Source: Express India, 9th February 2004
Interviewed by: Dinesh Raheja
Meena Kapoor sounds a requiem for a past with husband Anil Biswas
Recently felicitated by the Bimal Roy Foundation, singer Meena Kapoor is today bravely facing life without her soulmate of 50 years—famed music director Anil Biswas who passed away last year.
Biswas was the composer of immortal melodies for films like Aurat, Taraana and Kismet. Wife Meena Kapoor was a playback singer whose songs were picturised on Nargis and Nutan.
On May 31, 2003, however, this jugalbandi ended when Biswas passed away at the age of 89. “He had a minor bronchial problem,” reveals Meena.
She is reclusive about her own career. Born to actor Bikram Kapoor, a known name of the 30’s, and related to P C Barua (director of K L Saigal’s Devdas) , Meena was no stranger to films.
“When I was a child, I had the opportunity to sit in K L Saigal’s lap and he would say Chhuntu gaana gao. I would lisp Toja Lajkumari in a childish imitation of Saigal’s Soja Rajkumari.
Meena blossomed into a singing prodigy and gave playback at the age of 11. “I was discovered by composer Ninu Mujumdar in the 40s. He thought I was outstanding.” Meena doesn’t share this opinion though. Ask her to name favourite numbers and she bluntly says: “There’s not a single song. I was like a parrot jisko gaana sikha diya. They used to say I picked up songs very fast and could navigate difficult murkiyan with ease. However, I was not ambitious.”
But there’s no denying the innate sweetness in her voice in ’50s songs like Rasiya re man basiya re from the Nargis starrer Pardesi and Kachhi hai umariya picturised on Meena Kumari in Char Dil Char Raahein.
Meena had already sung 62 songs and was still in school when she first sang for Biswas in Anokha Pyar. “Age difference toh bahut hi zyaada hai, but I always reduce the number of years when people ask me. We got married in 1959. We were like lovebirds. By that stage, Anilji was very unhappy with the film industry and the type of music. When the I & B Ministry asked him to join AIR, he agreed. People questioned my decision to give up my career, but I wanted to be with him.”
So in 1963, the Biswas’ shifted to Delhi to the non-conformist strains of ‘Kuch aur zamana kehta hai, kuch aur hai zid mere dil ki’—the last film song Biswas composed and Meena sang.
“Anilji was bitter about the latter years of his film career but he once told me, ‘Looking at you so much younger to me yet so contented, I too have learnt to accept.’ I was happy singing but around 12 years ago I had to stop once again because Anilji needed looking after. We were called the lovebirds. He passed away six months ago, but I am unable to accept it till date.”