Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Kishore Kumar - the master entertainer of bollywood

Kishore Kumar – the master entertainer of bollywood.

By: Souvik Chatterji.

Kishore Kumar can be considered as one of the immortal entertainers of bollywood who had remained alive in the minds of his numerous admirers across the world. Different TV Channels these days conduct programs on Kishore Kumar and nurture new talents who exhibit singing styles similar to that of Kishore Kumar. His contribution to Indian cinema range from his acting skills to dancing capabilities, singing style to production, direction, etc.

In the mid-50s Kishore Kumar was mainly associated with the Navketan Banner where he provided playback in major films of Dev Anand and his songs like “jeevan ke safar me rahi”, “dukhi man”, etc., which were big hits. His own performance in films like Chalti ka naam gaari, Jhumru, Half Ticket, etc., were very significant. In Chati Ka Naam Gaari, where he acted along with his brothers Ashok Kumar and Anup Kumar, the story showed the life of a car mechanic who had his own garage and unearthed the unlawful deeds of KN Singh in the film. The different sequences in the film were dealt with comedy, including the scene where he wins a car race with his defective car, and at every part of the film Kishore Kumar improvised with his acting skills. His songs with Asha Bhosle including “haal kaisa hai janab ka” was very successful. Half Ticket showed the character of a grown up person whose mind was not matured to that extent. Kishore Kumar almost made the viewers jump out of their seats when his uncle played by Pran, had forcibly put him in mental asylum or when dogs chased him within the film and when he rode on top of a bulldozer and kicked a ball which entered the goal in football stadium in Kolkata. Kishore Kumar also suited himself with the westernised composition of Salil Chowdhury in songs like “aankho me hi tum hi tum ho”.

Kishore Kumar showed his immense comedy skills in other films like Dilli Ka Thag, Mr. X in Bombay, Padosan, and Bengali films like “lukochuri”, “dushtu projapoti”, etc. In Padosan, he performed the role of an actor in nautankis and trained Sunil Dutt to sing songs and sung them in his place to impress the next door neighbour played by Saira Banu. H faced a music competition against Manna Dey in “ek chatur nar” where his non-classical improvisations bewildered the classical notion of Manna Dey. In the 70s , Kishore Kumar concentrated on singing and by the 80s he became the most popular singer of bollywood.

He could soften his voice for the playback of Rajesh Khanna and deepen his bass for the playback of Amitabh Bacchan and it appeared to the viewers that it was the actor who was singing. His composition for his own film Door Gagan ki chaon me, in songs like “bus pyar hi pyar fale” shows his skills in the other fields.

Besides he had provided a number of songs in sombre mood, which had touched the souls of many listeners like “o sham kuch ajeeb thi”, “ teri duniya se”, “ zindagi ka safar”, “pal pal dilke paas”, “hum bewafa hargis na the”, “ mera jeevan kora kagaz”, “tere bina zindagi me shikwa”, “sagar kinare,”, etc. Although lack of classical training raises questions on the singing capacity of Kishore Kumar, his co-singers like Asha Bhosle had neutralised the argument by saying that he could imitate different persons, and his capability of modifying his voice to suit the sequence of the films had made him immortal in playback singing history. Just like the way different singers like Shabbir Kumar, Anwar, Mohammad Aziz were tried when Mohammad Rafi died in 1980, as composers could not understand how to replace to Rafi, similarly, Kumar Shanu, Abhijit, Babul Supriyo all made major contribution when Kishore Kumar died in late 80s, because he provided playback for all the leading actors at that time. Till today huge number of singers of the modern generation imitate Kishore Kumar and he is alive in his numerous songs and performances. It is a big debate whether Kishore Kumar was a greater actor or a greater singer. In fact all his acting skills were embedded in his singing and that is why he could sing either like a drunkard, or like a happy person, or show the different emotions of different actors, etc. His films and songs should be preserved to show that playback singing requires the understanding of the emotions of the actors and if the singer is an actor like Kishore Kumar, then songs become realistic, melodious and lively.


A S MURTY said...

Kishore Kumar was undoubtedly one of the most versatile singers that our country has produced. He had a range and depth in his vocal chords and next only to Mohd Rafi, Kishore was unparalleled. He suited Rajesh Khanna to the hilt, right from "MERE SAPNON KI RAANI" AND 'ROOP TERA MASTANA PYAR MERA DIWANA" from Aaradhana. There was no looking back for this super duo and they churned out hits after hits. Among the songs that you have mentioned from his early days, one song - PYAR BANTATE CHALO - is once again a superb rendition. There are umpteen number of songs which have the "Kishore-Da" stamp all over them and they too cannot be copied, for e.g. MERA JEEVAN KORA KAGAZ KORA HI RAH GAYA, MERE NAINA SAWAN BHADON, VAADA TERA VAADA (DUSHMAN), etc. In fact, even the duets and chorus songs from all his movies are real gems. In the film Dushman, the title song which is a chorus one - MAINE DEKHA TUNE DEKHA - just listen to the last stanza wherein the reference is made to Meena Kumari (the widow to whom he had done the "wrong"). Kishore excelled in singing that stanza -SABNE MAAF KIYA MUJHKO PAR MAIN HUN JISKA DOSHI, KAB TOOTEGI USKE GHAYAL HOTON KI KHAMOSHI.....
Take another one for example, from the film AAP AAYE BAHAR AAYEE(all other songs by Mohd. Rafi), this chorus is a real beauty - TUMKO BHI TOH AISA HI KUCH HOTA HOGA OH SAJNA, KAISA KAISA ??".

Then the song of the decade in my opinion - KUCH TOH LOG KAHENGE, LOGON KA KAAM HAI KAHNA - AMAR PREM. These songs show the multi-talented character that Kishore Da was.

Besides being an adept singer, Kishore had the ability to act, compose, score music and also to edit and direct films. He was a one-man industry in himself. It would not be possible to write about him in just one article, far less in a comment to one, but good effort on one of my favourite singers.

Rumi said...

Kishore Kumar did not learn classical sining in the strictest sense of the term, yet his musical year had enbaled him to get acclamatised to any form of composition including the use of harmony, yardling, etc. Truly his acting capacity had enhanced his singing dimension. His performance in Parosan in songs like "o meri pyari bindu" shows his over-all talent. Most of the singers of this generation follow his style of singing.
Rumi Chatterji

V. Manohar said...

Kishore Kumar is well suited only to Super Star Rajesh Khanna not to others and undoubtedly one of the most versatile singers in the Bollywood.

Sidharth said...

he was the best singer and will alaways remain the best!!

Unknown said...

Kishore Kumar is perhaps the only singer who could very nearly match the voice of the actors for whom he sung which is the necessary essence of playback singing.

Mohammad Rafi had a good range but I have found all his songs to bear the same 'voice'. Its very difficult (if you are not aware of whom the song was filmed upon) to 'guess' the actor for which Rafi had rendered.

All in all when we talk about 'playback singing' I think Kishore Kumar is the ultimate playback singer. Rafi, Mukesh, et al are great singers but they have a monotonic voice.., somehow I can't understand how they excelled in the playback industry, and why these 2 were considered over Kishore da, maybe it was the difference in the age of these 2 and Kishore da, Kishore da was 5-6 years younger than these 2, and hence I think these 2 gained an upper hand in the '50s and '60s.

Anonymous said...

It is quite surprising to note PC 's comment who says Rafi and mukesh songs had monotonic voices. I would like to comment on Mukesh as he was a singer of limited dimension. Mohd rafi was never montonic otherwsie he would not have lasted the period of almost
4o years of Play back sisnging. Rafi had wonderfully mellifluous , silken voice who could sing in almost all the scales. From extremely difficult songs like Kuhu Kuhu bole koeliya , to extremley tragic songs like Babul ki dua leti ja, to Madhuban me Radihka to Pukarta chala hoon main and numerous extremely touching Ghazalas , Bhajans like Sukh mein sab sathi, timeless eternal romantic songs, to wonderful yodelling as well in the film Reporter Raju - Challe ho kaha Kaho and Hello Sweety Seventeen with Asha Bhonsle and so on. The list will never end. It is surprising to note the comment that Kishor Kumar coiuld match anyones voice - Kishor was preferred by Deva Anand as possibly he wanted an identity - Raj Kapoor had Mukesh, Dilip Kumar had Rafi and Dev had Kishor though Rfai has no less 50 timeless numbers for Dev.Kishor sounded better for rajseh Khann and even better for Amitabh because his vpoice had a abritone bass effect.
Rfai was muich better suited to Shammi, Shashi, Rajendra Kumar, SUnil Dutt, Jeetendra, Dharmendra ,Dilip Kumar, Joy Moukerjee, Biswajeet,Manoj Kumar as well. He gave hits unlimted for years together not just for nothing. He also has several hits for Rajsh Khanna. - He is the Mount Everst of Indain Playback singing . Kishor was a natural genius and Manna Dey was a superbly Trained Singer. Rafi was Gifted , natural and trained - all in one. His voice carried the smartness and the effervescence of youth. It exuded the mastery of a complete singer. Any one listening to his songs will think of a hero or the the central caharcter of the film. Such was his quiality of singing. In fact I am great die hard fan of Kishor but even a greater fan of Rafi . I also have deep respct for Manna Dey. Rafi was the Mount Everest and Kishor definitely the majestic Kanchunjungha and Manna Dey the magnificient Nanda Devi.
No fights - no arguments please - they are all greats and please let us consider ourselves lucky that we had three such great singers and please we are defintely not musical Pundits like the great Music directors of yester years that we can comment and pass judgement on the voice of Mohd Rafi. Personal prefernces are always Okay as long as they are not judgemental.

Anonymous said...

yes ,it is true all the famous four were and are like celestial beings. without doubt,their voice would make one speechless and motionless. taliking per se about abhash babu's rendetions they had a tremendous impact on one's mind .allow a great music system which manages finer aspects of a tone to emmanate abhash da's voice . close your eyes ,you will start feeling the voice engulfing your body and not just striking your mind through your ears.
listen to the duet Kabhi Kabhi sapna lagta Hai from Ratnadeep