Image courtesy of IndianExpress.com
A well-contested argument should always be expected between the Kishore Kumar and Rafi fan-blocks, if someone speaks their mind about who they thought was a better performer. I have myself spoken previously on this sensitive subject. Recently, I also came across the following article by Sandipan Deb in The Indian Express, which declares Kishoreda as the numero uno without any leverage to the Rafi-ans.
Sandipan says: “His (Kishore’s) voice could transport you, and he had many voices, depending on which actor he was singing for, but all of them maintained a virility and a realness that I have always found missing in singers like Mohammad Rafi: even Rafi’s happy songs have always sounded a tad mournful to me and — sorry — a bit effeminate, and there’s too much training, too much technique behind those high pitched notes. In contrast, Kishore Kumar’s voice and his singing are guileless and straight from the heart. But he was much more than the voice. If ever there was a man who was living life to the full without making any concessions to any perceived wisdom, it was him. And it showed in his best songs, whether joyous or melancholy.”
A bit harsh on the devoted Rafi-ians, one could say, but the author backs himself by providing some good examples, and therefore portrays a thoughtful analysis. Specially, if you recall how Rafi’s classical mold gave away to KK’s all-round performance after the success of Aradhana, i.e. with the onset of the 1970s. The Hindi Cinema was bracing for a major transformation during this period, which required more versatile singers and composers like Kishoreda, RD Burman and Asha Bhonsle. These three gave us some of the best Hindi cinema music that we could ever come across.
While Gujarat and West Bengal may seem to be poles apart in many areas, including the ideological beliefs and the governance they vouch for, Kishoreda’s virtuosity is something no one disputes about!