Before recording Hoke Majboor Mujhe song, Bhupinder Singh was nervous. How could a brand new singer like him match three stalwarts, Mohammed Rafi, Manna Dey and Talat Mehmood? A discovery of Madan Mohan and Chetan Anand, Bhupinder from New Delhi was also performing as a wireless officer of the Indian army in the magnum opus war drama, Haqeeqat.
He reached Mehboob Studio in time on the day of recording. Lyricist Kaifi Azmi, composer Madan Mohan, writer, director Chetan Anand and his chief assistant, MS Sathya were present along with the singers Mohammed Rafi, Manna Dey and Talat Mehmood.
The song Hoke Majboor Mujhe was a number seeping with pathos. It was a lyrical adaptation of the voices of defeated tired Indian soldiers in the Indo-Sino conflict of 1962, remembering their families. Bhupinder was greeted affectionately by the three singing legends. Before the recording started, Kaifi Azmi, Chetan Anand and Madan Mohan agreed on one common aspect. No singer should try to dominate the others.
As Madan Mohan wielded the baton, his musicians started performing on the Indian flutes, violins and cellos accompanied occasionally by the tabla. Bhupinder put in his best efforts to sing. “Stop” shouted Madan Mohan. He admonished Bhupinder and directed him to be least conscious while rendering. The new crooner was almost in tears.
A smiling Chetan Anand walked in, held Bhupinder’s hand and softly said, “Ghabrao Mat. Tumhare awaz mein jo dard hai woh swar mein lao.” Kaifi Azmi and the three legendary singers encouraged him a lot. Determined to deliver his best, Bhupinder Singh sang his mukhra. So perfect was it that all present complimented him highly. Recorded in four takes, Hoke Majboor.. was a raging hit.
The Rafi Bhupinder Connect
Till today, there has not been another film song so effectively, rendered by four singers. Madan Mohan confessed it was a composition that expressed his personal feelings. Though he respected Manna Dey and Talat Mehmood. Bhupinder’s fascination was most with Mohammed Rafi. He always saluted Janab’s inimitable ability to sing the maximum variety of songs for the largest number of actors faultlessly.
No wonder as Bhupinder Singh strummed the twelve-string guitar himself singing Jawa, Jawa, Raat Jawa in Akhri Khat tuned by Khayyam, he followed Mohammed Rafi’s rendering of Suhani Raat Dhal Chuki composed by Naushad for Dulari, two decades ago. He always touched Rafi Saab’s feet whenever they came across each other.
Performing on the guitar to the bumper hit, Chura Liya Hai by Mohammed Rafi and Asha Bhonsle (Yaadon Ki Barat), Bhupinder minutely observed Mohammed Rafi singing Sajaunga Lut Kar Bhi. He was so emotional after the recording that the kind-hearted RD Burman permitted him to interact with Mohammed Rafi on the art of playback singing for a long time.
Na Kisi Ka Aankh Noor Hun, by Mohammed Rafi, is an immortal Bahadur Zafar Shah penned ghazal from the film Lal Qilla tuned by SN Tripathi. Bhupinder admitted to his near and dear ones that this number inspired him to become a ghazal singer later. He was full of joy when Mohdammed Rafi complimented him saying, “Bahut Khub ” after listening Bhupinder sing Dil Dhundta Hai (two musical formats) and Ek Akela Is Shaher Mein.
On Rafi’s untimely death, Bhupinder Singh could not help crying like a child. He said, “Sangeet Jagat Ne Ek Behatareen Kalakar Khoya Jis Ka Jagah Kabhi Bhar Nahin Sakta.” Forty-two years after legendary singer‘s demise the saying holds true. Astonishingly, Bhupinder also passed away this month a few days before his idol’s death anniversary.