Bindu D Menon

Writes on brands and is still trying to figure out on what makes some brands popular and loved by consumers. When not shopping and peeping into others' shopping basket, Bindu goes on heritage walks to capture a slice of India through her camera.

Bindu D Menon

Yodelling his way into our hearts: A tribute to Kishore Kumar

| Updated on August 04, 2013 Published on August 04, 2013

Immortal echoes...

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Years ago at a job interview I was asked by an eccentric editor if I had any regrets. Caught unaware by that question, I bit my lips, narrowed my eyes and thought for a second before mumbling that not interviewing my idol Kishore Kumar was the biggest regret.

That day I would have muttered that answer to save my skin, but later as I pondered over the question, I realised that even during sheer nervousness I had indeed spoken my mind. Certainly not meeting one of the most versatile singer-actor-lyricist-producer Kishore Kumar -- will remain one of my biggest regrets. More so because he passed away at the age of 57 while I was still in school.

But what makes the singer whose 84th birthday anniversary falls on August 4 so relevant to the current times is the sheer canvas of his songs. They conveyed everything from pathos ( Ghungroo ki tarah), romance ( Mere diwanepan ki bhi), unrequited love ( O saathi re), passion ( Roop tera mastana), loss ( Tere bina zindagi se koi shikwa), hope ( Ruk Jana nahi ), fate ( Hazaar Raheein mud ki dekhi) and even lunacy ( My name is Anthony Gonsalves) through his inimitable and everlasting voice.

Look at any musical contest on television, antakshari in colleges or even FM radios. Chances are children as young as eight years are crooning and copying Kishore Kumar’s style. A certain FM station which has found a niche in retro songs admits that the largest demand from its listeners is for Kishore Kumar’s numbers. Unlike singers of today who enjoy their seven-minutes of fame and fade into oblivion, Kishore Kumar’s voice and songs are not retro-confined. He was as relevant to my mother’s generation with brilliant compositions like Mere Sapno Ki Rani ( Aradhana) to mine Kaate Nahin Katate Yeh Din Yeh Raat ( Mr. India) and even in the remixed version that appeals to my son’s generation Bachna ae haseeno.

The youngest of the Ganguly brothers, Kishore Kumar was born as Abhas Kumar Ganguly to a wealthy Bengali family in Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh. Following his famous star brother Ashok Kumar into Bollywood, Kishore Kumar’s earliest style copied his idol Kundan Lal Saigal. Producers of his time wanted him to act to cash in on his brother's charisma. Though he made you laugh your gut out in films like Padosan with songs like Bindu re Bindu and Ek Chatur Naar, Kishore Kumar’s voice belied that he was an untrained singer.

But gradually he moved full time to singing. Despite the fact that his comic-timing was on par with Mehmood, Kishore Kumar made everyone know of his dislike for acting. And thank god for that. The R.D. Burman-Kishore Kumar combination was magical. His detractors say that his creative genius mingled with a dose of wit and lunacy.

Some popular trivia about him include putting up a ‘Beware of Kishore’ board at his Warden Road apartment and shaving off his moustache and hair till he was paid his full remuneration by a producer. But almost everyone agrees that Kishore Kumar’s dedication was unparalled.

Whether chewing a dozen pan to get the right impact in Khaike pan banaraswala (Don) or singing raga shivranjani in Hume Tumse Pyar Kitna ( Kudrat) or even yodelling in Zindagi ek safar hay suhana ( Andaz), Kishore Kumar was always best.

Kishore Kumar’s voice expressed what you yourself could not articulate. That is precisely why Kishore Kumar’s songs will continue to be an anthem for many generations to come because he was communicating emotion. And emotions are not expiry-date driven.

Published on August 04, 2013
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