You are heartbroken, your trust split into million pieces. You can’t sleep. All you want is that ache to turn into a song that will nurse your broken heart. Switch the phone internet on, put on those earplugs, and sing your heart out to the songs of Mukesh. And then see your sorrow drift away into the soulful voice of the Tragedy King.
Mukesh’s voice, like many simple things, reaches straight into the heart. He was known for possessing what is called the ‘golden voice’. When it comes to sad songs sung in a certain ‘mood’, Mukesh had no parallel.
On this day in 1976, Mukesh died of a heart attack in Michigan, US, where he had gone to perform in a concert. But the singer lives on in people’s hearts. A look at some of his songs that cover a range of scenarios and emotions.
There’s no knowing how many broken hearts have turned to Mukesh’s songs. In 1970 film Purab Aur Paschim’s hit song, Koi jab tumhara hriday tod de, lovers who have been ‘rejected’ learn to be open-hearted and accepting.
If you are extremely sad but want to put up a brave front, then the song ‘Main toh deewana’ from 1967 film Milan is the perfect choice.
Failures have the capacity to disrupt our lives, as do failures in matters of love. Here’s a song that acts as a balm when you are trying to stay true to your love in spite of everything: ‘Jis dil mein basa tha pyaar tera’ from the film Saheli (1965).
Mukesh has had a special affinity for songs that described the feelings of heartache. In an interview to BBC Hindi, Mukesh had said, “If I am offered 10 ‘light’ songs and one ‘sad’ song, then I will leave those 10 and sing that one sad song.”
Born as Mukesh Chand Mathur, the singer was first spotted by famous actor Motilal, who had heard him singing at his sister’s wedding. He took Mukesh to the film industry against the wishes of the singer’s parents. Having started out as ‘imitating’ singer K.L. Saigal, Mukesh sang his first Hindi film song ‘Dil jalta hai toh jalne de’ from Pehli Nazar, which made Saigal remark that he doesn’t recall singing it.
Famed playback singer Manna Dey once remarked that only Mukesh could infuse pain and sadness into a song the way he did. Legendary music composer Khayyam, who gave Mukesh one of his most memorable songs Kabhi Kabhie from the 1976 film of the same name, has said that Mukesh will live as long as music and songs in films do.
Mukesh became the voice of ‘showman’ Raj Kapoor, who is said to have remarked upon hearing of Mukesh’s death in 1976: “Today I have lost my voice.”
Mukesh’s son Nitin, who too is a playback singer, recalled the song that he said “described him best” – Kisi ki muskurahaton pe ho nisar, from Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Raj Kapoor-starrer 1959 film Anari. In an interview with journalist Karan Thapar on an India Today programme, Nitin said: “This song… that’s the man he was in real life.”
Views are personal.
A version of this article was first published in ThePrint Hindi. Read the original here.