A tribute to legendary singer Kishore Kumar
Kishore Kumar is one of the most legendary singers of Indian cinema. He is the man with a golden voice. The king of Indian music industry was born in a Bengali family on August 4 in 1929. His original name was Abhas Kumar Ganguly.
Kishore Kumar, lovingly called Kishore Da, took risks and experimented with different styles of music. He has stood out as a playback singer, actor, composer, lyrics writer, director, producer and script writer. His songs have an amazing blend of romance, emotions, melancholy and naughtiness.
In spite of any formal training, he shined as a skilled imitator, interpreter, and innovator. He used colorful timbral effects-such as yodeling-in his vocalizations, experimented with electric organs and other atypical instruments in his accompaniments, and enlivened his performances with upbeat rhythms.
During his younger days, Kishore Kumar was a passionate fan and follower of legendary singer Kundan Lal Saigal, more popularly known as KL Saigal. In fact, one can easily find the impression of Saigal's singing style in Kishore's initial songs, before Kishore Kumar discovered his own unique style.
Kishore Kumar was not a trained singer. In fact, even as a child before his voice broke he was said to have a very poor voice. According to his elder brother, Ashok Kumar, his voice might have cleared for an accident in his childhood. Young Kishore cut his toe while barging in on his mother who was chopping vegetables. After the accident, he ended up crying non-stop for a month. In spite of his elder brother being one of the biggest stars in India, Kishore wasn't interested in either acting or even singing beyond a point.
He had come to Bombay only to meet his idol KL Saigal, which he thought would be possible mostly because of being Ashok Kumar's brother. Even though he couldn't meet him, he ended up sticking on in the city. Without having any classical training, Kishore went on to be one of the most prolific singers in Indian popular music industry, singing songs in Bengali, Marathi, Assamese, Gujarati, Kannada, Bhojpuri, Malayalam, Odia, Urdu apart from Hindi, of course.
Although acting did not seem to be his real passion, he continued to act in a number of films. His romantic hero personas never really clicked at the box office; however his comedic roles really proved to be his strong point. This was amply demonstrated in such films as "New Delhi" (1957), "Asha" (1957), "Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi" (1958), "Half Ticket" (1962), and "Padosan" (1968).
The 1960s were a mixed period for Kishore Kumar. On the bright side, there were a number of hit songs from this period. Some examples are Gaata Rahe Mera Dil from "Guide" (1964), and Yeh Dil Na Hota Bechara from "Jewel Thief" (1967).
Furthermore, many of his movies flopped. However, the 1970's began to look much better. His song Roop Tera Mastana from the 1969 film "Aradhana" won him a Filmfare Award. He was getting a lot of work, and his public reputation was on the rebound.
People say he was a miser, screamed that the taxmen took away all his earnings. But very few people know that Kishore Kumar secretly sent money regularly, month after month, to the widow of actor Arun Kumar Mukherjee. In fact, the truth is, she depended entirely on the money Kishore sent her. She herself confessed this to a friend. If Kishore had not helped, it is likely that the family would probably have been wiped out.
Incidentally, Arun Kumar Mukherjee was one of the first persons to appreciate Kishore Kumar's singing talent. Kishore Kumar sent money to a few other people as well. Nobody knows who they are and he himself kept the matter under wraps.
He charged one rupee less than Lata Mangeshkar to show his respect for her and her seniority. And he talked of going back to his home town Khandwa to become a farmer.Kishore Kumar was known to be very particular about his remuneration but very few are aware that he refused to take fees from acclaimed filmmaker Satyajit Ray for singing in his 1964 film, Charulata.
Kishore Kumar's golden, evergreen voice always brings us tons of nostalgia. Even 30 years after his demise, his songs are still fresh in the hearts of music lovers. The versatile singer was, in effect, the voice of the young-at-heart. There was always so much fun in his singing. It was urbane, it was cool.
The writer works in The Asian Age