He was more than a playback singer. Someone who could sing, act and compose songs. He was the man who made yodelling a rage, Kishore Kumar is synonymous with an exhaustive repertoire.
Singer Surojit Guha calls him the Michael Jackson of his times. “I had the good fortune of watching his live performance in Chennai in 1978. Seriously, he was the Michael Jackson of our times; much more talented at that. For one, the sheer energy and entertainment element of the man were extraordinary, something timeless and attractive through ages. His style was also comparatively modern, even though he belonged to a retro era. His versatility enabled him to be used by a whole range of composers across generations which made him topical. Incorrigible, audacious, yet absolutely sincere to the task at hand, I believe that his raw, unplugged talent are what listeners have found fascinating across time,” he says. JS Shekar another big name in the music circle recounts a show Ek Hee Awaaz, that brought down the singer’s family to Chennai for the programme, which was a benchmark when a famous son paid a tribute to his legendary father.
“Amit Kumar admitted to me that he had never done a full concert as a tribute to his father but his Chennai experience set the pace. Sumit Kumar, Kishore Kumar’s son from Leena Chandavarkar also joined in the tribute and so did Chandavarkar herself. On that night, I remember, she literally let go of her emotions about how she missed her legendary husband, and as he always sang to her, she sang: kuch to log kahenge, logon ka kaam hain kehna. Kishore da’s voice, indeed was Ek Hee Awaaz,” he says.
Singer Pramod Nair, the founder of Satrangi, says Kishore Kumar made him take to singing. “It was a revelation for me when I first heard Zindagi ke safar mein from Aap Ki Kasam on Chitrahaar. I was struck by the pathos, I immediately got sucked in by his voice,” he says.
Nair recollects a performance at a private show that had some celebrities as guests. “Actor Mohanlal was invited to sing and he sang dil kya kare from Julie. That explains why Kishore is a voice for all times and occasions,” he adds.
However, imitating Kishore Kumar comes with its challenges and Guha agrees, “You could call a tune challenging or easy, based on your own abilities. But to recreate the magic of Kishore “treatment”, it took me over two sleepless months of research, eating, breathing, sleeping his songs, videos and biographies, till I started having dreams of Kishore and almost psyched a few well-wishers in my preparation for a tribute show Salaam! Kishore Da, last year. The experience left me infinitely richer, humble and deeply indebted."