Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The Bond with Kishore Kumar


As a child, I don't remember having cried at anybody's death or funeral. Death was, perhaps, beyond comprehension. Then as one went into teens, it was quite common to be imprisoned by the stereotypical theory of 'Boys don't cry'. So tears were resisted. But on the 13th day of October 1987, just 10 days after I turned 16, I cried a lot. There was no way that I could bar my tears from flowing. The reason was that Kishore Kumar had passed away.

It was heart-breaking. I remember that I went to the elevator and cried. I was myself surprised that I could turn sentimental. I never thought I was the type. But often one discovers oneself when one is off guard.

There is a lot that one could write on Kishore Kumar, his songs, his music, his acting, even his lyric writing and his movies. And I do propose to do it soon in my new blog - Rear Window. But that is not the purpose of this post. It was Kishore Kumar's birthday yesterday and I wanted to share one exclusive moment that I shared with his music.

I never had the good fortune to meet him, but I did share an exclusive moment with one of his songs. This song is not talked about much even among music lovers, but I think, happens to be among his best renditions.

It so happened that Sai Paranjape was hunting for a 'chawl' for her film, 'Katha'. (At that time the film was called 'Kachhua aur Khargosh'. They changed the name later probably for the ease of pronunciation.) The film starred Farooq Shaikh, Naseeruddin Shah and Deepti Naval. The chawl that Sai Paranjape finalised was in Pune and happened to be the residence of my maternal grandparents. My grandfather, Shankarrao Biniwale, a well-known violinist and my mother, Lalakari were well known to Sai Paranjape. (My mother was part of a children's music programme called Bal Durbar on Pune radio, which Sai Paranjape used to compere.)


The shoot of Katha was like a festival for the residents of Salunke Wada. The usually sleepy chawl had come to life with the hustle-bustle of the shooting and arrival of film stars. On their part, even the film stars behaved like an extended family of the residents of the Salunke Wada.

I had a long holiday in school and I visited my maternal grandparents often. This time I was surprised to see the chawl in such a gay mood. The first star that I saw was Deepti Naval. Dark and beautiful, I remember she was quiet and very dignified. Farooque Shaikh on the other hand was quite pally with all the local residents. When I went to him for an autograph, he signed my book with a smile and asked me in Marathi about which school I went to. When I told him I was from Mumbai, he said: "अरे वा! मीसुद्धा मुंबईचाच!" (I too am from Mumbai!)

Watching Katha takes me back in time. There are so many signs of the past in the film that nostalgia grips me every time I watch the film.

The scene where Leela Mishra gives a thalipeeth (a traditional Maharashtrian dish made with multiple flours) to Farooque Shaikh was shot in our kitchen. The curtains in Deepti Naval's house were made by my grandmother and the wall-hangings by my mother. My grandparents are seen in different scenes in the film.

But even today the one memory that holds sway over me is the shooting of the song - Maine Tumse Kuchch Nahin Maanga! Music director Rajkamal has some of the sweetest melodies to his name. But this is a rare song which was sung by Kishore Kumar. You don't associate Sai Paranjape's films with a Kishore Kumar song and this was one of the rare occasions! The shooting of the song was fixed for a night shift. Not only the unit and the actors but the entire Salunke Wada was awake to watch the shoot of this song.

When the song was played on the Nagra, it was magic. I was looking out of the window when Kishore Kumar's deep baritone voice filled up the entire space.

मैंने तुमसे कुछ नहीं माँगा
आज दे दो, सौ बरस से जगे इन नैनों को...
नींद का वरदान दे दो।

The beautiful lyric by Indu Jain, soothing music by Rajkamal, and exquisitely sung by Kishore Kumar. The scene was such that Naseeruddin had to catch the hem of Deepti Naval's saree as she went up the stairs and hold it and then she gently pulls it out of his hand and he releases it watching her go. The particular shot went into takes and retakes as the two veteran actors just could not get the timing right. Sai Paranjape was adamant (and rightfully so) that she wanted Naseeruddin to release the saree on a downbeat, but somehow that moment eluded him every time and he released the hem either too early or too late. It was quite a number of takes before the actors and the unit heaved a sigh of relief.

I'll never forget that final shot. It was too perfect!

Kishore Kumar has always been my favourite playback singer. But with this song, that bond became personal. Years have passed since that night and my grandparents have since then passed away. So have Kishore Kumar and Farooque Shaikh. A few years ago Salunkhe Wada, one day, simply collapsed and was razed to the ground due to indiscriminate building work around it. Fortunately, nobody was hurt. Whatever remains now remains on a DVD. But, the moment I hear Kishore Kumar singing Maine Tumse Kuchch Nahin Maanga - my mind goes back to those vacations of 1982. Some memories can never be razed to the ground.

© Kaushal S. Inamdar, 2014