The going was great for Mohd Aziz in the 1980s. The great Mohd Rafi and Kishore Kumar were no more. And the only competition that Aziz, affectionately know as Munna, had was Shabbir Kumar.
Shabbir sang off-key. I openly supported Aziz's voice in my music columns that I did during those days. Got slammed for it. But I didn't care if I was being trolled at a time when trolling had not been invented.
Mohd Aziz had a vast range. He could sing at a staggering pitch. It was a pleasure to hear him hold his own in his duets with the indomitable Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle.
Lataji and Aziz sang a number of duets in the 1980s and early 1990s including the timeless 'Patjhad sawan basant bahaar'(film Sindoor) and 'Bali umar ne mara haal yun kiya'(Awaargi).
Says Lataji, "I recall him as a very kindhearted softspoken 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."
Alka Yagnik who sang one of her best songs 'Tu na ja mere badshah'(Khuda Gawah) with Aziz remembers him fondly. "Like me,he was also from Kolkata, so I kind of knew him from my childhood days. Munna (Mohd Aziz) was always very cheerful, sweet-spoken and an endearing person. And he had a powerful voice. He was one of Laxmikant-Pyarelal's favourite singers. I sang many songs with him."
I remind Alka of Aziz's meteoric rise and swift fall, and Alka shrugs, "Well... What do I say to that now...so many prolific singers vanished... but he still used to do concerts ... had quite a repertoire of popular songs to his credit."
The very talented music composer Rajesh Roshan who gave Aziz some of his career's best songs including 'Ek andhera laakh sitare' in 'Aakhir Kyon', 'Main se na meena se na saqi se' in 'Khudgarz' says, "What a beautiful singer! But above that, he was a great human being who always met you with open arms.
Composer Anu Malik who used Aziz as Amitabh Bachchan's voice in Manmohan Desai's 'Mard' is shocked at the singer's demise.
"I gave him his earliest break in 'Mard'. A very soft-spoken, tremendously hardworking singer and always ready to learn improvise and give his best. May his soul rest in everlasting peace and may God give his family immense strength to bear with this irreparable loss."
"A shining musical light of the 80s & early 90s has dimmed But shall never ever switch off. He will live in the hearts and minds of music lovers forever," he said.
Mohd Aziz's most popular songs:
1.One 2 Ka 4 My name in Lakhan: 'Ram Lakhan'
2.Main se ne meena se na saqi se: 'Khudgarz'
3.Tu na je mere badshah: 'Khuda Gawah'
4.Duniya mein kitna gham hai: 'Avtaar'
5.Ungli mein angoothi angoothi mein nagina: 'Ram Avtar'(Subhash K Jha can be contacted at email@example.com)