Remembering Mukesh

By • Jul 22nd, 2011
Category: Books, Movies, Music, Televison, Bollywood, Bombay/Mumbai, Diaspora, Film, People, YouTube Videos

Mukesh. That is how he is still known to millions of Hindi film music or Bollywood fans around the world right from Guyana to the USA and from the UK to Russia. Yes, Russia. That is because of the popularity of  “Raj Kapoor’s films in Russia (USSR) during the 1950s and 1960s. And almost all the songs for Raj Kapoor were sung by Mukesh.

Mukesh Chandra Mathur or Mukesh was born on July 22, 1923 in Delhi and passed away on August 27, 1976 in Detroit, Michigan, USA. He was on a concert tour with Lata Mangeshkar and his son Nitin  when he suffered  a massive heart attack. What Mukesh left behind is a rich treasure trove of his music and thanks to YouTube you can now watch some of your favorite songs of Mukesh.

Mukesh seems to have been drawn to film from an early age and was a big fan of Kundal Lal Saigal, the singer/actor and the grand-daddy of Indian playback singing.  So, it was no surprise that by the early 1940s Mukesh  relocated from Delhi to Bombay, the fledgling entertainment capital of India. What may have also inspired Mukesh to move is the fact that he had a “showbiz” relative – Motilal, who gave him a leg up.

There is a certain soulful edge to Mukesh’s voice that instantly put you in a pensive mood. Mukesh’s first song “Dil Jalta Hai” is drenched with pathos and also pays a direct tribute to Kundan Lal Saigal’s style of singing. For a brief while in the early years Mukesh tried his hand in acting, but it was as a playback singer that he achieved his success and recognition. Mukesh sang for actors like  Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor, Rajendra Kumar, Manoj Kumar, Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan.

By the 1950s Mukesh had established himself as a singer to be reckoned with and was the preferred voice for the legendary filmmaker Raj Kapoor, who was a big believer in creating a playlist of memorable songs for his films. Kapoor’s film production company RK Studios delivered a string of hits starting from 1949 all the way to the 1980s. During the 1950s and 1960 Kapoor’s musical colloborators were: Shanker-Jaikishen music-composers),  Hasrat Jaipuri  and Shaiendra (lyrics) and  Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar (playback singers). This group delivered hits for films like “Barsaat,” “Awaara,”  Shree 420,” “Sangam” and “Mera Naam Joker.”

While you may have heard the sadder tunes of Mukesh, here are some happy, fun, delightful and romantic songs by him.

An early hit of Mukesh for the RK Studio banner was “Barsaat”. The song “Patli Kamar, Tirchi Nazaar” is a charming tune and one of the happier songs from Mukesh’s vast repertoire of songs. The song features Cuckoo, a leading dancer from the 1940s and 1950s. Note how modern both Cuckoo and Raj Kapoor look in this picture made in 1949.

Kisi Ki Muskurahaton Pe” from “Anari” does talk about life, but the emphasis is on the importance of love, something we need to be reminded of in our current crazy and tech driven multi-tasking lifestyle. Take a couple of minute to enjoy this tune. It is totally worth it.

Woh Chand Khila” from Anari is a happy tune and features Raj Kapoor and Nutan.

Here is another delightful song from Mukesh from the film Katputhali (1957). The song is picturized on Jalal Agha and a very young Vyjayanthimala. Don’t miss the sign for “bar” and to “get drunk.” The film starred Balraj Sahani, Kamala Laxman, Vyjayanthimala and Jalal Agha.

This song from “Himalaya Ke Godh Mein” is a romantic one and features the leading actors Manoj Kumar and Mala Sinha. The music was composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal.

And here is a surprise song by Mukesh for Jeetendra called “Je Hum Tum Chori Se.” The song has a folksy flavor to it and is from Dharti Kahe Pukar Ke (1969). Music is by Laxmikant-Pyarelal. The song stars Jeetendra and Nanda.

Mukesh also sang for Dharmendra and here is a pathos-laden song from “Devar” called “Aaya Hai Mujhe Phir Yaad.” This is a very young Dharmendra and Sharmila Tagore in this video clip of the song. Don’t you think Abhay Deol bears a fleeting resemblance to his uncle Dharmendra in this clip?

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