Golden Era

Kishore Kumar – Yoodleeyoo ! (The Legend – Part I)

Kishore Kumar a name that is synonymous with the yodelling that started out in the music world many many years back when only classically oriented singers were giving the playback in the films. 4th Aug, 2006 was 77th birthday of the third side of the triangle he formed Mohammed Rafi and Mukesh. Big Three would be a better description. Rafi was essentially a singer. So was Mukesh. But Kishore was a singer,actor, director and composer, rolled into one. His was also a comic spirit, both on the screen and off it. He even indulged in clowning. But a clown is not all laughter. There is a pang in his heart, a sob in his throat or a tear in his eye. If Kishore could rattle off Main hoon jhumroo, he could also chant movingly Door gagan ki chhaon mein

Born on 4th August 1929 in a middle class home at Khandwa, Kishore Da was the youngest in the family.As a young boy, Kishore was full of mischief and pranks. He loved to play and almost never tired of seeking amusements. Kishore was very close to his sister, who appreciated his sense of humour. Though the interaction with his eldest brother was minimal as Ashok Kumar left home to study law after graduating in science. He met his brother occasionally when Ashok used to come to visit the family. Though Kishore went to a prominent school at Khandwa, he was never interested and he hated reading books and having to learn under a discipline that seemed to curb his natural steam.

Kishore Kumar used to sing for his parents and they would give him money as a small token. His father often asked him to sing Ashok Kumar’s song from the movie Achut Kanya. (Main ban ki chidya .. bolun re..). Kishoreda was good at imitating and this was near to perfect when it came to singing K.L.Saigal’s songs. K.L.Saigal turned out to be his mentor and meeting him was his wish at the top of his mind. Sadly, the meeting with Saigal did not take place, for Saigal died soon after Kishore’s arrival in Mumbai.

Kumar disliked acting and instead wanted to become a leading singer in Bollywood. However, he didn’t have any formal training in singing or music. Through his brother Ashok’s contacts in the industry Kumar did though make his debut in films – initially failing to make an impression. But he continued acting, which allowed him to sing on the soundtracks of the films. At this stage of his career, Kumar’s style was derivative of K. L. Saigal’s. Once, Sachin Dev Burman came to Ashok Kumar’s house and heard what sounded like K. L. Saigal’s voice coming out of the bathroom. Impressed, S. D. Burman asked Ashok who was singing. Hearing the answer, he waited until Kishore Kumar had finished bathing. He had a little talk with Kumar during which he expressed his appreciation of his singing but advised,

Don’t try to ape K. L. Saigal. Apers never make great artists. You should develop your own singing style.

After this, Kumar developed his own trademark singing style, which was completely different from the styles of Rafi, Mukesh and Saigal. He used to yodel in many of his songs. Sachin Dev Burman became his mentor and guide. S D Burman, who had never heard yodelling before, used to call it gala tod ke gaana (‘break-throat singing’). Yodelling became Kishore’s trademark, and the media described his singing style as “yodelling at the moon”.

Kishore Kumar – Yoodleeyoo !

The journey of Kishore Da continues in The Legend II coming soon…


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