- Birth Date: 04 Jul 1956
- Birth Place: Kolkata
Singing was taboo in the house of one pious, God-fearing family in Kidderpore (Khizirpur), Calcutta, till Mohammed Aziz, the great grandson of Shah Aman Ali, came along. At first, they frowned as he remained glued to the radio for hours, mesmerised by the voice of the late Mohammed Rafi. As if this was not enough, he himself began to sing. Now an element of scepticism crept into the general attitude of disapproval. There was only one way he could win their hearts -by proving himself in his chosen career, by reaching a high level of proficiency. Mohammed 'Munna' Aziz did both. It took him 15 long years, though.
Like all Calcuttans, Munna was very fond of football. His two brothers too shared his love for the sport. Even at school, he used to sing film songs on stage and bag prizes. Partly on account of economic factors, partly because of his love of singing, he dropped out of college after F Y B Com to become a live performer. He sang in hotels and bars (Aziz is a strict teetotaller and never touches anything in liquor-serving hotels), on stage and in Id gatherings, before heading for Bombay.
Besides Mohammed Rafi, Aziz also drew some inspiration from his senior stage singers in Calcutta. He even had a stint with Ustad Ameer Ahmed Khan, an exponent of the Kirana gharana. He was deeply influenced by Mohammed Rafi the then Gazal Maestro. Listening attentively to hundreds of Rafi Sahab's songs,he found that each one of them was a chapter in the theories of film singing.People started praising him as a replacement for Rafi but Aziz felt heavily indebted to Mohammed Rafi.
1976 was the most eventful year in his career, before 1984, that is. For one, he got a reluctant Salil Chowdhury to conduct an orchestra to back him in the Film Stars Nite held at the Netaji Indoor Stadium, Singing songs like, 'Ham kaale hain to' ('Gumnaam') and 'Mere paeron me ghunghroo' ('Sunghursh'), he proved that Salilda's fears were unwarranted. Then, in Gaya, Bihar, he got an opportunity to sing before Naushad, who had come to receive the S D Burman memorial award. For this occasion, Aziz chose the all-time Naushad masterpiece, 'Too Ganga kee mauj'. Aziz was dumbstruck when, earlier that year, Naushad recalled having heard him at that programme 10 years ago. Little did the great composer know then that the young man on the stage was in a 'double-tremble' state - the extremely chilly weather was coupled with the awe-inspiring prospect of singing a Naushad song in front of Naushad!
Stage-singing in Calcutta (or any other place in India, for that matter) had limited scope. After nearly 10 years of shows upon shows, Aziz wanted a break - and a higher goal. He decided to quit before he got utterly bored with the prospect of late nights and no original songs to sing. He did not want to let the audience get fed-up . At the same time, like any young hopeful,he wanted to make it big. There were few who encouraged.
With no contacts and no resources, Aziz arrived in Bombay in March 1982. He missed no opportunity to meet music directors and film makers. He struggled along and very nearly lost hope. Mukul Dutt, the veteran songwriter and director of Bengali and Hindi films, happened to be in the audience at the Durga Pooja programme in a Bandra park (October 1983). He was destined to play the good Samaritan. He introduced Aziz to composers Sapan-Jagmohan. Suitably impressed, they recorded him for the film 'Amber'-'Kab tak doolhe'.