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'Calling Kishore kaka crazy now seems an understatement'

Last updated on: August 04, 2009 10:54 IST
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Kishore Kumar's music and acting has left an indelible mark with his fans. One of them is his niece, Bharathi, Ashok Kumar's daughter. Here's what she remembers of her famous uncle on the occasion of his 80th birth anniversary:

After finishing his college, Kishore kaka came and stayed with us. He was 20 years younger to my father. So he was like an elder brother to me. My father was a great story teller. The film Mahal was written by him. He used to sit and tell us stories.

My uncle Anup and I used to sit and listen; enthralled by the way he used to tell the story. Kishore kaka used to sit at the piano. He used to play appropriate music to my father's story. So we listened to happy music, sad music, and frightening music [as per the scene in the story]. They made us happy, moved us to tears and scared us to death. The combination of the narrative and the music is unforgettable. I don't think I will ever experience it again.

They were a happy trio, these three brothers, so full of fun, frolic and laughter. Kishore kaka was so talented. He was a genius and my father wanted him to be an actor but kaka refused and insisted that he would be a singer. So finally my father relented and gave him a song in Ziddi.

Kishore kaka was a great fan of Saigal and so he sang his first song in Saigal's style, Jeenay ki tamanaaa... I can still remember the song. He was absolutely eccentric. Whether he was happy or sad, had work or not, had money or not, he was always full of laughter. Calling him crazy now seems an understatement.

The three brothers used to fool around a lot in the house. It was a riot when they were together. The movie Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi was a real life experience. That was the way they behaved with each other at all times.

Kishore Kumar used to be scared of his eldest brother. When he married Madhubala, it was his second marriage. My father greeted him with, 'You have become a Muslim now. You have converted. How else can you marry a second time so soon after your first one?'

After that he used to call him Mohabbat Khan.

After the birth of his son Amit, we lost touch with him for a while. After that we met many times. But my memories of him are of those of the days when he stayed with us.

That piano he played when father told stories is now with my daughter Anuradha. Her son Siddharth plays it. He composes music on it. Kishore kaka has passed on his genes and that piano to his great grandson. The legacy will continue, I hope.

As told to A Ganesh Nadar

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