Mukesh Chand Mathur, called only as Mukesh is revered as one of our three great singers who performed at the same time, the other two being of course Kishore Kumar and Mohd Rafi. He holding his own in the midst of these two stalwarts shows his mettle. Today, 22nd July is his birthday. Lets reminiscence some relatively lesser known trivia about this great singer.
Son of an Engineer, he too had joined the department of public works but his heart and soul was in singing. Interestingly he learnt singing by listening (from an adjoining room) to the lessons imparted to his sister from her music teacher. His 1st song in films was “Dil Jalta Hai To Jalne De” from the film Pehli Nazar when he was just 23. In this song he sounds like KL Saigal, and in fact when KL Saigal heard this song, he had remarked that he did not remember singing it.
Mukesh and Raj Kapoor were made for each other. Initially he was the voice of Dilip Kumar and Rafi the voice of Raj Kapoor but then it was reversed and Mukesh sang for Raj kapoor. The strong point of Mukesh was the emotion he brought to his songs, and when Raj Kapoor used to emote on screen it seemed as if Mukesh had entered his soul and body. No wonder when Mukesh passed away, Raj Kapoor broke down, burst into tears and said “I have lost my voice”. He also said “Meri jaan chali gayi. I am the body, the soul was Mukesh”
When Mukesh passed away he had a singing commitment. His son wanted to honour it but would buy tickets to hear him. Hence he requested Raj Kapoor to be chief guest so that the tickets would sell, and Raj Kapoor agreed. The show was house-full.
Mukesh and star spinner BS Chandrasekhar had a mysterious connect. Chandra used to hum his songs while bowling and sang whatever Mukesh song came to his mind. In an ESPN Cricinfo interview he specifically mentions “Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai” and “Ye Mera Deewanapan Hai”. Once in a match he beat the great Sunny Gavaskar, and following up asked him “Did you hear?”, referring to the song played loudly by a spectator on a transistor. In fact during matches of Chandra, the crowd used to play his songs very loudly and Gavaskar also says that to motivate Chandra, he used to sing Mukesh songs.
Mukesh was a very good human being. He used to be a frequent visitor to Shirdi. Once on a visit, he was on a tanga (horse carriage) and the tange-wala kept on singing sad Mukesh songs. Mukesh jokingly told him why are u singing these sad songs, sing something else. The tange-wala said then get off, I will sing these songs only. Mukesh asked him to come to Mumbai for a week. The tange-wala said his family depends on him for daily rations and then Mukesh purchased sufficient rations for the family and took him to Mumbai. Till then he had not revealed his name. After reaching Mumbai, he took a bath, freshened up and then took him to recording studio and finally revealed that he was the same singer whose songs the tange-wala was singing. Hearing this he fell at feet of Mukesh and sought forgiveness. Mukesh lifted him up, embaced him and said that his children’s education will be funded by him. One child became an Engineer and the other a Chartered Accountant.
That for you is Mukesh. A great singer and a great man. Happy birthday Mukesh.