RMIM Archive Article "134".
From the RMIM Article Archive maintained by Satish Subramanian
# RMIM Archives..
# Subject: That guy who sang "Aansoon bhari hain..."
# Posted by: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ajay P Nerurkar)
# Source: Times of India (Aug 1995)
# Author: Raju Bharatan
From the RMIM Article Archive maintained by Satish Subramanian
What follows is a tribute to Mukesh on his death anniver-
sary, which this year fell on the 27th of August. Taken
without permission, from the Times of India.
PS: Note how Raju's description of Anu Malik gives a dab of
fantasy to this article.
'In love with Mukesh's voice'
It happened at the HMV get-together to release Sahir-
Khayyam's music for Yash Chopra's 'Kabhi Kabhi'. As "Kabhi
kabhi mere dil mein khayal aata hai" played for the audience
in Amitabh Bachchan's compelling voice, I heard another
voice behind me gently speak up: "Just you wait and hear me
after this -- talk of the sublime and the ridiculous." I
turned, and Mukesh was behind me. It was just three months
before that heart attack stilled his voice forever in fara-
way Detroit. The one thing that never failed Mukesh Chand
Mathur was his sense of humour.
At the same function, Khayyam had said to me: "Just get a
feel of Mukesh's pure rendition of "Main pal do pal ka shair
hoon". His mardana voice has a rich human quality that makes
it the most sentimental we have heard after K L Saigal.
"Mukesh is in fine voice here in 'Kabhi Kabhi', of course,"
went on Khayyam, "Yet somehow I think he sang best for me in
'Phir Subah Hogi'. Topping my Mukesh favourites here is "Woh
subah kabhi to aayegi". After that, I prefer, in that order,
"Phir na keeje", "Aasmaan pe hai Khuda", and "Cheen-o-Arab
"Each word from his lips was a pearl," reminisced Salil
Chowdhury in August 1976. "No one could sing the way Mukesh
did, with the right diction, inflexion and intonation. His
vocal timbre was out of this world."
"Almost each song I composed to capitalise on this timbre
was an instant draw," noted the creator of "Nain hamare
saanjh sakare" for 'Annadata'. "Initially, I thought of
Hemant Kumar as Dilip Kumar's playback for "Suhana safar" in
'Madhumati'. But Shailendra persuaded me that Mukesh suited
Dilip Kumar no less than he did Raj Kapoor."
"The moment I recorded "Suhana safar," concluded Salil, "I
knew Mukesh's vocals had captured the spirit of that verdant
setting in 'Madhumati'. Yet not far behind "Suhana safar", I
would rate "Zindagi khwab hai" from 'Jagte Raho" and "Kaise
manaoon piawa" from 'Char Diwari'. In later years, Mukesh
brought rare depth of expression to my "Kahin door jab din
dhal jaaye" in "Suhana safar", I still feel, ranks as my
best for Mukesh."
It was on Dilip Kumar that "Suhana safar" came to be so evo-
catively picturised by Bimal Roy in 'Madhumati'. And the
truth is that Mukesh, on the silver screen, was first the
voice of Dilip Kumar ('Mela' and 'Andaz' : 1948-49), and
only then firmly fixed as the voice of Raj Kapoor. So the
day Mukesh passed away, there was naturally a long queue at
I saw no point in joining that queue, seeing Raj's views
were sure to be carried by all the papers the following
morning. This was when I suddenly recalled Mukesh's Dilip
Kumar connection. Dilip's views make illuminating reading:
"We have lost a peerless singer, one who has left a
burning trail. I remember I was without a role for
nearly a year, having refused film after film. The
future looked bleak when (director S U) Sunny summoned
me for 'Mela' and played to me "Mera dil todne waale".
I was so fascinated by Mukesh's vocals in the song that
I signed on for 'Mela' on the spot, the first and last
time in my life I did such a thing."
"And how can I forget what Mukesh accomplished for me
in 'Andaz'," went on Dilip. "Those legendary numbers
created by Naushad for Mukesh to sing for me: "Hum aaj
kahin dil kho baithe", "Tu kahe agar jeevan bhar",
"Toote na dil toote na", "Jhoom jhoom ke naacho aaj"."
"You will be astonished to hear this, but I didn't like
these four Mukesh numbers when they were first played
to me. I felt they were too straight, my preference was
for something like Lata's "Uthaye jaa unke sitam" and
"Tod diya dil mera" in the same film, 'Andaz'. But
Naushad explained to me that Mukesh's 'straight' sing-
ing was his strength. 'Just wait and watch the effect,'
he said. And the whole nation came to sing with Mukesh
what I sang on that piano on 'Andaz'."
"The strength of such 'straight' singing was brought
home to me afresh," added Dilip, "in that 'Madhumati'
melody that became a Suhana safar in itself -- through
how many picturesque locales did I sing it. Actually, I
had fallen in love with Mukesh's voice from the moment
Anil Biswas (in 1947) recorded it to go on me in those
lovely numbers from 'Anokha Pyar': "Ab yaad na kar
bhool ja ai dil woh fasana" and "Jeevan sapna toot
"In all the songs I have named, you will get the dis-
tinct feel of the timbre of Mukesh's voice. His range
might have been limited. But within that range, Mukesh
was superb, as I discerned when he came to render for
me "Yeh mera diwanapan hai" in 'Yahudi'," wound up
How did Mukesh estimate his own voice ? He subtly added to
its mystique by studiedly ridiculing it. "You know why Lata
Mangeshkar is the greatest singer in the world ?" Mukesh
would demand to know. "Because there is an out-of-tune per-
former called Mukesh singing opposite her to make her voice
sound the best in the world !" Then changing tone, Mukesh
would add: "Our best songs were put over at rates ranging
from 150 to 300 rupees per number. But today (1976), if you
lose a song, you are poorer by 10,000 rupees."
That Rs. 10,000 was the rate Mukesh commanded for coming up
with something like "Ek din bik jaayega maati ke mol". By
the time RK's 'Dharam Karam' came, there was neither Shankar
nor Shailendra. The combination was, at RK, the unlikely one
of R D Burman and Majrooh. Yet Mukesh sat pat on Raj Kapoor
to the end: "Jag mein reh jaayenge pyare tere bol".
From Raj Kapoor to Amitabh Bachchan, from 'Aag' to 'Kabhi
Kabhi', Mukesh came full circle. Yet Mukesh himself never
needed to be in search of a hero. Even on a namby-pamby like
Sudesh Kumar, Mukesh retained the gift of coming up with an
all-time hit in the Yaman strain of "Saaranga teri yaad
mein", composed by the obscure father, Sardar Malik, of a
not-so-obscure music maker called Anu Malik.