Mukesh Chand Mathur alias Zoravar Chand popular as the 'man with the golden voice' was one of the legendry singers in the Hindi Film Industry. His, was one mellifluous voice which had the power to cast a spell on listeners.
Born on July 22, 1923, in Delhi, Mukesh was interested in acting and singing right from childhood and was a great fan of Kundan Lal Saigal, a famous singer/actor of those times. But Mukesh's fate was to become popular as a singer. Mukesh, was first noticed by Motilal, a popular actor of his times and a distant relative, when he sang at his sister's wedding. Motilal arranged for his voice training in 1940 in Mumbai under Pandit Jaganath Prasad.
Mukesh's debut as a singer was in the film 'Nirdosh' in 1941 in which he also acted as a hero, but the movie did not do well at the box-office. This was followed by acting in films like 'Dukh-Sukh', 'Aadab Arz' and some other films that did not get completed. Years later in 1953, he again did a stint in acting in the film 'Aah'.
After Nirdosh, though he sang for films like 'Us paar', 'Murti' etc, his popularity as a singer came with the song 'Dil Jalta Hai To Jalne De', picturised on Motilal from the movie 'Pehli Nazar' (1945). This song almost imitating the legendary singer actor K.L. Saigal brought him instant popularity. From then on, there was no looking back for Mukesh.
It was under Music directors like Naushad and Anil Biswas that Mukesh really blossomed. He developed a style of his own with films like 'Mela' (1948), 'Anokha Pyar' (1948 Song-'Jeevan sapna toot gaya')) and 'Andaaz' (1949). His rendering of tragic numbers as well as light and cheery ones were equally good. He gave his voice for most of the songs of Raj Kapoor and Manoj Kumar which made him famous as Raj Kapoor's ghost voice. His classic numbers include popular songs like 'Awara Hoon' ('Awara', 1951), 'Jaane Na Nazar' ('Aah', 1953), 'Mera Joota Hai Japani' ('Shri 420', 1955), 'Yeh Mera Deewanapan Hai' ('Yehudi', 1958), 'Dil Tadap Tadap' ('Madumati', 1958), 'Kisi Ki Muskurahaton Pe Ho Nissar' ('Anari', 1959), 'Aa Ab Laut Laut Chalein' ('Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai', 1960), 'Dost Dost Naa Rahaa' ('Sangam', 1964), 'Jaane Kahaan Gaye Wo Din' ('Mera Naam Joker' 1970), 'Kahin Door Jab Din' ('Anand', 1970), 'Kabhi Kabhie Mere Dil Me Khayaal Aataa Hai' ('Kabhi Kabhie',1976) etc which are still popular. Mukesh's last song of his career was for the film 'Satyam Shivam Sundaram' (1978) prerecorded but released after his death.
Among the other music directors for whom Mukesh worked with, were Shankar Jaikishen, Laxmikant Pyarelal, S.D. Burman, Kalyanji Anandji, Salil Chowdhury, Usha Khanna etc. He received the National Award for the song 'Kahin baar yun bhi dekha hai' for 'Rajnigandha' (1974) and 'Filmfare Award' for best playback singer four times.
Mukesh fell in love and married a young Gujarati girl Saral in 1946, and they had two boys, Nitin and Manish, and three girls, Rita, Nalini and Nimitra. Mukesh passed away on August 27, 1976, following a cardiac arrest in Detroit, US, where he had gone for a concert.
Mukesh, along with Mohammad Rafi and Kishore Kumar was considered one among the finest and most popular Hindi film playback singers of their times. Even though a number of singers after him including son Nitin has tried his style of singing, Mukesh's immortality remains intact even three decades after his death with his melodious and evergreen numbers still having an impact on music lovers.