Mukesh was nicknamed as The Man with the Golden Voice and his songs are true examples of his inimitable voice. Mukesh was born as Zoraver Chand Mathur in Delhi on July 22nd, 1923. His name is mentioned with the names of great legends like Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar. Mukesh left studies after the 10th standard and got a job with Delhi Department of Public Works. He experimented with voice recordings and at the same time, honed his singing ability. A short biography covering the life history of Mukesh has been given below.
The singer in Mukesh was recognized by the renowned actor Motilal, who happened to be a distant relative of Mukesh. He saw Mukesh perform at the wedding of his sister and recognized a hidden spark in the young boy. Mukesh was taken to Bombay where he received training in music to refine his voice. In this period he even managed to bag a role in a Hindi movie titled Nirdosh (1941), which unfortunately did not fare well at the box office. His first stint as a playback singer was in the movie Pehli Nazar (1945). The song incidentally was picturized on Motilal.
Mukesh had the voice that could paint a thousand shades of melancholy. The way he sang, with the perfect tone and diction, he was considered as second to none. The pain that he had in his voice could not be imitated by anyone else. One could feel the tenderness and joy with doses of hidden anguish in his voice that was presented in a raw manner. He went on to command a huge fan following and was counted as a legend among legends. The music maestro Salil Choudhury praised Mukesh with following quote:
"Each word from his lips was a pearl. No one could sing the way Mukesh did, with the right diction, inflexion and intonation. His vocal timbre was out of this world."
Mukesh finally discovered his own style with the films Mela (1948) and Andaaz (1949). With music director Naushad, Mukesh belted out some unforgettable hits like Tu Kahe Agar, Jhoom Jhoom ke Naacho Aaj, Hum Aaj Kahin Dil Kho Baithe, Toote Na Dil Toote Na. These four solos made him a well-known playback singer overnight. It was in the year 1948 that Mukesh sang for Raj Kapoor for the movie Aag. The voice of Mukesh perfectly matched the helplessness that was portrayed onscreen by Raj Kapoor in the song Zinda Hoon Is Tarah. After that there was no looking back and this wonderful partnership went on till the year 1975.
With Raj Kapoor, Mukesh immortalized heartbreaks and despair and belted out some classic numbers and endless list of hits. The ones that deserve a mention are Awaara (1951), Shri 420 (1955), Parvarish (1958), Anari (1959), Sangam (1964), Mera Naam Joker (1970) and Kabhi Kabhi (1976). His last recording with Raj Kapoor was the song "Ek Din Bik Jaayega" from the movie Dharam Karam. The music was composed by R.D. Burman.
Mukesh breathed his last while on a concert tour to Detroit, U.S. He suffered a massive heart attack. His untimely death shocked the entire nation and the film industry. When the news of his death reached the film industry, Raj Kapoor said, "I have lost my voice". Such was the fame of Mukesh who shall truly remain a legend. There was and will be none who could produce the same kind of magic he did.