Mehboob (singer)

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Birth name Mehboob Khan
Also known as H. Mehboob, Mehboob Bhai
Born 1926
Origin Kochi, Kerala, India
Died 22 April 1981(1981-04-22) (aged 54–55)
Genres playback singing
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter
Years active 1951–1980

Mehboob (Malayalam: മെഹ്ബൂബ്; 1926–22 April 1981) was an Indian musician and playback singer. He was one of the most successful playback singers in the Malayalam film industry during the 1950s and early 1960s, with a good number of hit songs in his kitty.


Mehboob was born in Mattancherry, Kingdom of Cochin, into a family beset with stark poverty.[1] He spent his childhood in the nearby Bengal battalion military camp polishing shoes while his mother did cleaning jobs. At the camp Mehboob picked up different languages and songs from soldiers drawn from various parts of the country, some Britishers too.[2]

Mehboob grew up to become the singer of choice for the various pre-nuptial ceremonies conducted by rich families in Cochin. He made his name, friends and admirers from here. Mehboob had no real home, but he lived with his friends. Many of his early songs were written by Mepalli Balan and Nelson Fernandes, with that special Mattancherry flavour. These songs were never recorded.[3] It was Pankaj Mullick who recognised Mehboob's singing ability for the first time. He recommended Mehboob for several "Kacheris" and Mohammed Rafi concerts.[1]

Mehboob became quite famous throughout Cochin in late 1940s itself. Cochin based actor Muthiah recommended Mehboob to music director Dakshinamoorthy, who was looking for a new voice for the film Jeevitha Nouka. Mehboob recorded three songs including the popular "Akaale Aarum Kaividum" for this film, widely known to be the first superhit film in Malayalam.[4] (This song was a ditto copy of "Suhani Raat Dhal Chuki" from Dulari. It was later in 1985, re-recorded by K. J. Yesudas and this version is featured in the currently available prints of the film.[5]) With the success of this song, Mehboob was shot to fame and became the most sought after singer of that time. In 1954, he recorded "Manennum Vilikkila", for the landmark film Neelakkuyil, which became a tremendous success.[6][7] He went on to record numerous hit songs for composers M. S. Baburaj, K. Raghavan, G. Devarajan, R. K. Shekhar and many more. Most of his songs were folk music based comic numbers and had lyrics by P. Bhaskaran.

Mehboob has also recorded numerous songs for stage plays, gramaphone records and other programmes, which is perhaps many times more than he recorded for films. He was also an inevitable performer in "Mehfils" and other concerts.[8] Mehboob was never a careerist. He was known to be an alcoholic and finally died nearly an impoverished man.[3]

Many of his songs were remixed and used in later Malayalam films like in the 1999 Mohanlal-starrer Usthaad, a part of the song "Theerchaayilla Janam", written by Kannan Pareekutty and sung in 1956, was rendered by Mohanlal. The 2013 film Annayum Rasoolum used the songs "Kannu Randu Kannu", composed by M. S. Baburaj and written by P. A. Kasim for the 1973 film Chuzhi and "Kayalinakkare" written by Meppalli Balan. The 2013 film ABCD: American-Born Confused Desi featured the song "Nayapaisayilla" from the film Neelisaali (1960).[2]

Notable songs[edit]

  • "Arakka Roopa" (Neelisally)
  • "Halu Pidichoru Puliachhan Pulivalupidichoru Nairachan" (Nairu Pidicha Pulivalu)
  • "Ee Chiriyum Chiriyalla" (Subaida)
  • "Ellaarum Thattanu Muttanu" (Mudiyanaya Puthran)
  • "Enthoru Thontharavu" (Moodupadam)
  • "Kathu Sookshiochore Kasthuri Mampazham" (Nairu Pidicha Pulivalu)
  • "Kandam Bechoru Kottanu Athu Mammad Kakkede Kottanu" (Kandam Bacha Kotte)
  • "Kandu Randu Kannu" (Chuzhi)
  • "Kollaan Nadakkana" (Subaida)
  • "Kozhikodangdeele Koyakkande Kadayilu Koyinde Kariyude Charu" (Thankakkudam)
  • "Manennum Vilikkila Mayilennum Vilikkila" (Neelakuyil)
  • "Naya Paisayilla Kayyiloru Naya Paisayilla" (Neelisally)
  • "O Rikshawalla" (Odayil Ninnu)
  • "Pandu Pandu Ninne Kanda Nalilla" (Rarichan Enna Pauran)
  • "Saayippe Saayippe Aslam Alaikkum" (Pazhassi Raja)
  • "Thinakkam Theyyakkam" (Mudiyanaya Puthran)
  • "Vandi Vandi Ninne Pole Vayaril Enikkum Theeyanu (Doctor)
  • "Vandikkaran Beerankakka Randam Kettinu Poothim Bechu" (Porter Kunyali)
  • "Zindabad Zindabad Swantham Karyam Zindabad" (Kandam Bacha Kotte)


  1. ^ a b "Mehboob profile" (in Malayalam). Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "That forgotten maverick’s voice…"
  3. ^ a b "Mehboob – The Forgotten Singer". Varnachithram. Retrieved 11 March 2011.
  4. ^ B. Vijayakumar (16 August 2008). "Jeevitha Nauka 1951". The Hindu. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  5. ^ "ഒരു സിനിമാ ശിരഛേദം" (in Malayalam). 25 December 2010. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  6. ^ B. Vijayakumar (1 November 2008). "Neelakuyil 1954". The Hindu. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  7. ^ "മലയാളഗാനങ്ങളെ മാറ്റിമറിച്ച നീലക്കുയില്‍" (in Malayalam). Madhyamam. 11 February 2010. Retrieved 11 March 2011.  zero width joiner character in |title= at position 39 (help)
  8. ^ "മെഹ്ബൂബിന്റെ ഗാനങ്ങള്‍ക്ക് പുനര്‍ജനി" (in Malayalam). 1 January 2007. Retrieved 11 March 2011.  zero width joiner character in |title= at position 22 (help)

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Mehboob at the Malayalam Movie Database