23 August 1968
|Died||31 May 2022 (aged 53)|
|Alma mater||Kirori Mal College (University of Delhi)|
Krishnakumar Kunnath (23 August 1968 – 31 May 2022), popularly known as KK, was an Indian playback singer. Regarded as one of the best and most versatile singers in India, he recorded songs in several languages, including Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Bengali, Assamese and Gujarati.
KK began his career by singing advertisement jingles, and made his film debut in 1996 with an A.R. Rahman soundtrack. In 1999, he launched his debut album titled Pal. The songs "Pal" and "Yaaron" from the album Pal became very popular and are commonly used in school farewells. His popular songs included "Tadap Tadap Ke Is Dil Se" from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999), the Tamil song "Apadi Podu", "Dola Re Dola" from Devdas (2002), "Kya Mujhe Pyaar Hai" from Woh Lamhe... (2006), "Aankhon Mein Teri" from Om Shanti Om (2007), "Khuda Jane" from Bachna Ae Haseeno (2008), "Piya Aaye Na" from Aashiqui 2 (2013), "Mat Aazma Re" from Murder 3 (2013), "India Wale" from Happy New Year (2014) and "Tu Jo Mila" from Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015).
KK attended Delhi's Mount St Mary's School, and Kirori Mal College, Delhi University. He made an appearance in the song "Josh of India", released to support the Indian Cricket Team during the 1999 Cricket World Cup.
After graduating in commerce from Kirori Mal College, KK did a six-month stint as a marketing executive before pursuing his passion for music. He struggled to establish himself in the competitive recording industry at first, resorting to singing at hotels to make ends meet. After a few years, he moved to Mumbai in 1994.
Vocals and musical style
KK did not have any formal training in music. According to film director Mahesh Bhatt, "KK had an emotional bandwidth which echoed all the seasons of the heart. He could be frivolous, romantic and anguished. He could go into the depths, talk about the wonder and magic of life."
KK emphasized that it is not important for a singer's face to be prominently seen; he believed the important thing was that "a singer must be heard". In a 2019 interview, KK said he felt comfortable with the microphone but awkward in front of a camera. He valued and "fiercely" protected his privacy. In his playback songs, KK never wanted his singing to be associated with any particular actor and preferred singing for diverse actors.
In 1994, KK gave his demo tape to Louis Banks, Ranjit Barot and Lesle Lewis to get a break in the music arena. He was called by UTV and sang a jingle for a Santogen Suiting ad. In a span of four years, he sang more than 3,500 jingles across 11 languages. He considered Lesle Lewis as his mentor for giving him his first jingle to sing in Mumbai. KK then transitioned into a playback singer, starting with A. R. Rahman's "Kalluri Saaley" and "Hello Dr." from Kadir's Kadhal Desam and then "Strawberry Kannae" from AVM Productions's 1997 musical film Minsara Kanavu.
KK made his Bollywood debut with the song "Tadap Tadap Ke Is Dil Se" from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999). However, prior to this song, he had sung parts of "Chhod Aaye Hum" from Gulzar's Maachis (1996). He considered the song "Tadap Tadap Ke Is Dil Se" the turning point of his career.
KK's popular songs included "Tadap Tadap Ke Is Dil Se" from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999), the Tamil song "Apadi Podu", "Dola Re Dola" from Devdas (2002), "Kya Mujhe Pyaar Hai" from Woh Lamhe... (2006), "Aankhon Mein Teri" from Om Shanti Om (2007), "Khuda Jane" from Bachna Ae Haseeno (2008), "Piya Aaye Na" from Aashiqui 2 (2013), "Mat Aazma Re" from Murder 3 (2013), "India Wale" from Happy New Year (2014) and "Tu Jo Mila" from Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015).
In 2022, KK worked with film maker Srijit Mukherji and veteran lyricist Gulzar on a song for the upcoming film 'Sherdil.
The song 'Dhoop Paani Bahne De', sung by KK for the film 'Sherdil - The Pilibhit Saga', is the first to be released since his death.
KK had sung popular songs in several languages including Tamil. According to Outlook his songs defined the Tamil film music era in the 2000s and his songs became part of Tamil culture. In 2004, his Tamil song "Appadi Podu", became popular across the country and was played at clubs and weddings. In 1997, KK worked with A. R. Rahman for the popular song "Strawberry Kanne".
KK collaborated with Tamil music directors Harris Jayaraj and Yuvan Shankar Raja among others and released successful songs linked with Tamil pop culture in the 2000s. KK had a decade of successful hit songs in the 2000s. He sang "Love Pannu" for Harris Jayaraj in 2001, followed by "Kadhal Oru Thani Katchi" and "Gundu Gundu Ponne". In 2003, he had two major hits composed by Harris Jayaraj - 'Uyirin Uyire', and 'Kalyanam Dhaan Kattitkittu'. "Uyirin Uyire" was popular in the city, while "Kalyanam Dhaan Kattitkittu" became popular across Tamil Nadu.
KK sang "Kadhal Valarthen" composed by Yuvan Shankar Raja. He worked with Harris Jayaraj and Yuvan Shankar Raja to produce two blockbusters songs "Kadhalikkum Aasai" and "Ninaithu Ninaithu". "Andankaaka Kondaikaari" composed by Harris Jayaraj was another successful song. He sang "Annanoda Paatu" in the movie Chandramukhi. Other Tamil hit songs by KK are "Pani Thuli", "Olikuchi Udambukari", "Lelakku Lelakku Lela".
In 1999, Sony Music had just been launched in India and was looking to launch a new artiste. KK was selected and released his debut solo album titled Pal with music composed by Lesle Lewis from the duo Colonial Cousins, who also arranged and produced the album. Pal featured a melodious pop rock sound. The songs "Aap Ki Dua", "Yaaron" and the title track "Pal" were instant hits with audiences and on the music charts. The songs "Pal" and "Yaaron" now frequently feature in school farewells. Pal got KK the Screen award as best singer.
On 22 January 2008, after an interval of eight years, KK released his next album Humsafar. The songs "Aasman Ke", "Dekho Na", "Yeh Kahan Mil Gaye Hum" and "Rain Bhai Kaari (Maajhi)" are famous songs from this album. Besides, KK also sang an English Rock Ballad "Cineraria". The lyrics of the title track, "Humsafar" are a mix of English and Hindi. Eight songs from the album Humsafar were composed by KK.
KK sang many songs for television serials, such as Just Mohabbat, Shaka Laka Boom Boom, Kuch Jhuki Si Palkein, Hip Hip Hurray, Kkavyanjali and Just Dance. He appeared on television as a jury member for the talent hunt show Fame Gurukul.
KK sang a song named "Tanha Chala" for the Pakistani TV show The Ghost which was aired on Hum TV in 2008. The song was composed by Farrukh Abid and Shoiab Farrukh, and Momina Duraid wrote the lyrics.
KK participated in the MTV India musical programme Coke Studio, in which he sang a qawwali, "Chadta Suraj", along with the Sabri Brothers, and a recomposed version of "Tu Aashiqui Hai" from the film Jhankaar Beats. He was on the TV show Surili Baat on Aaj Tak channel. He performed in the Sony Mix TV Show[clarification needed] and MTV Unplugged Season 3, aired on MTV 11 January 2014. He staged his concert 'Salaam Dubai 2014' in Dubai in April 2014. He also performed in concerts in Goa, Dubai, Chennai and Hong Kong.
On 29 August 2015, KK appeared in the television singing reality show Indian Idol Junior Season 2. He was featuring in a singing reality show as a judge and guest jury member after ten years. On 13 September 2015, KK appeared on the TV show Baaton Baaton Mein on Sony Mix.
In 2019, in an interview to Hindustan Times KK said that he was active in the music industry through live performances and playback singing. The live performances in front of the audience made him happy and he did not want to break away from his "commitment to the audience". He had always wanted to release a new album after the successful 2008 release of his second.
On 31 May 2022, KK performed a live music concert in a college festival at Nazrul Mancha auditorium, in South Kolkata. After the concert, he returned to his hotel in Esplanade. He complained of feeling unwell soon after his performance on the way back to his hotel, where he had a cardiac arrest. He collapsed, and efforts to revive him at the hotel were unsuccessful. He was rushed to Calcutta Medical Research Institute (CMRI) at around 10:30 pm, where he was declared dead. He was 53 years old at the time of his death.
On 1 June 2022, Kolkata Police registered a case of unnatural death to investigate the cause. His autopsy was videographed. The autopsy report mentioned myocardial infarction (heart attack) as the likely cause of death. The report ruled out any foul play. According to the doctor who conducted the autopsy, KK could have survived if he had received cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately after falling unconscious. He had experienced pain in his shoulder and arm in his last few days and had informed his wife about his condition. He mistook the cause to be digestive issues and was consuming antacids; on his last day, he had again complained of pain. According to the autopsy report, his heart had 80% blockage.
KK was given a gun salute by the West Bengal government at Rabindra Sadan in Kolkata. Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee was also present in the gun salute ceremony. Film and music industry personalities and politicians including Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered their condolences. His remains were then brought to Mumbai and his funeral was held at the Versova Hindu Cemetery on the following day, 2 June. It was attended by family members, friends and colleagues.
Deccan Herald called him the "voice of love" while reporting his death. According to The Times of India, he was the most versatile singer in the Bollywood music industry. The Hindu noted, "Till the end, he remained a rage in the concert circuit and will be remembered as the singer who became the voice of the heart".
Albums and discography
Whether we are there tomorrow or not,
These moments will nevertheless be remembered.
Moments - these are moments of love,
Come, come along with me.
Come, what are you thinking,
Life is short
If we do get a tomorrow, it would be good fortune.
– English translation of KK's "Pal", also his last song at the concert just before his demise, 
|2011||Soulful Voice KK||Various|
|2014||#Now Playing: KK Hits||Various|
|2013||KK: Best Of Me||Various|
|2015||Musical Bond: Pritam & KK||Pritam Chakraborty|
Awards and honors
In a Hindustan Times interview, KK was asked if getting nominated for several awards but winning only a few bothered him. KK replied that it did not, adding, "As a singer, I haven't felt any lesser by not getting an award. Winning or not winning an award doesn't affect me. I just like to do my work in the best possible manner. I am happy getting good songs. I am happy not getting awards."
|2000||Best Male Playback Singer||"Tadap Tadap" (Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam)||Nominated|
|2003||"Bardaasht Nahi Kar Sakta" (Humraaz)|
|2006||"Dus Bahane" (Dus)|
|2008||"Aankhon Mein Teri" (Om Shanti Om)|
|2009||"Zara Sa" (Jannat)|
|"Khuda Jane" (Bachna Ae Haseeno)|
|2007||Best Playback Singer – Male||"Tu Hi Meri Shab Hai" (Gangster)||Nominated|
|2009||Best Playback Singer – Male||"Khuda Jaane" (Bachna Ae Haseeno)||Won|
|Zee Cine Awards|
|2007||Best Playback Singer – Male||"Tu Hi Meri Shab Hai" (Gangster)||Nominated|
|2011||Best Playback Singer – Male||"Zindagi Do Pal KI" (Kites)||Nominated|
|2000||Best Playback Singer – Male||"Tadap Tadap" (Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam)||Nominated|
|2004||Best Playback Singer – Male||"Tu Aashiqui Hai" (Jhankaar Beats)|
|2006||Best Playback Singer – Male||"Dus Bahane" (Dus)|
|2007||Best Playback Singer – Male||"Tu Hi Meri Shab Hai" (Gangster)|
|2008||Best Playback Singer – Male||"Aankhon Mein Teri" (Om Shanti Om)|
|2009||Best Playback Singer – Male||"Khuda Jaane" (Bachna Ae Haseeno)|
|Guild Film Awards|
|2008||Best Playback Singer – Male||"Aankhon Mein Teri" (Om Shanti Om)||Nominated|
|2009||Best Playback Singer – Male||"Khuda Jane" (Bachna Ae Haseeno)|
|2011||Best Playback Singer – Male||"Sajde" (Khatta Meetha)|
|2011||Best Playback Singer – Male||"Zindagi Do Pal Ki" (Kites)||Nominated|
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