From turning “completely bald”, avoiding playing the titular hero in “Anand” to troubling hapless producers by disappearing through a “secret staircase” behind his cupboard, “mad genious” Kishore Kumar had a number of tricks up his sleeves, reveals poet-lyricist Gulzar in his new book “Actually… I Met Them: A Memoir”.
According to Gulzar, Kishore Kumar, and not actor Rajesh Khanna, was initially set to star in the 1971 cult classic “Anand”. But just a few days before the shoot, Kishore Kumar, in a meeting to discuss his look in the film, shocked everyone by turning up completely bald.
“We were all shocked! On top of that, Kishoreda went around the office dancing and singing, ‘What will you do now, Hrishi?’ (the film’s director, Hrishikesh Mukherjee). Consequently, Rajesh Khanna was finalised for the role in a very short time. Perhaps, Kishoreda never wanted to play the character. Nevertheless, I have never seen someone cutting off their nose to spite their face in such a manner,” recalls Gulzar, who wrote the dialogues of the superhit movie.
The film ended up winning several awards, including the Filmfare Award for Best Film in 1972. Not only directors, many producers were also at the receiving end of Kishore Kumar’s mischief. In fact, one of Kishore Kumar’s favourite things to do was “to land his producers in trouble”, Gulzar writes in the memoir, published by Penguin Random House India.
Once a producer went to the singer-actor’s house to seek a meeting but as Kishore Kumar was not in a mood to talk to him, he “simply opened his cupboard, stepped in and disappeared!”
“He used to have this astounding cupboard that hid a secret staircase within. Kishoreda simply opened the cupboard, stepped in and disappeared! Leaving the producer waiting for him outside the open doors of the contraption. If nothing else, this underscores the immense effort and planning required to live a life of absurdities,” writes the veteran lyricist.
“Actually … I Met Them: A Memoir”, released on Monday, gives readers a peek into the minds of legends including the likes of Bimal Roy, Ritwik Ghatak, Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Mahasweta Devi, through the trusted lens of Gulzar.