Resonance of 'ghazals'

Musical journey

Resonance of 'ghazals'

Debutant singer Bhupinder Singh could not believe himself. He was to record the first song of his life for Chetan Anand’s magnum opus Hakeekat along with icons Manna De, Mohd Rafi and Talat Mehmood. Bhupinder also made his maiden appearance on screen in Hakeekat as an Indian army wireless officer along with legendary Balraj Sahni.

He was doubtful if he could match Rafi’s versatility, the classical range of Manna De and the velvet-smooth voice of Talat Mehmood with his inimitable vibrato. As Bhupinder reached the recording studio, he was warmly greeted by Madan Mohan, along with encouragement from his seniors. The song Hoke Majboor Mujhe went on to create musical history. With this, Bhupinder became a household name for music lovers across India.

His musical journey, however, was not as smooth as he thought it would be. Bhupinder had to wait for three years since 1964, his debut, to sing his second song Jawan Jawan Rus Jawan (Ankhri Khat, 1967). The song was not in the original script. Writer-director Chetan Anand had an affectionate corner for Bhupinder.

To accommodate the gifted singer he requested Kaifi Azmi to create a haunting romantic solo for Aakhri Khat. The song was well conceived and picturised excellently by cinematographer Jal Mistry at a Bandra restaurant. Bhupinder rendered it sonorously, making a special appearance as a singer playing a Spanish guitar in Aakhri Khat.

An accomplished guitarist, Bhupinder  became friends with young R D Burman, who was making it big as a music director. R D Burman utilised Bhupinder’s abilities as a musician. His father S D Burman got Bhupinder to render the first few lines of the eternal hit Hoton Pe Aisi Baat in Jewel Thief.

Bhupinder  created musical magic playing the guitar for R D Burman’s grand hit Dum Maro Dum in Hare Rama Hare Krishna. R D Burman did wield the baton as Bhupinder rendered gracefully Mithe Bol Bole for Kinara.

The song was a Hindi take off on S D Burman’s Bengali hit Madhu Brindabane Dole Radha. With Lata Mangeshkar, Bhupinder sang the duet Naam Gum Jayega in Parichay, also tuned by R D Burman. An average song like Jab Andhera Hota Hai from Raja Rani was elevated above mediocrity by Bhupinder and Asha Bhonsle, thanks to a good composition by R D Burman.

The singer was again at his best when Madan Mohan composed Dil Dhundta Hai. The song in purely two different formats was superbly tuned, penned by Gulzar for Mausam and given a sublime effect by Bhupinder Singh. Composer Madan Mohan was a fountain of classical melodies, R D Burman experimented well with Western tracks and beats, and Khayyam was very competent with sober tunes.

Jaidev utilised Bhupinder to the hilt in the solo Hai Akela Is Sahar Mein and the duet Do Diwane Sahar Mein with Bangladeshi singer Runa Laila in Gharonda. Bhupinder laments he never received a chance to sing for maestros Shankar Jaikishan.

He separated from R D Burman in the early 80s. Film music was no more for Bhupinder, as standards deteriorated. He concentrated on modern ghazals and created a number of hit albums. In Kolkata recently, he shared the stage with Pankaj Udhas, Ghulam Ali and wife Mitali for an evening of ghazals organised by actress Rituparna Sen Gupta. He conquered hearts. Resonance of ghazals rendered by Bhupinder Singh never dies.

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