Ranbir Kapoor and Kishore Kumar indeed seem to have some karmic connection: in 2008, Kishore 'sang' a few words on-screen for Ranbir when the latter enacted Bachna Ae Haseeno, his father Rishi Kapoor's Kishore-rendered hit from the 1977 Hum Kisise Kum Naheen. Kishore's son Sumit Kumar sang the rest of the re-created version that formed the title-track of the Aditya Chopra production Bachna Ae Haseeno.
And in 2012, we came to know that Anurag Basu would make a biopic on filmland's most versatile artiste ever – writer, producer, director, editor, lyricist, composer, singer and actor Abhas Kumar Ganguly aka Kishore Kumar. Though the film has yet to take off two years after this announcement, and Basu and Kapoor are collaborating on Jagga Jasoos, it is expected to go on the floors as soon as both of them are free.
So what will Ranbir – probably the first truly method actor from the Kapoor clan – have to do to enact the man who sang more songs for his father and for uncle Randhir Kapoor than any other playback voice?
The expressions, the hairstyle and – if Ranbir is fastidious enough – the quite bulky figure that Kishore became since the '60s will have to be emulated. But more important for the young Kapoor will be getting into Kishore's psyche and his quirks – all part of a brilliant mind that had raced ahead of its era, even as it thought completely differently from anyone else, including illustrious elder brother, superstar Ashok Kumar.
Ranbir's antics in Bachna Ae Haseeno, Wake Up Sid! and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani are inspiring enough for someone who belongs to the post-2000 era. But here, he will have to imbibe the complex persona that Kishore was, right from the time he played pranks on producer brother Ashok Kumar while doing a cameo in Ziddi (1948), wherein Kishore had to reprimand Dev Anand, and did so with the choicest expletives that were obviously unscripted – even as his brother frantically yelled "Cut!"
And Ranbir, with his challenging performance in Basu's Barfi! as well as his intense turn in Raajneeti is probably a likelier reel-life Kishore because of his persona, physical attributes and versatile talent than any currently saleable actor.
That the Kapoors and Kishore also shared a bond is also clear: Kishore Kumar remains the only playback singer common to all of Ranbir's uncles (including Rajiv Kapoor) and all the three elder Kapoors – his grandfather Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor.
So let us trace the Kapoor-Kishore relationship over the decades.
Kishore Kumar's first tryst with the Kapoors was singing for Raj Kapoor in the 1950 film Pyar with music by S.D. Burman, in which the composer experimented, as he did later with Dilip Kumar and Sagina, with Kishore as the actor's only voice in five songs. One song, 'Kacchi Pakki Sadkon Pe' can be now heard but sadly not watched on YouTube. In the '70s and early '80s, Kishore became the almost-always voice of Raj's son Randhir Kapoor, lending his voice for the star in his debut, Raj Kapoor's production, Kal Aaj Aur Kal, as well as in later RK films Dharam Karam and Biwi O Biwi.
Kishore's hit parade for Randhir ranged from the star's first two hits, Jawani Diwani (with 'Jaanejaan' topping an array of popular numbers) and Raampur Ka Lakshman ('Gum Hai Kisike Pyar Mein' and others). Ruling the Randhir musical roost, Kishore sang popular songs and hits for the actor in almost all his films, ranging from Haath Ki Safai ('Peenewalon Ko Peene Ka Bahana Chahiye'), Ponga Pandit ('Ganga Ghat Ka Paani' and the 'pop' song 'Main Jab Chhedoonga Dil Ka Tarana'), Kasme Vaade ('Mile Jo Kadi Kadi'), Khalifa ('Tak Dhin Tak') and many more.
Ranbir's dad Rishi got the Kishore cream too. Beginning with 'O Hansini' (Zehreela Insaan) and the hits of Khel Khel Mein (like 'Khullam Khulla Pyar Karenge' and 'Ek Main Aur Ek Tu'), the best of Kishore's work for the evergreen romantic icon included, Hum Kisise Kum Naheen apart, delights like 'Aao Manaaye Jashn-E-Mohabbat' (Doosara Aadmi), 'Om Shanti Om' and 'Ek Hasina Thi' (Karz) , the title-tracks of Yeh Vaada Raha, Saagar and Duniya Meri Jeb Mein, fun songs like 'Mannubhai Motor Chali' (Phool Khile Hain Gulshan Gulshan) and 'Pakdo Pakdo Pakdo' (Naseeb) and some lesser-known but exotic delights like 'Prem Ka Rog Lagaa' (Do Premee), 'Sarakti Jaayen Hai' (Deedaar-E-Yaar), 'Meri Dua Hai' (Raahi Badal Gaye) and more.
Rajiv Kapoor had Kishore sing a lot for him too, beginning with his first film Ek Jaan Hain Hum ('Dil Lagaana Tum Kya Jaano'), but scored mainly in offbeat numbers like 'Banke Nazar' (Aasmaan) and 'Jab Chaha Yaara Tumne' (Zabardast).
Kishore had a more intimate association with Shashi Kapoor, as they first portrayed bosom friends who drove the plot in the 1966 Sridhar laugh-riot Pyar Kiye Jaa, in which they also enacted a song together. Obviously in this multi-singer song 'Sun Le Pyar Ki Dushmun Duniya' (featuring their respective leading ladies Kalpana and Rajshri of the South), Kishore sang for himself, while Manna Dey took on Shashi's part.
It was only in 1970 that Kishore finally got to sing playback for Shashi in two films, the delayed flop Rootha Na Karo and the delightful rom-com Abhinetri, from which 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Pa' (the famous duet with Lata for Hema Malini) became a cult favourite. In 1971, the hit-fest Sharmeelee had classics like 'Khilte Hain Gul Yahaan' and three more popular numbers.
Kishore soon became a favourite for Shashi's persona with assorted composers, as even Kalyanji-Anandji, who had entrenched Rafi as his playback voice, began to use Kishore more in films as assorted as Paap Aur Punya, Chori Mera Kaam and others. With chartbusters like 'Waada Karo Nahin Chhodoge Tum Mera Saath' (Aa Gale Lag Jaa), 'Le Jayenge Le Jayenge' and 'Ghungroo Ki Tarah' (Chor Machaye Shor) and many more popular songs from films like Deewaar, Aap Beati, Fakira, Trishul, Kaala Patthar, Bezubaan and more, Kishore had a long association with this actor too.
One more tenuous link can be found between the Kapoors and the irrepressible singer: Kishore's third wife, Yogeeta Bali, was the niece of Shammi Kapoor's late wife Geeta Bali.
But now, we are set to see the biggest union between the first family of Indian cinema – the Kapoors – and the true-blue Naughty Boy of Hindi cinema – Kishore Kumar as the youngest scion of the family prepares to portray the eccentric star-singer. It's a tough call to replay an inimitable genius, but then even as it is a matter of Kishore's status, it is also the Kapoor prestige that, we are sure, will see Ranbir giving more than hundred percent to this biopic.