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Mukesh Chandra Mathur was born on 22nd July 1923, in a small middle class family in Delhi. He was interested in acting and
singing right from childhood and was a great fan of the singer and actor, Kundan Lal Sehgal. Bitten by the Bombay bug like
scores of other young people before and after him, Mukesh arrived in Bombay with the hope of becoming a movie star. He stayed
with his relative, the famous actor Motilal, and entered films with great hopes of becoming an actor but became a singer instead.
He acted in the movie 'Nirdosh' in 1941 but the movie was not successful. Mukesh later had a guest appearance in Raj Kapoor's
He sang many songs between 1940-1945 but his first well know song was 'dil jalta hai to jalne de'from the movie "Pehli
Nazar" directed by Anil Biswas. The raag was Darbari and the song was picturized on Motilal. The song was sung in the
style of K.L. Sehgal who was the most popular singer back then. It is said that K. L. Sehgal himself when he first heard the
song said he did not remember singing that song and then was told that it was sung by a new singer named Mukesh.
Mukesh later developed his own style which was seen in compositions of Naushad in Mela (1948) and Andaaz (1949). All
his solos in Andaaz were big hits: "tu kahe agar", "jhoom jhoom ke naacho aaj", "hum aaj kahin dil
kho baithe" and "toote na dil toote na". It is interesting to note that though Mukesh in later years was regarded
as the voice of Raj Kapoor, in Andaaz, Mukesh's songs went portrayed by Dilip Kumar while Mohammad Rafi sang for Raj Kapoor.
Mukesh sang for almost all the music directors in his time. Mukesh, Raj Kapoor and Shankar Jaikishan with either Shailendra
or Hasrat Jaipuri produced many memorable songs starting from Barsaat in 1949. Mukesh started singing for Raj Kapoor in Aag,
1948 with "zinda hoon is tarah ki zindagi nahin", and on to many hits. The songs of Awaara and Shri 420 were very
popular in Russia. He sang a variety from easy going light hearted songs like "mera joota hai Japani" (Shree 420)
or "kisi ki muskurahaton pe ho nisaar" (Anadi). He sang the sad and philosophical "jaane kahaan gaye woh din"
(Mera Naam Joker) and fun-filled masti songs like "bol Radha bol sangam hoga ki nahin".
Mukesh and Salil Chowdhury created hits like "zindagi khwaab hai"(Jaagte Raho), "suhana safar" (Madhumati),
"kahin door jab din dhal jaaye" (Anand) and "kai baar yun bhi dekha hai" (Rajnigandha).
S.D. Burman turned to Mukesh when ever he needed a song to be played in the background. Two such examples are "chal
ri sajni" (Bambai Ka Babu, 1960)and "o jaane wale ho sake to laut ke aanaa" (Bandini,1963).
Mukesh had many hits in the through the 1960s and 1970s with soulful hits like "mai to ek khwaab hoon" (Himalay
ki God Mein, 1965)), "jeena yahaan marna yahaan" (Mera Naam Joker), "maine tere liye hi saat rang ke sapnne
chune" (Anand, 1970)), "main na bhoolonga" (Roti, Kapda Aur Makan 1974), "mai pal do pal ka shaayar hoon"
and "kabhi kabhi mere dil mei khayaal aataa hai" (Kabhi Kabhi, 1976).
Mukesh song for Khayyam "woh subah kabhi to aayegi" (Phir Subah Hogi) is just beautiful. In 1976, Khayyam and
Mukesh came up with "kabhi kabhi mere dil mei khayaal aata hai", "mai pal do pal ka shaayar hoon" and
"mai har ek pal ka shaayar hoon".
Mukesh did not sing classical numbers but the emotion in his voice made simple compositions stand out such as "sajanwaa
bairi ho gaye hamaar" or "jaaoon kahan bataa ai dil". Mukesh was good in fun songs like "aawaara hoon",
"mera joota hai Japani", "dum dum diga diga" or "kehta hai Joker". He sang simple compositions
which became big hits such as Sardar Malik`s "saaranga teri yaad mei" (Saranga) or O.P. Nayyar's "chal akela
chal akela" (Sambandh).
In 1974, he received the National Award for the "kai baar yun bhi dekha hai" from Rajnigandha. His last song
recorded was "chanchal sheetal nirmal komal" from Satyam Shivam Sundaram in June 1976. He then left for a tour of
USA where in Detroit he died of a sudden heart attack on 27th August, 1976. Though some of his songs were released after his
death and therefore have later dates.
He won awards for :
1959 Filmfare - Sab Kuchh Seekha Hamne (Anari) - Play back for Raj Kapoor
1970 Filmfare - Sabse Bada Nadan Wahi Hai (Pehchan) - Playback for Manoj Kumar
1972 Filmfare - Jai Bolo Beiman Ki Jai Bolo (Be-Imaan) - Playback for Manoj Kumar
1974 National Award - Kai Baar Yun Bhi Dekha Hai (Rajnigandha) - Background Song
1976 Filmfare - Kabhi Kabhee Mere Dil Mei Khayaal Aataa Hai (Kabhi Kabhi)- Playback for Amitabh Bachan