PROFILE OF THE MONTH
By Dr Dhanpaul Narine
Devindra Pooran is the voice of Mukesh! When he sings those Mukesh hits, listeners have a hard time to distinguish his voice from that of the Mighty Mukka! But Devindra is more than a singer of Mukesh’s songs. He is a designer and composer, a responsible husband, and father, and an excellent role model in the community. Devindra was born in Hague Backdam, in Guyana. It is primarily a farming area. Devindra is the last of nine children.
His mom is Basmattie and his dad is Seepersaud.
Devindra attended Hague Canadian Mission School for his primary education. It was here that Rajpatty met Chabilall Tiwari as teachers and they ended up tying the knot. The headmaster was Harold Chee and some of the other teachers were Benjie, Arjune Persaud, Sumintra Rameshwar, who was Devindra’s sister, and Eileen Indar. Devindra’s wife, Binta, taught at the school as well. After the College of Preceptors (CP) exam, Devindra went to Stewartville Secondary School where he completed his GCE O’ Levels, and found Headmaster Trotz as a strict educator.
Devindra articulated to the Ministry of Agriculture and eventually became a Public Health Inspector. He was responsible for ensuring that quality and standards were maintained in the food sector. Devindra tied the knot with Binta in 1974 and the marriage has produced three beautiful daughters. How did he get into singing? Devindra explained that he started to sing at an early age. He would sing both English and Indian songs, but he joined an Indian band ‘Subha Katara’ in Hague, and his singing took off. He was advised by many to stick to Mukesh as his voice suited that of the great playback singer.
Devindra developed his own style and became popular in Guyana. He won the Mukesh competition and this helped to cement his popularity. Concerts followed, and the chance to sing with playback singers in Suriname. In 1985, Devindra recorded an album ‘Treasures of Mukesh.’ It was the first album of its kind and it was hit. Another hit ‘Visions of Mukesh’ followed. In 1990, Devindra left Guyana for the shores of the United States. It took him a while to restart his singing career, and when he did, he found that he had lost none of his popularity. He sang at numerous events and the reception was most favorable. Devindra was increasingly seen as the voice of Mukesh. He made a number of albums and teamed up with Mohabeer Records in a productive relationship.
India beckoned in 2011 and Devindra found himself on a tour with Kali Travels and his Bharat Yatra tours. Ramesh Kalicharran is regarded as one of the pioneers that brought India and the Caribbean closer. Devindra was impressed with the people and beauty of India and he made three trips there with Kali Travels. On his second trip, he was fortunate to meet with Nitin Mukesh, the son of the great Mukesh.
‘I was happy to meet with Nitin,’ Devindra says. ‘We had a musical evening. Nitin introduced me and told the audience that it was in for something special. I sang a Mukesh song and at the end of it there was loud applause.’ Nitin said that it was the best rendition of Mukesh he had heard from someone outside of India. Devindra could easily have passed as a singer from India, Nitin said.
There are a number of persons that have influenced Devindra over the years. They would include his parents and his brother David Rampersaud. His wife Binta, and his daughters, are very supportive. But the singer Mukesh is close to his heart as well. Apart from singing, Devindra likes cricket and Rohan Kanhai and Garfield Sobers are among his favorite cricketers.
The future looks bright for Devindra. He says he will continue to sing and make others happy. He hopes that the pandemic will go away and that life would return to normal. Devindra is concerned about the welfare of the young people. He wants them to listen to their parents, to live a clean life, and to make a decent contribution to their community.
It is a chilly winter’s evening and someone is playing ‘Jawo kaha bata yeh dil’ and you think that it’s Mukesh, but it could be Devindra. You can’t be sure, but it doesn’t matter, because the voice and melody are just right! We wish Devindra and his family all the best in the future.