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RMIM Archives..

Subject: Kishore Kumar - In his Own Words - Some Interviews.


Posted: "Rajan P. Parrikar" (parrikar@mimicad.Colorado.EDU)

Source: Filmfare(November 1-15, 1987).



Kishore, in his own words:

"My father Kunjalal Ganguli, was a pleader (advocate) who

earned Rs 30 a month. My mama, Dhananjay Banerjee, a classical

singer, was the only family link I had with music. But I was

never trained to be a singer. It was my brother Dadamoni who

learnt music from the well-known Saraswati Devi."


"Very early in life I was fascinated by K.L. Saigal. I used to

save my pocket money to buy his records. He's my real guru."


"In Padosan, I mimicked my mama - long hair, kajal in the eyes,

constant paan-chewing and the works. My performance was so

perfect that shooting was halted after two days. Both Mehmood

and Sunil felt that I was stealing every scene from them, and

they got down to working on their get-ups. That's how Mehmood

and Sunil got to wearing wigs etc."


"When I married Leena I didn't expect to be a father again.

After all, I was in my fifties then. But Sumeet has been a

source of immense joy to me. Leena, Amit, Sumeet and I today

make a well-adjusted foursome. I had always longed for a

secure, happy family. It remained just a dream until Leena

came along. With her, for the first time, I have achieved

emotional security."


"I was surprised when "Lata agreed to do stage shows with me

in London. Though I was thrilled, I was worried about one

thing - her discipline. She would never go on stage without

proper rehearsal. But I like to take things easy. We had to

sing five duets: Chai pe bulaya hain (Souten), Gata rahe mera

dil (Guide), Jai jai shiv shankar (Aap ki Kasam), Accha to hum

chalte hain (Aan Milo Sajana) and Kora kagaz tha yeh man

mera (Aradhana). The problem arose when it was time for us to

go on stage. We couldn't decide who should go first. I

suggested that Lata sing first because she was my senior. But

she didn't. Instead she went on stage to introduce me. She

praised me a lot, but made it a point to add, "I call him Da

because he is older to me". Yes, I'm one month and 24 days

older than her! We did three shows in Wembley. During the

first one there was a problem because organizer had publicised

that we'd be singing "Angrezi mein kehte hain I love

you"(Khuddar). But Lata refused to sing the song because it

contained the word 'idiot' in it. Again she put her foot

down against "Pag ghungroo" (Namak Halal) because she said

it belittled Meerabai. Instead, she said, I should sing a

bhajan. I was nonplussed because I couldn't remember any.

Finally, I managed to sing one - Hari naam ka pyaala -

rendered originally by S.D. Burman. It was received with

great applause."


"I am a crazy fan of Topol's. When we were in London, I saw

an advertisement of "Fiddler on the Roof" in the drama

section of a newspaper. I thought they'd made a mistake.

When I checked, I was told that there WAS a stage show of

"Fiddler...". I can't tell you how thrilled I was. I had

seen the film at least a hundred times and now I had an

opportunity to see my favourite actor perform right in front

of me. Would you believe it, I attended all the four

consecutive shows. I went backstage to introduce myself

to Topol and even took his autograph. I still remember the

date - September 9, 1983. He presented me a copy of his

autobiography, Topol by Topol, and I presented him the

records and cassettes of my songs. In 1960, he was only

48-49 but still he played the old man so beautifully. I

think nobody, just nobody, can perform the way Topol did

in Fiddler. He actually sings through the whole film.

Neither Dilip Kumar nor Ashok Kumar can match him."


More from the same issue:

"My brother Ashok discouraged Anoop and me from joining films.

You are a pair of donkeys, he said", Kishore Kumar gleefully

narrated to Filmfare in 1955.

When Ashok Kumar became a favourite Bombay Talkies hero, Kishore

was still at college "trying to get through examinations".

"I could do little else besides sing" Kishore said frankly.

"I was never good at studies so I used to compose different tunes

for different subjects. For instance I composed a tune for a

paragraph on the Malthusian theory of population."

The Gangulys used to visit Bombay once a year. During one of

these visits Kishore was asked by the music director, Khemchand

Prakash to sing for Dev Anand in Ziddi. Kishore became very popular

as a playback singer and got many assignments, but even then he

was not very serious about a film career.

In a diary he wrote for Filmfare in 1957, Kishore talked of

Ashok. "I'm in fifth form and I'm very proud of my brother.

Hasn't Ashok Kumar Ganguly of Khandwa become a film star?"

Jeevan Naiya, Ashok's first film, comes to Khandwa. Kishore

and a few friends of his, all fans of Master Vithal and other

action heroes of stunt films, eagerly go to see "Big brother

laying low a dozen villains", but are disappointed. It's a soft

sentimental film - and Ashok Kumar even puts up with a slap

from another character.

"That very night," said Kishore, "I write Dadamoni a letter,

telling him he had better swing his fists around a bit in his

next film or he will lose a number of fans in Khandwa."

In the same diary, Kishore recalled attending a night shooting

of Mahal, starring Ashok Kumar and Madhubala, at Filmistan

Studios in Bombay. During a break in shooting, Kishore gave

Madhubala a big fright putting on "a grotesque mask with a

drooping moustache" which he had taken along with him. Years

later, he was to marry her.

Writing an interview with Kishore in 1970, a Filmfare staffer

noted that it added to "that well-known Kishore Kumar mystique

of lack of continuity and endless little puzzles." Though

Kishore didn't appear from or disappear into any cupboards

during the interview, he did exit, for no particular reason,

through a rear door of the room and re-entered through the

front door enjoying immensely the journalist's momentary


The room had photographs of Rabindranath Tagore, Ashok Kumar

and Dev Anand and a painting of "The Last Supper". The interview

recorded that Kishore's dislikes were telephone calls, tax

problems, cigarette smoke, alcohol and the studio routine.



Again from the same issue of PhillumFare. Preeti Ganguly, KK's

niece and Ashok Kumar's daughter, reminisces.

It's impossible to believe that Kishore Kaka is dead. How could

a man who breathed life into everything around him die? He was

my favourite uncle - it seems so strange to say 'was'. Not that

we saw him very frequently or were extremely close. But he was

very childlike and innocent. There was always a sense of wonder

about him.

His eccentric ways weren't just for outsiders. If others

complained that they weren't allowed past his gate, his

behaviour was not any different with us. He'd do it with

us too. There were times when he would himself invite our

family over for lunch, we'd go up all the way to Juhu and end

up waiting at the gate. There, right within our view, Kishore

Kaka would ask his man to tell us he wasn't in, if he wasn't in

the mood to receive us. Mummy would get irritated, then hand

over what she had carried for him, and say to the man, "I've

brought him some of his favourite food. The least he can do is

eat it." And we'd all have to return without getting past those


We had a house in Bangalore, a huge sprawling one on an acre of

land near the army establishment. It had always been drilled into

our young minds that the land was once a burial ground. We went

there for our holidays once. Amit must've been about 5 years old.

While I was between three and four. The place was spooky, the

atmosphere eerie - and we were very scared. So much so, that we

would accompany each other to the bathroom too. And Kaka would

insist on telling us a story - a ghost story, at the dead of

night. He'd take us to a certain room from where you could see

willow trees swaying outside in the wind. Kaka would insist that

we sit with our back to the window and we'd obediently do that.

Then he would point to a tree under which a Colonel had supposedly

committed suicide and start narrating a spooky tale. That wasn't

all. He would deliberately provide eerie sound effects to go

with that story: tan tan, thak thak thak. And he'd even jump

at us suddenly. All this was most nerve-racking - Amit and I

would literally be quaking with fear. If we turned our heads to

look at the trees, he'd say,"Peechhe se haath aaya", and then add

"Colonel abhi nahi aayegaa, baad mein aayegaa." Which made it

worse. There was one particular story (one of the many cooked

up by Kaka) called The Golden Hand, which was the worst. Whenever

I heard that one, I wet my pants. Literally.

Like Dad, Kaka was quite paranoid about money, and about not

being paid. But Kaka's eccentricities made him do funny things.

.................At another time when he discovered his dues

hadn't been fully paid, Kaka landed up for shooting with make-up

on only one side of his face. No one really noticed, until all

the lights were switched on. "What's this?" asked the shocked

director. Kaka nonchalently replied, "Aadha paisa to aadha

make-up. Pura paisa to pura make-up.".........

Kaka's mad ways could take other forms too. Once, when his car

was caught in a traffic jam, he happened to be outside a grocer's

shop. "Yeh laal laal kya hain?", he asked his driver Abdul.

"Masur ki daal hain", Abdul replied. In a flash Kaka was

reminded of Mussoorie and he told Abdul, "Chalo Mussoorie

chalen." And then he took off for Mussoorie right from there


When I was at FTII, I was exposed to a lot of his films. Half

Ticket, Chalti ka Naam Gaadi and all the rest. I marvelled at

his sense of timing. Some of his films were totally mad but

he had a terrific feel for the absurd. During the shooting of

Badti Ka Naam Daadi, some clothes, without which the continuity

of the scene would be affected, had been inadvertantly left

behind. It would have been too much of an effort and expense to

fetch them. Kaka improvised and introduced a new scene right

in the middle of the first. The scene showed him sitting on a

chair in the middle of nowhere, saying, "I'm the director,

I'll do anything I want". The next scene had everybody continuing

with the earlier scene - in different clothes!........

What an actor he was...Occasionally when he'd come home, I would

ask him, "Kaka, why don't you act anymore? You're so brilliant."

He'd reply firmly. "No. I'll never act for other producers

again." He hated to collect payment from people, to chase them

for his money........

Kaka was also very fond of food, especially of amangshor jhol,

a thin Bengali-style mutton curry, with maida puris. He loved

the way Mummy cooked it, and she'd prepare it for him everytime

he came here. When he came here after Mummy died, I had it

especially made for him. He was very touched and said, "You

remembered, Pallu." He also loved tiny bits of gobi (cauliflower).

He'd say, "Cover me with mounds of fried gobi. I'll lie under them

and keep eating the gobi. Even after I've finished it all, I'm

sure I won't be satisfied!"

Just two months ago I'd finished writing a script on Dad and

another on Kaka. Thought it would be good for a documentary

film. When I told Kaka about it, he asked me to call him on a

certain date. When I did, he put Amit on the line, instead of

speaking to me himself. I was quite exasperated because I was

quite serious about it. It was a script written to show the

sensitivity of the man. Now it is too late.....

When I saw Kaka lying dead, covered with flowers, I couldn't

think of it as real. The feeling I got was that he would

suddenly get up, and true to his nature, stick his tongue

out, cocking a snook at all of us, and say, "See what I've

done to you guys!" I wish it had happened.


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