Back with a bang

Back with a bang

 ‘Himmatwala’ marks singer Amit Kumar’s return to the Hindi music industry after a long hiatus. arundhati pattabhiraman talks to the singer about his glorious past and the promising present.

The song that is building up to become a hit, Naino Main Sapna, from the film Himmatwala, has pushed Amit Kumar, yesteryear singer and son of singing and acting legend Kishore Kumar, once again into the music spotlight. This song by music director duo Sajid-Wajid has forced Amit to come out of his self-imposed exile.

Speaking excitedly about his new release in his rich baritone, Amit says, “I am glad that the song has become an instant chartbuster. Sajid-Wajid first approached me and said that I am the only one who can do justice to the original song, which was sung by my father. This song has put me back on the saddle. I am lucky to have gotten this opportunity. No one is fortunate enough to get a break thrice. Although I wish I had sung an original number instead of a remake of the old song.” He adds, “Unlike the original version, which was recorded live in a studio, the latest song is fast in tempo and is more in sync with the present era.”

Amit’s career has been like a roller-coaster ride with the singer being witness to an extreme high and later fading into oblivion. “I was at an all-time high during the late 70s, 80s and the 90s, when I delivered some of the best hits and I enjoyed working with some noted names in the industry. But after a point in time, I reached a point of saturation. My father would always say, ‘Playback singing will not help you run the kitchen’. And like him, I too believed in destiny and I decided to step away from the limelight.”

Carving a niche

Despite being the son of a famous singer-actor, Amit managed to create his own identity without being overshadowed by his father’s towering persona. Kishore gave Amit an early start in acting and in singing and initiated him into the world of cinema. Kishore Kumar had cast Amit as his son in two films that he produced, Door Gagan Ki Chhaon Mein (the famous lullaby Aa Chalke Tujhe, Mein Leke Chaloon was filmed with Kishore Kumar singing to his 11-year-old son) and Door Ka Raahi.

The father-son duo also sang together for stage shows. However, Amit was not spared from being compared to his father. “I don’t respond to comparisons. My father taught me everything about music. He was my guru, and since he was my father, I obviously inherited some of his genes. There is no point to such comparisons, they are baseless,” he says.

After a series of unsuccessful songs that didn’t see the light of the day, Amit finally got a break with his song Bade Acche Lagte Hain, from the film Balika Badhu, in 1976. “It was one of the best songs that I have sung. It got me noticed and I became a household name.” The music director, who truly tapped Amit’s talent and potential, was R D Burman. His musical chemistry with this legendary composer gave Hindi cinema some of the greatest songs in the 80s and 90s.

“Panchamda was like family. Working with him was fun. There was never a dull moment in the recording studio. He would gauge my mood while I am singing. He would say, ‘You don’t seem to be in a mood to sing. Why don’t you try practising at home.’ This would leave me amazed, considering he was such a big music director.”

Grateful for support

Speaking about one of his experiences with Panchamda, Amit says, “Once we were about to record the song Yaad Aa Rahi Hai for the film Love Story. Panchamda took me aside in the studio and asked me if I like the song. I was shocked that he was asking for my opinion about his composition. When I asked him why, he told me that he did not like the song one bit. But ironically, Yaad Aa Rahi Hai went on to become a hit, and I ended up winning my first and only Filmfare Award for it. If my father taught me how to hold a microphone, it was Panchamda who taught me how to climb the ropes of the music world.”

However, according to Amit, the music of today lacks the beauty and charm of the bygone era. “Film music today has become stale. There is nothing new or fresh. Right from the poetry in songs to the melody, there is no originality. Musicians are afraid of taking risks and end up churning out staid music that is not very appealing,” he explains.

But now that Amit has once again entered the fray, what are his projects for the future? “A top music company has approached me to sing for a major movie. I am not allowed to divulge the details, but I am very excited about the project. Another thing I am looking forward to is the launch of an online music company with my younger brother Sumit, and the release of my album, Main Badnaam Hoon. We have recorded eight songs, which are all melodies written by Sumit’s mother Leena Chandavarkar.”

We look forward to some hit songs by this versatile singer whose sonorous melodies remind us of what was once the greatest era in the Hindi music industry.

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