June 24, 2021
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Kishore Kumar, A Classic Pilferer?

Kishore Kumar, A Classic Pilferer?

Raju Bharatan's recently released A Journey Down Memory Lane could have been better edited, but has some great stories and anecdotes. Here is one:

Do you know who sang Koee humdum na rahaa? Who elongated it as Koee sahaara na rahaa? Majrooh Sultanpuri -- on paper. Who composed this Jhumroo solo? Who but Kishore Kumar on his 1961 debut as a music director in Hindustani cinema? Who but Kishore, in fact, could have rendered it so feelingly in Raag Zinjhoti? Indeed, Kishore Kumar proceeded to name it among his lifetime Ten Favourite Songs. But what if I tell you that, from among these ten, Koee humdum na rahaa is not a Kishore Kumar composition at all! Nor was this performer the first to render it. That, originally, the number (on the N5899 record) was sung by elder brother Ashok Kumar! As written, not by Majrooh Sultanpuri, but by Jamuna Swarup Casshyap. As composed not by Kishore Kumar, but by Saraswati Devi, for the 1936 Bombay Talkies hit Jeewan Naiya....

The fact is that — and, of course, there is no condoning it — Kishore Kumar blatantly lifted the Koee humdum na rahaa Saraswati Devi tune, note by note, word for word...The only point I, who followed Kishore through the decades, would make is that he was a very impressionable seven-yearold when brother Ashok Kumar sang Koee humdum na rahaa... So the tune, I surmise, must have become a part of the younger brother's growing-up consciousness. I am not offering any excuse on behalf of Kishore, just explaining what could or might have happened!...

Who enlightened me about the fact that Kishore was a classic pilferer? Saraswati Devi herself.

She of course also told Bharatan that the "boy's emergence as a fine singer later came as no surprise" to her. "I say so because the contrast was rather glaring -- Kishore's brother Ashok Kumar being a very bad singer!"

Thought of blogging this when I chanced upon a short snippet of the very bad singer's version -- and of course, Kishore Kumar also talks with affection about his elder brother's singing in the Sandeep Ray documentary

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