The Divine Voice of Devotional Kishore
by Arghya Dutta Kishore Kumar is considered to be a “versatile genius” with so many outstanding facets of his artistic personality. If overall as an artist, Kishore is versatile, only in singing domain he is a “versatile singer” in a true nature. Right from romantic to sad to soulful to motivating to semi-classical to qawwali […]
by Arghya Dutta
Kishore Kumar is considered to be a “versatile genius” with so many outstanding facets of his artistic personality. If overall as an artist, Kishore is versatile, only in singing domain he is a “versatile singer” in a true nature. Right from romantic to sad to soulful to motivating to semi-classical to qawwali to patriotic and to ghazals, Kishore had shown his tremendous variety in his god-given voice each and every time he had stood behind the microphone.
Here we discuss, yet another interesting genre of songs from Kishoreda – devotional songs – where he, as always, did tremendous perfection in singing, although he remained underrated always.
Kishoreda’s first true devotional song was “Leela Aparampar prabhuji teri leela aparampar” which he sang in the movie, Humsafar(1953). The song was composed by the maestro Ustad Ali Akbar Khan sahib. The song requires extensive voice modulation and Kishore sang the song with great feeling. The antara where he goes up with “ O neele ambar pe basaria, teri jay jaykaar…,” the feeling touches hearts.
Next came the classic “Haal tujhe apni duniya ka nazar to aata hoga” from Asha(1957). Composed by one of Kishore’s earliest admirers, C Ramchandra, the song is different, as now, Kishore is complaining to the Almighty for all the misdoingd on planet earth. His voice carries the grief and complaint and very “open throated”.. with “ Maalik tu bhi isko banaake ab pachhtata hoga…” truly depicts a person’s disappointment which he keeps in front of the god,,,
One of my most favourite devotional song from Kishore was in Door Gagan Ki Chhaon Mein(1964)- a song which he himself composed and sang alongwith Manna De. The song “O jag ke rakhwale humein tujh bin kaun sambhaale” is very soulful and touches heart immediately with the divine tune.. Manna starts the song with chorus and Kishore enters very late and immediately leaves a heavy impact with “Kiya sab kuchh tere hawaale, o jag ke rakhwale”.. Manna reportedly praised Kishore openly for the composition as well as the rendition… Shows again, the genius of that man- Kishore Kumar!
Kishore sang many devotional songs in the 70s, when he was on the top spot in playback singing. Chhoti Bahu(1971) saw Kishore rendering “Hey re kanhaiya, kisko kahega tu maiyya..” composed by his long time associates Kalyanji-Anandji.. The song depicts the dilemma of young Kanhaiyya, as he was born in Devki’s house but brought up in Yashda’s home and finding it difficult whom he should call “his actual mother”.. “Jisme tujhko janam diya ya jisne tujhko pala…”, very simple lyrics and simple tune and Kishore’s “open voice” makes this song very close to heart..
“Ram ka naam badnaam na karo..” is perhaps the most popular devotional song of Kishore which he sang in Hare Rama Hare Krishna(1971) under Rahul Dev Burman. Youth getting astray are motivated by Kishore with the “tyaag” and “dharma” of Rama and Krishna here with a voice “pioneering” and “comforting”.. The feelings which he brings here also makes the song memorable and timeless. “Ram ko samjho, Krishna ko jaano, neend se jaago o mastano..”, Kishore calls the youth to follow the “true path”of Almighty to come out of darkness.
Mere Jeevan Sathi(1972) is mainly rememberd for the romantic songs of Kishore for Rajesh Khanna, but the song “Aao kanhai mere dham” is very special for those who love Bhajans.. The true passion and anxiety of a bhakt for not getting the darshan of Lord Krishna, is reflected in the anxious voice of Kishore “dekho ho gayi shaam”… Composed by Rahul Dev Burman- a truly sublime bhajan for Kishore..
Naya Din Nayi Raat(1974) saw this time Laxmikant Pyarelal turning to Kishore for a nice melodious and simple Krishna vandana in terms of “Krishna Krishna bolo Krishna…”, influenced by Bengali kirtan- with proficient usage of the instrument “khol”. The song was sung very melodiously by the two legends- Kishore and Lata and is even popular to this day!
In 1974, the newcomer music director Rajesh Roshan handed Kishoreda a very high pitch beautiful devotional number “Jai Bholenath Jai Ho Prabhu” in the movie “Kunwara Baap” where Kishore sang as many as 4 songs … Although, the song might not have left too much of an impact as a “devotional song” in the mind of the audience, it is very much a memorable and a very melodious song of Kishore and Lata..
But the best was yet to come!! Laxmi-Pyare turned again to Kishore with “Prem ka rog laga mujhe yeh”- a classic devotional song on a semi-classical note in Do Premee(1980)! All the three antaras were different from one another and the note changes were complex!! With lot of vigour in his voice, Kishore sang like a truly “magan” bhakta in “Yeh kaanton ke haar hai saare , murari..” This song is still a showcase of Kishore’s multi layered voice!!
The next considerable devotional song was “Bhole O Bhole” from Yarana(1981) composed by Rajesh Roshan, may not be called a “true devotional song” in a proper sense, but had the essence of a troubled mind addressing the God.
The last significant bhajan by Kishore was in Swami Dada(1982) for Rahul Dev Burman with “Ek roop kayin naam man mandir tera dham..”.. Again a simple tune sang with lot of emotions… But bhajans were scarce those days in Hindi Cinema, and this song remained the “swan song” for Kishore as far as devotional songs are concerned…
In 1986, recovering a heart attack, Kishore recorded his last Rabindrasangeet album (Bangla) with music arrangement of his another true admirer- Hemant Kumar.. The typical low note devotional Rabindrasangeet “ Klanti aamaar khama koro prabhu…” (Please forgive my tireness, O Lord..), according to me, is the best devotional song of Kishore …
A man of many moods, Kishore truly proved his versatility in all genres of singing.. Although, his devotional songs cannot fall in the same category of “Man tarapat hari darshan” or “Sukh ke sab saathi”, but the glimpse of his great talent cannot be overlooked in all the devotional songs he had sung!! A truly “divine” voice!