Mukesh (born Mukesh Chandra Mathur) is one of the most popular playback singers of the forties, fifties and sixties. Looking at the popularity of his songs, many music lovers believe that he must have sang over 5000 songs. The fact is that in his career which was active till late seventies, Mukesh sang a total of less than 1000 songs. This indicates how many superhit songs this talented singer has sung!
The 1961 classic ‘Hum Matwale Naujawan’ presented the last hit of Mukesh and Geeta Dutt together. The words ‘Mile Bhi To Door Se Hum’ best describes their professional association.
The commons between Mukesh and Geeta Dutt go beyond the fact that the two were among the most celebrated singers in HFM.
Firstly, both were the first singers to develop their own styles, overthrowing the ‘tone of stage shows’ common among the singers of 40’s.
Despite their exalted status, both of them remained glaringly underutilized for wide-ranging reasons such as poor health, personal and financial difficulties and the eternal culprit, premature death.
They came together for the first time in 1947 for Khemchandra Prakash’s ‘Gaon’. Their first song was a patriotic one, ‘Watan Ki Maati Haath Main Lekar’. The same year saw them together again, this time for B Vasudev in the Raj Kapoor starrer ‘Neel Kamal’. The song ‘Aankh Jo Dekhe Hai Dhokha Khai Hai’ was a devotional one. The two voices had so much serenity in them which left listeners in rapture. The two songs, though not blockbusters, brought the pair to the notice of other music directors who gave them sizeable work throughout the late 40’s and early 50’s in movies such as ‘Toote Tare’ (1948), ‘Raat Ki Rani’ (1949), ‘Bebus’ (1950), Pyar Ki Baten’ (1951).
Their upward rally reached its ultimate summit when in 1949, SD Burman called them to playback for Dilip Kumar and Kamini Kaushal for the movie ‘Shabnam.’ Their duet in the movie, ‘Kismat Main Bichhadna Tha Hui Kyun Unse Mulakat Re’ became a huge hit and set charts on fire. By this time Mukesh and Geeta Dutt had already become the most sought after singers in tinsel town.
Prominent music directors Roshan Lal, Bulo C. Rani, Snehal Bhatker, Shyambabu Pathak, Hansraj Behl and SD Burman continued to fuel streams with melodies like ‘Berukhi Bas Ho Chuki, Man Jaiye’ and ‘Kisne Cheda Man Ka Taar’ in ‘Hamari Beti’ (1950) and ‘Mast Chandani Jhoom Rahi Hai’ in ‘Pyar Ki Baatein’ (1951).
Roshan scored a duet in the Raj Kapoor starrer ‘Bawre Nain’ in 1950 which is arguably the greatest Mukesh-Geeta duet. ‘Khayalon Mein Kisike Is Tarah Aaya Nahin Karte’ consummated the trio’s journey to the top. More than fifty eight years later, this song remains as freshly pleasurable as ever. One can still imagine Chand (the hero) and Tara (the heroin) singing ‘Haseen Phoolon Ke Do Din Chandni Bhi Chaar Din Ki Hai’. Roshan Lal, till then a struggling MD, became the top choice of most producers after this stellar track of his.
In the developing phase of Gujarati Film Industry, Geeta-Mukesh gave some unforgettable hits for the industry. Mukesh, till date, is considered the greatest (male) Gujarati singer. Geeta’s contribution to their film industry is too prominent to be overlooked, or overshadowed by any other singers’. They sang with well-known music directors like Ajit Merchant and Avinash Vyas right from 1948 (Kariyavar) to 1960 (Katu Mkarani) and gave innumerable hits.
Around 1952, Mukesh made a decision that didn’t go down well with many in the Hindi film industry. He had decided to go into film production. This led to abeyance of riyaaz and he cut down on his work considerably. This almost put his singing career on hold. By the middle of the decade, he had irretrievably lost his position as the top singer to Mohd. Rafi. As a result of his lackluster approach towards his music, lesser and lesser songs came his way.
Throughout the 50’s, when Geeta was at the peak of her career, she found herself singing mainly for OP Nayyar, Hemant Kumar and SD Burman. Mukesh, on the other hand, got most of his work from self-proclaimed Lata buffs like Shankar Jaikishan, Roshan and Salil Chaudhry, leaving no space for Geeta to chip in. As a result, when the two came together after almost a decade in the 1960 blockbuster, ‘Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai’ for Shankar-Jaikishan, they found themselves at the opposite ends of competition. Still, they managed to deliver hits mainly under the baton of music directors Ravi, N Datta and Chitragupt. Some of those memorable duets include ‘Tumse Hi Meri Zindagi Meri Bahar Tum’ in ‘Apna Ghar’ (1960) for Ravi and ‘Mausam Suhana Hai Door Kahin Chal’ in ‘ Doctor Shaitaan’ (1960) for N Datta.
For Chitragupt, they sang their last duet in ‘Beete Nahin Raat Sanam’ in the year 1961 ‘Hum Matwale Naujawan’. The song went on to become a hit.
Subsequently, Geeta Dutt and Mukesh would be seen in the studio together, but never in the recording room. Pt. Ravi Shankar’s ‘Godaan’ (1963) had a duet by Geeta (with Mahendra Kapoor) and two solos by Mukesh, but never again did they sing together.
Mile Bhi To Door Se Hum
Koi Dekhe Ye Sitam
Main To Jaagon Meri Tqdeer Jage Na
The duo of Mukesh and Geeta sang most songs together in the initial phase of their career. They made a great pair. Their vocal timbres were unique in their own ways, yet they
complimented each other beautifully. In careers spanning almost 3 decades, the two sang just 19 songs together! The excruciatingly small number that it is; it rues the loss of a great opportunity.