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Kishore Kumar: Outlier of the Hindi cinema

Enkayaar, Bollywood Trade News Network
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According to Malcolm Gladwell, who has written the Book Outlier, which has given a new dimension to the manner in which persons can be analyzed, an Outlier is a person who for one reason or another, is so accomplished and so extraordinary and so outside of ordinary experience that they are an enigma to themselves as to the outside world. Kishore Kumar is one such luminary of the Indian cinema who perfectly fits into the category of the Outlier. Here was a singer who wrote a new chapter in the world of playback singing making all the nuances stand on their head.

Born as Aabhas Kumar Ganguly, Kishore Kumar began his singing career by trying to emulate the voice of Kishore Kumar but he really came into his own element when Sachin Dev Burman took him under his wings and made him the de-facto voice of Dev Anand. As a matter of fact the urban, carefree image that Dev Anand could project through the score of characters that he enacted in the Hindi cinema, obtained the success owing to the mesmerizing voice of Kishore Kumar. Be it "Jeevan ke safar mein Rahi, or "Hum Hain Rahee Pyar Ke", all these songs were able to establish Dev Anand as an urban hero and the element of urbanity got its signature expression through the silken voice of Kishore Kumar. Along with this Kishore Kumar also enacted in various films and gave Hindi cinema songs of hope and brought into light the element of sensitivity in the soul. The song "Aa chal Ke Tujhe" from DOOR GAGAN KI CHAAV MEIN, is one of the most evocative songs that a father could sing to a child in his growing years. Or for that matter "Hawaon pe likh do" another song of hope that does not have parallels, from the film DO DOONI CHAAR, which was set to music by another singer and music director, Hemant Kumar. It was also one of the rare instances where Hemant Kumar had another male playback singer when he himself was giving the music, and a salute to the prowess of Kishore Kumar.

Another facet of Kishore Kumar which no other singer could emulate was in singing the teasing songs being sung for the beloved, be it "Nakhre Wali", or " Ek Ladki Bheegi Bhagi see" or Meri Samne Waali Khdiki Mein", the amount of innocent tease that he could bring in the rendition of the song, without taking recourse to shifting to high octaves, was a feat nobody else has been able to match so far. It was manifest from the zest that Kishore Kumar had for life and the humorous manner in which he tackled life. The same amount of naughtiness he could bring about with the equivalent panache in the duets that he sung and the examples include: Chod Do Aanchal Zamana Kya Kahega, Aasma ke neeche, etc., which still are the swan songs for the lovers across generations in spite of scores of new songs popping up, for the sheer innocent tease that Kishore could bring into his rendition.

It also is one of the poignant facts of the Hindi cinema that though Kishore Kumar was amongst the numero uno singers of the country, the official recognition for him came only when he was awarded the Filmfare Award in 1969. But once the trend of awarding him started, even the officials seemed to have realized there folly, as Kishore Kumar continued to be bestowed with one award after the other till he left for the heavenly abode in 1987.

While S D Burman provided him the real grounding to develop his vocal faculty, it was when he started singing under the baton of Pancham aka R.D. Burman that he really came into his own. Pancham was able to tap his multidimensional prowess to the hilt. SO we had on the one side the idiosyncratic Kishore Kumar in PADOSAN singing Mere Samne waali and Ek Chatur Naar, on the other hand, the romantic Kishore was also manifest in Kehna Hai. While he sang the songs of ARADHANA in the early seventies, and mesmerized the nation with his faculties, even to this day, when one wishes to express romance for a beloved, the search stops with the songs of Kishore Kumar. So diverse is his oeuvre that expression of love in all its multi-faceted dimensions find expression through scores of songs that he sung.

Were it not for his voice, a Rajesh Khanna may not been become a phenomenon, or an Amitabh Bachchan may not become one of the most intense romantics that he appeared in the later stages. A voice of Kishore Kumar even on other actors provided booster shots to their careers, and the example of Rakesh Roshan, Vijay Arora, proves the point to the hilt. He is also one of the rare singers who even sang for his elder brother Ashok Kumar and the naughtiness of elders trying to woo young girls of the likes of Rati Agnihotri comes out in an impacted manner in the song "Jab Bhi Koi Kangana Bole", from the film SHAUKEEN.

Reams can be written about his prowess as he is a genius who rarely walks on this earth and there have been n-number of clones that have tried to emulate him but nobody has been able to cast even a pale shadow on the magic of Kishore Kumar. If love is to be expressed, it can only get expressed through music, and in India there is no parallel to the voice of Kishore Kumar to express it. So let the music play on, as William Shakespeare had said.

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