Bollywood Legends - Mukesh
No other singer was capable of projecting emotions in their raw, unfurnished state the way he could. His was a voice that could on one hand be deeply melancholic and on the other hand exude a profoundly innocent and mellifluous sweetness.
Mukesh Chand MathurMotilal brought him to Bombay, kept him in his own house and arranged for Pandit Jaganath Prasad to groom him. Mukesh even did a Hindi Film during this period as hero, Nirdosh, 1941 but it flopped.
His first break in films came in 1945 under the baton of Anil Biswas in the film "Pehla Nazar". The raag was Darbari and the song was "Dil jalta hai to jalne de", picturized on Motilal. Though a huge hit, admittedly it sounded as if the young man was just another K.L. Saigal imitator. It was under Naushad with Mela, 1948 and particularly Andaaz, 1949, that Mukesh finally discovered his own style. Andaaz, 1949 was a major triumph for Mukesh.
Mukesh was a favourite of all music directors. He sang for almost all the great and not-so-great music directors of the yesteryears and produced masterpieces for them. But it was his partnership with the duo of Shankar-Jaikishen that produced the maximum number of hits. The inimitable team of Mukesh-Raj Kapoor-SJ-Shailendra-Hasrat Jaipuri were responsible for producing one memorable hit after another for almost two and a half decades starting from Barsaat in 1949. It is said the Mukesh-Raj Kapoor was an alliance made in heaven. The Mukesh-RK combination gave new dimensions to popular Hindi music. It flourished during a period which is often called the Golden Age of Hindi film music and the standards were raised to dizzying heights which were seldom touched before or thereafter. The partnership started with Aag, 1948 where Raj`s feelings of despondency and despair were vividly caught by Mukesh in Ram Ganguly`s composition Zinda hoon is tarah, and ended with R.D. Burman`s Ek din bik jayega in the film Dharam Karam. In its course was an endless list of hits figuring among them being the evergreen songs of Awaara and Shri 420, arguably the two films that brought the greatest international fame and glory to Indian music. From foot-tappers like Mera joota hai Japani, Shree 420 to satires like Kisi ki muskurahaton pe ho nissar, Anadi, from melancholy strains of Jaane Kahan gaye woh din, Mera Naam Joker to songs depicting the truth of life like Woh Subah kabhi to aayegi, Phie subah hogi, the emotions conveyed by the depth and intonation of the voice of this master-singer was unparalleled.
Another music director who utilized Mukesh to the fullest was the great Salil Chowdhury. And it was this mutual admiration for each other`s music that led to evergreen hits like Suhana Safar, Madhumati, Nain Hamare, Annadata, Kahin door jab din dhal jaaye, Anand, Kai baar yun bhi dekha hai, Rajnigandha and of course the unforgettable Zindagi Khwab hai, Jaagte Raho". S.D. Burman was a true professional who would not typically use a singer, however talented he may be, if his voice did not match the situation in the movie. And Dada Burman would often turn only to Mukesh whenever he needed a song to be played in the background. Two such examples are Chal ri sajni and O Jaanewale ho sake to laut ke aana.
Mukesh also teamed up with Khayyam in Phir Subah Hogi. Sahir Ludhianvi`s lucid poetry combined with Khayyam`s scores to produce superb musical masterpieces. It fills one`s heart with hope, aspiration and longing as he listens to a soulful Mukesh in Woh subah kabhi to aayegi. Years later in 1976, few months before the death of the singer, Khayyam brought back the golden voice in Kabhie Kabhie to produce the unforgettable Kabhi Kabhi mere dil mein khayal aata hain and Main pal do pal ka shair hoon.
He was not proficient in classical numbers, but it was the innocence of his voice that made simple compositions stand out from the other. It was this simplicity that fills one`s eyes with tears as he listens to Sajanwa behri ho gaye hamar or Jaaoon kahan bata ei dil. O.P. Nayaar, it is said, did not think very highly about him. But even he was stunned by the popularity of his apparently simple composition of Chal akela chal akela. Unparalleled in tragic numbers, Mukesh was equally good in fun songs like Awaara Hoon, Mera joota hai Japani, Dum dum diga diga or Kehta hai Joker.
From Raj Kapoor to Amitabh Bachchan, from "Aag" to "Kabhi Kabhi", Mukesh came full circle. Yet Mukesh himself was never in search of a hero. He was an amazingly humble person, who would sing for any music director or any hero. He had the gift of transforming simple compositions into all-time greats as is seen in Sardar Malik`s Saaranga teri yaad mein.
In 1974, he received the National Award for the Kahin baar yun bhi dekha hai from Rajnigandha. His last song was Chanchal Sheetal Nirmal Komal from Satyam Shivam Sundaram in June 1976. Immediately after on 27th August, 1976, the great singer breathed his last of a sudden heart attack in Detroit, while on a tour of the U.S.