Born in Amritsar in 1934, Mahendra Kapoor started singing before he hit age 5. Legend has it that when he was 12 he visited Mohammed Rafi, who advised him to study classical Indian singing if he really wanted to succeed. He did so, and in 1957 he won a contest that led two composers, Naushad and C. Ramchandra, to record him in the hit 1959 films Navrang and Dhool Ka Phool. Naushad and other film composers such as Laxmikant Pyarlal and Kalyanii Anandji loved Kapoor's voice, while others (the Burmans and Shankar Jaikishan) ignored him almost entirely -- which may explain why his body of work is thinner than that of his contemporaries. Though his output cannot rival that of megastars Kishore Kumar and Mohammed Rafi, Kapoor's career still saw major successes. He sang with all the greats, won three Filmfare awards for classic vocal appearances on the soundtracks for Gumraah, Humraaz and Roti Kapda Aur Makan, and his voice will forever be linked with the screen work of actor Manoj Kumar. In 2002 Kapoor came out of semi-retirement to sing in a television adaptation of the Hindu epic tale Mahabhartaha. Though Kapoor has mostly retired from film work, he keeps busy recording bhajans and Sufi music in his spare time.