A tribute on Mukesh’s 93rd birth anniversary (22 July 1923 – 27 August 1976)
Mukesh debuted as (actor-)singer in 1941 with Nirdosh, i.e. 8 years before Shankar-Jaikishan’s debut in 1949 with RK Films’ Barsaat. After some initial struggle, Mukesh got a chance to work with the music titan of the era, Anil Biswas, courtesy his relation Motilal’s recommendation. Dil jalta hai to jalne de from Pehli Nazar (1945) created a sensation making Mukesh one of the leading singers of the time. Three big films with the successor stalwart, Naushad, in 1948-49 – Mela, Anokhi Ada and Andaaz – further boosted the popularity of Mukesh. Thus, when he first sang for SJ in their debut film, he had already achieved fame for his sweet, mellifluous voice. But this association proved to be the most important factor in the later career of Mukesh.
Barsaat cemented many long-lasting bonds – Mukesh as the voice of Raj Kapoor (though he had also sung for him in Aag (1948) under Ram Ganguly), the lyricists Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri who almost became a common feature in any film which had SJ’s music, and the path-breaking music directors Shankar-Jaikishan. Barsaat’s music was dominated by Lata Mangeshkar, Mukesh getting two duets with her. But their next venture, Awara (1951), had the title track which became a global sensation making Raj Kapoor-Nargis one of the most recognizable faces abroad, and India’s cultural ambassador. This film also had extremely soulful and melodious songs such Hum tujhse mohabbat kar ke sanam (solo) and Dum bhar jo udhar munh phere (with Lata Mangeshkar). In the same year, in a non-RK film Baadal, too, SJ created an outstanding solo, Main raahi bhatakane wala hun, and an equally good duet with Lata Mangeshkar, Ae dil na mujhse chhupa. RK-SJ’s next film Aah (1953) didn’t fire up the box-office, but what great songs Mukesh sang! The two solos, Raat andheri door kinara, Chhoti si ye zindagani, and the two duets with Lata Mangeshkar, Jaane na jigar pahchaane nazar, Aa ja re ab mera dil pukara are among the most loved songs for Mukesh fans.
Shri 420 in 1955 was a heady mix of romance, human goodness and socialism – the packaging was even more entertaining than Awara. And typical of RK banner, the film was also about music and dance, with Mukesh’s Mera joota hai Japani becoming one of the biggest chartbusters. During this period, Mukesh also forayed into ill-fated acting and film production. However, he came back with a bang with superhit songs in Anaadi (1959) fetching him his first Filmfare Award. SJ also used him as Dilip Kumar’s voice in Yahudi (1958) in the evergreen Ye mera deewanapan hai.
With Mukesh becoming identified as Raj Kapoor’s voice, in almost all the films of Raj Kapoor whether under RK banner or outside, if SJ were the music director Mukesh was almost invariably the voice for him. And every film had great songs remembered till today: Kanhaiya, Main Nashe Mein Hun (1959), Jis Desh Mein Ganga Bahti Hai (1960), Aashiq, Ek Dil Aur Sau Afsaane (1962), Sangam (1964), Teesri Kasam (1966), Around The World, Deewana (1967), Sapnon Ka Saudagar (1968) and Mera Naam Joker (1970).
SJ also used Mukesh as the voice for many heroes, such as Manoj Kumar (Hariyali Aur Rasta, 1962), Sunil Dutt (Ek Phool Aur Chaar Kaante, 1960) and Rajendra Kumar (Aas Ka Panchhi, Sasural, 1961).
If Anil Biswas was the mentor of Mukesh, SJ were his main propellers in the Golden Era of film music. As a new member in the SoY family, Kanishka, has stated “SJ were not just about songs but about music.” In one of the videos about SJ’s music, Pyarelal (of LP duo) narrates that when Raj Kapoor was discussing the story of Jis Desh Mein Ganga Bahti Hai with his team, Shankar (of SJ duo) asked him, what we have got to do in this film about rocks and ravines and dacoits. Raj Kapoor told him, you have to put music in these rocks. SJ did that precisely; from the first frame of JDMGBH music permeates through the wilds while not losing sight of the message of dacoit reformation.
SoY has completed six years. It is inevitable that a good part of SJ-Mukesh songs have already been covered under different posts, such as reviews of the best songs of 1949, 1951, 1953 and 1955 and also a number of Mukesh-specific posts. But a large number of outstanding songs are still to be mentioned. Continuing the series on Shankar-Jaikishan, I present my faourite songs composed by them for Mukesh as a tribute to the singer on his 93rd birth anniversary. If you find some eternal landmarks missing, the reason is I have tried to avoid repetition.
1. Sab kuchh seekha humne na seekhi hoshiyari from Anaadi (1959), lyrics Shailendra
SJ-Mukesh had lost none of the magic when Mukesh was away indulging in his dream of acting and production. This come-back song had simple lyrics by Shailendra, sweet voice of Mukesh and pleasant ‘music’ by Shankar-Jaikishan, enough to fetch Mukesh his first Filmfare Award. This film also had another outstanding song, Ksi ki muskuraahaton pe ho nisar, and two superb duets, Wo chaand khila and Dil ki nzar se. You can’t think of the song without SJ’s orchestration. While Raj Kapoor sings, and Nutan is pensive, another lady storms up a Western style dance.
2. Mujhe tumse kuchh bhi na chaahiye from Kanhaiya (1959), lyrics Shailendra
SJ show their prowess from a fast-paced fun song Ruk ja wo jaanewali ruk ja to this sad song which was Mukesh’s forte.
3. Zaahid sharab peene de…Mujhko yaaro maaf karna from Main Nashe Mein Hun (1959), lyrics Shalendra
Shailendra borrows a couplet from Ghalib as the recital prelude before the main song written by him starts. Again you see simplicity in words, no-frills singing by Mukesh and befitting music by SJ.
4. Matwaali naar thumak thumak chali jaaye from Ek Phool Aur Chaar Kaante (1960), lyrics Shailendra
We have seen SJ’s special talent in dance songs for Lata Mangeshkar and female dance duets. KS Bhatiaji has suggested to me another category in which the man sings and the woman dances. Here is a beautiful song in this category in Raga Maru Bihag (?) picturised as a stage dance song, Mukesh lip-synching for Sunil Dutt and Waheeda Rehman performing a superb dance.
5. Hothon pe sachai rahti hai from Jis Desh Mein Ganga Bahti Hai (1960), lyrics Shailendra
As the injured man he had tended turns out to be a dacoits’ sardar, Raju lands in their den. With the impish daughter of the sardar, Kammo (Padmini), falling for the simpleton Raju, there follows some absolutely outstanding dance and songs. But with Raka (Pran) being obsessed with Kammo, suspicion is created about Raju being a police informer. Called upon to explain who he is, Raju describes himself as the inhabitant of the country where truth prevails in everyone’s heart. Every song of this movie is a gem.
6. Tum jo hamaare meet na hote from Aashiq (1962), Shailendra
With four solos and two duets in the film, it is one of the important films in Mukesh’s career music-wise. Every song of the film is memorable. I had a difficult choice between this song and the title song, Main aashiq hun bahaaron ka, but if it is Mukesh, the sad song wins. I am linking here the audio of the song for its better quality.
7. Suno ji suno hamaari bhi suno from Ek dil Aur Sau Afsaane (1962), lyrics Hasrat Jaipuri
When I hear songs like these I often feel Mukesh was as good in happy songs as well. I have been so charmed by his peppy songs that I have already written posts on his happy solos and duets. Raj Kapoor was not particularly famous for his dancing, but that is what makes his jig so charming. Waheeda Rahman being a professionally trained dancer is always outstanding. Another nice ‘man sings, woman dances’ song.
8. Sajanawa bairi ho gaye hamaar from Teesri Kasam (1966), lyrics Shalendra
The simple tale of a coachman taking the theatre dancer in his bullock cart had a lyrical beauty. Their association has to last only till the travelling theatre company is in the village during the fair. The coachman tells the lady simple folk tales and sings songs to while away the time during journey. Here is one of the most poignant songs of Mukesh created by SJ. Mukesh had two more great songs in the film such as Sajan re jhooth mat bolo and Duniya bananewale kya tere man mein samayi.
9. Ae sanam jisne tujhe chaand si surat di hai from Deewana (1967), lyrics Hasrat Jaipuri
Flop film, but superb music is the case of Deewana. All the six solos of Mukesh were extremely popular.
10. Jaane kahan gaye wo din from Mera Naam Joker (1970), lyrics Hasrat Jaipuri
A superb movie (at least its first two parts) turning out to be dud at the box office is one of the mysteries of the public taste. Raj Kapoor had put everything in this ambitious film. Its failure shattered him. But this sad solo of Mukesh is one of his immortal songs.