August 26, 1994 

Mukeshades      by : Raju Bhartan

Today, 18 years after his passing on August 27, 1976 MUKESH is a sonorous legend. But the harsh reality is that we all but lost him as a singer when he ventured to turn into an actor. An anniversary study of Mukesh's most testing years by Raju Bhartan.

Recaal that turning cinematic point in ' Shree 420 ' in which, after Rafi and Lata have taken off in Ramaiyya vastavaiyya, Mukesh chips in so tellingly on Raj Kapoor with Maine dil tujh ko diya ? Well, that was the cine moment that re-made Mukesh. True, Mukesh had taken a flying start in ' Shree 420 ' with Mera joota hai japani one the one-and only Raj Kapoor.

But  before Mukesh came round to the Maine dil tujh ko diya climatic turn in ' Shree 420 ', there was the little matter of Manna Dey having taken over from him on Raj Kapoor most eloquently with Dil ka haal sune dil wala and Pyar hua ikraar hua. Then came Mukesh with his chip-in of Maine dil tujh ko diya in Ramaiyya vastavaiyya and nothing Manna Dey accomplished in ' Chori Chori ' on the same Raj Kapoor-Nargis (with Lata ) in the Shankar shape of Yeh raat bhigi bhigi , the Jaikishan shape of Aa ja sanam madhur chaandni mein hum and the Shankar shape of Jahan main jaati hoon, wahin chale aate ho, could halt Mukesh in climbing on the lips of Raj Kapoor afresh.

Yet what a struggle Mukesh had to get back there. It was a phase in which nothing he did went right. His attemp to be another K.L.Saigal in ' Mashuqa ' (opposite Suraiya) was a move that never got  off the ground. Indeed things came to a pass where, to keep the home fire burning, Mukesh was reduced to singing, in an advertising short ; the virtues of deluux Tenor cigarettes ! Mukesh himself smoked only the best (555) brand of cigarettes. It helped keep his voice in good condition. But no one had use for that voice in 1954-1956 span in which Mukesh compounded his error of trying to be a hero by ventruing into production.

As we stand poised, therefore, to enter our 19th year without Mukesh, we may feel confirmed in our conviction that no one, just no one, can take his niche in our heart. We may reason that Saranga teri yaad mein could belong, in our imagination, to the supermely serene vocal of Mukesh and Mukesh alone. Today, the issue no longer is whether Anu malik is a success , it only is whether he can create something 'all-time' to match what his father, Sardar Malik, did by following up Saranga teri yaad mein (on Sudesh Kumar in ' Saranga ' ) with Haan diwana hoon main on the same on Mukesh.

Please remember that Mukesh produced this kind of result for avirtually unknown music director like Sardar Malik. That he want on to creat the same Mukesh effect under yet another music director wo was never to make good - under Daan Singh on Shashi Kapoor in 'My Love' with never-to-be-forgotten renditions like Woh tere pyar ka gham and Jikra hota hai jab qayamat ka.

When Ameen Sayani's compere - colleague, Brij Bhooshan was introduced over the radio by that emcee as 'Surile Sangeetkar Brij Bhooshan' in B.R.Ishara's 'Milap', it was from Mukesh that Brij Bhooshan, as a music director, got his first and last hit in the enduring from of Kayin sadiyon se kayin janmon se.

As Bipin-Babul made their debut with 'Chabis Ghante' in 1958, it was Mukesh who gave their pair its first hitsin Duniya mujhko pagal samjheya samjhe aawara. And when Babulbroke away from Bipin to emerge as a solo composer a year later, it was again to Mukesh he truned to make his own individual Radio Ceylon mark with Main diwana mastana ho musqil bhed mera pa jana ( in Chalis Din ) .

     Likewise when Satish Bhatia was brought down from Akaswani Delhi by V.Shantaram to score the music for his ' Boond Jo Ban Gayi Mooti ' it was to the vintage vocal of Mukesh he turned for the bountiful Bharat Vyas hit : Hari hari vasundhara pe nila nila ye gagan. And in the same ' Boon Jo Ban Gayi Mooti '  what an impact Satish Bhatia made : on Mumtaj - Jeetendra; with the duet in which Suman went along so dulcetly with Mukesh : Haan maine bhi pyaar kiya.

Yet all these hits came in the years after Mukesh, following being all but out, made his big comeback with ' Shri 420 ', late in 1955 on Raj Kapoor. But the point is that, if Mukesh was again a hit on Raj Kapoor, he had no immediate recording in the name of any hero to follow. The 1954-56 span represented, therefore, for Mukesh his leanest years in the wake of turning a hero.

How I combed the record shops for any new Mukesh number issued by H.M.V. during those, his heratbreak years ! But there were seemingly no Mukesh number being put out in the aftermath of the way ' Mashuqa ' had come a cropper. Yet how memorable was Mukesh's singing in ' Mashuqa ' with Suraiya, under the highly evocative baton of Roshan. Remember their Jhilmil taare karen isharen.

And Roshan's solos for Mukesh, as always, were out of this world, as they came to us in that composer's distinct indiom for this singer of O O O dil na lagana and Zamin bhi chup hai, aasman bhi chup hai. But 'Mashuqa' bombed and how ! " Its fate did not bother me too, " Suraiya told me, " Since I had so many other films as a singing star in hand. But Mukesh, he had pinned all his singing-star hopes on 'Mashuqa'. When therefore, the film collapsed in the face of fine singing by Mukesh, the man was shattered." 

How shattered should be evident fron how few songs Mukesh got after 'Mashuqa'. Just let us take a look at these songs. A full year after ' Mashuqa ' (1953), under Roshan once again, Mukesh was heard at his languorous best in the 'Chandni Chowk' solo : Humen ae dil kahin le chal bada tera karam hoga. It was a super Roshan composition and a super Mukesh rendition. But when your luck is out, it is out. For 'Chandni Chowk', too, flopped like nobody's show business, so that Humen ae dil kahin le chal was heard so much and no more.

Even before 'Chandni Chowk' the odd Mukesh song came into the market. For instance, I went to my reord dealer in Delhi, early in 1954, and he said to me " I have reserved for you a Lata solo scored by Anil Biswas for 'Maan'. Since it's my pick for you, you need pay me the three-and-a-half rupees for it olly after taking it home and playing it as many times as you want. Just hear it and tell me how accurate I am in my preception of your tatse."

I picked up that N50975 record for 'Maan' and felt transported to the seventh heaven as Lata's high notes held me spellbound as Kah do ke mohabbat se na takraye zamana. I savoured the flavour of lata Mangeshkar in Anil Biswas's captive custody, once, twice, thrice... ten times. Only then did I bother to turn that N50975 record to espy what was behind.

And what should I find but Mukesh's Dum bhar ka tha daur khushi ka, jis ko muqqaddar loot gaya. My, this was our own Mukesh, wasn't he ?  But sadly, 'Maan' too, carrying some of Anil Biswas' best tunes for Lata, was a box-office disaster. For lata, like Suraiya, the film's fate did not matter, she had so many other songs to render.  For Mukesh, right then, there was just that one song, so that 'Maan' flopping meant that Dum bhar ka tha daur khushi ka was now here Radio Ceylon, now nowhere.

It was in such a depressing setting that Hansraj Behl, a music director who hardly believed in him, gave Mukesh a welcome opening  whis his contrasting 'Khaiber' duets on Nigar and Kamal Kapoor, rendered by Mukesh with Madhubala Jhaveri : Sub shikwe mite dil ke aapas mein gale mil ke and, much memoorably, Main teri tamanna karta hoon taqdeer se lakin darta hoon. 

The Main teri tamanna karta hoon duet ranks among Hansraj Bhel's best ever, suerly this composer, given his limited tuning with Mukesh, could not be expected to excel it ? But excel it Hansraj Bhel did, this time on Ameeta and Bharat Bhooshan in the voice of Lata and Mukesh : Nain dwar se man mein vo aake tan mein aag lagaye, in 'Sawan'. Lata's Haay rasiya haay koyi chhaliya cut-in here in a style so antithetic to that of Mukesh, can it ever be forgotten ? 

Did Sajjad Husain not say Mukesh's voice is like that of a Parsi taking a walk - that the vintage Parsi goes along supermely nonchalantly without a  care in the world ? That is exactly how we heard Mukesh unfold in Nain dwar se man mein woh aake.

Which is the better duet by Hansraj Behl :  Madhubala Jhaveri - Mukesh's Main teri tamanna karta hoon or Lata - Mukesh Nain dwar se man mein woh aake ? If there is no comparison between Madhubala Jhaveri and Lata Mangeshkar, there is no comparison between Mukesh in the one and Mukesh in the other either ! In both duets, Mukesh is what Mukesh, and Mukesh alone, is in our vocal imagination.

'Khaiber', being a C-grade film, just came and went, Madhubala Jhaveri - Mukesh's duet in it , Main teri tamanna karta hoon, helped neither singer advance. This was when yet another composer who did not believe in him, O.P.Nayyar, had Mukesh vocalising for him, for thye first time, ( with who else but Asha bhonsle ) the hit 'Miss Coca Coloa' duet : Jhooka Jhooka ke nigahen milaye jaate hain. Though Jhooka Jhooka ke was as big a hit then as the Coca Cola drink is today, O.P.Nayyar was to summon Mukesh for another number only some 15 years later.

When this composer finally sent for Mukesh afresh, the out come was the 'Sambandh' evergreen : Chal akela chal akela chal akela. When I asked O.P.Nayyar why he had to wait for a decade and a half to send for Mukesh and then forget him anew, that music director's counter was telling : " What, because of one Chal akela you expect me to give up Rafi in favour of Mukesh ! " 

So disillusioned was Mukesh with the deal our top composers gave him in his most testing years (1954-1956), that he elected to produce his own film - another unfortunate decision. But at least to decision to produce 'Anuraag' left Mukesh his own master. And with 'Anuraag', Mukesh turned a composer himself to create, in his own voice, such 'collector numbers' as Kise yaad rakhoon kise bhool jaoon and Pal bhar ki hi pehchaan mein pardesi sanam se.

These two Mukesh solos were on the N52031 records and I had to part with seven rupees to possess them. The temtation to invest in Lata isstead was terrific, but i failed to buy my own Mukesh, who else would ? And I never regretted buying Kise yaad rakhoon  and Pal bhar hi ki. As I heard them over and over again, I discerned that, while being in as vibrant voice as a composer too.

While 'Anuraag' was in the making,Mukesh got an unexpected Radio Ceylon hit in the form of thst 'Lalkar' duet tuned by Sanmukh Babu for him and Lata : Jis din se mile tum hum naya din laage nayi raat laage. This number at least kept Mukesh in the public ear when his 'Anuraag' ran into major production hassles.

Mukesh lokked a lost cause at this stage when he had his first real bit of luck in three nightmarish years. Salil Chowdhury created for Mukesh, on Motilal in Raj Kapoor's 'Jagte Raho' (1956) thr runaway hit : Zindagi khwab hai. This number therefore, thought not picturised on Raj Kapoor in 'Jagte Raho', must be pinpointed as marking a watershed in Mukesh's long-drawn attempt to come back as an effective playback. Only after Zindagi khawab hai, a number with which Mukesh proved that he could be a hit even without the visuals of Raj Kapoor going on him in an RK film, did the music industry accept him whole-heartedly back.

                 In a row after Zindagi Khawab hai came Ye waada karon chand ke saamne  ( with Lata on Pradeep Kumar - Madhubala in 'Rajhath' ); Ae pyaas-e-dil bezubaan ( tuned by Shankar to be picturised on Jaikishan playing the piano in 'Begunah' ); Kya saath mera doge ( on Prem Nath - Bina Rai in 'Samundar' ) and Mini-mini chi-chi ( on Agha ) with Lata in 'Kathputali' . Alongside the major breakthrough made by him with Zindagi khwab hai, these hits sets Mukesh firmly on the road to recovery.

               Suhana safar aur ye mausam hanseen on Dilip Kumar in 'Madhumati' and Ansoon bhari hain yeh jeevam ki raahen on Raj Kapoor in ' Parvarish ' meant a spectacular consolidation by Mukesh of his new-found re-positioning. Then along came Khayyam, that epitome of our musical culture, to plant Mukesh firmly back on Raj Kapoor, in ' Phir Subah hogi ', with Woh subah kabhi to aayegi, Cheeno- Arab hamara, Aasmaan pe hai khuda, Phir na keeje meri gustakh nigahon ka gila ( duet with Asha ) and Jis pyar mein yeh haal ho ( duet with Rafi ).

But I miss out on the most inportant Shankar number that, in this period, made Mukesh so reasonantly the voice of dilip Kumar again : Yeh mera diwanapan hai in ' Yahudi '.

If Shankar joined issue with Dilip Kumar to retain Mukesh when that hero wanted Talat Mehmood for Yeh mera diwanapan hai, it was again this composer who finally worked the oracle for Mukesh on 'Anari' Raj Kapoor by coming up with the Sub kuchch seekha humne number that so crucially won for Mukesh the 1959 Filmfare Best Singer award from Talat Mahmood.

Yes It was Shankar's masterfully orchestrated Sub Kuchch seekha hum ne ( on ' Anari ' Raj Kapoor ) that clinched for Mukesh that Filmfare award, which could no less expressively have gone to Talat Mahmood fot S.D.Burman's Jalte hain jis ke liye, so poetically written by Majrooh to fo on Sunil Dutt vis-a-vis Nutan playing 'Sujata'. And look how the wheel of fortune turned in Mukesh's favour - he received his Filmfare Best Singer award from no less a personality than Gamal Abdel Naseer.

 Even as Mukesh so pre-eminently accepted his award, he told me ha was actulay aware of the fact that it could have been Talat Mahmood receiving it. Though Mukesh's  Sub kuchch seekha hum ne was on a folk hero like Raj Kapoor, Talat's Jalte hain jiske liye, I remember, lost out by less than 100 votes. And Talat it was who had, when Dilip Kumar wanted him as his playback, let Mukesh sing Suhana safar and Dil tadap tadap ke ( duet with Lata) in ' Madhumati ', arguing that, at that point of time, he had at least a few hopeful films left as a hero, while Mukeh had neither the hero's nor the singer's mantle with him by then.

             If Jalte hain jiske liye had won, it was Talat who would have shot through. That we had virtually to lose our Talat to get our Mukesh back is sad, very sad. But at least we got one of them sonorously back when we could have lost both - Hum to jaate apne gaaon apni Ram Ram Ram / Apni Ram Ram Ram sub ko Ram Ram Ram....