BENGALURU: Renowned playback singer Krishnakumar Kunnath, popularly known as KK and who had mesmerised people with a range of songs over the last two decades, passed away on Tuesday night after suffering a heart attack. The 53-year-old was in Kolkata for a two-day concert.
Born in Delhi in 1968, KK sang more than 3,500 jingles before breaking into Bollywood. The year 1999 was the turning point for him. Sony Music, which had recently been launched in India, was looking for a new singer who can topline a solo album. Eventually, KK was selected to front the solo album ‘Pal’ which became a rage among the youngsters, and songs such as ‘Yaaron’ and ‘Pal’ acquired cult status. No college festival or gala was complete without these youthful compositions being played umpteen times.
In the same year, he crooned ‘Tadap Tadap Ke’, a song from Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s superhit ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’, with such incendiary intensity that it is still regarded as one of the best melancholic songs ever. In a movie album awash with a host of memorable songs, ‘Tadap Tadap Ke’ is the most enduring one.
This song also marked him out for his versatility; someone who can sink his teeth into a breezy ‘Yaaron’ and a doleful ‘Tadap Tadap Ke’ – two totally divergent renditions – and pull them off with absolute ease.
‘A medley of melodies and memories’
After 1999, there was no looking back for KK as music directors and producers made a beeline to sign him. In the next 10 years, he belted out a clutch of coruscating numbers which still echo in the musical climes.
Saddened by the untimely demise of noted singer Krishnakumar Kunnath popularly known as KK. His songs reflected a wide range of emotions as struck a chord with people of all age groups. We will always remember him through his songs. Condolences to his family and fans. Om Shanti.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 31, 2022
‘Sach Keh Raha Hai Deewana’ from ‘Rehnaa Hai Tere Dil Mein’, ‘O Humdum Suniyo Re’ from ‘Saathiya’, ‘Bardaasht’ from ‘Humraaz’, ‘Awaarapan Banjarapan’ from ‘Jism’, ‘Door Se Paas’ from ‘Musafir’, ‘Tu Hi Meri Shab Hai’ from ‘Gangster’, ‘Khuda Jaane’ from ‘Bachna Ae Haseeno’ and ‘Aankhon Mein Teri’ from ‘Om Shanti Om’ – to name a few – not only won glowing accolades from discerning critics but also topped the music charts and became hugely popular among hoi polloi.
KK was a very talented and versatile singer. His untimely demise is very saddening and a huge loss to Indian music. With his gifted voice, he has left an indelible impression on the minds of countless music lovers. My deepest condolences to his family and fans. Om Shanti Shanti
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) May 31, 2022
KK entered Bollywood at a time when Udit Narayan and Kumar Sanu had been ruling the roost for a decade, and Sonu Nigam was the new phenomenon. Each one of them – Udit, Sanu and Sonu – had a distinct voice which was easily recognisable in every song. They all were suited for particular types of songs and were revelling in their niches.
Krishnakumar Kunnath, fondly known as KK, was one of the most versatile singers of the Indian music industry. His soulful voice gave us many memorable songs.
Saddened by the news of his untimely demise last night. My heartfelt condolences to his family & fans across the world. pic.twitter.com/7Es5qklcHc
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) June 1, 2022
Throughout his career, the media – which is ever ready to slot singers and actors – could not fix KK into a specific mould because of his outstanding range. KK sang romantic tracks such as ‘Khuda Jaane’, ‘Soniye’ and ‘Aankhon Mein Teri’ with equal flourish and finesse as he warbled pulsating, high-octane numbers like ‘Bardaasht’, ‘Dus Bahane’ and ‘Door Se Paas’. It’s almost hard to believe that one singer has sung such diametrically different ditties.
I am unable to wrap my head around this news. Numb. #KK Why! This is too hard to accept! Heart is shattered in pieces.
— Shreya Ghoshal (@shreyaghoshal) May 31, 2022
After ‘Tadap Tadap Ke’, he also lent his voice to ‘Awaarapan Banjarapan’ and evinced that no one can whip up a melancholic mood better than him among his contemporaries.
Perhaps Udit, Sanu and Sonu have been commercially more successful than him, but it is a one-horse race when the discussion is about range and versatility. KK’s genius lied in the fact that he could masterfully modulate his voice like a chameleon according to the mood and genre of the song.
KK… not fair man. Not your time to go. This was the last time we were together to announce a tour together. How can you just go??? In shock. In grief. A ear dear friend, a brother is gone. RIP KK. Love you. pic.twitter.com/lCdwIRf3W6
— Mohit Chauhan (@_MohitChauhan) May 31, 2022
In the 90s, producers were usually inclined to use a particular singer for a particular actor. While SP Balasubrahmanyam became the voice of Salman Khan in his early days and rendered most of the songs picturised on him, Abhijeet was called the singing prototype of Shah Rukh Khan. But because of his protean-like quality, KK’s voice didn’t become the calling card of any particular actor.
A voice and talent like no other.. They don't make them like him anymore. Working on the songs he sang was always that much more special. You will always be in our hearts KK and live eternally through your songs. RIP Legend KK #ripkk pic.twitter.com/7UcYnx1WDy
— Emraan Hashmi (@emraanhashmi) June 1, 2022
He lent his voice to almost all notable stars of his time, be it Salman, SRK, Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, John Abraham, Emran Hashmi or Ranbir Kapoor.
Though he worked with all prominent music composers, his best work came with Vishal-Shekhar and Pritam. His association with Vishal-Shekhar started in 1999 with ‘Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi’ and together they conjured up magic in ‘Jhankaar Beats’, ‘Om Shanti Om’ and ‘Bachna Ae Haseeno’. With ‘Pritam’, he collaborated on ‘Dhoom’, ‘Gangster’, ‘Life In A… Metro’, ‘Race’ and ‘Jannat’.
He also did some bang-up work with Himesh Reshammiya, Anu Malik and Vishal Bhardwaj.
The tears won't stop. What a guy he was. What a voice, what a heart, what a human being. #KK is FOREVER!!!
— VISHAL DADLANI (@VishalDadlani) May 31, 2022
‘The last word’
The songs of KK struck a chord with people from all generations. While he could spellbind the youth with ‘Yaaron’, his voice also had the heft to entrance more pensive and seminal listeners with ‘Awaarapan Banjarapan’ and ‘O Meri Jaan’. His voice could convey a gamut of emotions, be it romance, nostalgia or despondency. Truly, a singer of all seasons and emotions.
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