Kishore Kumar – The Wizard of Odd.
On the birthday of Sh. Abhas Kumar Ganguly, our very own Kishore Kumar, here are some mostly true caricatured anecdotes about him. Primarily an under-appreciated maniacal genius at large, he was also a singer, actor, lyricist, music director, screen writer, producer and director.
1) He got admission in a prestigious college in Indore post his matriculation. Back then he harbored an acute stage fright, singing from behind the curtains and never facing the audience. When he left for Bombay, it is said that he owed an amount of Rs 5.75 to his college canteen; probably an inspiration for the song “Paanch Rupaiya Barah Aana” in Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958).
2) A devout minion of K.L.Saigal, he adored Tagore and was an ardent fan of Hollywood singer-actor Danny Kaye. In his house “Gaurikunj” hung the portraits of these three great personalities. As a rule, each morning Kishore would bow before them in respect, believing the Guru is supreme. 3) Once he started acting as if he had his son accompanying him everywhere. He would talk with an imagined son, in a child’s voice and reply with his own. If he didn’t like a song while recording, he would say in the child’s voice “baba yeh gana achha nahi hai” (Dad, this song is lousy). Point made, he would reply, chastising the boy “nahin beta aise nahi bolte, ghar pe jake bolna” (Son, such things should be said at home and not in public). His colleagues ultimately named this child ‘manas putra’ (The child of imagination).
4) Uncomfortable with the subject (man dying of cancer) and the young age of the character he was asked to play in Anand (1971), he tried hard to refuse Hrishikesh Mukherjee, who only wanted him to play the lead. On the scheduled day of shooting, he appeared with his head shaved. A furious Hrishida immediately cancelled the shoot and switched to Rajesh Khanna. Kishore, the de-facto voice of Khanna had no song in Anand. The patch up was swift, when he sang in Budhha Mil Gaya(1971).
5) He and his trusted driver Abdul, who always went to collect payment on his behalf, had a secret code. Arriving at the recording studio, if he saw Abdul’s cup of tea covered, it signaled money received; not covered meant no go.
One day on arrival, he saw the uncovered cup and vanished from the studio. After waiting for hours, Abdul found him at Juhu beach. On inquiring he told Abdul, “Your cup was not covered. I won’t sing without my payment.” Flummoxed, Abdul asked him, “Dada, kaun payment karega? Aapki film hain, aap hi producer hain.” (Sir, who will pay for this recording. You are the producer of this film).
6) So this producer pays him half in advance and promises he would pay the rest on completion. The next day, when the lights were switched on, they found Kishore with half a make-up on. “Full money, full make-up” he told the producer. 7) In another crazy incident, Kishore was giving a shot of driving past the camera in his car. The unmindful director forgot to say “CUT” and he kept on driving straight to Khandala from the film set.
8) A throat busting 21 day rehearsal resulted in the song “Ek Chatur nar kar ke singar” for the film Padosan (1968). Though humorous, it was based in classical music for which Pancham was not particularly known. Manna Dey, the maestro in classical renditions was taken aback to discover the untrained Kishore deliver his part so effusively. He later revealed,” I was singing in terms of singing, but Kishore caught the spirit of the song. Oh! What a brilliant singer he is!” Genius acknowledging genius.
9) At a recording for Bhappi Lahiri at Bombay Film Labs, who was attired in a flowing kurta and his trademark jewellery, Bhappi waited when someone told him that Kishore had come, peeped into the room and left. A baffled Bhappida ran out and just managed to stop his car inside studio gate. On being asked, “Where were you? I looked but never saw you!”, Bhappi assured him he was there. Realizing his visual error, Kishore told him, “My dear, you should stop dressing like this. From behind, I actually thought ,I’m in the wrong studio and Usha Khanna (a famous lady music director) was recording here.” Bhappida still doesn’t pay heed.
10) “Beware of Kishore” was a door sign at his Warden Road flat, while his bungalow was being spruced up. Producer-director H. S. Rawail, who owed him some money, visited his flat to pay the dues. After taking the money, when Rawail offered to shake his hand, when Kishore allegedly bit his hand and remarked “Didn’t you see the sign?”.
He often spoke to the trees in his house and had named them – Jankinandan, Hariniranjan, Amrutanjan & Fatafat. And would you believe that Satyajit Ray stood up and applauded a film directed by Kishore and commented “this would be understood by the audience only after 25 years”. It was Badhti Ka Naam Dadhi (1974). People are still figuring it out.
And now for the dry facts:
Birthday: 4th August, 1929 in Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh.
Date of Death: 13th October, 1987 in Mumbai.
Spouses: Ruma Guha Thakurta (1951-1958) (divorced)
Madhubala (1961-1969) (her death)
Yogeeta Bali (1976-1978) (divorced)
Leena Chandavarkar (1980-1987) (his death)
Debut Film as Singer: Shikari (1946) in the chorus.
Breakthrough Film as Singer: Ziddi (1948)
Debut Film as Actor: Andolan (1951).
Breakthrough Film as Actor : Naukri (1954).
Awards: Eight Filmfare Awards for Best Playback Singer (maximum in the category).
Guess who all are in this picture and recording for which film?
And to sample his eccentric individual style, check this out. It’s a lyrical condensation of the Bollywood’s stalwarts in purely insane, Kishoreda style.