Article Hindi

Birthday special: The unforgettable tunes of Bhupinder Singh

As the famed singer turns 77 today (6 February), we present ten of his notable hits from his singing career that began in the 1960s.

Sonal Pandya

The son of a music professor, Bhupinder Singh grew up with music in his house. His older brothers were also musicians. He learnt the guitar from a young age, even playing for All India Radio and later for music composer RD Burman on several iconic songs from Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971) to Sholay (1975).

But in his struggle to become either an instrumentalist or a singer, his love for singing, especially ghazals, won over. He was given his first break by Madan Mohan on Haqeeqat (1964) with the number ‘Hoke Majboor Mujhe Usne Bhulaya Hoga’ along with the top male playback singers, Mohammed Rafi, Manna Dey and Talat Mahmood.

Separately and with his wife, singer Mitali, Singh has produced over a dozen private albums of ghazals. Here, we remember some of his most memorable songs from his association with Hindi cinema.

1. 'Rut Jawan Jawan Raat Meherbaan' – Aakhri Khat (1966)

In Chetan Anand’s Aakhri Khat starring Rajesh Khanna (in his first film), Bhupinder made a special onscreen appearance, singing and playing the guitar in the song ‘Rut Jawan Jawan Raat Meherbaan’. Bhupinder played a singer of the band, Bongo Boys at the La Cabana in the number written by Kaifi Azmi and composed by Khayyam. While he sings, an ongoing police investigation and hunt is underway to find a missing toddler. Also appearing alongside Bhupinder in the song is famous Goan trumpeter, Chic Chocolate.

2. Beeti Na Beetai Raina – Parichay (1972)

For his first duet with Lata Mangeshkar, Bhupinder (credited in the film as Bhupendra) took on the classically entrenched song scored by RD Burman. Mangeshkar won her first National Award for Best Female Playback Singer with the number. Picturised on Jaya Bhaduri and Sanjeev Kumar, the song finds them mourning the loss of a loved one in ‘Beeti Na Beetai Raina’. Gulzar, who wrote and directed the film, also wrote the lyrics for Parichay.

3. 'Dil Dhoondta Hai' – Mausam (1975)

Music composer Madan Mohan passed away before the release of Gulzar’s Mausam. Another memorable duet with Mangeshkar on a Gulzar production, it was one of many occasions when the writer and singer collaborated together. Bhupinder also sang an alternate, sad version of the song on the soundtrack. The song was nominated for the Filmfare Award for Best Lyrics, though Gulzar lost out to Sahir Ludhianvi for the title song of Kabhi Kabhie (1976).

4. 'Ek Akela Is Shaher Mein' – Gharaonda (1977)

Jaidev’s exemplary score on Bhimsain’s Gharaonda highlighted Bhupinder’s unique voice. Singing two of the film’s three songs, Bhupinder gave them added poignancy. The film, written by Gulzar, follows a couple about to get married, who have invested all their savings into an under-construction flat. When the deal goes bust, so do their dreams. Singh also sang ‘Do Deewane Shahar Mein’ with Runa Laila; both songs were penned by Gulzar.

5. 'Naam Gum Jayega' – Kinara (1977)

Once again working with Gulzar on his film, Bhupinder sang most of the songs of the soundtrack of Kinara (1977). The film and its sensitive script showed off the serious side of both Hema Malini and Jeetendra. The duet ‘Naam Gum Jayega’ with Mangeshkar and Bhupinder was shot in the ancient fort at Mandu in Madhya Pradhesh.

6. 'Ek Hi Khwab Kai Baar Dekha' – Kinara (1977)

The second memorable song of Bhupinder from the Kinara soundtrack was a beautiful love song ‘Ek Hi Khwab Kai Baar Dekha’ picturised on Malini and Dharmendra. The number, filmed before the marriage of the two, was a particular favourite of Bhupinder. In an interview with Filmfare magazine, he said, “Dharmendra gave such beautiful expressions my number 'Ek Hi Khwab' in Kinara. Gulzar saab’s lyrics written in open verse had Hemaji (Malini) singing in between.”

7. 'Aaj Bichde Hain' – Thodisi Bewafaii (1980)

The Rajesh Khanna-Shabana Azmi starrer, Thodisi Bewafaii, featuring the music of Khayyam had only one song by Bhupinder. He reunited with music composer Khayyam with whom he first sang his early hit, ‘Rut Jawan Jawan Raat Meherbaan’, for Chetan Anand’s Aakhri Khat (1966). The soulful ‘Aaj Bichde Hain’, written by Gulzar, spoke of a family torn apart by betrayal and misunderstandings.

8. 'Huzoor Is Kadar' – Masoom (1982)

For Shekhar Kapur’s directorial debut, Bhupinder teamed up with Suresh Wadkar for the duet ‘Huzoor Is Kadar’. RD Burman won his second Filmfare award for Best Music Director for Masoom. The soundtrack, with songs written by Gulzar, is largely known for the songs ‘Ladki Ki Kaathi’ and “Tujhse Naraz Nahin Zindagi’, but even the other two songs ‘Do Naina Aur Ek Kahani’ and the duet ‘Huzoor Is Kadar’ are underrated gems. Wadkar sings for Naseeruddin Shah, while Bhupinder for Saeed Jaffrey as the two friends get happy and high after a few drinks at a party.

9. 'Kisi Nazar Ko Tera Intezaar' – Aitbaar (1985)

Heavily influenced by Alfred Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder (1954), Mukul Anand’s Aitbaar starred Raj Babbar, Dimple Kapadia and Suresh Oberoi. Kapadia played Neha Khanna, a young woman forced to marry a man of her father’s choice. Unhappy in her marriage, she rediscovers her former love, Sagar (Oberoi) who has now become a successful ghazal singer. Bhupinder was the voice of Sagar on the soundtrack composed by Bhappi Lahiri. The song ‘ Kisi Nazar Ko Tera Intezaar’ written by Hasrat Jaipuri was often confused as being sung by Jagjit Singh, but it is in fact, Bhupinder, along with Asha Bhonsle.

10. 'Badalon Se' – Satya (1998)

By the 1980s and 1990s, Bhupinder had largely stayed away from film assignments, focussing instead on his own private albums, often collaborating with his wife Mitali. Occasionally, he sang for films, like he did for Ram Gopal Varma’s Satya (1998). With music composed by Vishal Bhardwaj and lyrics by Gulzar, ‘Badalon Se’ was like a brief ray of light in the dark film showing the burgeoning romance between Satya (JD Chakravarty) and Vidya (Urmila Matondkar).