Remembering Kishore Kumar On His 13th Death Anniversary
Whether singing or composing or acting, Kishore was pre-eminently Kishore, while now looking Fred Astaire, now Frank Sinatra, now Gene Kelly, now Bing Crosby. If a valid comparison is to be drawn in this direction, Kishore Kumar is best envisioned as the Danny Kaye of our cinema. For all that, Kishore only reminded you of […]
Whether singing or composing or acting, Kishore was pre-eminently Kishore, while now looking Fred Astaire, now Frank Sinatra, now Gene Kelly, now Bing Crosby.
If a valid comparison is to be drawn in this direction, Kishore Kumar is best envisioned as the Danny Kaye of our cinema.
For all that, Kishore only reminded you of the art of each one of the above great singer-actors.
Even in so reminding us of them, Kishore was but putting on an act — and hugely enjoying doing so — while remaining, recognisably, Kishore Kumar and no one else.
IT might have taken Kishore Kumar no fewer than 23 years to reach the top; but, once there, he stayed put for the 17 years he lived after Aradhana (1970).
And, no matter how much of an icon R D Burman be in your eyes vis-à-vis Kishore, disabuse your minds of this notion that Pancham did the music of Aradhana.
Nothing of the kind — Sachin Dev-Burman allowed no one, just no one, to influence him in fashioning the tune.
Pancham therefore merely ‘executed’ the tunes of S D Burman, for Kishore, in Aradhana — something that was no more than RD’s job as Dada’s chief assistant.
We do Pancham no justice as a composer in his own ‘light’, his father even less justice as the fountainhead, when we attribute the one’s work to the other.
Each was a stalwart composer in his own idiom, each composed in a style that was distinctively his own.
IN fact, it was from papa Burman that Pancham learnt the art of extracting the best out of Kishore.
I recall, Pancham it was who generally carried Dada’s spool-tape of the tune to Kishore’s home.
S D Burman’s technique was to send the spool-tape of the song to Kishore well in advance.
In his own impish way, Dada had discovered that, once he let Kishore have this tune in hand early, this singer had the amazing knack of ‘acting out’ the entire number in the privacy of his room — before turning up for the first rehearsal.
Pancham himself adopted the same technique in drawing the very best out of Kishore.
Where Dada Burman was divided in his loyalties between Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar, for Pancham, there existed but one male singer — Kishore Kumar.
“There’s no singer like Kishore,” Pancham told me, “if you send the tape of the song to him even two days before the recording.”
“Kishore wants this tape in advance, because he doesn’t just sing a song; he feels it; savours it; experiences it; before entering the music room to record it.”
“My best songs for Kishore,” went on Pancham, “have been done this way.”
“So strikingly different, in fact, was the result when I managed to send the tape to Kishore, two days in advance, that I could, here, offhand reel off the songs done this way, for me, by this my pet performer.”
“I sent the tape of the tune beforehand to Kishore and he came up with O maanjhee re (in Khushboo); Zindagee ke safar mein (in Aap Ki Kasam); Raat kalee ek khwab mein aayee (in Budha Mil Gaya); Musafir hoon yaaron (in Parichay); Diye jalte hain (in Namak
Haraam); and Meree bheegee bheegee see (in Anamika).”
“Plus, in my breakthrough film, Hare Rama Hare Krishna — as a composer with a style all my own — Kishore came up, so notably, with Dekho o deewanon.”
“This without mentioning Kishore’s artistry in my other two breakthrough films: Amar Prem and Kati Patang,” added Pancham.
“In fact, it was with these two films that I truly discerned how much sending the tape, in advance, to Kishore meant — as he gave matchless results in such songs of mine as Yeh kya hua and Kuchch to log kahege; Yeh jo mohabbat hai and Pyaar deewana hota hai, not forgetting Yeh shaam mastanee.”
R D Burman was not a music-maker given to self-praise — he was, in truth, a composer with no ‘sense of achievement’ whatsoever.
Yet the gleam in his eye was there to see, as he narrated the tale of how he came to acquire such a special tuning with Kishore.
But, then, Pancham functioned in times when there was a spool-tape ready to hand to be despatched to Kishore.