One of the most acclaimed actor-filmmakers, late Raj Kapoor, will always remain the greatest showman of Indian cinema. Besides winning three National Awards, 11 Filmfare trophies, Padma Bhushan and Dadasaheb Phalke Honours, the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award is also named after Raj Kapoor. However, many might not know that he had a great affection towards one popular singer at that time. That’s not all. Kapoor also went on to prove his admiration by burning his hand for the singer. You heard that right!
And that was singer Mahendra Kapoor, who voiced the popular Mere Desh Ki Dharti in 1976. His son, Ruhaan, while sharing an unforgettable incident narrated by his father, revealed something which will drop your jaw!
Ruhan spoke about the incident in one of his interviews, about the time when Mahendra and Raj went for a show in Tashkent, Russia.
“Rajsaab asked him whether he would play the harmonium when he sang his songs. My father agreed, so as decided, my father played the harmonium and Rajsaab sang his songs. People applauded; Rajsaab was a demi-god in Russia. My father’s song ‘Neele Gagan Ke Tale’ was a huge hit in Russia. He asked someone to translate the song into Russian and memorised it. After Rajsaab left the stage, my father started singing ‘Neele Gagan Ke Tale’ in Russian! People there went mad, and they began calling out my father’s name and cheering for him. Rajsaab heard the noise and wanted to see who was so popular,” he said.
On seeing Mahendra Kapoor performing on the stage, Raj Kapoor said to the singer, “Sirf ek Kapoor he doosre Kapoor ko maat de sakta hai (Only one Kapoor can beat another Kapoor) ”.
While heading back from Tashkent, Raj expressed his desire to work with Mahendra, who got upset as Raj told him he won’t be able to give the songs that could be picturized on him. That’s because, all his songs were sung by his good friend and late singer Mukesh. Rather, he came up with an interesting offer by saying, “There are second heroes in my films for whom you can sing. I can give you those songs. Henceforth, all my second hero songs, only you will sing.”
On hearing this, singer Mahendra pulled his leg by saying, “Paaji, you are such a big man, once you reach India, you will forget you ever told me this.”
And you won’t believe Raj Kapoor’s response to that.
“Mahendra, you think like this of me?,” said Raj. And immediately took the cigarette he was smoking and burnt his hand saying, “This mark will remind me that I have to give you songs.”
And sure enough, Mahendra Kapoor got the opportunity to sing Har Dil Jo Pyaar Karega from Sangam, which was picturised on Raj Kapoor, Vyjayanthimala and Rajendra Kumar.
Indeed a man of words!