What can one say about Kishore Kumar? With his madness, his genius and his yodelling?
Can you imagine that he never trained as a singer and he never even planned to be one?!
His genius lies not just in his incredible singing voice but also in his capacity to mimic. If you listen to his songs with your eyes closed you can actually imagine which of the actors he was singing for , and he sang for them all—Dev Anand, Rajesh Khanna, Shashi Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Raj Kapoor, Rajendra Kumar.
It is impossible to list top ten or even top 100 favourites due to the sheer volume of songs and his incredible versatility. So here are random 12 songs from my long list which reflect his variety and I hope you enjoy them!
- Hawaon pe likh do hawaon ke naam: This relatively little known song is a delight. From the 1970 movie Do Dooni Char, which apparently is the predecessor to Angoor. See if you can guess who the child artiste is!
2. A mad caper from Half Ticket which is such a delightful movie! Some of the song and dance sequences are so hilarious that one cannot imagine they could have been choreographed at all. Madhubala reveals a perfect flair for comedy too !
3. An eternal classic, thoughtful and solemn. The movie itself was a dramatic emotional roller coaster , with misunderstandings and badly timed letters worthy of a Thomas Hardy novel !
4. What an incredible song ! He manages to convey the lifetime of longing of Sanjeev Kumar which is also tinged with a cautious optimism and is matched by the joyful and soaring voice of Lata singing for Suchitra Sen
5. Uttam Kumar brooding and melancholy, a boat ride on an open sea and Kishore Kumar is pitch perfect in conveying the emotions.
6. A strange but entertaining film- Anamika, with Sanjeev Kumar and Jaya Bhaduri. They must be the only pair to have played such a varied combination of roles with each other! Father and daughter in Parichay, Father- in- law and widowed daughter- in- law in Sholay, star crossed lovers in Anamika, deaf mute couple in Koshish.
7. The ’70s were the days when it was considered romantic to drown your sorrows in drink, when every sex worker had a heart of gold and all love was doomed. If you swoon over Chingari koi bhadke’ then you will absolutely love this video which shows the ‘mistake’ that gave us the un-mistakeable opening bars.
And here is the song itself
8. A decidedly odd couple which was probably never repeated but it is a lovely song that Amitabh Bachchan sings to Neetu Singh in Yaarana
9. A movie rather ahead of its times in some ways– a kind of adaptation of ‘To Sir with Love’. Vinod Khanna plays an idealistic teacher who is wrongfully accused of a sexual misdemeanour.
10. A beautiful song where the young dapper Dharmendra is off to meet his beloved ‘Father’ the priest who raised him in a hill station school.
11. A cheerful family song which sets the tune for the story of the new head –cook- cum- bottlewasher who joins this disjointed joint family household and joins them all back again. ( its the scene in every household when the new replacement turns up after the kaamwali bai has gone ‘gaon’ and not bothered to return !)
12. A haunting melody from one of those rebirth and lost lovers’ stories. The odd reason why I like it so much is that the flute seller who used to roam the quiet streets of Bombay on a Sunday, all those years ago in the ’80s would play this melody. So, every time I hear it I am transported back to those years when Sundays were always quiet, no noise of baraats, no new building construction sounds grinding away on every lane, no whirring of stone cutters and the constant clang of hammer to metal. Quiet streets under a quiet sky, quiet people walking down quiet lanes, a kind of a mid- morning stupor on everything, and the basuriwala playing this tune, which would waft up to our high-rise apartment through the quiet rustling trees and the telephone wires and into the open window of my quiet bedroom.
If you have any favourite Kishore Kumar song do share in the comments !