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The Multifaceted Bhupinder Singh

Posted on 30/07/2022 on Trivia- The Spice of Life

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8th April,1939-18th July, 2022

The year 2022 has been disastrous for the world of Indian music as one doyen after another has departed from this world. On 18th July, 2022, Bhupinder Singh an ace singer, musician and composer passed away at the age of 82. What a strange coincidence it is that both the playback singers – Lata Mangeshkar and Bhupinder Singh who sang Naam Gum Jaayega…….Meri Aawaaz Hi Pehchaan Hain have bid adieu this year, leaving behind their melodious voices lingering in our memories for ever.

Several rich and well-deserved tributes have been paid to him. Bhupinder Singh holds a special place in my heart. The first live show that I did as a radio jockey in early 2019 was of his film songs. Since most shows played songs sung by the more prolific singers, for my first show, I had chosen Bhupinder Singh in whose case variety and quality mattered more than quantity. It was then that I had researched intently about him. The show turned out to be fine after the initial jitters while handling the console and the playlist software.

As I learnt of his death, I was crestfallen. Singers with such depth, poise and rich voice quality are a rare breed now. I must admit that I do not have an ear for ghazals – especially the non-film ones. My enchantment with his voice is limited to his film renditions. Not only was his voice magical but also his skill with the guitar which he strummed in many a song – especially those composed by R.D.Burman. He also worked closely with Jaidev and Madan Mohan. His teaming up with Naqsh Lyallpuri and Gulzar produced wonderful songs.

The credit for finding this gem goes to music composer Madan Mohan who heard him perform at a party hosted by Satish Bhatia, the producer of All India Radio, New Delhi. Bhupinder used to work with Satish Bhatia. It was after this that he was called to Bombay by Madan Mohan and given a chance to sing in the movie Haqeeqat (1964). He also acted in the movie playing the role of a soldier. He held his own even though he sang alongside established singers such as Talat Mahmood, Md.Rafi and Manna Dey in the song Hoke Majboor Mujhe Usne Bhulaya Hoga. He also appeared on screen in the movie Aakhri Khat(1966), strumming the guitar while singing Rut Jawaan Jawaan in a club.

While he did not perhaps get as many singing offers as he should have, he still left his mark with his inimitable style of singing. He withdrew completely from film music in the 1990s. His focus was on ghazal singing and live shows with his life partner Mitali who herself is an accomplished ghazal singer. He lent his voice to the likes of Sanjeev Kumar, Amol Palekar and Suresh Oberoi in films. He did sing for others but the number is not very sizeable (e.g. for Dev Anand in the Jewel Thief song Hothon Pe Aisi Baat).

As I pay homage to him, here are ten of his film songs which are my favourites; some of these are not very popular. I have left out songs such as Dil Dhoondta Hain (Mausam, 1976), Beeti Na Bitai Raina (Parichay, 1972) and Ek Akela Is Sheher Mein (Gharonda, 1977) and Kisi Nazar Ko Tera (Aitbaar, 1985) that are always mentioned when discussing Bhupinder Singh’s melodies.

1) Zindagi Tu Mera Saath Dena (Bedard, 1982) Lyricist : Naqsh Lyallpuri ; Music Director : Kanti Kiran. I watched this non-descript movie on Doordarshan. While the movie is not memorable, this lesser known song has stayed with me since then. The meaningful lyrics are very soulfully rendered by Bhupinder.

Zindagi tu mera saath dena
pyaar se haath mein haath dena
karz mujhko chukaana hai har saans ka

2) Mitwaa Bole Meethe Bain (Parichay, 1972) Lyricist : Gulzar ; Music Director : R.D.Burman. Parichay has some wonderful songs which are very popular especially beeti na bitai raina. However, this song sung by Bhupinder in Raag Ragesree is so soothing. The lyrics by Gulzar are as usual top class. The word bain (बैन which means words in Hindi) is not frequently used. This song also shows how versatile Bhupinder was with a strong grounding in classical music. The shorter video version is posted here along with the audio link of the longer version. The Gulzar/R.D.Burman/Bhupinder team that was formed in this movie was one to reckon with.

3) Nai Umar Ke Naye Sitaaron  (Nai Umar Ki Nai Fasal, 1966) Lyricist : Gopal Das ‘Neeraj’; Music Director : Roshan. The most popular song of this movie and perhaps the best film song penned by Neeraj is Kaarwan Guzar Gaya whose lyrics are hard hitting. The mood of the song is of despair, hopelessness and dejection. The movie deals with a less explored subject of those times – student politics. It is a grim take on what could go wrong when the younger generation is misguided. However, the movie starts off with a more didactic, inspirational song also penned by Neeraj, sung melodiously by Bhupinder, as the title credits roll down; unfortunately it is not heard very often.

4) Aayi Ritu Saawan Ki (Alaap, 1977) Lyricist : Dr.Rahi Masoom Raza; Music Director : Jaidev. Bhupinder sings here with Kumari Faiyyaz. Set to Raag Desh, this is a wonderful piece sung by Bhupinder, where Faiyyaz joins in. Only the audio link is available, which I am posting here. This classic melody from Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s movie is a class apart. The genius of Jaidev is apparent in this song. Jaidev was a music director with whom Bhupinder shared a very special bond.

5) Ek Hi Khaab Kai Baar Dekha Hain Maine (Kinara, 1977) Lyricist : Gulzar ; Music Director : R.D.Burman ; Playback Singer: Bhupinder Singh (& Hema Malini singing for herself). Kinara has some stupendous songs – many of which are sung by Bhupinder. However, this song is very different. This unique song could have been conceptualised and penned by Gulzar alone. The visual imagery created by the lyrics is so vivid. It is like penning the daily experiences of a couple in love. The slow pace of the song which the lyrics also hint at – kyun? chitthi hain yaa kavita? abhi tak to kavitaa hain make the song very different. As the song ends, Bhupinder hums the mukhda, as he laughs.

6) Phir Teri Yaad Naye (Aayi Teri Yaad, 1980) Lyricist: Naqsh Lyallpuri; Music Director : Jaidev ; This ghazal sung by Bhupinder Singh and composed by Jaidev is heavenly. It is a pity that the song is not well known. The movie too is non-descript. The lyrics are very weighty. He sang this in a programme on Doordarshan as well.

7) Boliye Surili Boliyan (Griha Pravesh, 1979) Lyricist: Gulzar; Music Director : Kanu Roy. Bhupinder sings here with Sulakshana Pandit, another under used singer who was very talented. The film directed by Basu Bhattacharya had music composed by Kanu Roy; Kanu Roy usually featured as music director in Basu’s ventures. The lovely song with laughter, conversation and musical notes, is a pleasure to listen to.

8) Ghayal Hirni Ban Ban Bhatke (Dulhan Ek Raat Ki, 1967) Lyricist: Raja Mehdi Ali Khan; Music Director : Madan Mohan. While the first film song Bhupinder sang for was from Haqeeqat under Madan Mohan’s music direction, he also sang again for Madan Mohan in Dulhan Ek Raat Ki (based on Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles). However, the songs sung by him in this movie did not become that popular. It was the songs sung by Lata and Rafi that got all the limelight. This song plays in the background highlighting the plight of Nutan, who is violated and undergoes great suffering as a result.

9) Thodi Si Zameen (Sitara, 1980) Lyricist: Gulzar; Music Director : R.D.Burman. Bhupinder sings this song with Lata Mangeshkar. Featuring Zarina Wahab and Mithun Chakraborty, this playful song echoes the wishes of those who are grounded. The lyrics of Gulzar – maanga hain jo tumse woh zyaada to nahin hain, dene ko to jaan de de, waada to nahin hain put a smile on your face.

10) Zindagi Mere Ghar Aana (Dooriyan, 1979) Lyricist: Sudarshan Fakir; Music Director : Jaidev. Bhupinder sings this song with Anuradha Paudwal. This is a song again of middle class dreams and hopes in an urban setting. It features Uttam Kumar and Sharmila Tagore.

Bhupinder – The Guitarist

While his voice was honey dipped, the magic his fingers created on the guitar strings is something that not many know of. He was fond of playing musical instruments right from his childhood. He later went on to master the strings of the guitar. He was a part of R.D.Burman’s team and played the guitar for many a song, with great aplomb. One of his best pieces of guitar for me is the one he played for the song ambar ki ek paak suraahi in the movie Kaadambari (1975) under the great musician Ustad Vilayat Hussain Khan. I would rate this as one of the best songs sung by Asha Bhosle.

This post is a tribute that I wanted to pay to a soulful and humble singer and a musician par excellence. His songs have meaningful lyrics and soothing music because of the greats that he had close associations with – be it Madan Mohan, Jaidev, Gulzar or R.D.Burman. If only his talent had been used by others, the quantity would have got added to quality. But then as he sings in one of his most popular ghazals penned by Nida Fazli – Kabhi kisiko muqammal jahaan nahin milta :

Tere jahaan mein aisaa nahin ke pyaar na ho
jahaan ummeed ho iski wahaan nahin miltaa

kabhi kisi ko muqammal jahaan nahin miltaa
kahin zameen to kahin aasmaan nahin miltaa

Disclaimer claims no credit for any image, screenshots or songs posted on this site. The images and screenshots are the copyright of their original owners. The song links are shared from YouTube, daily motion and other platforms only to make the post audio visual. The copyright of these songs rests with the respective owners, producers and music companies.

3 thoughts on “The Multifaceted Bhupinder Singh

  1. A good post, I’m not very familiar with his songs except his initial songs in Haqeeqat and Aakhri khat. And of course the other popular songs that you mentioned and hyperlinked in the beginning of the post.

    Recently I cane to know about the couple of songs he sang for Dulhan Ek Raat Ki. You’ve added one song Here’s the other,

    Zindagi hai dulhan ek raat ki

    And I absolutely love Ambar Ki Ek paak surahi. You may like to add the name of the lyricist. It was penned by Amrita Pritam.
    I guess it was one of her poems which were later selected for the movie

    Thank you for this post Anita ji. Many of the songs which were unknown to me.



    1. Thanks for reading and appreciating, Anupji! Bhupinder Singh is an under rated singer. It is a pity that his songs are not as popular as they should be.
      Ambar Ki Ek Paak Suraahi as you said is penned by Amrita Preetam. The movie too is based on a novel of hers – Dharti, Saagar aur Sipiyan. The screenplay was hers.


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