Most people listen to music on a day-to-day basis, but when was the last time that someone actually became a professional singer because of one’s love for a singer?
Meet KS Ramchandran, a 65-year-old professional singer from Chennai. Also known as Chennai Rafi, he predominantly sings songs by Mohammed Rafi and is one of the biggest fans of the legend.
Ramachandran’s day primarily consists of practicing music. “When one enjoys doing something, they keep at it,” he says.
His love for music, and mainly for Rafi, started when he was 5 years old.
“We went to a movie hall to watch a movie called Bhabhi. I was playing and suddenly I heard the song ‘Chal Udd Ja Re Panchi’, I was mesmerized by his voice. Until that time, I never thought I liked music,” says Ramachandran.
“It was like Khuda Ki Awaaz,” says Ramachandran and it kept lingering on his mind. He later inquired about the voice and came to know that it was Mohammed Rafi’s voice.
Elaborating on his admiration for Rafi, he says, “He is the very definition of a playback singer. There are many other singers who had similar attributes, but in my opinion, there was one thing that separated him. When Rafi sang, it was as true as nature, he applied his whole body. Moreover, he was an extremely good human being,” he says. You will never find a picture in which he was not smiling, he used to help others.”
His love for Rafi’s music continued, but he was asked to concentrate on his studies.
“I had eight siblings and was asked to concentrate on studies as I was good at studies, but music was something that remained closed to my heart,” says Ramachandran. He became a Cost and Chartered Accountant and worked with multiple companies.
In the early 1980s, Ramachandran finally decided to take his passion for singing to the next level. He started performing in shows in India and abroad.
Though he never took professional training, he always had a good sense of music. Ramachandran mainly performs retro songs from the 1940s, 1970s and 1980s, but also sings current Bollywood songs.
In 2009, he also got a chance to meet the legend at his house in Bandra, Mumbai, and was able to see Rafi’s room, medals and accolades. Rafi’s daughter and son-in-law in July even came to Purasawalkam to attend one of Ramachandran’s show.
Ramachandran even started a foundation called the Mohammed Rafi Foundation in 1998. His main objective is to promote Rafi’s songs, even the lesser known ones, among the next generation.
Asked about what he thinks about the current Bollywood songs, he says, “The Bollywood music from the 1940s, maybe even a little earlier than that, would be remembered forever only because of the lyrical excellence along with competition value and unparalleled singing by the playback singer made it almost evergreen and timeless. Because then singers never composed music for money, it was not commercial. It was more to do with passion. Money was incidental, it was not a priority. Today, people will do anything for commercial success, be it acting or music. The quality of music will obviously go down. People who love the songs from that era, they can easily quote the songs, but today, people can hardly remember the songs as the lifespan of songs is very less today,” says Ramachandran.