On this day, July 22, which is the 99th birth anniversary of legendary Bollywood playback singer Mukesh, it makes good sense to introduce our readers to arguably the biggest of his fans.
At the beginning of 1976, a 10-year-old boy from Najafgarh was watching a television set in the lane outside his home. Just then a song, Sab kuch sikha hamne na sikhi hoshiyari, sach hai duniya walon ke hum hain anari, came up. “The singing voice left a deep impression on my heart. From that moment I became a die-hard Mukesh fan,” says Pradeep Sharma.
Today that boy is a 54-year-old man. In the last 44 years of his existence, he listened to Mukesh songs, noted all the nuances in his singing, collected all his songs (published or unpublished), bought more than 400 vinyl records of Mukesh songs, learned to sing Mukesh Songs, performed them on more than 100 live shows and has also formed “Mukesh Smriti Kala Sangam”, an organisation purely dedicated to celebrating and popularising the songs of Mukesh.
Says he, “I have dedicated my life to Mukesh Ji.” So much so that in his career he chose to open an electronic shop in Najafgarh where he chiefly sold music recorders, players, and music cassettes among other electronic goods.
Says Pradeep “I used all my pocket money to buy audio cassettes of Mukesh Songs. Not having a record player at home, I used to take those cassettes to my uncles home, and there I and my uncle used to listen to those songs together. After that listening session, I used to bring back my Mukesh cassette home with me.” He found his Mukesh cassette too valuable to be left behind.
Today he is the proud possessor of 1042 of Mukesh’s songs, including his non-film songs (also Ramayan sung by Mukesh) and the songs he recorded in languages other than Hindi. “Mukeshji recorded 1045 songs in his lifetime. I have all of them barring three. I have searched all over the country and even beyond for these three remaining songs. But now I believe that those recordings do not exist anywhere.”
Pradeep operates a Mukesh page on Facebook, and has got in touch with other Mukesh fans and singers from around the country (and some from abroad too.)
Predictably, Pradeep is celebrating the 99th birthday of Mukesh by doing a programme in Bikaner, Rajasthan, with a group of Mukesh fans. “There will be cake cutting like every year and live singing of Mukesh songs,” says Pradeep.
Every year he also organises a music show of Mukesh songs on August 27, under the banner of Mukesh Smriti Kala Sangam, which is the death anniversary of Mukesh.