When Kishore-da had others sing for him

Abhas Kumar Ganguly (Kishore Kumar), more fondly known as Kishore-da, would have turned 87 today had nature not so cruelly snatched him away from cinephiles on that fateful Tuesday of October 1987. Though he was a polymath who excelled in acting, writing as well as direction, his heart, as he said in one of his last interviews here, lay in singing. However, in the early part of his acting career and even later, there are some specific occasions when other singers gave playback to Kishore Kumar, the actor. Here are some of those super-rare instances:

a) Chhota sa ghar hoga (sad version), sung by Hemant Kumar — Naukri (1954):

Coming a year after Do Bigha Zamin, this film once again reflected the Indian form of neo-realism which Bimal Roy came to specialise in during the Nehruvian era. Focusing on unemployment among educated youth in independent India, this had music by Salil Choudhury, for whom, Kishore remained an untested potential on screen. Raju Bharatan, in his book A Journey Down Memory Lane, writes that Hemant Kumar was the preferred voice for Chaudhury for this song and it took a lot of convincing on the part of the makers to sign Kishore. However, Hemant retained the sadder version of it, with Kishore lip-syncing to his voice.

b) Mann Mora Baawra, sung by Mohammed Rafi — Raagini (1958):

Even a lay fan of Kishore-da knows that he was no trained classical singer, yet outscored experts like Mohammed Rafi and Manna Dey on various occasions. However, here, O.P. Nayyar — for whom Rafi was the preferred male choice though he also gave Kishore some memorable tunes — preferred Rafi to give the song a classical touch. Oddly for an O.P. album, this was the only Rafi song, the others sung by Kishore himself.

c) Ajab hai dastan teri ae zindagi, Mohammed Rafi — Shararat (1959):

The music here was by Shankar Jaikishan (S-J), who rarely used Kishore. Trivia has it that Kishore Kumar was not the original choice for lead and that some songs had already been recorded when he joined the cast of this movie that also included Meena Kumari. Though Kishore had already sung numbers like 'Dukhi man mere' for sad occasions, the second antara of this song makes you feel that it needed Rafi’s high-pitch while reaching the crescendo during 'tumhare pyaar ke.' The piano prelude is vintage S-J and reminds you of 'Dil Ke Jharoke Mein' and 'Bahaaron Phool Barsao.'

d) Aap Huye Mere, Manna Dey — Krorepati (1961):

Krorepati was directed by Mohan Segal, with whom Kishore-da had earlier done Adhikar, the fantastic New Delhi and Apna Haath Jagannath. It is rumoured that Kishore-da — who could at times act finicky about payments — had decided not to record songs for this movie because of not having been paid. This song, whose situation is somewhat reminiscent of 'Ye Raatein Ye Mausam' from Dilli Ka Thug, is made funnier in feel both by the use of tabla and Manna Dey’s quirky wavering during the antaras.

e) Pahle Murgi Hui Thi Ki Anda, Manna Dey — Krorepati (1961)

Did the hen come first or the egg? Kishore’s character in the movie floats this existential question while doing his best to deride the visiting guests. The on-screen tomfoolery involved — incessant body movements, uncontrollable shouting and jumping — was vintage Kishore. Manna Dey, by matching Kishore-da's burlesque while doing the playback, beat him in his own game here!

f) Chalti chali jaaye by Hemant Kumar — Door Ka Rahi (1971)

This was Kishore Kumar’s third major directorial venture and came seven years after the success of Door Gagan Ki Chaon Mein. It was also one of the movies in which he proved that he could excel in roles other than comedy. Unlike the latter, this had Kishore himself giving music. The album’s most popular numbers 'Beqaraar Dil' and 'Jeevan Se Na Haar' were sung by Kishore. This song, with its philosophical overtones on the endless journey of life as Kishore’s character moves forward on the tonga with the camera following him, is reminiscent of Hemant’s 'Rahi Tu Mat Ruk Jaana' from Door Gagan Ki Chaon Mein.

g) Apni Aadat hai, by Mohammed Rafi — Pyar Diwana (1972):

This was the sole Rafi song in the album. The title of the movie is similar to one of Kishore’s hit songs for R.D. Burman in Kati Patang. The film was in the making for years in the course of which Kishore had replaced Rafi at the top of the playback hierarchy. The credit for the music for this album goes to the relatively unknown trio of Lala-Asar-Sattar. This song has a coat-suit clad Kishore trying to woo an angry Mumtaz.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 10:45:39 PM |

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