list of playback singers in the opening credits.

    Now I’m done. We’ll talk again in the future. 🙂

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