“It is very simple to be happy, but it is very difficult to be simple”. These were the golden words of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore.
Today, 27th August is the death anniversary one of India’s greatest ever singer Mukesh. He was a simple soul who through brought joy to the hearts of millions.
Let us go on a trivial journey of the signing superstar who along with Kishore Kumar, Mohammed Rafi and Manna Dey ruled the musical world of Hindi cinema.
Son of an engineer, Mukesh (full name Mukesh Chand Mathur) 1st started as a singer after being inspired from K.L. Saigal. His 1st song was “Dil jalta hai to jalne do” and he got the ultimate compliment from K.L.Saigal who said when he heard it that he did not remember singing the song.
Mukesh was the voice of Raj Kapoor, so much so that when he moved on at the young age of 53, Raj Kapoor broke down and said,”mein ne apni awaaz kho diya hai” ( I have lost my voice). They were part of a group of close friends and Raj Kapoor was devastated that his third close friend had moved on. In his words “When Shailendra left us (lyricist Shailendra) I felt that i lost an arm. When Jaikishen ( One half of music director duo Shankar Jaikishen) passed away, i lost another arm. But when Mukesh passed away, meri jaan hi chali gayee, ( I lost my life). I am the body, my soul was Mukesh.”
Kidar Sharma’s Neel Kamal was the first movie of Raj Kapoor and Mukesh sang in it. He was just 24 and Raj Kapoor was just 23. Mukesh sang in Raj Kapoor’s 1st movie as director, Aag and also in Barsaat. Reportedly, the song Chhod gaye Balaam in Barsaat bonded them together and they were inseparable thereafter.
An anecdote on the simplicity of Mukesh is heartwarming. Mukesh was a frequent visitor to Shirdi. Once on a visit to Shirdi, he was in a tonga and the tongawala, who did not know Mukesh, kept on singing sad Mukesh songs. Mukesh asked, “Who is this singer? Why are you singing his songs only and that too only sad ones? Sing some happy songs”. The tongawala said, “You can get off my tonga if you want but I will sing these only!!” Mukesh said “Ok, Ok”.
He then asked the tongawala to come to Mumbai with him for a week. The tongawala said, “What will my family eat? They depend on my daily earnings”. Mukesh bought rations for 7 days for his family and then brought the unknown tongawala to Mumbai. He still did not know who Mukesh was! After reaching his house, Mukesh took bath and then went to the studio along with the tongawala. Amazed, the tongawala asked Mukesh who he was. Mukesh revealed his identity by saying, “I am the same singer whose sad songs you sing!!” The tongawala fell at his feet. Mukesh embraced him and said, “We are known because of fans like you”.
For the next 7 days the tongawala stayed with Mukesh and did sightseeing. Not only that, Mukesh also took care of his kids’ education and now they are all well settled and established engineers!!
What a great personality was the legendary Mukesh and what terrific songs he gave us. No wonder we remember him today too 43 years after he moved on when he was only 53.