Why Rajesh Khanna – Mukesh combination not tried very often?

Just imagine you have some free time in the evening, and you prefer to doodle something listening some old music. What could be choice of songs? What about ‘Kahi Door Jab Din Dal Jaaye’? A perfect match for the above described situation. I bet you can’t find a better song to play if you are all alone at home. Isn’t it? The song was composed by Salil Chowdhury, and one of the best slow tracks ever pictured on Rajesh Khanna. Lyrics written by Yogesh and magical voice of Mukesh gave a distinct new look to the song. I wonder if the song would have been a major hit without Mukesh’s painful voice, definitely not!

Kahin Door Jab song from Anand

No doubt Mukesh is the ‘Emperor of Sad songs’ in Indian cinema, and not really significant if he sings for Raj Kapoor, Amol Palekar or Rajesh Khanna – actors of different decades. When once Rajesh Khanna was asked about his most favourite song among his movies, the superstar replied, Kahi Door Jab Din Dal Jaaye, though his combination songs with Kishore Kumar are his career best. For me it is not a surprising choice of Khanna, definitely. Salil Chowdhury who is known for his versatility in the composition field had already made in his mind that he is to use the voice of Mukesh and Manna Dey for Rajesh Khanna to evoke pathos for the songs. The script too demanded the same.

The music director of early 1970s who never used Kishore Kumar’s voice for Rajesh Khanna

Music of Anand was released one year after Aradhana hurricane hit the whole nation. The movie was released about 2 years after Aradhana was released, and Kishore Kumar-Rajesh Khanna duo created great ripples in music world. So the music composer Salil Da truly deserves a loud noise of applause who dared to use the voice of Mukesh and Manna Dey to sing solos for Rajesh Khanna, which music directors of early 1970s never attempted.
The film as well as its songs was huge hit despite the fact that not even a single song was sung by Kishore Kumar. The movie is also regarded as the super star’s career best. Kahi Door Jab Din Dal Jaaye and Meine Tere Liye Hi were sung by Mukesh while Manna Dey rendered his voice for the highly philosophical song – Zindagi Kaise Hai Paheli. Yet why I wonder why we couldn’t hear any more songs in both these combinations.

Songs of Rajesh Khanna – Mukesh Combination


Mukesh sang the first song for Rajesh Khanna for his debut film, Raaz in the year 1967. (“Aakhri Khat” was his first release) It was a duet – Dil sambhale sambhalta nahin he sang aside Lata Mangeshkar. Through this song Mukesh proved his versatility to be a romantic singer too, though he is mostly known for sad melodies. After that he got only a few finger-count songs for Rajesh Khanna movies. But all those songs are remembered still now. In 1969, he sang a solo fun track – Bina Badra Ke Bijuriya Kaise Chamke for the movie, Bandhan.

In 1970 he sang the solo song Jis Gali Mein Tera Ghar for the movie, Katti Patang directed by Shakti Samanta which was a huge hit at box office. All the songs composed by R. D. Burman were exceptionally well. Though magic created by Kishore Kumar-Rajesh Khanna ruled box office, the soft song sung by Mukesh too was not far behind.

Jis Gali Mein song from Kati Patang

After the success of the song – Jis Gali Mein Tera Ghar, his song was used by Salil Chaudhary for the iconic songs – Kahi Door Jab Din and Saat Rang Ke Sapne of Anand (1971). Same year his voice was used by Kalyanji Anandji for the movie, Maryada. His song was used for an emotional number pictured on Rajesh Khanna – Zuban Pe Dard Bhari Dastaan Chali Aayi and Mukesh gave full justice to the song.

In 1973 Mukesh sang a duet – Haan To Mein Kya Keh Raha Tha for Raja Rani, featuring Sharmila Tagore and Rajesh Khanna. In 1975 he sang the duet Phool Aahista Phenko aside Lata Mangeshkar for the movie, Prem Kahani, his last song for Khanna. In 1977, Mukesh sang two versions of the title song of Karm – Karm Kaho Qismat Kaho and Karm Kare Qismat Bane, used as title background, his last recording for Rajesh Khanna film.

A strange co-incidence

I think throughout his career Mukesh sang only 8 songs for Rajesh Khanna (excluding title track of Karm). Correct me if I am wrong. Of those 8 songs, the first and last two songs were duets, while the rest were solos. It’s also a strange co-incidence that Lata Mangeshkar was his co-singer for all the three also. He sang 5 solos for Khanna which became extremely popular, comparing his duets.

Why composers never re-used this combination?

Recording studio of Kati Patang

Salil Chaudhary, R. D. Burman, Kalyanji Anandji and Laxmikant Pyarelal were the only composers who used Mukesh’s voice for Khanna. While Kalyanji Anandji gave opportunity to Mukesh twice, other composers used his voice for a single movie. A question which I can’t find a reasonable answer! May be because in the commercial film scene, producers might have preferred to play safe, by using Kishore Kumar’s voice. Demand was high for Kishore-Khanna songs. But we lost many amazing experiments with Khanna songs on screen, definitely.

It was not the first time where producers and directors played a safe bet. Mukesh for Raj Kapoor, Rafi for Shammi Kapoor, Dharmendra and Rajendra Kumar – each voice was linked to a particular face and audience too was not willing to accept other combinations.  Now Bollywood witnesses warm response from music lovers for experiments and no voice is fully bind to an onscreen actor. That was not the case during the golden era of Hindi cinema.  Also, Mukesh passed away in 1976 so unexpected around 5 or 6 years after Anand and Kati Patang happened, and music directors too didn’t get enough time to recreate Mukesh-Rajesh Khanna magic.
As a singer too, Mukesh rendered his voice for only 1300 songs, which is comparatively less than his contemporary singers. But most of his songs were huge chartbusters. He was fully active in the industry since 1941 till his death in 1976 and many of his songs were released posthumously. He believed in quality work than quality – his long-standing career of 35 years is its best example. That too, I feel is a reason.
Like him I too believe, it’s not significant we emphasis on the quantity of work. Though Mukesh has sung only a few songs for Rajesh Khanna, his solo songs shine above all, and the versatile actor himself has remarked his favourite song to the one sung by Mukesh. What else is needed?
Quite co-incidence tomorrow is the 40th death anniversary of this versatile singer who left this world on 27 August 1976 at a comparatively young age, and this column is a humble tribute to one of the greatest music legends of Indian cinema.
Also read about: Mukesh-Amitabh Bachchan Combination songs, yet another rare combo of Bollywood music .
Read a few more topics on Rajesh Khanna, the charismatic hero and the first super star of Indian cinema. Here is the page link. Click on the images to read. 
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A freelance writer and blogger by profession since October 2011, interested in writing over a wide range of topics. Hope you enjoy my writings. I belong to one of the beautiful places of the world, Kerala, nicknamed as 'God's own country'.

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4 Responses

  1. Jaiperkash Harnam says:

    Movie: Karm
    Background Title song, sung by Mukesh ji in Rajesh Khanna movie

    • Sandy says:

      Hi friend,
      extremely thankful for this bit of information. I searched its video in youtube, couldn’t get. Let me know if this song was pictured on Khanna, please.
      I added your piece of information to the post, plz check.

  2. Divyanshu says:

    No. Of songs is less by Mukesh ji because about 6 years of his career was wasted due to some contract he signed. And during these days his career was at peak.

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