Mukesh Mania

(Write-up by Mr Jayavant Prabhu, Doha, Qatar)

Growing up in the sixties has left many enduring memories. Life was at a relative leisure back then with no TV serials to drill your ears, no blackberry to spoil your weekends and no facebook to waste your time. Spare time was occupied in reading  Illustrated weekly and Perry Mason, hearing  erudite cricket commentary of Tony Cozier on the transistor and above all, listening to the legend called Mukesh Chand Mathur, Mukesh for short

The mellifluous voice of the king of pathos flowed night after night in the 10 pm Chaya geet programme on radio Vividh bharati through songs like mujhko is raat ki tanhayi mein aawaaz na do (Dil bhi tera hum bhi tere) and aa laut ke aaja mere meet(Rani Rupmati). His romantic Chand si mehbooba ho meri kab aisa maine socha tha (Himalay ki god mein) was the most preferred song sung by  boys in my high school singing competition because it enabled them to eye their sweet heart seated in the second row while mouthing the second line han tum bilkul waisi ho jaisa maine socha tha. Songs like ansoo bhari hai yeh jeevan ki rahen (Parvarish) and woh tere pyar ka gham ek bahana tha sanam (My Love) had a haunting melancholy which moved you to tears. Looking back after so many years one realises there has never been (and perhaps never will be) another singer who could reach into your soul with greater speed than Mukesh did

On silver screen though only Raj Kapoor and Manoj Kumar showed a consistent preference for Mukesh voice, the composer duo Kalyanji Anandji, who incidentally gave Mukesh the largest number of songs, used him for many other actors including such unlikely stars as the Rafi bitten Shammi Kapoor (socha tha pyaar hum na karenge- Bluff Master), Kishore bitten Rajesh Khanna (jubaan se dard bhari daastan chali aayi- Maryada) and rarely singing Raaj kumar (chand ahen bharega- Phool bane angarey). K-A also used minimum orchestra in some of their compositions to bring out the melancholy of Mukesh with maximum effect- listen to khush raho har khushi ha’ (Suhaag raat) and koyi jab tumhara hriday tod de (Purab aur paschim).  Shanker Jaikishen,  the other duo who used Mukesh extensively, composed distinctive orchestra pieces to heighten Mukesh’s rendition- sample the signature accordion tune which follows the line awaara hoon (Awara) and  the poignant violin interlude in jaane kahan gaye who din (Mera naam joker). The great SD Burman used Mukesh sparingly but gave him master pieces like o janewale ho sake to laut ke aana (Bandini) and  Chal ri sajani ab kya sochen (Bambai ka babu). Composers like Salil Chowdhury (Madhumati, Anand) and Roshan (Devar, Anokhi raat) reserved some of their best songs for Mukesh while others like Naushad and O.P. Nayyar, by and large, ignored him

Mukesh will forever be remembered for his sad songs but at his peak he brought out all emotions with equal ease. Follow his immaculate philosophy in kisiki muskurahaton pe ho nisar (Anari), soft romance in Chandan sa badan ( Saraswati Chandra), folk touch in sajanawa bairi ho gaye hamar ( Teesri kasam)  bubbly lightness in ‘dum dum diga diga (Chalia), patriotic fervour in ‘chhodo kal ki batein’ (Hum Hindustani) and classical prowess in jhoomati chali hava yaad agaya koyi (in raag Sohoni from Sangeet samrat Tansen)

While Mukesh did not possess the range of Rafi, ‘sur’ of Manna dey or the verve of Kishore, his vocal timbre was far superior to his compatriots when it came to reaching raw emotions, shades of despair or profound innocence straight to your heart strings

His duets were sung mostly with Lata and their combination produced such gems like savan ka mahina ( Milan ), aa ab laut chalen (Jis desh mein ganga…) and o mere sanam (Sangam). With other singers his ‘woh subah kabhi to ayegi’ (Phir subah hogi) with Asha, tum mujhe bhool bhi javo to yeh haq hai tumko (Didi) with Sudha Malhotra both excellently penned by Sahir and the lilting mera pyar bhi tu hai (Saathi) with Suman Klyanpur come readily to mind

The onset of seventies however saw Mukesh losing out to the post- Aradhana resurgence of Kishore Kumar. Even Kalyanji Anandji made Kishore sing the trade mark Mukesh song mera jeevan kora kagaz kora hi rah gaya . Raj Kapoor ignored him in Bobby- Mukesh could have rendered main shayar to nahin better than Shailendra Singh. Interestingly RD Burman, who did not use  Mukesh in the sixties, gave him some big hits in the seventies –jis gali mein  tera ghar na ho balama(Kati patang), ek din bik jayega maati ke mol(Dharam karam) and suhani chandani ratein hamein sone nahin deti (Mukti). Only Manoj Kumar persisted with Mukesh from the beginning till the end. Khayyam’s kabhi kabhi mere dil mein khayal aata hai(Kabhi Kabhi) released in 1976 was perhaps Mukesh’s last hurrah

When he died of a heart attack while on a concert tour of USA in August 1976 at the age of 53, the song which was ringing in  one’s ears was a Kalyanji Anandji  composition from the film ‘Jee Chahta hai’- Hum chod chale hain mehfil ko, yaad aye kabhi to mat rona….