For the last 50 years Mahendra Kapoor remained a leading playback singer of the Hindi film industry. He was link between old and new generations of the film singers as he has sung with all leading singers of the past - Mohd Rafi, Mukesh, Talat Mahmood, Manna Dey, Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Geeta Dutt, Shamshad Begum
and Suman Kalyanpur
, and at the sunset days of his career he sung successfully with the new generation singers.
Mahendra Kapoor was born in the holy city of Amritsar on 9th of January 1934. He belonged to a family of cloth dealers. At an early age he came to Bombay with his family. He was very much interested in music since his childhood and character actor of Prithvi Theatres. B. M. Vyas was his first guru in the field. He was admitted to St. Xavier school of Bombay for his education. During his school days, he gave audition of Young India Company and also for All India Radio but could not succeed. He did not give up and continued his practice under Ustaad Meherji, Ustaad Niyaz Ahmad Khan, Pt. Tulsidas Sharma and Manohar Potdar.
Music director Snehal Bhatkar
gave him his first break in a film Diwali Ki Raat (1956). Mahendra sung a solo song 'Tere dar ki bheekh maangi hai data' which was penned by Madhukar Rajasthani. Same year, Mahendra recorded a duet for music director Sanmukh Babu in film Lalkar (1956) 'O bedardi Jaane ken a kar bahane', with co-singer Savita.
In 1957 Metro Murphy singing contest was organized. It was a very important occasion because all judges were topmost music directors of film industry, like, Anil Biswas
, C. Ramchandra
, Madan Mohan
, Vasant Desai
. Mahendra won the first prize in the contest and he received a lot of appreciation.
recorded the famous Sohni Mahiwal climax song 'Chaand chhupa aur tare doobe, raat milan ki aayi' penned by Shakeel Badayuni
. C. Ramchandra
recorded four songs with him for V. Shantaram's Navrang, the songs were, 'Ja re hat natkhat', 'Na raja rahega na rani rahegi', 'Shyamal shyamal baran', 'Aadha hai chandrma raat aadhi'. These songs established Mahendra in the film industry. Noted director B. R. Chopra offered him songs of Dhool Ka Phool and these song proved to be super hits, 'Tere pyar ka aasra chahta hoon' is still remembered and appreciated. The same performance was repeated in B. R. Chopra's next venture Dharamputra and Gumraah. Mahendra won his first Filmfare award
for best playback singer for the song 'Chalo ek baar phir se ajnabi ban jaayen hum dono' penned by Sahir Ludhianvi
for the film Gumrah.
Since then Mahendra Kapoor has never looked back and sung thousands of songs. The most popular films were Kismat, Waqt, Hamraaz, Kaajal, Sawan Ki Ghata, Aadmi Aur Insaan, Shaheed, Upkaar, Shor, Baharen Phir Bhi aayengi, Dil Aur Mohabbat, Doli, Yaadgar, Talaash, Purab Aur Paschim, Victoria No. 203, Fakira, Karm, Pati Patni Aur Woh, Kala Patthar, Noorie and Nikaah. Besides these film songs Mahendra has also rendered Urdu religious naats, Bengali songs, Punjabi Songs, Gujarati Bhaav geet and numerous devotional songs.
Some classical thumris sung under Khan Sahib Abdul Rahman Khan and Ghazals of Ghalib sung by him are still remembered today. His patriotic songs were tremendously popular. Who can forget songs like, 'Mere Desh Ki Dharti Sona Ugle'? The song got the National Award
for him. Mahendra also recorded some disco songs with Musarrat under the music of Peter Moss.
Mahendra Kapoor received the prestigious "Padma Shree' award by the hands of late President honorable Shri V. V. Giri.
Mahendra Kapoor suffered from kidney problems and he died in his sleep on 27th September 2008. He is survived by his wife, three daughters and a son.