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Amit Kumar Is More Than Kishore Kumar’s Son

Being Kishore  Kumar’s son wasn’t easy for Amit Kumar.  The comparisons never stopped.  And to be fair, Junior was  no patch on Senior. He  survived the comparisons only because  another victim of paternal supremacy Rahul Dev Burman  supported Amit and gave him a  slew of chartbusters  to sing. 

Amit Kumar once told me, “I was R D Burman’s blue-eyed boy. He used to visit home till his death and cook for us.He was fantastic cook. We’d compose music together. He had three friends in the film industry me, Shakti Samanta and  Ramesh Behl.We were with him till the end….My father(Kishore Kumar) was very close to Pancham(R D Burman). Because of their closeness I became friends with Pancham.I think I sang the maximum songs for Pancham after Asha Bhosle, Lata Mangeshkar and my father. I think Ashaji sang around 800 songs. My father sang 500-600. I sang about a 150 songs for Pancham. That’s more than Mohd Rafi Saab.We were associated for 20 years till his death. We loved each other unconditionally. The Burman family was like family to me. Sachin Dev Burman mentored my father.And Pancham mentored me.” 

A  look  at the finest Amit-Burman collaborations.

1.     Bade achche  lagte hain: Balika Badhu:  For this love story  of two  adolescents discovering love  after marriage director Shakti Samanta  and  composer Rahul Dev Burman needed a  fresh  voice. R D  Burman had heard Amit singing  when  Amit accompanied  his  father  to  a recording with  Manna Dey for a film called Khalifa. Amit Kumar told me what happened next. “I sat listening to my father and Mannada rehearse. Suddenly Pancham turned to me and said, ‘I heard that you sing very well. Sing for me.’  I was nervous. But I sang my father’s song in Jhumroo as  the stalwarts in the orchestra accompanied me. While returning home after the recording my father said, ‘You lost a golden chance . Your singing was bakwas’. I was hurt. I told my father, ‘I was nervous. To hell with singing.I’m going back to Kolkata.’ But in the evening Pancham called and told my father to send me for a recording the next morning.My father said, ‘What will he do in a recording?’  Pancham said I had to sing a song for a film to be directed by Shakti Samanta and he needed a raw voice. My father said, ‘Main kis khet ka mooli hoon? Why do you need my son when you have me?’ Pancham explained he needed a young voice to sound like a 17-year old. All this was  banter. My father was actually very happy for me.I sang the song Bade achche lagte hain. I never knew it would become so popular. In fact it didn’t become an overnight rage like Chikni chameli. It took three years to become popular. Today it’s a household number.Bade achche lagte hain gave me an identity beyond being Kishore Kumar’s son. And I give full credit to Pancham. He forbade me from copying my father. He said no one could sing like him. He said, ‘Sing in your own voice.’. I did.

2.     Yaad aa rahi hai : Love Story : Every  song  in  Kumar Gaurav’s  debut film  was  a smash hit, none more so  than Yaad  aa rahi which  put Amit Kumar at  the  forefront  of  the playback singers. And to think RD hated  the song!  Amit Kumar told me, “I will tell you a shocking fact. R D Burman HATED the music of  Love Story. He never liked Yaad aa rahi hai which became my biggest hit. I remember while recording the number Pancham called me aside and said, ‘Yeh gaana Yaad aa rahi hai bahut bakwaas hai. It sounds like a Bhajan instead of  love song’. The song was a superhit. I rang up Pancham, ‘Ab bolo, kya bolte ho.’ Pancham was quiet. At that time he was going through a lean phase. Love Story brought him back in the reckoning….songs of Love Story made me very popular. Rajendra Kumar who launched his son Kumar Gaurav knew my father from the time Rajendra Kumar assisted H S Rawail in Sharaarat. My father sang in that film. Rajendra Kumar wanted Kishore Kumar’s son to sing for his son in Love Story.”

3.     Kya hua  ek baat  par barson  ka yarana gaya: Teri Kasam: After Love  Story everyone hoped that this  followup film with  the same  RD-Amit-Gaurav team would be  a superhit.Alas, Teri Kasam flopped  , although  it had far superior music to  Love Story. Amit sang  all the 6  tracks  for  Gaurav.My  pick  of  the lot is this soulful ghazal with lucid lyrics  by Anand Bakshi. Amit Kumar rued  the  downfall of this collaboration. “After Love Story everyone hoped  Kumar Gaurav and I would become a team like Rajesh Khanna and my father. But that wasn’t meant to be.Pancham and I came together to compose music for other Kumar Gaurav starrers like Teri Kasam, Lovers and Romance which were flops.”

4.     Roz roz aankhon taley bass yehi sapna jale(Jeeva): This Sanjay Dutt flop  is today remembred for this  shimmering Amit-Asha Bhosle  duet written  by the inimitable  Gulzar.  Amit Kumar said, “Pancham was something else.He was definitely ahead of  his times. My song Roz roz aankhon tale with Asha Bhosle which is so popular today was a flop when it was composed in 1987.It has gained popularity in the last five years.Destiny , I guess.”

5.     Rama O Rama(title  song):  Powerhouse  singing in  a  film  that no one remembers.  I think this is Amit Kumar’s  best rendered  song of his  Bollywood career.  Amit Kumar said, “I remember the title song in the film Rama O Rama was my first recording after my father expired. My father died on October 13, 1987  and on 1 January , 1988 I recorded the song in Rama O Rama.”

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