Kishore Kumar; The enigmatic genius

Today is the 87th birthday of Kishore Kumar. On this occasion I bring to you a collection of interesting trivia about the Enigmatic genius. All is sourced from information in public domain and i have tried to bring together some little known instances.

It is said that to copy from one is plagiarism and to copy from many is research. I have taken that liberty. Read on to know some rare trivia. In this blog post Kishore is referred as Dada and Ashok Kumar as Dadamoni.

His Childhood. Dada saw DadaMoni’s movie in which Dadamoni was beaten up quite a few times. He later told Dadamoni that he has to fight more as he has lost a few fans in Khandwa.

 He learnt yodeling by listening to his other brother Anoop Kumar’s Austrian records.

Dada never took training to be a singer. Interestingly, Dadamoni himself had taken training from Saraswati Devi. However Dada was self trained. He said he could do little else beside sing and as he was not good in studies he used to compose different tunes for different subjects, giving the example of a tune for a para on Malthusian theory of population.

The accident              The child Kishore had a hoarse grating voice and family elders joked it to be a broken bamboo. He however was committed to singing and kept on doing so. At ten he had a bad accident. His favourite prank was to disturb the things his mother had neatly piled up. One day his mother was chopping vegetables and the young boy banged ito the chopper and one of his tiny toes fell apart. Without surgical facilities or painkillers he was in constant pain and cried non-stop. Continuous crying for more than 20 hours a day continued for a month while the wound gradually healed. Miraculously his voice cleared and became melodious.

College Days  Dada took admission in a prestigious college in Indore after his matriculation. As he had acute stage fright he used to sing from behind the curtains. When he left for Bombay apparently he owed Rs 5.75/- to his college canteen which probably was the inspiration for the “Paanch Rupaiya Baarah Aana” song in his “Chalti ka Naam Gaadi”

His Likes and dislikes            Kishore Kumar was a great fan of Topol. He saw Fiddler on the roof stage show in London consucutivley 4 times and even went to meet him on 9-9-1983 there and took his autograph.  He had seen the movie more than 100 times. Topol presented Dada  a copy of his autobiography, Topol by Topol and Dada presented him records and cassettes of his songs.

Dada’s dislikes were telephone calls, tax problems, cigarette moke, alcohol and the studio routine. He himself never smoked or drank. He never socialized and had very few friends and his best friends being the plants in his garden. In fact he fondly named each one of his plants

Dada and Acting       Dadamoni wanted him to be an actor like himself. However Kishore Da hated being an actor, so much so that he later confessed to Pritish Nandy in an interview in Illustrated weekly that he used to deliberately muff up his lines so that he wont be selected as an actor. Later he liked singing for himself only. The turning point of his singing  for others was after Kalyanji told him that why does he want to slog in the sun instead of singing in AC comfort.

Dada and the Collector. Once Kishore was sipping tea and dipping biscuit in it and gazing out of a window, enjoying nature. he was in a district for a show. The organisers came and requested him to come and meet the DM, a big fan of his and who wants to felicitate him with a bouquet. Dada continued sipping tea and gazing out. He ignored the frequent requests. Finally said, “How many States India has, and how many districts, and how many Collectors / but how many Kishore Kumars are there? Ask him to come and meet me”. The organisers said “Dada, how will so many people come?” Dada said “he can felicitate me through the window”.

And it happened that way. later Dada hugged the DM and said “Dont mind, these chaps should not have disturbed an artiste enjoying nature”.

Dada as hero, others as singer.        As an actor, Kishore Da has had various other singers sing for him. Some of them are  Rafi, Manna Dey, C. Ramchandra,  Mahendra Kapoor and S. D. Baatish . Special Mention is made of the song Aankhon ko Mila yaar se from the movie Bhagam Bhag which is one of the biggest mis-directions in Hindi Movie which had Rafi saab and SD Baatish both singing for Kishore- in the same song

Dada’s uprightness  His uprightness was evident when he refused to play to the tunes of a political party by singing at a Congress rally in Bombay at the “request” of Sanjay Gandhi.   For that the I and B Minister VC Shukla banned his songs (unofficially) from broadcasting and telecasting, but he became even more popular.

He is also perhaps the only producer-director who warned his distributors not to touch his films because they may not run. His reason for doing so? Because he said even he didn’t understand what he had made!

His Death. Dada passed away on the birthday of Dadamoni on 13th October 1987. Hence Dadamoni never celebrated his birthday for the next 13 years till he too passed away. His body was taken to Khandwa for cremation and on his Samadhi it is written “Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna”, from his famous song Chalte Chalte Mere ye geet Yaad Rakhna.

However has Dada died. Of course not, Millions hear him every day. He is immortal.

Part 2 coming up in a couple of days; Dada and his eccentricities.


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