Article Updated 23 June, 2003 09:53:12 PM IST
Exclusive interview - Amit Kumar
By Taru Talwar ©2003 Bollyvista.com
"Soone shaam savere, kab se hain mere, jab se gaye ho tum". The emotions in these words are apparent in the voice of the singer; a soft voice, full of expressions, resonates in the air as this song plays on. The voice reminds us of another legendary voice that made us happy, laugh and sad for decades. Yet, the owner of this beautiful voice remains hidden on the scenes of Indian Music Industry. His history is simple, born in a natural-musically-inclined family, he is the son of the legendary Kishore Kumar. He has to his credit, over 800 songs, a few pop music albums in which he has even composed music, showing us his multi-talented personality similar to his father. He even has to his credit a few movies, in which he acted while his father was still alive. A genuine, natural born artist, his talent speaks for himself. Oh yes! We are talking about Amit Kumar here. Upon request from several of his fans through his fan-club here at Bollyvista.com, we met up with him and asked him the questions that his fans wanted to ask him.
What was the first movie that you recorded a song for?
The film was "Door Ka Rahi" and the song was "Mai Panchi Matwaala" which was eliminated from the film. That was "the Kishore Kumar style of working". It was recorded at the Bombay Labs in 1965, music and lyrics were by Kishore Kumar. Another song 'Beeti Jaaye Zindagani" was also recorded for the film, but that was also eliminated.
As far as we know, you have given music for your non-filmi albums, but did you ever give music for any movies as well?
No, none. I am not a regular composer- I just have inborn talent and as R.D. Burman said at the release of Mad- I am 25 years ahead of my time (Mad was released by R.D. Burman). However, I have given music for Bengali movies.
Have you ever written lyrics for your non-filmi as well as film albums?
Yes, for Bengali albums- Amanat, Tai jodi hoto, my next release "Mahjabeen" has lyrics by Leenaji. She is a superb lyric writer who can grasp the mood and translate it into meter. It is commendable for a person not trained in the art of writing.
Have you ever recorded in any other languages besides Hindi and Bangla?
Yes, in Marathi, Punjabi and Oriya.
In the late 80s, there was an interview of yours published in the Filmfare where you sounded very upset with HMV for not giving you the royalty money for all Kishore Kumar songs released by HMV, and a subsequent letter by Mr. Vijay Kishore Dubey, then VP (?) of HMV wrote that no royalties were owed to Kishore Kumar or his estate since HMV's royalty contract was with the producers of a film and not with the singers for any film, could you shed some more light on the issue as well as give us your views on it?
No comments. It's water under the bridge and there is no need to bring it back up.
Did you ever sing for free in any movie?
While we are the subject of money, have you ever given any money to any charities or benefits?
Yes, I have given money to Ram Krishna Mission and Mother Teresa- when I did the show Dui Kishore in Calcutta.
What are your views on today's music industry? Where do you think it is headed?
Today, everything is a facade, poetry has vanished and melody is non-existent. There is no originality left in the music and no depth in the lyrics. Compositions lack creativity. There are no sad songs being written or composed-only happy and romantic songs for the generation X. But life is not like that- "kabhi khushi hai to kabhi gam", music companies are only promoting happy songs as they believe that is what sells and that doesn't give variety in one single album. It's not nice to listen to the same emotion again and again, music should also reflect life, but in the end the people will listen to what is doled out to them.
Do you like A.R. Rahman's music?
ARR is a very talented composer. He knows his stuff, he knows music. His arrangements are very good. The background score for "Lagaan" was superb.
A lot of people would love to see you singing for ARR, do you think that is a possibility?
Who wouldn't like to sing for Rahman- everybody would- and I am no different.
What are your views on R.D. Burman? How were your relations with him?
Pancham da was the most fascinating music director of our times, the most complete music director. The energy his work reflects needs no words. He was the creator of trends, introducing western elements in Hindi film music. True fusion started with him. He was a family friend as was his father SDB. We shared a great family feeling between us. This was in 1971-72 when Pancham da came to know that I also could sing- hua yun ki during durga puja I had prepared to sing five songs for the entertainment function, (a function promoted by Uttam Kumars family in his locality), this was without my mothers knowledge. Five songs gave way to ten songs and well I sang my father's film songs. Later my mother came to know about this and was furious. She immediately called my father in Bombay and told him - look at your son he is singing baaje baaje (terrible!!) film songs in the lanes of Calcutta. My father was thrilled.
It so happened that I had a concert - my first - at Rabindra Sadan a little later. And my overjoyed father flew down for it. I had reserved the first row seats for him but he said if people know I am there no one will listen to you. So in the end arrangements were made for him to go to the sound and light booth high up behind the theatre. When I was singing, I could see him up there dancing away in his own inimitable style. This is one of my most unforgettable memories of him. After this he took me to Bombay with him and this is when Pancham da took my audition. I mucked up as I was nervous and my father was very angry with me as we left in the car. But I think Pancham da knew I was nervous and recognized my talent and to our amazement called me for a recording the next day. This is the kind of love and affection he had for me.
How did you feel when RDB switched to Kumar Sanu for '1942 A Love Story'?
Pancham da was going through a lean period as everyone knows and probably didn't have any say in the matter.
There was a song in your voice in "Door Ka Raahii", "Main ik panchhi matwaalaa re", a lovely number by the way. This song was repeated in your voice again in "Mamta Ki Chhaon mein" almost 20 years later. What was the reason why that song was repeated? Was it your idea or your fathers?
Kishore Kumar had his own style and his own reasons for doing things, so one did not know why he would do certain things.
Going back to the same interview with Filmfare in the late 80s, you also mentioned a cassette collection that contained Kishore's last Bengali recordings by the name of "Dui Kishore", did that album ever make it to the market? (a lot of fans, have been looking for that album forever but we can't find it). If that album did make it to the market, under what company was it released? And what's the availability of that album?
In 1993, I did a Bengali show of Dui Kishore in Calcutta, with Sumit.
Also, there was a talk of an album of yours by the name of "Do Kishore" in which you and your younger brother Sumit sang some of Kishore's songs, what's the availability of that album? Which company released it?
It was released by Sur Mandir of Gujarat- you could probably talk to Rajiv Shukla (sound recordist) at the Empire Recording Studio about it- he may know something.
Talking about your albums, the availability of "Mad", "Pyaar To Bas Pyaar Hai", "Dam Dama Dam" is decreasing a lot, as a lot of your fans just can't get a hold of these albums, any comments on that or any suggestions as to where we can find them?
The music companies that released these albums either folded up or faded into oblivion - Mahesh Bhatt's Plus just folded up. Also not enough publicity and marketing is responsible for this unavailability
A few questions regarding Kishore Kumar as we believe you may be the best source to get this information from: there was an incomplete film (with Madhubala) in which there was a song of Kishore. This song was mentioned in a documentary on Kishore. Could you shed some light on that if there was any incomplete film with Madhubala?
Well, the name of the film was Neela Aasmaan. Songs had been recorded but the film hadn't begun. One song was "akela hun mai, akeli meri daastaan". It was about a padri and a famous actress who are shipwrecked and the only survivors marooned on an island. There was another film for which three reels had been canned called "Pyaar Ajnabi Hai" this was with Leenaji, Shammi kapoor and Kishore Kumar. Four songs had also been recorded of which one solo which Lataji sang and a ghazal and solo by Kishore Kumar. This was around 1985.
In your opinion, what would be the top 10 songs of Kishore?
1. Chota sa ghar hoga badlon ki chaaon mein (From Naukari by Salil Chowdhury)
2. Aaj rona para to samjhe hasne ka mol kya hai (From Girl Friend by Hemant Kumar)
3. Husna bhi hai udaas udaas (From Fareb by Anil Biswas)
4. Khilte hain gul yahan (From Sharmilee by S.D. Burman)
5. Chingari koi bharke (From Amar Prem by R.D. Burman)
6. Miltey hi nazar aap mere dil mein aa gaye_(From New Delhi by Shankar Jaikishen)
7. Kuen mein kood ke mar jana (From Parivar by Salil Chowdhury)
8. Yeh dard bhara afsana (From Shriman Fantoosh by Laxmikant Pyarelal)
9. Majhi re (From Khushboo by R.D. Burman)
10. Deewana leke aaya hai (From Mere Jeevan Saathi by R.D. Burman)
What are your favorite songs that are sung by you?
1. Barre ache lagte hain (From Balika Badhu by R.D. Burman)
2. Soone shaam savere (From Khel by Rajesh Roshan)
3. Har ghari dhal (From Saransh by Ajit Verman)
4. Yeh zameen ga rahi hai (FromTeri kasam by R.D. Burman)
5. Aaj teri aankhon mei (From Zakhmi insaan by Nadeem Shravan)
6. Daur e fiza tha dil (From Shabaash Daddy by Kishore Kumar)
7. Gali gali dhoonda tujhe (From Jawani by R.D. Burman)
8. Kehdo ki tum ho meri (From Tezaab by Laxmikant Pyarelal)
9. Onnophoole shajano (From a Bengali private album)
You are seen often singing songs in the SONY HARMONY, a lot of these songs are Kishore Kumar's songs; do you plan to release any album with the songs that you have been singing in Harmony?
A music company has asked me to do cover versions of my fathers. I had been resisting for a long time, it felt as if I was disrespecting my fathers' memory by doing so. But now I am seeing other singers make a mess of it, it is unbearable. So, I decided to do it as I am easily the best person for the job.
Any USA/Canada tours in sight?
No, not for the time being- though I am planning a stage show with a story line in the near future so maybe sometime later.
Any other projects you are working on? Filmi or Non-Filmi? We have heard about this album entitled "Mahjabeen", any news on it?
Mahjabeen has been recorded for the last one and a half years. I was only on the lookout for a good release and it should be done in a couple of months. The entire album has been written by Leena ji. She has written marvelously- for a person not trained in writing lyrics its commendable how she has bound it in meter and yet kept it so lyrical. Sumit has also arranged parts of a track. The album deals with a variety of emotions and situations- one song has already been picturized.
Any other future projects? What does the future hold for Amit Kumar and his fans?
There is a music show coming up on stage with a story line. I also recorded a song for Ashutosh Rana, film Choat "gai re gai bhens paani mein".
Watch out for Amit Kumar's album Mahjabeen, it should be out soon. If you want to send any message to Amit Kumar, visit his fan-club hosted here at bollyvista.com and we will make sure that we send your messages to him. We all hope that he will take on more music assignments and his fans won't have to yearn any more to listen to his wonderful singing.
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