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Rajesh Khanna and Mukesh – Offbeat (but not Offkey) Combination

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When we think of songs of a Hindi cinema star in the golden era of Hindi Film Music, we tend to associate a voice (or two at the most) with each star. For example, for us, Raj Kapoor and Mukesh / Manna Dey, Dilip Kumar and Talat Mahmood in Dilip Kumar’s initial years and Mohammed Rafi thereafter and Dev Anand and Mohammed Rafi / Kishore Kumar are the two sides of the same coin. So are Rajesh Khanna and Kishore Kumar!

Rajesh Khanna – Hindi cinema’s first super star! With his unparalleled allure, unprecedented popularity, stardom, and mass appeal, he ruled the landscape of Hindi cinema for several years. He took the romance and pathos in the cinema to a different level. With his landmark films came landmark music, which had a lion’s share in the success of all his blockbusters, with Kishore Kumar becoming his voice. Kishore Kumar was the soul of his songs.

Though he lip-synced songs sung mainly by Kishore Kumar followed by Mohammed Rafi, a few composers thought it fit to use different voices, say that of Manna Dey and Mukesh, for him occasionally. Albeit only a few in number, such songs constitute a class of sorts in themselves.

Let us take a cursory look at some songs that Mukesh has rendered for Rajesh Khanna.

1. Bina Badra Ke Bijuriya Kaise Chamke (Bandhan – 1970)

A frisky song composition by Kalyanji – Anandji penned by Anjaan, this song has a rare sight to behold – Rajesh Khanna tapping his feet and swaying his body in Mahashivratri celebration in a rustic environment. Mukesh, the king of melancholic melodies, sounds equally adorable in this peppy song.

2. Jis Gali Mein Tera Ghar Na Ho Baalma (Kati Patang – 1971)

This beautiful song takes you on a romantic boat ride in the scenic beauty of Nainital lake, which you wish never ends. Anand Bakshi’s words effectively portray the extreme dedication in newly found love; and R.D. Burman’s mellisonant tune and apt orchestration keep on playing on our minds for a long time. With Mukesh’s soft and dulcet rendition, he seems to the best choice for this song – we can’t even imagine this song in any other singer’s voice.

By this time, Rajesh Khanna had already attained superstardom and people were just falling for him. It was decided to film the song with Rajesh Khanna rowing a boat amidst other boats in the lake. However, once people got to know that it was Rajesh Khanna, they started driving their boats as near his boat as possible, so that they get at least a glimpse of him. The song could not obviously be filmed on that day. The next day, all the boats around Nainital lake were hired by the producer for one whole day, and the shooting was peacefully completed, as there was no disturbance. The people in the surrounding boats that we see in the song were all members of the crew of the film.

3. Maine Tere Liye Hi Saat Rang Ke Sapne Chune (Anand – 1971)

Anand, fantastic classic by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, hasn’t lost even a bit of its appeal to date, so hasn’t its wonderful soundtrack by the magician of melodies, Salil Chowdhury. Out of the three songs filmed on Rajesh Khanna, Salil Chowdhury has chosen Manna Dey for one and Mukesh for the other two.

Out of the two Mukesh solos, this one written by Gulzar is a mind-blowing word portrait of the pipe dreams, of celebrating love in the absence of the lover and sweet-bitter memories of the mysterious mirage of love. Again, Mukesh leaves an indelible imprint as a romantic singer, and Rajesh Khanna’s nuanced expressions say much more than the words.

The original Bengali composition based on the same tune – “Shudhu tomaari jonne shoor taal aar gaan bendhechhi” – was sung by Sabita Chowdhury in 1968. Another version of the Bengali song was sung by Manas Mukherjee circa 1970 and the tune was used for another Bengali composition – “Jodi shobaar jonnie shurjo chondro taara” – sung by Suparna Guha in 1982.

4. Kahin Door Jab Din Dhal Jaaye (Anand – 1971)

An evening is a peculiar time of the day. Sometimes it seems pleasant, sometimes it brings along memories and longings. The other Mukesh solo from Anand written by Yogesh paints a mesmeric word picture of such an uncanny evening that evokes reminiscence and illusions. This, coupled with Salil Chowdhury’s musical wizardry and Mukesh’s mesmeric rendition, transports us to a different world.

The tune was originally composed by Salil Chowdhury for a Puja song – “Aamay proshno kore neel dhrubo taara” – rendered by Hemant Kumar and released in 1969.

5. Zubaan Pe Dard Bhari Daastaan Chali Aayi (Maryada – 1971)

This is a pathos laden song composed by Kalyanji – Anandji and written by Anand Bakshi. As poignant songs were his forte, Mukesh is at his best and Rajesh Khanna brings the pang of heartbreak to life through his emotive acting.

There are also a handful of duets (mainly with Lata Mangeshkar) that Mukesh has rendered for Rajesh Khanna.

Hope you enjoyed the short drive through a lot of romance and a tad of pathos with the offbeat (but not offkey) combination of Rajesh Khanna and Mukesh.

1 Comment

  1. Madhupati Sharma

    December 29, 2021 at 8:18 pm

    Whatever he sang for him, they are milestone songs. Mukesh for Raj, Rafi for Dilip and Kishor for Devanand was more a commercial stand to be distinct.

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