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Song of the rebel

He was not trained. He was not groomed. But in a world where the science of music meant everything, Kishore Kumar dared to sing with a mind... The Kamukara Foundation is organising a musical evening on October 29, in memory of the phenomenon called Kishore Kumar.

Fifteen years after his death on October 13,1987, Kishore Kumar still lives in the hearts of millions. To commemorate the great singer, the Kamukara Foundation will organise a Kishore Kumar Nite in Thiruvananthapuram at the Tagore Theatre on October 29.

Kishore Kumar was an artiste par excellence -- a singer, music director, lyricist, actor, director and producer all rolled into one. Having come into Bollywood as Ashok Kumar's younger brother, he languished as a part-timer in singing, acting, music direction, production and what not, until composer S.D. Burman gave him those two songs in `Aradhana' in 1969. The two songs, Meri Sapnon Ki Rani and Roop Tera Mastana, changed his life and catapulted him to the top. He usurped the legendary Mohammed Rafi's throne and thereafter remained Bollywood's playback king for 18 years till his death.

Some of the purists wrote him off as a mere yodeller, but he proved them wrong. Though not classically trained, he amazed composers with his tonal perfection, expressiveness and versatility. Dozens of haunting melodies testify to his greatness. A few examples are Zindgi Ka Safar (`Safar'), Mera Jeevan (`Kora Kagaz'),Chingaree, Kuch To Log and Yeh Kya Hua (`Amar Prem'), Woh Shaam (`Khamoshi'), Koi Humdum (`Jhumroo'), Dil Aisa (`Amanush'), Humen Tum Se (`Kudrat'), Musafir (`Parichay'), Mere Naina (`Mehbooba'), O Majhi Re (`Khushboo'), O Mere (`Mere Jeevan Saathi'), Yeh Jeevan Hai (`Piya Ka Ghar'), Yeh Lal Rang (`Prem Nagar'), Ghungroo Ki Tarah (`Chor Machaye Shor') Pyar Diwana (`Kati Patang'), Chchookar Mere (`Yaraana') and Chalte Chalte (`Chalte Chalte'). Kishore Kumar who had excelled as a comedian in his acting days was naturally effervescent in his peppy, comic and dance numbers. He revolutionised stage singing by discarding a notebook and singing all songs from memory. He danced, jumped and even crawled on the stage.

Kishore had got that big boost from S. D. Burman in `Aradhana', but it was under SD's son, R. D. Burman, that he realised his full potential. He delivered lots of chart-toppers for other composers such as Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Kalyanji-Anandji, Rajesh Roshan and Bappi Lahiri, but the chemistry with Pancham was unique.

Speaking to this writer in Kochi in 1993, RD had said, "Kishore was like John McEnroe - an immensly talented man with a virtuoso touch. He would always add something of his own to enrich a music director's work."

Unfortunately the media concentrated more on his eccentricities than on his music. Kishore was known for his tantrums, miserliness, perennial Income Tax problems and what not. He often played truant at recordings unless he had received the full fee. He loved horror films. His drawing room had a skull with bulbs on it! He married four times. He declared that he had no friends in Mumbai. During the Emergency, he incurred the wrath of the Government and his songs were banned for a year on All India Radio and Doordarshan.

Kishore's wacky sense of humour enabled him to render comic and fast numbers with élan. For the sad songs, the soothing melodies and the romantic tracks, he always imparted a rare depth and soulfulness with that unique, individualistic style of his.

In the Kamukara Foundation programme, Padmakumar, Rajesh, Narayanan Sivaprasad, Hrudya Suresh, Leela Joseph and others will render select Kishore numbers, reflecting various moods.

PRAKASH PARAYATH

Illustration: Sasikumar

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