Shabbir Kumar started his music career with the stage show Ek Shaam Rafi Ke Naam, a tribute to Mohammed Rafi. Shabbir claims that when he attended Rafi's funeral in 1980, his watch fell into Rafi's open grave. He interpreted the incident as a divine message that he was to be Rafi's successor.  Music director Usha Khanna gave Shabbir Kumar a break in the film Tajurba (1981). Shabbir got a major break, when the director Manmohan Desai, who was looking for a Rafi substitute, noticed him recommended him to music director duo Laxmikant-Pyarelal (L-P).