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Amit Kumar
The Third Innings

He's as talented, quirky and moody as his father. The only two things which he doesn't share with his father is a career which just went up, up and up, and a much married status. Singer Amit Kumar, better known as Kishore Kumar's son, is back again, a third time to be precise. His "first innings" (as he likes to call it) lasted almost a decade. He scored a `duck' in the second innings. He came, he sang and nobody heard. And Amit Kumar went back to the pavilion. He started his third innings on a low key with Jaidev Thackarey's Sapoot. "The Thackerays are family friends and I couldn't say no to Jaidev." Screen meets the prodigal son, who seems to have finally made up his mind to stay in the industry, fight it out and make it to the top by the end of this year.

Nobody ever doubted his ability to sing. Not only because he was the son of a legendary singer, but also because he had the voice and the talent to match. The great RD Burman had given him his first break as a playback singer. Amit started his career in `82 when Kishore Kumar dominated the music scene. He did fairly well for a decade, lending his voice to star sons Sunny Deol, Kumar Gaurav, Sanjay Dutt. And then he faded away. What went wrong? "My father passed away at the time and I lost my greatest ally. A lot of new singers were coming in at the time and I thought I wasn't needed anymore. I was going through a bad phase," he explains.

Amit, at the time, came up wiht an album, MAD, which was produced by PAN music. Panchamda (RD Burman) released the album. "It was doing quite well, but then PAN did not promote it properly," Amit laments.

However, more than PAN music, Amit blames it on his destiny. "My stars were not in my favour and so everything I did went wrong."

Panchamda's demise a fortnight after he released MAD, was the final blow to Amit's sagging confidence. "I was very close to him and after his death I felt as if I was in a vaccum." Amit says sadly. A sentimental person by nature, Amit couldn't tackle the situation. He stopped approaching producers and music-directors. They didn't care. "And that was the end of my first innings," Amit says matter-of-factly. "Of course, today I realise that it was the wrong attitude, but then I guess everybody goes though such lean phases at one time or the other. In my case it happened once too often."

The only thing which kept him going during the bad phase was his fan mail. His well-wishers prodded him repeatedly to come back. "They didn't understand that once you leave this industry it is very difficult to make a comeback," Amit points out.

However, the singer in him was restless. He continued doing stage shows but his creativity was not sated. "Singing had always been a passion for me. I realised that if I didn't start singing again, I would be the one to suffer. I don't know that my voice will sound like after ten years," he explains.

But coming back wasn't easy. Amit was waiting for the right opportunity, and it came in the form of Jaidev Thackery. He called up Amit and asked him to sing for his home production, Sapoot. It took some persuasion on Jaidev's part, but in the end Amit agreed. "I decided it was time to take on the competition head on. I had to fight it out and make my mark in the industry," he asserts with a confident smile.

During the time, he also did a private album in Bengali, Mayabini, a collection of Durga Pooja bhajans. In the Eastern circuit alone, the album sold a phenomenal one lakh copies. "It was a great morale booster for me to realise that even after eight years people hadn't forgotten me. They still loved and wanted me," Amit says happily. His confidence got a furthur boost when Mukul Anand asked him to host his show, Yodlee Yoo on Zee. "It proved that people still had faith in me and I was encouraged," he maintains. Meanwhile, news of his comeback was circulating in the industry. He wasn't exactly showered by offers but he had made a new beginning. He sang three songs for Jatin-Lalit in Loveria. Aadesh Shrivastava made him sing six lines in Salma Pe Dil Aagaya. "These may appear small achievments to some, but they helped restore my confidence," Amit says emphatically. Amit has come up with an album, Dum Duma Dum with Plus. He has composed the music and Leena Chandravarkar has penned four out of the eight songs in the ablum. "Those who have heard the album have complimented us on the freshness of the lyrics," he says produly. Amit is optimistic his album will do very well. "It is a very different album. It has lots of melody and harmony," he explains.

Amit who had used a lot of jazz and reggae music in his new album, confesses that he is not an original composer. "My music is influenced. I listen to a lot of jazz and tend to just pick up a tune from a composition and develop it," he says candidly. Why not start composing for films? "No, that is too much of a headache. You have to give in to the producers demands even if you don't agree with them," he points out.

Also on the anvil is a remix album of his father's songs, Daddy It's For You, which he did rather unwillingly during his slack period, "We have also shot a video of the Musafir hoon yaron number." Amit informs but insists that he won't do his father's remixes any more. "My father never wanted me to be called his clone and I won't let that happen," he asserts.

Today, Amit is confident that he is here to stay. He has some prestigious projects lined up for release. There's David Dhawan's Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan in which he sings for the Big B, and Gautam Ghose's Gudia in which he has also sung for the legendary Dilip Kumar in Quila under the baton of Anand Raaj Anand.

Viju Shah, for whom he had earlier sung the chart buster Tirchi Topiwale in Tridev, asked him to sing for Marquis Xavier's Vinashak. Amit is busy meeting music directors with whom he had worked earlier. And Rajesh Roshan, Nadeem-Shravan, Dilip Sen-Sameer Sen, all have responded positively to his comeback. Amit promises, "by the end of this year I will be there." Well, let's hope it's third time lucky for Mr. Amit Kumar.