By Chaitanya Padukone
Millions of die-hard fans of super-popular playback and pop-singer KK who is no more) are drowned in shock and disbelief. They just can’t believe that their singing –idol KK has made his rather-mysterious sudden overnight exit at the young untimely age of 53 years into immortality. But the only minor consolation perhaps, is that dedicated workaholic passed away just after his ‘live-concert’ performance in Kolkata with his ‘boots-on’, as they say
Krishnakumar Kunnath (popularly known as KK), originally from a Malayali family, who was born and brought up in New Delhi, was among the most versatile playback-singers in music-biz. Besides Hindi, he recorded songs in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Bengali, Assamese and Gujarati languages that too with perfect diction.
By nature, KK seemed to be rather media-shy and avoided the media-glare. The modest KK who had his rationale-mantra emphasized that it is not important for a singer’s face to be prominently seen – the more important thing is that “a singer must be heard.” Which is why except at rare events, I rarely saw him at media-press-conferences of his film-music-releases. In fact, I recall how everyone loved his solo vocals track ‘Aankhon Mein Teri’ from the Shah Rukh Khan—Depika Padukone movie ‘Om Shanti Om’ directed by Farah Khan. At the music release event held at Hotel Land’s End (where KK could not attend) I remember the music-savvy Farah mentioning that how KK’s voice is soothingly romantic with a divine quality. Which is why in most of KK’s chartbuster songs there is minimal rhythm-percussion during the vocals, because his high-octave mesmerizing voice elevated the songs to a great soul-stirring heights.
The fabulous songs of movie ‘Om Shanti Om’ were composed by the talented duo Vishal-Shekhar, who had also used KK’s voice previously for a recreated version of the iconic romantic song ‘Humey Tumse Pyaar Kitna’ in the movie ‘Jhankar Beats’ (2003).
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Like his icon-inspiration Kishore Kumar, KK had never undergone any formal training in music which he used to his advantage. Never will I forget the line during year 2018 which KK said to me at a music event, that 54 years was too young an age for futuristic genius Pancham Da to abruptly leave this world # So tragic that today KK himself has passed away at just 53 years.
As his ardent fans would know, KK was a huge die-hard fan of R D Burman & Kishore-da songs, he told me this when I met him in 2018 & I shared some interesting trivia with KK which I had personally witnessed during RDB–Kishore Kumar song recordings at FilmCenter! Like a young kid, KK was so thrilled to hear about the quirky-natkhat bonding between the two legends Kishore & RDB.
Singer KK whose mentors include music-luminaries Leslee Lewis, Louiz Banks, Vishal Bharadwaj and Vishal Dadlani began his career by singing for advertisement jingles, and made his film debut with an A.R. Rahman soundtrack. In 1996, he launched his debut album titled Pal. The songs “Pal” and “Yaaron” from the album Pal became very popular and are commonly used in school farewells. His popular songs included “Tadap Tadap” from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999), “Dola Re Dola” from Devdas (2002), “Kya Mujhe Pyaar Hai” from Woh Lamhe… (2006), “Aankhon Mein Teri” from Om Shanti Om (2007), “Khuda Jaane” from Bachna Ae Haseeno (2008), “Piya Aaye Na” from Aashiqui 2 (2013), “Mat Aazma Re” from Murder 3 (2013), “India Wale” from Happy New Year (2014) and “Tu Jo Mila” from Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015), among others. The super-talented KK has received six Filmfare Awards nominations, and a Filmfare Awards South.
(The writer Chaitanya Padukone is an eminent senior film & music journalist and author of memoirs book R D BurMania)