With the fervour for Kishore Kumar songs still going strong on the legend's 88th birth anniversary, singer Amit Kumar Ganguly gets candid about life with his iconic father
Debarati Sen (BOMBAY TIMES; August 5, 2017)

The best of men have been struck by the fickleness of time and relegated to obliv ion, not Kishore Kumar. He just gets stronger. You can hear him everywhere - films, radios, music reality shows, remixes, speculations (personal life or a potential biopic), theatrics (Jhumroo) and even politics (his stand during Emergency). It makes you wonder if it's really been 30 years since he passed away in 1987. “He is still the number one!“ beams the legendary entertainer's son, noted singer Amit Kumar Ganguly. In an exclusive interview with Bombay Times, on the celebrated entertainer's 88th birth anniversary (August 4) week, Amit gets candid about life as Kishore Kumar's son. Excerpts...

Kishore Kumar's presence is as all-encompassing in the world of entertainment and music even now, as it was 30 years ago. What gives him an edge considering he wasn't trained like his contemporaries?
I am his son and I am not going to be defensive, but the fact is that trained or untrained, this man has been an institution. He made his way from scratch to the very top. He succeeded in all the departments of his field without any so-called training. R D Burman (a great music director who was with my father from the beginning) and his father S D Burman (my father's guru) were once discussing various singers. When my father's name cropped up, R D said, 'Kishore da ke saamne jitney bhi bade ustad ko rakh do, during the actual take of any song, woh un sab ko utha ke phek sakte hain'. Pancham da used to say that 'syncopation' like tatada-ta-tada tadarum - would never sound as good when done by others. Who says he didn't know classical? I think he knew everything about music. He used to sing straight from his heart. He used to say, 'Main seedha gaata hoon, nakkashi (harkatein) kum karke, dil ko choona chahta hoon, so that even the street boys, the paan wala can relate to my song - unke mann ko lagna chahiye'. He was a technical man, he wouldn't take chances, but that didn't mean he did not know it. Unke samne bade bado ki chutti ho jati. I don't want to take names, but big singers would get nervous before him. He was one-of-a-kind. After all these years, he is still the number one. Aaj bhi sabse zyada gana unka hi bajta hai.

What are your memories of your father?
This bungalow (Gauri Kunj) was built by him. It may sound filmy, but we feel his presence here; we feel that his soul is still here. That's why we are blessed and have been staying here for so many years.

How does your brother Sumit relate to his memories? Or your daughter Muktika?
When my father left us, Sumit was only five and he does not have many memories of him. He tells me that I am the father-figure for him. My father always wanted Sumit to learn the piano. He used to dream of him being on a stage in Vienna, wearing a bow-tie and playing the piano, while we clapped in the audience. I made sure Sumit learnt the piano for four years. He's a brilliant musician. When it comes to singing, he's an original and does not sound like his father. We have a music company together and he looks after our offices here. Muktika is only 12. She's got a shundor voice, but we are not forcing her to learn singing. Her tribute song to her grandfather 'Mere Baba', two years back, went viral.

You sang Kishoreda's Himmatwala song, while Sumit reprised Bachna Ae Haseeno for a film - was it easy?
Singing the Himmatwala song (and another of his songs) was the biggest mistake. It's fine to sing his songs on stage. As a son, yeh mera haq banta hai. But I am not as great a singer as him, and singing his song on record was a blunder. Aaj bhi main apne aap ko kosta hoon. As for the Bachna Ae Haseeno song, Sumit just sang a few lines, which was okay.

When you do Kishore Kumar tribute shows, what are the responses abroad vis-a-vis back home?
I have been singing for more than 50 years now and have seen several ups and downs - success and more failures. Sab dekh liya hai maine in this whimsical industry. I have travelled all over India gully gully ghuma hoon doing tribute shows. We generally do 25 per cent Amit Kumar and 75 per cent Kishore Kumar songs. Main jitna bhi chahoon ki main pitaji ka gaana nahi gaaunga to avoid comparisons, I still get requests for his songs. People want to hear him. We always get full houses - be it in Mumbai (brilliant cosmopolitan audience), Pune (superb), Punjab (terrific) and even abroad, especially in England and America.

Songs in recent times that you feel should have been sung by Kishoreda?
I don't really listen to today's Hindi film music as they all sound similar. But I think the song sung by Arijit Singh, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil - woh agar Pitaji gaate toh accha hee gaate, he would have sung it beautifully. Hala ki Arijit has sung this song very nicely. Mujhe pasand bhi hai yeh gaana.

You share anecdotes from his life on your stage shows and radio shows. Do you ever plan to write a book on him?
Kitab toh mujhe likhna hi hai. My father told me to write a book on him when he is not around. Naam bhi soch liya tha - 'My Father As I Knew Him'. So, I will write a book as I've seen him up close for 35 years of my life.