Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Was Navrang really the first film of Mahendra Kapoor?

Salil Dalal
(Salil Dalal, well-known Gujarati writer, film journalist with a (huge) difference and author of 'Gaata Rahe Mera Dil'- chronicles of hindi lyricists, stays at Canada these days. He wrote a small obit on Mahendra Kapoor for 'Voice'- a leading English biweekly for South Asians of Canada. As a close friend from GenPrev (Previous Generation), Salilbhai has lovingly sent it for us. It's difficult for him to write in word limits of 700-800. But he's tried successfully--urvish)

When Mahendra Kapoor breathed his last breath in Mumbai last week Hindi film music lovers’ eyes filled with tears for a singer who gave them such wonderful award winning songs as ‘Neele gagan kr tale dharti ka pyar pale’. He was considered a Rafi style singer, but had a really distinct voice. Particularly when it came to high notes, many thought he was even better than Rafi saab in songs like ‘Na munh chhupake jiyo’(Humraz) or in the song that brought him to recognition ‘Chand chhupa aur taare dube..’ from ‘Sohini Mahival’. In fact Naushad had booked recording studio for the entire day, thinking that the new singer would take many retakes as in the climax the notes were very high. But the new comer whom Naushad had selected in a singing competition as a judge proved his mettle by delivering the song perfectly in one take.

The competition Metro Murphy Singer was organised by Filmfare had such stalwarts as judges Anil Biswas, C. Ramchandra, Roshan, Madan Mohan and Vasant Desai also had a condition that each music director will record at least one song of the winner. So Naushad was actually fulfilling that obligation so was C.Ramchandra when he gave Mahendra Kapoor two songs in ‘Navrang’(‘Aadha hai chandrama..’ and ‘Shyamal shyamal baran..’) There is a misconception that Navrang was his first film. But the fact is that Mahendra Kapoor had sung since 1953 and his first film was ‘Madmast’(Music V. Balsara)

Yes ‘Navrang’ brought him in to the mainstream where he could be in competition with his inspirational singer and Guru Mohd. Rafi. In fact it was Rafi saab who heard him in Calcutta on stage singing the famous Bhangara of ‘Jagte Raho’ “ki mein jhoot boliya…” and advised the budding singer to learn classical music and try his hand in playback singing. It is really a pity that the singer who was trained by Rafi saab himself and such great artistes as Manhar Poddar, Abdul Rahim Khan and Pandit Husanlalji was not given many pure classical raga based songs by music directors.

But early in his career Mahendra Kapoor could establish rapport with B.R. Films through Yash Chopra. Yashji was persuaded by recordist R.Kaushik to hear this new boy’s recording while he was leaving the studio. He heard and was so impressed that Mahendra Kapoor became the male voice of BR Films. So whether the hero is Rajendra kumar (Dhool ka phool’) or Shashi Kapoor (Dharmputra, Waqt) or Sunil Dutt (Waqt, Humraz) or Raj Babbar (Nikah) it was Mahendra Kapoor who provided them the vocal cord. Same was with Manoj Kumar who had to take up for his ‘voice’ with a senior maestro like Naushad.

Naushad had recorded the title song of ‘Aadmi’ in Kapoor’s voice when Rafi was out of India. But once he returned it was rerecorded in Rafi’s voice. Manoj kumar retaliated by insisting that the duet “Kaisi hasin aaj…” which was recorded in the voices of Rafi

(for Dilipkumar) and Talat Mehmood (For Manoj) be re- recorded. Ultimately the part of Manoj kumar was recorded in Mahendra Kapoor’s voice.

Though since 1999 when his last film Dillagi was released ,this gifted singer was out of the music scene and was more into Bhakti Sangeet mostly Punjabi, he has given such a vast number of super hit songs that whenever the Aarti “Jay jagdish hare…” or the patriotic “Mere desh ki dharti..” is played, he seems quite around. And why not? A singer who has sung

for more than 700 Hindi films with large number of regional films which include nearly 200 Gujarati ,60 Marathi,92 Punjabi 18 Bhojpuri etc. can not be out of scene or ear of a true music lover.

Mahendra Kapoor must be saying to all his fans ….. “Chalo ek baar phirse ajanabi ban jaayen…..” But can this robust voice ever become a stranger?

1 comment:

  1. jaywant pandya5:06:00 PM

    Wonder! We had never read Saleelbhai (Shree Saleel Dalal) in English lingo. It is very amusing that Saleelbhai can write in English in same flavour same greatness as in Gujarati.We missed him by virtue of his articles truly, especially when Mahendra Kapoor passed away.