Alas, no more Joy …

For some reason, I suddenly thought of Joy Mukherjee last night, and I downloaded some of his old songs. To my shock, I found out this morning that Joy Mukherjee died on the same night at the age of 74.

Joy was a very popular romantic hero in the 1960’s and 70’s. Tall, well-built and handsome, with a Binaca smile and an energetic devil-may-care style, Joy Mukherjee in his prime was a certified heart-throb and a box-office guarantee. Unlike many other leading men of that generation, Joy was a fitness freak and a regular work-out was a must for him.

Like the Kapoor family, the Mukherjee family made a large contribution to Indian cinema. Joy’s father, Shashadhar Mukherjee, was the founder of Filmalaya Studios. Joy’s brother Deb Mukherjee was also a leading romantic hero of his time. The Mukherjee family was related to Ashok Kumar’s family and Shobana Samarth’s family by marriage. Shashadhar Mukherjee was the man who introduced Ashok Kumar to Indian cinema.

During the 1960’s, the Mukherjees dominated the romantic genre in Bollywood, thanks largely to Joy. From his debut in Love in Shimla in 1960, his exuberant performances in several romantic movies made him a force to reckon with in Bollywood.

Through the sixties, Joy delivered silver jubilee hits with all the leading ladies of that era including Sadhana, Asha Parekh, Saira Banu, Sharmila Tagore, Mala Sinha, Vyjanthimala and Tanuja.

With Mohammad Rafi lending his heavenly voice to him, Joy Mukherjee’s song sequences were always hugely popular. The songs of Shagird, Love in Tokyo and Ek Musafir Ek Haseena were chart-busters and award winners, and are still hot favorites.

Unfortunately for Joy, he was tagged as the ‘poor-man’s Shammi Kapoor’, and he became a second-fiddle to the Yahoo star. And then in 1969, a phenomenon called Rajesh Khanna burst upon Indian cinema. After Rajesh Khanna’s Aradhana, romantic roles stopped coming to Joy in the 1970’s. Ek baar muskura do, made in 1972, starred Joy and his brother Deb in leading roles, along with their sister-in-law Tanuja. That movie turned out to be the last hit of Joy Mukherjee’s acting career. In 1983, he tried a comeback of sorts in a disaster called Shekar mera naam. After that, Joy Mukherjee retired from Bollywood.

Till this day, if you want to know what was so unforgettable about the exuberant sixties and why people of my generation keep raving about the movies of that era, then download any of Joy Mukherjee’s songs.

Here’s one of my favorites, from the runaway hit of 1967, Shagird. This was Joy at his wild, energetic best.

We will miss you, Joyda. Sayonara.

Cheers … Srini.

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