by ASJAD NAZIR.
Keeping up a family tradition.
ACCLAIMED singer Nitin Mukesh has been connected to music from a very young age.
He has balanced a beautiful career delivering hit songs with keeping the legacy of his iconic father Mukesh alive with mesmerising live performances.
The naturally-gifted singer returns to the UK this week with two concerts in Leicester and
London, which pay a glorious tribute to his father and legendary Bollywood star Raj Kapoor
with timeless classics and treasured memories.
I caught up with Nitin Mukesh to talk about music, his father, UK concerts and more…
How do you look back on your amazing journey in music?
Well, God has been kind. I have been around for a very long time and started as a young kid with my beloved father. I always had his guidance and before I could talk or walk, I started accompanying him to his recordings and shows.
When I was just nine, he started taking me to concerts to sing. He was a very encouraging, doting, loving parent. From early on, he recognised I was very musically-inclined and I would want to take this up as a profession some day.
When did you first become aware about the greatness of your father?
I knew he was special every time he dropped or picked us up at school because other children would always react to him, and of course the autograph hunters were there. They would tell him how much they loved his voice.
The beautiful part is he never let us be affected by all that adulation. I one day asked my mother is papa very famous and she said smilingly, yes he is a very loved man and singer. So ever since I can remember, I have known there was something special about him.
What do you think made your father such a special talent?
Well, first of all God blessed him with a beautiful voice, which had so much emotion. He could emote in his singing, move and melt any one listening. He was also blessed to get beautiful songs, which is another blessing of God. He did fewer songs than other singers, but each was so precious. So for sheer quality, he was right on top. He sang from the heart and straight into the heart of the listener.
How connected to him do you feel when you are performing his songs on stage?
I feel connected to him whether I am on stage or not. I know there is his benign presence with me all around. I don’t know whether I was the lucky or unlucky one, but I was the only one from his entire family with him when he passed so many oceans away in America.
I got that additional month with him. We left India on July 27 (1976) and he passed a month later on August 27 in Detroit. I had him all to myself. It was as if God was preparing me. In our private moments, he would talk philosophically with me and be so sentimental every day. It was almost as if he was handing over life itself to me.
How much are you looking forward to returning to the UK for the concerts?
I must tell you that one of my life’s most precious and beautiful concerts were the 2016 shows by TLC events in Leicester and London. These magic moments can’t just be wished for and there has to be a divine intervention to make them happen.
I have a strong connection with my beloved father and God. So I do believe the almighty will make that same magic happen again with these shows. I am really looking forward
to this tour because the last time was so magical.
What can we expect from your concerts?
Since those last performances so many have been messaging me, saying they want me back for more shows. So I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am. I hope to entertain to my hearts content and to the listener’s heart’s content with timeless songs they love.
This is an unfair question, but which of your father’s songs do you enjoy performing most?
(Laughs) He gifted us so many songs that it is difficult to choose and answer this question Asjad. But if I had to choose, there are very personal favourites like Jane Kahan Gaye Wo Din from Mera Naam Joker. Dil Jalta Hai To Jalne De is very special because it was the first song he sang back in 1941, and till late I get the maximum requests and loudest applause for this song.
I also love to do his lighter songs like Dum Dum Diga Diga and Mera Joota Hai Japani. I also love Pyar Ka Naghma, Sawan Ka Mahina and so many more.
Why do you think those songs from the golden era have such a timeless quality?
It is not one person who can take credit for a memorable song. Fancy a song being begged for and appreciated nearly 80 years later? It is because the lyricists were legendary poets, the composers were geniuses, the singers were blessed with dedication and voices only the divine can bless them with.
Then there were filmmakers who gave music importance and worked on situations for a correct song. Back then they had a team of people who dedicatedly worked on the song. Also there was a discerning audience who had an ear to appreciate the good and reject the bad, so there was hardly anything bad. A song may not have been legendary, but it was still hummable and listenable. Every song had a meaning and its own place.
The talent during that era was immense…
There was a divine intervention Asjad! All these greats were born within a decade of each other, so there must have been a higher power at work.
Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Shankar Jaikishan saab, Naushad saab, Madan Mohan ji, Kalyanji Anandji, Laxmikant Pyarelal ji, (Mohd) Rafi Saab, Mukesh ji, Kishore (Kumar) da, Lata (Mangeshkar) jee, Asha (Bhosle) jee, Geeta Dutt jee and so many more. That was a golden era.
My favourite song of yours is Zindagi Ki Na Toote Ladi from Kranti. Which of your own songs are closest to you heart?
I also love Zindagi Ki Na Toote Ladi myself. I think that is one of my most beautiful numbers. I also like So Gaya Yeh Jahan from Tezaab. I love all my songs, they are like my babies and can’t choose one.
Today, what inspires you as a singer?
My inspiration has always been my beloved father, with his simplicity and simplicity of rendering a song. So my father will always remain my inspiration as a singer.
But for sheer greatness as an artist and possession of the most beautiful voice in the world, I would say Lata jee will be my inspiration. She is a goddess to me. I adore her voice and can just listen to her for hours on end.
Tell us about your special connection with Lata Mangeshkar…
I had the good fortune of working with her for a very long time on stage. She was very kind and took me around the world when Mukesh jee passed away. I saw the world through her eyes and got to perform at some of the largest venues in the world with her in front of huge audiences.
The most amazing thing about her is the dedication to her art. She is the greatest living singer, but the way she would rehearse, work on her art, her punctuality and discipline in life were inspirational as an artist for me.
Above all, it is my beloved father and his singing that inspired me. I sometimes forget that I have myself sung some very beautiful songs. I am very much a fan of my beloved father first and then I am his son.
- Nitin Mukesh will be in concert at De Montfort Hall in Leicester on November 24 and Aldwych Theatre in London on November 25. Visit www.tlcevents.co.uk for more.
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