Amit Kumar Musical Tribute to Rajesh Khanna & UK Tour 2019

Singer Amit Kumar performs a tribute concert to honour actor Rajesh Khanna as part of his UK Legacy Tour 2019. DESIblitz attended this musical celebration.

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"This has been a wonderful tour for Amit Kumar.”

Celebrated Indian playback singer Amit Kumar gave a marvellous musical tribute to late Rajesh Khanna as part of his UK Legacy Tour 2019.

Prior to the Rajesh Khanna tribute, Amit, son of legendary vocalist Kishore Kumar had successful shows at other venues of London.

The ‘Rajesh Khanna Up Close and Personal with Amit Kumar and Bhupesh Raseen’ concert took place on Saturday, June 22 at the Heston Hyde Hotel in London.

The evening was a celebration of India’s first superstar through music and conversation.

During the first half of the event, Raseen recalled some beautiful memories of his close friend also familiar as Kakaji.

Following this, Amit and supporting artists, Shailaja Subramaniam, Ketan Kansara and Amisha, sang popular hits of  Kishore Kumar. These songs feature made evergreen by Rajesh Khanna.

We briefly round up the tour and highlight the Rajesh Khanna tribute:

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Amit Kumar UK Legacy Tour 2019

The Rajesh Khanna concert was part of the Amit Kumar UK Legacy Tour 2019, along with a range of shows, which took place across various venues in West London, East London and Leicester.

Make My Event and Indra Travel founder Suresh Kumar was of the key organisers for the vibrant series of events around London and the Midlands.

Suresh and his team have a history of putting on some great shows, including the 2018 ‘Crazy for Kishore’ event in London.

Suresh who works very closely with other partners has a love for music:

“It’s been hectic but wonderful. I have a passion for music, melody and rhythm. This has been a wonderful tour for Amit Kumar.

“We started on the 14th of June in West London at the Beck Theatre, then Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch. This is the second show in Heston Hyde.”

Talking about Amit Kumar, Suresh calls him a “true professional.”

“The audience have had a true flavour of his artistic talent and his career that spans 50 years. His art has been defined into a wonderful voice, very similar to his father, the legend Kishore Kumar.

“Every show that Amit Kumar takes part in is special.”

“From the 60s and 70s, there is a generation that have grown up listening to Kishore Kumar songs. We are able to recreate the evergreen era, where music was at its best.

“Those wonderful classics, such as ‘Yeh Kya Hua’, ‘Yeh Shaam Mastani’, Aradhana songs and ‘Kora Kagaz’, can only be done justice by Amit Kumar.”

Speaking of Rajesh Khanna, Suresh recalled:

“I discovered Rajesh Khanna when I was 6 years old. This was 1969 with his super hit film, Aradhana. The first scene was him singing ‘Mere Sapno Ki Rani’ to Sharmila Tagore in the jeep.

“When he came on screen singing that, I immediately felt something – as if I’d fallen in love.

“From that point on, I was a big admirer, always watching his films.

“Like so many in that generation, we all have that experience to tell of the first time when we saw the superstar Rajesh Khanna on screen. And for every woman, every man, it’s a different experience.

“He touched our hearts like no other artist before him or after him.

“The legacy still goes on as new generations discover his hit films and the songs that Kishore Kumar sang for him. They become evergreen and everlasting.

“It’s very important that the younger generation knows about the superstar, Rajesh Khanna – the man, the myth, the legend.

“Tonight we’re going to rediscover him with Bhupesh Raseen, his close friend of twenty-five years that has lived with him, travelled him, seen highs and lows in his life.

“We’re going to recreate some of these memories that a lot of the audience may not know or heard about.

“It’s a nostalgic trip down memory lane.”

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Amit Kumar Sings with Soul

Kishore Kumar became famous for being as the voice of Rajesh Khanna. The singing-acting duo were synonymous and magical together.

The velvet-toned and melodious voice of Amit Kumar naturally makes him the ideal choice to vocalise his father’s classics.

Kumar sang songs from the film Aradhana (1969), which had catapulted Rajesh Khanna to fame and marked the start of his consecutive hits.

These included the evergreen, ‘Mere Sapno Ki Rani’ and Roop Tera Mastana’.

With the latter, he went onto explain the transformation process of the song, with a Bengali composition by SD Burman being the inspiration. Kishore and Rajesh were present during the making of the song.

From the super hit Mere Jeevan Saathi (1972), he sang two songs – ‘O Mere Dil Ke Chain’ and ‘Deewana Leke Aaya Hai.’

Other superhit songs that he sang included ‘Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai’ (Kati Patang: 1971) and a number of duets with Shailaja Subramaniam.

Together, they sang ‘Kora Kagaz’ (Aradhana: 1969), ‘Hum Duno Do Premi’ (Ajanabee: 1974), and ‘Bheegi Bheegi Raaton Main’ (Ajanabee: 1974).

Before he sang the Qawali themed, ‘Vaada Tera Vaada’ (Dushman: 1971), he recounted the story behind it.

“When Laxmi sent this song, my father was adamant that he was not going to sing a Qawali style song. He told him to get Rafi Saab to sing it.

“Then when Rajesh Khanna found out, he came straight away. He said if my father doesn’t sing, I’m not going to act.

“Then what my dad did from there with the song was amazing.”

“Similar instances kept going on and my father became his voice. Kakaji (Rajesh Khanna) said, ‘Kishore Kumar and I are Ek Jism Do Jaan (one soul, two bodies).

Amit also spoke about when his father directed a film, with no hesitation. Rajesh Khanna took on a six-day special appearance role.

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Rajesh Khanna Tribute

The superstar Rajesh Khanna churned out fifteen successive super hits in a row between 1969-1974.

With a shy smile, a gentle nod and a dialogue delivery with an unmistakable tone of flirtation, Rajesh had a whole generation of female fans.

Rajesh and Bhupesh Raseen who was present at the Heston Hyde show were like ‘Soul Brothers.’ The two had spent more than twenty-two years together.

From Rajesh’s last breath to every single triumph, Raseen was by his side.

Hence, at the event, his best friend provided an evening filled with interesting stories and anecdotes.

He started off with Rajesh’s earlier life growing up in Mumbai. Then he went onto talk about him winning an All India talent competition amongst thousands of people.

Thus, the young actor got his break in films like Aakri Kat (1966), Raaz (1967) and Baharon Ke Sapne (1967).

Raseen explains that despite these films being good, they were not commercially successful. Interestingly, Aakri Kat was even India’s Oscar entry under the ‘Foreign Language’ category.

He went onto recount more stories from Khanna’s earlier struggling days:

“A south producer approached him for a film. After hearing about it, he said I’ll tell you after one week. This was despite not having any film at the time.

“Everyone was confused why he wasn’t saying yes. The producer waited patiently.

“But then a week went by, fifteen days went by, a month went by. That film was eventually done by Jeetendra. The film was Farz, and it went onto celebrate a silver jubilee.

“He was emotional about losing out on this film but also at the same time, he realised that perhaps not doing it may have been the right decision. The film may have not been meant for him.

“He was then offered another film but was pre-informed that the heroine has a double role. It’s a woman-oriented film.”

“He decided to do it. In the script, they changed from the heroine’s double role into the heroes and that became Aradhana. And after that, the rest is history.

Despite experiencing stardom that no other actor before had relished, Raseen explained how Khanna was a “simple man.”

He expanded:

“Kamal Hasan recalled how Rajesh Khanna in deep thought, said to him that, ‘in this universe, the earth is a small planet and in this planet, there is a small country called India. In India, there is this city called Mumbai which has thousands of people. In that is Rajesh Khanna, a normal man.’

“Kakaji ended with ‘woh shunye main aaye aur shunye main Jayenge’ (you come into the world empty handed and you will leave empty handed too).

“This astonished Kamal Hasan to see how Rajesh Khanna had such higher thinking. He doesn’t even consider himself Rajesh Khanna – just a normal person.”

Bhupesh stated how Khanna’s favourites were Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand:

“Dilip Kumar’s dialogue delivery command, Raj Kapoor’s softness and Dev Anand style was what made Rajesh Khanna. He had a combination of their qualities.”

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The Supporting Artists

Amit Kumar was supported by the talented singing duo, Shailaja Subramaniam from Mumbai and UK’s very own Ketan Kensara.

Shalaja had a beautiful voice, perfectly accompanying Amit Kumar for some duets.

She also had a solo segment in both segments of the show.

In her solo segment, Shailaja sang hits like ‘Aao Na’ (Mere Jeevan Saathi: 1972) and ‘Humein Aur Jeene Ki Chahat’ (Agar Tum Na Hote: 1983), showing her versatile prowess.

Shailaja has previously performed with legendary singers Usha Mangeshkar, Suresh Wadkar and Shankar Mahadevan. She has also given playback in Bollywood films like Kisna and Tum Bin.

Ketan Kansara dazzled the audience in his solo segment with an array of songs, particularly from the very much loved movie, Amar Prem (1972).

In a truly entertaining style, Kansara was dancing along to the hits and enjoying every minute of his performance.

He sang two hit songs from the film Amar Prem, including – ‘Kuch Toh Log Kahenge’ and ‘Chingari’ (Amar Prem: 1972). He also sang ‘Zindagi Ke Safar Mein’ (Aap Ki Kasam: 1974).

Kansara had previously impressed audiences at the ‘Crazy for Kishore’ event in Ilford last year.

He has also performed in ‘Kishore’s Knight’ in 2012 and during an Amitabh Bachchan tribute in De Montfort Hall Leicester.

In 2017, he performed in ‘Flashback – A Tribute to Hindi Cinema’ with a forty-piece orchestra.

Kansara and Subramaniam ended their segments singing a duet together of the high energy ‘Jai Jai Shiv Shankar’ (Aap Ki Kasam: 1974).

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A British young girl, called Amisha, also sang some classics with her innocent yet melodious voice. These included ‘Bindiya Chamkegi’ (Do Raste: 1969, and ‘Yeh Shaam Mastani’ (Kati Patang: 1971).

Music was provided by the very talented, Sanjay Marthe Band, hailing from Mumbai.

They have been known to have a combined 150 years of Bollywood industry experience on stage. They effortlessly brought alive a number of very special compositions from the yesteryears at the event.

The ‘Up Close and Personal’ event as part of the Amit Kumar UK Legacy tour’ received a fantastic reception from the audience.

It was a fitting spectacle to honour Bollywood’s first superstar and a legendary musician.

The legacy of Rajesh Khanna and Kishore Kumar will continue to ignite within the hearts and souls of their fans.

There was no better choice than having Amit Kumar and Bhupesh Raseen at this event to celebrate their journey together.

The Leicester show of Amit Kumar was also a grand success. Other than the other singers already mentioned, Joy Bhowmik also performed at De Montfort Hall on June 23, 2019.

In recognition of fifty years contribution to Indian Music, Amit Kumar was honoured at the House of Commons. He is the first Indian artist in the world to receive such an accolade.

Sonika is a full-time medical student, Bollywood enthusiast and lover of life. Her passions are dancing, travelling, radio presenting, writing, fashion and socialising! “Life isn’t measured by the number of breaths taken but by moments that take our breath away.”

Images courtesy of Bhupendrasinh Jethwa Photography

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