Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Kishore Kumar: Random Thoughts Past Midnight

Kishore Kumar's voice is like your car. You like it, you love it, and you need it every day, except maybe on the odd holiday when you stay at home. It cruises you through the roads and streets of life. The day your car goes for service, and you are forced to take public transport, it feels like being imprisoned in the home of a host who has nothing but Mukesh or Rafi in his music collection, and you have to pretend to feel the pain as one song after the other whines about heartbreak.

And then there are days when you drive your car not to get to your destination, but just to get the feel of driving it. One of those days when you on a long drive, only because you love your car. Today was one such day for me, when a friend and I were in the Kishore Kumar mood/mode, exchanging his songs and listening to them and feeling ecstatic. What a pleasure it is when your friend has never heard of a particular mind-blowing number that you cherish, and you proudly unveil it for him or her, as if you were the creator of the song!

Needless to say, Kishore Kumar has been humming inside my head since morning. Therefore this post.

It is very rare that I have agreeable company whenever I am get into the Kishore-Kumar mode. Even though those are the moments you badly crave for company -- not just anyone, but someone who feels exactly like the way you do for Kishore Kumar. But how can I find company at three or four in the morning? That's when, once I finish my quota of writing and drinking, I go to You Tube and listen to Kishore Kumar and R.D. Burman. The rarer the videos/song, the more joy they bring. Alcohol, of course, magnifies the joy. Often I share the joy on Facebook, by posting a song or two -- a completely meaningless exercise because I am posting something that people are perhaps already familiar with, but how else does one share joy online?

The thing about Kishore Kumar is -- well, his voice. The way he 'threw' his voice into the microphone; the way he modulated it, as if it was a highly malleable piece of metal; the way he infected you with it -- a sheer work of genius! Rafi was a genius in his own way; there are songs I can never imagine anyone else singing -- the two that instantly come to my mind are Koi sone ke dilwala (Maya) and Dard-e-dil, dard-e-jigar (Karz). If Kishore Kumar is the car, Rafi is the bullock cart, who gently takes around the countryside, the bullocks kicking up the smell of Indian soil.

The only composers who recognised their respective talents, and showcased a healthy mix of them in movies, were the father-son duo of S.D. Burman and R.D. Burman. Guide, Jewel Thief, Aradhana, Hum Kisi Se Kam Nahin, Yaadon Ki Baarat -- they all had Kishore and Rafi singing their own kinds of songs without overshadowing each other.

But.

When you think Aradhana, you think Mere sapnon ki rani or Kishore humming Eh hey, ah ha ha, ah ha (before singing Kora kaagaz thha yeh man mera); when you think Guide, it has to be Gaata rahe mera dil; when you think Jewel Thief, the songs that instantly come to your mind are Yeh dil, na hota bechara or Aasman ke neeche. When you think of Hum Kisi Se Kam Nahin, it has to be the lively Bachna ae haseeno, lo mein aa gaya.

Well, that's the difference between Kishore and Rafi. Rafi is the glass of drink that soothes you after a long day, but Kishore is the minty toothpaste that shakes you out of slumber and energises you in a matter of seconds -- and it doesn't have to be only in the morning. Yoodlee-oo!

May be continued.

9 comments:

Ardra said...

should be continued...

Madhurima said...

Nice one. I think one can go on and on writing about Kishore Kumar songs. There are songs for different moods.Kishore Kumar Songs and Rabindra Sangeet have one thing in common- just when you think you have heard them all a new one comes up.

Kishore Kumar Songs are intoxicating enough who needs alchohol with it?

Janani Sampath said...

Aah.. so you d agree Rafi was Kishore's nemesis....;) I reiterate, my fav Kiku number is woh shaam kucch ajeeb thi (Khamoshi), followed by koi humdum na raha (Jhumroo)... well, these happened long before aradhana was released :))))

Bishwanath Ghosh said...

"Aah.. so you d agree Rafi was Kishore's nemesis....;)"

Ms Sampath, how did you arrive at such a conclusion? Did you even read the post?

Madhurima, I completely agree. You have put it so beautifully. And with due apologies to the purists, I think Kishore Kumar breathes life even into Rabindra Sangeet, which otherwise sounds so dramatically mournful unless it is the good, old Hemanta.

Janani Sampath said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Janani Sampath said...

lol coz u mentioned rafi inadvertently, i guess!!!!:)))))if tht wasn't true.. then why shud rafi appear here?u haven't mentioned mukesh, manna dey or talat.. which means when u speak about kiku, rafi has to be discussed :)))


"it feels like being imprisoned in the home of a host who has nothing but Mukesh or Rafi in his music collection, and you have to pretend to feel the pain as one song after the other whines about heartbreak"


I have a question for you: why should one singer's greatness be validated by comparing him to his contemporaries? isn't it a fact that those days, each singer had his own niche? Even music experts grapple when asked to name the best singer of all-time. If talat was silky, Rafi was intoxicating, Mukesh was soothing and Manna Dey was plain pleasure to listen to. Kishore was no doubt energizing. Can we compare, intoxication, pleasure energizing and silken? And there was Hemant Kumar a delight in his own right.I think, that was the greatness of the era. No monopoly be it male singers or composers. Can you say if SD burman was better or Shankar Jaikishen? If I like one, I don't have to lessen the greatness of the other. Despite being a Rafi fan, I can't deny I love Kishore in the songs i mentioned in my previous comment and I would never claim Rafi could have done a better job at that.

My two cents of thoughts..:))

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

This post started off beautifully. Yes, I have an emotional connect with Kishore Kumar that I never had with Rafi Saab. Perhaps because we grew up listening to Kishore's Bangla adhunik as well as his Hindi songs.

Kishore Kumar is family. Frailties, mistakes, supposed weaknesses - all these are secondary to his position as a much-loved family member. Rafi Saab has respect, admiration, acknowledgement, but despite the fact that he was by all accounts a wonderful human being as well, I do not have that emotional connect with him.

May I suggest you take this forward in a series of posts on Kishore? Preferrably without any comparison with Rafi Saab or other greats; that is avoidable because it might make your comments section resemble Rediff's!

And thanks to Dipta for the link to your blog.

J.A.P.

Neha said...

One of the first CDs I got when we got our car were of Kishore Kumar's songs and 9 out of 10 times, we are listening to him while driving. I agree, his voice is magic!

Abhishek Mukherjee said...

This is a comment from someone who listened to "na koi dil mein samaya" (Aa Gale Lag Jaa) in a loop for about an hour a few days back.

Brilliant start to the post, and then, it left me gaping for more. Please, please continue this. We need more, especially in these Himesh-struck dark days.