He was the most outrageous performer of the Hindi film screen; loved for his voice, adored for his comedy, and famous for his eccentricity. His big-screen performances - such as Half Ticket, Pyar Kiye Jaa, Padosan- could make you laugh hard, but his songs - like 'Koi humdum na raha, 'Badi sooni sooni hai', 'Ghungroo ki tarah' - could make you cry.
This is the story of the voice of a generation - the legend, Kishore Kumar. Beginning with his time spent in Khandwa, Bhagalpur and Indore, and going on to Bombay, where Kishore moved to try his luck in cinema, this new biography by Parthiv Dhar and Anirudha Bhattacharjee tells it all. A product of over thirty years of research, it goes beyond Kishore's nearly three thousand songs and his varied contributions to cinema, and reveals unknown facts about his four marriages, his run-ins with the government in the 1970s, and his health issues.
Kishore Kumar: The Ultimate Biography celebrates the music, the films and the genius of Kishore in the most definitive way for a new generation of readers.
Anirudha Bhattacharjee's first book R.D. Burman: The Man, the Music won the National Award for Best Book on Cinema. His second book, Gaata Rahe Mera Dil, was the winner of the inaugural MAMI Book Award for Excellence in Writing on Cinema. This is his fourth book. Anirudha is also an amateur musician and an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur. He lives in Kolkata.
Parthiv Dhar is a civil engineering graduate from VRCE Nagpur and employed with Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. Originally from Guwahati, he currently lives in Hyderabad with his family. When not listening to Kishore Kumar, he continues his research on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
IT TOOK TIME magazine a few years and several journalists to finally put Peter Sellers on their cover. This was not because Sellers was a difficult man to track down or speak to. It was just that every time they spoke to Sellers, they found a different person out there. They could not simply pin down his persona. His voice kept changing every time. So did his anecdotes. His looks, of course, kept changing too; after all, he was an actor. But, most mysterious of all, he-the man, as they kept discovering him-kept changing. He was never the same person, the man you had met before and thought you had finally tracked down. Each Peter Sellers was unique, special, as interesting and as complete a person as they could have expected. Except that each Peter Sellers was different, very different, from the others.
Yes, I knew Kishore Kumar. He was a friend of mine, I could well say. A very good friend.
Or I could turn around and say, no, I never knew Kishore Kumar. I had only met him a few times. He was barely an acquaintance. Both the above statements would be absolutely true. It's an either/or option. He gave you that option to decide whether he was your friend or not. He gave you that option to decide whether you knew him at all or not. And I, so many years later, choose to stay with the first option because he was exactly the kind of guy I enjoyed being friends with. And, as everyone may have told you by now, I do not make friends easily. In fact, to be truthful, I do not make friends at all.
And here I am, claiming Kishore Kumar was a friend. That was the mystery of the man and those few people he actually interacted with. Not professionally. (In Bollywood, you interact with hundreds every day. It's part of the job.) I am talking about interaction at a personal level. I seriously doubt if many people were part of his universe ever. Yes, he loved his wives dearly-all of them were remarkably beautiful and gifted women-and he loved his brothers, his sons, he loved R.D. and a few others with whom he worked; he loved singing, he loved the movies-especially horror movies, of which he claimed he had the finest collection in the world-and he loved his trees, his home, his own infinite talent, of which he was very proud and, above all, his hard-earned money, which he claimed to protect more than anything else on earth. At least, he pretended to.
N THE 1970s, the small-towner in north and east India grew up with a few names: Sunil Gavaskar, Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, R.D. Burman ... And then you had Kishore Kumar, who cut across the last three. Who knows, maybe Gavaskar, too, was a fan.
We mention small-towners because, unlike the city-bred, there was hardly any protocol in our lives. Free to roam around, we identified more with the neighbourhood ice-cream wallah and the groundnut vendor than the Impala that we got to see only on the screen if taken to the cinema by elders in the family. We had less of Clint Eastwood and more of the Ramsay brothers. Jethro Tull and Led Zeppelin we thought were names of supersonic aircraft. The Ventures was and remained the strongest connection to anything having some semblance of Western music till we cleared our secondary examinations.
And the radio set at the nearby paan shop was our destination after school hours, where we spent valuable time our parents wished we invested in our textbooks. Anybody who listened to Vich Bharti and Radio Ceylon (now Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation) would know that Kishore Kumar was not simply a name: he was a way of life. His songs taught us to dream, to enjoy, to feel the opulence within and not seek gratification outside.
A songbook in 1978 told us that he belonged to a place called Khandwa. A trip became a necessity. December 2010, and we were on a week-long holiday.
KISHORE KUMAR KHANDWAWALA was a phenomenon, the likes of which one gets to witness very rarely. Blessed with an incredible instinct for music, combined with years of relentless hard work, the value of the artistic legacy he left behind continues to increase day by day even now, so many decades after his passing.
While his music goes straight to our hearts, his personality was much more complex and kaleidoscopic. This book is a labour of love by Parthiv Dhar and Anirudha Bhattacharjee, and they have succeeded in documenting a great deal of information about Kishore Kumar's childhood, his music, his career and the ups and downs of his life. The fascinating insights about his relationships with legends such as Kumar Sachin Dev Burman, Sri Rahul Dev Burman, Sri Khemchand Prakash and Sri Satyajit Ray make for riveting reading.
Despite being diehard admirers of Kishore Kumar, the authors have succeeded in keeping things in proper perspective throughout the book, without making anything sentimental or one-sided. In the present-day scenario, when sensationalizing anything and everything seems to be the general trend, they have kept things as objective and balanced as possible, even though the subject of the book was an extremely colourful individual, to say the least. His four marriages, his run-ins with income tax authorities, with Indira Gandhi's Emergency, his perceived rivalry with good friend and legend Mohammed Rafi-all these and more have been covered in a matter-of-fact manner.
One marvels both at the extent of Kishore Kumar's talents and exploits as one does at the commitment and tenacity shown by the authors in collecting such a wealth of lesser-known information about the man and his music. One gets to discover several unfamiliar yet beautiful songs by the legend, and one gets to view much-loved songs in a fresh light, after getting to know about the backstories related to them.
Anyone who is familiar with Kishore Kumar would know about his love for his native town Khandwa, and his persistent dream to go back and settle there. When we read this book, we understand a little more about where this desire came from, and the authors have befittingly dedicated the book to the people of Khandwa.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
North Indian Music (289)
Original Texts (60)
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