Navin loved that insurance ad where the father holds his heart and passes out when he is told he has to pay a fee of 10 lakhs for his son. Navin used to say, ‘That’s the way to go.’ Someone up there heard him. That’s the way he went.
As a nervous newcomer, Navin signed six films before the release of his debut film Sawan Bhadon. These were not quite the projects to take his career forward. Being a man of his word, he decided to go ahead with those films. They brought him down. He could never ask for work from anyone. He would reason. ‘If they want me they’ll ask me’. He turned down plum assignments. Even after years of hibernation when he made an impact with Khosla Ka Ghosla, he didn’t seek work.
Navin Nischol sang some very popular songs on screen. In his debut film Sawan Bhadon directed by Mohan Segal he had composer Sonik-Omi’s Rafi-rendered Kaan Main Jhumka Chaal Mein Thumka. In Woh Main Nahin (where he played seven roles) with the Sawan Bhadon team, he had Kishore Kumar’s Chahe Purush Ho Chahe Naari.
In Parwana in which Amitabh Bachchan played villain, Navin sang Simti Si Sharmayee Si in Kishore Kumar’s voice. This Madan Mohan composition was a chartbuster. Perhaps the most well-known Navin Nischol song is another Madan Mohan composition: Tum Jo Mil Gaye Toh Yeh Lagta Hai in Hanste Zakhm.
Switching to Mukesh in Nadaan (where he replaced Parikshit Sahni at the eleventh hour) Navin sang the plaintive Jeevan Bhar Dhunda Jissko Woh Pyar Mila Par Nahin Mila.
In Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Buddha Mil Gaya, Navin lip-synced one of Kishore Kumar’s most popular love ballads: Rat Kali Ek Khwab Mein Ayee and in the superhit Victoria 203, Kishore’s Tu Na Mili Toh Hum Jogi Bann Jayenge (the third biggest hit of the film after Do Bechare Bina Sahaare and Thoda Sa Thehro)
Mere Sajna was a flop but Kishore’s Maine Kuch Khoya Hain Maine Kuch Paaya Hai Tere Pyar Mein for Navin as he serenaded Raakhee Gulzar, was hit.
And to end with a song that is hardly remembered but is the central attraction of Navin Nischol’s musical heritage: Humne Tanhayee Ko Mehboob Banaa Rakha Hai, Raakh Ke Dher Mein Sholon Ko
Dabaa Rakha Hai sung to immortality by Jagjit Singh in Navin’s finest film Ek Baar Kaho.