KK: Tugging at the heart strings of a generation

His songs marked the arrival of every adoration and the parting of every friendship
KK passed away on Tuesday night, after performing at a college fest in Kolkata, reportedly from cardiac arrest.
KK passed away on Tuesday night, after performing at a college fest in Kolkata, reportedly from cardiac arrest.

MUMBAI: For those of us growing up in the 2000s, KK (Krishnakumar Kunnath) was the voice of our hearts. I remember his songs wafting through the windows of a house, where a kid’s birthday party was on. Ab Toh Forever from Ta Ra Rum Pum played on a hiccupping DVD player as children, in conical hats, tossed a cushion around.

From the glimpses of first love (Ankhon Mein Teri) to the blissfulness of a relationship (Haan Tu Hain), his melodies accompanied our most intimate moments. When Salman Khan rolls down a sand dune in the agony of unrequited love as KK’s Tadap Tadap Ke plays in the backdrop, even those who’ve never had a break-up felt like screaming into the sun. Awaarapan Banjarapan boomed in loose headphones of the angsty teenager smoking his first cigarette. Aashayein was the anthem on the night before an exam.

Yaaron was the intimation that a school farewell party needed wrapping up, but, almost always, it was Dus Bahaane that played on the DJ in the end. It now feels like a part of our childhood has departed. KK passed away on Tuesday night, after performing at a college fest in Kolkata, reportedly from cardiac arrest.

KK grew up in Delhi, in a Malayali family. Songs of Mohammad Rafi, Kishore Kumar and R.D Burman shaped his musical acumen. He went to music school for a few days but didn’t continue. He was blessed with the ability to learn a song just by hearing it. His resolve strengthened after he came to know that his revered Kishore Da, too, had no formal training in music.


KK started out with singing jingles. Then TV happened and he voiced the title songs of Just Mohabbat and Hip Hip Hurray. Sometime in 1991, the singer married his childhood sweetheart Jyothy Krishna, whom he credited for giving him a much-needed push. He even took a sales job for a few months in order to tie the knot with Jyothy. He said that Jyothy made him move from Delhi to Mumbai in 1994. “She made me take a decision which on my own I wouldn’t have taken. She helped me get out of a certain state of mind,” KK had said.

His first solo album Pal released in 1999 with composer Leslee Lewis. Songs like Pyar ke Pal and Aap Ki Dua became the voice of the 90s youngster. KK started his foray into Hindi film music with Chhod Aaye Hum Woh Galiyan, from Gulzar’s Maachis, where he shared the mic with Vishal Bhardwaj, Hariharan, Suresh Wadkar and Vinod Sehgal. Not just Hindi - he also recorded songs in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Bengali, Assamese and Gujarati, proving his mettle as a pan-Indian singer. Strawberry Kanne from Minsara Kanavu comes to mind... The list goes on.

As I write this, social media is flooded with videos of the late singer,sweating profusely while being taken from the concert venue in Kolkata, where he breathed his last. The organisers have been accused of improper arrangements. Opposition parties are blaming those in power. In another video, KK is seen singing Pyar Ke Pal as thousands of cellphone flashlights sway in the air. He substitutes the lyrics and sings ‘Ye hain Kolkata ke Pal’ as people cheer. In a world where not many people live doing what they love, it’s even rarer to die for it. Zindagi Do Pal Ki.

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