An exclusive tribute to the ‘late’ maestro-singer-guitarist on his first birth anniversary.
By Chaitanya Padukone
On multi-faceted ‘late’ legend Bhupinder Singh’s (aka Bhupi-jee) first birth anniversary (February 6th), lakhs of his loyal fans will be humming or listening to his soulful songs or swaying to his brilliant guitar-strumming in various iconic songs.
When legendary singer-musician ‘Bhupinder Singh’ (82) passed away on July 18, 2022, not just his ardent fans and the movie-music fraternity, but even supreme political heads condoled his tragic exit.
Noted Bollywood composer, musician, and solo guitarist Raju Singh get emotional, lamenting the loss of his ‘mentor’. Shares Raju, “Bhupinder Singh, whom we fondly called Bhupi-jee was a powerhouse of versatile talent. Besides being a great devoted singer with a uniquely soulful, haunting voice, he was also a ‘maestro’ solo guitarist. For him, his guitars were like human beings and he emotionally cared for them, like his own ‘family members’. For all the next-younger generation guitarists including me, he was more like a Guru-Guide-Mentor. With his passing away, now there is a huge vacuum void, “laments Raju Singh whose illustrious versatile cine-musician father ‘late’ Charanjit Singh was also a contemporary esteemed colleague of Bhupinder.
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At the same, Raju Singh feels that besides his legacy of popular non-filmy ghazals, haunting classical-raga based movie-songs like ‘Mitwaa Bole Meethe Bain’, or ‘Huzur Iss Kadar Bhi’ and Naam Ghum Jaayega or pop songs like Jab Andhera Hota Hai, even he made his guitar ‘sing’. Explains Raju, Whichever guitar-solo pieces innovative Bhupi-jee has strummed in the original soundtracks of ‘Dum Maaro Dum’ , ‘Chingari Koi Bhadke’, and ‘Chura Liya Hai Tumne’ for instance, are an integral part of the song. Even when people sing these timeless songs they tend to vocally-hum the strings-strum-portions, “shares Raju who remembers Bhupi as a zinda-dil, kind-hearted witty gem-of-a- gentleman. “Long ago, when I offered him a bar of ‘white’ Swiss chocolate, he jestfully reacted with ‘yeh safed saabun (soap) jaisa chocolate bhi bantaa hai kya ?’
Tall, smart-looking Bhupinder Singh (Soin) started off as a talented singer-actor- in the war movie ‘Haqeeqat’ (1964) directed by Chetan Anand and the same song is partially picturized on him and other co-actors The song was composed by Madan Mohan has beautifully recorded voices of four legendary playback singers including Mohd. Rafi. Manna Dey, Talat Mahmood, and Bhupinder himself.
What is interesting is that in the initial mukhda phrase of ‘Hoke Majboor Mujhe’, one can observe that Mohd Rafi’s voice is picturized on singer Bhupinder’s lip-sync. In portions of the antara, Bhupinder’s own voice is picturized on himself.
Explaining this anomaly-trivia, Bhupinder had in the past clarified in a personal –response-post-status on Facebook that “director Chetan Anand-saab tried a few other actors to give lip-sync on that Rafi-saab’s portion. But no one could do that, it is only then that Chetan-saab asked me to do it. And with God’s grace my ‘first take’ was okayed with Rafi-saab’s voice. That’s how it happened.”
At a formal event at Hotel Taj Lands End, where I was also present, even as Gulzar-saab released the variety eight-track non-filmi album titled ‘Dil Peer Hai’ in October 2017, all composed by Bhupinder, the Oscar-Awardee lyricist-director (Gulzar) had reacted. “It was such a delight writing the lyrics for all these songs sung by luminaries like Rashid Khan, Sonu Nigam, Mitalee, and these two supremely talented sibling singers Vaishakhi Desai-Dave and Shivangi Desai. The crowning glory of the album is Bhupi’s amazing composing talent that is so surreal and he has brilliantly composed my ‘blank verses’. Agar mumkin hota toh, I would have worn Bhupinder like a ‘taaveez’ (holy amulet-locket) on my neck, stringing together all his classic songs”, insists Oscar Awardee Gulzar who had also done the ‘naamkaran’(christening) of Bhupinder-Mitali-Nihaals music company calling it ‘Bhumitaal’. By the way, ‘late’ Bhupinder’s son Nihaal is also a talented musician-vocalist-guitarist.
(The writer Chaitanya Padukone is an eminent award-winning senior film and music journalist and author of the memoirs book R D BurMania)