Aug 27 2016

10 greatest hits: Revisiting the magic of Mukesh

by   Shriram Iyengar

A singer of great depth and passion, Mukesh was one of the three pillars of Hindi film music alongside Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar. On the occassion of his 40th death anniversary, we take a look at the beautiful, magical versatility of the man whom Raj Kapoor called 'my voice'.

1 Awara hoon (Awara, 1952)

Awara, in many ways, was Raj Kapoor's definitive biographical film. The 'tramp' would soon become Kapoor's alter ego on screen. It was apt then that Mukesh should voice the song that was a declaration of the showman's style and identity. The innocent, bumbling face of Kapoor and the soulful twang of Mukesh's voice lent an incomparable authenticity to Shailendra's honest lyrics. 

2 Suhana safar aur ye mausam haseen (Madhumati, 1958)

Dilip Kumar starrer Madhumati is often cited as a classic for the directorial skills of Bimal Roy. The music, though, is not far behind. Under the baton of Salil Choudhury, Mukesh delivered a timeless classic in 'Suhana safar'. The song's mesmerising echo effect is still considered a landmark in sound recording. 

3 Kisi ki muskurahaton (Anari, 1959)

There was a symbiotic relationship between Mukesh and Raj Kapoor. For all the showman's gregariousness, he shared the singer's sensitivity towards the poor. This beautiful song was an embodiment of both these stalwarts' philosophy of life. The film also won Mukesh his first Filmfare Award for Best Singer for the title track. 

4 Duniya bananewale (Teesri Kasam, 1966)

When lyricist Shailendra, a core member of Raj Kapoor's team, decided to produce Teesri Kasam (1966), there was no other singer he could think of for the voice of Raj Kapoor. The singer sang 3 songs in the film, with this meaningful ballad one of them. 

5 Chandan sa badan (Saraswatichandra, 1968) 

One of the most sensual songs in the singer's discography, 'Chandan sa badan' was composed by Kalyanji-Anandji. The cinematography by Nariman Irani only adds to the serenading voice of Mukesh. The film won Kalyanji-Anandji the National Award for Best Music Directors. 

6 Dost dost na raha (Sangam, 1964) 

Sangam was Raj Kapoor's magnum opus. Shot lavishly across Venice, Paris, and Switzerland, the film had some stunning songs to boot. The standout composition was this melancholic song in Mukesh's voice, capturing the conflict between love and friendship perfectly. 

7 Saawan ka mahina (Milan, 1967) 

This was an album that arrived at the height of Laxmikant-Pyarelal's fame. For this Sunil Dutt-Nutan starrer, they teamed up with Mukesh to deliver some immortal songs like 'Main to diwaana' and 'Ram kare aisa ho jaaye'. But it is this playful, charming song that continues to be a favourites across the generational divide. 

8 Maine tere liye hi saat rang ke sapne (Anand, 1971)

It is a grave injustice that the singer is remembered as a master of tragic songs. Incidentally, many of Mukesh's most popular songs depict happy emotions, like this happy song from Rajesh Khanna's Anand (1971). 

9 Kabhi Kabhi (Kabhi Kabhie, 1975)

1975 was the year of reckoning for Mukesh as a singer. For the voice of a desolate, sensitive poet, Yash Chopra looked no further than the heir to KL Saigal's throne. Mukesh's rendition of Sahir Ludhianvi's verses continue to ring as a testimony to the ethereal nature of love. The song also won Mukesh his fourth Filmfare Award for Best Singer. 

10 Kai baar yun bhi dekha hai (Rajnigandha, 1974) 

In the 70s, the quiet charm of Mukesh's voice was beginning to fade. The rise of RD Burman-Rafi-Kishore trinity had ensured that the veteran singer was a man out of place. Yet, this Salil Choudhury composition reminds us of the evocative power that great singers possess.