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‘Amit Be Cool’

Eddie Murphy wrote these lines in the autograph that Kishore Kumar took on behalf of Amit Kumar Why ? Read on for Amit Kumar’s interview with Manju Ramanan. (Redone for Kishore da’s birthday today)

Two legends and an autograph

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In 1982 while on a holiday with dad in the US, dad bumped into the actor Eddie Murphy at a video shack. Since he was mad for Hollywood films, he had posted himself at the place and asked us to look around the nearby places. He had already bought 800 dollars worth of films and that is when Eddie Murphy walked in with his body-guards to buy 2-3 films. Dad asked him for an autograph and he didn’t show much interest. But the shop’s owner went up to Eddie and told him that dad was the Frank Sinatra of India and that he must behave like a gentleman. Eddie went up to dad and shook hands and dad told him that he had seen the Beverly Hills Cop and then dad asked for an autograph for me. Eddie asked him about me and dad told him that I was very short tempered. That is when Eddie gave him an autograph addressed to me that said Amit Be Cool!

I compose now

I have quit playback singing I mainly do shows around the world. My brother Sumit and I have started a company called Kumar Brothers where we compose songs ñ some of which can be heard online. We are mainly into composing songs as well as tour for concerts in India and around the world. Abhi Shaanti hai! (Laughs)

Kaka, Baba and RD

My father’s association with Rajesh Khanna goes back many years ago post Aradhana. He had organized an event in Kolkata in the eighties and so many stars flew in for the event without charging any fees. Anil Kapoor was big that time after his Beta days, Amjad Khan had come too. Kakaji was so excited that volunteered to be an emcee for the event and it was so heartening to see that. He was very fond of my father and ensured that he attended most of his rehearsals. In a film called Mamta ki Chhaon me that was left half-way, Kakaji did a special appearance too. He would tell my father that ‘Aap approach nahi bhi karte toh main film karta’. That was their relationship.

The First time dad watched me

I was in Kolkata and my mother had told my dad that I was singing in concerts etc. He came to see me once during my show in Kolkata. Since he couldnít be sitting in the audience, he went behind the stage near the lights and watched my performance from there. I sang his songs from Jhumroo

Memory Chest

There are several of them. I met Sherpa Tensing in 1954 when I was three years old. Dad was shooting for Madhbhare Nain with Bina Rai. He had filmed the whole incident and I remember watching it several times. In the 80ís Amitabh Bachchan had made a quick visit to our home. He was to be there for only a few minutes. But when he saw babaís room, he cancelled everything and sat there the whole day. Another important memory is meeting Madhubalaji. I met her several times. She has stayed at our home Gauri Kunj too. She was very nice. But when I met her she had become very frail and had a breathing problem. She had come with my father after a shoot and stayed with us for 3 days. They later shifted to a flat in Carter road near Hrishikesh Mukherjeeís house. Needless to say she was very beautiful

Amit 1 and Amit 2

Are the names of short films on me that my father filmed when I was a child. They were both stolen from our bungalow in the late eighties. Baba had a 8 mm camera and right from his Khandwa days had a deep interest in photography. I have seen a rare picture of him shooting Satyajit Ray while he was filming Pather Panchali ñ again stolen from our home. Amit 1 and Amit 2 were shot during my holidays. He had a small editing table in the house and he was involved in all aspects of film-making. Whenever I meet my fans I make it a point to tell them that if they happen to find any traces of these memories, I will like to gladly buy it from them ñ they are priceless to me. Recently I watched one of his rare films titled Andolan through a collector.

Ganguly House in Khandwa

No one lives there and people have asked us to convert it into a museum etc. But it is a very old house, about a century old. However my fatherís samadhi there is well visited. My uncleís family -Anoop Kumarís son is looking after it. This October we are planning to go to Khandwa and might have a musical event there.

The Inherent Humour

It runs in the family. Dadamoni, the great Ashok Kumar had it, so did my father and me too. My father used to love burial places and once in Goa he was sitting in a grave-yard when he saw the grave of a certain Father Browne who died on August 3rd ñ the same day my father was born. From then on he thought he was the re-born Father Browne.

Creating a Space

I always wanted to sound like Amit Kumar right from the beginning and any resemblance to my father is very natural not induced. There are several Kishore Kumar clones today but can anyone be like him? But I believe that while 20-25 years ago I sounded like myself, now at 61, I sound like him. With age the voice matures.

Training Gen Next
Muktika my daughter has a knack for singing. I don’t want to force her towards music. She is talented and if she likes music, she will take it up.

Bade Acche lagte Hain

Thanks to RD Burman, that became my bread and butter song.( laughs)

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