He has enthralled three generations, of which the first two lived while he was still alive and calling shots in the Hindi playback. The third one has joined after his demise to applaud his musical legacy today, twenty years after he breathed his last. His voice was magical, his sense of melody unparalleled. Critics called him the only Midas Voice to have taken place in the Indian playback. He had this ability of uplifting even the most mediocre compositions into all-time hits, and that of surprise his own colleagues and fan-base with raw creativity and talent.
Kishore Kumar gifted the Indian music lovers with a legacy of unparalleled virtuosity. You can name any of the modern-day virtuosos and path-breaking groups, be it Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Michael Jackson or any other bigwigs of the 20th century era, and Kishore Kumar would still go in tandem with their class and aura. In fact, the hardcore Desi Listener never missed listening to any of the above mentioned western music giants, since Kishore Kumar presented them with a package of absolute entertainment post 1970. In a country that has always merited the west above itself, Kishoreda is among the very few rare occurrences that defy this Indian pessimism. I, as a Kishore Kumar fan, never felt inferior among the western music listeners of my era, since I had in KK more than what any of the western music genre could hope to provide us with.
For someone like me, who grew up listening to Kishore Kumar’s legacy, as a kid in the 70s and as a teenager in the 80s until he breathed his last in 1987, it’s but natural to get connected with his musical legacy. However, two other Indian greats and Kishoreda’s contemporaries were also part of my early music experiences. Mohammed Rafi and Mukesh had already set high standards for male playback singing by the time Kishore Kumar started taking the Hindi Cinema World by storm purely as a singer. However, he proved out to be a benchmark in many ways, and became the best playback singer for the generations thereon.
The Rafi camp would contest this claim vehemently though, and one respects their opinion. However, the sheer fan-base of Kishore Kumar says a lot in itself. I hope to relive the golden era music through Kishore Kumar’s memoirs and a collection of his song links. It will, of course, go incomplete unless we spoke of Mukesh, Rafi, Lata, Asha, Manna Dey, SD Burman, RD Burman and several other greats as well, along with Kishoreda. Nobody can listen a few of them, and still hope to be regarded bygone era music buffs.
More to follow on Kishore Kumar and Hindi playback singing in the days and weeks to come.