Mount Saint Mary’s, where I was a music teacher, has produced enough musical talent over the years. But I especially remember KK’s batch because it stood out from the rest. Not because he simply had a unique voice, but because he had the right attitude towards learning. And he could bleed into others once his play was over. That’s the attitude he kept to the end. But his piece needed to be heard and he was keen to release it. Then I lost contact with him while dabbling in theatre, television and commercial jingles.
So I was among the first people he contacted when he came to Mumbai. I advised him that Mumbai is a place where you can at least give your talent a chance, but if you miss you don’t come down. KK didn’t and found his place and footing based on sheer talent. I remember on the Koi Kahe Kehta Rahe track by Dil Chahta Hai where he mixed his voice slightly with the others. I think his Jaane Ye Kya Hua was the most beautiful track in Karthik Calling Karthik. KK’s voice was timeless. You could put him in any genre and you knew he would deliver in the end. His voice radiated kind love.
He was easygoing in the studio. He would report on time and stay as long as it took to complete the recording. He was in no hurry to go and it was such a relief for composers. He would never overwhelm you with his understanding and play along with the directors. He would never do more than was required. And once he settled down after a few takes, he took off on his own and became the focus of everyone. After illuminating the room with its bright spark, it retreated into the shadows and blended into the background. He was a simple guy who never put anyone down and never allowed anyone to do so in his presence. And you can judge a man by the reaction of the musicians around him. He drew them into his sphere and gave them so much respect that they never forgot him in the studio.
Many would say he was underestimated. But the playback singing in Bollywood is very similar to the casting, you need an RPG voice. They have to fit the specific personality of the character who is lip-synching on-screen. That’s why KK’s legacy is the generational mellifluency and ability to touch your innermost chord.
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