I admit that music is my biggest weakness and strength in life. It has given me all the calm and happiness I could have ever asked for. And I would also like to admit that Hindi film music of the 1960s and 1970s is the closest to my heart and life. Today is the 88th birth anniversary of the singer who has ruled my heart since childhood and whose magic will continue to dominate the space I call a world of my own.
Kishore Da — when we call him by this name — we can feel that he is a part of our family, part of our life, just like a dear friend. For years, his songs have echoed in our hearts and moved us to tears or made us smile even when we are not in too happy a mood.
His incredible versatility and range placed him a little higher than the other singers of the industry. While I was growing up, Kishore Da, Mohammed Rafi, Mukesh, Manna Dey and Mahendra Kapoor were the singers who were heard the most. Each had his place and fan following.
But there was this special voice, full of power and rich with emotion, that reached out to the world in its full beauty in 1969 when we got our first superstar, Rajesh Khanna with the film Aradhana.
It was as if this voice had been awaiting the face all these years while singing for the other heroes.
With this film bursting into the horizon, a new superstar and a super singer changed the very texture of Hindi cinema.
Songs like “Mere Sapno’n ki Rani kab ayegi tu”, “Kora Kagaz tha yeh mann mera” and “Roop Tera Mastana” would be played everywhere.
This was a new sound altogether! Kishore Da had come into his own, finally! His unique genius had to be recognised in this grand manner — there was no doubt about that. However, becoming the voice of Rajesh Khanna was a turning point that, perhaps, even Kishore Da had never anticipated.
In the way Mukesh was Raj Kapoor’s voice and Rafi Sa’ab Shammi Kapoor’s voice, Kishore Da could be clearly thought of as being the voice of the amazingly talented “Kaka”.
We have all heard stories about the eccentric behaviour of this great musical genius. We have laughed at his crazy sense of humour, which seems a far cry from the seriousness we find in a large number of the soulful songs he rendered.
He was a gypsy at heart. The immeasurable depth of many of Kishore Da’s songs is what has tugged at the hearts of listeners for decades and continues to do so. Here I would like to mention “Koi Hota jisko apna, ham apna keh lete yaaro”, “Zindagi ke safar mein guzar jaate hain jo makaam, woh phir nahin aatey”, “Teri duniya se, hoke majboor chala”, “Kaise kahein ham, pyaar ne hamko, kya kya khel dikhaaye”, “Mere mehboob qayamat hogi, aaj ruswaa teri galiyon mein mohabbat hogi” and “Khizaa’n ke phool pe aati kabhi bahaar nahin”.
The Gulzar-RD Burman-Kishore Kumar magic has to be heard to be believed. The songs of Aandhi come to mind as soon as I think of this combination. With the one and only Lata ji, Kishore Da entered our hearts crooning, “Tere Bina Zindagi se Shikwa nahin” and “Tum aa gaye ho, noor aa gaya hai”. And these melodies have stayed in our hearts.
While I am a great fan and admirer of Rafi Sa’ab, when I compare the rendition of “Tum bin jaaun kahaan” by Kishore Da with that by Rafi Sa’ab in the movie Pyar ka Mausam, I tend to be carried away by the Kishore Da version. It is so much more vibrant and moving!
One can never forget the song from “Door Gagan ki chhaon mein” where Kishore Da invites us to a land which has no sorrow, no tears — it only has love. It is a land of eternal happiness. “Aa chal ke tujhe main leke chalun, ik aise gagan ke taley, jahan gham bhi na ho, aansoo bhin na ho’n, bas pyaar hi pyaar paley”.
The lyrics, music and voice for the song have Kishore Da written all over them. It shows us the multifaceted genius that he was. A spontaneous and natural actor, an artist who sang from the depths of his soul; a director, a lyricist and a music composer. And he is the one on whom the song is picturised. He was indeed a chosen one of the gods!
He gave us so much joy when he was alive. I often wonder, had he been with us today, would he have lived like the happy-go-lucky old man (in disguise) he portrayed in some of his films, including Pyaar Kiye Jaa.
He knew comedy so well. And his voice knew how to create connections of the soul. This is the voice that will sustain a world of beauty and dreams we can enjoy living in when we get tired of our own hectic lives.
When John Keats said, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases”, he must have been thinking of something as beautiful as Kishore Da’s voice.