I recently heard a joke on a reality show which went something like: Jo jeetega wo Singapore jayega, jo harega wo Mukesh ka gana gayega. I found the joke quite neat, though I did not agree with the underlying premise. I do not view a song as a happy or sad song. Great songs are beyond this classification. How do you describe Amir Khusro’s Aaj rang hai or Main to piya se naina mila ayee re. These songs are of joy and union between two lovers. But every time you hear Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan or anyone sing them, it brings tears to your eyes. But deferring to the popular stereotype of Mukesh as a singer of ‘sad’ songs, here is my tribute to him on his death anniversary August 27 with a compilation of my favourite ten ‘happy’ songs of Mukesh.
1. Zulfon ka rangeen saya from Anjaam (1968), lyrics Qamar Jalalabadi, music Ganesh
It does not get more exuberant than this. Feroze Khan in turtleneck sweater is cavourting around Shahida with gay abandon. But she looks quite stiff, I guess because she has been made to wear revealing clothes by the director against her wish. They are quite unmindful of being watched upon by another couple, perhaps a private detective hired to spy upon them. The detective off and on covers his face, unable to witness such unrestrained flirting. This is my top Mukesh happy song even though coming from a B-grade film from an obscure music director. Ganesh was the younger brother of Pyarelal, the famed Laxmikant Pyarelal duo. He was a highly talented composer as this song shows, but could not grow under the shadow of the big banyan tree of the elder brother.
2. Teri nigahoon pe mar mar gaye hum from Sahbnam (1964), lyrics Jawed Anwar, music Usha Khanna
This is a fabulous racy song by Mukesh picturised on Mehmood and Vijaylaxmi, an actress from South. While Vijaylaxmi looks quite inhibited, Mehmood is completely unrestrained. You can see his beautiful thumkas. Though he was the hero in this film, as he was in many films, this song shows he was destined to become a great comedian.
3. Dum dum diga diga from Chhalia (1960), music Qamar Jalalabadi, music Kalyanji Anandji
This is one of the best singing in the rain by Raj Kapoor. He dances, as best as he can, splashes in puddles of water, plays around with the umbrella, climbs up the ladder on to the straw-roof. This has the power to make him intoxicated without drinking. Some of the best Mukesh songs are given by KA, who have been assisted by Laxmikant Pyarelal in this film. In late 60s LP would emerge as one of the most dominant composers in Hindi films, and would rule the roost with their mentor KA in 1970s.
4. Ruk ja O janewali from Kanhaiya (1959), lyrics Shailendra, music Shankar Jaikishan
Did someone say that Mukesh was a singer of sad songs? The famed RK team comprising Mukesh, Shailendra and SJ create this absolutely happy song, though not under RK banner.
5. Thumak thumak mat chalo kisi ka dil machalega from Kahin Pyar Ho Na Jaye (1963), lyrics Indivar, music Kalyanji Anandji
Mehmood again in hero’s role is enjoying the company of a bevy of girls. But his real object of attention is Shakila, who is none too pleased by this teasing song even though it may be so melodious in the voice of Mukesh. In the end she has to relent. The combination of Indivar and Kalyanji Anandji gave some fabulous Mukesh songs, this being one of their best.
6. Suno ji suno hamari bhi suno from Ek Dil Sau Afsane (1963), lyrics Shailendra, music Shankar Jaikishan
Raj Kapoor tries desperately to match the dancing of Waheeda Rehman. He has to obviously give up. But you have a beautiful Mukesh song on Raj Kapoor while Waheeda dances on joyously.
7. Mere joota hai japani from Shree 420 (1955), lyrics Shailendra, music Shankar Jaikishan
An iconic and completely carefree song for Raj Kapoor, as he enters the city of Bombay, armed with his innocence and honesty as his best asset. He is going to be rudely shocked by the cynical and duplicitous city, but he would outwit them all with his buffoonery act.
8. Chal mere dil lahra ke chal from Ishara (1964), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri, music Kalyanj Anandji
We are used to seeing Rafi songs by Shankar Jaikishan or OP Nayyar for the lover boy Joy Mukherjee. Mukesh proves he can be no less joyful for Joy. Another beautiful composition by Kalyanji Anandji
9. Mere man ki Ganga aur tere man ki Jamna ka from Sangam(1964), lyrics Shailendra, music Shankar Jaikishan
Raj Kapoor could not take no for an answer, so he refuses to believe that Vyjayantimala did not love him, but she loved his inseparable friend Rajendra Kumar. By that time his younger brother Shammi Kapoor had become a rage as a wild lover boy. A visibly pot-bellied Raj Kapoor in a funny dress climbs up the tree unseen by Vyajayantimala who has dived in the water far a swim. In a queer mixing of Krishna metaphor, he has carried her clothes and his bagpiper with him (might as well have carried a flute) and, to make sure you do not miss his creativity, has also stuck a peacock feather-like thing in his hair. The prelude music surprises her and then follows this teasing song. Today a lot of things about Sangam would appear illogical. But the movie became a sensation, and the song became the anthem of the roadside Romeos hanging around girls’ colleges.
10. Hum aaj kahin dil kho baithe from Andaaz
And finally this song from Andaaz which brings to my point that great songs are beyond happy-sad classification. Nothing illustrates this better than the four great Mukesh solos in this film. Is Tu kahe agar jeevan bhar main geet sonata jaun a happy song? Is Toote na dil toote na a sad song. And isJhoom jhoom ke nacho aaj a happy-sad song because it talks of किसी को दिल को दर्द मिला है किसी को मन का मीत. And you have this remaining great solo Hum aaj kaheen dil kho baithe with Dilip Kumar on the grand piano in apparent joy, Nargis leaning on the piano, looking at Dilip Kumar fondly and caressing her pet very suggestively. A picture of perfect bliss and apparently a happy song, which you would like to hear in the solitude of night with your eyes closed.