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Kishore Kumar - A Tribute

Filmfare November 1987 Article
(Kishore Kumar passed away on October 13 1987)

"Zindagi ko bahut pyar humne diya, Maut se bhi mohabbat nibhayenge hum" he sang. You bet he is doing just that, keeping everyone up there spellbound with his songs of life - and death, or in stitches with his comic antics.

A couple of years ago, he declared he was planning to return to Khandwa, his hometown. No one expected him to keep his word. The way he did - his last journey.

Did he really hate the world or the film industry? Not likely. For hating is sustained, moronic hard work - of a kind Kishore Kumar never relished. Not that he was the easy going kind - he put an immense amount of work in his films. They had titles like "Door Ka Rahi", "Door Gagan Ki Chhaon Mein", "Door Waadiyon Mein Kahin". They were about the pain of living, not belonging, going away. He was producer, director, actor, singer, composer, lyricist, and, very nearly, cinematographer as well.

More likely, he was running away from himself. No one can really say why. A sensitive man, he probably couldn't take the ruthlessness, the nitty-gritty of the work-a-day world. A sentence from one of his early interviews to Filmfare is still fresh in our minds: "Money, money, that's all that matters." He was of course to make plenty of it! He was full of contradictions.

After a performance tour of the US with Lata Mangeshkar, he told us, "I'll never sing with Lata again." Some little peeve. Of course he went on singing with Lata. He sent her a placatory letter declaring how full of brotherly love he was for her. He took pride in not smoking or drinking but he indulged other-wise. He didn't seem the marrying kind, but he married four times. If you wondered how the women stood him, he would surely have said he wondered himself. Often, he gave the impression of a man who couldn't stand himself.

He disliked crowds but loved his audience. When they warmed up to him, he would go all out to entertain them. He went all out at our own award shows. Once he occupied the stage for a good hour and a half. Later, we learnt he had a video recording made for his own purpose. But never mind, that was Kishore.

A seeming recluse and misanthrope, he put show into stage shows. He started them apparently to earn money to pay his income tax arrears. He made Kishore Kumar live by prancing around the stage, fooling around. But as Filmfare once said of him, it takes brains to be a fool.

He could have had a marvellous career as an actor. When other ac- tors were busy trying to be serious, he succeeded in being seriously funny. But he virtually threw away his acting career, building up a notoriety for late coming or bunking shootings. Then Aradhana brought him back as a singer.

They say he was always difficult. It was tough to get him to come to recordings, but no playback singer took more pains over his songs. He was the first singer to sing not only for his audience but for the star on screen - he could be a Dev Anand, a Rajesh Khanna, a Sanjeev Kumar, an Amitabh Bachchan.

He wanted people to keep a distance from him, but his songs brought people close to him. When you are very happy or very sad, you want to listen to Kishore Kumar.

On the very evening he died, with mourners still paying their last respects to him at home, Doordarshan telecast a Kishore Kumar- Kalyanji- Anandji show. In the midst of it, Kishore said, "Kalyanjibhai, gaate gaate mar gaye."

Goodbye friend and stranger, always so near and so far away, exasperatingly difficult yet lovable, full of guile yet transparent. And so abundantly talented.

Back to Kishore Kumar




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