They swayed. They sang along… The crowds at IIT Saarang gave Singer KK another night to remember

He performed at Saarang six years ago but he still remembers the night like it were yesterday. “That was just two or three years ago wasn't it?” he asks. “I had a very surreal experience with all those phones glowing in the dark when I sang ‘Pal'. Like all IITs, Chennai has a very nice, exuberant crowd.”

Now, on the eve of his proshow concert at Saarang 2011, he had a sprained leg. “So not much jumping around today,” he says, visibly disappointed. Nervous with all the noise calling out for him?

“No, I am not nervous, not at all. I've performed for 35,000 plus crowds too. The more the merrier. But this kind of environment is electrifying. I really wanted to have a blast but my leg hurts because of the sprain. But I'm going to have a blast anyway.”

And when the crowd did an encore of its 2006 swaying to his singing, KK choked: “This is why I love you guys.” This time around, IITians let balloons with lights inside them into the sky. It was quite a sight, a night to remember.

“I've never had stage fright even as a kid. Singing comes naturally to me,” he says, literally five minutes before he has to go on stage. And here he was chilling over an interview. “It's like coming back to college,” says the singer with his boyish looks still intact. So what if it's been almost two decades since those days? His rockstar attitude on stage screams ‘18 Till I Die'.

“There are two sides to a coin. My real persona is laidback. But when I get on stage, I am completely different,” he says.

How does he compare his music with the songs he's asked to sing by other composers? “When you're singing someone else's song, you're doing a job. You devote three or four hours of your life. You understand what the music director wants, his psyche and figure out how much of that you want to take in to make the song your own. But when you're doing your own song, you obviously have spent more time on it, writing it and composing it. Otherwise, they are both your songs no matter who composed them.”

What does he find more satisfying?

“Once you sing a song, it's your song. Once a music director entrusts you with a song, it's your song. So I feel equally happy when the crowd sings along ‘Pal' or ‘Thadap Thadap'.”

His last album ‘Hamsafar' came out in 2008, eight years after ‘Pal,' but KK is no hurry.

“No, I am not working on any album. I am setting up my own work pad. I am doing a lot of things I had shelved for the last two years. So I am looking to spend time with my drums and music. I need to get back to that.”

He has often admitted that he is a huge fan of the legend he shares his initials with. “Yes, I've always been a Kishore Kumar fan but all the influences are there, inside you like different pages of a book. But once you are bound with different influences, you are seen as a different book,” he says.

“Maybe I want to reinvent myself with my next album. I want to do something fresh without setting any parameters. Like they say, unless you walk down the path, you won't know what you would've missed,” he smiles.

“It's time,” his manager interrupts, to let us know we have to wind up.

After all these years of playback singing, concerts and music, KK finds himself in a safe, secure zone, inspired to reinvent himself. “And I can afford to do that now,” he signs off.

He takes the stage and gives the 9,000 plus audience exactly what they came for — magic moments with friends.

His own songs ‘Pal' and ‘Yaaron' get the same welcome they got years ago. He sings his heart out with ‘Thadap Thadap.' There's applause but no singing along like it happened six years ago. He sings Emraan Hashmi hits and the kids are ecstatic, swaying and singing along with him.

It's a different generation of youth out there in the stands. And you realise, maybe you are too old for college fests.

But Krishnakumar Kunnath — he has outlived change.


Sudhish KamathMay 11, 2012