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From local cafes to int’l events: Singer Rafi Khan’s musical voyage

Post by on Wednesday, July 28, 2021

First slide
 In 2003, a journey named ‘Valley Boyz’ started, a local band created by Singer Rafi Khan from Srinagar’s Batmaloo area. For a decade, the band performed on various platforms, and achieved considerable fame locally. However, a singer’s dream to perform before a bigger audience and on a bigger platform meant Rafi had to leave Kashmir and pursue his dream in the city of  dreams, hub of Indian cinema industry, popularly known as Bollywood,  of which  every aspiring singer, actor and filmmaker wants to be part of, Mumbai (Amchi Mumbai). Initially Rafi struggled but soon his heart melting voice echoed in local cafes and clubs of Mumbai. Like all strugglers Rafi found his destiny in the city and became a sensation in Mumbai. Rafi became popular and collaborated with many other bands.
 Rafi’s aspirations now knew no bounds as he ambitiously went on to tour with various artists and other troupes in Europe, Asia, Middle East, and Africa.
 Now a popular international artist, Rafi’s dreams have come true. This was what he always wanted, to take his music to people all over the world.
 “I am a dreamer,” says Rafi. They say chase your dreams, Rafi believes “if your dream is genuine, the dream will follow you”. He cannot imagine life without singing “without music life would be a mistake” he says.  
Until now, Rafi has performed in more than 1000 shows, travelled extensively with corporate groups, for destination weddings and private parties and entertained thousands of people with his charming voice.
  “We’re busy travelling to other cities for cultural and corporate events,” he says. But, his goal remains Bollywood.
 Rafi is a lone person in his family who is smitten by Bollywood. “I would pick up tunes and strum them on my guitar for hours.”
 His father, a doctor, who also runs a medical store in Srinagar, wasn’t in favour and suggested he manage the shop.” “He felt a musician had no future in Kashmir, but I couldn’t sit at the shop for more than two days,” he laughs. “Ultimately, they gave in.”
 
Struggles
 
Rafi Khan’s musical journey dates back to his school days. It was in the year 2000 then a 7th standard student when he started learning music. Born in a conservative Kashmiri family in Srinagar, his passion for singing and music led him on a path full of challenges and struggles.
 “I was mocked by my own family and school friends when I expressed my desire to make a career in music,” he says.
 What made it even more difficult was the lack of musical infrastructure around him. But being as determined as he was, he started small, singing for free in cafes and school / college events.
 His immense talent was recognized and appreciated by all, until one day he received an offer to sing in Mumbai. Leaving his hometown and coming to a strange city was a dream come true, but not without its own set of hardships.
Rafi moved to his own apartment two years ago. “Till then I was living with Rupal and her family who treated me like one of their own.”
 He had been sharing a flat with Aashu Khan, a fellow Kashmiri musician who plays the Cajon, a box-shaped percussion instrument originally from Peru.
 “We, along with two other boys, were part of a band back home called Valley Boys. When we would step out of our homes with our guitars in a case, people would think we were carrying guns,” he says.
After struggling for a few years in the hustle and bustle of the city, singing in small cafes to bigger ones, people started taking notice of his soulful performances.
 Offers slowly started trickling in from different areas, cities and subsequently different countries. He was also offered a chance to sing in many reality shows.
 
Participation in Reality shows
 
Rafi has participated in many reality shows including “Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa”, “India’s got talent” and “Indian Idol”. “It was after participating in these reality shows, I got recognition and could perform at international platforms,” he says.
 
Financial hardships
 
Having very little money, he lived on a sharing basis with other musicians. He sang in shopping malls, which led him to sing in small cafes, weddings and private parties. They say luck favours the brave, and it proved to be true in the life of Rafi Khan.
 
“All it took was one corporate event with a big company, and since then there was no turning back for me,” he says.
 
International performer
His performance was loved so much that he was called to perform in London, Switzerland, France, Hungary, Austria and all the way in Africa to Asia as well.
 Rafi has entertained thousands across the country and even more all over the world. People everywhere are spellbound by his melodious voice and passionate singing.
 Even with all the success, Rafi never let it get to his head. He knows where he comes from, and knows where he is going.
 
 
Turning point
While remembering a nostalgic event which turned into a game changer in Rafi’s life he says.
“It was in 2013, when I was 28, and was waiting at the Srinagar Airport to board a flight to Mumbai, feeling both excitement and dread.
“I couldn’t ignore the knot of anxiety in my tummy, because I was leaving home and travelling thousands of kilometers to a city, where I knew nobody, simply on the assurance of a lady I had met a few days ago,” says the vocalist, who hails from Batamaloo, Srinagar.
 Rafi was no stranger to compliments for his mellifluous voice when he would perform at cafes in the Valley. Music producers and filmmakers vacationing in the valley- would often walk up to him, and suggest he head to Mumbai and make a career in Bollywood.
“Nobody offered help or guidance. But, when I met interior designer Rupal Mehta from Ghatkopar, who was in Srinagar for work, there was promise in her voice,’’ Rafi recalls.
Two days later, he received a call from Mehta informing him that there was an event in Mumbai where he could perform.
Currently Rafi is doing private shows, corporate shows, and live concerts all over India.
“Until last year, I performed at various events in Thailand, Greece, Austria, Budapest, Switzerland, London, Paris, France, New Zealand, Germany, Italy and Amsterdam. I have two upcoming songs which will be released soon,” Rafi says.
Rafi lives in Bandra West (Mumbai) with his wife and son.
 
 
For a decade, the band performed on various platforms, and achieved considerable fame locally. However, a singer’s dream to perform before a bigger audience and on a bigger platform meant Rafi had to leave Kashmir and pursue his dream in the city of  dreams, hub of Indian cinema industry, popularly known as Bollywood,  of which  every aspiring singer, actor and filmmaker wants to be part of, Mumbai (Amchi Mumbai).
 
Rafi has performed in more than 1000 shows, travelled extensively with corporate groups, for destination weddings and private parties and entertained thousands of people with his charming voice.
 
His performance was loved so much that he was called to perform in London, Switzerland, France, Hungary, Austria and all the way in Africa to Asia as well.
 

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