The Wizard Of Odds – Kishore Kumar
Despite being pushed into acting, Kishore Kumar carved his own niche as singer, at one point charging almost as much as Lata Mangeshkar for a song. He charged one rupee less, in deference to her seniority. There is a thin line between genius and eccentricity. Kishore Kumar straddled both with equal ease. He was Hindi cinema’s L’ enfant terrible giving sleepless nights to the film makers. In the annals of Indian cinema, he remains the only singer who holds the rare distinction of singing a song in both male and female voices!!
The song he sang in both the voices is from the film “Half Ticket” (1962)…..’Aake seedhi lagi dil pe’
According to music composer Salil Choudhary, ”The song was originally to be sung by Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar but on the day of recording Lata could not come and requested to postpone the recording. I agreed. But Kishore Kumar, who is known for his funny antics suddenly persuaded me to allow him to sing the female version too.”
He added, ”I declined but Kishore became adamant and began singing the song in female version. Everybody present in the recording studio, including Pran and the director Kalidas were amused and felt as per the movie’s hilarious situation, the song will really spark laugh riot, if Kishore sings in female version. Thus the song was recorded and as anticipate proved a hit.”
Kishore Kumar loved his solitude, his music, his horror films and books and Alfred Hitchcock. He loved his trees, each one lovingly named by him as Janardhan, Raghunandan, Gangadhar, Jagannath, Buddhuram, Jhatpatajhatpatpat. He cultivated his eccentricities in the hope that it would keep the industry at bay, and that they would leave him to himself. They didn’t. He went on to become a very successful actor, at one point, second only to Dilip Kumar in his box-office draw. Like his songs Kishore Kumar in real life too was full of energy and playful. His energy reached new dynamism when he reached on stage and did live songs. Literally the crowds went berserk whenever he would get on the stage. But few know that Kishore Kumar had a stage phobia earlier and would run away whenever he was invited to sing in any music concert.
In an interview famous singer Talat Mehmood, who was the secretary of Playback Singer Association in the early 60s informed that when they had organized a stage show for fund raising for a social cause at Mumbai’s Liberty Cinema, Kishore Kumar made many reasons to skip the show but the Playback Singer Association had made it mandatory for every singer to be present.
As the Playback Singer Association was aware of Kishore Kumar’s stage phobia hence the Association gave Talat Mehmood the responsibility to bring Kishore Kumar anyhow.
Hence on the day of event Talat Mehmood himself went to pick Kishore Kumar from his residence but Kishore Kumar had locked the door and run away!
It was only in late 60’s that Kishore Kumar took to stage shows. The reason behind this was none other than Sunil Dutt. It was during the making of their film together “Padosan” that Sunil Dutt realised Kishore Kumar as the wholesome entertainer. He requested Kishore Kumar to do a stage show for the Army Jawans in Guwahati , which Kishore Kumar declined because of his phobia. Sunil Dutt then gave the same formula to break the ice for Kishore Kumar, Sunil Dutt took the microphone and Kishore Kumar stood behind him singing just as they did in the film “Padosan”. Thus helping him to end the stage phobia.
Years later, music duo Kalyanji Anandji, who were engaged in world tours helped develop confidence in him.
Here’s Kishore Kumar singing live in one of his stage shows with Kalyanji Anandji.