Chandigarh: Legendary playback singer Mohammed Rafi's native village in Punjab's Amritsar district remembered him on his 31st death anniversary, as his friend, 94-year-old Bakshish Singh, recollected the days the two spent  together.

"A small function was organised in the village school at Kotla Sultan (Rafi's native village). On Saturday, a private media house had also organised a function to observe Rafi Sahab's death anniversary, in which school bags and other gifts were distributed to the children," Bakshish Singh's grandson, Jodh Singh said.

Bakshish Singh still has a good memory of the schooldays he spent with Rafi.

"We went to the village primary school together at Kotla Sultan. He was my best friend and since his early days used to treat us with his melodious voice," Singh said.

Bakshish Singh and Rafi were born in Kotla Sultan village, about 30 km from Amritsar in Punjab and about 250 km from here.

Born on December 24, 1924, Rafi died of a heart attack in Mumbai on July 31, 1980. He was honoured with the PadmaShri in 1967.
   
Rafi, who began singing by chanting the notes that a 'fakir' (Muslim saint) sung in his village, went on to lend his voice to Bollywood megastars including Amitabh Bachchan, Shammi Kapoor, Dharmendra and Dev Anand in his career as a successful playback artist.

He has numerous hit songs to his credit including several duets with famous playback singers Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle.

Working with music directors like OP Nayyar, Laxmikant  Pyarelal and RD Burman, Rafi delivered some evergreen hits including 'Yeh duniya yeh mehfil', 'Chura liya hai tumne', 'O Haseena', 'Tum jo mil gaye ho' and 'Aaj mausam bada beimaan'.

Bakshish recalls that Rafi was a simple man who used to speak from his heart and help everyone in need.

"He was our neighbour and that's how our friendship grew. We used to play together and take out our domestic animals together to collect fodder," he said.

Jodh Singh Samra said that the village is trying to do its own bit to keep the memory of the singer alive.

"We organise a singing competition to remember the legend," he said.

The villagers had started a computer training centre at the village named after Rafi. The school gate and the road leading to the village was also named after him.

"However, the Government and Rafi Sahab's fans should also come forward to make Kotla Sultan a model village," said Samra.

Lata Mangeshkar pays tribute to Mohd Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar has paid tribute to her co-singer, the legendary Mohammed Rafi, on his 31st death anniversary.

"Today is our country's most talented personality - Rafi sahab's 31 death anniversary. Rafi sahab was very honest, genuine and a nice person. He was as sweet a person as (was) his voice," Lata wrote on twitter.

"Rafi sahab was on good terms with all my family members. I am fortunate to have got the opportunity to sing several duets with him. Approximately in 315 films that we did together, we have sung some 440 odd duets. Such a talented artist is not born again and again. I pay him tribute," the melody-queen said.

(Agencies)