Born On: July 22, 1923
Born In: Ludhiana
Died On: August 27, 1976
Career: Playback Singer
Born in pre-independent India was a child who grew up to be one of the most famous singers that the Bollywood film industry ever produced. Known for his collection of soulful and melodious songs, one of Bollywood's most celebrated figures in the field of playback singing is Mukesh Chand Mathur, popularly known as Mukesh to the common man. Along with other prominent names like Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar and Manna Dey, Mukesh made a distinct place for himself in the Bollywood film industry and created such an impact in the field of playback singing that his songs are hummed by young and old even today.
Mukesh Chand Mathur was born in Ludhiana to Zorawar Chand Mathur and Chand Rani. He was the sixth among ten children in the family and therefore as was the tradition during those days had to put an end to his education immediately after completing his junior school years. Zorawar Chand Mathur was an engineer by profession and it was quite natural for Mukesh to follow the footsteps of his father. Mukesh Chand Mathur shifted base to Delhi after the 10th standard and became an employee of the Department of Public Works. But destiny had different plans for this talented young man. It is said that Mukesh Chand Mathur was always inclined towards cultivating his voice, but because of the constant pressure in a family of ten children, had not the opportunity to do so.
Though he did not receive any formal training, Mukesh made it a point to listen closely to the voice of his sister's trainer. According to reports published after Mukesh was already an established name in the industry of Bollywood playback singing, it is believed that a music teacher was appointed to teach Sundar Pyari, Mukesh's elder sister singing. However, it was Mukesh who became a more attentive student listening and practicing hiding in the next room! It was later in Delhi that Mukesh got his first taste of playback singing when he decided to visit recording studios in the city and get his voice noticed by established musicians. The studio visits also helped Mukesh to polish his own voice and practice playback singing.
Mukesh's chief inspiration in Bollywood playback was the then erstwhile singer and actor K L Saigal. Mukesh was such a fan of K L Saigal's voice that he tried hard to emulate all the skills that he noticed in the maestro's voice. In fact, there was a time when K L Saigal himself could not make out the difference between his and his follower's voice! But it was actor Motilal who first realized the natural talent in Mukesh and decided to take him along to Bombay. Though it is a little hard to believe today, Mukesh's first break in the Bombay film industry was with a bit role in front of the camera. Yes, Mukesh debuted as an actor and singer in the Bollywood film 'Nirdosh', which went down the drains without notice. His first big break came four years later when he was called to sing for the character played by Motilal in the 1945 film 'Pehli Nazar'. The track 'Dil Jalta Hai To Jalne De' played an important role in his career and brought offers of big budget movies which went on to win him awards galore.
Achievements and Milestones
Mukesh is best known for the songs that he sung for actor Raj Kapoor in Bollywood. The two decades spanning the 1950s to 1970s saw the rise and shine of the man who was to be immortalized in the pages of Bollywood playback singing. Mukesh received Filmfare Best Male Playback Singer awards for films 'Anari', 'Pehchan', 'Beimaan' and 'Kabhie Kabhie'. He was also nominated for successive films spanning his entire film career. Mukesh has delivered hits all through his stay in Bollywood, up until his death in the year 1976. But, it was probably in 1974 that his talent was given the best recognition and reward when Mukesh was bestowed with the National Film Award for the Best Male Playback Singer for his song 'Kain Baar Yoon Bhi Dekhaa Hai' from the film 'Rajnigandha'.
Mukesh tied the nuptial knot in 1946 to Sarla Trivedi Raichand alias Bachhiben in a temple in Kandiwali, at the residence of R. D. Mathur. Sarla was the daughter of a Gujarati Brahmin millionaire. Since Mukesh was not well-off financially and had no proper home, her parents disapproved of the marriage. The couple, as such, was forced to elope. Unlike what was envisaged, the couple surpassed all the hurdles and troubles and lived a happy life. The couple was blessed with five offspring, Rita, Nitin, Nalini, Mohnish and Namrata. His eldest son, Nitin also treaded the path laid by Mukesh as he too became a playback singer. His grandson, Neil Nitin Mukesh, son of Nitin Mukesh, is a talented Bollywood actor who has made a mark in the Hindi film fraternity.
Mukesh died on August 27, 1976 at the age of 53. The singer succumbed to a heart attack while on a concert tour to the United States. His death brought about grief in the Bollywood family, who assembled to pay their last homage to the great man. Mukesh's songs have also been featured posthumously in a number of Hindi films. His previously recorded songs were part of projects released in 1977 through 1978.
1923: Mukesh was born in Ludhiana.
1941: Debuted in the Hindi film industry with the film 'Nirdosh'
1945: First break as a playback singer for the film, 'Pehli Nazar'
1946: Married Sarla Trivedi Raichand
1959: Received the first Filmfare award of his career for 'Anari'.
1967: Received Bengal Film Journalists' Association Awards for 'Teesri Kasam'.
1968: Received the same award for 'Milan'.
1970: Again repeated success with 'Saraswatichandra'.
1970: Won Filmfare award for 'Pehchan'.
1972: Won Filmfare award for 'Beimaan'.
1974: Won the National Film Award for 'Rajnigandha'.
1976: Repeated Filmfare success with 'Kabhie Kabhie'.
1976: Died of cardiac arrest.