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Tuesday, Sep 24, 2019

Kishore Kumar's romance with raagas

On the 78th birth anniversary of the late singer, Raju Bharatan rewinds to his classical gems.

music Updated: Aug 04, 2007 14:45 IST
Arpana and Shweta Thakur
Arpana and Shweta Thakur

Who sang Koi humdum naa rahaa? Kishore Kumar, of course. Who elongated it as Koi sahaaraa naa rahaa? Majrooh Sultanpuri on paper.

Who composed this Jhumroo solo? Who but Kishore Kumar! Who but Kishore could have rendered it so feelingly in Raag Zhinjoti? Indeed, Kishore proceeded to name Koi humdum naa rahaa among his Ten Best Ever.

But what if I tell you that Koi humdum isn't a Kishore composition at all? That nor was this performer the first to render Koi humdum - that originally it was sung by elder brother Ashok Kumar! As written by J S Casshyap and as composed by India's first woman music-director, Saraswati Devi, for the 1936 Bombay Talkies film, Jeewan Naiya. Just a few facts to mark Kishore Kumar's 78th birth anniversary, which is on August 4.

Well, even if Kishore lifted the tune note-for-note, word-for-word, from that Ashok Kumar-Devika Rani starrer (Jeewan Naiya), he deserves full marks for the empathy with which he comes to vocal grips with the tune's Raag Zhinjoti shadings.

That brings me to the unusual theme of this anniversary piece Kishore going classical.

<b1>No fear
As I look at Kishore's renditions in this genre, I find that, if there is one raag that sits pat on his sonorous lips, it is Pahadi. How resonantly Kishore comes across in Raag Pahadi, whether vocalising for SD Burman or for RD Burman, or putting over Kora kaagaz thha yeh man meraa (in Aradhana) or Karvaten badalte rahen saaree raat hum (Aap ki Kasam).

If it is in the Bilawal thhat that Kishore is fluidly moving here, take his rendition in Raag Bilawal itself - Saare ke saare ga ma ko leke gaate chale. With total lack of inhibition does Kishore come over, here, on Jeetendra in Gulzar's Parichay, as guided by Pancham.

Fastest finger first
Pancham's ‘assistant' hand is surely also to be sensed in the way S D Burman puts Kishore (dueting with Lata) at complete Raag Pahadi ease in this ace singer's sole contribution to Guide on Dev Anand - Gaata rahe mera dil.

But even without Pancham, Dada Burman could do it, via Kishore, like no one else could. Just savour the way Dada gets Kishore to come over - on the same Dev in the same Raag Pahadi - as Phoolon ke rang se in Prem Pujari.

Such was Kishore's vocal comfort level in Pahadi that even neo-Silsila composers Shiv-Hari could, in that raag, bring out the rare spontaneity of this singer - Dekha ek khwab to yeh silsile huue.

The one time Kishore lost his poise was when Pancham told him that Kudratmaker Chetan Anand was insisting upon Humen tum se pyaar kitna being in Parveen Sultana's voice too - as a thumri in Bhairavi. Kishore, thereupon, asked Pancham swiftly to record his edition of Humen tum se first!

<b2>Softly goes a tune
Be it Pancham wanting Kishore to render sombrely the Raag Kirvani piece, Meree bheegee bheegeesi (Anamika), or urging him to take those Raag MadhumaltiSarang notes lightly, in an Ajnabee vein of Hum donon do premee, Kishore is equal to the occasion.

See how softly Kishore makes a Raag Yaman rendering his own in Rajesh Roshan's Chhoo kar mere man ko from Yaarana.

But, if you want Kishore as classically perfect as you could get, then go for his Mere naina saawan bhaadon, as tuned in Raag Shivranjani by Pancham for Mehbooba.

Kishore is every inch Lata's vocal match in this tandem inevitably figuring among his Ten Best Ever.

As for Lata-Kishore dueting with flair, what better choice than Dada Burman's Abhimaan classic unfolding, in Raag Khamaj, as Tere mere milan kee yeh raina?

But the bravest classical ‘take' on Kishore remains the Raag Maaru Bihag effort by Chitragupta Paayal waalee dekh na from Ek Raaz. Chitragupta told me Kishore needed no end of persuading here - that he even wanted a retake but was denied one!

First Published: Aug 04, 2007 10:47 IST