Versatile singer Kishore Kumar would have celebrated his 79th birthday on Monday, had he been alive. And the film fraternity believes the singer-actor would have been a hit with audiences even today.
Most Bollywood personalities agree that Kishore Kumar was ahead of his time. Even the new generation of singers and composers think so.
"I often wonder how Kishore Kumar, who innovated so much in his time, would have would have innovated today in Bollywood film music," said composer Monty Sharma of Saawariya fame.
"Although film music has undergone a vast change over the years, I am sure Kishoreda would have fitted in the current music trend and sprung surprises," he added.
"A singer like Kishore Kumar never gets outdated. Perhaps he would have been ahead of our time also," Sharma quipped.
His was the voice that sang unforgettable numbers like the joyous Paanch rupaiya baara aana, the soulful Zindagi ka safar, the romantic Pal, pal dil ke pas and the foot tapping Eena meena deeka that has people doing the twist even 50 years later.
However, to call Kishore Kumar only a singer would be underestimating his talent. He was a multi-faceted personality who was at once a singer, actor, writer, director, producer and composer. And in all these areas he has left his unique mark.
The continuing craze for remix albums of Kishore Kumar songs points to the fact that no modern singer can beat his singing style.
"One can only copy him, none can innovate like him," said music director Anu Malik.
Ashim Samanta, son of yesteryear's well-known director Shakti Samanta, recalled his family's strong ties with Kishore Kumar who sang the best of his songs in Shakti Samanta movies.
"They struggled in the film industry together. My dad was trying to become a director and Kishore uncle's aim was to get into films. That was how they came to know each other and became friends," said Ashim.
All the numbers Kishore Kumar crooned for Samanta's films were hits. The most popular among those were Mere sapno ki rani and Roop tera mastana for Aradhana and Chingadi koi bhadke and Kuch to log Kahenge for Amar Prem.
"He (Kishore Kumar) was fine-tuned with Panchamda (R.D. Burman). In fact, both understood each other so well that they could extract the best out of each other. He treated Panchamda as his younger brother," Ashim said.
"I remember when dad planned his movies, Kishore uncle would tell Panchamda to send the music tracks of the films to him at least 24 hours in advance for rehearsal before recording."
Ashim believes that Kishore Kumar's singing style was so unique that he would have been a hit even today.
"Tunes of some of the songs he sang might not have been good, but the quality of his voice was so sweet that the songs sounded good to ears. Above all, he was a very good human being, eccentric sometimes, but jovial all the time," Ashim said.
Kishore Kumar also sang for Dev Anand. At a time when Mohammad Rafi and Mukesh were ruling the roost, Dev Anand was one of the few actors who gave him a chance to sing for him. He sang for Dev Anand in Guide to great success.
Remembering him, Dev Anand said: "Kishore was my darling. I knew him through Ashok Kumar who gave me the my first big break in Bombay Talkies."
The singer-actor died of a heart attack Oct 13, 1987, leaving behind legions of fans - and imitators.
Among his memorable songs are Haal kaisa hai janaab ka from the 1958 hit Chalti ka Naam Gaadi, Yeh raatein, yeh mausam (Dilli ka Thug), Aa chal ke tujhe (Door Gagan ki Chaon Mein), Mere mehboob qayamat hogi (Mr. X in Bombay) Mere saamne wali khidki mein (Padosan), Woh shaam kuch ajeeb thi (Khamoshi), Aaye Tum Yaad Mujhe (Mili), Zindagi ek safar hai suhana (Andaaz) Chala jata hoon (Mere Jeevan Saathi), Musafir hoon yaron (Parichay), Main shair badnaam (Namak Haram) and Zindagi ke safar mein (Aap ki Kasam).