Indo-Caribbeans Pay Tribute to Mukesh at N.Y Concert

Indo-Caribbeans Pay Tribute to Mukesh at N.Y Concert

Photo : NItin Mukesh receives plaque from Ramesh Kalicharran of the 100th Indentured Anniversary Foundation.

The Indo-Caribbean community in the US paid tribute to late iconic singer of India, Mukesh (Chand Mathur), at a concert featuring his son Nitin Mukesh last Saturday May 20 at the Hindu Temple Auditorium in Flushing. The honor was conferred by the 100th Indentured Anniversary Foundation founded by Dr Tara Singh, Dr Vishnu Bisram, Dr Satish Prakash, Ramesh Kalicharran, Pt. Baya, Pt. Phagu, and others.

Mukesh was loved by Indo-Caribbean people who flocked to his concerts in the Caribbean and in London and North America during the 1970s. Since his death in 1976, his son, Nitin, has been entertaining large crowds in the Caribbean, UK and North America belching popular evergreen hits of his late father.

Along with the great Mohammad Rafi, Manna Dey and Kishore Kumar, Mukesh was one of the most popular and legendary male singers of his era. Lata was the Queen of Bollywood music industry at the time. Her sister Asha Bhosle also ruled the music industry as did sister Usha Mangeshkar.

Mukesh died of a heart attack on 27 August 1976 in Detroit, Michigan, where he had gone to perform in a concert; large numbers of Indians lived in Detroit at the time. Lata Mangeshwar was co-singer and the concert proceeded without Mukesh; his young son Nitin filled in for his father. Mukesh’s body was flown to India by Lata, where a grand funeral ceremony was held in the presence of leading actors, with personalities of the Indian film industry and fans paying tribute. On news of Mukesh’s death, legendary actor Raj Kapoor burst into tears, remarking, "I have lost my voice. This is a telling testimony of the association of Mukesh's voice (in playback) to the immensely popular songs of Raj Kapoor's films, indeed the entire film industry.

The Flushing concert, organized and promoted by KK Entertainment in association with Om Entertainment, was a tribute to Mukesh-ji to remember him on the occasion of the 40th anniversary since his death. Air India was a Platinum Sponsor of the concert. This year also coincides with 100th anniversary of end of indenture and Mr. Ramesh Kalicharran conceived the idea to honour the great singer and it was supported by the members of the 100th Indentureship Anniversary Foundation. The group says it is pleased to be part of the remembrance event to recognize and honour this cultural legend of the music industry on behalf of the Indo-Caribbean to give a plaque.

Kali said Mukesh was a great singer of few equals and Guyanese memorized the lyrics of his songs. Mukesh was a playback singer of popular Hindi films since the 1940s. His most liked hits were in the 1969s and 1970s. According to Kali, listeners used to tune in to the radio to listen to Mukesh songs during Indian programs. There was no Indian radio program without a Mukesh song. His songs were also popular at Indian weddings and concerts.

The Flushing concert was a sold out event. And those who attended said it was an experience of a lifetime. It was money’s worth. It was a night of joy, memories, and remembrance as Nitin himself paid tribute to his legendary father by singing some of the popular old time hits rendered by Mukesh-ji in Bollywood films. Tears flowed from many eyes as Nitin sang countless classic hits. Nitin-ji cancelled the intermission break and sang continuously throughout the night for four hours without a break with the concert going beyond the schedule time. The 67 year old singer left the stage and came among the crowd mingling with them and singing among and with them. He even strolled in the balcony (lower cost seats) mixing with the audience there. The congregation sang along with Nitin during the event.

Nitin was accompanied by a band of only very talented musicians who were fantastic. Many said the small band of a keyboard synthsiser, lead/rhythm guitar, tabla, dholak, dafli, drums, tumba drums, octopad and percussion sounded like a symphony orchestra.

It was nostalgic. Many Indo-Caribbeans said the singing and the voice brought back memories. Many Indo-Caribbeans describe Mukesh as their favorite singer with some saying he was the greatest Bollywood singer of his time. He had thousands of recordings.

Mukesh toured Guyana in April 1968. There were jam packed crowds everywhere on the Corentyne, in Georgetown and on the West Coast. He visited the Leonara Vedic Mandir and Anna Catherina. Nitin said Guyana was his father’s most favorite country because of the warm hospitality of Indians.

In recognition of Mukesh’s lifetime contribution to music, and on the occasion of remembering the Indian ancestors of indentured labor, community advocate Ramesh Dalchand Kalicharran (Kali) presented a beautiful award to Nitin-ji. The honor also recognizes Nitin for carrying on in his father’s footsteps.

Kali said it was a fantastic concert, among the best he attended. He also said Jagjit Singh, Lata, Asha, Manna Dey, and Anup Jalota also had exhilarating concerts in NYC and in the Caribbean and that were also well appreciated by Indo-Caribbeans. All of those singers had enormous respect for Mukesh-ji.

The large Indo-Caribbean presence in Flushing had only positive remarks of the night’s entertainment of melodious singing of Nitin.

Kali noted this was not the first time that he met with Nitin-ji. Nitin recall pleasantly their 2013 get together in Mumbai during his “KALI BHARAT YATRA”. Kali rated Guyanese born Devindra Pooran as the Caribbean Mukesh. Devendra met Nitin at the Bombay Press Club and they both sang hitss of Mukesh. At the end of that program Nitin showered praises on Devindra Pooran. Nitin said: “I could not believe a person can sing so close to my father.”