Since the advent of playback singing, there have been some perfect voice- matched singer- actor pairs – Mohammed Rafi – Shammi Kapoor and Kishore Kumar – Rajesh Khanna to name a few, but no doubt if one such pair is to be awarded the top spot then it has to be Mukesh singing for Raj Kapoor. It was simply a match made in heaven. From the moment, composer Ram Ganguly made Mukesh sing for Raj in Zinda Hoon Is Tarah in Aag, they were practically inseparable.
Not only did Mukesh’s singing voice fit Raj Kapoor’s screen persona like hand in glove, but in a way, they both provided each other with that creative stimulus, that extra something to draw out the best in them. This relationship extended beyond the professional need and even in personal life, Raj always looked up to Mukesh as a friend, philosopher and guide.
Aawara Hoon became the signature tune for this special relationship between two great artists. Shankar – Jaikishan conceived this jaunty, light- hearted tune for the title and theme song for Raj’s ambitious film Awara. S-J’s typical flair with orchestration was evident all throughout the song. That twirling accordion mingling with a delightful mandolin made for a perfect prelude and another delectable accordion interlude piece following the opening lines- (Remember that Taa Ra Ra Ra?)- gave it a unique character.
How well had master lyricist Shailendra explained the philosophy of that lovable rogue, a vagabond with a heart of gold and a smile on lips, who is forced by situations to take up a wrong path, when he wrote in the song:
Aabaad Nahi, Barbaad Sahi
Gaata Hoon Khushi Ke Geet Magar,
Zakhmon Se Bhara Seena Hai Mera,
Hansti Hai Magar Yeh Mast Nazar
Duniya Main Tere Teer Ka Ya Taqdeer Ka Maara Hoon,
Ya Gardish Mein Hoon Aasmaan Ka Taara Hoon,
Mukesh’s rendition then provided the icing on the cake by bringing out the very essence of the Raj’s screen character – that rustic simplicity, that easygoing charm, that vulnerability and that undercurrent of pathos.
Awara was also released in Russia and so popular became this song there, that when the Awara team toured that country, everywhere Raj Kapoor was greeted with strains of Awara Hoon. The audiences there simply refused to believe that someone else had really sung that song. Then, in one of the live programmes Raj had to ‘show’ it to audience that it was indeed Mukesh who had sung the song and he himself had just lip synched it. On stage, he then dramatically declared, "Raj Kapoor is just a body, Mukesh is my soul." No one could have summed it any better!