Music is always a spurt to the soul. It is when you go back to old songs, those that you heard your parents hum or take interest in, that you recall what a golden age the black and white era was. Now, if you recall Mukesh and some of the songs he sang, you will have some fresh new idea of the grandeur that was melody in the 1950s and 1960s. There is the very well-known dil jalta hai to jalne de, a song some had for years thought, mistakenly as it turned out, had been sung by K. L. Saigal. Listen to the song again. You cannot but marvel at the beautiful control Mukesh has on the entire song. When he croons, ansoo na baha faryad na kar, you feel you hear the heart crack inside you.
There are Mukesh numbers which will for all time remain classics. In Andaz, it is unsurpassable romance he gives you through tu kahe agar jeevan bhar main geet sunata jaoon / mun been baja ta jaoon. Or close your eyes, imagine the ecstasy of a warm evening, and hum the lyrics of hum aaj kahin dil kho baithe / yuun samjho kisi ke ho baithe. You will either fall in love again or remember the first time you held a woman close and felt the fragrance in her. Mukesh could be flippant too. In Sangam, meri mun ki Ganga aur teri mun ki Jumna ka bol Radha bol sangam ho ga ke nahin may upset a ravishing Vyjayanthimala in her river bath. But it certainly shows the desperation of a young man in hot pursuit of romance.
And then of course there are the songs that push the heart, his and yours, into free fall, in a manner of speaking. Dost dost na raha pyar pyar na raha is one instance of how the heart may retreat into a shell out of a sheer sense of loneliness. In much the same way, when you watch Rajendra Kumar lip-sing wafa jin se ki bewafa ho gaye / wo wade mohabbat ke kya ho gaye, you are reminded once again of the many impediments which come in the way of love between man and woman. Similar is the case with tara toote duniya dekhe / dekha na kisi ne dil toot gaya. In the early 1970s, the song jeena yahan marna yahan / iss ke siwa jana kahan made waves, though the Raj Kapoor starrer Mera Naam Joker was not much of a success. There is again that intensely painful koi jab tumhara hriday torh de / tarhap hua jab koi chhorh de, a song that has the lover wait for his beloved, despite the pains she might have caused him. It is a melody of great sacrifice. He stands ready to take his woman back, warts and all.
Remember Dilip Kumar and Vyjayanthimala sing, in the voices of Mohammad Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar, the serene dil tarhap tarhap ke kaeh raha hai aa bhi jaa / tu hum se aankh na chura tujhe qasam hai aa bhi jaa? Or, again in Sangam, O mehbooba tere dil ke paas hi hai meri / manzil-e-maqsood? There was a time when mera joota hai Japani was sung by Soviet crowds in Moscow when Raj Kapoor visited the place.
In the cold silence of a winter night, say a soft prayer for the heart-broken lover who sings, through Mukesh, the apocalyptic number, baharon ne mera chaman loot kar / khizan ko ilzaam kyun diya.
The writer is Executive Editor,
The Daily Star