opular veteran singer Mohammad Aziz passing away is a great loss of a vocalist in the film industry. He left the mortal world, but the need for his voice will felt strongly. Aziz had a vast range. He could sing at a staggering pitch. Born July 4, 1956, as Syed Mohammed Azizunnabi into a spiritual family, near Kolkata, he began to sing Rafi’s songs since childhood and was a singer in Kolkata’s pubs. A big fan of veteran singer Mohammed Rafi, Aziz started singing when he was a child.
Aziz, who was known for his love for Mohammad Rafi, started his musical career in Kolkata and then moved to Mumbai. He has sung for several A-list actors such as Amitabh Bachchan, Govinda, Rishi Kapoor, and Mithun Chakraborty. He had also sung several popular duets with Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle, Sadhana Sargam, Anuradha Paudwal, and Kavita Krishnamurthy. The singer has lent his voice to over 2,000 songs in Hindi, Bengali and Odia films. His career began to flag after the onset of a new breed of singers in Kumar Sanu, Udit Narayan, and Abhijeet, who collectively began making a mark in the early ‘90s.
With Mard (1985), Karma (1986), Khudgarz (1987), Pyaar Ka Mandir (1988), Ram Lakhan (1989), Tridev (1989), and then some, he clearly was at the right place at the right time. As the title song, “Mard tangewala, main hun mard tangewala”, hit the charts, Hindi cinema knew there was a singer who could sing for Amitabh Bachchan and still be himself. He sang for every star and composer, big or small.
Lata Mangeshkar has rightly said, “I recall him as a very kindhearted soft-spoken man with a good mastery over the seven notes. Woh sur achcha lagate the (he pitched his voice well). Composing maestros Laxmikant-Pyarelal were very fond of Mohd Aziz’s voice. We sang the duets Patjhad sawan basant bahaar and Naam sare bhool jaaane lage for Laxmi-Pyare. These were melodious numbers at a time when melody was on the wane. I enjoyed singing with him.”
Aziz was a great human being who always met you with open arms. He could sing at a staggering pitch. He had a quite a repertoire of popular songs to his credit. The song from the movie ‘Ram Lakhan’ was one of the top hits of 1989. Although the lyrics “One Two ka Four… Four Two ka One” barely had a meaning, the song attained wide popularity. We have come across many singers who have wonderful voices and can sing well but there are a very few singers who could put life into a song the way Mohd Aziz did. He did playback singing for famous actors such as Amitabh Bachchan, Govinda, Rishi Kapoor, Mithun Chakraborty and several others. In his long career, he has sung many superhit songs. He has sung almost 20 thousand songs in different Indian languages. He has recorded hundreds of devotional Bhajans and Sufi songs as well. Though he has gelled quite well with other female singers, his duets with Anuradha Paudwal, Asha Bhonsle and Kavita Krishnamurthy have been most popular during most of the 1980s and early 1990s and are still heard and watched. His voice had just the right amount of ornate density that was the crying need of the hour. From the flashy rhythms of “Aapke Aa Jaane Se” to the simpering patriotism of “Har Karam Apna Karenge”, from the excited revelry of “One Two Ka Four” to the loud proclamation of “Main Teri Mohabbat Mein”, Mohammad Aziz reflected all that made the 1980s. The songs were well-received by the masses.
A shining musical light of the 80s and early 90s has dimmed but shall never ever switch off. He shall live in the hearts and minds of music lovers forever. It’s a huge loss for all of us and the film industry and may his soul rest in peace. Mohd Aziz is not with us today but his voice will always be alive in the people.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)