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Singer Meena Kapoor dies at 87

The singer passed away in the early hours on Thursday, 23 November, in Kolkata.

Sonal Pandya

Singer Meena Kapoor, best known for the songs ‘Aana Meri Jaan, Meri Jaan, Sunday Ke Sunday’ from Shehnai (1947) and ‘Rasiya Re Man Basiya Re’ from Pardesi (1957), passed away in the early hours on Thursday, 23 November. Cause of death has not been confirmed yet. The singer had been paralysed for the last few years. 

Kapoor, who was born in Kolkata (then Calcutta) in 1930, was the daughter of actor Bikram Kapoor who worked with the New Theatres studio. Her family was also related to famed filmmaker PC Barua. Meena’s singing was noticed at a young age by composers like Ninu Mazumdar and SD Burman. 

She was well versed in classical and light music and recorded her first song for Mazumdar’s compositions in Pul (1947), but her songs recorded for SD Burman’s Eight Days (1946) released first. 

The next year, ‘Aana Meri Jaan, Meri Jaan, Sunday Ke Sunday’ from Shehnai (1947) sung with Shamshad Begum and Chitalkar (C Ramchandra’s pseudonym used for singing credits) became a rage.  

Meena met music composer Anil Biswas in 1948 and went on to sing for him in a number of films like Anokha Pyar (1948), Pardesi (1957) and Chhoti Chhoti Baten (1965). Her solo ‘Rasiya Re Man Basiya Re’ from Pardesi, picturized on Nargis, is still memorable.

She married a much older Anil Biswas in 1959 after the composer divorced his first wife Ashalata and later gave up her career as playback when Biswas moved to Delhi and became director of the National Orchestra at the All India Radio (AIR) in March 1963.

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In an old interview, Meema had said, “We got married in 1959. We were like lovebirds. By that stage, Anilji was very unhappy with the film industry and the type of music. When the I&B ministry asked him to join AIR, he agreed. People questioned my decision to give up my career, but I wanted to be with him.”

Meena and Geeta Dutt shared a close bond. The first time they sang together was for Hansraj Behl's composition, 'Maine Balam Se Poocha Miloge Kahan' in Aadhi Raat (1950). After that they were heard together in Ghayal (1951) and Hulchul (1951).

After Dutt's death in 1972, Meena had written in an article, "Even now I can hear her singing on the radio ‘Jaayenge kahan soojhta nahin, Chal diye magar raasta nahin’. The soul never dies and my friend Geeta's voice will never die.” 

Meena sang around 125 songs in her short career. Chhoti Chhoti Baten (1965), composed by Anil Biswas, was her last film.