Kishore Kumar’s son Amit Kumar is our guest on this week’s #BigInterview. Amit Kumar’s latest creation ‘Yeh Kaisi Saza Hai’ is going to be out soon. As you read this, he is in Kolkata. Last evening, he was in Bangalore. From Kolkata, he flies out to Indore. Amit Kumar is busy doing shows and enthralling people.

This interview is a must-watch: Where was Amit Kumar when Kishore Kumar got a cardiac arrest? Where is Leena Chandavarkar and what is she doing today? What did Kishore Kumar not like about his son Amit Kumar? Anecdotes about Lata Mangeshkar, Bappi Lahiri and even Asha Bhosle! Plus, still lots more in this volatile and honest Video Interview below! Watch.

Here are the excerpts from the interview:

We last met in 2016. You still look the same. You are just back from the Pyarelal Nites in the US where Zeenat Aman, Padmini Kolhapure and Rati Agnihotri were also present. Right?

Oh, yes. I got 7 songs on that tour and I had a whale of a time. The response was phenomenal. We sang several songs from the 70s and 80s and everyone still loves those numbers, don’t they?

Last time, you told me that your father (Kishore Kumar) told you that you should move away when you cease to have fun in this line. Have you decided to move away?

Long ago.

What if a great offer comes along?

Offer aayega bhi nahi, offer aana bhi nahi chahiye (I won’t get an offer and I shouldn’t). I am so engrossed in my YouTube channel. I love doing my own compositions. Why do you want me to go back to that jungle? It’s a place where all of us go up and then go down. Nothing wrong with that, though. But yes, my father was an exception to that. His career did not spiral downwards in his later days. I remember Laxmikant Pyarelal talking to him about this.

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Do you listen to today’s songs?

Are you asking about popular Hindi music? No, I don’t. That does not mean I am a mean person. It simply stems from the fact that I am no more in the rat race. I don’t even listen to the songs of my father or the songs of Rafi saab, Lata ji and Asha ji. It’s just that I am tremendously busy with my own compositions that I am dishing out regularly. You must read the comments I am getting below my songs. It’s so heartwarming to read what people write. I am in a happy space.

Look, let me put it precisely. I am not a monster who has closed the doors to a great offer. What I largely mean is that I am not going to go out with a begging bowl.

Let’s talk about Lata ji. When did you last meet her?

We were not in touch. I think I met her last about 8/9 years ago. We sang a duet for YouTube about 15 years ago. It turned out to be a superhit. Not just Lata ji but even Asha ji has sung in my compositions.

I was not very close to Lata ji. It was a relationship of immense respect. She was not one of the greatest but the greatest.

But her first meeting with my father was very interesting. She first saw him in a local train and saw a thin man with a muffler, swinging to and fro. She then saw that he was in the same tanga that she had got into. She wondered who this man was and whether he was following her. She rushed into Bombay Talkies. She told Khemchand Prakash that the thin man had entered the studio. He told her, ‘Arre, yeh to Kishore hai, Ashok (Kumar) ka chhota bhai hai. He is a very good singer. I have planned a duet song of you two together’. That’s how the song ‘Kaun Aaya’ from the Dev Anand starrer ‘Ziddi’ came about.

As far as their relation with each other was concerned, it was always very good. Lata ji was reserved but she was very witty with friends. She shared many jokes with my father. I can’t talk about those jokes, but their rapport was so good that they could even sense what any music director was going to tell them next.

And, let me tell you, she often gave me tips and motivated me a lot.

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Which song of Lata ji do you think was her best?

That’s a very difficult question, but I shall choose ‘Khoobsurat Haseena’ from ‘Mr X in Bombay’. In fact, I had gone for its recording. Dad had told me that Lataji gets angry very soon. Now, he had told me so because he wanted me to be very quiet at the recording studio. So, I was sitting very closed and reserved. She came up to me and asked ‘Aise kyun baithe ho?’ (laughs).

Where were you when Kishore Kumar passed away (October 13, 1987)?

I was in Toronto on a tour with Govinda and Neelam. Khulbushan Kharbanda and Asrani were also with us. It was our last show on that tour, when ironically that day Asrani asked me to pay a tribute to my father. That was actually the evening, one day before he passed away (October 12, 1987).

Next day, while we were getting ready to leave, my cousin (Deb Mukherjee) called and after that, he couldn’t say anything. I suddenly started getting a few more calls from Bombay and they were all asking, ‘Amit, when are you coming back to Bombay?’. I could sense something was wrong, but it was only after a few minutes that I got a call from Shakti Samanta that told me about the unfortunate news. Dad had two heart attacks before that.

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Please continue…

Shaktida said, ‘Amit, Kishore is no more, he is gone’. It was only after Shaktida’s call that Govinda, Asrani and everyone else on the tour started coming into my room.

So they knew it by then?

Yes, they knew it. But they didn’t know how to tell me.

My Dad had asked me to buy a lot of English films from Toronto. Those were the days of video cassettes. I went and bought it all. I still have those cassettes. My Dad was a film buff.

Your father and you had a great bond. But it is said that he had mood swings sometimes. Did he get angry with you?

He was angry with me when I started smoking and he caught me. Then I started drinking and he used to be upset. He wanted me to be No.1, he had his reasons. He said that smoking and drinking would spoil the texture of my voice. He loved me immensely.

Did you obey?

No, I didn’t. I used to tell him, ‘Dad, everyone can’t be as good as you’. When the clock struck 7 pm, he would say ‘jao, jaakar peeo (go have a drink)’. He hated smoking and drinking. Even when Panchamda (RD Burman) smoked, he would go away from the room.

So he would taunt you about your drinks and cigarettes?

Yes. And he had every right to do so. But he never raised his hand on me.

Would you agree that when you and your Dad sang in the same song, ya’ll sounded similar?

Ab main unka ansh hoon, toh woh toh hona hi tha (I am his son, that was bound to happen). I would give credit to RD Burman and Laxmikant Pyarelal who would keep egging me to not to copy him and develop my own style.

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Tell me one instance when your father 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 were yapping away). I was singing ‘Yeh Ladki Zara Si’ for ‘Love Story’ with Asha ji. Dad’s attention was both ways- whatever I was singing and whatever Raj ji was telling him. He suddenly told RD Burman ‘yeh toh koi dukaan mein baniye ki tarah ga raha hai, ajeeb ga raha hai (he’s singing like some shopkeeper, he’s singing weirdly)’. I told him ‘toh aap log jao na (why don’t you leave)’. And they said, ‘chalo chalo, jaate hain (let’s go)’. And they both sweetly left (smiles).

Did Rajesh Khanna visit your home where Kishore Kumar and he would have singing sessions?

Rajesh Khanna and my father had a fabulous bond. Dad’s first song for Rajesh Khanna was ‘Roop Tera Mastana’. I remember RD Burman pitching for my Dad’s voice in ‘Aradhana’. SD Burman was still wavering on it.

The film clicked in a big manner and that marked the comeback of my father as a full fledged playback singer. But he never liked the word ‘playback’. I don’t know why.

It was said that Kishore Kumar and Mohd Rafi were rivals…

That rivalry was healthy. They had great respect for each other.

I have heard that Mohd Rafi had started singing very less as your father started flooding the music scene. And then, Nasir Hussain went to Mohd Rafi and coaxed him to sing ‘Kya Hua Tera Vaada’ in ‘Hum Kisise Kum Nahin’ telling him that this song would win him the National Award. And it did! And, after that, Mohd Rafi made a big comeback…

Yes, but I really don’t know much about this. But yes, Rafi saab came back in a big way after that, after a period of 7 years. It happens.

Who were you closest to when it came to actors?

Kumar Gaurav. We batted together for 5 years.

After doing a superhit film like ‘Naam’, Kumar Gaurav isn’t on the acting scene today. What do you think went wrong in his career? How did films start drying up on him?

I don’t think anybody can answer this.

Apart from Lataji, we lost one more legend from the music industry, recently – Bappi Lahiri…

Bappida gave me many songs. Most of them were big hits- ‘Sailaab’, ‘Afsana Pyar Ka’, ‘Ilzaam’. He made his own place in the rat race with RD Burman, Laxmikant Pyarelal and Kalyanji Anandji. He played like a King and he succeeded. Hila diya tha unhone (he had shaken up everyone). He had conquered the South industry as well.

My Dad loved him and guided him. Bappi Lahiri’s mother was close to my father’s sister. Dad had a special soft corner for Bappida. Bappida used to always credit my father for his great run.

I have heard that Kalyanji Anandji, Laxmikant Pyarelal and RD Burman started feeling insecure when Bappi Lahiri burst on the scene…

Of course, they were.

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Were you aware that Bappida was unwell?

I had learnt he had contracted COVID but that was much before his demise. I didn’t go to his place when he passed away. I like to remember people in a certain way. I like to have the memories in my heart, slightly differently.

Madhubala’s sister Madhur Bhushan is rooting for a biopic on Madhubala. Should a biopic on Madhubala be made?

Why not? Biopic toh sab ka banta hai aajkal (It’s quite common to have a biopic made nowadays). We are doing a biopic on my father as well.

With Anurag Basu and Ranbir Kapoor as the buzz was a few years ago?

No, now we’ll produce it ourselves. We have started writing it.

Last time, you told me that you never questioned your father about his 4 marriages (Ruma Ghosh, Madhubala, Yogeeta Bali, Leena Chandavarkar). Six years down the line, I am still wondering 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 car in this bungalow. He had bought it with my mother after his first film as a hero – ‘Andolan’. That was Kishore Kumar!

What is Leena Chandavarkar doing these days? Doesn’t she go out?

No, she doesn’t go out. She writes songs for me. And, she writes beautifully. She is a brilliant writer.

No urge to act again?

No, she has no urge to act again. Now, let me sing one of the songs Leena ji wrote for me a few days ago: Tinka hoon main aur yeh jahan hai sagar, dubaya gaya phir bhi dooba nahin hoon.

So evident from this interview. Tinka, that is you, is not going to drown. That’s the spirit…


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