King Kishore

Who doesn’t love Kishore Kumar?  His voice still gives me a tingle and I am instantly transported to the back of my mum’s car with my sister singing along as kids (in fact, when we found out that Amitabh Bachchan didn’t sing his own songs we were quite devastated).

But did you know he was a little wacky?  He was once famously only paid half his fees for a film and so turned up on set with half his head shaved and with half a moustache.  The Times of India recently printed an old interview with him as he would have been 82 this month.  The extract below is sheer brilliance but you can read further on their website which includes an interesting take marriage.

PN: Why do you have this reputation for doing strange things?
KK: It all began with this girl who came to interview me. In those days I used to live alone. So she said: You must be very lonely. I said: No, let me introduce you to some of my friends. So I took her to the garden and introduced her to some of the friendlier trees. Janardhan; Raghunandan; Gangadhar; Jagannath; Buddhuram; Jhatpatajhatpatpat. I said they were my closest friends in this cruel world. She went and wrote this bizarre piece, saying that I spent long evenings with my arms entwined around them. What’s wrong with that, you tell me? What’s wrong making friends with trees?

PN: Nothing.
KK: Then, there was this interior decorator-a suited, booted fellow who came to see me in a three-piece woollen, Saville Row suit in the thick of summer- and began to lecture me about aesthetics, design, visual sense and all that. After listening to him for about half an hour and trying to figure out what he was saying through his peculiar American accent, I told him that I wanted something very simple for my living room.

Just water-several feet deep- and little boats floating around, instead of large sofas. I told him that the centrepiece should be anchored down so that the tea service could be placed on it and all of us could row up to it in our boats and take sips from our cups. But the boats should be properly balanced, I said, otherwise we might whizz past each other and conversation would be difficult. He looked a bit alarmed but that alarm gave way to sheer horror when I began to describe the wall decor. I told him that I wanted live crows hanging from the walls instead of paintings-since I liked nature so much. And, instead of fans, we could have monkeys farting from the ceiling. That’s when he slowly backed out from the room with a strange look in his eyes.

The last I saw of him was him running out of the front gate, at a pace that would have put an electric train to shame. What’s crazy about having a living room like that, you tell me? If he can wear a woollen, three-piece suit in the height of summer, why can’t I hang live crows on my walls?


7 Comments to “King Kishore”

  1. Va Va!!
    You took me back my childhood car journeys around England when my Dad would play all of these songs.

  2. What a legend he was ! I love Kishore Kumar’s voice – in my house we used to always argue whether Kishore or Mukesh was the better singer. Kishore all the way!

    • Mukesh’s voice was too nasal for my taste but Mohd Rafi had a very dreamy voice. He was playback for my darling Shashi Kapoor many times.

  3. Ahh King Kishore indeed! After reading your article I feel like watching some 1970s bollywood!

  4. Kishore was great, but don’t you think the women all sounded like they’d sucked helium like those geisha girls/ strangled cats? Controversial?

    • I agree, MJK, sometimes Lata and Asha Bhosle have great voices but sometimes they and many of the newer female playbacks make my head sore at the uncomfortable pitches they reach – ouch!

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