Being an ’80s kid, I grew up with the peppy numbers of Udit Narayan, Kumar Sanu, Anu Malik, S.P. Balasubrahmanyam and the likes. But all through my childhood, I was intrigued by the nasal melodies of a guy named Mukesh that my dad used to hum ALL the time.
Poking fun behind his back, my sister and I mocked his ‘ancient’ taste in music, but secretly marvelled at its simplicity and warmth. My dad is the legendary singer’s biggest fan I know, and has always had a Mukesh melody for every situation.
After a Tiff with Mom
Dad is quite the light-hearted Anari when it comes to dealing with my mom, a more no-fuss kinda woman. Whenever he sings this song from the Raj Kapoor starrer Anari (1959), we know that the sea is a bit rough.
For Evening Strolls on the Terrace
In my head, Amitabh Bachchan’s handsome face gives way to my dad’s modest looks (he’s as drop dead gorgeous as most chartered accountants are) every time I hear him humming this tune up on the terrace. Maybe it’s the sunset up there that turns him into the lovestruck poet of Kabhi Kabhie (1976). But he does sing this one especially well.
On Long Drives
I have to admit, I loved the strumming of the guitar in this Ek Din Bik Jaayega Maati Ke Mol as a kid. And I grew up to love its meaning. Though Raj Kapoor and the general picturisation of this Mukesh number from Dharam Karam (1975) still seem a bit surreal to me. But it does remind me of our epic joyrides.
While Getting Ready for Work
Mukesh’s voice matched Raj Kapoor’s mannerisms effortlessly. And my dad’s too! Though I wondered why he hummed this one as he polished his shoes to perfection. But I love the fact that our day starts with this cheerful whistle even today.
At the Dining Table, Waiting for Something Delicious
This song from the Dilip Kumar starrer Yahudi (1958) was strange to me because it wasn’t picturised on Raj Kapoor. There aren’t too many Mukesh numbers filmed using other actors. Nevertheless, my father has great fun drumming his hands like an A-grade Tabla player to this one, as hunger drives us all mad, sitting at a bare dinner table.
Flipping Through the Newspaper on a Sunday
Another classic Mukesh-Raj Kapoor number. No wonder the actor felt that with Mukesh’s untimely death, not only had he lost a friend, a brother but also his voice. This song from Teesri Kasam (1966) made me wonder ‘what was so special about Mukesh’s nasal touch?’ But that’s what my father still loves. He feels it adds a bit of honesty to a fantastic melody.
Apt for the situations or not, dad’s singing made us giggle (and mom too!) and I secretly thanked the universe for making Mukesh a part of our lives. I still do. And my personal favourite Mukesh number is the cheekily innocent Awara Hoon. What’s yours?
(This piece is from The Quint’s archives. It was first published on July 22, 2015 and is being republished to mark Mukesh's death anniversary. )