Mukesh’s best songs by SD Burman

August 27, 2013

A tribute on his death anniversary August 27

Mukesh and SD BurmanFor someone who is a great fan of both Mukesh and SD Burman, the most intriguing question is why did SD Burman use him so sparingly. Whenever he did use him the results were stunning. The best example is O janewale ho sake to laut ke ana from Bandini. This film had superlative songs by Lata Mangeshkar (Mora gora ang laike, Jogi jabse tu aya mere dware), Asha Bhosle (Ab ke baras bhej bhaiya ko babul, O panchhi pyare), Manna Dey (Mat ro mata laal tere bahutere) and SD Burman himself (O re manjhi mere sajan hain us paar). That Mukesh’s O janewale stands equally tall among these gems is a testimony to the greatness of both SD Burman and Mukesh. Earlier a similar phenomenon happened in Bambai Ka Babu with Mukesh song Chal ri sajni ab kya soche towering over outstanding songs by Mohmmad Rafi and Asha Bhosle. There was something special in Mukesh’s voice which made his few songs leave an impact far deeper than more numerous songs of other singers.

SD Burman’s association with Mukesh started as early as 1948 with Vidya and continued till the very end of Mukesh’s life in 1976 with Barood. But with all that their combination would not have given more than fifteen songs including solos and duets. But Mukesh, generally and especially with SD Burman, had a very high rate of success. Most of these songs are truly outstanding. Therefore, though SD Burman-Mukesh is a very uncommon combination, continuing my series on SD Burman’s best songs with great singers, let me present their songs as my tribute to Mukesh on his 37th death anniversary (passed away on 27 August 1976 of severe heart attack in Detroit where he had gone for a concert).

1. Bahe na kabhi nain se neer from Vidya (1948), lyrics Yashodanandan Joshi

So SD Burman’s first song for Dev Anand is neither by Mohammad Rafi or Kishore Kumar, but by Mukesh? Though somewhat forgotten, Bahe na kabhi nain se neer has all the famed sweetness of Mukesh and should rank among his best.


2. Layi khushi ki duniya with Suraiya from Vidya (1948), lyrics Anjum Philibhiti

Now a duet from the same film with one of the greatest female actor-singers, Suraiya whose love in real life with the co-star Dev Anand had become the stuff of legend. This lovely romantic duet also reflects their deep romance in real life.


3. Tumhare liye hue badnaam with Shamshad Begum from Shabnam (1949), lyrics Qamar Jalabadi

This Dilip Kumar-Kamini Kaushal starrer had four Mukesh songs, all duets though – three with Shamshad Begum and one with Geeta Dutt, but all outstanding. This outstanding duet is picturised on a fabulous dance presented before (princess?) Kamini Kaushal seated somewhat reluctantly with Jeevan. The lead male dancer lip synching Mukesh is under heavy makeup, but one can figure out he is Dilip Kumar serenading to her beloved, making her restless.


4. Tu mahlon mein rahnewali main kutiyon mein rahnewala with Shamshad Begum from Shabnam (1949)

This one seems to be a repeat of the previous duet with identical scene and similar theme. Dilip Kumar in the same makeup sings another sarcastic song to her wealthy beloved, You living in a mansion and I in a hut, how can there be love between us? Was it picturised back to back in the film?


5. Kismat mein bichhadna tha hui kyon unse mulaqaat re with Geeta Dutt from Shabnam (1949)

Now a duet with Geeta Dutt which is equally good. Picturised on Dilip Kumar and Kamini Kaushal, it is what I call long-distance duet of separation.


6. Chal ri sajni ab kya soche from Bambai Ka Babu (1960), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri

There does not seem to be any Mukesh-SD Burman song for over a decade until we come to Chal ri sajni, one of the greatest bidai songs, and a milestone song for Mukesh, easily ranking among his very best.


7. Ae dil-e-awara chal from Dr Vidya (1962), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri

After a poignant bidai song, SD Burman shows his virtuosity by creating this peppy number, and Mukesh, who is typecast as a singer of sad songs, does full justice to it.


8. O janewale ho sakey to laut ke ana from Bandini (1963), lyrics Shailendra

Bandini is my most favourite Bimal Roy movie. There is a visual beauty of Bengal countryside and river, outstanding script, sensitive acting – probably the best of her career by Nutan – and heavenly music, encompassing in one film myriad colours of SD Burman from manjhi song to a Vaishnav song to a folk sad song to a patriotic song. In this galaxy you have this immortal song by Mukesh, the pathos in his voice matched by the pain in Nutan’s sad eyes.


9. Ye kisne geet chheda with Suman Kalyanpur from Meri Soorat Teri Ankhen (1963), lyric Shailendra

This film was another example of SD Burman’s virtuosity – Poochho na kaise main rain bitaayi by Manna Dey, Nache mera man tigna dhig dhigi by Rafi, Tere bine soone nain hamaare by Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar – each a gem of its type. And you have equally towering this Mukesh-Suman Kalyanpur duet, one of their best.


10. Bagon mein ye kaise phool khilte hain with Lata Mangeshkar from Chupke Chupke (1975), lyrics Anand Bakshi

Is there again a gap of over ten years until we get a Mukesh song by SD Burman? I invite the knowledgeable readers to hunt Mukesh-SD Burman songs in these periods of long gaps. But as I said, whatever and whenever they did together was a masterpiece. I end with this duet which came towards the last years of Mukesh’s career.

{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Arunkumar Deshmukh August 27, 2013 at 11:02 am

AK ji,

A very good article with select songs.
It is a real puzzle why Mukesh was used so sparingly by Dada.
Mukesh has sung only 12 songs (4 solos and 8 Duets etc.) in 8 films, for Dada. Dada gave music to 89 films,with total songs 668 (479 solos and 189 Duets etc.).
Dada had used 35 male singers in his 30 years’ career spanning from 1946 to1976.
As expected his top singer was Kishore Kumar with 115 songs in 44 films(53 solos and 62 Duets etc.)
(These statistics are taken,with thanks, from Dr. Surjit singh ji’s site.)

2 AK August 27, 2013 at 11:28 am

Thank you Arunji for this detailed information. It is interesting that there are just two Mukesh songs outside this list. I had given a margin of five songs. This also makes SDB-Mukesh combination unique in that they have hardly any song which is less than top class.

3 Mahesh Mamadapur August 27, 2013 at 12:12 pm

AK sir,
Thanks for the post.
It very easy to complete the balance list of songs of Mukesh for SDB. The analysis and comments will be more interesting.

I would include SBD amongst Madan Mohan and Naushad. All three music directors used Mukesh in the late forties and then made him sing very sparingly in their movies thereafter.

Madan Mohan used Mukesh in his very film with a great solo and a very comic duet with Shamshad Begum, which Mukesh pulls off easily. Then Madan Mohan became busy with Talat and Rafi and there are very few songs for Mukesh later on.

Naushad used Mukesh in Andaz, Anoki Ada and Mela in the late forties and completely forgot Mukesh for almost two decades till Saathi. The only consolation here was that Mukesh with 24 songs was the second highest male singer for Naushad after a very dominant Rafi.

Off course it is equally true that Mukesh, with his ambition of becoming an actor-singer and later on his association for RK films with SJ was also responsible for other music directors sort of ignoring him.

But all said and done it can be noticed that, in all these instances there is hardly any song of Mukesh which can be discarded off as insignificant or trivial. Such was the magic in the voice of Mukesh.

The legacy of this great legend will live on forever.

4 AK August 27, 2013 at 1:30 pm

When I first came across the info that Naushad’s second most prolific male singer was Mukesh, I was surprised. Off hand I would have thought Surendra. It is interesting how unbalanced Naushad was in the choice of his singers. He had virtually no use for Kishore Kumar and Geeta Dutt.

5 Arunkumar Deshmukh August 27, 2013 at 5:35 pm

AK ji,

Just for records, Kishore has JUST ONE song for Naushad,in his entire career. The song was,” Hello hello,kya haal hai” with Asha Bhosle,in film Sunehara Sansar-1975.


6 AK August 27, 2013 at 8:01 pm

And he had just one or two songs for Geeta Dutt – one in Dillagi, not mentioned in the HFGK, but I have seen it in the movie; and another one in Son of India.

His dispensing with Mukesh seems surprising. One would have thought his voice fitted as T for Dilip Kumar in Mela and Andaz; not to talk of outstanding songs in Anokhi Ada.

7 Arunkumar Deshmukh August 27, 2013 at 10:07 pm

AK Ji,

You are right about Geeta song in Dillagi-1949.
Here it is for your pleasure…


8 Canasya August 28, 2013 at 1:31 am

According to one story Mukesh might have lost one SDB song to technology. He was supposed to dub the Manhar-Lata duet in Abhiman (Loote koi man ka nagar) after coming back from abroad. But on hearing the song he exclaimed that he did not remember having recorded it! When told that it was Manhar’s voice, he persuaded Dada to retain it.

I recollect an interview on Vividh Bharati by Naqsh Lyallpuri in which he talked about Mukesh’s weak heart that had troubled him since the sixties (he died of the fifth heart attack in 1976). MDs working with him, therefore, composed simpler tunes and instructed lyricists to write simpler songs with smaller words. This simplicity and his imminently hummable voice gave him a rapport with listeners that confounded others.

Mukesh is believed to have needed several rehearsals before final take. Not many composers had the patience or belief (in his ability). To me Mukesh’s voice in Bambai ka Babu and Bandini songs appears stronger and much more “in tune” than usual and it would be interesting to know how many rehearsals were needed for these. (With apologies to KA fans, I would consider “Dam dam diga diga” from Chhalia an example of “out of tune” Mukesh.)

9 AK August 28, 2013 at 10:40 am

I heard such Mukesh-Manhar story about Aapse humko bichhade hue ek zamana beet gaya from Vishwas. As the story goes, Manhar was filling in for Mukesh for rehearsal with the understanding that it would be finally recorded in the voice of Mukesh. On return Mukesh was so impressed with this version that he suggested that it be retained. This shows the generosity of the singer.

This is the first time I am hearing that his medical condition constrained Mukesh’s range of singing. He had sung a number of complex tunes in his career: Ye mera diwanapan hai, Chaand si mehbooba, Mubarak ho sabko samaan ye suhana etc. When did the music directors become aware of his condition and start giving him simple tunes? This would be an interesting exercise. Some of my knowledgeable friends say that it is immensely difficult to sing his seemingly simple songs, such as Chandan sa badan or Tere labon ke muqabil gulab kya hoga (non-film).

I find the whole discourse on ‘besura‘ Mukesh quite interesting. I am not literate enough to comment on this. But fortunately SoY forum has many people immensely knowledgeable, some of whom also sing. I would be very happy to carry a Guest Article on Besura Mukesh, which can list such songs, analyse the points where he is off-tune, the popular standing of these songs, and some theoretical insight into the dichotomy between technical competence, emotional appeal and popularity of the song/singer.

10 Mahesh Mamadapur August 28, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Mukesh’s medical condition restraining him from singing difficult tunes etc is news to me. So is Music Directors reluctance issue.

On the contrary, during the late sixties and seventies, he in fact has consistent numbers with music directors like LP, KA, Usha Khanna, et. al. His association with KA and LP is full of popular numbers.
Some of his high pitch numbers ( not exactly his forte) can be found in this period.

I would not agree with the ‘besura’ factor also. If Raj Kapoor, with his gargantuan talent of music, could pick him up on just listening to his rehearsals, who are we to judge. Some of the best Mukesh numbers are the ones which have not much music in them. He always sang with all his heart and soul.

11 mumbaikar8 August 28, 2013 at 5:35 pm

SDB Mukesh impressive list. Mukesh has some very good songs with almost all MDs.
If you are not literate enough I am angutha chhaap. I express what I feel and would agree with Anu I find him besura (we call them train singer in mumbai) I have one more problem with him, his pronunciations.
(This film was another example of SD Burman’s virtuosity – Poochho na kaise main rain bitaayi by Manna Dey, Nache mera man tigna dhig dhigi by Rafi, Tere bine soone nain hamaare by Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar – each a gem of its type. And you have equally towering this Mukesh-Suman Kalyanpur duet, one of their best.)
THIS coming from AK I could not reject it right away so I listened to all four songs again and again sorry, I cannot buy it. It can be their best duet but I cannot see this song at par with other three gems.

12 Soumya Banerji August 30, 2013 at 6:07 am

Mukesh was also a favorite of Salil Choudhury. Interestingly, Salil Choudhury rarely used Rafi, Kishore, Asha but he had a soft corner for Lata, Mukesh and Talat. Mukesh is one of the few non-Bengali singers whom he used for his Bengali songs.
I too think that Mukesh did go off-key in a number of songs, especially in the later stages of his career. But then he also sang some beautiful songs at the same time, notably “Kai Baar Yun Hi Dekha Hai” in Rajanigandha. Strange.
To me Mukesh was at his best when he sounded like Saigal. He was one of the few singers who had a deep bass. I think once he tried to make his own singing style the bass disappeared. He was probably advised to sing in a higher scale which made his voice nasal.
Listen to this song in Raga Jog (Mukesh’s part) and you will get an idea of how deeply stirring his voice was when he sang in a low register:

Nain dwar se man mein wo aake tan mein aag lagaye by Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar from Saawan

13 AK August 30, 2013 at 8:03 am

You are too harsh on Mukesh and on Ye kisne geet chhedaa. I can only say one’s response to a particular song boils down to personal choice.

This is a terrific song you have chosen. Let me cite another Mukesh-Lata duet Ye wada karo chaand ke saamne from Rajhath. In this he sings the mukhadaa in lower scale, but in antaraa goes to a very high scale. The effect is even more beautiful at the higher scale. O jaanewale ho sakey to laut ke ana also has the same feature.

14 mumbaikar8 August 30, 2013 at 5:38 pm

I was not being harsh to Mukesh, Its just my opinion of his singing and pronunciations at times.
I am not qualified enough to judge a singer of Mukesh’s stature who has sung soooooo many beautiful songs with all diggaj MDs.

Coming back to Yeh kisne geet chheda FOR ME this song does not stand a place in SDs 10 best duets while at least one, if not two, of the three gems would be considered in his 10 best songs.

Let me add one more beautiful Mukesh SDB song from Dr. Vidya.

15 AK August 30, 2013 at 11:03 pm

That is #7 in my list. (The list is chronological.)

16 mumbaikar8 August 31, 2013 at 12:31 am

Sorry, my memory, I forgot it was there. I thought you had songs from Vidya but not Dr. Vidya.

17 Soumya Banerji August 31, 2013 at 5:13 am

Yes, that is a lovely duet. Plus beautiful sitar work.

Coming back to the “Nain Dwar Se” song, there is also a Lata solo version which is also lovely. It conveys the mood of Raga Jog better than the duet. I could not find it on youtube.

18 Mahesh August 31, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Balance 2 songs to complete the Dozen of this combo.

1.Pyar mein tumne dhoka seeka…a beautiful duet with Shamshad Begum in SHABNAM(1949) and

2.Tu saitano ka sardar…..with Shivangi Kolhapure in BAROOD(1976)

As Arun Sir has written its 4 solos and 8 duets of this combo. It will be interesting to know if there are any hidden unreleased songs etc. But, its a remote possibility.

19 N Venkataraman August 31, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Thanks for yet another good article, this time on the songs of Mukesh composed by S D Burman. This is your third article in this series, fourth on S D Burman and 3rd on Mukesh. You have presented 4 solos and 6 duets. Arunji ‘s writes that Mukesh, in all had sung a dozen songs for S D Burman. The moot point that you have raised is why SD Burman used him so sparingly. Several reasons have been ascribed. Troubled heart condition since sixties, technology, need for several rehearsals, lack of belief and patience on the part of the MD, ‘out of tune’, pronunciation etc.etc.

Prior to 1948 S D Burman had 5 films to his credit. In the year 1946 he gave music for two films, both of them had Ashok Kumar in the lead role and Ashok Kumar and Kishore Kumar were the main male singers. Even R Chitalkar was used for one of the duets. In 1947 he gave music for three films, out of which Raj Kapoor was in the lead role in two. Surendra was in the lead role in Chittor Vijay for which SDB gave music that year, obviously one cannot expect Mukesh to sing for Surendra. In other SDB’s film Dil ki Rani Raj Kapoor lip-synched for his own song and Shyam Sunder rendered the other three solos for himself. Most probably Raj Kapoor acted in two more films in the year 1947, Neel Kamal and Jail Yaatra. The music for Neel Kamal was composed by Vasudev. Mukesh had one solo and three duets, but it seems that none of them was for Raj Kapoor. For the film Jail Yatra Ninu Majumdar gave music. Raj Kapoor sang for himself in one of the solos, Ninu Majumadar sang a solo and joined Meena Kapoor in a duet. So Mukesh was not yet become the voice of Raj Kapoor then. Taking into account the above factors and also the circumstances of the songs, SDB had little scope for utilizing Mukesh prior to 1948.

Vidya (1948) was SDB’s sixth film. Mukesh had done full justice to both the vintage songs and he did not sound a bit off key. Out of the 11 songs in the film, 9 were female solos and Mukesh was the only male singer in this film. Again in the next year (1949), SDB was the music director for two films, Kamal and Shabnam. Surendra was once again the leading actor in Kamal. Shabnam had six female solos and four duets and Mukesh was the male singer in all the four duets. In the three duets presented here, Mukesh’s rendition in all the three duets (#3, #4 and #5) was no doubt good. The vintage orchestration and the contrasting voice of Shamsad Begumin the first two songs and the smooth matching presentation by Geeta Dutt in the other song add to the beauty of the songs.

The next song Mukesh sang for SDB was in 1960 and one of the best songs rendered by Mukesh for SDB. In the previous songs we found Mukesh moving in lower octaves, whereas in this song we could notice him moving up the octave with ease. But that was in 1960, and insinuation of off key and heart problems were attributed to his later period.

But the moot question remains unanswered, why it took another decade for Mukesh to sing for SDB? Actually there is no clear cut answer. During this period SDB had given music for another 38 films for which he had composed more than 300 songs, out of which almost 200 songs were sung by female singers. Out of the remaining 100 odd songs roughly 40 were duets and 60 were male solos. If we carefully scrutinize the list we would find Kishore Kumar leading with almost 35 songs in both the categories taken together, followed by Md.Rafi 22 and Talat Mahmood 13. Besides,Hemant Kumar and Manna Dey sang 8 each in both the categories taken together. On further scrutiny we could conclude that Md.Rafi replaced Talat Mahmood in the second half of the decade. Again SDB’s preference for Kishore Kumar is very much evident, especially in the second half.

Looking from an different angle, out of the 38 films for which SDB gave music, Devanand was the leading actor in 14 films(some of them under Guru Dutt’s Banner), Guru Dutt in 2 and Kishore Kumar in 3. That is 50% of SDB’s films during this decade. Naturally, it would have not been possible to accommodate Mukesh in place of Md.Rafi or Talat Mehmood. Guru Dutt had a preference for Md.Rafi over other singers and Kiishore Kumar would be the natural choice for the films in which he acted. SDB preferred Kishore Kumar, Hemant Kumar and Md Rafi to sing for Devanand. It will be difficult to imagine Mukesh replacing Manmohan Krishna (2 songs) or Arun Kumar (2 Songs) in the early first half or S D Burman (2 songs) in the later half. At the most S D Burman could have used Mukesh for the film Pyaar (1950), where Kishore Kumar sang for Raj Kapoor in two solos and three duets.

After singing one solo in 1962, one solo and one duet in 1963 Mukesh had to wait for over 10 years before he could sing two more duets for SDB in the second half of the 70’s.

After listening to all the four solos sung by Mukesh for S D Burman , especially the two outstanding songs #6 and #8, the question lingers.
After all those statistical jugglery, I am in no better position to answer this question. Rather, I might have added more to the confusion.

Let me add a small trivia. The director of the film Talash, O P Ralhan wanted S D Burman to use Mukesh for the song ‘Tere naina talash kare’ and wanted the composition to be modified so that Mukesh could sing it. But S D Burman stood his ground and retained both Manna Dey and the composition for this song.

Maheshji has mentioned the other duets sung by Mukesh, Here is the link to the two songs to complete the dozen.

Pyar mein tumne dhoka seekha ye to batao kaise with Shamsad Begum from Shabnam (1949)_, lyrics Qamar Jalalabadi

Tu Shaitanonka sardar hai with Shivange Kolhapuri from Barood (1976), lyrics Anand Bakshi

Before Hum chhod Chale is mehfil ko, let me also join you in paying my tributes to Mukesh.

20 AK September 1, 2013 at 12:09 am

I have to admit it is not yet clear to me. We can all find post-facto rationalizations. But the fact is SDB did give outstanding Mukesh songs for Dev Anand, and then there would be silence for ten years. SD Burman composed for other banners also where this kind of hero’s bias for a particular voice was not there.

The most striking thing is that the picturisation of three duets in Shabnam – #3 and #4 and the one in your comment – seems to be identical. Dilip Kumar’s ‘disguise’ in heavy make up; lyrics of the songs addressed to the uncaring heroine, and her getting restless by the songs.

21 ASHOK M VAISHNAV September 1, 2013 at 2:42 pm

When the post was published I was away for some work. I thought that Mukesh and SDB as a subject could hardly have any fresh grounds to discuss over what was already discussed during Rafi-SDB article. SDB’s penchant for Kishore was glaringly visible, he was using Rafi more as a compulsion etc. That hardly left anything to discuss his use of Mukesh.
When I could again comeback for a detailed visit to the article, there were 14 discussion strings already. So, it made more sense to wait and enjoy the discussions from the sidelines.

In the meanwhile I could find articles which described Mukesh as “one-song” hero – i.e. he just gets one song in an otherwise some other male singer dominated film, and he goes on to coner all laurels – something like a night watchman scoring a century with all guns blazing. That fits the pattern of Bandini and Bombai K a Baabu songs.

Venkatrmanji has well-analysed the situation prior to that.

That leaves use of Mukesh for Meri Surat Teri Ankhen and Chupke Chupke like situations still unexplained.

Well, SDB does have a very calculative commercial brain ticking with his creative musical genius!
But, Mukesh does come winner in all instances, even when someone called him ‘besoor, someone said he had mimited range, someone said he was too closely associated as RK’s voice, someone argued about his failing health.
The fact remains no amount of post facto rationalization seems to explain all puzzles of the riddle.
Be that as it may, AKji does deserve kudos for enriching SDB’s music lovers by presenting quite different angles to already loved songs.

22 mumbaikar8 September 1, 2013 at 10:55 pm


I totally agree with you.

23 Canasya September 2, 2013 at 12:12 am

It seems my comment @ 8 might have given rise to a minor unintended controversy. I was commenting only from memory and had indicated my source, but could not provide full citation at that time. Fortunately, the net has a link to the transcript of that interview:

The relevant text is reproduced below.

“Song: Kai sadiyon se kai janmon se tere pyar ko tarse mera mann (Milap)

Naqsh Lyallpuri speaks: Film Milap ke liye humein chaar gaane record karne the. Chautha geet jo tha, woh Rafi sahab ki aawaaz mein hum record kar rahe the. Film ki shooting bhi tabhi chal rahi thi Bangalore mein. To us waqt Bangalore se B.R.Ishaara-ji ka phone aaya ki Shatrughan Sinha ke do roop hain is film mein, unmein se ek ke liye to Rafi sahab ki aawaaz mein gaana tum record kar rahe ho. Doosre roop ke liye agar Mukesh ki aawaaz mein gaana banaaya jaaye to
achchha hoga. Magar yeh gaana mujhe do din mein chaahiye, kyunki Shatru-ji ke sirf teen din ke dates bache huye hain. Is film ke music director the Brij Bhushan. Unki yeh baat mujhe bahut achchheii lagi ki unhone mujhse kahaa ki ‘Mukesh ke heart attack ke baad unke seene ko sabse kam zor padey is tarah se humein yeh gaana record karna hoga. To agar ho sake to aap tukdon mein mukhDa mujhe deejiye aur main Mukesh ke saath isko record karta hoon.’ to main studio se nikalkar neeche lab mein aaya aur kuchh der mein geet likh liyaa. Usi raat humne yeh gaana record karva liya, aur doosre hi din gaana Bangalore bhijwa diya jahaan par gaane ki shooting hui.

The song ‘Kai sadiyon se…’ continues.”

I will let readers judge whether I had read too much in it. Certainly I had not mentioned this as a criticism (I count myself among Mukesh’s fans) but only as one possible explanation for the relatively “simpler”, much more hummable tunes that seemed to invariably fall Mukesh’s way.

Ashok M Vaishnavji @ 21: Here is a link to “The ‘one-song’ celebrity” article by Raju Bharatan:

24 Subodh Agrawal September 3, 2013 at 6:26 pm

Interesting post, followed by an even more interesting discussion. It came as a surprise to me that Mukesh-SDB teamed up for so few songs. Even more surprising was that half of the songs – first half – in the list were those I had not heard or forgotten. I learnt a lot from the comments of Vekatarama/Vaishnav/Canasya trio. Thanks in particular to Canasya for the Raju Bharatan article.

There is no denying the fact that Mukesh (and Hemant, Talat, Geeta Dutt) didn’t have the vocal range of Rafi, Lata, Asha, Manna Dey or Kishore. Mukesh and other singers like him depended on the composer to use them well in the areas of their strength. Shankar Jaikishan could make him move from low to high notes without any audible effort in songs like ‘Sajanwa bairi ho gaye hamar’ and ‘Jaane kahan gaye wo din.’ But listen to a song like ‘Chal akela, chal akela…tera mela peechhe chhoota rahi..’ and the strain shows in lines like ‘Hazaron meel lambe raaste tujhko bulate.’ I would suggest we should not get too concerned by such shortcomings of this wonderful singer and enjoy the songs in his area of strength.

I enjoyed the discussion of Mukesh’s voice quality in low notes, with the mention of ‘Nain dwar se man mein wo aa ke’ – one of my favourite songs. Another song in which a sudden shift to a low note adds to the beauty is ‘Kise yaad rakhooon kise bhool jaoon.’ The way his voice drops to an ultra low register on ‘yaad’ is beyond the capacity of most amateur singers – your truly included. So much for the limitation of his voice!

25 jignesh kotadia September 4, 2013 at 12:45 am

Very Very well said Subodhji…One should enjoy the sweet portion of a talent instead of seeing the shortcomings all the time.

Material are not enough to make an article but still Anilji made a wonderful post with a sporadic combination. Burmanda used Mukesh meagerly but whenever he used him, the film became known by Mukesh song ! Really ‘One song Hero’ as Raju Bharatan said (Canasyaji thanx for that article). Some people could never feel and understand that sweetness of Mukesh voice on their eardrums ,hence declared themselves illiterate and ‘thumb brand’ rightly! People believe themselves angutha chhap and still manage to find shortcomings in a Proven Legend ! How funny ! This isnt illiteracy, this is ill-literacy. I m sorry mumbaikarji,, but comment 11 was really worst one by a regular and respected visitor of SoY,, SHOULD BE REMOVED.

26 mumbaikar8 September 4, 2013 at 6:38 am

You should not be sorry in expressing your opinion.
we live in a free society and are entitled to express our opinion ,
some times with humour some times without it.

27 Arunkumar Deshmukh September 4, 2013 at 11:59 am

mumbaikar ji,
Making statements intended to hurt others may tantamount to undue liberty of Freedom of expression. while circulating in the society,one has to have some scruples for other’s feelings too,is what I personally feel.
Freedom of speech must only mean expressing different ideas or opinions and not making frivilous or disturbing statements.
While moving about in a civilised society,one will have to care about others too,so that others care for you too.
These are MY views and NOTcomments on anybody or any personal observations please.

28 Mahesh September 4, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Arun Sir,
Thanks for your elderly advice.

How much I am learning and enjoying from this blog.
The mystery of SBD’s less often use of Mukesh will remain unsolved. I suppose it was not a mystery at all, but, more of circumstances and happen-stance than anything else.

Now about Mukesh for the BIG THREE.( Raj,Dev and Dilip saab).
Raj-Mukesh legend is well known.
Dev-Mukesh; its an open shut case.
One solo and duet in Vidya with SBD and one very great and fablous duet with Lata for Ghulam Mohammed in Shair.

SBD was the only music director who gave a Mukesh solo to Dev Anand.

Moving on to Dilip Kumar, we have 16 songs of Mukesh in 48-49 and 3 a decade later in 58. These 19 songs were for Anil Biswas (Anoka Pyar), Naushad (Andaz and Mela), SBD (Shabnam), Salilda(Madhumati) and SJ(Yahudi). Now, thats almost, most of the best Music Directors of that era, excluding a few like CR, Roshan

In spite of the huge popularity of these songs, Mukesh got to sing very sparingly for Dev and Dilip saab. I know actors have less say as choosing singers is left to composers, but these great actors were no less influential.

I know that I have diverted a bit from the topic at hand, but would like to sit back and enjoy, comments from experts please.

29 mumbaikar8 September 4, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Thank you very much for your elderly advice.
I did not intend to hurt other. I had just seconded an opinion with some spice and humour.
I had no idea it would blow so much.

30 AK September 4, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Arunji, Jignesh, Mumbaikar8
I have been following your conversation with some unease at the underlying tension. I should appreciate Mumabikar8 who had concluded it in such a mature manner. I perfectly understood that he intended no offence. The only expectation I have is that we should not become personally offensive against a reader for having a contrary view, or start making caustic comments about his intelligence or music knowledge. Our views about an artiste or a song may vary widely, and one should feel free to express one’s opinion frankly, at times spiced with humour. It would be really sad and a big loss if we are constrained under a burden that some ultrasensitive person may take offence on something said in a light-hearted manner.

31 mumbaikar8 September 4, 2013 at 7:26 pm

Thanks for being so considerate.
You have lifted huge burden off my shoulders.
I am myself a very sensitive person and would not deliberately hurt any one’s feelings.
I hope this is over now, all is well that ends well.
BTW mumbaikar8 is a SHE and not a HE

32 AK September 4, 2013 at 8:19 pm

Oh, hazards of having such virtual, non-denominational names! I would have to make efforts to remember it.

33 N Venkataraman September 4, 2013 at 9:02 pm

You comments have not given rise to any controversy what so ever, neither minor nor major. You have quoted certain anecdotes and opinions. I certainly do believe that they were not your opinion.
Thanks for the link to Naqsh Lyallpuri’s interview from Vividhbharati. The song kai sadiyon se kai janmon se tere pyar ko tarse mera mann from Milap was in the year 1972, that is in the later part of Mukesh’s career. I express my respects to Mukesh for yet another good rendition in spite of his health problems and hats off to those music directors who reposed faith in him to give us such beautiful numbers.
Thanks also for the link to “The ‘one-song’ celebrity” article by Raju Bharatan.
Some time back I made a mistake in addressing you as ‘SHE’. And today I find a ‘SHE’ behind mumbaikar8. I too was under the impression that mumbaikar8 was ‘HE’. That is the problem with virtual acquaintance with an assumed name. In a lighter jest I would like to say ‘ Kasoor aapka, huzoor aapka, Ilzaam na deejiye mujpe khaamakha’

34 jignesh kotadia September 5, 2013 at 12:56 am

This is second time some irritating lines by me(never wanted to do so and i feel enough regret for it), Again the subject is Mukesh and Again the commentator is a woman (knew just today !!). I havent used this words ‘not enough literate’ or ‘angutha chhap’ for anyone here with my tongue….those words r introduced and used by u ppl for urselves. I never intended to degrade anyone in respect of one’s knowledge…the allegation is not acceptable by me….. But again a big sorry to Akji and Mumbaikarji for the offensive lines.

35 Anon December 26, 2013 at 1:58 am

Interesting post and more interesting comments.

hazards of having such virtual, non-denominational names!

That is the problem with virtual acquaintance with an assumed name. In a lighter jest I would like to say ‘ Kasoor aapka, huzoor aapka, Ilzaam na deejiye mujpe khaamakha’

No – the hazards of the absence of a gender-neutral pronoun coupled with gender bias. The name “mumbaikar8” can apply to a woman just as much as a man – why should you assume that the commenter must be male?

Again the subject is Mukesh and Again the commentator is a woman

And why pray is being a woman a point to be singled out? If both commenters were male, would you say “Again the subject is Mukesh and Again the commentator is a man”.

36 Gurbir Grewal April 6, 2014 at 9:53 pm

Well friends I read all the comments very carefully, and have few observations to make.

1. The gentleman commenting about Mukesh’s pronunciation needs to listen to the comments of Majrooh Sahib, who categorically said that Mukesh’s pronunciation was the best and then Lata and others followed later.

2. Some one used the term `Besura’. Now this is no less than abusing a singer. He was gifted with a natural Shruti while singing. That at the most be termed as half a note off, and this gives a very good effect in Light singing.

3. Playback singing is not all about Classical perfection, but more of expression. Even Mohd. Rafi did sing out of tune in many songs to create the required effect for instance in KA song Humko tum pe pyar aaya’ (Jab Jab Phool Khile), I can give 5-6 more examples. This is for film’s and situation’s demand.

4. Hit ratio of Mukesh can be a matter of envy for all his contemporaries. Out of 10 songs he sang 8-9 were super hits. This is confirmed by Kalyan ji Bhai in a documentary made by me on Mukesh Sahib. Please spare sometime to watch, Anil Da, Naushad sb, Kalyanji bhai, Hasrat Sahib speaking on Mukesh ji.

37 AK April 7, 2014 at 8:21 am

I would not like to labour over Mukesh’s pronunciation or fidelity to notes, because that is not the point. The readers who have commented earlier have been regular followers of this blog for many years. I know they do not mean any disrespect to any artiste even when they express a critical view. Everyone agrees Mukesh touched the heart by his voice.

I saw your documentary on Mukesh. One of the best I have seen on him. Thanks for sharing it.

38 Supratim Das November 23, 2016 at 9:25 pm

Listen to ‘Nahi tum si koi goru chum let hai tumko’ Mukesh part of Bagon mein kaise ye pool song in 1975 film Chupke Chupke. He struggles to do the harqat perfectly. Compare it with Lata’s. Also at the end his voice breaks down. He literally choked. There are several other instances. There should be. That might be one reason why SDB rarely chose Mukesh unless he found he had no other options.

39 AK November 24, 2016 at 4:24 am

Welcome to SoY. Chupke Chupke came at the very end of Mukesh’s career when his health was failing. At his peak, Mukesh sang outstanding songs for SDB, though few in number. That is why the question arises, because SDB was very prolific with all the major playback singers.

40 Prakash Singh Rautela January 21, 2017 at 8:52 pm

Dear Supratim,
When he sang “Baghon main …” in 1975, he was not in best of health. During this period there were cycles when his vocals were not fit for singing medium to high pitched songs. This song was perhaps recorded during one such cycle of his vocal condition. We should not gloss over the fact that he sang such beautiful numbers in Kabhi Kabhie soon after this where his voice betrays no signs of fatigue. We should not read much into Burmanda not using him frequently because he was prolifically used and admired by other such highly qualified composers as Khaiyyam sahib and Salilda. Even a highly meticulous composer like Jaidevji also recorded a couple of beautiful songs in his voice in the later part of his career which were released as late as in 1997 as part of the soundtrack of the film Chand Grahan. That should lay to rest all this talk of his being ‘besura’ and the need to find a link between his mastery over his craft and the number of songs he sang for Burmanda. The greatness of such a legendary singer cannot be a hostage to Burmanda’s preference for certain voices, especially in light of the fact that he was always inclined to use Kishore Kumar’s voice for his songs and was reportedly not comfortable even with such an expressive crooner as Talat Mahmood for reasons best known to him.

With best regards.

41 Prakash Singh Rautela January 22, 2017 at 2:48 am

Dear AK Sahab,

A point has been raised about Mukeshji’s pronounciation and diction. Gubirji is right in pointing out that he was supposed to be having a very clear and impressive diction. His non-film output bears this out. He sang even very difficult and long geets and ghazals with great ease and elan. One can only marvel at his diction when one listens to his rendering of Tulsi Ramayan. Who could have sung those difficult and long Avadhi verses with such grace and flow? He clearly scores over his fellow singers when it comes to putting over difficult verses.

With best regards.

42 AK January 22, 2017 at 4:24 am

Mr Routela,
Welcome to SoY and thanks a lot for your comments. Obviously, SDB not using him more often is no reflection on Mukesh’s standing as a singer. Every MD has his preferred singers, SDB’s overwhelming preference for Rafi and Kishore Kumar, followed by Hemant Kumar and Manna Dey, did not leave much room for Mukesh.

Mukesh’s appeal lies in his pathos-filled sweet voice. Music is not only about purity of ‘sur’, but also about the ability of ‘swar’ touching a chord. Whether he went off-key at times or not becomes immaterial in the case of Mukesh.

43 Prakash Singh Rautela January 22, 2017 at 6:12 am

Thanks a lot, dear AK sahab. Actually, Mukeshji’s voice had that out-of-the-world charm, as opined by none other than Salilda in his tribute when the unassuming singer, who was an equally fine human being also, passed away tragically in 1976. Yes, he did go off-key at times when compelled to negotiate high notes in a song. But perhaps this had more to do with the tempo of the song than the limitation of his vocals to go up into high octaves. For instance, he appears to be comfortably singing high notes in the slow tempo ‘Jhoomti chali hawa’ and ‘Chal ri sajni ab kya soche’ (despite the fact that both the songs have very low pitched opening lines). Needless to say, Mukeshji scored clearly over his fellow male singers when it came to singing in the low octave, e.g. ‘Dil jalta hai,’ ‘Nain dwar se’ and that lesser known number ‘Rone ko to raat padi hai’ from the film ‘Wafadar.’

Best regards.

44 Prakash Singh Rautela January 22, 2017 at 2:35 pm

Dear AK Sahab,
(This note has the typos, that had crept into the earlier one, removed. Inconvenience regretted).
A point has been raised about Mukeshji’s pronunciation and diction. Gurbirji is right in pointing out that he was supposed to be having a very clear and impressive diction. His non-film output bears this out. He sang even very difficult and long geets and ghazals with great ease and elan. One can only marvel at his diction when one listens to his rendering of Tulsi Ramayan. Who could have sung those difficult and long Avadhi verses with such grace and flow? He clearly scores over his fellow singers when it comes to putting over difficult verses.

With best regards.

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