RMIM Archive Article "340".
From the RMIM Article Archive maintained by Satish Subramanian
# RMIM Archives..
# Subject: Kishore Kumar - Eccentric genius
# Posted by: email@example.com (Arun Verma)
# Source: Asian Age
# Author: Pardyot Lal
From the RMIM Article Archive maintained by Satish Subramanian
Ode to an icon, the eccentric genius
By Pradyot Lal - The Asian Age - 17th October 1996
In an age which makes and breaks icons every minute, let us talk of a
real icon for a change: Kishore Kumar. That he was an eccentric
genius, a procession of men rolled into one and so on has already been
mythologised. The point that almost a decade after his death, his
absence is still felt, is tantamount to wasting precious newsprint on
a cliche. But all said and done, the man was a genius.
A richly melodious voice, and an impressive range marked him out early
enough as a singer of extraordinary talent. But even as an actor,
Kishore Kumar was really very good when he was good.
Take Padosan, where KK plays the role of an itinerant singing ustad
who is also very clever indeed. In any dispassionate discussion on
all - time great performances, Kishore Kumar in Padosan will certainly
figure high on the list. Everything about him in Padosan will
certainly figure high on the list. Everything about him in Padosan
was perfect. The timing was absolutely uncanny, and Kishore Kumar
gave just the right interpretation to the role of a paan chewing, fun
- loving ustad. Remember the scene where Kishore first tries to give
elementary lessons in sur to Sunil Dutt? That was memorable stuff.
He got into the spirit of a very - well scripted role, and with
Mehmood too chipping in with a brilliant portrayal of a Carnatic -
style music guru, Padosan was a delight to watch. Kishore Kumar
simply outplayed (or outsang) Manna Dey in Ik chatur naar badi
hoshiyaar, and there also was that other great number - meri pyaari
Some of the some attributes - like perfect timing combined with a
sense of rhythm - were very much in evidence in that great musical
comedy, Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi. Playing a sex - starved mechanic who
falls head - overheels for rich girl Madhubala, Kishore Kumar was
There is no doubt that he carried the film on his shoulders, even when
his two brothers and wife - to - be were also very good in their
But Kishore was the key figure around whom this cute little tale
revolved. And Burmanda reserved some of his best music for this
Kishore Kumar production - songs such as Ik Ladki bheegi bhaagi si;
Paanch rupaiyya barah aana; Haal kaisa hai janab ka and Jaate the
Japan pahunch gaye cheen samajh gaye na. We have it on the authority
of Ashok Kumar that Kishore was more than partly responsible for the
final shape of the compositions, suggesting changes, improvising and
even composing some of the songs himself.
There was a zing, a certain magic to the Kishore - Madhubala pair.
Take Half - Ticket, perhaps the zaniest comedy of all time. Kishore,
oversized half - pants and all, is great in this film which had
perhaps the thinnest story - line ever. Kishore is in fact a riot in
Half Ticket, and his jugalbandi with Pran (surprisingly good in the
film) has an impeccable touch. Kishore's dim - wit act on the screen
is an all - time classic, and unlike, say Mehmood, his comedy never
degenerated into vulgarity or double entendres.
The problem with Kishore seems to have been lack of concentration,
because outside these three films, he never really managed to give a
consistently good performance. Yes, he was funny in parts in films
like Baap re Baap, Dill Ka Thug, Pyaar kiye Jaa, Jhumroo, Badhti ka
naam Dadhi and so on, but only in parts. He often decided to play the
clown, when he did not need to do that, given his talent. Maybe, the
lack of consistency was a result of being much too involved in various
aspects of film - making to really excel in one.
He went from Khandwa to Bombay to become a singer; elder brother Ashok
Kumar was one of the presiding deities at Bombay Talkies. While
Khemchand Prakash gave Kishore his first break as a singer, Ashok
Kumar and Shahid Lateef literally forced him to act out a one minute
role in Ziddi. This was the film where the Kishore Kumar - Dev Anand
combination was first forged. As a singer, in films such as Funtoosh,
Paying Guest, Munimji and others, Kishore quickly established his
mettle. But given the fact that the films he acted turned out to be
hits as well sort of divided his attention.
In fact, Kishore himself was not exaggerating at all when he said that
in the Fifties, he was the biggest box - office draw after Dilip
Kumar. Kishore was the first real comedian - hero. In Mohan Sehgal's
New Delhi (which had songs like Nakhre waali and Are bhai nikal ke aa
ghar se), the full range of Kishore is on display - as a singer,
dancer (matching movements with none other than Vyjantimala) and of
course, comedian. In fact, Mohan Sehgal used him particularly
effectively in Adhikaar, in which Kishore was pitted against that
splendid actress called Usha Kiran, was not a bad film at all, and
Apna Haath Jagannath (again, great music by S D Burman, especially the
duet Tum jahaan jahaan, hum wahaan wahaan) had its moments. But all
said and done, he was never fully utilised. In fact, even when
Kishore himself wielded the megaphone, the results were not always
memorable. While Door Gagan ki Chhaon Mein was a visual (and musical)
delight with a nice storyline, Door ka Raahi was not in the same
league. Shaabash Daddy had a fantastic idea - a 50 year old man
falling for a girl half his age when his son is of marriageable age -
it also had some very interesting locales and directorial touches, but
still, there was something missing.
The less said about Door Waadiyon Mein Kahin the better, for it was an
unmitigated disaster. Badhti Ka naam Dadhi had all the makings of an
entertainer, but again, Kishore could not really deliver. What a
great plotline it had - an eccentric Parsi seth announces that he will
marry his pretty secretary to the guy who has the longest beard in the
world. Kishore made K N Singh dance near the beach, and that was a
The climax, shot on the pattern of a Western (only, the warriors,
Kishore and K N Singh, have scissors, not bayonets in their hands!)
was also very interesting. But perhaps the anxiety to blood son Amit
got the better of Kishore, the director.
One less celebrated aspect of the Kishore Kumar saga was his felicity
as a music director. Door Gagan ki Chhaon Mein had songs like Koi
lautade mere beete hue din; Jin raaton ki bhor nahin hai and Aa chal
ke tujhe maen lake chaloon; Jhumroo had Thandi hawa yeh chaandni
suhani; Koi humdum na raha; babu aana, Sunte Jaana; matwale hum and so
on. Door ka Raahi had beqarar - dil to gaae jaa; Panthi hoon maen us
path ka and Yeh khushi do ghadi ki among other numbers.
Except for a film called Zameen Aasmaan, Kishore never scored music
for any "outside" production, which is nothing short of a tragedy.
The proliferating Kishore Kumar clones are in their own way paying a
great tribute to the man from Khandwa, who was a real genius.