Tribute to Mahendra Kapoor, one of Hindi cinema’s most prominent singers, on his 11th death anniversary.

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Tribute to Mahendra Kapoor, one of Hindi cinema’s most prominent singers, on his 11th death anniversary.
Mahendra Kapoor, who dominated the golden age of Hindi film music for a pretty long time, was born in Amritsar on January 9, 1934, belonging to a family of cloth dealers. The family shifted to Bombay when he was still very young. Interested in music since childhood, he trained under stalwarts like Ustad Meherji, Ustad Niyaz Ahmad Khan and Pandit Tulsidas Sharma. In Bombay, Mahendra Kapoor studied at St. Xavier’s School Bombay and auditioned for All India Radio but was rejected! However, he got his first break when Music Director Snehal Bhatkar got him to sing Tere Dar Ki Bheekh Maanti Hai Daata in Diwali Ki Raat (1956). That year he also sang a song in Lalkar (1956), Is Man Ki Nagaria Se. with Sabita Banerjee but made no waves with his singing.
A big fan of Mohammed Rafi, he finally came to the fore in the 1957 when he won The Metro Murphy All-India talent singing competition. Among the judges of the competition were eminent Music Directors Naushad, Anil Biswas, Madan Mohan, Vasant Desai and C Ramchandra.
Naushad gave him the song Chand Chhupa aur Taare Doobe to sing for Sohni Mahiwal (1958) starring Bharat Bhushan and Nimmi, Vasant Desai gave him a chance to sing in Schoolmaster (1959), Anil Biswas gave him the duet Stella O Stella from Char Dil Char Rahen (1959). Subsequently, the song from V.Shantaram’s Navrang, “Aadha hai chandrama raat aadhi” sung under the baton of C.Ramchandra became a hit, as did Dhool ke phool numbers like Tere pyar ka aasra chahata hoon”, sung under the baton of N. Dutta for B.R. Chopra. Then, came songs like Chalo Ek Bar Chalo (Gumraah), Neele Gagan Ke Tale (Humraaz) and many others, which made him a household name.
In a career spanning five decades, his repertoire extended to songs in Hindi as well as various regional languages. His name however became most closely associated with patriotic songs including ‘Mere Desh Ki Dharti’ in Manoj Kumar’s film Upkaar. His voice has always been associated with Manoj Kumar. His many songs filmed on Manoj Kumar, most of them patriotic are a lot popular. He was a religious soul and had sung many Bhajans too.
Apart from his National and Filmfare Awards, Mahendra Kapoor was a recipient of the Padma Shri from the Government of India and the Lata Mangeshkar Award from the Government of Madhya Pradesh. He also won the Punjab State award thrice and the Gujarat State Award an incredible six years in a row!
Mesmerizing the nation with his melodious voice for more than five decades, he died of a heart attack at the age of 74 on September 27, 2008 in Mumbai.
Mahendra Kapoor is no more but his songs like ‘Mere Desh Ki Dharthi’ will keep him alive in the hearts of countless music lovers across generations.

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Celebrating Cinema

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