One wonders if Rajesh Khanna would have enthralled a million hearts if Kishore da had not voiced some of the biggest chart-busters of the first superstar. The same holds good for some top songs of Big-B. Kishore Kumar fondly known to his legion of followers as Kishore da was the younger brother of Ashok Kumar a fascinating actor who enthralled three generations of movie-lovers. But this post is not about Dadamoni it is about Kishore da and what he means to me.
The Indian cinematic system is a strange one, for over a 100 years we have been making movies, once audio came in – song and dance became integral to the movie-making process. The early years of the talkies saw singers who became successful stars; as the years progressed and war and revolution and independence and nation-building commenced the public wanted bonafide stars who could dance, fight, sing emote and a hundred other things from horse-riding to archery.
Playback singing in Bollywood from KL Saigal and Mukesh and Mohammed Rafi all legends in their own right brought out the nuances of the characters on screen. When Kishore Kumar burst upon the scene; he had the fortune of powerful rhythmic tunes, great lyrics and some of the best looking actors of the time. Kishore also acted and produced movies; he had immense success as a comic star. Half-ticket, Funtoosh, Padosan are wonderful for the manic wit of the star.
This post is about the songs, the power, the pain, the anguish and paranoia of a genius whose personal life was a mess; his wives left him; he had so many acquaintances and contacts but no true friend; a loner whose only solace was the songs that he sung and the satge shows that would become an integral part of the last decade of his life.
When I read the tributes that appear in newspapers, magazines and websites, I wonder, what is the price of fame and success? The anguish that the performer’s soul undergoes but still manages to ring crystal clear like a bell and sing, dance and act. There are somethings that just cannot be understood or explained. Sometimes i fear for myself when I realize all my heroes in real life and in fiction are loners who die a sad anguished death. Guru Dutt, Hemingway, Sahir Ludhianvi, Charlie Chaplin; the list just goes on. Perhaps it is a Piscean trait that loners bond together – I just don’t know!
In times like these when one just reflects on one’s solitude and pain there is just music for company, just music!