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LIFE AND TIMES OF AMIT KUMAR GANGULY

A filled auditorium witnesses in enchantment a spellbinding performance by a rich baritone, who with unusual adroitness performs one number after another and in one long crescendo leads the audience to entirely new heights. This man has been singing, composing, acting, performing and more recently judging reality shows. He has spent more than four decades of life in music. Let us now rewind the reel and go back to the time when it all started.

The fifties was one of the most happening periods all over the world as far as music, films, arts and literature are concerned. Amidst this scenario on the 3rd of July, 1952 Amit Kumar Ganguly, was born in a family where a cultural ambience pervaded the house. His father, Kishore Kumar’s artistry cannot be described in words. Mother Ruma Devi has been an epitome of culture and refinement. ‘Dadamoni’ Ashok Kumar needs no introduction. The other Ganguly brother, Anoop Kumar proved his mettle as an actor in the few films he acted in. Spending his formative years in the erstwhile Calcutta with his mother, young Amit would visit his father during vacations. His father took him to music shops and got him a variety of records. Amit loved playing them, but had no intention of becoming a singer himself. He was a decent child and received great affection from his parents. Amit Kumar started singing his father’s numbers in the early seventies in local functions in Calcutta. His father got to know about it and wanted Amit to try his luck in Bombay (now Mumbai).

Kishore Kumar introduced Amit Kumar in a show titled ‘PAPA KISHORE AND SONNY AMIT TOGETHER – FIRST TIME’. Among the luminaries present to grace the occasion were S. D. Burman, Kalyanji-Anandji, etc. S. D. Burman was so impressed by Amit’s performance that he garlanded him in appreciation. Amit Kumar’s first tryst in playback was in the film ‘DOOR KA RAHI’. The song ‘MAIN EK PANCHHI MATWALA RE’ appeared in the record (Amit Kumar being then referred as Amit Ganguly), but was not included in the film because being Kishore Kumar’s own production, he found the song inappropriate for the situation Swapan Jagmohan made him sing in the film ‘DARWAAZA’ which did not release. Salil Chowdhury tried Amit Kumar in ‘ZINDAGI EK JUA’, but the project was shelved. Madan Mohan gave him a duet with Asha Bhosle in ‘CHALBAAZ’ which got shelved too.

Not many are aware that Raj Kapoor wanted Amit Kumar to sing for the film ‘BOBBY’, but Amit was apprehensive about it and fled to Calcutta. Leaving aside his father, the greatest influence in Amit Kumar’s life has been the great R. D. Burman. He first met Panchamda late in 1963 during the making of ‘DOOR GAGAN KI CHHAON MEIN’ in which young Amit played the innocent dumb child with great skill. Being his own film and since Kishore Kumar himself was the music director of it, he had wanted Pancham to play the mouth organ for the sad version of the Hemant Kumar song ‘RAHI TU MAT RUK JANA’. Amit was a young lad of eleven years then. Ever since R. D. Burman came to the music scene, Amit became his ardent admirer. The compositions of films like ‘CHHOTE NAWAB’, ‘BHOOT BUNGLA’ and ‘TEESRI MANZIL’ left such a deep impress on him that Amit began emulating the great man in every aspect.

R. D. Burman had heard that Amit Kumar was singing in stage shows and wanted Kishore Kumar to bring him to the Pancham camp one day. This camp comprised all the great musicians of R. D. Burman. Amit was asked to sing. He was so overawed by the situation that he gave a shaky performance of his father’s song ‘MAIN HOON JHOOMROO’. Kishore Kumar was not happy with the performance and reprimanded Amit for having wasted another opportunity while returning home.

If a person is destined to do something, irrespective of every barrier, he surely does it. After a few days, Kishore Kumar received a call from Pancham that the recording date of a song had been fixed for a film named ‘BALIKA BADHU’ and that particular song was to be filmed on a young hero. Kishore Kumar thought that he had to sing the song, but could not believe his ears when he heard that the person who was being called was his son, Amit because a fresh and young voice was required. With this song began an association which produced innumerable hits together. Amit Kumar has aptly called the song, ‘BADE ACHHE LAGTE HAIN’ his ‘bread and butter song’.

Amit Kumar and R. D. Burman had great mutual understanding. They would share records and openly discuss things like friends. Panchamda was aware that Amit loved him dearly. It was like a family affair. Such was their rapport that during the recording of the song ‘TERI YAAD AA RAHI HAI’ for the film ‘LOVE STORY’, Panchamda called Amit Kumar to a corner and told him that he did not like the composition. It appeared like a religious song being sung in a temple instead of a romantic one. Saying this he ensured that Rajendra Kumar was not listening since it was his film and if he happened to hear what Pancham had said about the song, he would be shocked, for he was launching his son, Kumar Gaurav, in the film. It was quite ironical that Amit Kumar went on to receive the Filmfare Award for the same song in 1981.

It was R. D. Burman who made Amit Kumar get over an atmosphere of gloom and depression after his father’s death by making him record the very challenging ‘RAMA O RAMA’ for the film with the same name. It was Amit’s first recording after the tragedy.

As far as playback for Hindi films is concerned, Amit Kumar is R. D. Burman’s second choice after his father. If Kishore Kumar was Panchamda’s most preferred male playback singer, the second position belongs to his exuberant son. In Bengali films however, Amit Kumar holds the first position in singing R. D’s compositions. His father is in second place. "I have more than hundred compositions of my own which are not published yet. so Two years back Sumit suggested me about creating a website for my fans, who love me and my compositions so they can download it" Tells Amit Kumar.

The main reason behind launching my official website is to interact with my fans & followers & letting them know that Melody, Harmony & Lyrical Value are the three most important factors in a composition, which unfortunatelly is fading away in the commercial arena. I hope I will be able to fulfill my dream with the support of my fans & admirers. Amit Kumar believes in the philosophy of contentment. He feels life does not revolve only around the entertainment world. He loves to travel and appreciates the manifold beauties of Mother Nature. He is a complete family man. Marriage has given him stability. He has been blessed with a wonderful daughter in Muktika. Younger brother Sumit is like a friend and shares a great bond with his elder brother. Sumit's mother, Leenaji -- and a very close circle of people -- all constitute the peace and harmony in Amit Kumar's World and are his source of emotional sustenance.

The world of modern-day music is like a complex web. With the advancement of science people have become more techno-savvy. Computerized music seems to have generated a wave; but amidst all these, Amit Kumar's music is still a craze. A fan club named after him in Kolkata bears testimony to this. As legacy he has inherited the artistic excellence of his father and the memories of the wonderful association he has enjoyed with maestros of the golden era. He is egged on to look at life with enthusiastic zeal. Life goes on, For all his faithful and loyal fans all over the world. Amit Kumar Ganguly is still singing and God willing will continue to do so for many more years to come.

CONCLUSION
The growth of Amit Kumar Ganguly is like that of a plant that grows towards the sun and at the same time sends its roots ever deeper into the ground, according to the laws embellished by nature. Just as, the poet anticipated the world, so Amit Kumar seems to have had a foreboding of what the world has prepared him in joy and sorrow. The more he has withdrawn himself from the world and the less it has meant to him. the greater has become the inner power of his works.
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