Pradeep Somasundaran still remembers being mesmerised by “Dukhi man mere…” ( Funtoosh ), as he heard the song for the first time.
“I was in living in Gujarat at the time and I had heard the song on the Binaca Geetmala programme on radio,” says the playback singer. “I was bowled over by the voice; it was probably the first song of Kishore Kumar that I heard. I found him a singer completely different from anyone else I had heard till then.”
Kishore captivated everyone with his magical voice and distinct style of singing. His 85 birth anniversary falls tomorrow (August 4). He remains one of India’s most popular singers still.
Though he had been around from the 1950s, with hits like “Dukhi man mere…”, “Ek ladki bheegi bhaagi si…” ( Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi ), which he also acted, “Maana janab ne pukara nahin…” ( Paying Guest ), it was in the 1970s and ’80s that he truly rocked.
Aradhana (1969) did not make just Rajesh Khanna the superstar, but Kishore too, as a singer. “Mere sapnon ki raani…” and “Roop tera mastaana…” charmed an entire country. There was no stopping Kishore now.
If S.D. Burman had composed those songs that made Kishore, his son R.D. Burman established him as the voice of the Bollywood hero for two decades.
Some of Kishore’s best songs were tuned by R.D., like “Chingari koi bhadke…” ( Amar Prem ), “Mere naina saawan bhado…” ( Mehbooba ), “Diye jalte hain…’ ( Namak Haraam ), “Humein tumse pyar kitna…” ( Khudrat ), “O mere dil ke chain…” ( Mere Jeevan Saathi ), “Yeh shaam mastaani…” ( Kati Patang ) and “Rim jhim gire saawan…” ( Manzil ). They were all chart-toppers.
There were also some Kishore-R.D. gems that were not as celebrated, like “Jidhar dekhoon teri tasveer…” ( Mahaan ); both the singer and the composer are at their best here.
Then there was Aandhi , in which R.D. composed three of the finest duets off all time in Hindi cinema. We could never get tired of those songs by Kishore and Lata Mangeshkar – “Is mod pe jaaten hai…”, “Tum aa gaye ho…” and “Tere bina zindagi se…”
“R.D. brought the best out of Kishore,’ says Pradeep, the winner of ‘Meri Awaaz Suno’ (1996), one of India’s first music reality shows on television. “Kishore could make a mark at a time when Mohammad Rafi ruled Bollywood because of his unique voice and his soulful style of rendering.”
He was untrained as a singer, yes. But genius needs no training. And Kishore was a genius. Totally.