Acclaimed as the “voice of actor Raj Kapoor”, Mukesh Chand Mathur was born on July 22, 1923, in Delhi and left behind a rich treasure trove of songs in a musical career that spanned barely four decades.
The Doodle is largely inspired by a romantic scene from Yash Chopra’s iconic movie, “Kabhie Kabhie”, and shows an illustrated, smiling Mukesh in the foreground holding a microphone.
Mukesh’s voice was discovered by Motital, a distant relative and a former Bollywood character actor, when he (Mukesh) sang at his sister’s wedding and brought him to Mumbai.
Motital arranged for the young teenaged Mukesh to be trained under Pandit Jagannath Prasad and in 1941, he even bagged a singer-actor’s role in a film, “Nirdosh”.
Later, he gave his first playback for Motital in 1945 in the film “Pehli Nazar” and the first Hindi song was “Dil jalta hai to jalne de”.
A fan of legendary black-and-white era singer K.L.Saigal, in his early days, Mukesh stylised himself after his idol, many times confusing their fans.
Later, it was the iconic composer Naushad Ali who gradually helped Mukesh come out of Saigals’s singing shadow and develop his own, independent style given his slightly nasal voice.
Within a short period, Mukesh’s unique voice and style came to be ranked alongside two other Bollywood’s greatest playback singers – Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar.
The trio had a rare recorded number – “Humko tumse, ho gaya hai pyaar kya karen” (Amar Akbar Anthony) – along with Lata Mangeshkar.
Mukesh attained fame primarily as the singing voice of ‘The Showman’, Raj Kapoor, starting from “Andaz” (1949), and later followed it up with a string of films, including “Awara”, “Barsaat”, “Shree 420”, “Anari”, “Chhalia”, “Mera Naam Joker”, with some of the most memorable numbers of Mukesh mouthed on-screen by Raj Kapoor.
Besides these, 40 years after his death, Mukesh is remembered for his songs “Chandan sa badan” (Saraswatichandra), “Chal ri sajni, ab kya roke” (Bambai Ka Babu), “Kabhi kabhi mere dil me khayal aata hai” and “Main pal do pal ka shayar hoon” (both – Kabhie Kabhie), “Kya khoob lagti ho, badi sunder dikhti ho” (Dharmatma), “Sab kuchh sikha humne, na sikhi hoshiyari” (Anari), “Sawan ka mahina, pavan kare sor” (Milan), “Hothon pe sachhai rehti hai” (Jis Des me Ganga behti hai).
There was also the soft, lilting fast but melodious song, “Kai baar yunhi dekha hai” (Rajnigandha), which bagged him the National Award for Best Male Playback Singer in 1974, among many others.
Mukesh passed away following a massive heart attack while on a concert tour in Detroit, US, on August 27, 1976, aged just 53.