KK: Love just lost its sheen

Nonika Singh

“Tadap tadap ke is dil see aah nikalti rahi…”

 As the musical world battles with yet another loss, the sudden demise of popular singer KK, the sigh of lament, grief and shock can be heard across the country. Singer of many languages, including Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Bengali, Assamese and Gujarati and many styles with melody writ all over them Krishnakumar Kunnath, popular as KK, was as great a singer as low key in public life.

The long list of his super-hit numbers (it’s hard to recall a flop) is inversely proportional to his social media presence and networking skills. The Delhi-born singer to Malayali parents, he believed in letting his work, nay his dulcet voice, speak for him. Essentially a family man, in fact, it was at his wife’s suggestion that he decided to shift to Mumbai in 1994. Though his singing talent was discovered when he was hardly in class two and he went on to win many interschool singing competitions, it unfolded as a real passion and vocation much later as he recorded nearly 3,500 jingles.

Move to Mumbai paved the way to a glorious innings which may not have begun with a bang as he sang a small portion of ‘Chhod Aaye Hum’ from Gulzar’s ‘Maachis’. He emerged as full playback singer with AR Rahman’s hit song ‘Kalluri Saaley’ and ‘Hello Dr.’ from Kadir’s ‘Kadhal Desam’. ‘Strawberry Kannae’ from Tamil film ‘Minsara Kanavu’ was a chartbuster. In Bollywood it was heartfelt ‘Tadap Tadap’ from Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’ that firmly established him as a singer to reckon with. He never got tired of telling the story of how he recorded the song in the wee hours when Mumbai sleeps for just a while and the ambience is just right for the soulful rendition. As the line ‘Agar mile khuda toh, poochoonga khudaya, Jism mujhe de ke mitti ka, Sheeshe sa dil kyon banaya’, reverberate, few can escape the goose bumps.

But then KK never sang without feeling the song, internalising it and lending it a melodious high in his God-gifted voice blessed with an equally wide range. Peppy, breezy, melancholic and of course, innumerable romantic songs, as singer Shreya Ghoshal tweets, “The voice of love is gone.” Besides, here was a voice which suited every star be it Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar or Ranveer Singh. His song ‘Tu Hi Meri Shab Hai’ picturised on Emraan Hashmi became a love anthem.

In fact, name a romantic melody and the voice that laced over 500 Hindi songs is his. ‘Kya Mujhe Pyar Hai’, ‘Dil Ibadaat’, ‘Tu Jo Mila’, ‘Zara Sa’, , ‘Dola Re’ and one also heard him render full on inspiration ‘Yeh Hausle’ from ‘83. In Srijit Mukherji’s ‘Sherdil’ in which he reunited with Gulzar will go down as his last recorded song while we will get to hear him in another thriller, Lost, this year.

The realisation, ‘you have to do what you believe in’ came early in life while doing an odd job as ‘marketing guy’ and he did go on to realise many dreams. Alas, as he breathed his last after a concert in Kolkata, dreams did die young. ‘Zindagi do pal ki’ this one sure deserved many more moments for our lives to be enriched even more. Nevertheless, ‘Hum, rahen ya na rahen kal. Kal yaad aayenge yeh pal….’ who can forget this evergreen voice which Arjun Rampal rightly sums up as, “filled our hearts with love.”

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