Name : Mukesh
Full / Real Name : Mukesh Chandra Mathur
Born : 22-Jul-1923
Died : 27-Aug-1976
Notable Films : Andaz, Phir Subah Hogi, Awara, Anokha Pyar, Kabhi Kabhi, Shri 420, Aah, Mela
Contributed by : Jagat Mavani
Mukesh Chandra Mathur was born in  a  small middle  class  family  in  Delhi. He was interested in acting and singing right from childhood and was a great fan and  admirer  of Kundan Lal Saigal. In spite of the fact that he only studied  till  the  10th  grade (metric  exam),  he was able to obtain a good job as an assistant surveyor in the department of public works, where he  worked  for seven months.

In  1940, Mukesh had recorded some non filmi songs in Delhi. Then, Mukesh like scores of other young people before  and  after him, arrived in Bombay with the hope of becoming a movie star. He stayed with Motilal, the famous actor and a cousin of his.

His debut as a singer came in the film 'Nirdosh'.  The  song  was "dil  hi bujha hua ho to...". Then in 1944 he followed with a duet with singer Kusum for the film 'Us paar'. The song was "Jara boli ri ho...". In 1945 he sang with Khursheed "Badariya baras gayi us paar..." for the film 'Murti'. By this time he had established  a small place for himself in the hearts of his audience.

In 1945, Anil  Biswas  asked him to record a song for the film 'Pehli Nazar'. The raag was darbari and the song "dil jalta hai to jalne de..."  was a huge hit, popular to this day. Mukesh had arrived. By 1948, the streets of the sub continent were humming  with  his songs from Aag, Anokhi Ada, Mela, Veena and Vidya.

In 1949, came another mile-stone in his life. In the  studios  of the  great actor Prithviraj Kapoor there were two young musicians Shanker and Jaikishen. The young Raj Kapoor asked them to provide music for his own films. Shanker-Jaikishen asked Mukesh to sing  for  them  and for ever afterwards, Mukesh would be Raj Kapoor's singing voice. Films like Aawara and Shree 420 spread the voice of Mukesh all the way to Russia where in the streets of Moscow you  could  hear people singing "aawara hoon..." and "mera joota hai japani...".

Mukesh worked with several music directors, lyricists, co-singers and was the on-screen voice for several actors - notably, Raj Kapoor and Manoj Kumar. Mukesh also acted in a few films like Mashooqa and Anurag, appeared in a cameo role as the kochavan in Aah, and composed the music for a handful of films which he produced.

S D Burman was a true professional who would not typically use a singer if his voice did not match the actor in the movie. However on occasions when he needed a singer for a song that was to  play in the background he did not hesitate to turn to Mukesh. Two such occasions are "chal ri sajni ab kya soche..." and "o jane wale  ho sake to laut ke aana...". from 'Bombai ka Babu' and 'Bandini'. He also used Mukesh in the films 'Barud' and 'Dr Vidya'.

O P Nayyar could not understand the appeal of Mukesh and was loathe to use his voice. Finally, he asked Mukesh to sing a song for him in Sambandh. As was the custom in those days the songs of the film started playing on  the  radio  before  the film  was  released.  As  the  song "chal akela chal akela.." was heard, post cards with requests started pouring in at  the  local radio stations and the song went on to become a hit. The popularity of this song surprised O P Nayyar. This  went  on to become the only popular and hit song from 'Sambandh' even when the movie had some other good songs. Other films in  which  O.P.  Nayyar had a Mukesh song were Ek Baar Muskura Do, Miss Coca Cola.

It was the songs that were based on the serious ragas darbari and yaman  that  the dard of Mukesh's voice and the power of the raag itself came together to produce some memorable songs - "aansoo bhari hain ye jeevan ki raahen...." based on raag Yaman from Parvarish, "jaane kahaan gaye vo din" in Shivaranjani from Mera Naam Joker and "mujhko is raat ki tanhai me" from Dil Bhi Tera Ham Bhi Tere. He was equally adept at singing songs in a lighter mood too, like mera joota hai japani (Shri 420) and suhana safar aur ye mausam haseen (Madhumati) and a whole range of human emotions in between. Mukesh sang several bhajans, ghazals and other songs outside films, too. His recording of the Hanuman Chalisa and sections of the Geeta are very popular. His non-film work benefits with a significant collaboration with composer Murli Manohar Swaroop. In 1974 he received a National award for the song "kayi baar yoon bhi dekha  hai..." sung in the film 'Rajinigandha' composed by Salil Chowdhury.

Two years later, on the 27th of August 1976, Mukesh died of a heart attack in Detroit while on a US tour.