From a person, who didn’t understand Hindi, I came a long way to be asked, “Are you from Bihar”? Though I spent most of the last quarter century in Maharashtra or twenty years, to be precise, I couldn’t become fluent in Marathi, despite no reservations from my side. But, I learnt Hindi. And the credit goes to Mukesh Chand Mathur or Mukesh, the singer.
Of course, I was fond of music, especially the filmy one. Before tuning into Mukesh, my favourite singers were Ghantasala Venkateswara Rao, (who sang the original of ‘Sawan ka Mahina’ in Telugu) and Yesudas.
I still remember after listening to Mukesh songs I used to ask my friends meaning of each and every word. There was no doubt that most of his songs opulent in literature that complemented his rich, soft voice that was full of expressions. Whether it was a romantic song like ‘Kabhi Kabhi Mere Dil Mein” or a sad song like “Waqt Karta jo Wafa” or a philosophical one like “Duniya Bananewale”, the voice of Mukesh made these songs immortal.
Though he sung few songs in comparison with Rafi and Kishore, it is not untrue that the hit percentage of his songs was more. Fans of Mukesh may be in less numbers, but like the fans of Rahul Dravid (I’m one) they defend like a wall.
The general remark on Mukesh songs was that most of them are ‘sad’. I think the correct adjective would be ‘tragic’. The melancholy in his voice pierces the heart like a sharp stiletto.
“शाक से टूट के गुलशन भी कभी खिलते हैं ,
रात और दिन भी ज़माने में कभी मिलते हैं ,
भूलजा जाने दे तक़दीर से तकरार न कर” the sane advise would drive the listener insane.
In fact the melancholy in his voice let me formulate “One who doesn’t understand sorrow can never understand what happiness is”. Anyway, the cheerful voice of Mukesh in “जोश-ए-जवानी हाय रे हाय” or “मेरा जूता है जापानी” or the more naughty “बिना बद्र के बीजहुरिया कैसे छमके” would always lift the mood of the listener. I am afraid the list would be too long to quote here, if examples of his songs denoting all moods are given.
The greatness of Mukesh lies in the success of ‘Kabhi Kabhi’ the movie that was hit more for the title song that doesn’t exist in the movie, rather than the star presence of Amitabh Bachchan , Shashi Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, Rakhi, Wahida Rehman, Neetu Singh etc.
Above all, the divinity in the voice of Mukesh in his recitation of Ramayana or Ram Charit Manas makes one to visualize the story happening in front of closed eyes and feel the situation. Yes, there was MS Subbu Lakshmi, no doubt. But for me, along with her are my favourite three singers Mukesh singing Ram Charit Manas, Ghantasala singing paeans of Lord Venkateswara or Yesudas praising Lord Krishna of Guruvayoor are also equally beautiful.
How I wish the protagonist of Kabhi Kabhi might be a singer. Then probably Mukesh would sing “मैं हर एक पल का गायक हूँ, हर एक पल मेरा नगमा है”. May his soul rest in peaceful musical heaven.
Meanwhile, this is an awesome playlist: