Kishore Kumar - the music legend lives on ...

By Arpana, Indo-Asian News Service

imageNew Delhi,

(IANS) As the songs of Farhan Akhtar's upcoming "Don" turn into

listeners' favourite they bring to mind Kishore Kumar's zestful singing

of the numbers, including the inimitable "Khaike paan Banaraswala",

from the original 1978 film.

The versatile singer-actor, who passed away on this day 19 years

ago, sung the "Khaike paan Banaraswala" song complete with his

imitation of a man talking with his mouth full of betel juice - without

it sounding the least bit offensive.

He may not be among us anymore, but his songs are as much loved

today as they were then, maybe more so with a new fan following among

the youth.

There is no dearth of singers in Bollywood but there can never be

another Kishore Kumar. He has a big fan following, and one of them is

Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan.

"I think I'd like to make a film on the life of Mr. Kishore Kumar.

That would be an interesting and a more apt tribute," Shah Rukh was

quoted as saying to Screen Indian magazine recently.

The Kishore Kumar Memorial Club started an award in his name five

years ago in Delhi. This year, they are organising the award ceremony

in New Delhi and will honour actors Gulshan Grover, Rati Agnihotri,

Prem Chopra, Upasana Singh and singer Kunal Ganjawala.

Last year, well-known lyricist Javed Akhtar received the Kishore

Kumar Award.

Born Abhas Kumar Ganguly in Khandwa on Aug 4, 1929, Kishore moved to

Mumbai when he was 18. His elder brother Ashok Kumar was already a big

star in the city. And he didn't have to work hard to get his first

singing assignment for Bombay Talkies "Ziddi" (1948), in which he sang

"Marne ki duayen kyon mangu" for Dev Anand.

In those days legendary singer K.L. Saigal was a source of

inspiration for newcomers and Kishore was also a big fan of his, hence

he tried to imitate Saigal while signing the song.

The song became a hit but it didn't bring too many offers for

Kishore, and he kept struggling for a foothold.

Maverick composer S.D. Burman, a good friend of his elder brother,

advised him, "Don't try to ape K.L. Saigal. Apers never make great

artists. You should develop your own singing style."

After this, Kishore developed his own trademark singing style, and

the distinctive yodelling, which he learnt by listening to the Austrian

records of his brother Anoop Kumar.

Singing was Kishore's passion, and he wasn't remotely interested in

acting. Once, while he was running from pillar to post in search of

good singing assignments, an acting offer fell in his lap. He was asked

to play the main lead in "Andolen" (1951) and Kishore lapped it up

because it would allow him to sing for himself.

But the film flopped.

During his initial years in Bollywood he met Ruma Devi and after a

whirlwind romance they tied the knot in 1951. The following year they

were blessed with a son whom they christened Amit Kumar, who is a well

-known singer.

But Kishore's family opposed the marriage and withdrew their

support, and he was left alone to fend for himself.

This marked a turning point in his life because he had to actually

struggle for his survival in the industry. After trying his luck at

many places, he approached S.D Burman (known to most as Burmanda), who

gave him a few songs to sing. Nobody took him seriously as a singer

till "Dukhi man mere" from "Funtoosh" (1956) was released.

As luck would have it, Burmanda fell out with Lata Mangeshkar and it

turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Kishore as Burmanda teamed

up with Kishore and Asha Bhosle and churned out quite a few hit duets.

This was not enough for Kishore, who yearned to be the top signer.

However, his acting career was flourishing and he became one of the

most sought after actors, and the audience loved his comic roles. Some

of his memorable films are "Ladki"(1953), "New Delhi" (1956), "Asha"

(1957), "Chalti ka Naam Gaadi" (1958), "Dilli ka Thug" (1958), "Chacha

Zindabad" (1959), "Jhumroo" (1961), "Half Ticket" (1962), "Door Gagan

ki Chaon Mein"(1964), "Mr. X in Bombay" (1964) and "Padosan"


In all these films, he sang his songs. As playback singer he lent

his voice to Dev Anand and sang quite a few songs for him including for

"Guide". The veteran actor once described him as "my soul".

But it was Rajesh Khanna starrer "Aradhana" (1969) that marked a

turning point in his singing career. Both his songs "Mere sapnon ki

rani" and "Kora kagaz tha yeh man mera" from the film went to become

chartbusters and overshadowed Mohammed Rafi's song in the film.

After this film, Kishore kept climbing the success ladder. His

teaming up with Rajesh Khanna translated into the golden era of his

career - he gave hits after hits and superseded all the singers of his

time and entrenched himself on the number one position. Finally his

dream had come true.

He won eight Filmfare Awards, but his success and popularity made

him cynical. According to insiders, unless producers made full payment,

he would refuse to sing the complete song.

While he proved his mettle both as a singer and actor, his personal

life was in a mess.

His marriage with Ruma Devi didn't last long. They parted ways and

he tied the knot with popular co-star Madhubala. After her tragic

death, he married actress Yogita Bali, but she couldn't stay with him

for more a few months. He married Leena Chandavarkar, another popular

actress, who is two years older to his son Amit Kumar.

He died in 1987 of a heart attack. An untrained singer, Kishore

Kumar is a favourite of millions of listeners and a source of

inspiration for many aspiring singers.

Among his memorable songs are "Haal kaisa hai janaab ka" from the

1958 hit "Chalti ka Naam Gaadi", "Yeh raatein, yeh mausam" ("Dilli ka

Thug"), "Aa chal ke tujhe" ("Door Gagan ki Chaon Mein"), "Mere mehboob

qayamat hogi" ("Mr. X in Bombay") "Mere saamne wali khidki mein"

(Padosan), "Mere sapnon ki Rani" ("Aradhana"), "Woh shaam kuch ajeeb

thi" ("Khamoshi"), "Zindagi ka safar" ("Safar"), "Chingari koi bhadke"

("Amar Prem"), "Zindagi ek safar hai suhana" ("Andaaz") "Chala jata

hoon" ("Mere Jeevan Saathi"), "Musafir hoon yaron" ("Parichay"), "Main

shair badnaam" ("Namak Haram") and "Zindagi ke safar mein" ("Aap ki