Remembering Meena Kapoor

I was thinking of this post for a long time, but couldn’t give it much time as other posts were also in process. It never occurred to me that, I will have to post this after her death, as a tribute to her! I heard from Madhuji (Dusted off), about the sad demise of this veteran playback singer. Though I am not a big fan of her voice and songs, some of her songs are really great and my favourites.

meena kapoor

We always tend to focus on famous and popular celebrities, but forget about the small but significant contribution of others especially of bygone era and never show any gratitude for their work as a part of golden era of Hindi film music. All the singers, lyricists, music directors and their assistants, music arrangers were great in their own way. Everyone did their best for the opportunity they got!

Today I’m saluting Meena Kapoor who passed away on 23rd of November 2017. She was born in Kolkata (then Calcutta) in 1930. Her father, Bikram Kapoor was an actor, who worked with ‘New Theaters’. She was also related to  P C Barua, a well known personality in film industry. So it might have been easy for her to get an opportunity as a playback singer. But later she survived because of her talent. She was picked up by music directors like, Ninu Mazumdar & S D Burman. It was latter who gave her a chance for the film ‘Aath Din’ in 1946, for a solo and a duet (with Chitalkar). The duet reminded me of ‘Gore Gore Haathon Mein’ from Parinita. The tune and the style appears same, this might be due to Bengali folk song influence on both the songs. The songs of ‘Aath Din’ released first, though she recorded songs for other movie earlier.

Most of the time she worked with music director Anil Biswas. He met Meena Kapoor during the recording of Anokha Pyar (1948). He fell in love with her voice and then with her. He divorced with his first wife Ashalata in 1954. Anil Biswas and Meena Kapoor got married in 1959. They didn’t have children of their own, though Anil da had four children from his first marriage.

Anil Biswas gave her chance in many of his movies, though Lata Mangeshkar remained his first choice in the majority of the movies, and Meena Kapoor was given other songs.  She went with Anilji to Delhi in 1963, when he didn’t find the changes in Hindi film music, welcoming and was bored of film industry. He joined All India Radio and never composed for movies thereafter. Meena’s last playback singing was for the movie ‘Chhoti Chhoti Baatein’ that was released in 1965 and was also Anil da’s last film as a music director.

When I heard the song ‘Mori atriya pe kaga’ from Aankhen, for the first time, I was sure the singer was Geeta Dutt. Later I came to know it was Meena Kapoor. She was a great friend of Geeta Dutt and remained so till Geeta Dutt’s Death. The first time they sang together was for Hansraj Behl’s composition, ‘Maine Balam Se Poocha Miloge Kahan’ in Aadhi Raat (1950). After that they sang duets in Ghayal (1951) and Hulchul (1951). Her voice and singing style were very similar to Geeta Dutt’s. (I have many a times also confused Sandhya Mukherji’s voice with Geeta’s voice!)

Lata-geeta-meena k

Meena Kapoor sang more than hundred songs for Hindi films, but couldn’t really make her mark. It was a pity that majority of her songs were for B-grade films,even though she had a lot to offer. She was versatile, but prominent music directors didn’t give her a chance.

Meenaji’s voice was very soft & clear and was very expressive, she proved herself competent and hence she is remembered till date for her songs. She may not have sung hundreds of songs, but her songs are always cherished in hearts of thousands of music lovers across India.

Today let’s remember her and pay a tribute to this great singer!

The songs are in no particular order.

  1. Rasiya Re Man Basiya Re- Pardesi (1957) / Anil Biswas-Prem Dhawan

This is one of her most popular songs and she sang this song in 1982 in a live program (Mortal Men Immortal Melodies) on stage. Pardesi was a Indo-Russian collaboration movie and the Russian version was made in colour.This song describes the aches of a woman who is away from her husband and badly misses him. The poignant lyrics are very well sung by Meena Kapoor and expresses deep grief.

  1. Yeh Sama Hum Tum Jawan- Mashuqa (1953) With Kishore Kumar / Roshan-Shailendra

She is equally at home singing this romantic duet. Suraiyya was the main lead in this movie. This duet was picturised on Agha & Kuldeep Kaur (I’m not sure about the latter) But couldn’t get a video to post today!

  1. Kuchh Aur Zamana Kehta Hai- Chhoti Chhoti Baatein (1965) / Anil Biswas-Shailendra.                                                                                                                              This is one of the best known songs of Meena Kapoor and is really memorable for her singing as well as for the wonderful lyrics. The Ghazal is picturised on Nadira, who performs brilliantly, making it a visual treat as well. Listen to and watch this song and enjoy!

  1. Ab Yaad Na Kar- Anokha Pyar (1948) With Mukesh / Anil Biswas-Shams Azimabadi

In the movie, Anil da used Meena Kapoor for Nargis and Lata Mangeshkar for Nalini Jaywant. During that period, they had to record the songs twice, once for the shooting and then again for gramophone records. Meena Kapoor was ill & was unable to record the songs for the latter and Lata Mangeshkar sang all the songs of the movie. So Meena Kapoor’s songs remained limited to the movie. This one is a memorable duet from the movie with shades of romance and separation as well, I don’t know about the situation in the movie!

  1. Mori Atariya Pe Kaga Bole- Aankhen (1950) / Madanmohan-Bharat Vyas

Madanmohan’s first musical venture, where Lata was not available to him. But then this was the opportunity for Meena Kapoor and she proved herself and managed to score memorable songs for this movie. Here also she portrays effectively the eagerness of a lady waiting for her love.

  1. Aana Meri Jaan Sunday Ke Sunday- Shahnai (1947) With Chitalkar / C Ramchandra- P L Santoshi

The song needs no introduction. One of the first ‘Rock N Roll’ songs of Hindi cinema. This song was not approved by S Mukherji, the film producer, but was shot in his absence and put in the movie. It proved to be a huge hit and brought a wave of such light hearted songs in Hindi songs. It was carried forward by C Ramchandra in many of his films later.

The original video song has been credited by some to Lalita Deulkar, Chitalkar & Amirbai and 78 RPM record to Meena Kapoor & Chitalkar. I am sending the original video as well, and the singer does appear different! Experts can through light on this. As of now I’m unaware of the facts.

  1. Aayi Gori Radhika Brij Mein- Gopinath (1948) With Ninu Mazumdar / Ninu Mazumdar-Surdas

I must thank ‘Songs of Yore’ for introducing this wonderful song! The tune was reused in Satyam Shivam Sundaram by Raj Kapoor for ‘Yashomati Maiyya Se’. The film, Gopinath had Raj Kapoor in lead role. The song is picturised on Tripti Mitra and unidentified male actor.Enjoy the song!

  1. Ek Dharati Hai Ek Hai Gagan- Adhikar (1954) / Avinash Vyas-Neelkanth Tiwari

Just listen to the quality of her voice in this song. She has sung it so well! Full of emotions and the voice is so sweet & expressive. It was indeed an injustice to her that she was not given opportunity by well known & popular music directors. She had a lot to offer….

  1. Kabhi Tum Khwab Mein- Gul Sanobar (1953) / Khayyam-Nazim Panipati

This movie starring Shammi Kapoor & Shyama, was based on a Persian Legend. The song with poignant lyrics is picturised on Shyama, who looks as beautiful as ever! She is imagining him everywhere and desperately wants to meet him. Meena Kapoor has done full justice to the song, excellent rendition. This film had two music directors, Khayyam & Bulo C Rani.

  1. Lagi Nahi Chhute Rama- Soutela Bhai (1962) With Lata Mangeshkar / Anil Biswas-Shailendra

This is one of her popular duets with Lata. A mujra song where her voice compliments Lata’s voice so well ! Both the singers sung this classical based song to perfection. The Aalaps and Taans are in sync too. Just wonderful! One of the dancer is Jeevankala, the other I couldn’t identify.

Have I missed your Meena Kapoor favourite?

Disclaimer –

Mehfil mein Meri claims no credit for any image posted on the site. The images are copyrights of their original owners. The YouTube song links are shared for music lovers to enjoy the songs. The copyrights of these songs rest with the original owners.

6 Replies to “Remembering Meena Kapoor”

    1. I am glad you liked the post. Kuchh Aur Zamana Kehta Hai is my favourite too.
      Such a brilliant song. Sarcasm in Shailendra’s lyrics is so apparent in first stanza.
      Meena kapoor’s rendition makes it more enjoyable!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Rekha's Sousaphone

"Geet, beet, bazao baajaa!"


The spice of life

Evergreen Indian film music

Great film music and great music directors

Conversations Over Chai

A Journey Through Golden Era Of Hindi Film Music

Songs Of Yore

A Journey Through Golden Era Of Hindi Film Music

%d bloggers like this: