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Birthday special: Singer Mahendra Kapoor’s top 5 songs

On the singer’s 83rd birth anniversary today (9 January), we pick some of his finest performances.

Sonal Pandya

1. 'Aadha Hai Chandrama' – Navrang (1959)

Mahendra Kapoor won the Metro Murphy All-India singing competition and made his singing debut under C Ramchandra in V Shantaram’s Navrang (1959). Remarkably for his first film, he got the opportunity to sing with Asha Bhosle despite an initial hiccup during recording and the song ‘Aadha Hai Chandrama’ became a hit. Kapoor sang four songs on the soundtrack including the patriotic number ‘Yeh Mati Sabhi Ki Kahani’, but ‘Aadha Hai Chandrama’, written by lyricist Bharat Vyas, is remembered by his fans even today.

The greatest compositions of C Ramchandra

2. 'Chalo Ek Bar' – Gumrah (1963)

Kapoor won his first major award, the Filmfare award for best male playback singer for ‘Chalo Ek Bar’ in BR Chopra’s Gumrah (1963) starring Sunil Dutt, Mala Sinha and Ashok Kumar. Here, Kapoor sang all the male solos and duets on the soundtrack wonderfully composed by Ravi. The song’s lyrics are written by Sahir Ludianvi who originally published it as poem titled ‘Khoobsurat Modh’ in his book Talkhiyaan. Picturised with Dutt seated at a piano, Kapoor’s rendition of ‘Chalo Ek Baar’ is the perfect companion to Dutt’s performance as Rajendra who has to watch his former love Meena (Sinha) and her new husband.

3. 'Mere Desh Ki Dharti' – Upkar (1967)

Arguably, Kapoor’s most famous and beloved song, ‘Mere Desh Ki Dharti’ made him synonymous with actor Manoj Kumar and became identified as his voice in many films from Purab Aur Pachhim (1970) to Kranti (1981). Kapoor won the National Award for this song written by Gulshan Bawra. Extolling the virtues of the village life, ‘Mere Desh Ki Dharti’ composed by Kalyanji-Anandji is the ultimate ode to the farmer.

4. 'Neele Gagan Ke Tale' – Hamraaz (1967)

Composer Ravi employed Kapoor on all the songs of Hamraaz’s soundtrack. Once again, he was rewarded with a Filmfare award for his collaboration with Ravi. Alongside Upkar and the National Award, 1967 was an extremely fruitful year for Kapoor. ‘Neele Gagan Ke Tale’ picturised in Darjeeling on Raj Kumar, found him romancing Vimmi in the BR Chopra thriller. Ludhianvi wrote the lyrics on Hamraaz.

5. 'Aur Nahin Bas Aur Nahin' – Roti Kapada Aur Makaan (1974)

Kapoor gave voice yet again to Manoj Kumar’s Mr Bharat persona in Roti Kapada Aur Makaan (1974). Composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal, with lyrics by Santosh Anand, ‘Aur Nahin Bas Aur Nahin’ is an admonishment by Kumar’s character to the woman who gave in to her materialistic needs over him. Kapoor picked up his third Filmfare award for this song.