Late Raj Kapoor was one actor-filmmaker who was considered the true showman of Indian cinema. His direction, storytelling, left everyone spellbound. And of course, while we speak of his movies, one cannot ignore the mesmerising music in those. Many would know that Late singer Mukesh was the voice of Raj Kapoor in most of his movies. In fact, when the singer passed away in the year 1976, the actor burst into tears and said, “I have lost my voice.” Such was the bond shared between the two.
However, not many would be aware that there was one more popular singer at that time with whom Raj Kapoor wished to collaborate with. And that was none other than Mahendra Kapoor, the man behind the popular song ‘Mere Desh Ki Dharti’ from 1967 movie ‘Upkar’. Will you believe if we told you that Raj once burnt his hand, striving to remember a promise that he made to the singer, a promise to work with him? (Also Read: Did you know? Late Raj Kapoor had a loving nickname for grandson Ranbir Kapoor)
In one of his interviews, Ruhan Kapoor, singer Mahendra Kapoor’s son, shared this unforgettable incident, which was narrated to him by his late father. This was when Mahendra Kapoor had went with Raj Kapoor for a show in Tashkent, in Russia.
Ruhan said, “Rajsaab asked him whether he would play the harmonium when he sang his songs. My father agreed, so as decided, my father played the harmonium and Rajsaab sang his songs. People applauded; Rajsaab was a demi-god in Russia. My father’s song ‘Neele Gagan Ke Tale’ was a huge hit in Russia. He asked someone to translate the song into Russian and memorised it. After Rajsaab left the stage, my father started singing ‘Neele Gagan Ke Tale’ in Russian! People there went mad, and they began calling out my father’s name and cheering for him. Rajsaab heard the noise and wanted to see who was so popular.”
On seeing Mahendra Kapoor performing on the stage, Raj Kapoor had said to the singer, “Sirf ek Kapoor he doosre Kapoor ko maat de sakta hai”.
And while returning from Tashkent, Raj Kapoor expressed his desire to work with Mahendra but said that he won’t be able to give him the songs picturised on him, as Mukesh used to sing those. The singer knew that and was fine with it as Mukesh was his good friend. But, Raj gave him another offer saying, “There are second heroes in my films for whom you can sing. I can give you those songs. Henceforth, all my second hero songs, only you will sing.”
Singer Mahendra Kapoor pulled his leg a bit saying, “Paaji, you are such a big man, once you reach India, you will forget you ever told me this.” To which, Raj Kapoor replied, “Mahendra, you think like this of me?” He then took the cigarette he was smoking and burnt his hand saying, “This mark will remind me that I have to give you songs.”
And the showman kept his promise. He gave the song ‘Har Dil Jo Pyaar Karega’ from his film ‘Sangam’ to Mahendra Kapoor which was picturised on Raj Kapoor, Vyjayanthimala and Rajendra Kumar (whose playback was done by Kapoor).
Indeed, it was a mark to remember.