This interview is a must watch: Where was Amit Kumar when? Kishore Kumar Heart failure? Where is Lena Chandavarkar and what is she doing today? What did Kishore Kumar dislike about his son Amit Kumar? Anecdotes about Lata Mangeshkar, Babi Lahiri And even Asha Bhosle! Plus, there’s still plenty more in the choppy and honest video interview below! Watch.
Here are excerpts from the interview:
We last met in 2016. You still look the same. I just got back from Pyarelal Nites in the US where Zeenat AmanPadmini Kolhapure and Rati Agnihotri were also present. right?
Yes, of course. I got 7 songs on that run and I had a whale at one point. The response was enormous. We’ve sung many songs from the ’70s and ’80s and everyone still loves these numbers, right?
Last time, you told me that your dad (Kishore Kumar) told you that you should walk away when you stop enjoying that streak. Have you decided to walk away?
What if a great show comes up?
Show aayega bhi nahi, show aana bhi nahi chahiye (I won’t and shouldn’t get a show). I’m very immersed in my YouTube channel. I love making my own compositions. Why do you want me to go back to that forest? It is a place where we all rise and then descend. There’s nothing wrong with that, though. But yes, my dad was an exception to that. His career did not deteriorate in his last days. I remember Laxmikant Pyarelal talking to him about it.
Do you listen to today’s songs?
Are you asking about Indian folk music? no i don’t. This does not mean that I am a mean person. It simply stems from the fact that I am no longer in the rat race. I don’t even listen to my father’s songs or the songs of Ravi Saab, Lata Ji and Asha Ji. It’s just that I’m so busy with my own formulations that I bring out regularly. You should read the comments I get under my songs. It is a pleasure to read what people write. I’m in a happy place
Look, let me put it neatly. I’m not a monster who shuts down the doors to a great show. What I mean by and large is that I won’t go out with the begging bowl.
Let’s talk about Lata Ji. When was the last time you met her?
We were not in contact. I think I last met her about 8/9 years ago. We’ve been doing a duet on YouTube for about 15 years now. It turned out to be a super hit. Not only Lata ji but even Asha ji has sung in my compositions.
I wasn’t too close to Lata J. It was a very respectful relationship. She was not one of the greats, but the greats.
But her first meeting with my father was very interesting. She first saw him on a local train and saw a thin man with a muffler rocking back and forth. Then she saw that he was in the same Tangier that she entered. I wondered who this guy was and if he was following her. I rushed to Bombay Talkies. Khemchand tells Prakash that the skinny guy entered the studio. He said to her: ‘Ari, yes to Kishore Hai, Ashok (Kumar) ka Chota Bhai Hai. He is a very good singer. I have planned a duet for the two of you together. Thus came the song “Kaun Aaya” from Dev Anand star “Ziddi”.
As far as their relationship with each other is concerned, they have always been very good. Lata Ji was conservative but was very smart with friends. I shared many jokes with my father. I can’t speak for those jokes, but their relationship was so good that they could even get a sense of what any music director would say to them next.
And let me tell you, she often gave me tips and motivated me a lot.
Which song from Lata ji do you think was her best song?
This is a very difficult question, but I would pick ‘Khoobsurat Haseena’ from ‘Mr. X at Bombay’. In fact, I went to record it. Dad told me that Lataji gets angry very soon. Now, he told me that because he wanted me to be very quiet in the recording studio. Therefore, I was sitting very closed and reserved. She came to me and asked “Ice kyun baeth ho?” (Laugh).
Where were you when Kishore Kumar died (October 13, 1987)?
I was in Toronto on tour with Govinda and Neelam. Khalbushan Kharbanda and Asrani were with us as well. It was our last show on that tour, when my family, ironically, asked me that day to pay tribute to my father. It was actually in the evening, one day before his death (October 12, 1987).
The next day, while we were getting ready to leave, my cousin (Deep Mukherjee) called after which he couldn’t say anything. Suddenly I started getting a few more calls from Bombay and they were all asking, “Amit, when are you coming back to Bombay?”. I felt that something was wrong, but after a few minutes I got a call from Shakti samanta Tell me about the unfortunate news. My dad had two heart attacks before.
“Amit, Kishore is no longer around, he is gone,” said Shaktidah. It was only after Shakitida’s call that Govinda, my family and anyone else on the tour started entering my room.
So they knew it by then?
Yes, they knew that. But they didn’t know how to tell me.
My father asked me to buy a lot of English films from Toronto. Those were the days of videos. I went and bought everything. I still have those cassettes. My dad was a movie fan.
Your father and you had a great bond. But he is said to have sometimes had mood swings. Did he get angry with you?
He was mad at me when I started smoking and grabbed me. Then I started drinking and he was upset. He wanted me to be #1, he had his reasons. He said that smoking and drinking corrupted vocal tissue. He loved me so much.
Did you obey?
no I did not. I used to say to him, “Dad, not everyone can be as good as you.” When the clock strikes seven in the evening, he’d say “Gaw, jaker pew (go and have a drink)”. He hated smoking and drinking. Even when Panchamda (RD Bormann) smokes and walks away from the room.
So he was making fun of you about your drinks and your cigarettes?
yes. And he had every right to do so. But he did not raise his hand on me.
Do you agree that when you and your dad sing the same song, you’ll sound alike?
Ab main unka ansh hoon, toh woh toh hona hi tha (I’m his son, that would have happened). I would like to give credit to RD Burman and Laxmikant Pyarelal who have been continually nagging me not to copy him and to develop my own style.
He told me once when your dad was present at your recording…
I will never forget my first song when he was sitting there with Raj Kapoor. Woh dono bak bak kar rahe the (they barked away). I was singing “Yeh Ladki Zara Si” about “Love Story” with Asha ji. My father’s attention was both ways – whatever I was singing and whatever Raj Ji was telling him. Suddenly he told RD Burman, “Yeah toh koi dokan min panyi ki tarah ja raha hai, I answer ja raha hai (he sings like a shopkeeper, he sings weirdly). I told him toh aap log jao na (why don’t you leave)” And they said, “Chalo Kalu, Jati Hin (let’s go).” And they both left sweetly (smiling).
Did Rajesh Khanna visit your house where Kishore Kumar was going to have singing sessions?
Rajesh Khanna and my parents had a wonderful bond. Rajesh Khanna’s first dad song was “Roop Tera Mastana”. I remember RD Burman raising my father’s voice in ‘Aradhana’. S.D. Bormann was still hesitating about it.
The movie was a huge success and it was a sign of my father’s comeback as a full playback singer. But he never liked the word “running”. I do not know why.
Kishore Kumar and Muhammad Rafi were said to have been rivals…
This rivalry was healthy. They had great respect for each other.
I heard that Mohamed Rafi started singing less as your father started flooding the music scene. After that, Nasir Hussain went to Muhammad Rafi and persuaded him to sing “Kya Hua Tera Vaada” in “Hum Kisise Kum Nahin” to tell him that this song would win him the National Award. And I did! And then Mohamed Rafi came back in a big way…
Yes, but I really don’t know much about this. But yes, Ravi Saab made a big comeback after that, after a 7-year stint. that happens.
Who were you closest to when it comes to actors?
Kumar Gaurav. We beat together for 5 years.
After doing a super movie like Yes, Kumar Gaurav did not appear on the acting stage today. What do you think went wrong in his career? How films began to dry it?
I don’t think anyone can answer this.
Apart from Lataji, we lost another legend in the music industry recently – Babi Lahiri…
Babeda gave me many songs. Most of them were big hits – “He will play”, “Avsana Pyar Ka”, “Leadership”. He made his place in the rat race with R.D. Burman, Laxmikant Pyarelal and Kalyanji Anandji. Play like a king and succeed. Hila Zia Tha Onon (He shook everyone). It has conquered the industry of the South, too.
My father loved and guided him. Babi’s mother to Harry was close to my father’s sister. My dad had a soft corner especially for Papida. Babeda used to give credit to my father for his brilliant career.
I’ve heard that Kalyangi Ananji, Laxmikant Pyarelal and RD Burman start to feel insecure when Babi Lahiri explodes in the scene…
Of course, they were.
Did you know that Babeda is sick?
I knew he had COVID but that was long before he died. I didn’t go to his house when he passed away. I like to remember people in a certain way. I like to hold memories in my heart, a little differently.
Madhur Bhushan, Madhubala’s sister, is rooting for an autobiography on Madhubala. The CV should be on Madhubala Make?
why not? Biopic toh sab ka banta hai aajkal (It’s very common to have a résumé made nowadays). We are doing a biography of my father too.
Last time, you told me that you never questioned your father about his four marriages (Ruma Ghosh, Madhubala, Yogita Bali and Lena Chandavarkar). Six years later, I still wonder how you never asked him: ‘Why again, Dad?’ Why again?’
I never asked him. It was his personal life. He always wanted a family. He was a family man. It was just that he was misunderstood.
The day my parents divorced, he buried his Morris Minor in this bungalow. He bought it with my mother after his first movie as a hero – “Andolan”. This was Kishore Kumar!
What is Leena Chandavarkar doing these days? Don’t you go out?
No, she does not go out. She writes songs for me. She writes beautifully. She is a wonderful writer.
No motivation to work again?
No, she has no motivation to work again. Now, let me sing one of the songs that Lina Ji Lee wrote a few days ago: Tinka hoon main aur yeh jahan hai sagar, dubaya gaya phir bhi dooba nahin hoon.
Very clear from this interview. Tinka, that’s you, you won’t drown. This is the spirit…