Dilip Kumar’s many voices

December 12, 2011

My tribute on his birthday December 11

Dilip KumarI had no plans of doing this post as it is not even a week since I did my last one. I need about two weeks to organise my thoughts and squeeze bits of time to write a piece. Secondly, my focus is on songs, their themes, singers and music directors, and not so much actors. The only time I have titled a piece on an actor – Raj Kapoor – was about several playback singers, other than the known ones Mukesh and Manna Dey, who sang for him – some of whom were quite a surprise discovery.

Then I happened to watch on DD a special edition of Rangoli yesterday dedicated to Dilip Kumar on his 89th birthday. What was interesting to me was some songs on Dilip Kumar were by singers not associated with him. That set me thinking, since Dilip Kumar lasted much longer than Raj Kapoor did he have more singers give playback for him than Raj Kapoor? So this post is my birthday greetings (born December 11, 1922) to him trying to locate many voices of Dilip Kumar.

For Raj Kapoor the total tally discovered on my blog is nine voices:

1.  Mukesh
2.  Manna Dey
3.  Talat Mahmood
4.  Mohammad Rafi
5.  Kishore Kumar
6.  Shankar Dasgupta
7.  Hemant Kumar
8.  C Ramchandra
9.  Raj Kapoor himself

Let us see how many we find for Dilip Kumar.

Dilip Kumar and Rafi: Aan (1952)

If Mukesh was the voice of Raj Kapoor, Rafi was the voice of Dilip Kumar. From a large number of eternal songs, I choose a less heard one which is one reason for its special attraction to me. The song had to be a Naushad composition. The haughty princess Nadira develops a strange love-hate feeling for the commoner but proud and righteous Dilip Kumar whose surrender she seeks. The flamboyant Dilip Kumar would have her at his own terms, which also lands him in prison. But this does not prevent him from singing this romantic song. His regular buddy Mukri is also at hand to relieve the gloom with his cute dancing. The song filters to the palace where in a quirky scene the princess is shown soaping her face helped by her maid, by now on to her secret feelings, swaying to the song. The princess is later writhing in agony in her bed when the maid gingerly walks in with a knowing smile. The video does not give the full song, so I also attach the audio version.

Mohabbat choome jinke haath from Aan (video), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni, music Naushad

Mohabbat choome jinke haath from Aan (audio)

Mohabbat choome jinke haath from Aan (Hemant Kumar version)

You can trust YouTube to come up with unknown gems. It seems a Hemant Kumar version was also recorded which was obviously not used in the film.

Dilip Kumar and Talat Mahmood: Devdas (1955)

Come to think of it, Talat Mahmood should have been known as the voice of Dilip Kumar – pathos in Talat’s voice fitting the Tragedy King like a T.  Naushad had great success with Talat Mahmood for Dilip Kumar in Babul.  It is surprising he did not repeat him though several other composers, such as Anil Biswas (Aarzoo, Tarana), Sajjad Husain (Sangdil), Shankar Jaikishan (Daag, Shikast) and Khayyam (Footpath) used Talat Mahmood for him.  Again from several gems it is difficult to choose one.  Here is my special favourite from Devdas, which has become a metaphor of doomed love leading to destruction.  Sahir Ludhiyanvi’s poetry, the stillness of surroundings, sadness on Suchitra’s face, Dilip Kumar’s expression, Talat’s voice and Bimal Roy’s direction, who had been himself a renowned cinematographer with the New Theatres, combine to create this masterpiece.

Mitwa nahi aye lagi ye kaisi anbujh aag re from Devdas, lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanvi, music SD Burman

Dilip Kumar and Mukesh: Andaaz (1949)

Several composers used Mukesh for Dilip Kumar such as Salil chaudhry (Madhumati) and Shankar Jaikishan (Yahudi). But the ultimate has to be Andaaz (1949), which has four Mukesh solos for Dilip Kumar, each of which is a legend (and a fifth unreleased one). In a strange irony this film had inconsequential Rafi songs for Raj Kapoor. I choose Jhoom jhoom ke nacho aaj, which must be one of the grandest party songs.  Dilip Kumar now knows his love interest Nargis is engaged to be married to Raj Kapoor, which is reflected in the sadness of his face, though singing a party-dancing song.  Nargis did not see any contradiction in being a faithful wife to Raj Kapoor and friends with Dilip Kumar, without realising her inexorable attraction towards Dilip Kumar would make her very ambivalent about her feelings, and would arouse violent jealousy in Raj Kapoor with tragic consequences. Raj Kapoor realises something is afoot. And since it is an occasion for celebration, Cuckoo, the party dancer par excellence dances with gay abandon.  Beautiful!

Jhoom jhoom ke nacho aaj from Andaaz, lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri, music Naushad

Dilip Kumar and Chitalkar: Azaad (1955)

SMS Naidu of Pakshiraj Studios of Madras having completed the Tamil version, wanted to utilise the same sets and produce a quickie Hindi version. The genius C Ramchandra was engaged as the music director, who had the reputation to create a score in a month which Naushad would do in a year. Dilip Kumar wanted Talat Mahmood to sing for him. He was very busy those days, so instead of delaying the project, C Ramchandra offered to sing like Talat and no one would know the difference. Dilip Kumar, of course, was mightily impressed with the result. As a matter of fact, for many years in my college days I thought this song was sung by Talat.

Kitna hassen hai mausam by Chitalkar with Lata Mangeshkar from Azaad, lyrics Rajendra Krishna, music C Ramchandra

Dilip Kumar for Dilip Kumar: Musafir (1957)

I come to know only recently about this song which was said to be the first and last song Dilip Kumar sang for himself.  It seems, having started in the generation of actor-singers and having been professionally trained in music, he always had the desire to be a singer. But his desire was overtaken by the trend in the film industry which was now dominated by independent playback singers. He got his desire fulfilled in this film. There is a story that this also led to some rift with Lata Mangeshkar, because she did not give any allowance for the fact that Dilip Kumar was not a professional singer, and he carried the feeling that she wanted to rub it in that he was no match to her.  I do not care because I find Dilip Kumar’s voice extremely melodious, and it is sad that he gave up any efforts to sing after this song.

Lagi nahi chute Ram chahe jiya jaye by Dilip Kumar with Lata Mangeshkar from Musafir (1957), music Salil Chaudhry

 Lagi nahi chhute Ram

I so far knew that this was the only song Dilip Kumar sang for himself in films. Doordarshan mentioned as if Har karam apna karenge from Karma was also sung by him. I do not know if they meant only the prelude of the song which is more like prose or the full song.

Dilip Kumar and Mahendra Kapoor: Gopi (1970)

By now Naushad had faded. Kalyanji had emerged as one of the big three with RD Burman and Laxmikant Pyarelal. His favourite around that time was Mahendra Kapoor with some huge successes for Manoj Kumar in Upkar and Purab Aur Pachhim. So even when Rafi was around, you have this odd combination of Mahendra Kapoor singing Dilip Kumar. Let me add I find this song quite pleasant.

Ramchandra kah gaye siya se by Mahendra Kapoor from Gopi (1970), lyrics Rajendra Krishna, music Kalyanji Anandji

Dilip Kumar and Kishore Kumar: Sagina (1974)

The baton has passed on to the new generation; Kishore Kumar was the new Rafi. Even though SD Burman was from old generation, he was always fond of Kishore Kumar, giving him equal importance with Rafi for Dev Anand. Now for Dilip Kumar for whom he had used Talat Mahmood in Devdas, he had no hesitation in using Kishore Kumar in this fun song

Sala main to sahib ban gaya by Kishore Kumar from Sagina, lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri, music SD Burman

Dilip Kumar and Anwar: Vidhata (1982)

In this Subhash Ghai blockbuster two buddies Shammi Kapoor and Dilip Kumar have argument, one giving primacy to fate, the other arguing for the supremacy of one’s endeavour. Anwar, who came as a carbon copy of Rafi, gave playback for Dilip Kumar.

Hathon ki chand lakeeron ka by Anwar with Suresh Wadkar from Vidhata (1982), lyrics Anand Bakshi, music Kalyanji Anandji

Dilip Kumar and Talat Aziz: Saudagar (1991)

The two thespians Dilip Kumar and Raj Kumar came together for the first time in this Subhash Ghai multi-starrer. They led two clans, sworn enemies of each other. But their young offsprings fall in love forcing the titans to rediscover their fondness for each other through this song which they used to sing in their childhood. Talat Aziz sings for Dilip Kumar, while Sudesh Bhosle for Raj Kumar.

Imli ka boota beri ka ped by Talat Aziz with Sudesh Bhosle in Saudagar (1991), lyrics Anand Bakshi, music Laxmikant Pyarelal

Dilip Kumar and GM Durrani: Ghar Ki Izzat (1948)

GM Durrani was Rafi’s idol, and in one of the show-world’s typical ironies, Rafi’s ascendancy led to Durrani’s fall. But in the vintage era, he was a top singer, and you have him singing this romantic duet with Shamshad Begum picturiesed on Dilip Kumar and Mumtaz Shanti.

Taron ki toliyon mein kaisa hai ye nikhar by GM Durrani with Shamshad Begum from Ghar Ki Izzat (1948), lyrics Ishwar Chandra Kapur, music Pandit Govind Ram

So I have counted ten voices for Dilip Kumar:

1.  Mohammad Rafi
2.  Talat Mahmood
3.  Mukesh
4.  Chitalkar
5.  Dilip Kumar himself
6.  Mahendra Kapoor
7.  Kishore Kumar
8.  Anwar
9.  Talat Aziz
10. GM Durrani

Now the score stands Dilip Kumar – 10, Raj Kapoor – 9. Amazing! But this would not be the final tally for sure. Knowledgeable persons like Arunkumar Deshmukhji may add some more. Dilip Kumar’s early films like his debut film Jwar Bhata (1944), Pratima (1945), Milan (1946) and Shaheed (1948) have several rare male playback singers such as Arun Kumar, Ram Kamlani, Shankar Dasgupta, Khan Mastana etc.  But in the absence of their videos I am not able to confirm how many of their songs are for Dilip Kumar.

That sets me thinking, we lost two titans this year – Shammi Kapoor and Dev Anand. I did not post any tributes about them because I felt many people would be writing much better on them. But I realise they also had a long stint and they had several singers give playback for them. It would be a good idea to compile a similar list for them. I may someday get myself to do it to make up for my omission.

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Harini December 12, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Thank you for writing this post, after all !

I had never heard ‘lagi nahi chhote ram’ and now, I’m addicted to the song. It is quite astonishing that Dilip Kumar never sang for himself otherwise. His singing voice is so soft and mellifluous – somewhere between Talat Mehmood & K.L. Saigal saab. Having only recently discovered this blog, I am now a regular visitor.

The trivia on C. Ramachandra’s ‘Kitna haseen hai mausam’ was interesting. I would have easily mistaken his voice for Talat’s.

Look forward to reading other posts, old and new. I might not be able to contribute anything, but I thank you for archiving all this information.

2 harvey December 13, 2011 at 5:08 am

First of all wonderful post again!
It made a good reading! Although I was so much used to seeing/hearing the combo of Dilip-Rafi or Dilip-Talat or Dilip-Mukesh, the combination Dilip-Kishore surprisingly didn’t diturb me at all. It sounds very pleasing and suits Dilip’s jovialpersona in the film!
BTW, didn’t Manna Dey give playback to Dilip?

As for Dev Anand’s voices: at Dustedoff’s site during a discussion (http://dustedoff.wordpress.com/2011/12/07/dev-anand-in-ten-moods/#comment-12089) we came up with Rafi,Kishore, Manna, Hemant, Durrani, Chitalkar, Talat, Dwijen Mukherji, Jagmohan Bakshi, Mahendra and Bhupendra. Madhu said that during her last count she came up with 13 singers for the 50s and 60s!

3 AK December 13, 2011 at 11:27 am

Thanks for your comments. Hope you enjoy other posts.

Thanks a lot for your compliments. I am not aware of Manna Dey singing for Dilip Kumar, it would be quite a discovery. Similarly Hemant Kumar should also have sung for Dilip Kumar. After all Naushad did compose an immortal Hemant Kumar song Chandan ka palanaa in Shabaab. You are right Kishore Kumar sounds perfect for Sagina song.

I was going to go back to Dustedoff anyway, but thanks for referring to it. The singers you have listed for Dev Anand are 11; which others are we missing?. At least one of my tasks is already done. I do not think Shammi Kapoor would be anywhere near this number, as he debuted much later than Dilip Kumar or Dev Anand.

4 Ashok Vaishnav December 13, 2011 at 1:27 pm

‘Jawani Choome jinke Haath’ in Hemant Kumar’s voice is indeed a master stroke of surprise.
We have heard Rafi’s version so many times, that when you listen to Hemant’s version, the first reaction is that this was an error. This is Rafi only. Hemantda has rendered this one so well.
I do not want to sound this as a credit to Hemant Kumar, in that he was indeed a very good singer in his own right, even considering that fact that he had to rope in RAfi for that famous crescendo of Hum Laaye Hai Toofan Se Kashti.. of Jaagriti.

5 harvey December 13, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Dev alsosang for himself in one of his later films. A rap I think it was!
Dev never lip synced to S. D. Burman’s voice but wahan kaun hai tera would come near to it.
As for Shammi – Rafi, Mukesh, Talat, Manna Dey, Shamshad Begum (!) and Kishore come to my mind and of course Suresh Wadkar in Vidhata

6 AK December 13, 2011 at 6:00 pm

@Ashok Vaishnav
Whatever Hemant Kumar sings has to be sweet. YouTube has this kind of surprises galore. For example, Talat Mahmood verison of Rafi’s classic Chal ud jaa re panchhi from Bhabhi. Then Shamshad Begum version of Mukesh’s classic Kabhi dil dil se takrata to hoga from Anokhi Ada or Amirbai Karnataki version of Shamshad Begum’s Jadugar balma, jadugar balma from Naghmaa.

The Dev Anand rap would qualify, which would make the number of singers twelve. Could you please locate it? Even if we do not include SDB’s Wahan kaun hai tera, Dev Anand is comfortably ahead of his peers.

Shammi Kapoor I guess would not be able to catch up. Of course the interesting part is Shamshad Begum singing Chali chali kaisi hawa ye chali for him in Bluffmaster. She has also sung for Biswajit Kajra mohabbat wala. An interesting research would be how many of such songs are there – a female singer for male actors. We would get a good number if we include songs on child actors which were generally by female singers.

7 harvey December 13, 2011 at 6:45 pm

I am compiling songs for men in drag list, it will come in two months time, there are some songs mostly with Shamshad’s voice on men, but not only!

8 harvey December 13, 2011 at 6:51 pm
9 Anu Warrier December 13, 2011 at 7:04 pm

AK, fantastic post. JFYI, Mahendra Kapoor *has* sung for Dilip Kumar in Shakti.
Here is the song.


10 Anu Warrier December 13, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Argh! Sorry. I see you have already mentioned Mahendra Kapoor.

11 harvey December 14, 2011 at 2:16 am

@ Anu: come up with a song where Manna Dey sings for Dilip Kumar! I will crown you with a wreath of laurels!

12 harvey December 14, 2011 at 3:47 am

Here we have Shankar Dasgupta singing for Shammi kapoor in Gul Sanobar
But somehow couldn’t find any more singers for Shammi.
there is this song with Mahendra Kapoor (among others) in Char Dil Char Raahein, but for my ears it sounds that Shammi lip syncs to Manna Dey’s voice

13 harvey December 14, 2011 at 4:13 am

Supposedly it is Hridaynath merchant singing for Dilip in Qila. Song: Prem hai radha

Wonder who the playback singer is, who here sings for Dilip

And here Amit Kumar sing for Dilip Kumar, who would have thought that!

14 AK December 14, 2011 at 10:22 am

@Anu Warrier
Thanks for your compliments.

Thanks for all this wonderful informantion. It seems we keep on discovering. So I would wait for sometime to prepare the final tally. May be someone would add to my Raj Kapoor’s tally as well.

The way you have framed the question it seems you already have a Manna Dey song for Dilip Kumar!

Men-in-drag songs was also a thought in my mind. Looking forward to your list.

15 Anu Warrier December 15, 2011 at 7:44 am

Ak, I’m not sure whether this was picturised on Dilip Kumar. But if it is, then here is one more ‘voice’ to add to your tally” Arun Kumar Mukherjee in Jwar Bhata.

Jwar Bhata also had a Manna Dey number – Bhoola Bhatka Path Hara Man. It should have been picturised on Dilip Kumar, I should think. I haven’t been able to find a YouTube video of the song, and I watched Jwar Bhata too many years ago to remember. Someone who is more knowledgeable than I am in old Hindi songs should be able to tell you if that is so.

@Harvey, if it happens that the Jwar Bhata number is indeed picturised on Dilip Kumar, then I’ll wait the laurel wreath. Thank you. 🙂

16 AK December 15, 2011 at 12:13 pm

@Anu Warrior
Arun Kumar was also one of the actors in Jwar Bhata, so he might have sung Sanjh ki bela for himself. Manna Dey number is more likely. Only if we could locate its video! Here are two audio links for Bhoola bhatka path hara man.



You have added several Dilip Kumar songs from undiscovered singers, including one not yet deciphered. That makes him ahead of Dev Anand. Who could have believed it?

About Char Dil Char Rahein song I too was confused about the voices. But if you listen carerfully from 3.02 to 3.08, Mahendra Kapoor’s voice (for Shammi Kapoor) seems more clear. But About Raj Kapoor I am still unsure. It sounds like Manna Dey to me, then who did Mukesh sing for?

Kadam kadam se dil se dil mila rahe hain hum by Manna Dey, Mukesh, Mahendra Kapoor and Meena Kapoor from Char Dil Char Rahein (1959)

17 dustedoff December 16, 2011 at 10:36 am

To add to the Dev Anand list… Shalini just told me, over at my blog, that Mukesh sang playback for Dev Anand in Shair:


18 harvey December 16, 2011 at 4:25 pm

@ anu: if you come up with the Jwar Bhata song, you do deserve teh laurel wreath. I will make it with my own hands! 🙂

@ AK
For my ears it surely sounds as if Mukesh sings for Raj Kapoor.
It is Manna Dey’s voice from 1:00 to 1:15, there he partly sings for Raj and then for Jairaj
1:26 to 1:28 Mahendra Kapoor for Ajit
1:56 to 2:02 Manna Dey on Shammi
2:09 to 2:19 Mukesh on Raj
3:03 to 3:09 Mahendra Kapoor on Shammi
3:10 to 3:16 Mukesh/Manna on Raj Kapoor
3:38 to 3:44 Manna on Shammi
3:52 to 3:55 Mahendra Kapoor on Ajit
4:00 to 4:06 Manna on Jairaj
4:30 to 4:44 Mukesh on Raj
4:52 to 4:59 Mukesh on Raj
I think the composer used the voices acccording to his judgement how the voices fit together and the director had to give each star his moment of spotlight.

19 harvey December 16, 2011 at 4:29 pm

@ AK
I hardly have any knowledge of Dev’s songs in the 80s, 90s and 2000s. If you search there you will surely come up with more singers for him. Dilip had more of character role in the 80s, thus I think there won’t be many songs picturised on him.

20 H.K.L. SACHDEVA February 15, 2012 at 4:31 pm

Dilip Kumar also sang for himself in Sagina with Kishore Kumar:

Uupar vaalaa dukhiyon kii naahiin sunataa re


in Karma with Kavita Krishnamurthy:

BaRhaa kaThin hai prashn … har karam apanaa kareinge ai sanam tere liye

21 ramesh desai February 20, 2012 at 3:08 am

Compliments on your blogs.
Mukesh also sang for Dev Anand in Vidya.

As for Dilip Kumar it seems Mukesh was his Voice for some time during late fourties early fifties in Andaz, Mela, Shabnam etc, Madhumati and Yehudi were a liitle later.

22 Dr Virendra Singh Godhara May 21, 2012 at 9:54 am

I am very much interested in music of old movies and I am much benefited by your blog. Thanks. Let me add about a voice used for Raj Kapoor after death of Mukesh at least in one movie. It was in the movie ‘Gopichand Jasoos’ of 1981 that Usha Khanna used voice of Kamlesh Avasthi for Raj Kapoor in a few solo and duet songs penned by santosh anand and Munsif. Voice of Kamlesh Avasthi resembled a lot with Mukesh.

23 Dr Virendra Singh Godhara May 21, 2012 at 10:21 am

Another point I wish to add is about an earler movie of Raj Kapoor, one of the earliest rather. It was ‘Neel Kamal’. Raj Kapoor appeared in a duet, “Jaiyo na bides mora jiya bhar aayega…” Music Director’s name, as declred, was V. Vasudev, which in fact was pseudonym of known music director, Snehal Bhatkar. Name of the singers of this song , as appeared on the gramophone record, were Rajkumari and Bhatkar. Nevertheless, it became clear later that the male singer with Rajkumari was Narayan Datt and not Bhatkar. This may be confirmed from authentic journal on the subject,”Listener’s Bulletin” February,1989 issue and its editor Harmandir Singh Hamraaz, an authority in the field.

24 AK May 21, 2012 at 10:39 am

Thanks a lot for your comments. Actually the information related to Raj Kapoor’s many voices on which I have written separately. I have posted your comment about Kamlesh Awasthi there and I have also posted the song there. Thanks a lot for this wonderful information.

As for your information about Neelkamal song, Arunkumar Deshmukhji has already mentioned it in his comments there.

25 KIRAN HATTIANGADI December 11, 2012 at 12:13 pm

@AK, you may like to see this song in the voice of Hemant Kumar picturised on Dilip Kumar.

Kaise Koi Jiye.. from ‘Baadbaan’

26 AK December 11, 2012 at 5:41 pm

This song was picturised on Ashok Kumar. Its female version by Geeta Dutt was picturised on Meena Kumari.

The uploader himself says he has done some creative video making by taking clippings from Dilip Kumar’s films. He has done a good job. I was also confused in the beginning. But since I knew it was not on Dilip Kumar, I looked at it more carefully.

27 Anindya Roychowdhury September 18, 2013 at 11:04 am

Lovely article…here’s another

Anup Ghoshal singing for Dilip in the Bengali original, Sagina Mahato

28 AK September 18, 2013 at 5:52 pm

Thanks a lot Anindya. Lovely song you have added.

29 D P Rangan September 16, 2015 at 12:43 am

Hemant Kumar song of Baadban does not represent Dilip Kumar at all. If you carefully look at the video presented above, lip movement of Dilip Kumar does not match the song at all. This seems to be a job like Photoshop on video.

30 AK September 16, 2015 at 6:57 am

DP Rangan,
The uploader makes no pretences. You missed my comment #28, immediately after that comment.

31 prem sunderdas October 3, 2015 at 1:58 pm

readers can think of playback singers who have playbacked for maximum number of actors

32 AK October 3, 2015 at 10:50 pm

Prem Sunderdas,
Welcome to SoY. But the above question may be uninteresting, because Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle must be the obvious winners.

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