Aug 4, 2010

Tribute to Kishore Kumar.

Kishore Kumar is surely the best playback singer for me.. its astounding...the number of his songs that I like...however, i had no idea about many of his eccentricties. His Wikipedia page is a very good read

Kishore Kumar is said to have been paranoid about not being paid. During recordings, he would begin singing only after his secretary confirmed that the producer had made the payment. Once, when he discovered that his dues hadn't been fully paid, he landed up for shooting with make-up on only one side of his face. When the director questioned him, he replied "Aadha paisa to aadha make-up." (Half make-up for half payment).Once, Kishore Kumar refused to act because the director M V Raman owed him five thousand rupees. His brother Ashok Kumar persuaded him to do the scene. But, when the shooting started, he walked across the floor and, each time he walked a few places, he said, "Paanch Hazzar Rupaiya," (five thousand rupees) and did a somersault. After he reached the end of the floor, he went out of the studio, jumped into his car, and ordered his driver Abdul to drive away. On another occasion, when the producer R. C. Talwar did not pay his dues in spite of repeated reminders, Kishore Kumar turned up at Talwar's residence one morning and started shouting "Hey Talwar, de de mere aath hazaar" ("Hey Talwar, give me my eight thousand"). He did this every morning for a few days, until Talwar paid him.

The film Anand (1971) was originally supposed to star Kishore Kumar and Mehmood in the lead roles.Hrishikesh Mukherjee, the director of the film, was asked to meet Kishore Kumar to discuss the project. However, when he went to Kishore Kumar's house, he was driven away by the gatekeeper due to a misunderstanding. Kishore Kumar (himself a Bengali) hadn't been paid for a stage show organized by another Bengali man, and had instructed his gatekeeper to drive away this "Bengali", if he ever visited the house. When Hrishikesh Mukherjee (also a Bengali) went to Kishore Kumar's house, the gatekeeper drove him away, mistaking him for the "Bengali" that Kishore Kumar had asked him to drive away. Consequently, Mehmood had to leave the film as well, and new actors (Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan) were signed up for the film.

In spite of his "no money, no work" principle, sometimes Kishore Kumar recorded for free even when the producers were willing to pay. He recorded for free, for some films produced by Rajesh Khanna and Danny Denzongpa. On one occasion, Kishore Kumar helped actor-turned-producer Bipin Gupta, by giving him Rs. 20,000 for the film Dal Mein Kala (1964). When the little-known actor Arun Kumar Mukherjee died, Kishore Kumar regularly sent money to his family in Bhagalpur. Mukherjee was one of the first persons to appreciate Kishore's singing talent.

Many journalists and writers have written about Kishore Kumar's seemingly eccentric behavior. Kishore Kumar had put a "Beware of Kishore" sign at the door of his Warden Road flat, where he stayed for some time while his bungalow was being done up. Once, the producer-director H. S. Rawail, who owed him some money, visited his flat to pay the dues. Kishore Kumar took the money, and when Rawail offered to shake hands with him, he reportedly put Rawail's hand in his mouth, bit it, and asked "Didn’t you see the sign?". Rawail laughed off the incident and left quickly. Once, when a reporter made a comment about how lonely he must be, Kishore Kumar took her to his garden. He then named some of the trees in his garden, and introduced them to the reporter as his closest friends.

According to another reported incident, once Kishore Kumar was to record a song for the producer-director G. P. Sippy. As Sippy approached his bungalow, he saw Kishore going out in his car. Sippy pleaded him to stop his car, but Kishore only increased the speed of his car. Sippy chased him to Madh Island, where Kishore Kumar finally stopped his car near the ruined Madh Fort. When Sippy questioned his strange behavior, Kishore Kumar refused to recognize or talk to him and threatened to call police. Sippy had to return. Next morning, Kishore Kumar reported for the recording. An angry Sippy questioned him about his behavior on the previous day. However, Kishore Kumar insisted that Sippy must have seen a dream, and claimed that he was in Khandwa on the previous day.

Kishore Kumar was also noted for defying producers and directors. Once, a producer went to court to get a decree that Kishore Kumar must follow the director's orders. As a consequence, Kishore Kumar obeyed the director to the letter. He refused to alight from his car until the director ordered him to do so. Once, after a car scene in Mumbai, he drove on till Khandala because the director forgot to say "Cut".In the 1960s, a financier called Kalidas Batvabbal, patently disgusted with Kishore Kumar's alleged lack of cooperation during the shooting of Half Ticket, gave him away to the income tax authorities. Kishore had to face a raid at his house. Later, Kishore invited Batvabbal home, tricked him by asking him to enter a cupboard for a "chat" and locked him inside. He unlocked Batvabbal after two hours and told him "Don’t ever come to my house again.

Its not explicitly mentioned but you can guess that Kishore Kumar would have been one diificult man to work with. Mr Rama Verma here mentions some other incidents

Tales about his various eccentricities abound. How he married four of the most glamourous women in the film industry despite having sung "Kuven Me Kood Ke Mar Jaana ! Yaar Tum Shaadi Mat Karna !", how he had names for all the trees in his garden (Janardhan, Raghunandan, Gangaram, Jhatpatjhatpat and so on) and would converse with them at length, how he hoarded thousands of video cassettes from all over the world, (With a distinct penchant for horror films), how he would refuse to record a song correctly till he was paid his due in full, how he used to set his dogs on income tax officers and was imprisoned, how his voice was banned from All India Radio because he offended the powers that be at the time by refusing to sing free of cost for one of their shows, how Hrishikesh Mukherjee was denied admission in his house (Because of a sad misunderstanding. Kishore was expecting another man altogether and had asked his Man Friday not to let "That Bengali" in.) because of which the title role of the film Anand…..which was scripted specifically for Kishore Kumar…went to Rajesh Khanna, how he spent hours and hours locked up in his room practicing music and counting money…..there is no end really.

There is so much that one is forced to leave unsaid because of the restriction of the space available. Kishore's ironic and Saigallike laugh in songs like "Yeh Laal Rang," how Kishore would Live each word of the songs he sang rather than consciously give the appropriate inflections with the voice (One subtle example being in the last line of the song "Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas" where there is the slightest hesitation when he croons "Dar Dar Ke Kehta Hoon"), how he sat up all night with his brother Ashok Kumar when the latter's wife passed away and sang "Yeh Jeevan Hai" again and again…..and again….and again at the behest of Ashok Kumar who wept till he had no more tears left, how his version of so many songs became more popular when the same song had been sung by others in the same film, how he took on a morbid song like "Tomar Barir Shamne Diye Amar Maron Jatra Jedin Hobe" ("The day my funeral procession passes by your house") despite having suffered a massive heart attack and despite the song being turned down by Manna Dey and how he took it to great heights, how he effortlessly handled classical Raagas like Bhairavi, Pahadi, Lathangi, Bhopali, Chayanat, Shivranjini, Mishr Khamaj, Mishr Piloo and others, how he would change his voice to suit actors ranging from Amitabh Bachchan to Rajesh Khanna to Dev Anand to Deven Verma, how he could sing the same song with explosive joy and with devastating sadness ("Yeh Dosti" and "Jeevan Ke Safar Me Rahi" for example.), how Sunil Dutt coaxed him to give his very first public concert (When Kishore was so scared that he made Dutt stand in front facing the audience while he stood behind and sang with his eyes closed… like they did in the film Padosan, though for different reasons …..till Dutt quietly moved away and the audience burst out into thunderous applause…. ….an event which gave birth to one of the most entertaining live performers the world has ever seen)….
So, we get the picture of a man who was difficult to work and live with but his immense talent allowed him to marry some of the most beautiful women and being universally liked and spawning a generation of copycats.