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Bhupinder Singh The Popular Voice That Drawing Room Singers Were Drawn To



Bhupinder Singh

Whenever one thinks of the booming pain-lashed  voice of Bhupinder Singh  one thinks  of Gulzar  and  Khayyam, not always together, although once,  in a Rajesh Khanna-Shabana Azmi starrer Thodisi Bewafaai, Bhupinder ,Gulzar and  Khayyam did come together  for an underrated  haunting melody Aaj bichde hain kal ka darr bhi nahin zindagi itni mukhtsar bhi hain hai.Today’s parting doesn’t bother  you about  tomorrow…life isn’t that short.

Indeed, life was  not short  for Bhupinder. He  lived a long satisfying life  in a world of music. He  died there as well.He sang some  of  the most beautiful film songs in  recent memory, many of them in Gulzar’s  films.

 I know . You are thinking about Beeti na bitayee raina  in Gulzar’s Parichay and Naam ghum  jayega  in Kinara. In all fairness, these were  not Bhupinder’s songs although he  did sing in them. There were Lata Mangeshkar’s songs.For vintage  Bhupinder in  Gulzar’s cinema please turn to Koi nahin hai kahin  in Kinara. It is  a  heartstopping R D Burman  composition where Bhupinder creates  a momentous  mood  of isolation desolation and despair.

  1. D Burman and  Bhupinder were  bonded  for life. Bhupinder  played the guitar in some of RD’s most celebrated  compositions  including  Kishore Kumar’s Chingari  koi bhadkein  Amar  Prem.

Bhupinder’s  voice, like Mukesh’s, was the one that drawingroom  singers were drawn to. He didn’t always sing in  tune.  But he  never failed to sing from the heart.I remember asking  Gulzar why he insisted  on Bhupinder’s voice for some of  the greatest songs  in his cinema when  there was  Kishore Kumar  to do the needful.

Gulzar Saab had given me a  shrivelling  look. “Beta,tum nahin  samjhoge. It’s  not always  about  getting the  sur right.  The emotions  underlining the song are far more important than technical correctness  in the rendition. In  my Mausam  only  Bhupinder could have sung  Dil dhunta hai phir wohi phursat ke raat din . In Kinara Kishore had Jaane kya sochkar nahin guzra. But for Koi nahin hai kahi it had  to be Bhupinder ,and Bhupinder only.”

I remember asking  Bappi Lahiri why he  chose Bhupinder  for Saiyyan  bina ghar soona  in the film Aangan Ki Kali and Kissi nazar  ko tera intezaar aaj bhi hai  in Aitbaar.

Bappi’s reply was revealing:  “These  two  compositions had  a very strong classical base. I needed  a male  voice to match Lataji and Ashaji’s  proficiency with Hindustani classical music.”

Among the great music composers  of Hindi cinema  , the  mighty Khayyam  was  the one to  repose the optimum faith in Bhupinder’s unique baritone. The  singer sang some of his  most memorable songs for  Khayyam beginning with the  little-known solo Rut jawan jawan in  1966 Khayyam enlisted  Bhupinder’s  vocal  skills  for songs  like Karoge yaad toh har baat yaad aayegi in  Bazar and Kabhi kissiki muqammal jahan nahin milta  in Ahista Ahista.In  Muzaffar Ali’s Anjuman  , Khayyam  brought together the  Bhupinder and Shabana Azmi for  the rare duet Gulab jism ka  yuhin nahin khila  hoga.

Shabana  recalls   the experience with  happiness. “I  was  so besura. Bhupinder Singh was such an accomplished  singer. He patiently waited  for me to get it right.”

While  his film songs often got eclipsed in the background  score—and Bhupinder  himself admitted  to me  that he was  not the hero’s voice—he was right up there on stage with his wife Mitali Mukherjee belting out  one successful Ghazal after  another, the  most famous  among them being Shama jalaye rakhna  jab  tak ki main na aaoon

I met  Bhupinder  only once. He was  recording a song for Vishal Bhardwaj.  Gulzar  was also there. He  introduced  me  to Bhupinder . When  I told him how much I liked  his duet with Lataji  Thodisi zameen thoda aasman  from the  film Sitara Bhupinder in all humility  replied, “Oh, but that  song  is special because of the little  nuances that Lataji brought  into it.”

 In a world filled with self-glorification Bhupinder liked to  just do his work and move on.He  never looked back. There  was always the  next song.

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