Travel with me down Padmashree Mohammed Rafi Marg this day on which that adaaqaar's
adaaqaar would have turned 83, if he'd been still living. Remember, four of Rafi's six Filmfare Best Singer awards were clinched when there was only one such prize going for the gentleman and the lady singer alike.
Lata Mangeshkar deservedly bagged this prestigious award in its inaugural year of 1958. For Salil Chowdhury's Aa jaa re pardesee, so hauntingly picturised on Vyjayantimala playing Madhumati in the Bimal Roy classic.
<b1>Win some, lose some
Come 1959 and Mukesh resonantly signalled his playback comeback by winning this Filmfare Best Singer award on who else but Raj Kapoor via Shanker's Sab kuchch seekha hum ne, as crafted for Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Anari by Shailendra.
These two awards put Mohammed Rafi - by then indubitably number one - on his vocal mettle. Ravi it was who fetched Rafi his first Filmfare Best Singer award, in 1960, for this tuneful titan's Raag Pahadi rendition of the Shakeel Badayuni-penned Chaudhvin kaa chaand ho. Filmed on Guru Dutt and sung in praise of Waheeda Rehman, of course.
For having lost out on this award in its first two years, Rafi claimed it anew in 1961. For his peerless vocalising of Jaikishan's Teree pyaaree pyaare, the Hasrat-written Sasural number witnessing Rajendra Kumar extolling the kamal nayanee beauty of Saroja Devi.
Like in Chaudhvin ka Chand, it was Raag Pahadi that did the Best Singer trick, afresh, for Rafi in 1964. His soliloquising of Chaahunga main tujhe (on Sushil Kumar) proved crucial in freshers Laxmikant-Pyarelal lifting their maiden Filmfare Best Music award for Rajshri's Dosti.
This from under the nose of Shanker-Jaikishan feeling scandalised at coming off second-best on RK's Sangam, the blockbuster flaunting Rafi's Yeh meraa prem patra on Rajendra Kumar.
Jaikishan is no less eminently remembered for the silken-smooth way he got Rafi to go on Rajendra Kumar in Bahaaron phool barsaao. This Hasrat-written Suraj soother came through in Raag Shivranjani. Fittingly did Bahaaron seal the 1966 Filmfare Best Singer award for Rafi.
Next, the 1968 Best Male Singer Filmfare award did Rafi bag for a serene Brahmachari solo on the otherwise boisterous Shammi Kapoor - as a vocally matching prize long overdue. Shanker's Shailendra-penned Main gaaon tum so jaao it was that earned for Rafi this his fifth Filmfare Best Singer prize.
In the end Rafi's last such award materialised as late as 1977 for Kyaa huaa teraa waadaa, as tuned by R D Burman for Hum Kisise Kam Naheen. This was a prize bagged at the height of the Kishore Kumar wave. It made Rafi feel fulfilled to find that he could work the oracle even under the Pancham baton.