Remembering Mukesh

27 Aug 2015


MUKESH Chand Mathur, the legendary playback singer of Indian films, who was popularly known as Mukesh, had died on August 27, 1976 at the age of 53 in Detroit, Michigan, US where he had gone on a concert tour.

Actor Motilal took Mukesh from Delhi to Bombay (now Mumbai) and arranged for his singing lessons with Pandit Jagannath Prasad. During this period, he was offered a role as an actor-singer in a Hindi film, Nirdosh (1941).

However, the real break as a playback singer came for him in 1945 when he sang for Motilal for the film Pehli Nazar.

The song “Dil jalta hai to jalne de”, composed by Anil Biswas, became an instant hit. In this song, Mukesh had emulated the voice of K. L. Saigal, superstar of the time, that the latter was perplexed whether he himself had sung the song.

Mukesh had a limited voice range for singing, but he possessed a mellifluous voice with depth and a tinge of sadness in it. His songs had simple tunes without involving the intricacies of taan and murkee. But his unique singing style would make his songs popular soon after their release. People’s liking for Mukesh’s songs has not declined even 39 years after his death. Most of the amateur singers in Pakistan prefer to sing his songs in concerts.

His forte were both sad and jolly songs such as “Yeh mera diwana pan hai” (Yahudi), “Suhani chandni raaten” (Mukti), “Aa laut ke aaja mere meet” (Rani Roopmati), “Awara hoon” (Awara) and “Dum dum diga diga” (Chalia)”. He sang romantic songs with equal ease: “Kabhi kabhi mere dil mein” (Kabhi Kabhi) and “Naina hain jadoo bhare” (Bedard Zamana).

Mukesh sang around 1,300 songs, which is quite low in comparison to those sung by his contemporaries Rafi and Kishore.

Nevertheless, the popularity of his songs enabled him to win the prestigious National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer for the song “Kai baar yunhi dekha hai” for Rajnigandha in 1974 and the Filmfare Award four times.

His son Nitin Mukesh had also got a break as playback singer but could not achieve much success.

Parvez Rahim


Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2015

On a mobile phone? Get the Dawn Mobile App: Apple Store | Google Play