Popular singer and composer Krishnakumar Kunnath passed away at 10:30 pm on May 31, 2022, leaving his fans and the world of Bollywood in a state of sadness and shock. Fondly known as KK by his fans, the artist lent his voice to over 700 songs in various languages, including Hindi, Bengali, Kannada and Malayalam. “The voice of love”, as he is famously called, was an auditory treat for all his listeners. He had a special connection with 90s’ kids such as myself, as his music helped us get through various stages of early adulthood, from making it through simple hustles, to navigating heartbreak. Gifted with the most melodious voice and his penchant for love songs, KK will always stand tall among the greatest singers of our time and beyond.
From ‘Tadap’ To ‘Yaaron’: The Legend Of KK
While he sang a small portion of Gulzar’s ‘Chhod Aaye Hum‘ from the film Maachis, KK’s real debut in Bollywood as a playback singer came with the song ‘Tadap Tadap Ke’ from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, in 1999. The latter, starring Salman Khan, was one of KK’s most famous songs, for which he received a Filmfare nomination in the best playback singer category. The artist’s claim to fame came from his debut album Pal, in which the songs ‘Pyaar Ke Pal’ and ‘Yaaron’ were audience favourites. We can’t possibly remember a school or college farewell that hasn’t ended with these gems. It was with this album that his evergreen relationship with 90s’ kids started to take shape. Interestingly, despite the success and fame KK received, he revealed in an interview to the Hindustan Times that he wanted to be a doctor instead of a playback singer.
After the tremendous success of his debut album, KK never looked back. He sang ‘Jab Bhi Koi Haseena‘ next, for the timeless movie Hera Pheri. By 2001, KK had many renowned songs to his name like ‘Jhanak Jhanak Baaje‘ from the movie Farz, ‘Aaja Gufaon Mein‘ from Aks, ‘Dola Re Dola‘ and ‘Maar Daala‘ from Devdas, and ‘Bardaasht Nahi Kar Sakta‘ from Abbas Mastan’s Humraaz. Over the next few years, he kept singing hit Bollywood numbers in several films and finally, in the year 2008, KK released his second album Humsafar, wherein the song ‘Raina Bhai Kaari‘ – a mix of Bengali Baul with rock – became a unique wonder. He was nominated for several Filmfare awards in the best playback singer (male) category for ‘Dus Bahane’, ‘Zara Sa’, ‘Aankhon Mein Teri’ and ‘Khuda Jaane’, for which he also won the Screen Award in 2009. KK was also presented with the National Award for his hit song ‘Tu Aashiqui Hai’ from Jhankaar Beats.
Despite enjoying tremendous commercial success, having a massive fan following, and being nominated six times, KK never won a single Filmfare award. He is the perfect example of how awards do not define your success. Loved by his fans throughout his entire career that spanned nearly over three decades, not once did the singer’s name get dragged in any controversy whatsoever, as is the norm in our industry otherwise.
For 90s’ kids, KK’s voice fit like a perfect companion, from school to college, from radio to Spotify. There is a KK song for every emotionally significant event in our lives, from reminding our “yaaron… dosti badi hi haseen hai”, to reassuring that special someone that “tu aashiqui hai”. Even though he is not physically present with us in this world anymore, KK’s songs and his soothing voice will forever be in the playlists of his fans who will continue to hum along, albeit with a slight pinch in our hearts.
KK died doing what he loved most. In music he met his life, in music he met his death.
Hum rahein ya na rahein, yaad aayenge yeh pal…