Never Before Never Again
He is, of course, best remembered for his own production Chalti ka Naam Gadi, where he starred with his brothers Ashok Kumar and Anoop Kumar and his wife then, the fabulous Madhubala. The jalopy in which the three brothers fooled around lay for many years in the backyard of his Juhu residence in Bombay. The […]
He is, of course, best remembered for his own production Chalti ka Naam Gadi, where he starred with his brothers Ashok Kumar and Anoop Kumar and his wife then, the fabulous Madhubala. The jalopy in which the three brothers fooled around lay for many years in the backyard of his Juhu residence in Bombay. The songs, of course, were immortal, tuned by S D Burman. Baboo samjho ishare (with Manna Dey), Ek ladki bheegi bhagi si, Paanch rupaiya barah anna, Jaate the Japan pahoonch gaye Cheen (again with Manna Dey) and Haal kaisa hai janab ka (with Asha Bhonsle). This surely was the most enjoyable freewheeling knockabout ever made in India.In other films too, he clowned and sang: In I S Johar’s Bewaqoof, with brother Ashok Kumar and the sexy Mala Sinha and Helen for company: Michael hai to cycle hai, Michael jo nahin cycle bhi nahin! Could the world have been crazier? And of course that great comedy Padosan, with Sunil Dutt, Mehmood and Saira Bano. That one particular reel where the song occurs – Ek chatur naar karke singar – is played over and over again to this day. In Ragini, he played a Bengali in love with a Miss Pillai and sings: Main Bangali chokra and Humre Bangladesh mein har gori ke lambe baal. Nonsense, really, but what fun! But behind this clown’s facade, there was a serious mind at work too. For instance, his films Door Gagan Ki Chaon Mein (a father’s struggle for his disadvantaged son), Jhumroo and Badhti Ka Naam Dadhi and Chalti Ka Naam Zindagi. The first few feet of Door Gagan could well match any art film made here. And in Badhti Ka Naam Dadhi he fairly reaches surrealistic heights, taking off from the final `draw’ in the Western genre. In the last scene, the two bearded rivals, played by K N Singh (elder brother of the late film critic Bikram Singh) and Jayant (father of Amjad Khan) confront each other armed with a pair of giant scissors! Kishore also played a serious role opposite Meena Kumari in Shararat and appropriately, Shankar Jaikishen gave him a playback for the one and only time for the song Ajab hai dastan teri ai zindagi. For all his eccentricity, Kishore married some of the most beautiful women in India. First Ruma Guha-Thakurta (the mother of his singer son Amit Kumar), then the beautiful Madhubala (whom he literally nursed for years till her death), Yogita Bali (niece of the great Geeta Bali) and finally Leena Chandavarkar. There are any number of Kishore Kumar tales to be heard in Mumbai. The best is how when he was shooting for a Satyen Bose film in Mahableshwar, he was supposed to come out of a bungalow, get into a car and go past the gate. After a couple of retakes, Kishore got into the car and drove past straight to Bombay while the entire unit waited for him to return. Night fell, but there was no sign of the man. To make matters worse, the car belonged to the producer. He was a miser, screamed that the taxmen took away all his earnings. And considerable earnings they were too: he charged Rs 15,000 per song. He charged one rupee less than Lata Mangeshkar to show his respect for her and her seniority. And he talked of going back to Khandwa to become a farmer. He shunned people, never smoke or drank and had no friends. Once when a lady gossip writer asked him who his friends were, he took her to his backyard and introduced her to half-a-dozen trees. There they are, he said, Janardhan, Raghunandan, Gangadhar, Jagannath, Budhuram and Jhatpatjhatpat-jhatpat! The lady wrote that he was mad. For many years, even after his death, Radio Ceylon regularly played a Kishore Kumar song on the first of every month – the payday when the common man dreams of taking his wife to a movie starring Dev Anand, Dilip Kumar, Ashok Kumar, Meena Kumari, Nargis and of course Kishore Kumar. The song was Bhool mat jaana aaj pehli tarik hai, khush hai zamana aaj pehli tarik hai! About Kishore Kumar, one may only say: Never before, never again!
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